7 Things This Week [#28]

A weekly list of things I found interesting, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.

It’s been a pretty crazy week with work, so I didn’t get a lot of time to prepare, but it just so happened that I had precisely seven links lined up — I love it when things work out like that.

1️⃣ Tools for professionals, tools for amateurs | Arun.is

Perhaps there is another lens through which we can see the differences between amateurs and professionals — Tools.


Why they use them, where they use them, how they use them, how they feel about them, and other questions are equally important as the nature of the tools themselves. The answers to these questions may also spell out the difference between professionals and amateurs.

Arun (who doesn’t write often but always produces thorough and thoughtful blog posts) ponders the pixelated line that separates an amateur from a professional. I think he nailed it with some of his comparisons: needs vs. wants, assets vs. toys, confidence vs. delight. For most things, I fall firmly on the amateur side and relish needing out over minute details. Not because I have to, but because I find it fun to explore my interests (like backpacking, climbing, and technology) through their gear.

2️⃣ A Brief History of Credit Cards (or What Happens When You Swipe) | a16z

What actually happens when you swipe your credit card? a16z general partner Alex Rampell helps solve the mystery, taking us from the beginning of the credit card revolution (including its hometown of Fresno, California) and on the journey of how both information and money travel, through the five parties involved in every credit card transaction.

As a follow-up to a post that I linked previously about Apple Pay-specific transactions, this video does an excellent job explaining how credit cards work in general. I had no idea about all the steps and middle companies that need to communicate for a single transaction to go through. Also, it gives me new respect for how quickly transactions are approved these days (especially with Apple Pay!).

3️⃣ 15 Microprints Hiding in United States Currency | Mental Floss

Even in the age of credit cards and online payments, most of us still handle legal tender every single day without ever stopping to look more closely at how money is designed. You probably hadn’t noticed, for example, that most notes boast tiny words scattered about the larger images.

Do yourself a favor and take a gander at this webpage. This text is hiding in plain sight on US cash. I’d never have noticed any of them had they not been cataloged here.

[Via Daring Fireball]

4️⃣ Shiftscreen’ takes the iPad experience to the next level with multi-window navigation and more | 9to5Mac

Based on an API that lets apps take full advantage of an external monitor, the new Shiftscreen brings a multi-window experience to the iPad. The main idea of the app is to provide new ways of web browsing, since it cannot actually access system features to force other iPad apps to run in windows.

Check out the video linked on this page — it’s wild. I’ve got shiftscreen 4X downloaded while it lasts (it’s not hard to imagine that Apple would take it down for one App Store reason or another), and I am excited to give it a fair shake. Paired with an external keyboard and trackpad (and monitor, of course), it seems like it adds a whole extra operating system to your iPad!

5️⃣ Hacking CloudKit — How I accidentally deleted your Apple Shortcuts | Detectify

All of them were gone. I know realized that the deletion did somehow work, but that the _defaultZone never disappeared. When I tried sharing a new shortcut it also did not work, at least not to begin with, most likely due to the record types also being deleted.

At 23 Mar 2021 20:44:00 GMT I wrote the following email to Apple Security:

[Subject: Urgent CloudKit issue, access misconfiguration with com.apple shortcuts, accidentally deleted whole public _defaultZone and now gallery and all shared shortcuts for all users are gone]

(Heads up, this article looks, and is, technical, but is surprisingly readable for even people like me with minimal technical insight)

Wow. I remember when this happened in the spring and the tizzy it caused in the Apple community. It is incredible to think it was the (apparently honest) mistake of one person poking around to discover vulnerabilities. I sure hope that the powers that be at Apple learned a lot from this ordeal. But from what I’ve been reading about their bug bounty program, there’s plenty more room for improvement.

6️⃣ Ebooks Are an Abomination | The Atlantic

More clear is the consequence of disintermediation: Nobody takes a self-published manuscript and lays it out for printing in a manner that conforms with received standards. And so you often end up with a perfect-bound Word doc instead of a book. That odd feeling of impropriety isn’t necessarily a statement about the trustworthiness of the writer or their ideas, but a sense of dissonance at the book as an object. It’s an eerie gestalt, a foreboding feeling of unbookiness.

I have no beef with ebooks — my primary medium for both fiction and non-fiction —, but I did appreciate this article’s history lesson and strong opinions. It reads as if written from the child of librarian parents, which I do not say as a slam against it. On the contrary, hearing people talk about things they’re passionate about is one of my great pleasures in life, even if I don’t share that passion.

7️⃣ Here’s to the Crazy Ones | Basic Apple Guy

The poem itself was developed by a collective including Rob Siltanen, Lee Chow, and others. It was allegedly initially hated by Steve Jobs, although he later came around & changed his mind (classic Steve). Two narrations of the ad exist, one by Richard Dreyfuss and one by Steve Jobs himself.

I’ve always loved this poem and knew it existed around Apple’s OSes, but not in all these places. So I’m glad that Basic Apple Guy did the work to document them all in one place.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed these links, or have something else exciting to share, please drop me a line on Twitter!

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