Hush

Hush is a content blocker for Safari with one job: to block annoying cookie notices. It does it really well, it’s open source and it’s free.

Link: App Store


Simple, ‘til it isn’t

I use Apple Notes to jot down anything that I need to remember. There’s millions of note taking apps nowadays, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to try them all for what might only be an incremental improvement to my chaotic note taking habits. Notes is on all my devices, syncs between them nicely and lets me search for stuff instead of organising it.

It’s Achilles heel is export – as in it’s difficult to get your notes out of it. Really difficult. Especially if you’re using images or handwriting. iOS will let you export handwriting as a PNG image. Desktop gives the added option of PDF. This is probably fine for most people, and it is typical of Apple to keep things simple and cater to the majority of users – which is fine until it isn’t.

I needed to export a handwritten note with a transparent background. There is no obvious way to accomplish this. Notes is clearly using some sort of vector format, so should be possible, right? No. There is no simple way to do this.

My convoluted workflow is:

1. Write the note in Apple Notes on iPad

2. Open the note in Apple Notes on desktop and export the PDF to iCloud

3. Back on the iPad, open the PDF in Affinity Designer, delete the background, crop and export to PNG

4. Rejoice, but curse bitterly that it should be easier

It would be great if I could do this without having to involve my laptop.


Papers, please

This is an interesting question:

It’s a tricky one, right? Netizens have fiercly argued for the right to anonymity online for decades.

In my opinion, for what it’s worth, people should be accountable for what they say – whether that’s on the street, or on Twitter. It’s a trivial thing for me to say. I post here under my real name, use social media sparingly and I’m a middle-aged white guy, living in a safe country. It would make no difference to me. Some people need to be anonymous, for their safety and not because they want to be a dick to people without consequences. I’d argue that social media isn’t the best choice for them anyway.

Deep down in the thread, someone suggests a two-tiered system where anonymous handles are allowed but with restrictions, i.e. limited posts per day, or can’t post to the public timeline. Someone else says that all this talk of ending anonymity is a distraction because it is platforms that must be more accountable, and ending anonymity hurts the vulnerable most. Both good, and equally valid.

Facebook has had a real name policy since 2014 but is still.. not great? So maybe the argument is moot anyway. Even so, I’m more sympathetic to the view that real names are better.

Whichever side you come down on, I’m sure that we would agree that there’s much more that can be done to improve discourse on social media.


GME day 3

Matt Levine continues to write very good copy on the unfathomable things that happen when a bunch of Redditors get involved in the stock market. Today, he lays out some scenarios of how this is likely to play out (one, albeit unlikely, being the collapse of capitalism), but it sounds like it’s not easy to predict, even for those that do this stuff for a living.

It is just the case, just inevitably the case, that if you are going to have financial markets that are optimized for those purposes—that are liquid and complete, that attract smart people, that are open to everyone—they are also going to have a certain amount of nonsense. It’s not like WallStreetBets invented financial nonsense! Financial-market nonsense is, like, 70% of what we talk about around here on a normal day. How many times have I have written about hedge funds tricking each other using credit default swaps? Financial markets exist to foster price discovery and capital formation, but the way they do that is mostly by letting smart people mess with each other all day. WallStreetBets is a new class of smart people messing, quite effectively, with the old ones.

Matt Levine / Bloomberg

I know nothing about the stock market, and I’m not making any judgement on whether all this is good or bad, but it is absolutely fascinating and at least a tiny bit funny.


That is a thing that you can do

From Matt Levine’s “Money Stuff” newsletter, on what happened when /r/wallstreetbets directed their collective might on Gamestop, precipitating $17 billion dollars of stock trades and inflating the stock by 180%:

Here (via Robin Wigglesworth) is a post on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets forum asking “Can I get a flair for buying GME at the literal top ($155.29)?” (It was not the literal top, but close.) “This is the way,” a chorus of redditors replied. It is way! Gleefully getting top-ticked on a stock—buying it at its highest price ever and then bragging about it as the price collapses—in order to earn the strange respect of your friends on Reddit: That is a thing you can do. You might enjoy it. I am not going to say it is irrational; people have spent their money on worse things. But it is not the sort of rationality that the stock market is set up for. “When stock prices get too high, sensible value motives will take over”: Nope.

The stock exchange is weird. People on the internet are weirder.


Tucows

Internet users of a certain age will fondly remember Tucows as the place that you would go to download pretty much anything.

Turns out that they are still about, and doing well. They have just retired the download site after 25 years of operation – but they also own Hover, Enom & Ting; and are the second largest domain registrar in the world.

It’s cool that they’ve weathered the storms and stuck around.

Tucows in 2002

Collecting, for the fun of it

Britain is a nation of collectors. From stamps to coins and military regalia — most folk know someone who collects something. One member of my family collected wooden ducks and tropical figurines. One collected foreign licence plates. Another collected stamps. Personally, I think it’s a bit odd. It’s a socially acceptable form of hoarding.

I dabbled with collecting StarTrek cards when I was at school. I got a kick out of organising them into plastic wallets, and carried the collection around in a thick ring binder. I eventually tired of it all and handed them out to a bunch of Year 7s — who were delighted. Otherwise, I don’t think that I have ever had a desire to collect anything.

I was surprised to learn that people collect bricks. Not gold bricks, building bricks. The kind you make houses with. Bricks are worthless. Their ultimate destiny is to be ground to rubble and used as hardcore. So why collect them? Because you can’t put a price on joy. I enjoyed organising my Star Trek cards, these guys – I assume that they are guys – enjoy bricks. Happiness makes the world go round.

Jason Harris’s haul of bricks. (Jason Harris, T-Space architects)
Jason Harris’s haul of bricks. (Jason Harris, T-Space architects)

I feel the urge to collect something, but something that isn’t the size or weight of a brick. Suggestions welcome.

Atlas Obscura: Brick Collecting


Experiments

Success, whether massive or modest, shouldn’t be the goal of any experiment that you undertake. The goal can, and perhaps always should, be to learn something new. And, by extension, to learn something about yourself at the same time.

Scott Nesbit / Weekly Musings

Experiments don’t have to be grand in scope and scale. It’s obvious, really, but easy to forget.