Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.
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Archive for May, 2009

PingFederate & Amazon Web Services (AWS)

May 29, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Two of our customers have deployed PingFederate in the cloud on Amazon Web Services EC2. Here are the steps they used to deploy on AWS.

Setting up PingFederate 6.0 in AWS was a pretty simple affair, I’m using one of the public Ubuntu 32-bit instances for testing and followed the installation recipe fairly closely, just adapting it in places so that it fit with our deployment strategies. It is still a work in progress but if you are looking to implement a paid/public AMI with PingFed it should be a pretty cut and dry affair.

  • Setup pingfed user
    Install JDK 1.6
    Setup JAVA_HOME path for JDK
    Unzip PingFederate 6.0
  • Adapt init script to point at the pingfed directory and use the pingfed account. At the moment, I have it running on the stock port but will likely change that to use 443 when we go to production as these servers will likely be standalone instances.

    All Dogs go to Heaven

    May 24, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    Two neighboring churches take their message to the street.

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    30lbs of Crawfish

    May 20, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

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    Bill Douglas of my EO Forum hosted a crawfish boil last night. Nothing quite like a full 30lbs of crawfish thrown out all over a table. Clearly some were more into the feast than others.

    Chuck Jones grubbing down

    Chuck Jones grubbing down

    A conversation with my shrink

    May 08, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life


    On Conflict

    Bernie: In a recent blog, you have written that it’s important to examine the chain of past events that have produced a current circumstance, and try to learn from them. Perhaps your forthcoming tour of NORAD will provide such an opportunity? The world has changed, and so has NORAD. But are we not still clinging desperately to other relics of the past? Is our current national priority to maintain special operations units throughout the world, spawned during the Vietnam era of distributed gorilla wars of national liberation, soon to become a relic of the past? And what’s next? We have to “do something” about global threats, right? Force is one part of the answer. If we just concentrate on that part alone, very complex part, really — what’s next? — Bernie Daina – Organizational Psychologist – go2daina@aol.com

    Andre: IMO, an imbalance in power and wealth, unfortunately, while as inevitable as recognizing that life isn’t fair, and some people are born tall, smart, famous or beautiful while others aren’t, is one of the root causes of confrontation. Life is not fair, the world is not perfect and there is a limited supply of many of our resources, making some of the basic needs of humans a sort of zero sum game, at least until we can figure out how to produce sufficient quantities of food, water, vaccines and education and deliver it where the people reside. Until nearly everyone is brought up similar production, capacity, efficiency & education levels, we’ll continue to have huge imbalances in wealth, and the corresponding confrontation that goes along people trying to balance the equation through force, or maintain their imbalance through force.


    Balancing Short and Long Term Goals

    Bernie: When confronted with the dilemma of valuing short-term results versus longer-term investment — particularly in a cash-tight entrepreneurial environment where a team is struggling to gain a firm foothold and investors are spooked or pressured and clamoring for “results” — how does a leader transmit a strong and continuous sense of urgency to his team, while absorbing excessive levels of performance-crippling anxiety that often accompany the urgency?

    Andre: I believe it’s the leaders role to create an environment where the best in people can be achieved. The best cannot be brought out if people are fearful. Early in a business, the leaders role is to create operational runway which allows teams to focus on the business, mission and vision, rather than worry about whether or not they will have a job in 2 weeks. The leader has failed if they are not capable of creating this condition, as the organization begins to collapse in on itself. Creating realistic expectations both up (the board) and down (the employees) is part of this role too. Balancing execution, resource appropriation and near-term results with investments with longer term returns is also an important role for the leader. They must know when to make future trade-offs and when to return to longer-term thinking. What i object to is when the focus of the entire organization becomes so myopic, that they do forgo entirely the bigger picture. My point of all of this is, a leader must be strong enough to actualize a condition whereby a healthy balance between short and long term goals can be realized.


    Pursuing Value or a Buck?

    Bernie. What’s the difference between offering products or services that really matter, that are of high quality, and that anticipate and meet genuine needs, versus those that can simply be sold? If customers can be manipulated to buy handily-produced large volumes of obsolete cars, trucks, pharmaceuticals, or software, what difference does it really make to take the risk and plow our efforts into producing something more useful that will not be adopted as easily? Is this an ethical or a business dilemma, or both?

    Andre: There will always be ways to make (and lose) a quick buck. The difference is whether or not you’ll last. Long term sustainability is the difference.


    Acting under pressure

    Bernie. What are the rules for determining whether an impending action, in a pressurized environment, will achieve a desired outcome versus simply discharge the tension of needing to “do something”?

    Andre: If that action is rooted in a long-term view of sustainability and competitiveness. If that action does not create a future liability as a result of a current gain.


    Motivation

    Bernie. Traditionally, organizations are attack vehicles: Companies attack their markets and competitors; relief organizations attack hunger, pestilence, and natural disasters; educational institutions attack ignorance and illiteracy; America’s scientific, educational, technological, and process-control infrastructures were galvanized and enhanced by our impulse to compete with the Russians for the moon; social clubs attack isolation and boredom; and so on. People get fired up, and join together, when they have a common enemy. Is there any better way to energize and focus a group productively?

    Andre: Different people are motivated by different things and I think organizations and their motivations can change over time if the people, or their leadership changes. Highly competitive people are motivated by winning. Microsoft had this culture, Oracle has this culture. Other teams are motivated to ‘invent’ (HP), or to ‘be first’ or to ‘be visionary.’ At different stages of a company, the people, and how you motivate them will likely evolve. So, I don’t think it’s as simple of an answer as saying, ‘the best way to motivate people is to have a common enemy.’ I think it’s convenient when it exists, but when an organization lives to kill (or simply to survive), I view this as a situation where leadership hasn’t stepped up and rallied people to a higher cause. It’s like running a business where the only mission is to make money. It’s not wrong, but it’s empty.


    Educate or Train?

    Bernie. Training is extremely important to our society: training in basic and advanced skills, training in disciplinary and creative problem-solving, training in social skills and “emotional intelligence”, and so forth. How does education differ from training? Does it help us do any more than accumulate knowledge and appreciate things? In what ways is education, per se, of any practical use?

    Andre: I equate education with having elements of experience sharing, which in turn incorporates elements of wisdom sharing. To me, this is much more meaningful than showing someone how to do something (training).


    Making the ‘right’ choice

    Bernie. Is it really reasonable to assume that doing the “right” thing, by whatever economical, moral or subjective standards, will lead to an outcome that one can always look back on and think, “Well, I’m glad I made that choice!”? Is there some other standard that supersedes doing the “right” thing?

    Andre: Good question. “Right” certainly has many contexts. I believe in a sort of universal balance. Call it what you will, ying/yang, what comes around goes around, karma, wave theory, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long or E=MC2. The point is, you can “cheat” and create a temporal imbalance in reality for only so long, but sooner or later, your decision catches up with you. Even if you don’t see the consequences, somehow they are there. With this view, doing the right thing is nothing more than recognizing the future cost of your decision. No matter how hidden.

    SAML Endpoint Program

    May 06, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    We launched a new SAML Endpoint Program yesterday designed to simplify how companies establish SAML Single Sign-On with partners. Just one of many new programs we’ll offer to streamline federation with partners.

    Tour of NORAD

    May 05, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    norad1

    I just received an invite to do a private tour of NORAD through my EO membership. This is one EO event I’m not going to miss. I suppose I won’t be twittering from within the mountain, but then again, I’m not sure what use NORAD actually serves today. It’s pretty much a relic from the cold war as best I can tell. But we’ll see.

    Killer.

    Killing the goose

    May 04, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    Butterflies in Asia. Hurricanes in America

    To be introspective on the nature of cause and effect in ones life is an interesting exercise. It can lead to an uncomfortable conclusion.

    Notwithstanding a few circumstances and your God given attributes, most of your life is the result of a chain of decisions. To respect cause and effect in your life will be to respect the role you play in your own situation and to take responsibility for it.

    You are in more control of your life than you might give credit. If you find yourself blaming others. If your problems and their solution lie in someone else, this would be a good time to examine your beliefs.

    How to render yourself useless

    When you externalize your problems and blame others, you render yourself helpless. It’s great for feeding self-pity, but it does little to improve your situation.

    Equally irresponsible is a lack of appreciation for cause and effect when the results are a few steps removed. Circumstances are the result of a sequence of events. To go back and examine that sequence can be useful in creating a more constructive path forward. But societal amnesia has reached nearly pandemic proportions, forget H1N1.

    What, no more eggs?

    In the auto industry, we killed the goose a long time ago. We just forgot, or didn’t connect the effect with the root cause, and now we’re witnessing the full ramifications. You can only distort reality for so long. As an industry, the American auto industry has been largely uncompetitive for far too long. We’ll do better in the future if we didn’t forget the mistakes of the past. It’s time to move forward and compete, in the real-world.

    Warren Buffett, the Anti-Trump

    May 03, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    Warren & Charlie – They broke the mold

    I had the pleasure of seeing Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway speak at their annual shareholder meeting this weekend. I am not a shareholder, so I was there by the grace of Gunnar Peterson, a Ping advisor, and a shareholder of Berkshire.

    I feel lucky to have seen Warren & Charlie in action. It’s not just Warren, it’s Warren and Charlie. The are a team. They don’t make them like this anymore. The cast from which these two were created has been broken.

    No amount of IQ will replace practical wisdom

    What was perhaps the most inspirational was to witness how central a theme was their operational guidelines rooted in the wisdom of practical experience and their personal virtues such as patience, loyalty, trust and the long-term view of value creation.

    It was also reinforcing to me to see how far from these timeless virtues our immediate gratification driven society has unfortunately traveled.

    Too many just don’t get it

    Time and time again, the audience queried Warren and Charlie on their views of ‘trading’ stocks, to which, they repeated that their simple formula for wealth creation was in finding undervalued companies with good management and defensible businesses and then investing in them for the long haul.

    Breaking from the pack

    Having grown up in the immediate gratification generation, this sort of thinking is not my upbringing, however, upon reflection, I believe I was born in the wrong generation, because I identify much more with their prescription of long-term value creation.

    Deepening resolve – taking the long-view

    My takeaways from this weekend have no doubt deepened my resolve in areas related to how I would like to participate in society as an individual and business leader. In short, I intend to do the following:

  • Remove the temptation to allow the possibility of short-term gains to cloud my resolve in pursuing truly meaningful long-term goals.
  • Trust and support my managers even more than I do now
  • Work even harder to shelter my company from the sorts of short-term decisions that inevitably lead companies to short-term gains at the expense of truly powerful outcomes
  • Build a culture that not just values, but breed’s respect, teamwork, trust and long-term value creation.
  • Too much IQ – sell a few points

    Warren and Charlie had some harsh words for those that over complicate things. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve become increasingly critical of the sort of wizardry, and fancy mathematics that are being applied to our markets as people try to condense future returns into today’s consumption. I believe these tricks and gimmicks have had the effect of derailing our society and our markets from a steady, sustainable growth path onto a roller coaster of booms and corrective busts.

    Lose the fractional jets

    Just before leaving, I toured Netjets, the fractional jet ownership program that Berkshire invested in. Who doesn’t like seeing jets? They are incredible machines. But nothing but ego can come close to justifying such an expense. So with that, I do have a one recommendation for Warren. Dump Netjets siting a temporary lapse of insanity and buy Dunkin Donuts, it’s more your style. Even in bad cycles, people still need coffee and a good donut.