Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Microsoft's Windows Live ID team has started a blog to communicate information about the new product, which is a replacement/upgrade for the Passport service. From the inaugural post:

"Windows Live ID is the upgrade/replacement for the Microsoft Passport service and is the identity and authentication gateway service for cross-device access to Microsoft online services, such as Windows Live, MSN, Office Live and Xbox Live.  Is this the authentication service for the world?  No :-)  It's primarily designed for use with Microsoft online services and by Microsoft-affiliated close partners who integrate with Windows Live services to offer combined innovations to our mutual customers.  We will continue to support the Passport user base of 300+ Million accounts and seamlessly upgrade these accounts to Windows Live IDs.  Partners who have already implemented Passport are already compatible with Windows Live ID.
 
"Windows Live ID is being designed to be an identity provider among many within the
Identity Metasystem.  In the future, we will support Federated identity scenarios via WS-* and support InfoCards.
 
"For developers we will be providing rich programmable interfaces via server and client SDKs to give third party application developers access to authenticated
Microsoft Live services and APIs.
 
"Over the next few weeks as we complete our deployment, you will see the Windows Live ID service come alive through our respective partners sites and services.  The first thing you’ll notice as early as today is that the word Passport is being replaced by Windows Live ID.  But isn't a rebranding exercise -- there is stuff going on under the hood.  This will be more understandable in the coming weeks and months when you start seeing the new, exciting Windows Live sign-in UI.  Not only is the page load time significantly reduced, but you will see some really cool innovative features that we’re sure you’ll love :)"

I'll likely be writing here on this weblog about Infocard (which I have early some experience with), authentication and other related topics, since I have a professional connection to all of the above. Glad to see the Live ID team getting their blog start - this is the beginning of what should be a great phase of changes and improvements in the area.



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IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 10:02:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 04 April 2006

Travel, travel and then some more travel... That's where I've been lately.

This week I'm in (well okay, near) Orlando, Florida at the Omni Orlando Resort (which is a very nice place), where I will be speaking on a panel Wednesday morning about operational security of online banking web sites and working with law enforcement. Then I will be hanging around for the rest of the conference through Thursday or Friday, learning and exchanging ideas.

Anyone in the area wanna grab coffee? Let me know. Comment, email or phone (it's in the menu bar at the right).



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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 20:57:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Wow - this is great news. MS Virtual Server Enterprise Edition for free, plus ability and support for running Linux as a guest OS. Look out, VMWare - the battle is on:

Today Microsoft announced that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now available as a free download. This also will apply to the forthcoming service pack 1 of Virtual Server 2005 R2. In addition, Microsoft announced the availability of virtual machine add-ins for Linux and a technical product support model for Linux guest operating systems running on Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Read more here.



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Tech
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 20:16:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Matt points out that tonight is a special, won't happen again in our lifetimes event:

Tonight, at 123 seconds past 1 a.m. the time will be 1:02:03 04/05/06. Now if you take into account that we're only using two digits for the year this event won't happen again for another 1000 years in the year 3006. If you happen to be out and about at that time of the night you way wish to find a 7/11 and purchase a lottery ticket :)

Now I have to decide if I am going to stay up or not. Gah!

Are you staying up? One time chance!



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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 19:52:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It's been seven weeks since I underwent surgery on my lower back up near Seattle, Washington. I was the recipient of a Kineflex lumbar artificial disc, a three-part, all-metal mechanical replacement for the torn, herniated and collapsed (degenerated) disc between my L5 and S1 vertebrae. That's the lowest one in your spine.

This surgery has truly given me my life back.

Before the procedure, I was always - and I quite literally mean always - in pain. Real pain, the kind that wears you down every minute of every day. The kind of chronic pain that people can't fully understand until they've lived with it themselves. It wears you down, chews you up, and eventually spits you out. "Normal" for me was a lot like the "normal" road noise is for someone who lives right next to a freeway: Spend your whole life around it and your brain tunes it out just to cope, but it's always there. Sure, louder noises still annoy you, but the mind has a way of coping with whatever you throw at it, at least as best it can. But that background pain still has an effect, progressively more so over time. When the sound is gone, it's almost deafening. And when the pain is gone, you finally realize just how bad it's been.

I feel ten times better than I've felt in more than ten years. Seriously.

Yeah, I am a guinea pig of sorts - the artificial disc I was fortunate enough to receive was provided to me as part of an FDA trial - not very many people have this hardware in their bodies. I did more than a year of careful and critical research on artificial disc surgery before I decided to take the leap. I considered bone fusion (which is the classic and most common treatment for my condition) and I tried every other treatment that was available to me - physical therapy, exercise, medicine, cortisone injections, minimally invasive procedures, you name it. When it came down to it, it was a choice between bone fusion or ADR (artificial disc replacement) procedure. the ADR device allows the joint to remain mobile instead of locking it up permanently, and I am only 38 years old (well for a few days anyhow), so staying mobile is  important to me. Because I had a 50/50 chance of receiving either a Charite or Kineflex artificial disc (they split the patients randomly, half and half), I also had to become confident in both technologies (the Charite is two metal plates with a plastic core, while the Kineflex is the same basic idea, but with a different design and a metal core). I can tell you that I was lucky and got the one I really wanted (the Kineflex), but either would have been okay with me.

Not everyone is the same, and surgery is rough stuff. The procedure is a serious one with potential side effects that one has to be ready to accept. Everyone's body is different and surgery is in large part an art, which means they all go slightly differently. Many people benefit from the new technology, while some are not so fortunate. That said, I am so grateful for my decision and to my doctors and the staff that have given me so much back. I did not fully realize how bad off I was until now, and still each day I keep feeling better. It will likely be many months before I can say I am healed and recovered, but I can see and believe that day's coming, which is something I had almost given up hope on before.

I write this from what used to be one of the most painful places in my life: An airliner seat at 37,000 feet. And guess what?

It doesn't hurt anymore.



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 19:04:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 02 April 2006

Ahh, movie weekends.

Scrat - Ice Age 2I went with a friend to watch Ice Age 2 yesterday afternoon. I had, I must admit, somewhat low expectations of this one just because the first one was well-done enough to be hard-to-follow. But regardless of what Roger Ebert says, I enjoyed it. Sure, it's not as original as the first one (it is a sequel to an animated feature after all), but it had me laughing out loud at times, so in my book that means success. It has the standard fare of little kids' stuff plus some funny, subtle adult stuff (right from the beginning). The scenes featuring Scrat, the little sabre-toothed squirrel, are terrific and the story itself is not too bad. As Ebert points out, none of the characters ever seem to eat, and how the meat eaters could possibly survive if everyone in the animal kingdom (with the exception of the fish) just gets along so swimmingly (pun intended) is a mystery. But hey, again it's an animated movie, and I can live with it. I own the first film on DVD, and I'll be buying this one, too when it comes out. If for no other reason, just because there's bound to be more Scrat scenes in the extras.

Simpsons Homer BartBefore the feature film started, though, along came a surprise trailer (or "preview" for those of you who prefer that term) for "The Simpsons Movie, coming to the screen, July 27, 2007." Woah, cool. I had to do a second take - 2007? Okay, okay I can wait - but like Homer says, "Oh oh, we better get started!" Supposedly (according to The Hollywood Reporter, anyhow) the trailer will also air tonight prior to the Sunday evening Simpsons episode on FOX (which means it will be posted all over the Internet by the time the first commercial break is over). I just hope the hype doesn't create expectations that can't possibly be met. Note that "simpsonsmovie.com" is registered to 20th Century Fox but there's no web site attached to that address as of this writing. And by the way, on a related note, if you have not seen the "real-people" version of the Simpsons TV show intro you can go here - and you can compare the cartoon version and the live version side by side here. Rumor has it, too, that the live-action version will appear on the Simpsons TV show tonight. Either that or this is all one big April Fools joke. Hope not.

King KongFinally, on Friday I bought a copy of King Kong on DVD and took it home, where we loaded it up and gave it a run at blowing out  the speakers in my home theater. The speakers survived that attack, but it sure is amazing what incredible sound and special visual effects we get from movie makers these days - and in our own homes too boot. I remember when Dolby ProLogic surround was way cool - and now it sounds like oatmeal. It makes me wonder what's next. And DVDs sure are coming out more and more quickly these days. Didn't we just watch King Kong in theaters? Anyhow, it's worth the purchase if you liked the movie or if you want something to stress test that audio system with heavy bass and loud growls with lots of dynamic range.



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Movies
Sunday, 02 April 2006 09:47:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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