All posts by Martin Salias

Unified Identity Platform

Unified Identity Platform

You have just landed in an IT department of a large organization and found out you have to start managing many active applications that serve thousands of users. Each application has its own identity repository, and you’re asked to start de-provisioning some users ASAP. Oh, and one more thing: in a few days you have a legal audit coming up to inspect your users’ activities. Buckle up for a long, painful week.

For the Argentinean Ministry of Labor setting and enforcing policy involves thousands of transaction types across different applications to be performed by citizens, public and private companies, government agencies, external contractors, lawyers, even international organizations. Without a unified identity platform, the Ministry’s IT staff used to struggle to audit its users’ activities across its many applications, let alone de-provision users efficiently.

The Ministry’s IT staff decided to design and build a complete platform that would allow any citizen to use a unique set of credentials to access several dozen applications in different technologies (ASP, Java, .NET, etc.). Even more, these credentials are the same when any given citizen starts working for the Ministry as a contractor or a full-time employee, preserving the complete history of their interactions. It is just a matter of adding or removing specific claims that increase or decrease the user’s access rights.

This helped the IT staff simplify their provisioning/de-provisioning tasks, and centralize their audit processes as well as their infrastructure monitoring. The identity platform also currently allows the Ministry to federate credentials against other organizations having a Security Token Service in place, no matter which platform is it running on.

Metro Training at Buenos Aires

I’m finishing today a whole week of Metro Training courses, covering VS 2010 and Silverlight 4. Here is a brief recap and some interesting resources for attendees and everyone else.

2010-03-17 14.49.10

Monday to Wednesday:
Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4

Most of the content of this course came from the kit we at Southworks built for DPE, which is available at Channel 9:

You can check a good part of the course online, including additional videos, or you can download the offline Training Kit which gets you the full content and also includes the Dependency Checker tool for every lab. Running this tool your system is inspected to see if you have all the needed components for this lab, and you get links to download and install any missing part. To make your lab exercise even easier, the tools usually installs a series of Visual Studio snippets also, so you save a lot of typing.

While I was teaching the course, MIX 10 was running in Las Vegas, and had the chance to comment some of the announcements, many related to our latest cool projects, like the launch of Windows Phone 7 Series, and the release of our WP7 training kit, also available at Channel 9:

One of the topics that get people more excited was the ASP.NET Ajax Library, with all the client template stuff, and it was good that Microsoft just announced that they are investing more heavily in jQuery, as John Resig himself explains in this post.

Also related is the imminent release of the Web Client Developer Guidance we are building with p&p.

Deb on TwitterSpecial thanks in this course for Debora Di Piano, who helped me sharing her incredible expertise in Team Foundation Server with the audience.

Thursday and Friday:
Line of Business Applications with Silverlight 4

Julius on TwitterI’m finishing this course today, although it is mostly run by two good friends, colleagues and real Silverlight gurus: Julian Dominguez and Ezequiel Jadib.

Julian is one of the masterminds behind the Web Guidance mentioned above, and he was also at the core of the Composite Application Guidance for WPF and Silverlight, also known as Prism (which is way easier to remember).

E-Sql on TwitterEzequiel worked in many awsome projects too, and is the main author of the Silverlight Rough Cut Editor, which may be well one of the more complex Silverlight applications, used to edit video from many sources in complex scenarios like the latest Winter Olympic games. You can see a whole presentation Jason Suess about it from MIX 10.

Here is the content of the course, also in Channel 9:

Of course, you can find many sessions on Silverlight 4 from MIX 10, as well as tons of other interesting stuff.

Another interesting resource we mentioned during the course, more oriented to designers, but also to the new devigner fellows, is the Design Toolbox.

Jadib & Julius

Cloud Services powering Time Travel


Once a company reaches certain level of processing and storage, it can tackle formerly impossible projects.

One of the latest Google’s efforts to provide access to any kind of information involves time traveling over newspaper issues.

The image in this post is taken from the edition of the St.Petersburg Times from the day I was born. And of course, this is just one of the newspapers they scanned until now.

I didn’t do a lot of testing, but I found issues as old as the year 1908 (and no, I’m not that old).

These are scanned images, but they obviosly did an OCR of the full text, as this is entirely searchable. Just do the math for a single newspaper of an average of 12 pages (a really thin one):
12 pages x 365 issues a year (skipping leap years) x 100 years (just to round up) x 500 words per page (a quite conservative average) = 219 million words. And then, multiply this for the number of newspapers that they can agree to add to the database (a number increasing by the minute).

Now just imagine the amount of experiments you can do over such a massive full-text database. Things like comparing certain type of news, advertisement, etc, across different papers in the same dates, or correlation between papers in different languages, and more. Using these brute-force techniques over their web archive they got one of the best free machine translator services available to date, so go figure what’s next.

First full day at Southworks

DSC06074 This is my first post as a Southie, and it is written after finishing my first whole day at this new roles.

Did Microsoft finally get rid of me?

For the people who already knows me, I’m still working as an Architect for Corporate Accounts at Microsoft Argentina and Uruguay, still part time, but I’m devoting the rest of the regular working hours to Southworks, and keeping some of my personal activities (from familiar duties and community work to Wii Fit training) for the rest of my day.

Who is this guy?

As most people don’t know me (famous geeks live in California or Redmond), here is a little of my background, especially targeted to my fellow southie s.

I was born in Buenos Aires and started my career in technology fixing irons and vaccum cleaners while I was in college. Soon my interest in electronics drove me to the first personal computers (TI 99, Sinclair 1000) and I started earning some money by writing programs for small shops. When I finished college I started working at Talent, on the development team of the Talent MSX, where I wrote tons of assembler and C code and had the chance of working really close to the hardware and deal with device drivers, BIOS and even languages and compilers from Logo to dBase II.

Some friends convinced me to join their startup as the main (and only) developer and thus Merino Aller started, where I stayed about 15 years going from a 3 people company to a 50+ one with operations around Latinamerica. During this time I focused more and more on architecture and the development process and by participating in the flourishing online community I started doing presentations and then consulting on my own, up to the point where my independent activities won over my role on Merino, so I slowly transferred my duties (over a 2 year period) and finally become independent.

I had the chance to work and present around Latinamerica, US, Canada and Europe, and I worked for very different organizations, from Microsoft Consulting to the United Nations, in different markets such as airlines, telecommunications, law firms and of course several software companies.

All the way I tried to share the experience I learned from commiting drones of mistakes, so I become a partner of Level Extreme, a company in Canada which runs the community site, and I become Editor in Chief of UT Magazine first, for about 5 years, and then started a second publications called Level Extreme .NET Magazine, which is fully dedicated to .NET.

Some internal Microsoft system had a bug 2003 and I was awarded as an MVP, and it seems they never fixed it, as I’m still getting some weird stuff every year since then. My activities in the local community were quite close to the Microsoft User Group where I took a role as moderator on their distribution lists, and lately I become the MUG vicepresident.

My involvement with Agile practices started before they had that name, around mid 90´s when I increasingly started automating component testing to avoid regressions and started looking closely at team dynamics.

DSC06075What am I supossed to do at Southworks?

First of all, have fun. Which is easy because the spirit here is really good and I have the pleasure of working close to the Maestro, Angel Java López, an old-time and inspiring friend.

Then, my role will involve working on projects and trying to help on the company continuous improvement initiative, using my scars to help younger people not to get burned in some situations, and of course, trying to help them having fun too. We are all on this job because we love it, after all.