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                          Archive for Sept 2006


                          Yahoo!'s BBAuth: Browser Based Authentication

                          Today Yahoo! announced BBAuth or Browser Base Authentication (I found out from Dave Winer). Google has a similar service. Once a user has logged in to Yahoo! (after a redirection from your site) they specifically authorize your application to retrieve certain user data that you've requested. You then get back a token (one hour TTL) that can be used with Yahoo! APIs to get the data. Jeremy Zawodny says that right now only Yahoo! Photos and Yahoo! Mail are supporting BBAuth. Dan Theurer has a post about getting it ready to go. I'd like to use this in the
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                          Interaction Design

                          One of the things I try to get my students thinking about in CS462 is Web site design. I'm not talking graphics here--most techies are terrificly bad at making things look nice. I'm talking about the interaction. I'm not hoping to turn them into usability experts, but I do want to give them the tools to design and document interaction and tie it to Web site behavior. People say you can teach design and I agree that it's hard to lecture about--but you can teach it. I have my students do design exercises as groups in class to get
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                          New Tools to Help Podcasters

                          Podcast Pickle - No idea what it is(click to enlarge) Yesterday at Podcast Academy, Doug Kaye made a couple of announcements that will be important to anyone interested in podcasting. There are a number of tools that Team ITC (the folks who produce the shows on IT Conversations and other other GigaVox Media channels) use. GigaVox has decided to release some of them for everyone to use. The first is the Levelator, a tool for automatically adjusts the audio levels within a podcast to account for variations in level between speakers. So on on a conference call, for example, where
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                          Leo Laporte on Monetizing Podcasts

                          Leo Laporte from TWiT(click to enlarge) Leo LaPorte, the host of TWiT gave the closing keynote at Podcast Academy. This was one of those talks that's pretty fun to listen to, but hard to blog. Leo mentions that TWiT has started to take ads. Interestingly he gets quite a bit of pushback from listeners saying things like "now that you've started running ads, you'll never be honest about Dell again..." Certainly, this is no different than technology magazines or technology Web sites, but people feel differently about the editorial conflict of interest. Perhaps this is because podcasts are more intimate?
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                          Tim Street on Producing Viral Video

                          Tim Street(click to enlarge) Tim Street is speaking about viral video. Viral video has some important things in common: Easy to share OK to share (no too explicit) Controversial - takes risks Emotionally engaging The last point is the most important. Tim goes through a list of primary and secondary emotions. He shows different video clips (and their stats) for various emotions. Use emotion to engage. Some critical advice: think about who the audience should root for. Who's the hero? Who's the antagonist. This is basic story telling and applies to blogging and podcasting as well as video. Spectacle vs.
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                          Craig Syverson on Video Podcasting and Production

                          Craig Sylverson(click to enlarge) Craig Syverson is giving a great talk on producing video for distribution on the 'Net. He breaks it down into a series of steps or concepts. First, what's the concept? What are you trying to accomplish? What's the feeling and who's the audience. How will it be experienced? This is a question that really applies to 'Net distributed video. Will people see it on an iPod in an airplane or in their living room on an HDTV? What's the strategy? How does it fit into the corporate strategy or what you're trying to do? Growth and
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                          Denise Howell on Legal Podcasting

                          Denise Howell(click to enlarge) Denise Howell (who hosts Sound Policy on IT Conversations is speaking on the legal consideration in Podcasting. She mentions Collette Vogele (who Denise interviewed recently on Sound Policy). Collete's the force behind the Podcasting Legal Guide which Denise recommends every podcaster follow. The basic problem is the podcasters need to comply with intellectual property laws and that's not easy task. Issues include the name, the URL, the hosts, the guests, the text, music, images, video, and voice. Denise recommends not even trying to negotiate the waters surrounding commercial music licensing. You don't have enough money or
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                          Kris Smith on Web Design for Podcasting

                          Kris Smith(click to enlarge) I'm spending the day at Podcast Academy. I just flew down to Ontario CA this morning and I fly back tonight. Nice, easy in and out. I missed the first talk, but gout here just in time to hear Kris Smith discuss successful Web design for podcasting. Integrating the Web site with the podcast is important for increasing traffic. Show notes, descriptions, and pictures flesh out the audio. Tracking, stats, and metrics are some of the basic tools that you need to measure success. What you do in this area depends on how you measure success.
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                          The Most Important Language in 2006: JavaScript

                          You gotta love Steve Yegge's blog. One of his latest posts is called Dreaming in a Browser Swamp. Steve's style is to write infrequent, long posts, but they are always worth the wait and the read. "Browser Swamp" makes the outrageous claim that JavaScript is the most important language in the world today. A claim that surely going to get some argument (language wars are so much fun) but one which is grounded in some solid rationale. Note that Steve didn't say that it's the best language, only that it's the most important.
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                          CTO Breakfast Report for September

                          Carl Youngblood told us of his experience as the sole technical person in a small construction loan wholesaling company. He's building a Rails application to automate the process and using an Indian outsourcing company to do much of the work under his direction. I was fascinated to hear how he had managed to set up an outsourcing contract and managed the work as a small shop. I mentioned that Yukihiro Matsumoto, or Matz, the creator or Ruby will be giving the colloquium in the BYU CS Department on Oct 19th. Eric Smith gave us a run down of Control4,
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                          Sprint's Product Management Foibles

                          Joel Spolsky got to review one of Sprint's new phones wit the new "Power Vision Network" and he hated it. It's difficult to believe that some team of product managers actually thought about this and concluded that it was good. When will cell phone companies wake up? Not soon, I predict.
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                          Power Laws, Longtails, and Software

                          Yesterday I spoke to a group of about 60 students at UVSC and then in the evening, I addressed the BYU Unix Users Group. I spoke on Power Laws, Longtails, and Software. Here's the abstract: If you took statistics and are a Computer Scientist, chances are you learned about the wrong kinds of distributions. Hardly anything about CS is normal...or Gaussian for that matter. This talk will explore power law distributions and their relationship to Internet businesses like Amazon.com and Rhapsody. Having a tough time figuring out who to work for? Power laws can help. This is a fun
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                          Blogging for Dollars

                          Last week I gave a guest lecture in Paul Allen's Internet Marketing class on blogging. The talk (PDF) was one I've given before. In fact, it was much of the information I gave to Altiris last month. One of the questions I got asked several times was "so how do I use my blog to sell my product." Apparently, I didn't answer the question very well. The bottom line is I don't think blogs are the right place to sell products. In fact, I think they're the wrong place to sell. They're a great vehicle for communicating with customers
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                          CTO Breakfast on Tuesday

                          This is a reminder that we'll be holding the CTO breakfast this coming Tuesday at 8am in Building L (cafeteria) of the Canyon Park Technology Center (former WordPerfect campus). This is a change from the schedule. I have decided to go to the Podcast Academy on Thursday, so I'm hoping at least a few of you can join me on Tuesday. A few topics I'd love to discuss include: Vonage, Asterisk, and VoIP for the home and small business Identity for doctors Your topics are welcome, as they always are. Future CTO Breakfasts will be held on October 26
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                          Does Your Four-Year Old Have a Full Time Job?

                          An article in this morning's Deseret News revealed that the Social Security Numbers of as many as 600 Utah children under the age of 12 are in use somewhere in the state by someone else. These workers might be using these SSNs mistakenly or they might not... The real story however, is that Utah law doesn't provide clear avenues and reasonable tools for the Dept. of Workforce Services to try to correct the mistakes. Workers are afraid of privacy law violations and have no authority to require employers to fix the problems. So, if your four year old gets
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                          Digital Identity Is the Greatest Challenge on the Planet!

                          Forget global warming war, and famine. Digital identity is the "biggest challenge on the planet today." At least that's what Sun Chairman CEO Scott McNealy thinks. Given that, I can't understand why my book isn't on the NYT best seller list. :-) I wonder if Scott has a copy?
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                          An Updated Top Ten for IT Conversations

                          In April I looked at the rankings for IT Conversations shows and listed the top ten. I decided I'd take another look some months later and see what's changed. First there are over 80 shows that have a rating of 4 or above, compared to 60 in April. There are over 1000 shows that have some kind of ranking, compared to a little over 800 in April. To find the top ten shows, I used the same criteria as last time, ranking only shows that had more than 20 votes. Here are the top ten shows: Dr. Daniel Amen
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                          Student Entrepreneur of the Year Competition

                          The BYU Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) is sponsoring their annual Student Entrepreneur of the Year Competition. Computer Science students at BYU have done very well in this competition in the past. A total of $31,000 in prize money is awarded, with $12,500 going to first place. If you're a student with an idea for a business and are serious about getting off the ground, this is a good way to focus your efforts, get some great feedback, and, if you're good, get a little funding for your idea to boot.
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                          Using Parallels to Simplify System Admin Tasks

                          One of the things I was most excited about with my MacBook Pro was the ability to run Parallels. People ask "if you like OS X so much why are you excited to be able to run other OSs?" Here's one reason. In my distributed applications class, I have my students set up and manage their own Linux server. For some of them it's the first time they've been root. They have to install jBoss, Axis, and other fun things before they can complete the assignments. As a consequence, I end up working on a Linux machine quite a
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                          Quad Core Upgrades for Apple

                          Later this year Intel will release quad core versions of it's Core 2 and Xeon processors that are pin-compatible with the current two core versions. The folks over at Anandtech dropped quad core samples into a Mac Pro and they worked just fine. I suspect that upgrading your Mac Book Pro would be dicey due to power and thermal issues, but upgrading Mac Pro towers should provide quite a boost for well-threaded applications
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                          Controlling Vonage from Your Desktop

                          This morning, while I was listening to Ajay Madhok on IT Conversations, I was thinking it would be cool if I could manage what number my Vonage number forwarded to using an API. Then I could use the presence information in my IM application to drive where that one number sent my calls. Sometimes I want them to ring through to the handset, sometimes I want them to go to my cell and often I want them to go straight to voicemail (I hate telephones). Well, Vonage doesn't have an API, but they do have a very cool RESTful
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                          Using Reputation to Combat Online Fraud

                          Last week at DIDW, I had the opportunity to sit down with Iovation CTO Dan Lulich. I'd met Dan at the Berkman ID mashup in June, but didn't really know what Iovation did. I found that we had much to talk about: Iovation does reputation. Iovation's reputation services aren't for people--they're for devices. Being able to link devices to undesirable activities and also to the accounts they log into is a great way to combat fraud in online gaming, eCommerce, and other places where money is at stake. Denise Howell just interviewed Iovation's CEO Greg Pierson on IT Conversations.
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                          Where 2.0 on IT Conversations

                          We just launched a new series of shows from O'Reilly's Where 2.0 conference on IT Conversations. Today's show is the opening keynote by Nat Torkington and Brady Forrest. I really enjoyed the sessions from Where 2.0 in 2005. I'm looking forward to a great set of presentations from the 2006 conference in the coming weeks.
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                          Scary Voting Videos

                          Diebold AccuVote-TS voting in Princetons Voting Studies Lab Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten have completed a security study using an Actual Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine. The study will no doubt provide some good information for people, but what's really eye-catching is the video they prepared showing how you can install software in under a minute that not only steal votes, but is also viral so that it spreads from machine to machine as workers update software. These kinds of results make one wonder how any elections official can remain sanguine about the security of elections
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                          Wrapping Up DIDW

                          One of the things that distinguishes a great conference from a good one for me is that I not only learn new things, but I'm inspired with new ideas. Occasionally I come away from a conference with lots of new ideas, having met lots of new, interesting people, and having deepened friendships with people I already knew. That happened at DIDW this year and that's what will keep me coming back. Phil and Eric hit the nail on the head this year. I'm headed out to the airport, sorry I'll miss Doc's closing keynote, but glad I came.
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                          whobar

                          SXIP seems to ta always come up with clever names for things. The entry this year is whobar, SXIP's software or relying parties that allows them to accept CardSpace cards, i-names, or OpenID itentifiers from users.
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                          Kaliya Wins DIDW Award

                          Kaliya Hamlin won a DIDW award for "behind the scenes" work on the Internet Identity Workshop and th Identity Gang. It was well deserved. Kaliya is a motive force in this area and someone who makes the community better. Over and above that, she's a genuinely nice person and someone who's a pleasure to work with. Congratulations Kaliya!
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                          Pretexting

                          The word for the week is pretexting.
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                          Passive Federation

                          Patrick Harding, CTO at Ping, is speaking with Kim Cameron on using CardSpace in the enterprise. Patrick discusses how traditional federation allowed user data to flow between enterprise systems without the user's consent. Rather than refer to the case where the user is structurally involved as "user-centric" however, he introduces the term "active federation," calling the traditional federation scenario "passive."
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                          Jamie Lewis Keynote: The Evolving IdM Landscape

                          Jamie Lewis, CEO of Burton Group(click to enlarge) Another highlight of DIDW each year is Jamie Lewis' keynote. Jamie is the CEO of the Burton Group (and, incidentally, wrote the forward to my book on Digital Identity). He believes that the market has moved beyond the products and suites stage to the services stage. Good news for the people I've met at the conference this year who are hoping to build service-based businesses. Stronger authentication is not going to solve most of the problems we see in the identity space. User IDs and passwords are still around and replacing them
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                          Microsoft's Open Specification Promise

                          Yesterday Microsoft made an important announcement regarding the intellectual property that they have surrounding many of the WS-* specification. I wrote about it at Between the Lines. You can find details at Kim Cameron's blog.
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                          Digg As a Game

                          There's been quite a bit of controversy surrounding how people game Digg. Pete Abilla has posted a thoughtful analysis using game theory to see what's wrong with Digg and how it could be corrected.
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                          Digital Identity in BC Government

                          Dave Nikolesjsin, CIO, Prov. of British Columbia(click to enlarge) Dave Nikolesjsin is the CIO for the Prov. of British Columbia. No less an authority on identity than Dick Hardt has told me that I really had to see what they were doing in identity. So, when I saw that Dave as speaking at DIDW, I knew that was one session I had to attend. Serendipitously, I sat with Dave at breakfast and got a chance to get acquainted. The title of Dave's talk is "Citizen-Centric Identity." He shows a picture with a citizen, in this case a little girl from
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                          Location and Identity: A Powerful Team

                          Something Phil Becker said in his annual state of digital identity talk at DIDW this morning made me think about location and some of the things that go along with identity and mobile devices. I wrote those up and posted them at Between the Lines.
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                          Vitamins, Pain-killers, and Viagra

                          Dick Hardt(click to enlarge) Dick Hardt intro'd a panel on identity at big sites (meaning eBay, Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and so on). He used a great analogy of vitamins, pain-killers, and Viagra. We've been selling ID Management as vitamins. Everyone knows that they're good for you, but there's no urgency. With pain-killers, there's urgency. Viagra, on the other hand lets people do things they couldn't do before. User-centric identity is a pain-killer for users, but only a vitamin for big sites. How do you turn user centric identity into Viagra? He uses eBay as an example. By using a user-centric,
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                          Jim Harper on Identity

                          Jim Harper is the author of Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. Jim is an analyst at the Cato Institute, a non-profit thinktank with Libertarian leanings. Phil Becker introduced him by saying his book was a great introduction to the theory of identification. He uses the discussion of a national ID card to launch into a discussion of identification and it's theory. There are serious challenges in identification and policy makers will do a better job if we do a better job of articulating what identification is, how it works, and why it fails. Surveillance is easier
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                          DIDW Opener

                          Phil Becker and Rob Clyde(click to enlarge) Our IOS event ended at 3pm. We had 5 sessions--too short, really, to get into the spirit of the event, but there were about 80 people there and lots of good discussion. We'll be doing a 3 day IIW in December. You can register now. Phil Becker started DIDW with an interview of Symantec CTO Rob Clyde. I've been critical of DIDW keynotes before, so I have to give them credit on this one. Phil did a great job of guiding the interview and keeping it from being a marketing speech. One of
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                          Identity Schemas

                          Mark Wahl on identity schemas(click to enlarge) Mark Wahl of Informed Control led a session on identity schemas and how to deal with them. People reinvent schemas, they use different labels for the same data, there's problems bringing these various schemas together. Moreover, a community shouldn't have to go to a standards body every time they have an identity data storage problem. He brings up Ham Radio operators. If they want to use call signs as identifiers, who should decide how that fits in? X.509 dealt with many of these issues. There are well known problems with X.509 collapsing under
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                          Intro to User-Centric Identity

                          Kaliya leads a session at DIDW IOS(click to enlarge) Due to a mix-up with my plane reservations (completely my fault), I ended up flying into San Jose today rater than last night which meant that I ended up at the DIDW identity open space event 30 minutes late. Poor Kaliya ended up with all the set-up herself. I arrived (sans shampoo and toothpaste) just as the session planning session ended and the real sessions began. Kaliya had volunteered to lead a session introducing user-centric identity for people new to the meetings. Kaliya did a good job of introducing the user-centric
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                          Digital Identity in the Real and Virtual Worlds

                          Last week Jon Udell and I spoke on the phone about digital identity. A serendipitous lead-up to this week's Digital ID World conference and the associated Identity Open Space event that Kaliya, Doc and I put together. Jon has published the discussion as part of his Friday podcast. Speaking with Jon is always enlightening and fun. The discussion follows how real-world identity scenarios collide with the digital realm.
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                          Dunbar Numbers and PHP

                          There have been several shows on IT Conversations lately that I've really enjoyed, but failed to mention on my blog. One of those talks was Christopher Allen's talk from Mesh Forum on the Dunbar number. The Dunbar number is a measure of the cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom a person can maintain stable relationships. Christopher talks about how the number is often misused and what the real limits are in various contexts. Christopher has slides and other posts on this topic at his blog, Life with Alacrity. I also enjoyed Marc Andreessen's talk from the
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                          HTML to Kwiki Markup Conversion

                          I use Kwiki for lecture notes, homework and other Web pages I need to teach my class. Here's an example: the lectures for my programming language design class. Today I needed to convert some old pages (embedded in PHP) for use on the wiki. I did one by hand and thought that I ought to write a Perl program to convert the HTML to Kwiki mark-up. Then I got smart and realized someone must have already done it--I was right. David Iberri has a HTML to Kwiki module for Perl that with a little scaffolding did the job nicely:
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                          New iMacs Today: Bigger and Cheaper

                          Apple rev'd the iMac today. The two big changes I see: a 24" model and they're cheaper. I'd put in a purchase request for two 20" iMacs for my lab a week ago. With the new ones, I can get the 24" model for just $100 more than my original proposal. A no brainer... Bonus: there's a new batch of ads.
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                          VMWare ESX Performance Report

                          I've had a student, Terry Wilcox, working to understand the performance characteristics of VMWare's ESX virtualization monitor. Terry's finished his initial work and written up the tests and some conclusions. Overall, ESX scales quite linearly--that is each new virtual machine gets a fair share of the processor and other resources. There are some interesting conclusions: Single CPU virtual machines scale better than virtual machines using Virtual SMP. Hyper-Threading increases throughput if there are a large number of virtual CPUs, but makes no difference if the number of virtual CPUs is less than or equal to the number of physical
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                          Hacking Diebold

                          Nick Barker sent me a link to a web page that shows (in about the most annoying way possible) how a Diebold electronic voting machine can be hack in 4 minutes with $12 worth of tools. I didn't look over the last Diebold machine I was in close proximity to in enough detail to remember whether it used this method of securing the memory card or not. Anyone else remember? And while we're on the subject of electronic voting, Diane Rehm is interviewing Avi Rubin about his new book Brave New Ballot today. Avi does a great job of
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                          Program Descriptions for the NPR Crowd

                          When we get the TechNation shows from KQED, they always include a blurb about the show, meant to be used by stations who receive the show in syndication when they promote the broadcast. We typically use that same text in in the descriptions you see on IT Conversations. I don't always get to listen to shows, TechNation or otherwise, before they're put up and sometimes I wonder about the content of the shows we get when I read the station blurb. This last week's show is a good example. The blurb we got from the station and ran on
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                          iPhoto Slideshows on DVDs

                          I've recently been creating some DVDs of pictures for some friends. I found a few things that others might fin helpful. First, use iPhoto to create the slideshow and then share it to iDVD, rather than creating the slideshow in iDVD itself. There are more bells and whistles in iPhoto and the results are better. This isn't hard, once you have a collection of photos, just click on the "slideshow" button at the bottom, play with the settings, and then export it to iDVD. Exporting takes a long time. Once it's in iDVD, you can choose a theme, edit
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                          WiFi With Coconut Flavor

                          I found a cool little application for seeing what WiFi hotspots are available in OSX. Of course, you can keep checking the airport menu, but that won't tell you at a glance which are open and which aren't. Coconut WiFi puts a familiar green, yellow, or red indicator bubble in the menu bar to indicate what's available. You can even see a count of open networks. Very handy.
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