Short Guts Explained

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OS X Mavericks, iOS 7: Text Shortcuts explained

Thanks to iCloud, Apple’s OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 let you use the same Shortcuts for text entry on your Mac as on your mobile device. Here’s how to enable and use the feature.

Enabling Shortcuts

You’ve been able to sync your text shortcuts between devices since iOS 6, with Mavericks your Mac will also use (and share) these text shortcuts. (For keyboard shortcuts for apps, read this tech note).

To enable this feature on your Mac simply launch System Preferences, open iCloud prefs and check the Documents & Data setting.

To enable your iOS device, open Settings>iCloud, and check the Documents and Data toggle switch to green (active).

In future any shortcut you set on your iPhone or iPad will work on your Mac, and vice versa. Delete a shortcut on one system and it will be deleted across your others.

Creating Shortcuts (iOS)

You can create new shortcuts on iOS within Settings>General>Keyboard and tap Shortcuts at the bottom of the screen.

Your iOS systems probably already have one shortcut set up, “omw”, type this and your device will write “On My Way”.

To add a shortcut tap the blue + (Plus) button at top right of the Shortcuts screen. You’ll be asked to enter the Phrase you want to use in the Phrase box and a shortcut for that phrase in the Shortcut field. Save your new Shortcut and in future whenever you type those letters on your Mac or mobile device your chosen phrase will appear.

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To delete a shortcut press the blue Edit button on the lower left corner of your device, you can then delete any shortcuts you no longer need. Those changes will be applied across all your enabled systems (Mac or iOS device).

Creating Shortcuts (Mavericks)

You control Shortcuts on Mavericks systems inside System Preferences. Select Keyboard and select the ‘Text’ tab at the top of the pane. Mavericks systems usually have some common fractions (½, ¾, ¼) already set-up.

To create a new shortcut press the + button in the lower left corner, in the main pane you will see two editable fields appear, Replace and With.

Type the shortcut you intend using in the Replace box and type the word or phrase you intend using in the With box. Then hit Return.

The new shortcut is now available on all your systems.

To delete a shortcut select it and press the – button.

Using shortcuts

To use a Shortcut on iOS, just type the letters and the shortcut should pop up in your Autocorrect box. Press space after you enter the letters and your device will use the shortcut.

To use a shortcut on Mavericks, just type the shortcut’s letters and the full phrase should appear in autocorrect. To use that shortcut press the spacebar and write something else. If you don’t want to use the shortcut on a Mac you must either press the small X beside the suggestion in autocorrect (which is bit fiddly) or press the Escape key on your keyboard (easiest method).

Limitations of shortcuts

There’s some ways in which Apple could improve shortcuts. For example, when you don’t want to invoke any shortcuts on your iOS device, it would be nice if you could tell Siri to deactivate the feature on your device for a set period. Some users will use shortcuts to automatically fix mistakes made by autocorrect when writing technical terms, slang expressions or names.

I hope you find shortcuts useful.

Mavericks Tips and Tricks

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic’s Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I’d like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

Jonny is a freelance writer who has been writing (mainly about Apple and technology) since 1999.

Mental Math Shortcuts

Here’s a collection of time-saving math shortcuts, great for back-of-the-envelope estimates.

Time and Distance

60 mph = 1 mile per minute

  • Going 60 mph and the exit is in 10 miles? That’s 10 minutes.
  • Been driving a half hour? That’s about 30 miles at highway speeds.

Feet Per Second = MPH * 1.5

MPH = Feet Per Second * 2/3 (derivation)

  • 60 mph is about 90 feet per second (88 exactly), so just multiply by 1.5. Or, just add half to itself (60 + 30 = 90).
  • Going 100 mph? That’s 150 fps.
  • Going 10 fps? That’s about 7 mph (10 * 2/3 is 6.666). Or, just take away 1/3 (10 – 3 = 7).

speed of light = 1 foot per nanosecond (derivation)

  • The US is about 3000 miles long. There’s about 5000 feet/mile, so that’s about 3000 × 5000 or 15 million feet. 15 million feet takes 15 million nanoseconds, or 15/1000, or 15 milliseconds. That’s the minimum time for a signal to go across the country.
  • Inside a microchip, if you have a clock cycle every nanosecond (1 GHz), your signal can only travel 1 foot at most (or less, depending on the material). Even light takes 30ns to cross a 30 foot room.

1 year = 250 work days = 2000 work hours (derivation)

  • Project takes 1000 man hours? That’s 6 months for 1 person.
  • Daily commute of 1/2 hour? That’s .5 * 250 = 125 hours in the car each year.

Money and Finance

Earn \$25/hour? That’s about 50k/year.

Make 200k/year? That’s about \$100/hour. This assumes a 40-hour work week.

Spend \$20/week at Starbucks? That’s a cool grand a year.

Rule of 72: Years To Double = 72/Interest Rate (derivation)

  • Have an investment growing at 10% interest? It will double in 7.2 years.
  • Want your investment to double in 5 years? You need 72/5 or about 15% interest.
  • Growing at 2% a week? You’ll double in 72/2 or 36 weeks. You can use this rule for any duration of time, not just years.
  • Inflation at 4%? It will halve your money in 72/4 or 18 years.

Mental Arithmetic


10,000 = hundred hundred

million = thousand thousand

billion = thousand million

trillion = million million

  • 1% of 10k is 100. The Dow is roughly 10k (it’s about 12k now). So if the dow drops 100, it’s about a 1% loss.
  • What’s 5k x 50k? That’s 250 * thousand * thousand or 250 million.

Visualizing numbers (read more)

  • 12 days = 1 million seconds
  • 1 year = 31 million seconds (about pi * 10 million)
  • 30 years = 1 billion seconds

30,000 years = 1 trillion seconds

One “part per million” means an accuracy of 1 second every 12 days. One “part per trillion” means an accuracy of 1 second every 30,000 years.

Powers of 2

2^6 = 64 (the sixes match: six and sixty-four)

  • Sure, 2 to the tenth = 1024, but 1000 is good enough for government work. (Read on about KB vs KiB).
  • Have 32-bit color? That’s 2 + 30 bits = 2^2 * 2^30 = 2^2 billion = 4 billion (4gb exactly).
  • Have a 16-bit number? That’s 6 + 10 bits, or 2^6 thousand, or 64 thousand (64 kb).

a% of b = b% of a

  • It’s not immediately clear, but it’s true: a% of b = .01 * a * b, which is the same as b% of a (.01 * b * a).
  • What’s 16% of 25? The same as 25% of 16: 4
  • What’s 43% of 200? Same as 200% of 43: 86.

‘The Big Short’ explained

The Big Short is a 2020 Oscar-winning film adaptation of author Michael Lewis’s best-selling book of the same name. The movie, directed by Adam McKay, focuses on the lives of several American financial professionals who predicted and profited from the build-up and subsequent collapse of the housing and credit bubble in 2007 and 2008.

Published in 2020, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine was a loose sequel to Lewis’ best-selling book Liar’s Poker, a chronicle of his work experiences at Solomon Brothers in the 1980s. Both non-fiction works offer a deep dive into the lives, workplaces and psychology of several Wall Street professionals and the financial world.

This article explores The Big Short, its main characters, and the stylistic tools used by McKay to explain complex financial instruments engineered by the banks during the run-up to the subprime mortgage meltdown.

The Big Short

The Big Short was not the first film adaptation of a successful non-fiction book covering the financial crisis. In 2020, HBO adapted Andrew Ross Sorkin’s crisis tell-all Too Big To Fail, which also had a star-studded cast. That story centered more on the few weeks leading up to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the Congressional response to bail out the nation’s largest banks

The Big Short, however, is a character-driven piece that focuses not just on the events leading up to the financial crisis but also the conflicted morality of several men who foresaw the crisis well in advance. The film adaptation stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.

The story chronicles the work of hedge fund manager Michael Burry (portrayed by Christian Bale), who recognizes that the U.S. housing market of the early 21st century is virtually an asset bubble inflated by high-risk loans. In 2005, Burry – the manager of Scion Capital — creates a credit default swap that would allow him to short the housing market. However, his clients grow angry. When banks and creditors argue that housing is stable, and the market in fact does keep on surging, his clients grow angry and fearful as Burry continues his short plays. When they demand their money back, he places a moratorium on withdrawals.

Meanwhile, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) inadvertently discovers Burry’s goal to establish the credit default swap. Hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) joins Burry in investing in the credit default swap market and recognizes that poorly structured loan packages known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) have received AAA ratings and are exacerbating the mortgage crisis. After discovering that questionable innovation in the CDO market has fueled massive risk in the markets, Baum concludes that the housing bubble will ultimately lead to the collapse of the U.S. economy and bets big – shorting the financial sector. (Baum was based on real-life hedge fund manager Steve Eisman. Vennett was based on Greg Lippmann, a former bond salesman at Deutsche Bank.)

Finally, two investors – Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) – seek the investment advice of retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) after they discover a paper written by Vennett. After Shipley and Geller make a series of successful bets against the housing market, Rickert grows angry that they have profited off the downfall of the U.S. economy and Middle America’s financial doom. Geller was based on Cornwell Capital founder Charlie Ledley, while Jamie Shipley was based on Cornwell partner Jamie Mai. Rickert was based on Ben Hockett, a former trader at Deutsche Bank.

Though they make a fortune on their trades, the duo is left highly dejected about the amount of risk taken and the moral hazard that ultimately would fuel the bailouts of several banks. Shipley and Geller would later try – and fail – to sue the ratings agencies for their misleading rankings of mortgage-backed securities and mortgages.

Burry, meanwhile, ends up producing nearly 500% returns for investors who stay with him through the duration of the housing market’s collapse.

Stylistic Approaches

Financial terminology and the chronology of the financial crisis is highly complex and difficult for a traditional audience to comprehend in a two-hour movie. The film production team employs a simple, yet stylistic approach to defining the tools, from collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and tranches to credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities, that helped sink the global economy.

For example, the film explains the origination and complexity of a synthetic CDO in a scene where actress Selena Gomez plays blackjack. Joined by economist Richard Thaler, they explain how increasingly larger side bets on Gomez’s hand of blackjack are great when she is winning – a metaphor for a rising housing market. However, when Gomez loses the hand – or the housing market falls – those increasingly larger side bets set off a domino effect that create larger losses at the table and the economy, respectively.

Next, audiences receive a visual aid when learning the definition of a tranche. In one scene, Ryan Gosling pulls blocks from a Jenga tower to display how tranches work in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) such as collateralized mortgage obligations (CMO). By pulling out blocks in the lower part of the tower, Gosling explains that the top-rated securities at the top end of the tower cannot stand when the lower-rated securities fail and are removed from its base.

Other examples of visual cuts and props explain the complexity of financial innovation. One cutaway features actress Margot Robbie in a bubble bath drinking champagne and explaining the frailty of mortgage-backed securities. Meanwhile, TV food personality Anthony Bourdain explains how tossing a two-day-old fish into a stew is similar to the subprime mortgages tossed into CDOs to hide their risky nature from unsuspecting customers.

The Bottom Line

The Big Short received several Academy Award nominations – including “Best Picture” – and won for “Best Adapted Screenplay.” Some critics, including Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Laureate Paul Krugman, have said that the film fails to acknowledge that several people, outside of the characters profiled in the movie, also flagged the issues with subprime mortgages. Others noted that the film failed to fully acknowledge the role that the Federal Reserve played in allowing the crisis to flourish.

That said, The Big Short offers a highly engaging exploration into the years preceding the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the housing market, which led to the Great Recession. In the end, it concludes, Wall Street greed sank the global economy for years.

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