Monthly Archives: December 2006

My part in the five things blogwave

I have been tagged by Pam and Gerry in the “five little known things about me” blogwave. Thanks to both of you, I think. I’m going to reply because I know there are those out there that are anxious to read what I write (hi mom!).

1. I take tuba pictures. As a teenager I found a broken sousaphone (often referred to as a tuba) in a neighbor’s garbage. Since I was odd and enjoyed photography, it immediately became one of my favorite subjects. I have photographs of the tuba in trees, mountains, wrecked cars, vacant houses, and college bathrooms. I was once ejected with it from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. You probably have to have a sense of humor warped in roughly the same curvature as mine to think it’s as funny as I do, but here are a few examples.

2. In the late 1980’s I believe I was hugged by Craig Burton. It was part of a Novell new employee ritual. I remember standing in a line that ended with Craig or Judith and thinking “please let me get Judith”. I  have no memory of what happened next. Perhaps I’ve blocked it from memory.

3. As a high school student in a very small town in northern Utah, I was a member of a comedy troupe called The Lumberjacks. The school administration thought it was wholesome humor. If any of them had actually seen the namesake Monty Python skit, it would have been scandolous.

4. Much of my current career path is due to a father-son project. About 1998 I made a deal with my oldest son (then 12) that we would try this new Linux stuff together. He was to buy the OS (I think it was Redhat 5.2) and I was to buy the machine. He came through. I did not. So he built a machine from spare parts sitting around the house. I did help him install Linux. That Linux machine was reliable, stable, and we learned a lot. In fact, that machine was later used as the basis of a demo that showed Novell’s directory service integrated with DNS and providing rudimentary federation between directory instances across the Internet. The demo was shown, with great success, to Novell’s CEO (then Eric Schmidt). I left the company for a while, the project was cancelled, management changed, etc., but, last I heard from my son, that machine is still running.

5. I find it more productive to mix work and play. When I was a university student I worked as a childcare counselor for the United Way. One of the activities that I did with the children was to send them out into the fields to pick dandelion blossoms. They enjoyed it and it got them to run outside for a while. I took the blossoms home and made many gallons of rather good dandelion wine.

So now I get to tag five: Pete, Paul, Mary, Dave, Lyndon

IIW Thoughts and Thanks

It as a great time at IIW last week. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: Let me explain… No. It is too much. Let me sum up.

1. The Higgins/Cardspace/Bandit demo worked.

It worked repeatedly in the speed geeking session on Tuesday, for impromptu performances, and in the “OSIS in Action” session on Wednesday. It was given by Mary Ruddy and me. In retrospect, my favorite part was getting a text message from Pat Felsted (demo coordinator and fellow Bandit) at exactly 2 minutes before the speed geeking demo session started that said something like “try it, it should work now”.

Thanks to everyone whose help and code was used, and to the bandits and rodents who set up the demo, especially because it involved collaboration with multiple companies, as well as wrestling code, machines, and corporate policy.

2. Some ad hoc identity project interaction occurred as well, and worked.

I couldn’t actually see it because the demos were shown simultaneously, but I have heard that Chuck showed his selector working with infocards generated from our Higgins IdP/STS site and used those and other cards with our relying party site.

3. I saw more of a focus on working systems and usability.

The focus of IIW seemed to have shifted — at least in my perception. Rather than just theory and concepts of Internet Identity, it was more about what currently works and what is proving to be most useful in practice. I found much more interest and discussion in capabilities and user experience above the basic interactions of Internet identity systems.

For example, the demo that Mary and I showed granted access to a mediawiki based on claims from an infocard that were fed to a Bandit authorization component configured with XACML. It also included pages that showed that all accesses of the Identity Provider, Security Token Server, and Relying Party were being audited via an open source framework. I got more requests for indepth information about those two components than I did for the basic open source infocard components.

Also, evolutionary adoption and consistent user experience at service sites (e.g. relying parties) got a lot of interest — at least the topic was interesting to me. In particular, a conversation with Pamela Dingle and a session by Joseph Smarr pointed this out. Maybe I just wasn’t listening, but at past IIWs I have not seen much emphasis on a consistent experience for users at service sites. Common issues for sites such as our demo MediaWiki are: 1) login with legacy username/password login vs. using a new internet identity, 2) claiming ownership of an existing account, 3) account merging, 4) removing old account information, etc. Perhaps I was just not sensitive to these issues until we put together the demo, but they will be very commonly needed capabilities. It would be much more effective if the community could promote common user experiences in those areas. I know that, since last week, the OpenID folks have been working on this for a login dialog box. That’s a start.

Overall, the informality combined with the intense passion of the event was very enjoyable. It even surprised me with some deeply meaningful moments. And it started productive conversations that I hope will continue for a long time.