“A nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude…”

January 2008

UK federation Technical Statistics

I was recently asked to give a presentation to a group of people involved with service delivery for the UK federation. The result is Technical Statistics: What they tell us, and what they don't.

There are some interesting statistics in there (for example, the high degree to which the fairly young JANET Server Certificate Service has already taken off) but the other theme of the talk was that there is an awful lot going on that we probably can't understand without a lot more direct interaction with the membership.

I've also uploaded the slides to slideshare, if you'd like to give that a try.


McShib Talk on Core Attributes

I gave a presentation to the second meeting of the McShib group last month covering An Identity Provider’s Guide to the Core Attributes (of the UK federation).

I made an audio recording of the presentation. I ran “a bit long” on the day (70 minutes), but once I have edited out the coughing and some of the rambling I’ll post a synchronised audio+slides version.

Links referenced during the talk:


OmniFocus 1.0

After a long public beta program, OmniFocus, OmniGroup's "professional-grade personal task management" application for the Mac, has finally reached its 1.0 milestone. If you're already both a Mac cultist and a Getting Things Done convert, you probably already know this because you're one of the 13,590 people who pre-ordered it.

GTD and OmniFocus won't magically rescue you from being disorganised (they certainly haven't entirely done that for me) but I've found that some of the GTD principles that OmniFocus allows you to implement really do lead to some level of stress reduction:

  • Get everything that's on your mind out of your head and into a trusted system.

  • Plan in terms of small, concrete, actionable steps.

  • Concentrate on the next available action for your current context.

You probably can't plan multi-person mega-projects this way, but that's not what this product is for. If you're trying to hold together a lot of smaller projects, it can be pretty much ideal. There's a 14-day trial available.


Tiger Team

If you’re at all interested in physical security as well as computer security (or, alternatively, if you find it interesting to think about security systems as opposed to just components of those systems) a new TV show called Tiger Team might be worth a look.

The idea is pretty self-explanatory if you’ve heard of the concept of a tiger team elsewhere: this is a “reality” show in which the heroes break real-world security systems using a combination of technology, brass neck and dumpster diving. Rather like Mission: Impossible but without Peter Graves and (so far) without the rubber masks. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, I can’t see any evidence that this series will be shown anywhere here in the UK, but you can stream the pilot episode from the cable channel’s web site, at least for now. It’s interesting to watch the ways in which the target’s (fairly good) security fails when approached in the right way, and the presentation isn’t too grating even for my sensitive British ears. Some of what you see is obviously re-enactment, but I guess that’s “reality” TV for you.


Responsible Behavior

People have observed that this blog can from time to time be characterised as "a nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude". I can't really argue with that, and I have no intention of making any kind of New Year resolution to "mend my ways".

On the other hand, I do sometimes wonder about rating my posts in terms of a new metric: how many Wikipedia entries would you have to reference to explain this to the man on the Clapham omnibus?

One of my favourite cartoon sites — xkcd.com — also finds the need to peg the MOTCO-meter once in a while. Responsible Behavior is a good example; I have to rate it a four at least:

Never bring tequila to a key-signing party.

Do you agree? More interestingly, what do you think the answer will be in ten years?