Is your Panther password really secure?

macosxhints: Fix password security in 10.3.x for upgraded accounts. A useful, and slightly scary, hint that points to some lingering issues in password handling in OS X. Briefly: old versions of the OS, from the public beta through 10.2.x, only allow passwords up to 8 characters in length, but the OS would silently accept any additional characters both at password creation and password entry time. Your password entry only had to match through the first 8 characters to be successful.

Panther (10.3.x) now allows much stronger passwords and uses all the characters, which is good; however, upgraded users are still authenticated under the old, weaker scheme. The hint provides a way to check which scheme is being used to authenticate your password and points out that changing your password in Preferences / Accounts is sufficient to change the scheme—even if you “change” your password to the exact same value it was before.

HTML competes with PowerPoint : steal my stylesheet. The redoubtable Jessamyn West shows how HTML + CSS can be used to make a pretty decent set of slides for a talk, and releases the stylesheet she uses for this purpose under a Creative Commons license.

There’s definitely something to be said for authoring content in forms that are easily consumed across multiple platforms.

What comes after warblogging?

Newsweek: The Alpha Bloggers. When a publication as mainstream as Newsweek runs an article that talks about the influence of the “alpha bloggers” (whom they don’t exhaustively list but who they say (and I agree) include Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, and Dan Gillmor) and they mean technology pundits, not political pundits, you know the press is waking up to the fact that bloggers write about more than the war. Nice to see, and props to Steven Levy for a good article. Too bad it took years for someone in the press to write this story.

Other mentions of the article: Steve Rubel, Donna Wentworth.

Justin Rosolino at Club Passim

After the reception at the Hong Kong, I made my way to Club Passim in time to catch Justin Rosolino’s debut there. This wasn’t a solo show for Justin—he was sharing the stage with three other talented singer/songwriter guys—but it was the first time I had a chance to see him play his own material (leaving out the shows he played at both my reunions to date, which while good were kind of hard to hear over the roar of the crowd and also were far heavier on covers).

Justin was amazing. He managed four songs in the first half of the show (the format was round-robin), including “To Say Goodbye,” “29” (the instrumental that closes out Wonderlust), “Legacy,” and a deeply soulful version of “O Holy Night.” I was impressed by the other artists, Brian Webb, Rod Picott, and Steve Delopoulos, but even accounting for my bias I think Justin stole the show with his musicianship (he did improvised guitar parts to everyone else’s songs, even some really high-speed picking numbers) and humor.

Hanging out with Dave

After the conference ended on Saturday, I wandered around Harvard Square for a while and then made my way up to the Hong Kong, where I gathered with a few other folks. In addition to catching up with Dave, I met a few interesting people, including a guy who is working on his first podcasts; some of the software developers from DownhillBattle who are working on BlogTorrent, which aims to simplify posting BitTorrents; and Betsy Campbell of MIT’s Community Innovation Lab.

An aside about Betsy: she made what I felt was the most cogent point in a long afternoon of spiraling abstractions when she pointed out that the motivating force that gets most people involved in issues outside their family or community is shame. Her thesis (approximately, since I don’t see a good transcript of it in the conference sources) is that something has to make you feel that you won’t live up to your own image of yourself as a good person for you to do something about it. Which is, I think, spot on.

Incidentally, the work that Betsy is doing in making cross-boundary connections between non-profit community activist groups and people that could help them is enormously worthwhile. If anyone from Sloan is reading this, working with this lab could be a good Socially Responsible Business project…