As I don’t have a PC at home (or, in fact, anywhere else) I started off by using XP running in Parallels on my MacBook Pro to visit signon.com and create a card for myself. I tried really hard to do this without pestering our IT guys. First of all I had to install .NET Framework 3.0 (bear in mind that I don’t really understand what this is) which didn’t take that long. Then I ran Windows Update to make sure it was all spick and span. Then I went back to signon.com to create an account and I got
You are not running the NTFS file system. For information about converting to NTFS, see Windows Help and Support.
Aaargh. I’d forgotten how using a PC always ends up with this sort of incomprehensible gibberish. Perhaps I’ll give Windows another try when they’ve ironed out that kind of thing.
Naturally, I wanted to carry on and try and install a non-Windows card for myself, so I followed the OSIS link and then on to the Bandit open source project that is supported by Novell. The Bandit project recently announced the DigitalMe identity selector for the Macintosh, so I downloaded the Firefox plugin and the DigitalMe application, set up a Bandit identity and hit the test site. Nothing. Went through it all again. Nothing. Firefox was complaining that it couldn’t find DigitalMe. Having googled around and found nothing, I went back to experimentation and began by moving DigitalMe around. Instant success. Turns out that DigitalMe has to be in the Applications folder (I’d put in the Utilities folder). So now I have CardSpace working on my Mac. Hurrah!
Back to OpenID. Via messing about in Firefox, I’d previously created an OpenID card at xmldap and tried to log in with that. That looked quite promising until I realised that I’d forgotten my OpenID log in details. So then I went over to Signon.com because they have a Cardspace log-in to OpenID. When I tried this before it didn’t work either: the “card” just sat there and didn’t log in. (It turned out that people who know far more about this than I do had the same problem, so it wasn’t me just misunderstanding the instructions.) Anyway, I was expecting it not to work, but something must have changed because actually I was able to create a new OpenID and register my InfoCard with it. So now I am able to login to OpenID via CardSpace. We’re still not quite there, because when I tried to log in to something using the OpenID, I got “We’re Sorry! Our system has encountered an unexpected error. A message has been sent to our support team” from Signon.com. Nevertheless, some real progress.
So what’s the conclusion so far? Well, the idea of OpenID is (to my mind) appealing in general and easy to set up — assuming the people understand its purpose and limitations — whereas I can see that in the e-business (and e-government) world, Cardspace has it’s attractions. The combination (ie, using CardSpace to login to OpenID) might well work in some circumstances. But if someone like me has to set aside so much time to get them working, then they’re still a way from the mass market because the average consumer simply won’t make that investment of time or mental energy. Still, there’s definite progress.
These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]