The Art of the Steal: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, America's #1 Crime Frank W. Abagnale  
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Author Frank W. Abagnale knows something about fraud—he once committed it for a living. "Through my various hustles, I passed something like $2.5 million worth of checks, a blizzard of paper that I scattered in earnest throughout all fifty states and twenty-six countries, all before I was legally allowed to drink," he writes. "I was proficient enough at cashing fraudulent checks that I earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hunted criminals by the FBI." Abagnale was ultimately caught, and he served prison sentences in France, Sweden, and the United States. In the 25 years since his release, Abagnale (who also wrote Catch Me If You Can) has become a leading consultant on fraud prevention.

"I'm still a con artist. I'm just putting down a positive con these days, as opposed to the negative con I used in the past," he explains. "I've applied the same relentless attention to working on stopping fraud that I once applied to perpetrating fraud." His expertise comes in handy: businesses lose an estimated $400 billion each year to fraud. The stories Abagnale tells in The Art of the Stealprovide fascinating glimpses of a criminal underworld. He describes "shoulder surfers" who rip off bank customers at ATMs by videotaping their fingers as they enter PIN numbers, retrieving receipts from wastebaskets, and then creating fake credit cards—all rather inexpensively. Whole sections of the book almost read like a how-to manual for aspiring thieves, though Abagnale has other motives. Throughout, he offers sensible advice on how to foil the con artists. Much of this is common sense (cut up credit cards when they expire), but some of his suggestions aren't so obvious. He warns readers not to write checks to the "IRS," for instance: "Envelopes to the IRS are common targets because of where they're going." Instead, checks should be made out to the "Internal Revenue Service," because criminals can turn the "I" of "IRS" into an "M," and turn a tax payment into a gift for "MRS." Smith. The chapter on the emerging problem of identity theft—with its tips on how to keep Social Security numbers private—is especially helpful. In all, The Art of the Stealis captivating and useful. —John Miller

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake Stan Redding Frank W. Abagnale  
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When this true-crime story first appeared in 1980, it made the New York Timesbestseller list within weeks. Two decades later, it's being rereleased in conjunction with a film version produced by DreamWorks. In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it by pioneering implausible and brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot (puddle jumping around the world in the cockpit, even taking over the controls). He also played the role of a pediatrician and faked his way into the position of temporary resident supervisor at a hospital in Georgia. Posing as a lawyer, he conned his way into a position in a state attorney general's office, and he taught a semester of college-level sociology with a purloined degree from Columbia University.

The kicker is, he was actually a teenage high school dropout. Now an authority on counterfeiting and secure documents, Abagnale tells of his years of impersonations, swindles, and felonies with humor and the kind of confidence that enabled him to pull off his poseur performances. "Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues," he writes. In fact, he did it all for his overactive libido—he needed money and status to woo the girls. He also loved a challenge and the ego boost that came with playing important men. What's not disclosed in this highly engaging tale is that Abagnale was released from prison after five years on the condition that he help the government write fraud-prevention programs. So, if you're planning to pick up some tips from this highly detailed manifesto on paperhanging, be warned: this master has already foiled you. —Lesley Reed

Inventing the Internet (Inside Technology) Janet Abbate  
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History is written by winners, but Bill Gates isn't talking yet. Those interested in how this weird, wonderful World Wide Web—and its infrastructure—came to be should turn to historian Janet Abbate's look at 40 years of innovation in Inventing the Internet.

Peeking behind the curtain to show the personalities and larger forces guiding the development of the Net, from its dawn as a robust military communications network designed to survive multiple attacks to today's commercial Web explosion, Abbate succeeds in demystifying this all-pervasive technology and its creators.

Abbate's survey covers everything from David Baran's work with the RAND corporation to the development of packet-switching theory to CERN's Tim Berners-Lee and his hypertext networking system. She also factors in the influences that caused the Net to evolve such as the Cold War, changing research priorities, and the hacker subculture that pushed existing technologies into new forms, each more and more like today's fast, global communications system.

The research is impeccable, the writing is lively, and the analysis is insightful. (See especially the discussion of the "surprise hit" of ARPANET, a minor function known as e-mail.) Abbate clearly knows her subject and her audience, and Inventing the Internetencapsulates a milestone of modern history. —Rob Lightner

The Best of Annals of Improbable Research Abrahams Marc Marc Abrahams  
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"Science is too human, too much fun, and too important notto laugh at it." The Annals of Improbable Research(and its predecessor, the Journal of Irreproducible Results) has been making fun of science and scientists for decades. This latest compendium includes a listing of the Ig Nobel prizes, annually awarded "for scientific achievements which cannot or should not be reproduced," and some of the prizewinning papers, such as "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation" and "Of Mites and Man." There are also plenty of groundbreaking original studies from AIR: "How Dead Is a Doornail?""Furniture Airbags," and "The Medical Effects of Kissing Boo-Boos." As the book's warning label states, the result is a highly reactive mix: "Contents are unexpectedly educational and informative, especially in patients who suffer allergic reactions to science, technology, literature, or art. Can be highly addictive." Let the buyer beware. —Mary Ellen Curtin

Captured By Aliens : The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe Joel Achenbach  
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Joel Achenbach (Why Things Are) describes Captured by Aliensas a travelogue, a record of his strange journey into "alien country." With Carl Sagan as a sort of totem animal on this spirit quest (in fact, one of the author's first stops is Sagan's living room), Achenbach plots an eccentric course through the land of UFOs and the search for extraterrestrial life, going from NASA headquarters in Washington, DC to local MUFON meetings, from an asteroid-blasted quarry in Belize to a Las Vegas hotel room in which he's hypnotized by an alien abductee. He even visits the set of the X-Files. (Achenbach reveals Gillian Anderson's very un-Scully-like take on alien beings: "[T]hey operate, vibrate—this is going to make me sound like a complete nut—they vibrate on a different energy level than we do.")

With the investigative skill of a seasoned reporter (which Achenbach is, for the Washington Post) and the wit and charm of an NPR commentator (which he also is), Achenbach turns out to be the perfect companion for such a cosmic road trip. This curious, earnest, and frequently hilarious writer proves equally at ease with legit figures like Sagan and NASA administrator Dan Goldin as he is with self-described "Starseeds" (aliens in human bodies) and technophiles like Mars-booster Bob Zubrin. Achenbach knows his science, but he always brooks just the right amount of nonsense. —Paul Hughes

OpenCable Architecture (Fundamentals) Michael Adams  
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OpenCable Architecture is the only resource available that discusses the new standard, OpenCable, which brings digital TV, data, and interactivity to the TV. The book will trace the evolution of digital cable TV systems demonstrating that OpenCable draws on such roots and adds a standard cable industry consensus to them. The book will concentrate on the OpenCable Network Architecture (the headend, optical transport, distribution hub, hybrid-fiber coax, and set-top terminal equipment) and describe how these components are interconnected. The style of the book will be targeted at the educated layperson and will explain key concepts in practical terms rather than focusing on how complicated the technology can be. The book will build the concepts chapter-by-chapter so that the final chapters will discuss complicated network issues, such as statistical multiplexing, quality of service, and blocking in a straightforward manner.

Swing Hacks Joshua Marinacci Chris Adamson  
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Swing Hackshelps Java developers move beyond the basics of Swing, the graphical user interface (GUI) standard since Java 2. If you're a Java developer looking to build enterprise applications with a first-class look and feel, Swing is definitely one skill you need to master. This latest title from O'Reilly is a reference to the cool stuff in Swing. It's about the interesting things you learn over the years—creative, original, even weird hacks—the things that make you say, "I didn't know you could even do that with Swing!"

Swing Hackswill show you how to extend Swing's rich component set in advanced and sometimes non-obvious ways. The book touches upon the entire Swing gamut-tables, trees, sliders, spinners, progress bars, internal frames, and text components. Detail is also provided on JTable/JTree, threaded component models, and translucent windows. You'll learn how to filter lists, power-up trees and tables, and add drag-and-drop support.

Swing Hackswill show you how to do fun things that will directly enhance your own applications. Some are visual enhancements to make your software look better. Some are functional improvements to make your software do something it couldn't do before. Some are even just plain silly, in print only to prove it could be done. The book will also give you give you a small glimpse of the applications coming in the future. New technology is streaming into the Java community at a blistering rate, and it gives application developers a whole new set of blocks to play with.

With its profusion of tips and tricks, Swing Hacksisn't just for the developer who wants to build a better user interface. It's also ideally suited for client-side Java developers who want to deliver polished applications, enthusiasts who want to push Java client application boundaries, and coders who want to bring powerful techniques to their own applications.

Whatever your programming needs, Swing Hacksis packed with programming lessons that increase your competency with interface-building tools.

UNIX Unbounded: A Beginning Approach Amir Afzal  
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This handbook uses straightforward examples to introduce the UNIX operating system, including its historical development, major versions, and important features. It covers the topics necessary for users to function independently and handle routine tasks, giving readers a foundation for exploring more advanced UNIX topics. Builds knowledge with a general explanation of concepts and topics, followed by more detailed and complex commands and examples as the chapter progresses. Explains the importance of the operating system and explores its primary functions. Includes a new chapter on the Emacs editor as an alternative to the vi editor. For those interested in learning more about the UNIX operating system.

Text Messaging: Reading and Writing About Popular Culture John Alberti  
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This new text examines how students are communicating and creating culture through blogs, MySpace pages, texting, and other high-tech means of expression. Alberti engages student interest and provides tools for students to more effectively analyze texts of all sorts. Intriguing writing projects improve text communication, writing, and presentation skills. Unlike other pop culture readers that focus exclusively on U.S. culture, Text Messaging recognizes that these forms of pop culture are global in scope, so individuals can and do interact with diverse cultures from around the world.

Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers John Alderman  
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An unprecedented combination of computer history and striking images, Core Memory reveals modern technology's evolution through the world's most renowned computer collection, the Computer History Museum in the Silicon Valley. Vivid photos capture these historically important machines including the Eniac, Crays 1 3, Apple I and II while authoritative text profiles each, telling the stories of their innovations and peculiarities. Thirty-five machines are profiled in over 100 extraordinary color photographs, making Core Memory a surprising addition to the library of photography collectors and the ultimate geek-chic gift.