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It’s a new year, and as such, I wanted a fresh start. Over the past few months I had become increasingly frustrated with the sluggishness of my MacBook Pro. My laziness over the summer left me behind on OS X Yosemite betas – and the smoothness and flow of the SSD on my work machine was absolutely in terror.

I took this weekend to wipe the slate clean on my MacBook Pro, and it was such a liberating feeling. Not only did I rid of files and applications that I absolutely never used or would need again, but I brought back the speed my Mac once had. As such, I challenge you to take back your Mac this weekend.

It’s actually easy to do. If you’re like me you’ll get anxiety about losing files, but don’t worry. I left my external hard drive in my dorm room back at college with my Mac Mini, so I had to resort to some crafty measures.

I’m not a subscriber to Carbonite (I will be now), an online service that will allow you to backup all of your files to the cloud for $10/month. So for this little project, I signed up for a free no-commitment trial to backup all of my files. The trial won’t allow you to backup music and movie files, but I use Spotify so that didn’t really matter.

I downloaded the Carbonite Mac app, and backed up all the important stuff like my documents and what was left on my desktop. Now that everything is in order, it’s time to erase your hard drive and start fresh with a clean install of Yosemite. Don’t come back mad at me if you lose an important file. Please make sure everything is backed up somewhere, maybe multiple places for the important stuff.

That being said, pull up the following directions on your iPhone and shut ‘er down.

Make sure you’re Mac is connected to the Internet. Since modern Macs don’t have a disc drive, OS X will pull the files from the magical cloud.

Turn your Mac back on while holding down the Command and R keys.

For some reason I had to install OS X Mountain Lion first – that’s what Apple decided to pull down from the Internet for me – and then install OS X Yosemite from the App Store through Mountain Lion. The Yosemite install was seamless – Apple’s really gotten this down.

You’ll then want to go back to Carbonite’s website, where you don’t even have to install the Carbonite app back on your Mac to grab your files. Carbonite simply puts them in a .zip folder, where you can then drag them into the correct folder – nice and organized.

Now wasn’t that easy? Now you have a fresh install of Yosemite, with updated apps, and your important files.

My goal this year is to keep my software updated and not have to run into this problem anytime soon.

Do this on your lazy Sunday. You’ll thank me later.

Looking for a a quick way to get up to speed on all of OS X Yosemite’s most outstanding features? Our OS X Yosemite Interactive Starter Guide is a visual tool to help you become quickly acclimated with some of Yosemite’s most notable new additions, improvements, and changes.

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Helping The Maya Take Back Their History

Helping the Maya take back their history CAS professor wins grant to reconnect native people with their cultural heritage

Patricia McAnany, a CAS professor of archaeology

In a river valley in western Honduras, the forest gives way to the Maya ruins of Copan, enormous sculptures, ornate stone altars, and staircases carved with hieroglyphs dating back more than a millennium. Thousands of tourists visit every year and spend their money on tour guides, hotels, and restaurants based in a nearby town of quaint cobblestone streets, white stucco buildings, and red-tiled roofs, a place so tied to the ruins that its name is Copan Ruinas.

The irony, according to Patricia McAnany, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of archaeology, is that thousands of Maya people, whose ancestors carved the sculptures, worshipped at the altars, and built the staircases, live close by, up in the hills. But they don’t live in Copan Ruinas — they can’t afford to — nor do they much share in its prosperity.

It’s a similar story at other well-known and not-so-well-known sites of Maya ruins across Central America. Centuries of dominance by people of European ancestry have cut off the Maya people from their cultural heritage and made many archaeological sites vulnerable to looting. But there’s a growing movement among the Maya, local and foreign archaeologists, and others to redress this situation. McAnany has joined the effort with the help of a three-year grant of about $500,000 from the Wallace Research Foundation to develop projects to reconnect the Maya with these sites, both psychologically and economically, to help them gain the know-how and influence to become stewards and beneficiaries of their archaeological legacy.

The first step was to find out what types of projects were needed and could be sustained locally. So last fall McAnany and two archaeology graduate students, Satoru Murata (GRS’07) and Shoshaunna Parks (GRS’08), visited the five countries of the Maya region — Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — to interview Maya leaders, other archaeologists, and government officials.

“The goal was to find out what is working and what is not working,” says McAnany. “We also wanted to determine the severity of the looting, to evaluate to what extent the descendant Maya communities adjacent to archaeological sites are benefiting from, or being impacted by, archaeological research and tourism development.”

McAnany’s team wrapped up the interviews this spring. What they learned, according to Parks, was that “more than anything, what we can do is use education.”  Maya children often aren’t taught much about their ancestry or the related archaeology, or they’re taught just about the major, well-preserved sites like Chichen Itza in Mexico. Meanwhile, new archaeological findings are often reported only in academic journals, leaving Maya communities ignorant of the significance of what’s around them.

Nevertheless, there isn’t a single Maya culture that can be neatly worked into a series of lesson plans. The several million Maya people in Central America represent many distinct cultural and language groups, a diversity McAnany’s team hopes to accommodate when it hosts a conference of educators from all five countries of the Maya region in Mexico this fall to begin designing curriculum materials. 

That won’t just be about schoolbooks, says McAnany. “We’re very interested in developing children’s museums and other ways to make it fun, interesting, and exciting to explore the Maya heritage,” she says. The hope is that education will help foster a sense of stewardship, although McAnany acknowledges that won’t be enough in many poorer Maya communities, where the first concern is often putting food on the table or getting proper medication.

Indeed, poverty drives some Maya to loot nearby archaeological sites, either independently or at the behest of so-called arqueo-traficantes, who smuggle valuable pieces to North America, Europe, and Japan, where they often end up in the hands of wealthy collectors or the occasional museum.

“It’s not enough to say, well, these are your ancestral sites so you’d better take care of them, especially when people can’t get enough to eat,” says McAnany. “There have to be different economic incentives in terms of tourism development or some way in which an economic benefit can accrue to people in return for caretaking a site.”

One idea is to train more Maya to be tour guides of local archaeological sites.  Another is to take an inventory of the Maya archaeological legacy. Hence, the BU archaeologists have also started assembling a searchable computer database of all Maya archaeological sites in Belize, including maps and detailed information about special features, land ownership, the extent of looting, tourism, and connections to public records or library holdings about each.   

Working with the archaeologists is a Belizean environmental consulting firm called Ecoworks, which will use both site visits and satellite imagery to search for and document every site of archaeological significance in Belize. 

In addition to Ecoworks, McAnany and her team want to develop partnerships with other local companies and nongovernmental organizations, many of which are already doing similar work to empower Maya communities.

“Building capacity means giving a local population the ability to maintain a project so that as soon as the funding runs out, the project doesn’t come crashing down,” says McAnany.

“What needs to be done is to get people connected to these sites, so that they understand that all of these sites are aspects of their history,” adds Parks. “These sites are everywhere, and they’re part of the modern world just as they’re part of the ancient world.”

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How to make pottery from scratch

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What To Do This Labor Day Weekend

What to Do This Labor Day Weekend Your guide to events on and off campus

Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Classes may have officially started, but the homework hasn’t started piling up yet. So take some time to explore the city and the campus this Labor Day weekend. We’ve put together a list of events—from museums to concerts to movie classics to fireworks—guaranteed to ensure that your three-day weekend is fun.

Friday, September 4 Treat Yo’ Self Featuring Retta

Start your holiday weekend than with a few laughs, courtesy of comedian and actor Retta (Marietta Sirleaf), best known for her work as the audacious office comrade Donna Meagle on NBC’s hit comedy Parks and Recreation. Make your way to the George Sherman Union and enjoy stand-up comedy that will have you laughing in your seat.

Treat Yo’ Self featuring Retta is free and being held in the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., and the show begins at 10. RSVP online here.

Mass Brewers Guild Fest

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, don’t miss the Sixth Annual Mass Brewers Festival sponsored by the Massachusetts Brewers Guild at the World Trade Center. Sample over 100 beers, including local favorites and specialty beers brewed exclusively for the festival, from 40 member breweries.

Screening of The Quiet Man at Boston Harbor Hotel

Each summer, there are free outdoor screenings of classic movies all over Boston. One of the most popular is the Boston Harbor Hotel Music and Movie Fridays, part of the hotel’s Summer in the City entertainment series. The final movie of the season is The Quiet Man, the 1952 classic starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and directed by John Ford. It’s the story of an American boxer who returns to the Irish village of his birth, where he falls in love. The film earned Academy Awards for best director and best cinematography. Be sure to arrive at this popular event well before the screening begins; you can enjoy the spectacular views of Boston Harbor.

Saturday, September 5 R-Rated Hypnotist

This event is part of BU’s annual Weeks of Welcome festivities. Comic hypnotist Frank Santos, Jr., returns to perform his annual bawdy hypnosis show, which has become a crowd-pleasing hit over the past several years. Santos’ spellbinding shenanigans will turn even the most die-hard skeptics into fans.

R-Rated Hypnotist begins at 10 p.m. in the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Ave.; doors open at 9:30 p.m. The event is free. RSVP online here. 

New England Revolution vs. Orlando City SC

Soccer fans won’t want to miss out on this chance to travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro with classmates to catch Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution take on the Orlando City SC. Tickets, at $20, include transportation, a hot dog, a drink, and a snack and are available only to members of the BU community. A BU ID is required for purchase and pickup.

The New England Revolution vs. Orlando City SC game begins at 7:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, One Patriot Place, Foxboro, Mass. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased here.

22nd Annual Summer Poster Show

Vintage poster lovers will enjoy the International Poster Gallery’s 22nd annual summer show, titled Endless Summer. The exhibition features more than 50 posters from the 1890s to the present, depicting summers at the beach, travel, music, sport, and fine food and spirits. The show’s headliner is the mid-century modern poster Kajak by celebrated Austrian designer Walter Hofmann, who created dozens of posters for suntan lotion and swimwear producers. The eight-foot-tall billboard is awash in searing neon colors. Another highlight is a rare airline poster for Tasman Empire Airways (TEAL), depicting the seaplane that was the first direct connection between Britain and its most distant colony. These enticing posters will make you want to escape to one of these exotic locales.

Endless Summer is on view at the International Poster Gallery, 205 Newbury St., Boston, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; phone: 617-375-0076. Admission is free.

Summer on the Waterfront’s Boston Harbor Fireworks

See the summer out with a ka-boom. The city’s Summer on the Waterfront series concludes with its annual Labor Day weekend fireworks display, which will light up Boston Harbor starting at 9 p.m. The “battle of the barges” is a dazzling pyrotechnics show set to music as barges anchored off the North End and the Seaport volley back and forth. Boston’s HarborWalk, which includes Christopher Columbus Park, Fan Pier, and Piers Park, offers ringside views.

Sunday, September 6 Student Performance Showcase

Here’s a chance to catch performances by BU’s top student groups in a cappella, comedy, and dance. Three separate venues at the George Sherman Union host this free showcase: BU Central (comedy), the Metcalf Ballroom (a cappella), and the GSU Alley (dance). Find a full schedule here.

The Student Performance Showcase is being held in the George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Ave., beginning at 9 p.m. RSVP online here.

South End Open Market @ SoWa

Need to buy some fresh produce or find some vintage plates for your new apartment? Head over to the South End Open Market @ SoWa, on a compact three-block area along Harrison Avenue. (SoWa is short for “south of Washington Street.”) Billing itself as “New England’s largest outdoor weekly bazaar,” this open-air market boasts a farmers market with locally grown flowers, produce, and baked goods; an arts market featuring handmade jewelry, paintings, photographs, and ceramics; and more than a dozen food trucks offering Asian, Mexican, Italian, and organic cuisine. There’s also an indoor vintage market where you can find all manner of knick-knacks, glassware, and china. With the exception of the Vintage Market, which is year-round, the markets operate seasonally, from May through the end of October.

Berklee College of Music’s Summer Concert at Spectacle Island

Take a quick boat ride to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor for a relaxing afternoon of music. This free concert features groove-based R&B and soul music by the multicultural band Foreign Hues. Sponsored by Berklee College of Music, this concert brings to a close Berklee’s Summer in the City Summer Concerts at Spectacle Island series, performances by some of the rschool’s most talented up-and-coming musicians. The Spectacle Island concerts offer spectacular views of Boston Harbor and the city’s skyline as well as great music.

Berklee College of Music’s final Summer Concert at Spectacle Island is Sunday, September 6, at 1 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Round-trip ferry tickets to the island are $17 and depart from Long Wharf. View ferry schedules and rates here. 

Monday, September 7 Frank Hatch Free Day at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Boston is full of world-class art museums, and there may be none more breathtaking—and more idiosyncratic—than the Fenway’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The collection of 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other works of art—collected by Gardner in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—is housed in a 15th-century-style Venetian palace. Today, visitors can view the collection for free, during the museum’s annual Frank Hatch Free Day, named for Francis “Frank” Hatch, a former museum trustee and supporter of Boston arts and culture. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, Frank Hatch Free Day was moved to Labor Day in 2013 so visitors can enjoy the museum’s gardens while they are in bloom.

Jaws at Coolidge Corner Theatre

Summer 2023 has been the summer of sharks, with sightings and attacks generating headlines. So it’s fitting that Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre closes out the Labor Day weekend with a 40th anniversary screening of the Oscar-winning blockbuster Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg (Hon.’09), part of the Coolidge’s popular Big Screen Classics series. The film stars Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, a menacing great white shark (okay, it was a mechanical one), and an unforgettable score by John Williams (Hon.’85), who won an Oscar for it. After watching, you’ll understand why beach tourism took a nosedive after the film’s 1975 release. It might make you rethink that next trip to Revere Beach.

Italian Wind Music from the 16th and 17th Centuries—Labor Day Concert

Boston is renowned for the richness of its classical music offerings, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to the dozens of chamber groups that play in smaller venues to student recitals. In honor of Labor Day, the Back Bay’s First Lutheran Church of Boston is hosting Italian Wind Music from the 16th–17th Centuries, an evening of instrumental works by Italian composers, played on historic instruments including the cornetto, recorder, cello, harpsichord, and organ.

Top Gifts For Gamers This Year

As sure as the sky is blue, video games will be at the top of many holiday wish lists the world over. With so many video game consoles and products on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to shop for the gamer in your life. Rest assured that this list is the answer to all your questions. The good news is that there is no shortage of gift ideas; the bad news is also that there is no shortage of gift ideas. These are our picks of the best gifts for gamers in 2023.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Everyone from the budding gamer to the frequent traveler will love the Nintendo Switch Lite. The smaller of the two Nintendo Switch devices, the Lite impresses from all angles. Everything from improved battery life to a smaller, more friendly design makes it a gift every gamer will love. While it lacks the dock-friendly design of its older sibling, the design is vastly more comfortable to hold during lengthy play sessions. The best part? There is an actual d-pad included with the Lite design. That is reason alone to pick up a Switch Lite.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Arcade1Up Arcade Cabinets

For some of you, the chance to relive your childhood is more than enough reason to spring for the Arcade 1Up series. These old-school arcade-style cabinets are introducing an entirely new generation to old-school games. From Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat to the original Pacman, these are the perfect gift for the retro gamer. With prices starting around $149 on sale, these are not the least expensive ideas, but they sure are worth every penny.

Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard

Every PC gamer knows that computer gaming can be made or broken by the quality of the keyboard. Corsair, one of the best names in the industry, unsurprisingly offers the best wireless mechanical keyboard on the market. The Corsair K63 is reasonably-priced around $100 and is universally praised for its quality and good looks. Compatibility is abundant as well, with every Windows software since Vista supported. At the end of the day it is hard to find something not to like with this mechanical masterpiece.

Sega Genesis Mini

Retro gaming is continuing to have its moment in the sun. Sega’s Genesis Mini is the latest entrant in the refresh of retro game consoles and it just might be the best product yet. Drawing universal acclaim for its design, this console will bring flashbacks of playing games thirty years ago. Full of 42 classic hits, the Genesis Mini is plug and play, so there is no install time. That is good news for parents, as they, too, will spend plenty of time gaming after the kids are in bed.

Oculus Quest Controller Charging Station

The last thing any gamer wants to deal with is a dead controller just as the final boss battle arrives. That is why a controller charging station should be at the top of any gift list. With fantastic options for the PS4 like the PowerA DualShock 4 charging station and Fosmon dual-controller charging station for Xbox One, there is something for everyone. Nintendo Switch owners are not left out either, as the HORI Joy-Con charge stand takes up little room and is officially licensed by Nintendo. Say goodbye to the days of dead controllers and hello to day-long gaming sessions.


There is no question that gaming gifts of all types will be hot this season, it is only a matter of which one you will buy. Hopefully, this list makes things a little easier. No matter which product or console you select, you cannot go wrong. Can you resist the temptation to buy something for yourself?

David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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Your Immune System ‘Remembers’ Microbes It’s Never Fought Before, New Study Says

Immune cells are like the Hatfields and McCoys of our bodies–once wronged, they never, ever forget. This is how we gain immunity, and it’s why vaccines work: Immune cells develop a memory of an invading pathogen, and they build an alert system to find and fight it should it ever return. But a new study by Stanford researchers adds a new wrinkle to this long-held immune theory. It turns out immune cells can develop this memory-like state even for pathogens they’ve never met. This may come from exposure to harmless microbes — or the memories may actually be borrowed from other, more experienced cells.

The findings could help explain why babies and small children are so susceptible to infectious diseases. They haven’t been exposed to enough ever-present, mostly harmless pathogens yet, and it’s the constant scuffle with these bugs that gives adult T cells a sort of cellular precognition. “It may even provide an evolutionary clue about why kids eat dirt,” said the study’s lead author, Stanford microbiologist and immunologist Mark Davis. Kids are drawn to dirt because they’ve got to expose their fledgling immune systems to something, to help build up their defenses.

Davis and his coauthors studied a group of T cells called CD4 cells, which are the same ones targeted by HIV. CD4 cells hang out in our bloodstreams and stand sentinel, sounding the cellular alarm when they spot something that doesn’t belong. There are two basic classes of CD4 cells: Naive cells, which haven’t been exposed to a particular bug and might take a while to mount a response, and memory-type cells, which have done battle with a pathogen and are on the lookout for it again. The memory cells can prompt action within a few hours, while naive cells might take days or even weeks–meanwhile, we’re sick.

Decades ago, Davis discovered that CD4 cells reshuffle their DNA when they divide, which basically creates an army of T cells that have very specific pathogen-recognizing abilities. According to this new paper, this ability might also help them recognize pathogens they haven’t even seen yet.

The researchers looked at blood samples from 26 healthy adults and figured out which T cells were responsive to which pathogens. About half of the cells looked like they were in the memory state, meaning they would have encountered a particular pathogen in the past. But then Davis and his colleagues did some tests and found out those people were never exposed to those diseases. They also tried this on newborns, using umbilical cord blood, and found the babies’ cells were naive.

To test this further, the researchers took two adults who hadn’t had a flu shot in five years and gave them the vaccine. After this dead-virus invasion, which is designed to give CD4 cells a new memory, the patients’ CD4 memory cells proliferated. But interestingly, some of them were awakened to “remember” different bacterial and protozoan cell structures, which had nothing to do with the flu.

How do naive cells accomplish this microbial memory generation? It’s all about the environment. People are constantly exposed to countless bacteria, fungi and viruses, everywhere all of the time. T cells might act like they’re reacting to something they’ve seen before–maybe the bacteria’s proteins look similar to that of a harmless bug, and the cell is fooled. Or maybe the actual memory cells reshuffle their DNA when they replicate, which gives new cells specific properties.

“The pre-existing immune memory of dangerous pathogens our immune systems have never seen before might stem from our constant exposure to ubiquitous, mostly harmless micro-organisms, in soil and food and on our skin, our doorknobs, our telephones and our iPod earbuds,” Davis explains.

So maybe drop that Purell habit and don’t worry about the billions of bugs, most of which aren’t harmful, that surround us all the time. They might be giving our immune systems a head start.

The research appears this week in Immunity.

Yum, Mud

There may be an evolutionary reason why kids are inclined to eat dirt.

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