Tag Archives: video

Sun IdM & Virtual Desktop demo

WordPress taunts me every time I log in with the draft of a post I’ve been meaning to complete for quite some time that explains the general concepts around Identity Management, provisioning, role mining and so on. It’s intended to be a precursor to further more in-depth posts on various aspects of the topic. I never seem to manage enough time to finish it, so until then, a video!

At work we’re almost done with our first deployment of Sun Identity Manager. Personally, I’ve found it a good product to work with. I like Sun’s approach to deployment – the base system deploys as a Java WAR file that installs into Tomcat, Glassfish, etc, and it’s pretty easy to connect it to your first set of resources for provisioning. The workflow and forms design are a bit more of a challenge, using an XML-based functional language, XPRESS, and that takes a bit of getting used to, but is amazingly customisable.

Some while ago I was invited to a Sun technical day, at which I saw a demo of some SunRay thin-client appliances that link to the Sun Secure Global Desktop (SGD) product. If you’re familiar with Windows Remote Desktop, it works like this from a user’s point of view, except a bit more powerful. Stick your smartcard in the SunRay and connect to your desktop (Windows, Linux, whatever) running on a VM in a data centre. Go home from work, visit a web-based version and fire up the same desktop.

A couple of guys at Sun have put together a demo of how SGD, OpenSSO and Identity Manager can work together, dynamically creating whole new instances of desktops at a user’s request and giving the appropriate access, then killing it all off again when HR deactivate your account.

I think it’s a pretty cool explanation of how these sort of systems can hang together – for many organisations this could represent a huge saving in user administration, desktop provisioning, and even hardware.

Read about it here, or skip straight to the demo video (12 mins or so, with a great soundtrack!)

Energy efficiency as a game

I came across a great post at ecogeek.org (hmm, that makes me sound even more nerdy than I am) today on a topic we discussed at Home Camp. It talks of encouraging people to cut home energy consumption by turning it into a game, referencing the Behaviour, Energy & Climate Change Conference.

It seems that the idea’s gaining some traction – I see more and more references to it. I really like it as a way to get consumers as a whole to talk about their energy usage, something which most people see as inherently fairly dull.

Whilst products like the Current Cost or Onzo are great for getting individual households to reduce consumption by comparing against their own historic use – or even more simply watching how much money it costs to boil a kettle – encouraging people to be competitive seems a great way forward.

As well as the encouraging news that British users will all have a smart meter by 2020, we need to make sure the data provided by these meters is standardised and easily¬† ‘mashable’ to allow games like this to evolve on their own. I can imagine energy providers or other organisations offering ‘free stuff’ or discounts to the winners of ‘biggest loser’ competitions if all of us can share our energy data safely and securely – though of course there’s some irony in giving out products to people who are best at cutting their energy consumption. It’d be great to see, for example, the government offering discounts on your council tax bill as a reward for consistently reducing your consumption. I suspect, though, that would be a step too far given how most councils still live in the dark ages.

So far, a very basic form of this exists – my Carbon Account posts my carbon footprint to Facebook each time I add a reading, and I can compare with friends, but this is an entirely manual process reliant on my submission of meter readings once a month. I’m sure wider availability of Wattsons, Onzos and Current Costs will get this moving – I can see me handing them out to my family and friends as Christmas presents this year.

Meanwhile, take a look at this video showing a great example of how it might all come together.


For a while now I’ve been putting a little money here and there into Kiva. They’re a non-profit organisation who lend money out to individuals and small co-operatives in many of the poorer regions of the world.

You put some money into your Kiva account and then pick an entrepreneur (or more than one) to lend the money to. The money is disbursed to the businesses via ‘field partners’ – organisations located near the recipients who select the borrowers and manage the repayments. The borrowers pay some interest on their loans, which pays the costs of the field partners. Kiva itself is run by donation. As a lender, you don’t receive interest, but once the loan money is returned to you it can be relent. A charitable donation that keeps on giving!

As well as regular donations to some major charities, I really like the idea of directly helping individuals and their small businesses. Developing businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship seems to me a better idea than just doling out aid money.

If you take a look at my lender page, you’ll see the people I’ve lent money to. Since being a Kiva member, I’ve given out $400 in loans – I put in a much smaller sum, but the money has been cycled round a few times! All of my loans so far have been repaid in full, with no late payments. Pretty good, especially if you compare it to Zopa (where you can earn money by lending to UK-based borrowers) – whilst earning interest here, I’ve had two loans that have defaulted.

This video was produced by a Kiva Fellow – someone who left his job at Credit Suisse in London to volunteer in Cambodia. It gives a great insight into how Kiva works – and might encourage you to lend some yourself!

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Kiva.org Loan from Kieran Ball.