A Practical Use for .Mac Slides

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend an “iLife for the Holidays” workshop at the San Francisco Apple Store — a useful demonstration appearing in various Apple Stores that shows you how to use the iLife suite to create holiday-themed iPhoto slideshows, iMovies, and DVDs.

While much of the material was familiar to me, the presenter, Chris, reminded me of an iPhoto feature that could be turned to purposes other than giving your relatives a glimpse of the family cat in a Santa suit. That feature is .Mac Slides.

If, like me, you’ve given this feature a miss, let me refresh your memory. Those with a .Mac account can select a group of pictures in iPhoto and publish those photos as a screen saver that appears as an option in recent versions of the Screen Saver system preference. Anyone using Jaguar or Panther can tune into that slideshow by selecting .Mac in the Screen Savers column, clicking the Options button, entering the account name of the .Mac member whose slides they wish to view, and clicking OK. Whenever the host of those slides updates their collection of published pictures, the new collection is automatically updated on the Macs of subscribed viewers.

It’s a cool feature but don’t feel bad if you haven’t used it. I just entered the names of seven friends and colleagues who have .Mac accounts and not one of them had a slideshow to offer. But perhaps the following will change their minds.

Obviously this is a great way to keep the family up to date on the growth of your garden or little Meepsie the toy poodle, but it’s also a useful feature if you administer a boatload of Macs and need to paste the equivalent of a large sticky note on the screen of every Mac in your network.

Just configure the Macs so they’re tuned into your .Mac slideshow. Create a large block of text that contains the statement you want to post — System Maintenance at Noon Today!, for example. Take a screen shot of the text and save it as a jpeg. Drag that jpeg into iPhoto, select it, and publish it as a .Mac slide. When the minions who inhabit your network check into work the next day, they’ll see your message oozing across their monitors.

Too arcane for normal folks? Fair enough. Here’s one for my friend Margo.

You know those knock-knock jokes you spam me with every day? Create a virtual Burma-Shave sequence (Google it, kids) and post it as a series of slides. There’s a far better chance I’ll read it as a screensaver than in yet another email message.

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