Monday, 22 May 2006

If you're not into x-rays or thinking about surgery and stuff like that, you can just skip this one. Many people have had me promise to show them pictures of the artificial disc that was implanted in me three months ago once I got them, so - well - here you go. This is a pretty amazing and relatively new (in the USA anyhow) area of medicine.

The Kineflex artificial lumbar disc is a three-piece metal-on-metal mechanical replacement, which is used to treat chronic and severe lumbar pain due to degenerative disc disease. It's in FDA trials right now, which makes me a bit of a guinea pig. It's not the kind of surgery you decide to do without a lot of serious thought and only after trying every other option. It replaced my natural disc, and now my severe back and leg pain that I lived with 24 hours a day for years is practically gone - and as a bonus I am a little bit taller than I was before the surgery. As I've said here before, I have my life back thanks to the doctors and the people that built this little device.

How'd they get it in there? The made an 8-inch horizontal incision just below my belly button (yep, they approach the spine from the front), spread the bones apart, removed the disc that was damaged, and put this new one in place.

You can click each image to view them larger-sized. I've removed any sensitive personal information.

Kineflex - High contrast side view

Kineflex - Reverse image high contrast



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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, 21 May 2006 23:58:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 18 May 2006

More official information has been made available about the DualCor cPC, a new computing device that will run both Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Windows Mobile. Dave Ciccone, DualCor Director of Strategic Alliances, sent me and other other DualCor advisors some interesting details. I'm a bit late getting this post online because I'm off hosting a security conference, but here's the highlights:

  • Cost: $1999
  • It will be sold at authorized reseller in the US, and in certain other countries (TBA)
  • It will ship in the next 90 days
  • It will ship with a Compact Flash WiFi card included in the package
  • For phone use, you can add a CF card or a USB device
  • Digital Ink is supported and OneNote works
  • Video can be portrait or landscape oriented
  • Video resolution on the external VGA port/device is spec'ed up to 2048x1536, and it's been tested as high as 1600x1200
  • The syncing capabilities between Windows XP and Windows mobile is a proprietary piece of software just for this device
  • Accessories will be announced soon, and DualCor is open to suggestions - leave a comment here or email if you have one and I will see it is passed along. Instead of a formal docking station, there will be a "picture stand" and a "desk stand"
  • It has a 1.8-inch, 30GB hard drive. Windows XP boot from that, and the Windows Mobile software boots from the ROM
  • It's designed to run applications developed on the Microsoft SDK for Windows Mobile and Windows XP Tablet PC applications


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Tech
Thursday, 18 May 2006 22:24:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Google Maps Mobile Beta on my Blackberry 8700CMy friend Jim reminded me the other day about an app I recently installed and have not taken the time to write about, despite the fact I've been using it - namely the Google Maps Mobile (beta) client that I have running on my Blackberry 8700C.

Available for a number of handheld platforms, this network-connected client software allows you to do a lot of what you've already come to expect from Google Maps on the web, only now you can take advantage of the service your handheld. Everyone I've shown it to in the past couple weeks has agreed that it's pretty darned awesome.

Things you can do with the Google Maps Mobile client:

  • Search for nearby businesses cataloged in Google Local (via the "Find Business" menu option)
  • Specify a location to show on the maps (it remembers locations you enter, too)
  • Get driving directions to or from any location (just click the location and choose from the menu)
  • View locations either in map or satellite view, and toggle between views
  • Zoom in and out, and pan left/right, up/down

It would be nice to have a feature for the driving directions to be listed on a single page, turn-by-turn, rather than only on the map at the waypoints (which works just fine, just not what I'm used to). But hey, who's to complain? It's free. Heh...

The mobile client seems to be available for multiple devices, so read the list to see if yours is supported, and to get it point your mobile device at:

http://www.google.com/gmm

I installed mine by visiting that page and installing over the air - the best method there is, really.

And for a bit more information in your regular ol' (non-mobile) web browser, see the Google Maps Mobile (beta) page and read the FAQ.



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Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, 16 May 2006 22:28:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 15 May 2006

I had to go to the Seattle area for my three-month post-op followup with my surgeon today. My back is in great shape he says (more x-rays were made today that look pretty darned cool), and the doc thanked me for doing so well. Heheh... I think maybe he had a lot to do with that, though. So I thanked him, again, for helping me get my life back. I owe him a lot.

After my appointment with the doc, I drive the ten minutes from the hospital over to the Microsoft campus and met up face-to-face with my online acquaintance, Trevin Chow. He's on the Windows Live ID team there, and I've always though he was a good guy. Come to find out I was right - we had fun meting and discussing a variety of things. And Trevin, thanks for the coffee!

Shameless plug time: Go read Trevin's blog - it's well worth the read. And, of course, subscribe. Here, let me make it easy for you: Subscribe to Trevin's RSS feed.

It was especially fun because although we'd never met face-to-face, it was much like the natural continuation of a conversation. Trevin emailed me this afternoon in reply to my saying thanks and said, "Your personality oozes into your blog, so you weren't a surprise in any way :) " Well, I hope it's not an infection, or we're all doomed... Heh...

Seriously though - that's exactly the impression I got from him. Glad to have met ya, Trevin. And he'll laugh that I posted all this, heheh...

Random Side-bar: Trevin has his motorcycle endorsement, but he's smart enough (read: much smarter than I) not to buy one because a couple people he knows have been in bad motorcycle accidents recently. I worry about that, too. If you ever ride a motorcycle, you must pretend you're invisible on the road - others simply will not see you. And even then, there's no guarantees.

So... Who was the last person you met, whom you met first online, but eventually caught up with face to face? And, who is the one person you've met online, but not met face to face, whom you'd most like to meet in person?



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Monday, 15 May 2006 19:42:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 14 May 2006

My friend and coworker Alex and his brothers Robert and Ben are in Montana with family and most importantly their mom, who had a stroke last week and is not doing so well. It's a hard time, and I imagine it's both extra important and extra difficult today, since it's that one day a year we define as Mother's Day. Robert's been writing about some of the experience on his blog, and it's been a daily read for me. I don't know Robert as well as I know Alex, and I've never met Ben, but somehow it's good to know they're all together at an important time.

Mom and GregI talked to my mom today using the webcams I bought a few months back along with Live Messenger 8's video conferencing capabilities. She let me know yesterday she wanted to do the "video camera call thing" and I've been kind of bad lately about having my camera hooked up when she wants to do a call. She really likes being able to see the person on the other end. The things that many of us take for granted are really pretty special for others, you know?

We had a good conversation about it all today. Mom asked me why this video chat thing is free - almost like there must be something wrong with it if you don't pay for it. I explained it's not really free, there's advertisements and all. She said something like, "Ahhh" and then paused and got that thoughtful look on her face (which I could actually see, of course, since it's video chat heheh), and then she asked me the zillion-dollar question:

"Well if that's the case," she said, "why do people use telephones, then?"

Ah hah, she gets it! Heh... I explained the whole "telephone of the future thing" to her. She sees the light.

After talking throughout the day to people about moms, reading about moms, and of course sending my own mom some flowers and doing a live Internet video chat over the thousand-plus miles between us, I was left with one thought. Why do we relegate this celebration to one day a year? Moms truly deserve more than that.

I was thinking back about life recently. When I was a kid, my mom was a single parent faced with real challenges. I realized that it must have been a darn scary time for her, really. It took real courage and strength to handle a couple of growing boys like she did. She sometimes tells me she wishes it could have been better for me and my brother. For my part, though, I can't imagine having it any better than we did - with a mom who really and truly cares and who pushes on - even if it is scary, and hard, and tough.

Thanks mom. For everything. You're awesome. Truly.



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Sunday, 14 May 2006 22:15:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Recently I've been speaking with a lot of reporters and other media-types about the work we at Corillian do on financial services security. It's fun to be taken back to my old journalism days, and I've come to find there are a lot of very smart people out there working the security technology beat. In addition to speaking to the media, I've also been presenting in person at a number of conferences, and have quite a few more coming up over the next several months.

I recently had a chance to speak with one reporter to discuss the state of the industry in terms of online financial services and recent FFIEC mandates on banks to implement strong authentication for their online banking web sites. Eric Norlin is well-known to many, and he writes for some well-respected publications, including Digital ID World and on ZDNet.com. We talked about the risk management components that go into deciding how to solve the authentication problem. The strong authentication software we build at Corillian uses a risk-based model, and Norlin's approach to the story is (I think) spot-on, especially his recognition of the need for an identity-first/identity-risk mechanism:

"Corillian is one of those interesting companies that you hardly ever hear about: several hundred financial institutions as customers; running back-end financial industry specific software; aware of all of the stringent requirements of financial institutions. So, its not like Corillian is just "getting into the game," its more like they're adding to an already deep bench. They're adding their Intelligent Authentication product.

"The interesting thing about Intelligent Authentication is that it begins by recognizing the risk management approach to strong authentication. Accordingly, it uses a variety of methods to authenticate you based upon the interaction (or transaction) that you're having. These methods include: client OS and browser checks, behavioral pattern analysis, geo-location (via a partnership with Quova), challenge and response questions (chosen by the customer), and my favorite - out of band phone authentication (via a partnership with StrikeForce)."

(Link to Eric Norlin's story on ZDNet.com)

He also noted that we at Corillian have already done some early, in-depth work in conjunction with Microsoft integrating a new authentication technology code-named InfoCard, which places the control, proof and credentials used in the authentication process back in the user's hands (in other words, right where they belong) while also helping to solve weak authentication problems. What I especially like about InfoCard is the community support and open-ness, as well and the user/identity-centric approach, which ties directly to Kim Cameron's Laws of Identity and the concept of the Identity Metasystem (an interoperable architecture for identity on the Internet). The security model on the desktop (it will run in Windows XP and 2003 Server and will also ship in Windows Vista) is also very interesting and encouraging. It will be quite interesting to see how, where and when InfoCard is adopted. I'll be speaking and writing here about InfoCard more in the future.



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IT Security | Tech
Sunday, 14 May 2006 00:11:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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