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I was in the office during the week of Christmas and not a soul was stirring, not even a mouse. To be truthful, the little rolling ball in my mouse was making an annoying squeaking sound and I really had been meaning to order a wireless mouse. But you know how the little things never get done in IT because we are all so busy (barely) keeping up with the big things day by day (and sometimes night by night).

Well guess what? This is the perfect time of year to tackle the tasks resulting from your year long procrastination. You need to get off your rump and put all that energy stored from over consumption of holiday party treats to good use.

A lot of people take this time off for vacation and if that includes you, stop reading this article and go back to sunning yourself on the beach. But if you are one of the unfortunate souls stuck behind the desk the last week of December, this is your time to make a list and check it twice.

Over the years, here are some tasks I have tackled and a few I wish I would have (and still might this year). Not all of these are tangible, but that doesn’t make them less important.

• Take a look at your desk. Can you see it? Or do you see a stack of papers? It may be that you know exactly where everything is (as I claim) but one strong breeze from a hastily closed door or an accidental spill of your coffee mug would put your “filing” system in disarray. Take this time to clean up your desk and do some filing. You may even come across some papers that will add a couple more tasks that otherwise would have been overlooked.

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• The holiday season is a great time to network. Take account of important people in your network that you haven’t connected with recently. Either drop them an email or give them a call to see what’s new and fill them in on your recent doings. This is the time of year where people are in a good mood to connect and you might set the stage for a business or personal opportunity in the coming year.

• Continuing on the networking front, if you have been postponing joining an online network now is the time. The dominant player is LinkedIn and it seems to be loaded with IT professionals. If you enter your professional profile now, by the end of next year at this time you’ll have a burgeoning network that you can leverage for answers to technical questions, finding recommended contractors and job searches (hiring for your team and for your next job).

• Take a close look at your heavy usage personal hardware. Many companies have set plans to cycle equipment every so many years, but many do not. Identify the desktops, laptops, printers, PDA’s, etc. that keep needing repairs or are more than a few years old and do some holiday shopping for the business.

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Making The Making Of The President

Making The Making of the President Q&As reconsidered: Mel Stuart speaks on the Kennedys, Vietnam, and politics

Director Mel Stuart says the world wasn’t as intrusive in 1960 as it is now, and America wasn’t the kick-ass power Bush tried to make it.

Film director Mel Stuart believes he might have altered the course of history if he had just anticipated where U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was headed after acknowledging his win in the California primary on that fateful night in 1968.

During that year’s presidential campaign, Stuart often could be found walking ahead of Kennedy, his camera trained on the candidate. But the night Kennedy made his acceptance speech, Stuart didn’t know which way he was headed.

“It’s always been the regret of my life that I was behind him,” he says. “If I had been in front of him, I would have been with my cameraman and my soundman, between him and Sirhan B. Sirhan, and he would have had to push us out of the way to get to Bobby Kennedy. I know it sounds silly, but the whole history of the world could have changed. I mean, I might have been shot, but everything would have been different.”

The 80-year-old Stuart, who has made more than 190 films over five decades, screened and discussed two of his documentaries on two nights last October, as part of the BU Cinemathèque series. Making of the President 1960, winner of three Emmys, and Making of the President 1968 offer behind-the-scenes looks into the presidential election of 1960, when John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon, and of 1968, when Nixon bested Hubert H. Humphrey after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Both screenings were followed by a discussion with Stuart.

Over the course of the two nights, Stuart also offered tips for making it in the film industry.

It was different in 1968, because we had Vietnam. And President Lyndon Johnson was smart enough to know that he wasn’t going to win, so he got out, because Vietnam had polarized the country. America had really come to be a world power. In ’60 we were big, but we weren’t like we were in ’68, and certainly not like we are now, pushing everybody around. The whole world had changed by ’68.

I think we see it in many elections. People win simply on the strength of there being something about them that attracts the interest of people. Now, the media, being the transmission, are the ones to pick it up. But they can also do bad things — you have to be able to use your tools. And what greater tool than the media is there in present-day America to get people to turn one way or the other? You have to use the media for your purposes.

But the media in our country are terribly, terribly important. And they’re not neutral — some of them try to be neutral, but your impressions of the people are brought to you by the media. And this is a phenomenon of the 21st century. You never had this kind of thing before.

What the media like to do is show you impressions. That’s not the real John McCain, and that’s not the real Barack Obama. But they want to make it as though it’s a movie.

I guess I wish I was creating another Making of the President for this election. But you know what — after a while, if you’re in politics for too long, you start getting very cynical.

I had finished the rough cut of Making of the President 1960, and Theodore White was going to write the words and finish it off. And the last shot of the film was Eisenhower, who was president, shaking Kennedy’s hand. So I said, “Now Teddy, at this moment, I’m going to freeze the frame, Eisenhower shakes Kennedy’s hand. Kennedy is now president. And I want you to write about this.”

And so he looks at me without blinking — I’ll never forget this as long as I live — and says, “How about, ‘So power passes’?” And that’s what it’s all about. An election is the passage of power to one person. So you better pick the right one when you’re voting.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at [email protected].

This story originally ran October 23, 2008.

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Most Of The Web Is Invisible To Google. Here’s What It Contains

Below The Surface

You thought you knew the Internet. But sites such as Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram are just the surface. There’s a whole other world out there: the Deep Web.

It’s a place where online information is password protected, trapped behind paywalls, or requires special software to access—and it’s massive. By some estimates, it is 500 times larger than the surface Web that most people search every day. Yet it’s almost completely out of sight. According to a study published in Nature, Google indexes no more than 16 percent of the surface Web and misses all of the Deep Web. Any given search turns up just 0.03 percent of the information that exists online (one in 3,000 pages). It’s like fishing in the top two feet of the ocean—you miss the virtual Mariana Trench below.

Much of the Deep Web’s unindexed material lies in mundane data­bases such as LexisNexis or the rolls of the U.S. Patent Office. But like a Russian matryoshka doll, the Deep Web contains a further hidden world, a smaller but significant community where malicious actors unite in common purpose for ill. Welcome to the Dark Web, sometimes called the Darknet, a vast digital underground where hackers, gangsters, terrorists, and pedophiles come to ply their trade. What follows is but a cursory sampling of the goods and services available from within the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Things You Can Buy

1. Drugs

Individual or dealer-level quantities of illicit and prescription drugs of every type are available in the digital underground. The Silk Road, the now-shuttered drug superstore, did $200 million of business in 28 months.

2. Counterfeit Currency

Fake money varies widely in quality and cost, but euros, pounds, and yen are all available. Six hundred dollars gets you $2,500 in counterfeit U.S. notes, promised to pass the typical pen and ultraviolet-light tests.

3. Forged Papers

Passports, driver’s licenses, citizenship papers, fake IDs, college diplomas, immigration documents, and even diplomatic ID cards are available on illicit marketplaces such as Onion Identity Services. A U.S. driver’s license costs approximately $200, while passports from the U.S. or U.K. sell for a few thousand bucks.

4. Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives

Weapons such as handguns and C4 explosives are procurable on the Dark Web. Vendors ship their products in specially shielded packages to avoid x-rays or send weapons components hidden in toys, musical instruments, or electronics.

5. Hitmen

6. Human Organs

In the darker corners of the Dark Web, a vibrant and gruesome black market for live organs thrives. Kidneys may fetch $200,000, hearts $120,000, livers $150,000, and a pair of eyeballs $1,500.

Things That Make Internet Crime Work

1. Cryptocurrency

Digital cash, such as bitcoin and darkcoin, and the payment system Liberty Reserve provide a convenient system for users to spend money online while keeping their real-world identities hidden.

2. Bulletproof Web-hosting Services

Some Web hosts in places such as Russia or Ukraine welcome all content, make no attempts to learn their customers’ true identities, accept anonymous payments in bitcoin, and routinely ignore subpoena requests from law enforcement.

Bitcoins

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin help keep the deep web in business.

3. Cloud Computing

By hosting their criminal malware with reputable firms, hackers are much less likely to see their traffic blocked by security systems. A recent study suggested that 16 percent of the world’s malware and cyberattack distribution channels originated in the Amazon Cloud.

4. Crimeware

Less skilled criminals can buy all the tools they need to identify system vulnerabilities, commit identity theft, compromise servers, and steal data. It was a hacker with just such a tool kit who invaded Target’s point-of-sale system in 2013.

5. Hackers For Hire

Organized cybercrime syndicates outsource hackers-for-hire. China’s Hidden Lynx group boasts up to 100 professional cyberthieves, some of whom are known to have penetrated systems at Google, Adobe, and Lockheed Martin.

6. Multilingual Crime Call Centers

Employees will play any duplicitous role you would like, such as providing job and educational references, initiating wire transfers, and unblocking hacked accounts. Calls cost around $10.

How to Access the Dark Web’s Wares

Anonymizing Browser

Secret Search Engines

Future Crimes

Criminal Wikis

Carefully organized wikis list hidden sites by category, such as Hacks, Markets, Viruses, and Drugs. Descriptions of each link help curious newcomers find their desired illicit items.

Hidden Chatrooms

Just as in the real world, online criminals looking to obtain the most felonious material must be vouched for before they can transact. A network of invitation-only chatrooms and forums, hidden behind unlisted alphanumeric Web addresses, provides access to the most criminal of circles.

This article was adapted from Marc Goodman’s book Future Crimes, which was published in February. It originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Dark Web Revealed.” All text © 2024 Marc Goodman, published by arrangement with Doubleday, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Behind The Scenes Of The Most Beautiful Botanical Sketches

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

Thomas Baines, sketches, watercolour, watercolor. © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

Princeton Architectural Press

An effective sketch can consist of simply a few minimalist pencil marks, or perhaps a more deliberate pen and ink drawing, in sepia or bold Indian ink. English-speakers only began ‘sketching’ officially in the late 17th century, at least that’s when the word ‘sketch’ (from German skizze or Dutch schets) enters the English language. German skizze, from the early 17th century, captured the sound of the Italian schizzo, meaning quickly splattering or splashing. It seems to express the dynamism and immediacy of many of the sketches seen here. French had its esquisse and Spanish esquicio, going all the way back to the Latin schedius. The popularity of the act was in part dependent on the availability of the materials. Drawing became much more widespread, indeed a recognized activity in itself, as paper became cheaper and more plentiful in 15th-century Europe. Sketches became a way of accumulating and storing visual information.

Colour added complexity: washes, watercolours, opaque body colours, perhaps small-scale studies in oil. The printmaker and artist Martin Schongauer created one of the earliest recognized botanical sketches with his study of three peonies in the early 1470s. Crucially, these were drawn direct for life not from memory or copied from elsewhere, and were reproduced in his Madonna of the Rose Garden of 1473. Because the boundaries between a hasty drawing, a pondered study (such as Schongauer’s) and an almost finished picture are matters of degree, we have cast the net widely and brought together a varied and fascinating range of styles materials and purposes. Formal botanical art can be constrained by convention—both artistic and scientific—while sketches give the artist freedom to explore and express ideas.

Cordia nodosa

Cordia nodosa, by Violet GrahamNo folio # , Book 10, 1957-1959

A leaf rubbing and sketch of Cordia nodosa fruit. The artist and biology teacher, Violet Emily Graham (1911-1991) noted the hollow in the stem which houses Azteca ants that protect the plant from herbivores.

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

Vanda coerulea, the famous ‘blue orchid’ introduced to the orcid market in the mid-19th century. John Day bought this specimen in June 1880 and painted its delicate and unusual blueness 18 December that year.

Thomas Baines, sketches, watercolour, watercolor © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

A magnificent Crinum cassicaule painted by Thomas Baines (1820-1875), an artist who explored rather than an explorer who drew.

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

William Burchell’s (1781-1863) sketches were eclectic, including plant and nature studies and landscapes. Here are ‘A group of plantains from nature’ a spider and a hermit crab.

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

John Champion (1815-1854) consistently sent home news of plants he thought might be new to western science, with detailed drawings and copious notes on flimsy writing paper. Here is Aeschynanthus ceylanicus a trailing epipyte, from his botanizing in Sri Lanka.

Sadleria cyatheoidesMary GriersonHawaii scrapbook © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from Botanical Sketchbooks (c) 2023 Thanks & Hudson Ltd, London, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press.

Pea from an Eyptian mummy

Pea from an Eyptian mummy, by Mary Anne Stebbing, Drawings from Broad Park, 1902, f.58

Mary Anne Stebbing (1845-1927) was from a family described as a ‘very nest of naturalists’. Here are Stebbing’s drawings from friends’ gardens. ‘A pea from a mummy from Egypt?’ (left) and Fuschia ‘Daniel Lambert’ (right).

Excerpted from Botanical Sketchbooks by Helen and William Bynum, published in the USA by Princeton Architectural Press. Reprinted with permission by the publisher.

The Most Amazing Images Of The Week, March 5

This week’s collection of images take us from Arctic fashion to a three-year-old’s stomach, from India to Mars, from sharks to lions. Good stuff.

What If the Eameses Made Electric Guitars?

Core77 shows off the guitar craftsmanship of Greg Opalik, who makes Eames furniture during the day and lovingly sculptured Sinuous Guitars in his off-hours.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

These new renderings of the forthcoming Miami museum are impressive, and somewhat alarming.

Do You See a Bird?

This image of the Seagull Nebula’s 100-light-year wingspan was NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday.

Mercedes With Cloaking Device

In the latest Mercedes commercial, one side of this F-Cell car has a camera recording the scenery it passes, while the other side displays that scenery on a field of LEDs, effectively letting you see through the car. Engadget has the video.

A Dust Devil on Mars

Pictured: a Martian dust devil twisting across the Martian Amazonis Planitia region. The 100-foot-wide column of swirling air was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last month as it passed over the northern hemisphere of Mars.

Do Not Eat Your Ultra-Powerful Toy Magnets

Payton, a curious three-year-old in Oregon, was playing with those toy magnets that you’re not supposed to play with if you’re too young, and not supposed to eat ever. The child was cut open and the magnets were safely retrieved. Watch the report.

Bricklaying Woman

Channi Anand captured this image of a female bricklayer at a plant on the outskirts of Jammu, Indian, on International Women’s Day. Anand is an AP photographer based in and around India. From American Photo.

Fashion Among the Crystals of Power

io9 points out that the Chanel show in Paris this week is oddly reminiscent of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. But more fashiony.

Firestorm Birth

This image, from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, shows the chaos of star birth, dust, and collision out in the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Read more here.

Car Interiors

We discovered the Car Interiors tumblr this week, and spent a fair portion of the following days browsing it. Hard to explain why this is so mesmerizing, but we could always look at just one more. And maybe one after that.

Lion-Bot

This shot, and a whole bunch of others, were taken with a little camouflaged beetle-like camera-robot. The lions don’t seem to be afraid of it–though they are curious.

Lambo Avento

The Lamborghini Aventador, seen here, was one of a whole mess of sweet cars seen at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, held this past week.

The 11 Most Important Cats Of Science

[Special thanks to materials scientist Joe Spalenka for letting us use his photoshopped image of Watson And Crick Plus Chloe The Cat.]

Clone Kitty

Astronomy Cat

Wireless Telegraph Cat

Spy Cats

Forget high-tech spy gadgets. In the 1960s, the CIA launched Operation Acoustic Kitty. The plan was to train cats—yes, cats—to eavesdrop on Russian conversations. With a microphone implanted in its ear, a transmitter near its collar, and an antenna in its tail, the first feline agent was deployed and promptly run over by a taxi. ☹ A partially redacted memo from 1967 concludes “the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs.”

Bionic Cat

Back in 2010, Oscar (pictured) became the first kitty to get prosthetic legs attached directly to his anklebones. The technology—called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics, or ITAP—mimics the porousness of deer antlers to fuse flesh and metal together in a tight seal that keeps out dirt and bacteria. ITAP has since been tested in humans, who say the implanted prosthetic legs are much more comfortable than the detachable kind.

Glow-In-The-Dark Cat

When scientists created this genetically modified glow-cat in 2011, they gave the cat a gene that may make it resistant to feline AIDS. The fluorescent green color comes from a different gene that the scientists added, indicating whether the important gene got implanted into the cat’s genome. Last we heard, the scientists intended to expose these genetically modified cats to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. If the incandescent cats are indeed resistant, it could open up new HIV prevention strategies for humans.

Explorer Cat

“Mrs. Chippy,” pictured, was actually a tomcat. He came along for the ride when Ernest Shackleton set sail for Antarctica on the Endurance. Mrs. Chippy was apparently well-loved by everyone onboard (except the sled dogs), and helped to keep rodent infestations at bay. But sadly, when the ship got stuck in ice, Shackleton and his crew had to abandon ship as well as any extra weight—and that included the cat. Mrs. Chippy was given a last meal before he was put down, but his memory lives on in his life-sized bronze sculpture that’s perched on top of his owner’s grave.

Weightless Cat

Do cats always land on their feet? In 1947, the U.S. government needed to find out the truth. So the Aerospace Medical Division brought two cats up in a C-131 on a parabolic flight, where they would experience a few seconds of weightlessness. It was not a fun day for these poor kittehs. Watch the video here. Spoiler: Cats DO NOT always land on their feet.

Boxing Cats

Not long after Thomas Edison’s team invented the Kinetograph (an early video camera) in 1892, the first cat video was born. Watch two feline fighters duke it out here.

Suborbital Astro-Cat

In 1963, Félicette became the first cat in space. Apparently she was a sweet-tempered street cat from Paris, until the French government started putting her and 13 other kitties through training that included compression chambers and centrifuges. On October 18, Félicette was launched into space inside a special capsule on a French Veronique AG1 rocket, while an electrode array implanted in her brain recorded her neural activity. After riding 100 miles up, the capsule detached from the rocket and parachuted back down to Earth. Félicette survived the descent but was euthanized a few months later so scientists could examine the brain implant. Still, Félicette’s 15 minutes of fame got her face onto postage stamps around the world.

Electric Cat

Quantum Cat

No “Cats of Science” collection would be complete without Schrödinger’s cat. In trying to communicate how quantum mechanics works, Erwin Schrödinger put things into terms that everyone (and yet no one) can understand: Cats. The thought experiment typically goes something like this: Some jerk puts a cat into a sealed box with a bottle of poison and a radioactive substance. If a single atom of the substance decays, the bottle shatters and the cat dies. Because the observer has no way of knowing whether the cat has been poisoned, the animal can be thought to be both alive and dead. Note: Maru (pictured) is not the real Schrödinger cat.

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