British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously pointed out in an essay from 1973 that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". This echoes a statement from a Leigh Brackett story that describes the way in which a piece of technology is perceived: "witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned".
The point I'm trying to make is that nowadays there's a lot of rumour and talk around various technologies, but as popular as they become, they often seem to reach the publicity in a misunderstood manner. There's a distorted version that keeps bending and twisting as it evolves. I'm talking about news. News frequently take a romanticizing view upon trending technologies. I understand the reason behind it and I often tell myself I shouldn't be upset about it, but I think we should always be very careful with what we accept as true. Searching thorough to find out the inner workings of a process can prove to be an exciting endeavor as well as a revelatory one. Simple science to the learned.
This issue comes as an attempt to shine some (more) light upon some of the commonplace technologies and services we use. And, of course, each article is meant to be only the starting line. You can't possibily have the time to study everything in an exhaustive manner, but picking something and investing a sufficient amount of time to demistify it, won't ever turn out to be wasted time.
- I’m harvesting credit card numbers and passwords from your site
A Black Mirror-esque look at npm packages that seems as plausible as Charlie Brooker's series. And it comes from the one and only David Gilbertson, whom I really recommend following (if it wasn't obvious until now). Also, it receives a special award for the most popular article around the office the past week. Really worth a read.
- Reverse-Engineering the iPhone X Home Indicator Color
Talking about figuring out the technologies we daily use? Here you go. The iPhone X home indicator proves to be implementing hysteresis. A very nice study written by Nathan Gitter.
- Google Maps’s Moat
A story of how Google is harvesting data out of data and making sure its maps service keeps staying ahead of its competitors. Their "Ground Truth" project started in 2008 and that makes it a 10 year effort of extracting data out of street view imagery. It also makes Google Maps's technology pretty hard to catch up to. It is a slightly longer read, but full of images that help prove the point.
- Making Sense of “Cryptoeconomics”
"We have a strong tendency to prioritize the things we are most comfortable with, and see things outside of our domain of expertise as less important."
This recommendation comes from Adrian and serves its purpose of making cryptocurrencies seem less like a magic field.
- “username or password incorrect” is bullshit
Speaking of truths, Travis Jeffery is showing an interesting perspective regarding the established sign-in practice. He also provides a possible solution towards the end.
- Great Stories of Content Marketing
In a festive theme, LinkedIn collected a few testimonials from marketing influencers regarding their favourite blog post content. An audio recommendation from Silvia.
- Designing Better Design Documentation
"I'm a frontend developer, just tell me how it works and what is the color of this icon". A story about designing and documenting design in a way that works for the type of audience it is intended for.
Take a look at the other issues of This month in Around25 for more quality reads chosen by us!