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Spotlight is the lightning fast search engine built into the Mac, but some users may have noticed that once Spotlight has been summoned and a file search query is beginning to be typed, OS X freezes up, stalls, and beachballs for anywhere from 10-30 seconds for seemingly no apparent reason. If you’re in a quiet room, you may even hear a little spin up sound as this happens as well.

If this Spotlight freezes and beachball experience is happening to you, it’s quite likely because you have an external hard drive connected to the Mac, perhaps for extended storage or a Time Machine backup. The good news is that you can quickly stop the Spotlight beach ball from happening, and while it makes sense to do this with Time Machine drives, the decision is a bit more complicated with personal file storage as we’ll see in a moment.

Stop Spotlight Search Stalls & Beachballs on Macs with External Drives

Open System Preferences from the Apple  menu

Choose “Spotlight” and go to the “Privacy” tab – anything placed here will be excluded from Spotlight indexing and search, so we’re going to put the external drive(s) that are spinning up and slowing things down here

Go to the Finder and drag and drop the external hard drive root icons into the Privacy tab of Spotlight

Exit out of System Preferences and summon Spotlight as usual, there should be no more beach balling as the external drives are no longer accessed by the search function

Obviously this has a downside of not being able to search and index an external hard drive, so for users who have manual file backups and maintenance this may not be a reasonable solution. However, it does work great if your primary backup method is for Time Machine, since you don’t want to be searching that with Spotlight anyway, and if you never really want to search through your external drives files it works well for that use case as well.

It’s worth pointing out that this beachball stalling thing isn’t a particularly new issue, and OS X has long had a problem with handling external hard drives, typically related to inappropriate drive access and spin-up occurring despite nothing to indicate the external drive should be accessed, and the result is seeing the spinning beachball until the drive wakes up and is ready to be accessed. This is definitely frustrating behavior particularly if you’ve come from a Windows background, where unless the external drive is specifically accessed, it will not spin up and delay everything else in the process (for what it’s worth, Mac OS 9 and before behaved the same way too).

This is one of those frustrating issues that has been around long enough that it should have been resolved in some way, but for now, you can continue to use the workarounds specific to Spotlight, or for handling the slowdowns with external drives in general.

In case you were wondering, while it’s possible that a connected external hard drive would cause beachballs in other situations where the file system is being accessed, typically the beach ball and freezing is seen when a particular app is experiencing a problem, often requiring the application to be force quit and relaunched again, and in some extreme scenarios, if the entire Mac freezes up, a reboot. That’s not what’s happening here though as there isn’t a specific app problem or OS X problem, it’s just that most external hard drives are slow to spin up if they’re inactive, thus causing the temporary slowdown and a fairly simple solution.


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Server Snapshots: Spotlight On Stratus

Since we last looked at Stratus Technologies (Maynard, Mass.) in March 2007, their big news has been the release of a software-based high-availability (HA) product known as Avance. It makes use of embedded virtualization and Ethernet-connected x86 servers to create a high-availability cluster at a cost of $2,500 per server.

Avance installs in 15 minutes and offers data protection, availability uptime and business continuity. Processing on one server is simultaneously written to the mate. If the primary server goes down, the other assumes the processing duties. The company promises uptime of 99.99 percent

On the server side, however, little has changed. The company made a couple of incremental upgrades to its hardware — mostly notably a 100-fold performance increase for a similar price as the older gear. It has also expanded its range into the storage world with the addition of Stratus ftScalable storage.

Stratus is positioning itself as the availability company. As well as fault-tolerant servers and software, it has a consulting arm that focuses on ensuring IT availability for the business processes of a company. According to Lane, this part of the business has taken off.

“Our positioning as the availability company resonates with customers,” said Lane. “It’s a real pain point — not just at the application level, but throughout an IT support infrastructure — and there are many pretenders that say they have solutions for it.”

The recent product refresh to the Stratus line up means its ftServer lineup consists of the 2510, 4410 and 6210. All are equipped for 24/7 proactive remote monitoring, management and remediation over the Stratus Active Service Network. They are also all quad-core systems.

The ftServer 4410 has been given a 2X performance boost compared to the previous version (the ft4400) in the hopes of making it more attractive to virtual environments or as an affordable workhorse for transaction-intensive applications.

“The 4410 now surpasses the performance of our previous high-end 6200 system,” said Lane. This model is the sweet spot of our product line.”

It is available in 1- or 2-socket configurations and has up to 32 MB of RAM (compared to 12 MB before). Pricing ranges from $24,456 to $54,262.

The Stratus ft6210 is a 2-socket quad-core 3.00 GHz (vs. 2.66 GHz before) box with up to 32 GB of main memory (vs. 24 MB in the previous generation). According to Lance, the 6210 is attractive to customers moving off legacy systems, especially those looking for a new home for enterprise-class, mission-critical business operations. Pricing starts at $42,156 and tops out at $68,462.

While Stratus stresses the above models these days, it also offers several other hardware lines. The T Series is aimed at the telecom world. These systems combine Intel Xeon processors and Red Hat Enterprise Linux in a fault-tolerant server architecture for 99.999 percent uptime. Since our previous Snapshot, there have been no changes to the T Series.

The Stratus V Series is targeted at the installed base of customers using the discontinued Stratus Continuum server line. These products use the VOS operating system.

“The issues for Continuum users are lack of a future road map and processing volume capacities,” said Lane. “The old VOS applications work great but cannot keep pace with business growth. Our V Series servers provide what they need.”

Stratus continues to provide V Series models for this niche market. Three additional models — the ftServer V Series 150, 200 and 400 — have been released in the past year, as well as a speed bump for the older ftServer V Series 250, 300 and 500. This is all about the addition of more recent processor models, and increased clock speed, front side bus, cache and memory.

Stratus has been a relatively rapid adopter of dual-core processors and, more recently, quad core. According to Lane, its customers demand this in fault-tolerant gear.

“Multi-core processors are enormously beneficial to end users and to server vendors,” he said. “They are more efficient, offer better price/performance and take up less real estate.

Lane said he believes that the trend toward more and more cores will continue into the foreseeable future. Full deployment of virtualization strategies, the growing demands of disaster recovery and SaaS are driving the demand.

As for AMD, Stratus has no plans. The company remains an Intel shop.

“We use Intel because they support processor determinism, which is necessary for lock-stepping,” said Lane. “Without identically matched processors, fault tolerance cannot be achieved.”

Stratus’ Fault-Tolerant Servers at a Glance


Processor Types

Operating Systems

Target Deployment


ftServer 2510 Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2.00 GHz with 2x6MB cache Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Entry-level — Replicated, multi-site deployments at locations where lights-out system management is desirable, such as distribution centers, warehouses, branch offices, retail and rental chains, as well as public safety computer-aided dispatch applications in small-to-medium sized municipalities. $13,557 to $19,495

ftServer 4410 Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2.00 GHz w/ 2×6 Cache Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition $24,456 to $54,262

ftServer 6210

Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 3.0GHz with 2x6MB cache

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition Enterprise-class server with high performance and availability for critical enterprise/business/ operations processing $42,156 to $68,462; highly configurable

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Special Spotlight Screened For Bu Audience

Special Spotlight Screened for BU Audience Movie on Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal garners Oscar buzz

The team behind Spotlight, including Boston Globe journalists and their acting counterparts: screenwriter Josh Singer (from left), Walter V. Robinson, Ben Bradlee, Jr., Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, director Tom McCarthy, Liev Schreiber, Sacha Pfeiffer (MET’94, SED’12), Marty Baron, Mike Rezendes (CAS’78), Brian d’Arcy James, and Matt Carroll. Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Contour by Getty Images

Last week, the real-life reporters portrayed by A-list talent in the new film Spotlight celebrated how well the film stuck to the facts about the Boston Globe Spotlight team’s investigation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston’s decadeslong cover-up of pedophile priests. The film opens today nationwide.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning reporters—Sacha Pfeiffer (MET’94, SED’12), Mike Rezendes (CAS’78), Matt Carroll, Walter V. Robinson, and Ben Bradlee, Jr.—fielded questions after the film was screened to an audience of College of Communication students and faculty at the AMC Loews Boston Common. The event was part of COM’s Cinematheque series, which brings accomplished filmmakers to campus to screen and discuss their work.

“What you saw in two hours was five months of our work,” said Pfeiffer, who recently returned to the Globe after a stint at WBUR, BU’s National Public Radio station. “Obviously you have to take a little bit of dramatic license, you need to speed things up, take three different scenes and put them into one. There are times where there’s a talk on the golf course, when in reality it probably happened on the telephone, but a two-hour movie of telephone calls isn’t going to be very interesting. I think we were all very impressed with how closely they stayed to what authentically happened.”

In 2002, the Spotlight team published an explosive story claiming that the archdiocese knew that priest John J. Geoghan had been sexually abusing children for decades. Yet instead of turning him in to face prosecution, the paper reported, the Church several times moved Geoghan to different parishes and assured parents that he wouldn’t be allowed to repeat his crimes. The Globe’s reporting showed that many in the Boston community—including other priests, parents, teachers, and law enforcement—knew of the abuse, but their devotion to their religion deterred them from exposing the crimes.

Spotlight reporters and editors would eventually publish dozens of stories, revealing that in Boston alone, 250 priests had been accused of child abuse, and that Cardinal Bernard Law and even the Pope were aware of the allegations. The reporters found that similar allegations of abuse were plaguing archdioceses all over the world. For its work, the Globe won the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2003.

The film, directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor), is considered an early Oscar front-runner after screenings at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Rezendes, Michael Keaton as Robinson, Rachel McAdams as Pfeiffer, Liev Schreiber as Globe editor Marty Baron (now at the helm of the Washington Post), John Slattery as Bradlee, and Brian d’Arcy James as Carroll. Actor Billy Crudup plays Eric MacLeish (LAW’78), a lawyer who represented abuse victims, and investigative reporter Stephen Kurkjian (CAS’66), who also worked on the project, is played by actor Gene Amoroso. Kristen Lombardi (COM’95), a writer for the now-defunct Boston Phoenix who first published a feature-length story about the abuse and wrote more than a dozen articles on the topic beginning in 2001, does not make an appearance; she is thanked in the film’s credits.

As the credits rolled, the Spotlight members answered questions at the front of the theater. Asked why it took so long to make the film, Robinson said the producers first approached them in 2007, but it was several years before they secured financing. As with many films, different studios and different financiers were attached to the project at different times.

Another question was how hearing the stories of abuse from the victims affected the reporters. Robinson said it was a painful experience. “It was pretty emotionally wrenching for us from the get-go because much of the information came directly from survivors,” said the 34-year Globe veteran, now an editor at large. “In the weeks that followed the first story being published, we received calls from over 300 victims in just the Boston archdiocese….But it energized us to work even harder to get to the end of the story.”

One of many things that the film does not sugarcoat is the failure of Globe reporters, who had done several short pieces on allegations of abuse, to notice the pattern sooner than they did.

“If we had done our story several years earlier, it would have been the preinternet era, and the only people who would have read it would be in the radius of the Boston area,” Pfeiffer said. “But because it was in the early age of the web, people from all over read the story and tip calls flooded in from everywhere.”

The film was screened, paradoxically, just days after the Globe announced a layoff of 24 reporters and 17 buyouts, the latest in a string of staff cuts at the paper. “I think the producers wanted to make a movie about investigative reporting at a time when many newspapers are cutting back on investigative reporting, to emphasize how important it is,” said Rezendes, who has worked for the Globe since 1989.

Chris Daly, a COM professor of journalism, was the last audience member to address the reporters, and he spoke for all in the room. “Journalism has had a not-so-great run for the last few years, and here comes this film to lift us all back up, based on the incredible work that you all did,” he said. “So on behalf of all of the journalists here, I want to say thank you.”

The crowd broke into applause.

Explore Related Topics:

Can An Antivirus Stop Hacking?

Can An Antivirus Stop Hacking?

Also Read: Can An Antivirus Slow Down Games On Your PC?

How Does An Antivirus Protect You Against Hackers?

In simple terms, hackers actualize their nefarious intentions by using malicious lines of codes that they pack inside a file. Then through a variety of online and offline mediums, they drive users into downloading their malicious files. An Antivirus perceives this, scans the file beforehand much before it can cause any further damage to your computer.

– Database Regarding Viruses Is Regularly Updated

Let’s put it this way, at this very moment, some very shrewd hacker might be developing a malicious threat that he or she thinks that no expert can catch. What such hackers don’t know is that they are putting themselves up against an updated database that already contains descriptions of the threats that such miscreants create and even the method that can combat such threats. Though, there had been instances in the past when hackers did dodge even the most sophisticated Antivirus solutions. However, if you have a good Antivirus solution, the chances of this are next to none.

– By Offering Real-Time Protection Against Malicious Threats

– By Offering Security Against Zero-Day Threats

When a hacker can sniff the vulnerability in software much before the software’s developers, he or she will most likely exploit it, this becomes a zero-day threat or a zero-day attack. An Antivirus is well aware of these attacks and doesn’t hold back. Thanks to the frequently updated database and an equally efficient engine, the Antivirus nips the threat in the bud.

– Web And Firewall Protection

So, this is a very interesting and powerful module that a good quality Antivirus tool packs inside. Hackers often don’t spare unsecured or poorly developed websites. Your mere visiting the website can make you a hacker’s target. From gaining access to your IP to stealing your credentials such as credit/ debit card and other details, there’s a lot that can happen. Most Antivirus utilities come with web protection capability. The feature prompts you not to visit a malicious website.

Let’s move further and talk about Firewall protection. There have been instances of SQL injection attacks and some others where the attacker was successfully able to bypass the web application firewall (WAF). That’s not the only case where a firewall may fail in protecting you from a hacker. Let’s assume that due to some reason your firewall isn’t configured correctly or the policies in it are too permissive. In such a case, a data breach is likely evident. A modern-day Antivirus is well aware of this and keeps even your firewall intact and something that no hacker could invade.

Example of How An Antivirus Application Renders Strong Protection Against Hackers

Now that we know how an Antivirus protects you against hackers, let’s have a look at an example to testify the efficacy of an Antivirus. If we consider the Windows operating system, Systweak Antivirus is one of the most renowned and trusted antivirus solutions. It is capable of delivering protection against a variety of malicious threats such as Trojan, ransomware, adware, spyware, and a variety of other malicious threats. You can check out the full review of Systweak Antivirus here to get a better look at its features, how it works, its pros and cons (if any). But to exemplify the above points, let’s just have a glimpse of the tool –

What Features Does Systweak Antivirus Offers

Powerful scanning engine

Real-time protection against malicious threats

A frequently updated database

Multiple scanning modes – Quick, Deep, and Custom

Website and firewall protection

A lightweight piece of software

Even helps keep track of unwanted or unsafe startup items

How To Use Systweak Antivirus?

Download, install and run Systweak Antivirus

If Not An Antivirus, Then What Else Can Stop Hacking?

It doesn’t matter what device or operating system you have. In today’s digital day and age, an Antivirus should be an integral part of your computer and the very concept of not having one should remain in your theories because the moment your smartphone or computer is bereft of real-time protection, a hacker will possibly catch you off-guard and inject the virus.

But, here are certain points that as a prudent use of your device, you should exercise –

Never visit an unsafe website, leave aside downloading files from there

Never miss an update either from your operating system or the software on your device

When on a public – Wi-Fi and even otherwise, use a VPN where you feel a hacker might exploit your IP address

Store your passwords and other crucial credentials behind a vault in a password manager

Make full use of two-factor authentication to log in on multiple devices. And, if you can use biometrics like facial recognition or fingerprint scanning, go for it.

Wrapping Up:

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Sarang Bhargava

Dear Schools: Stop Treating Science

On April 22, Kiera Wilmot, a 16-year-old public school student in Bartow, Florida did what any kid with an ounce of curiosity does: She performed an experiment. Like many acts of science, however, it didn’t go as planned.

Wilmot allegedly mixed a few household chemicals in an eight-ounce water bottle, capped the lid, set it down, and stood back to watch, according to local news reports. She expected a little smoke to appear. Instead the top blew off and made a firecracker-like bang.

Despite praising Wilmot as a “good kid” who has “never been in trouble before,” Polk County Public Schools trumpeted its zero-tolerance policies and called the police. They arrested Wilmot and charged her with two felonies. Now expelled, Wilmot may be forced to finish her education in a juvenile facility and graduate with a permanent record.

A big part of the problem here is fear. Schools have allowed it to guide student codes of conduct that ignore what science is, how it works, and the importance of experimentation in inspiring influential researchers. I’m specifically reminded of a piece called “Don’t Try This At Home” by Steve Silberman, who reported on the increasing criminalization of garage chemistry.

The story ran seven years ago this month but is still surprisingly relevant. Silberman explores how and why chemistry kits and education became so toothless. As part of his reporting, he highlights prodigious scientists who owe their success to foolish childhood experimentation. Gordon Moore, who pioneered the integrated circuit and co-founded Intel, for example, created and detonated his own dynamite at age 11. David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard and father of Silicon Valley, proudly manufactured gunpowder as a kid. (Thomas Edison should have been in there, too — he performed enough dangerous feats to fill his biographies.)

Other brainiacs regale us on the importance of backyard chemistry in leading to fruitful science careers, including neurologist Oliver Sacks, Don “Mr. Wizard” Herbert, Popular Science‘s own Theodore Gray, and Roald Hoffmann, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in chemistry. “There’s no question that stinks and bangs and crystals and colors are what drew kids … to science,” says Hoffmann in Silberman’s story. “Now the potential for stinks and bangs has been legislated out.”

Silberman convincingly argues that fear of lawsuits (by manufacturers and teachers alike) have led U.S. educators to shy away from teaching science that poses any degree of danger. Schools have codified those fears in zero-tolerance policies that reject context and reason in delivering punishment. Suddenly, a popping soda bottle that hurts no one becomes a life-threatening explosive device.

Did Wilmot make a mistake? Yes. Should she carry two felonious charges into her adult life? No.

Kids are kids. Their futures ride on trying, failing, and learning from mistakes. Much of that happens during personal experimentation, and schools should equip them to do it responsibly, whether or not it happens on school property.

Sure, dangerous behaviors deserve punishment. But it’s time we stop creating and acting on zero-tolerance school policies to dole them out. We need to treat kids as kids and give them a fair shake by weighing context, reason, and maturity — not brand them as criminals when they create “stinks and bangs,” either accidentally or intentionally, for experimentation’s sake.

How To Stop A Ddos Attack

How does a DDoS attack work?

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a type of cyberattack that uses the distributed power of many compromised machines to flood the target system with requests, overwhelming the system and preventing it from functioning. DDoS attacks are a complex form of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which only come from one source. 

When a DDoS attack hits your server, a variety of malware programs is designed to overwhelm your server’s capacity to function, which can lead to partial or total shutdown of operations as these viruses and malware flood your network from multiple directions. 

All DDoS attacks share the same strategy of multiple server-induced cyberattacks, but DDoS attacks can take a variety of forms. Common DDoS attacks include:

Volumetric attacks flood network ports with excess data

Protocol attacks slow down intra-network communication

Application attacks overwhelm web traffic and other application-level operations

Why is DDoS detection important?

Early DDoS detection is critical for businesses because it can help protect the functioning and security of a network. Networks without a robust DDoS defense strategy may have trouble defending against the wide range of DDoS attacks, which can be difficult to trace. 

Some DDoS attacks are sophisticated enough to successfully shut down large servers. Companies have lost web traffic and customer confidence due to DDoS attacks that entirely disabled their networks.

DDoS attacks are constantly evolving, and a well-defended server should employ the most cutting-edge defenses to protect against cyberattacks. Diagnosis tools are an important factor in DDoS detection, but they should not be your only tool—DDoS attacks can be difficult to extract once they have infected the network, so a strong anti-DDoS architecture should include preventative software built to trigger alerts and provide helpful diagnostics that inform when potential threats are identified. 

What do DDoS detection tools do?

DDoS malware is in a constant state of innovation, so DDoS detection tools must remain updated to identify the newest threat formats and addresses.

DDoS detection tools are designed to offer features that work to provide a united defense of your network’s security by tracking event logs of devices on the network to identify and trigger alerts if certain thresholds are met. DDoS detection tools like SolarWinds SEM can offer out-of-the-box correlation rules related to internet control message protocol (ICMP) as well as the ability to generate comprehensive reports to support in-depth threat diagnosis. 

How does DDoS detection work in SolarWinds Security Event Manager?

SolarWinds Security Event Manager uses a multilayered approach to DDoS detection. SEM is widely known for its SIEM  log monitoring, but it is also equipped with extensive capabilities for anti-malware threat detection and blocking.

SolarWinds SEM is designed to detect exterior threats like DDoS attacks by collecting, normalizing, and correlating logs from across your system to provide deeper visibility and more easily catch patterns that could signal an attack. If a threat is detected, SEM can alert admins as well as deploy automatic responses to block activity and sever connections as needed.

SolarWinds SEM is also built to compare log events against an automatically-updated Threat Intelligence Feed to help detect DDoS attacks, as well as other forms of malware, viruses, and spam.

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