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11 wonderfully horrible modern productivity anti-patterns

You are a modern web-worker. When the internet in your office goes offline, it is a major drain on your productivity. Here are some things you may do or see in your daily life that are "anti-patterns" or behaviors which are counter to productivity. Please, don't do them! If someone else does one of them, maybe send them this post (it includes solutions).

When people break these rules (especially via email) it just makes me feel like Billy Sorrels: DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.

1. Putting Screenshots into Microsoft Word Documents

You make a screenshot using the "PrtScr" key and want to share it. How do you do this? You open Microsoft Word, paste the screenshot into the document, and send it via e-mail. It's an image, not a document. Save it that way.

The Problem: Bloat and speed meaning fewer people read the message. It takes way longer to open a document than to open an image. It also takes up more space in my inbox. I mostly don't care about e-mail/inbox size these days, but when I'm on a slow connection (via phone, via internet in a foreign country) it can be an issue.

The Solution: This depends on the operating system you use. Windows users: take the screen shot, open "Paint" (or another graphics program like Gimp) and paste the screenshot there. Save it as an image. If you are going to do it often I humbly suggest Skitch or AwesomeScreenshot.

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New Discover Credit Card Design: Metallic front, details on back

Various news outlets are covering the release of the new Discover credit card, like Daily Finance.com.

Discover Card Design

And, here is the card design:

Discover it card design

It's interesting how they have completely broken from the standard way of lots of information on the front of the card. It's a really clean design with just their Discover logo/wordmark and a little orange "it" on the top right edge. The name, number, and all the other junk is on the back of the card. I haven't been able to find the design of the back of the card anywhere. Apparently the new card will be sent via expedited mail, getting it to customers in just a couple days instead of the industry standard "3-5 business days."

Their delivery box is not only going to get to you faster, it's attractive too:

Discover it delivery box

Commercials: Support and better features

Discover also has several new ads to go along with the card. This first one emphasizes the human, America-based support that is someone so friendly you might just call them for fun:

And this second one emphasizes the "no change to APR for your first late payment" while still giving the human, America-based, friendly support:

Drawbacks to Discover

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Is Wal-Mart replacing Green Dot with American Express for Prepaid debit cards?

There's lots of news coverage today that Wal-Mart is partnering with American Express to offer prepaid debit cards in their stores. Wal-Mart previously offered Wal-Mart branded Visas via a partnership with Green Dot. American Express is accepted less widely than Visa, so it seems likely that Wal-Mart will want to continue offering a Visa or Mastercard either with Green Dot or someone else. On the other hand...since Wal-Mart accepts American Express they might see this as a feature: it means people will choose them if another merchant doesn't accept AmEx.

Press covreage of prepaid expansion by Amex

Amex/Walmart deal affects GreenDot shares

In trading on Monday, shares of Wal-Mart (WMT) and American Express (AXP) were largely unchaged while Green Dot was down about 20%. Investors have been watching closely to see whether Wal-Mart will renew their current agreement with Green Dot which is set to expire at the end of 2012.

Fees for the Bluebird debit card

According to a reuters article:

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Cross Site Request Forgery in Tumblr "Ask a Question" feature

This might be the first nerd-blog post in a long time, so my apologies if I startle anyone. As a quick update, I wrote a book on security in Drupal and then founded a company focused on Drupal security services and then sold that company to Acquia where I currently work.

So....Tumblr is a big deal. They apparently have 120million users and are totally awesome.

I was trying Tumblr out for a site and noticed that many of their interactions relied 100% on Javascript for a "delete/cancel" confirmation. I fired up my handy-dandy browser tools and inspected the http headers associated witih deleting a message. Turns out that it's vulnerable to a cross-site-request-forgery. In general Tumblr uses the token-synchronizer csrf prevention (as documented on OWASP). I'm not necessarily saying they copiedOWASP or were inspired, just that it follows the pattern of using a second form token that is sent on all requests for a session. They do not use a different token per form/action: once you get the anti-CSRF-nonce it's the same for multiple different operations. Their token is called the form_key.

Want to see the problem in action? I even made this handy dandy movie of the problem:

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