Wednesday May 21, 2008

Discussing security and privacy in Italy

 CSI Piemonte, an italian public sector co-operative visited Sun yesterday to talk about today and tomorrow's Security with Alec Muffet and Dave Walker, and I had the honour of hosting and MC'ing the meeting.

While discussing data centre networks i.e the network inside the firewall and how to build the firewalls, a number of products and companies were discussed, these include CSE Piemonte themselves, Tripwire for intrusion detection, Zeus, traffic management, ActivIdentity, part of an SSO solution, Tier-3, leveraging Behavioural Intelligence, Sun's Access Manager, "Privacy on the Line" a book by Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau, Endevours Technologies, Sun's Security Community's publications, Shibboleth, for single sign-on, and, looking at their virtual firewalls. Alec also spoke about some of the ideas he developed in his blog article Hankering For A World Without “Identity” or “Federation”. This latter conversation was very wide ranging and reviewed the significant differences between the UK and Italian data privacy laws, particularly in the field of medical data and records. The italian laws seem very citizen-centric, which is what we'd hope for in a democratic Republic. The CSI Piemonte people told us that

"The Italian Government is prohibited from asking for citizen's information twice"

which is really cool but it still has problems sharing it around the government between departments and bodies. In the UK, this is causing me problems with the Student Finance company at the moment. I'd like the Passport Agency and the Inland Revenue to pass my details on to them, so I don't have to collect all the stuff they ask for. I suppose that they can't ask the Inland Revenue because they want to know more than they do. Go figure.

I recorded these URL's as we discussed them on my feed in real time, i.e. as of this article's publication date, well, yesterday actually. (I suppose I should create a tag for the meeting, to ensure that all the URLs have a common and exclusive tag, but I havn't, and doesn't enable you to query a date range, which is why I repeat the list above, and I can't be bothered to write a script that displays how many days ago the meeting took place.)

I also think, or hope at least, that  this is an article, where the snap shots add value to the article. If you hover most of the links above, you get a preview of the web page. 


Wednesday Feb 20, 2008


Dinner with some of the team at "L'Isola d'Ora", fantastic fish restaurant, huge starters and good company.

The journey back to the hotel was very 'dolce vita', small, narrow cobbled streets, full of parked cars and we swung past the Colosseum before heading out to the outskirts where I had been advised to book in.

See also my google map of Rome....


And in Italy

Meetings with my italian colleagues where I talked about my new role, the opportunities that "Red Shift" offers to Sun, why we still bother with Solaris and also talked about Web 2.0. We discussed the localisation of the italian economy which while large (the 5th in the world) has language as a barrier to entry and while the US economy is no longer the definition of scale, the italian economy ceased to be such a long time ago.

Despite this, Sun Italia has a number of good relationships with leading companies in Italy and have some exciting project successes under their belt, paricualrly in the software field, where a number of the italian government's web portals are based on Sun's technology. In addition to being hosted by Giussepe Russo, the Chief Technologist in Italy, I met with Carrado di Bari and Danilo Poca who both write about their work here at, albeit in italian.


Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

Don't be so clever!

What am I doing trying to translate the menu here, its Italy, "You choose!" should be good enough.


I can't get online...

However, I can't believe that the hotel only has dial up in the room; I don't have the cable, nor the dial up agents to use this. Something to fix, as well as bluetoothing my mobile. The hotel has wi-fi in the Lobby and bar, but need to see my passport so that they can tell the police. I know that in the UK, we have some stupid rules about what we can and can't do without proving identity, but this strikes me as particularly foolish.

The upside is that I was able to use Twitter to let my twitter correspondents know about this and to text or phone me if they required urgent attention. I thought that this was useful, as opposed to the views I expressed last year, and so turned Lou Springer's feed back on to my phone. In future, I shall be using Twitter as a backup to chat, and for occasional broadcasts when the chat or mail is unavailable. If this sounds useful, follow me at Twitter or Facebook, where I also post my twits.

I wonder if I can consume my twits into my planet.


Avanti Encora

Once again Schengen proves its worth. No passport control at Fiumicino, straight out to the taxis and the joys of an italian taxi ride.


Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

And in Italy?

Mr Paolo Donzelli, of the Italian Department for Technical Innovation, presented on the italian government's policies in sustaining and nurturing innovation, and IT innovation in particular. (The slides for this and all other presentations I'm commenting on should be available on the NESSI web site). A fascinating study, which explained their strategy and the analysis that led to it, making a distinction between digital enablement, encouraging usability and adoption, reducing the digital divide and straight forward training.

They have and are looked very hard at healthcare systems and incubated a web or distributed computing approach as opposed to a messaging solution. Possibly more red shift than blue shift.

Their approach in the education sector is less advanced; they have a cost problem on the desk top. I should find someone to give them a call.

I found it interesting that their showcase industry approach is textiles which they see as very important to the italian economy. It reminds me however about the case study based on a Spain to New York fashion house that has a design to ERP solution and can offer haute couture for several days at a time, with both industry leading time to market (days) when they're innovating their market, and best of class rapid response when they've been out flanked. It seems that high fashion is a true time to market industry and thus IT can obviously help.

Paolo made some comments about the suitability of 3D computing and hence virtual worlds as design aids in the textile industry scenario. As you can see from my previous blog articles, "Driving Change on the Internet" (see below) and "How real is Virtuality?", I am very cautious about the utility of virtual worlds and particularly second life, but placing the problem domain in a world of 3 dimensions, such as fashion, or even engineering design may give it a relevance I haven't recognised. It doesn't solve the problem examined on this blog in the latter article, that to program in a virtual world, you need to understand the virtual world's physics. The bulk of programming theory since Djikstra has involved understanding the real world problem and modeling it, or creating languages in which the real world can be described, this approach can't be taken in second life. Building a wind tunnel in Second Life would be very difficult and almost certainly more costly than simulating it using other tools. (No doubt, someone has done it and will prove me wrong.) Whether this is a fundamental feature of virtual worlds, I don't know.





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