Friday Dec 05, 2008

Help! I need water!

My son-in-law Garry Bartle sent me a link to this innovative use of Twitter:

"Botanicalls Kits let plants reach out for human help! They offer a connection to your leafy pal via online Twitter status updates to your mobile phone."

Just think of all the people and things we could potentially attach Twitter-enabled sensors to: Grandma, Fido, Fluffy, my son's car ...

Thanks, Garry.  I needed this bright spot of geeky tech stuff on this dreary Friday afternoon.

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Friday Oct 17, 2008

Visualizing Facebook Social Graph

Thanks to Rohan Pinto for pointing out the TouchGraph Facebook application, written in Java, that allows you to visualize your Facebook social graph.

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Tuesday Sep 16, 2008

Bloggers Send Prayers of Hope

Last week, I posted a brief article about close family friends who are recovering from a serious plan crash. The following news report, produced by a Phoenix television station, explores how bloggers from around the world are sending their hope and prayers to Stephanie and Christian.

Makes you kind of feel good about participating in the blogosphere!

Friday Sep 12, 2008

I've Been Zemblied

Or is it "Zemblified?"  Regardless of what you call it, last night I was initiated into the wonderful world of rapid, collaborative JavaScript development using the Sun Zembly online environment.  From my perspective, Zembly is:
  • A web-based, rapid development environment for creating web 2.0 "things": widgets, applications and services
  • A growing repository of "things" developed on Zembly or available from outside sources
  • A social network of developers who can collaborate with each other in the development process
  • A hosted environment for executing things we produce
First, you must know that I am a rank amateur at JavaScript. I had never created a widget or put an iframe on a web page before last night.  My days of software development are in the past, with such old-school tools as Visual Basic, VB Script and Active Server Pages. (How quickly things change!)

But last night, I actually produced something useful with Zembly - on the first try.  My goal: replacing the "cloud" photo that has been hanging around in the upper left-hand corner of my blog for months with a rotating set of photos from my Flickr photostream.  It probably took me longer than it would take you, but here is the basic process I went through:
  1. I searched the Zembly repository widgets that had something to do with Flickr.
  2. I found a  "MyFlickRandomSlideshow" widget that had been created by "Gail".
  3. I cloned the widget so I could make changes to fit my needs.
  4. I discovered that using my Flickr screen name didn't work, so I dropped a note to Gail and asked for some advice.
  5. I received a note back from Gail (I still don't even know where she lives) saying I had actually uncovered a bug.  She fixed the bug, published a new version and gave me some advice regarding my Flickr screen name.
  6. I verified that the change worked, made some tweaks and voila!  I had a working widget.
  7. I then tried to insert the widget in an iframe on the "about" page of this blog and discovered that I needed to learn a bit about configuring iframes.
  8. I Google "html iframe", found this page, learned what I needed to know and had the widget sized and framed just right to replace the old cloud picture.
  9. I sent a note of thanks to Gail and headed to bed for the night.

So, there you have it.  My clouds have been replaced with my arcane set of family photos.  I met a new online friend. I felt the rush that comes from creative accomplishment.  Plus, I had something to blog about.

So what now?  I will figure out a way to make my call to Flickr more selective so the photos you see are more relevant. I will then create some widgets to make the lists on the right side of my blog more uniform.  And I'm sure I'll think of other stuff. 

So, thanks to Prakash and Jacques and Gail for getting me started.  If you'd like to give this a try, please let me know and I'll get you a beta invite.

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Saturday Aug 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Resume

I don't know Brandon Zeuner, but got a kick out of his Web 2.0-esque web page:

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Ziggy Podcast

When Ziggy can listen to podcasts on seashells, we know that social media has entered the mainstream of our social consciousness!

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Social Networking - the Old Fashioned Way

Earlier this week, I saw a great series of ads on the on the Boston Subway (the "T" in the local vernacular) for Dentyne chewing gum. These ad were particularly adroit in capturing the essence of our electronically connected society while firmly emphasizing the ageless quality of in-person interaction.

Thanks to a rapid email response from the Dentyne customer relations folks, I was able to enjoy the "Make Face Time" ad series again on the web. A series of six ads are available for your enjoyment.

You may also enjoy entering the site via the front door and experiencing the high tech "Flavor Analyzer."

Enjoy! I feel a sudden urge to rush out and buy some gum.

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Wednesday Aug 20, 2008

LinkedIn and Flying Cars

Social networking spawns some interesting conversations. Earlier this week, Paul Hinz, a colleague at Sun, sent the following message to accompany his LinkedIn connection request:

"Great meeting at ASM. Here's the proverbial LinkedIn request. In 20 years, what will we think about the phase of "hey, let's connect"? Will it be as common as flying cars?"

To that pithy question, I had to respond. For what it is worth, here's what I offered in return:

"Thanks for the connection. I hope that in 20 years, connections via social networks (or what every they are called then) are more automatic, such as registering a connection when we shake hands, like we did at ASM. I've really tried to keep track of people I connect with for the last 20 years, with increasing degrees of sophistication. I sense that the next 20 will bring a flood of improvements we haven't even thought of yet."

Re-reading that, I think I waxed a bit too philosophical at the time. But it will indeed be interesting to look back in 20 years and remember what the wild and wooly west of social networking was doing in its infancy.

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Saturday Aug 16, 2008

Zembly: Tracking Champions

Don't you love the Olympics? I just watched as Michael Phelps received his 8th gold medal and Usain Bolt set a new world record as he blew away the competition in the 100 meter sprint. The spirit, courage and accomplishments of these young athletes is an inspiration to me.

And how about the myPicks Facebook application that allows me to pick my favorites for each event and see how I stack up against the rest of the folks who are participating?

This great little application was created by using Sun Microsystems' Zembly Web 2.0 social network application development system. A truly innovative environment for application development, with Zembly you can:

" ... easily create and host social applications of all shapes and sizes, targeting the most popular social platforms on the web. Using just your browser and your creativity, and working collaboratively with others, you create and publish Facebook apps, OpenSocialmeebo apps, iPhone apps, Google Gadgets, embeddable widgets, and other social applications."
You can read more on the Zembly blog about what great things people are saying about Zembly.

With Zembly helping us track the Olympics, we can really say that we have a champion tracking champions!

Congratulations to the Zembly team for creating something truly remarkable.

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Friday Aug 08, 2008

Project SocialSite Source Code Available Today

Sun announced today that source code is now available for Project SocialSite (under a CDDL/GPL license) and the project is now operating as an open source project within the umbrella Glassfish community:

"Project SocialSite is a set of Widgets and Web Services that you can use to add Social Networking features to your existing web sites and applications. It includes a Java web application that manages a comprehensive Social Graph repository and exposes that data via an OpenSocial-based REST API. SocialSite also includes a set of Widgets that can be used to create an end-to-end UI for Social Networking, including the ability to run OpenSocial Gadgets within the pages of your existing sites."

Some Project SocialSite resources include:

Project SocialSite homepage on, with mailing lists and more:

Screencast that illustrates the project concept:

Project blog with news and announcements:

I'm looking forward to including some SocialSite-powered features on this blog in the near furture. Stay tuned.

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Thursday Jul 10, 2008

Seesmic Profile

I am experimenting with a new web cam, using the Seesmic social network. Here is my Seesmic video profile.

You can follow me on Seemic @mgd.

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Sunday Jun 01, 2008

Hello Seesmic!

Yesterday I invested a few dollars in a Creative Labs Optia AF video camera for my office and invested a bit of time connecting to Seesmic, now in alpha test. It looks to be great fun and may further collapse time and space between us. Please take a look at my video profile and let me know what you think.

My screen name is "mgd" on both Seemic and Flickr.

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Friday May 16, 2008

Social App that Helps Me Work

Thanks to my colleague Terry Sigle who referred to me Tuesday evening. I have been delighted with its real-world features that simplified my work life.

This afternoon, I completed a travel itinerary that required three separate reservations - two through the AMEX travel website and one through a direct call from a hotel. I then simply sent the three reservation emails, untouched, to

Voila! As if by magic, I received an email with a link to a composite itinerary complete with day-by-day weather forecasts, maps and driving directions. I easily verifed that everything was in sync printed out a combined schedule. Plus, all the individual reservations showed up on my i-cal compatible calendar and I easily accessed the itinerary via the mobile Tripit site.

In addition to this capability, has a social networking capability, similar to Dopplr, that allows travellers to link to each other and share travel plans. Please email me at mgd [at] sun [dot] com if you would like to connect and keep abreast of each other's travel schedule.

This, my friends, is great stuff!

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Thursday May 08, 2008

Keep Your Eyes on SocialSite

I'm excited for the upcoming release of SocialSite, one of the cool bits of Sun's open source technology introduced a JavaOne this week. I've been tracking this project for some time and look forward to actively using it when it becomes available. I'm particularly intrigued by its focus on integration: a social graph database that could be used to integrate multiple social networks and the easy process of integrating Open Social compliant widgets into web pages and applications.

From the Project SocialSite page ... "The SocialSite project is delivering social networking functionality by adding social networking platform support based on the OpenSocialTM standard to any community site. Any social application written for the OpenSocial based social network can be seamlessly and easily hosted on a transformed community site that is powered by the SocialSite project."

My colleague Raja Doraisamy, the Sun product line manager responsible for SocialSite, pointed me to an introductory video on YouTube

I'll keep you updated as the release date draws near.

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Tuesday May 06, 2008

Following Sun on Twitter

It was pure serendipity. Last weekend, I responded to a challenge posted on Sun's internal bloggers alias to find a way to provide an RSS feed of all the known Sun Microsystems Twitter users. Here's what I did ...

I set up a Twitter account "sun_follow" that is now following (or has requested to follow) each person with whose name is listed on the list of known Sun Microsystems Twitter users.

I am monitoring that wiki page and will add new entrants on that page to the sun_follow account. I also set up a new "planet" on to provide another view of all the tweets from these folks.

This little exercise yielded the following links:

Now for the serendipity ...

I didn't have the privilege to fly to California to participate in JavaOne this year. But I finished my little "Sun on Twitter" project just in time to monitor a rich stream of tweets from several Sun employees who were particpating in CommunityOne yesterday and the main JavaOne event today. Thank you fellow Sunnies, for your Twittering! And thanks for a interesting little set of technology for making this little project possible.

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Discovering Identity was founded on in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

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The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Oracle Corporation, or any other person or organization.


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