On My Watch

Friday, June 19, 2009

My (Personal) Activity Monitor?

Like waiting for my jetpack (still waiting...) I am also waiting for an activity monitor - like Business Activity Monitor (BAM) but for me - a Personal Activity Monitor (PAM). After years of promises and slew of technologies - both corporate (data warehouses, real time XML ..) and consumer (IM, RSS readers, ...), I know everything is possible and many things done. But I am just looking for an easy way to track things potentially complex things about me and my accounts, not just online social networking and communication accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GMail, Skype ...) but transactional accounts (e.g. bank accounts). It is my information (so I should know it) but I don't always - and more importantly I want to monitor transactions and transaction status - and be alerted if something goes wrong or something is just not right.

I have wanted this for some time but, recently, there was fraud activity on my personal bank account. So now I really want it. I only found out because I happened to be log onto account for another reason - and I saw suspicious activity that I should have been notified of. (Essentially several unauthorized transactions over a 2 day period on the opposite - West - coast for unauthorized withdrawals 4-5 times bigger than either my wife or I usually take out). And if it didn't trigger bank algorithms, I should have been able to set up my own. Now, I did get the money back (but it cost me several hrs, some embarassment of bounced check on a closed account and still chasing the fee reimbursements), but it sure would have been better to catch it before it happened - or at least before it happened second or third time. Save the bank the money too since they had to cover it (and ultimately the country since this is a bank receiving billions in gov't bailout money). And the fact that the bank's systems were not set up just strengthens the impetus to push the filtering algorithms out to the users.

My credit card company allows me to configure various alerts, such as bills due or thresholds met and my brokerage account lets me set up simple trading triggers. But noone (at least none of my providers) let me set up more than simple monitors (like a threshold alert) that would catch a pattern preceding my bank account fraud. The amounts alone should have triggered an alert, or at least a watch. And noone lets me input other data (my travel schedule, for one thing, would have said I wasn't in California on those days) to process against the data they already have.

Providing consumers the ability to set up filters like this would actually save institutions/businesses (like banks) money (in analysis and engineering overhead) AND produce a better result I think - more customized, more able to take advantage of what I know about myself - more situationally aware.
Not sure exactly what it is (control of a Facebook plus SECURE access to real transactional data?) but I want my PAM...

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SSO for Clouds
How close are we?

Now that SFDC supports SAML 2.0 (plus oAuth) standards for Single Sign On, that joins them up with Google AppEngine as 2 of the major cloud providers on a common path. This should bode well for SSO I would think. However, I think Amazon, particularly for S3, needs to get on board, since they are by far the biggest player in IaaS with the greatest number of independent developers, for the tipping point to come. EC2-based apps can obviously be SSO-enabled by the app developer deploying on it, but doesn't t it make sense to have this facilitated for app developers who are not SSO experts) ? And SSO, as I said, for S3 in particular opens up a lot of options for collaborative applications, options for collaboration that is also secure and managed.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Got to be a better way

Last night finished Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse by Thomas E Woods.

Is Deflation OK? Woods says it is but my text books say no. Otherwise, some of prescription sounds pretty darn good, particularly, as a techie and modernizer, the first:
  • Let Them Go Bankrupt - 'What's special about banks?" Can't we find other ways to connect depositors and borrowers without propping up the losers? Banks are intermediaries. Doesn't technology make this process easier and easier - including proper regulation - and lower the costs? I am not a banker and sure they'll be pain but there already is (to the tune of $billions) and can't us (we?) technologists build the connections and controls.
  • Abolish Fannie And Freddie - What are they even doing now?
  • Stop the Bailouts - How can more debt solve the problem of too much debt? Or at least "Where's mine?"
  • End gov manipulation of Money - not sure about this one. Again, is deflation OK and time to go back to the gold standard? Above my pay grade for sure.
  • Put the Fed on The Table - As far as what I can tell, Fed is probably one of the most rational and least political institution now but it is hardly ever mentioned as part of the problem. Certainly better than the over leveraged banks, regulators (particularly Office of Thrift Supervision), Congress, dead beat borrowers and activists pushing for loans to people who can't pay but didn't easy credit get us into this fix? (Actually I don't really fault the banks too much (some of my best friends are bankers - some even design financial products) - they just operate in the environment the govt created but take a look at some of those complex loan contacts used for ARM's - yikes)
  • Close Those Special Lending Windows - Again don't really understand the detailed pros and cons but do the Term Auction facilities hurt or help?
  • End the Monopoly Money - Back to the gold standard? Let me check my gold chain inventory....
I''ll get off my soap box now - but there has got to be a better way than flushing billions/trillions away - a billion here and billion there.... Guess I need to read Von Mises next.

Labels: ,