Okta Atlas Award 2014

oktaI’ve worked at Esri for 13 years, and I’ve had this blog for over 10 years. Despite those facts, I’ve never blogged about my job. This post will venture into some new territory, and with that I would like to state that the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Esri’s positions, strategies or opinions.

In February 2013 I took on the role of Identity and Access Management (IAM) Team Lead at Esri. The teams focus was on consolidating user stores and account systems across the enterprise. Along with consolidation, improving the end user experience and hardening security or both internal staff and external customers was also key. Very large goals.

Enterprise identity management is difficult. It’s a balance of IT infrastructure, user account management, and security. In today’s world we all know the problems that happen when one of those areas is compromised and user accounts or data is leaked.

My team reviewed many IAM solutions, and ultimately selected Okta. It’s been an awesome experience. There is only a hand full of companies that I’m a complete fan boy for, and Okta is one of them – along with Shopify and Apple.

I feel that Okta has help me change our Enterprise IT for the better. It’s allowed us to be more agile and enabled better collaborate with our colleagues around the world. Our needs have pushed the Okta platform into some new areas, and Okta staff has always been there to support us. We have grown together.

Last week Okta held their annual conference – Oktane, in San Francisco. As part of the keynote presentation Okta presents awards to recognize organizations and individuals that have taken major leaps into the Okta platform.

I’m proud to say that the Esri IAM team won the 2014 Okta Atlas Award

“The Atlas Award celebrates the customer teams that have effectively extended Okta and are “doing it all,” this award is given to those who take all on their shoulders like the primordial Titan, to cover the identities of their employees, customers, partners or other external users alike.”

Okta Award 2014

I shared the award along with my friend and teammate from Esri, Ramchand Rao. Gaston Zilleruelo of Amway was also presented with the award.

Ramchand and I may have accepted the award on stage, but it also belongs to the other members of the Esri IAM team, Aaron Asencio and Alagukannan Alagappan. We’re a small team but we’ve pulled off some amazing things together.

I truly think that cloud Identity and Access Management is the future, and Okta is leading that charge.

You can read more about the Okta conference and the winners of other Okta awards here – https://www.okta.com/blog/2014/11/celebrating_customers_partners_oktane14/

So I’m writing a book

book_writingIn early 2013 I started writing a book.I didn’t get far before starting work on other projects.

Its August of 2014, and I’ve started working on my book again. It’s about SEO and SMO (Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Optimization). Currently it’s about 100 pages completed. I’ve started and stopped this project more that any other project in my life. Today I took some time to reflect on why it’s taking me so long to complete this task.

Through writing this book, I’ve realized that it’s difficult for me to convey my thoughts and ideas on a page. I can make it happen, but I’m very slow at it. Truthfully I am more comfortable writing computer code.

To me, code has a personality and a life of it’s own. I go to war when I code. Code does not want to run, you have to wrestle into submission. You have to understand it, you have to anticipate it. You have to imagine all of the different ways your code is going to try and elude you, and crash. Like all worthy adversaries, you must respect the code to truly understand and master it. For the code to run, you must be successful, you must be correct. The poetic dance that I experience with code, I don’t feel when writing in English. Maybe it’s the linear fashion and format.

I can say however that the research process has been fun, and stretching myself to write this book has been a great experience and a true challenge. I am passionate about seeing this project through. Here’s to the future, and here’s to completing this bad boy!

My Goals For 2014


Every year I posts a list of things I want to accomplish in that year. 2014 is going to hold some big things. Here is my list for things that I’m going to strive for and achieve this year.

  • Get more involved in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • Involve more wearable tech in my life
  • Work on educating people more about MFA and account security
  • Get more involved in the Shopify community
  • Continue to automate more of my income
  • Continue to pay off more debt
  • Launch another Shopify app
  • Continue to delegate more of my tasks
  • Finish and publish my SEO book
  • Expand my SEO offerings to clients
  • Drive a Tesla Model S (at least a test drive or a rental)
  • Have a  conversation with Kevin Rose, and Tim Ferris
  • Contribute to more charities

2013 Year In Review


For the last few year I list the goals that I would like to achieve for the year (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009). With this post I’d like to take some time and see how many of my 2013 goals I managed to achieve.

  • Attend more tech conferences

I Only attended 2 tech conferences this year, but both of them were completely insane and in San Francisco. Oktane 2013, the first user conference of Okta.com (a service that I LOVE), and the first California Shopify meetup (another company that I absolutely love). This year was about quality, not quantity. Grade: #meh

  • Speak at some tech conferences / user groups

Since I only attended one conference and one meetup, presenting at neither of them, this is nothing but fail. Grade: #epicFail

  • Continue to Automate more of my income

I’m really proud of the accomplishments I have made in this area. B2B SaaS apps are definitely where it’s at. This was the best year for me in that regard. Most of the work was automated, but there was some manual components that I should delegate out. Grade: #epicWin

  • Pay off more debt

This goes in hand with automating my income. This year I absolutely attacked my debt. Automating more of my income really helped this. Becoming debt free is a hard thing to do, but I’m closer now that I have ever been in my adult life. Grade: #epicWin

  • Develop another Shopify app

I’m VERY close to releasing my 3rd Shopify app but I don’t think it will happen in 2013. More important to me than releasing another app is the growth of my existing apps. Both of them were extended, optimized and updated. There was a significant amount of development that went into these that I am proud about. Grade: #win

  • Delegate more of my tasks (4 hour work week style)

This one has made my yearly list a few times now. Every year I make some progress, but I never feel that it’s enough. This year I have make some partnerships that have been helpful in offloading some task, but at the same time I’ve created some new projects that fill the void. Sort of not making anything new, I don’t know what the answer to this one is. Grade: #meh

  • Finish and publish my SEO book

Writing is a much slower process for me than I thought it was going to be. Sometimes I find it hard to convey what I want to say in written form. There have been points in the process that I have found it very enjoyable to sit down and write. The bottom line is that I didn’t get it finished or published. I’m currently about 40% done with the content creation portion. Grade: #fail

  • De-clutter my life – Get rid of things that I rarely use

I’ve really been working on this one. I’ve started listing things on craigslist and eBay and donating things to goodwill. This is going to take me some time before I feel that this is completed, but I think I’m winning. Grade: #win

  • Continue body building – Stack on more muscle

For the most part this was true. I’m still relatively big, and I haven’t lost interest. I’ve slacked off in Q4 of this year, but I’m still passionate about it. I find that heavy physical activity forces my brain to shut off for a while (in a similar way that heavy metal concerts do). My body takes over and give my brain time to rest. Grade: #win

  • Blog more about my experiences with tech and raising a son

Yeah this didn’t happen. working full time + raising a son + running a business = not much time for personal blogging. Grade: #fail

  • Test a pair of Google glasses

This has to be the most #epicWin EVER! Not only did I try on a pair of Google Glass, I was selected by Google to get a pair of Google Glass. I even went to Google to pick them up. I’m honored to be on the leading edge of wearable tech because of Glass. I was even interviewed by the New York Times magazine about Glass. Grade: #epicWIN

  • Have a  conversation with Kevin Rose, and Tim Ferris

Despite my attempts on social media, this didn’t happen.. next year. Grade: #epicFail

  • Promote my clothing line Wolves Clothing more

My delegated work efforts contributed to this one. I’ve taken on a partner that handles the day to day of this. As a result, we have gotten a lot more traction. 1 + 1 = 3. Grade: #win

2013 was a ear of growth for me. I stepped into a new position at work, my business started to really take off, and I have a toddler that I want to hang out with all the time. 2014 is going to be awesome. I can’t wait.

Google Glass Prescription Lenses

Josh Highland Google Glass Prescription Lenses

Update – I’ve hacked them once again!

Before I picked up my Google Glass, I knew they didn’t support prescription lenses. To prepare for the Google Glass, I went to my optometrist and got fitted for contact lenses. She tried to talk me out of getting contacts due to the shape of my right eye (severe astigmatism). She explained that contacts would most likely not be comfortable and to stick to glasses. Knowing that Google Glass didn’t support prescription lenses, I got contacts anyways. I should have listened to the doctor, the contacts were HORRIBLE! I immediately switched back to my Warby Parker eye glasses for daily wear.

I tired to wear my Google Glass with my eye glasses, but there was no way to make it work. Luckily I can see pretty good up close, so I was able to wear my Google Glass by themselves. There was no way that I could drive a car, work on a computer, or carry on daily life without my eye glasses, so my Google Glass had remained somewhat of a novelty. I would take off my eye glasses, put on my Google Glass and show people the future, but as soon as the demo is over I take the Glass off and put my eye glasses back on.

Today I realized that I hadn’t really worn my Google Glass in a few days. It really upset me. I want Glass to be a part of my daily life, but without support for prescription lenses, it wasn’t going to happen. I decided to do something about it. I was willing to take apart my Google Glass if I had to. I was going to make them work with my prescription lenses at any cost.

I started by removing the only exposed screw on the Google Glass. It’s located just above the right temple, and can be removed with a Torx-5 bit. After loosing the screw, the titanium headband is easily detached, leaving the main Glass unit.

IMG_0736IMG_0738-1IMG_0739Looking at my options, I took and old pair of my 141 eye wear and decided to cut the right arm. I used a pair of wire cutters to get the job done. After my first cut, I realized that I was going to need to cut it a bit shorter, so that the power button for the Glass was exposed.IMG_0740IMG_0741-1IMG_0743-1With the arm at a minimal length, I was left to figure out how to attach the Glass to my glasses. I first tried double stick tape, but it just wasn’t strong enough. I didn’t want to use glue and risk damaging the plastic housing. Instead of getting fancy, I went with a very cheap, low tech solution – a zip tie, or wire tie. I just happened to have a black one in my tool box.

After snugging down the zip tie and cutting off the excess, the whole assembly felt very solid and fit very well. The side of Google Glass is touch sensitive but the tie doesn’t seem to interfere with  it’s responsiveness.IMG_0744-1IMG_0748-1IMG_0749-1For the first time, I was able to see Glass through my prescription lenses. I could truly appreciate the quality of the display optic. Images were more vibrant and clear. This is the experience I was looking for from the beginning. This is going to let me wear Glass on a daily basis, and it cost me less than $0.01 to do it! I may try to use a thinner zip tie so its not so obvious. Then again, I have a computer hanging off my face and I think that most of the attention will be focused on it. IMG_0750-1IMG_0751-1Maybe Google feels that the people who have the Glass Explorer Editions are true explorers and pioneers, and they will find a way to make prescription lenses work. Maybe Google hasn’t found a good way to make lenses work for most people. All I know is that I have found a way to make Glass work for me, and this is the start of something awesome. Look out world!