Archive for 'Music'


I’ve just made a big change, joining Forrester Research as a Principal Analyst, and this new adventure is sure to be exciting. It’s an honor to join this stellar organization and work with so many talented folks. I’ll be serving security and risk professionals and will focus primarily on identity and access management, so this move feels like a natural outgrowth of work I’ve been involved in for more than ten years now.

My tenure at PayPal was a great learning experience; I’ll never forget my time there, nor the good friends I made. I also managed to learn a few things while “catching up on life” in the few weeks between gigs. Here are some questions folks have been asking me, with answers:

Q: Are you moving back to the east coast?

A: Nope, I’m still based in the Pacific Northwest, but I will likely be out Boston-way somewhat more often. As for other appearances, you’ll definitely be able to find me at Forrester’s IT Forum 2011 in May, and I’ll be figuring out the situation with other events shortly.

Q: Will you continue to blog here?

A: Yes, though the mix of topics will likely change, as I’ll be contributing industry-related posts to the Forrester blog. I’ll post pointers to those here, and my hope is to step up my writing activity on other topics of interest at Pushing String. And I hope you’ll continue to follow my doings at @xmlgrrl (where the #forrester tag will likely make lots of appearances).

Q: What about User-Managed Access and other innovation-oriented work?

A: The plan is for me to continue in my role as “chief UMAnitarian” and to participate in certain other tech leadership activities as time allows. In the last couple of months we’ve gotten a big influx of active UMA contributors, and we’ve had a burst of progress in the last few weeks on defining how to loosely couple “user-centric” policy enforcement points and policy decision points. So I think we’re well on our way to meeting the goals and timing stated in our charter.

Q: So what did you do on your winter vacation?

A: One of my goals was to “learn one big thing”, so I started learning how to play guitar, under the tutelage of my dear old friend Rich. My original use cases were around communicating better with my Mud Junket bandmates who are actual guitarists, but Rich doesn’t fool around: I have to learn good technique and not take any shortcuts. Luckily, the fret-hand callus crop has finally started to come in.

I also read a great book called The Talent Code, which describes what goes on neurologically in people who seem like once-in-a-lifetime geniuses, and discusses how any skill (like guitar-playing!) can be honed more rapidly through “deep practice” that stimulates myelin growth.

With all this plus a healthy dose of R&R, it feels like I’m learning how to learn all over again.

A (g)newbie at Gnomedex

Somehow I’d been missing out on the phenomenon of the Gnomedex tech-enthusiast conference, even though its location in recent years coincides perfectly with my new(ish) Northwest residency. (Hey, I haven’t gone to Bumbershoot yet either — bad, bad Eve!)

This year I’ve got a great chance to fix the situation. I met Chris Pirillo and his lovely wife Ponzi through Eli, and after a couple of fun evenings where I blabbed excitedly about Vendor Relationship Management and he blabbed excitedly about a project that was soon to become his WicketPixie social-media WordPress theme (it would be interesting to “VRM-enable” this theme, yes??), they were kind enough to invite me to speak this year. I’m looking forward to introducing VRM concepts to this audience and getting some discussion going on how to improve the customer-vendor nexus.

If you can be in Seattle August 21-23, I hope you’ll register and join the fun.

Stone cold crazy, you know

I’ve seen the Queen musical We Will Rock You three times and own the soundtrack. I’ve already admitted an unhealthy obsession with Bohemian Rhapsody. But I’m not so much of a groupie that I follow the touring show around. And as far as I can tell, this email message I just got — entire contents shown below — was not specially directed to me.

We Will Rock You poster in Thai

So yeah, it’s spam. And they’re not going to get a ticket sale out of me anyway. But cool poster, huh?

You kids get off my lawn!

In the category of “things that make one feel old”: If you know what it’s like to have your heart race as the Space Invader blips speed up, or remember staking your claim to a game console with a big stack of real quarters, check out this wonderful series of performance-art projects that simulate arcade video games from the golden age.

I had seen the Space Invaders project video before, but only came across the others today. Back in the day, I played Tetris so much that I could close my eyes and play whole simulated games behind my eyelids. (Actually, I had no choice — it would happen unbidden.) I had an original Tengen version on my beloved NES and can still hum the Russian-y theme songs annoyingly on command.

And when my band indulges in some 12-bar blues jamming, I’ve been known to slip in the Moon Patrol theme. Ahem. Maybe that was TMI. But if you happen to be in Seattle on March 22nd and come see us play, feel free to request it…

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening

A little while back I did a podcast with Daniel Raskin on federated identity standards for Sun’s IdM Buzz blog. IdM Buzz is a font of useful information, and I encourage you to check it out, but I have to admit I delayed posting this podcast link because the filename they assigned it made my face turn red. :-)

Even though I was running on fumes when we did the recording (I give a hint as to why in the final minute or two…), I think we managed to put together some good, easily digestible information about standards that complements the new Government Computer News SAML cover story pretty well. If you found me here at Pushing String by reading that article and hunting for more info, I definitely recommend the podcast to you.

And now, here’s my chance to attempt the blog equivalent of a triple gainer: In the podcast I talk a tiny bit about my band. Recently we headed into the studio to record a demo CD (a blast and a half, and something that helped out a good cause). And what did I do while hanging out in the control room between takes? Domino knitting. Oh, yeah.

John in the control room, with Eve's knitting
Fearless leader John in the studio’s control room (see related Flickr set here)

Sun OpenID roundup

If you want to learn about how our Sun Identity Provider for OpenID is set up, check out Hubert Le Van Gong‘s latest posts here and here. And if you’d like to hear a discussion among Don Bowen, Brandon Whichard, and myself about some of the lessons learned so far from our OpenID program, you can hear the latest Identity Management Buzz podcast here. Skype bandwidth issues contributed to some funky audio quality, sigh, but the podcast was really fun to do.

We got to talking about CD purchases and why you’d want to buy a CD nowadays, and the one I recommended was Eva Cassidy’s Eva by Heart; don’t miss it, or her Live at Blues Alley either, if you’re into female vocals that range from blues to jazz to folk to pop. She was truly amazing.

Parody 2.0

At the untalent show last Tuesday night we had some fun and some fine performances, including heathervescent‘s version of Total Eclipse of the Heart and several rounds of “PowerPoint Karaoke”, which (living under a rock as I do) I had never heard of before. Heather also invented the handing-out-drink-tickets method of getting people to perform — brilliant! Thanks to everyone who came up onto the stage, and to the event organizers for supplying the deejays.

To learn about my main contribution to the festivities, click to enlarge this all-important “Venn of identity parodies” diagram. (Who do I think I am — Paul Madsen?)

The Venn of identity parody songs

Here are the lyrics to the related ditty I performed, with apologies to Maria Muldaur (and the fine folks at OASIS!).

Midnight at the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards
(original lyrics here)

Midnight at OASIS
Send your SAML to bed
Touching all of the bases
Graces schedules up ahead
Madsen‘s working the website
Formatting’s gone bust
Let’s just separate MAY, SHOULD,

Come on, Kavi is our friend
It’ll upload the spec
Come on till the ballot ends
Till the ballot ends
You don’t have to answer
You can just abstain
Mary‘s tally keeper
Deeper, to get us through the week

Gerry Beuchelt has already blogged another tune he and I warbled.

One last goodie: Click on the slide below to see a “singing presentation” that Gerry, Paul Bryan, and I prepared, with apologies to Dick Hardt

Parody 2.0

Tag: iiw2007

Can you CAPTCHA that?

The first Internet Identity Workshop in 2007 is coming to Mountain View in a couple of weeks, and just like last time, there will be an “un-talent” show on the Tuesday night. Kaliya has asked me to emcee, so let me take this opportunity to issue a Call for Parody Lyrics! Drop me a line or blog your ideas — or surprise us by simply showing up and performing… In that case, bringing song sheets with you is a good idea if you’d like others to fully appreciate your genius.

Dave Kearns wrote this week about a great Rainbow Connection parody by Wook Lee, setting the tone nicely for IIW hijinks. If anyone would like to perform this work at the un-talent show, you’ll find a very receptive audience (and probably a lot of recording devices).

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

My Mudcat bandmates and I often joke that we’re in a “geezer band”. Luckily, it seems that we’re doing exactly the right thing to stay young. Presenting The Zimmers! (Don’t miss their MySpace page.)

Don’t forget that going to live music performances also has an anti-aging medicinal effect. If you’re in the Seattle area next weekend, come on down for a draught or two…

Seeing Dreamgirls tonight turned out to be…

…a perfect way to celebrate James Brown and acknowledge his passing.

In this movie Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé Knowles both rise to the rank of Goddess. Do not miss it.