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Comment: Re:Bitcoin lost 11.6% of its value this week ... (Score 1) 87

by Linsaran (#47239263) Attached to: Expedia To Accept Bitcoin

In its current form, there's no way any cryptocurrency replaces paypal or credit cards. The major problems: Anonymity, Lack of protection from fraud, susceptibility to loss (lose your wallet, oops.), and user unfriendliness (expecting the average Joe to deal with wallet software and bitcoin addresses is major stretch).

I don't necessarily see all of those things as problems, but let's go through them, shall we.

1) Anonymity: While it is possible for a dedicated person with resources to track crypto transactions (since by it's very nature all transactions are stored in a giant public ledger), the transactions themselves do not identify you. It is in this sense pseudonymous, you know which wallet has bitcoin X in it, since you can follow it's path on the blockchain, but since you cannot identify who a said wallet belongs to without access to information from outside the block chain. As you can create neigh infinite addresses for a personal wallet, and need never give the same one out twice, it's hard to be sure that any given address belongs to any given person. This is not to say that bit coin is untraceable, because it by design is very traceable, it's just that used correctly you can conduct transactions without actually revealing your identity, in much the same way that using cash doesn't necessarily reveal your identity.

2) Fraud protection: On one hand, the fact that bitcoin transactions are irreversible is a good thing, a merchant who accepts bitcoin need never worry about whether they're going to get paid for their services. There is no risk to accept bitcoins because they can never be charged-back, unlike credit cards which can actually result in a chargeback up to 6 months after a sale is complete. As far as someone committing fraudulent transactions using your bitcoins, there is no real protection against that, other than securing your wallet. If someone stole your money clip and spent the cash in it, there's no fraud protection against that either. The lesson to be learned is to better protect your money clip, or in the case of bitcoin, encrypt your wallet.

3) Susceptibility to loss: if you can't be bothered to back up your wallet, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Losing access to your wallet can happen, but with a minimum amount of effort can be prevented. People who fail to do regular back ups of their computers are just tempting fate. And besides, you can lose a real wallet just as easy (arguably easier) than a digital one, so susceptibility to loss is not unique to crypto.

4) user unfriendliness: this is really the only 'problem I really agree with you on, but it's really just a matter of time before the pieces click together.

Comment: Re:At least there's always... (Score 1) 475

by Linsaran (#47009021) Attached to: Comcast Predicts Usage Cap Within 5 Years

While I don't believe for a second that Verizon won't jump on the data cap bandwagon once everyone else is doing it, they haven't spent the last few years pushing data caps onto their customers.

Except that they have. My data plan started at unlimited, then got moved down to 5gb, then got moved down to 2gb, and finally moved down to 2gb shared between my entire family.

You're confusing Verizon with Verizon wireless, a related, but independently managed corporation. You're probably right that Verizon will start pushing caps at some point, but Verizon (the telecommunications company) =/= Verizon Wireless (the cellular phone company)

Comment: Re:Or you could just you know... (Score 2) 187

by Linsaran (#46999293) Attached to: Do Embedded Systems Need a Time To Die?

OpenWRT is so fucking easy to install and configure (easier than some consumer out-of-the-box experiences, even) that there really is no excuse if you expect a secure local network.

No. It's not. To you, or the typical computer tech-savvy /. reader, maybe; but we're not average consumers. My father-in-law is well above average in that he bought a Linksys router rather than depend on the FIOS installed default, and he actually changed the password, but he's not going to reflash it any more than I'm going to rebore my car engine's cylinders with a hand drill. And the various older neighbors who I assist with network stuff, who think the Internet is broken if a web site changes its format, would have no clue whatever.

The REAL question we should all be asking is, If OpenWRT can be so much better, then why is the commercial stuff *not* better?

Step 1, find out what runs on your router (at wikidevi or similar) step 2, download the firmware image (there are even multiple forums with helpful folks to ask if you arent 100% sure) step 3, flash it the same way you would a normal firmware update, step 4 change the default password, and enjoy your new LAN! The only excuse is not knowing... there is no actual technical knowledge required, just basic keyboard/mouse skills, and reading comprehension.

Step 1, presumes that people are aware there are alternative firmwares for their router, which most non-technical people would not realize, if they even know what a firmware is in the first place.

Step 2, presumes that people can navigate a forum, or possibly multiple forums to find the link to a file that they're looking for. Considering how many people must click on those stupid 'download now' ads that end up on half the file managers out there, and end up with some spyware laden crap on their machine when they were looking for a driver or some nonsense, I don't trust non-technically inclined people to figure that out either.

Step 3, presumes they know how to do a normal firmware update, again non-technical people might not even know what firmware is.

Step 4, most non-technical people have less issue with whether something is secure, and more issue with whether something works. The reason so many people use dumb ass passwords like 'password1' is because they're easy for them to remember. They either don't realize that password1 is a bad password, or they don't care as long as it's easy for them to remember.

TL;DR people want stuff that works, and doesn't require they reinvent the wheel to make it work. In their mind a commercial router should work out of the box, without needing to do open heart surgery on it.

Comment: Re:Freedom of Speech? (Score 0) 328

by Linsaran (#46667603) Attached to: Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

See people got it in their head that the 1st amendment is about 'freedom of speech', which is really a very loose summation of what the 1st amendment really is. The first amendment is to guarantee that you cannot be politically silenced. It is to guarantee that you can peaceably assemble, and discuss whatever the fuck you feel like (ostensibly for the purpose of enacting political change). It guarantees that if you choose to espouse something which may not be popular, as long as your speech is not inciting dangerous behavior, the government will not attempt to silence you. If you are attempting to start a riot via hateful demonstrations, it is not protected. If your speech is damaging to another party (such as a political rival), and you do not have sufficient evidence of it's validity, it is not protected.

The problem is that the amendment has been taken too broadly to mean that any form of expression should be protected against censorship. And while I am anti-censorship in all of it's forms, the 1st amendment was not meant to guarantee your right to show pictures of titties on the internet for the purpose of titillation or any other non-political purposes.

Comment: Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (Score 3, Insightful) 870

by Linsaran (#46581727) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

You're a human being with a reasonably competent understanding of basic technological concepts. There is a LARGE portion of the population who does not meet this criteria. [/understatement]

There are people who cannot grasp the concept of putting 3 color coded wires from one box into the back of another box. There are people who cannot understand the difference between their tv remote and their cable remote, and are probably the same people who need someone to clearly show them how to use their remote even though the purpose of each button is clearly labeled. Switching inputs on a TV between a cable box and a DVD player is a challenge to these sorts of people. And these are some examples of a technology (the tv) practically everyone is familiar with, the examples I've given are not new technological developments for TVs, these sorts of capabilities have existed on TVs since the 90s, giving roughly 2 decades for people to become familiar with them. But it still confuses the heck out of a good 20% of the population.

These are people who have trouble working their microwave and you expect them to suddenly work a touch screen order taker, and not screw it up? Not likely. And guess who these people are going to blame for their failure to operate? I mean it obviously wasn't their fault that your machine didn't understand that when I said only ketchup, I meant I didn't want mustard, I still wanted the pickles and onions.

Comment: Re:Short answer, yes (Score 1) 631

by Linsaran (#46355113) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?
Even a 'day or so' is frankly outrageous considering our current technological capabilities. There is no real reason that an international transfer of funds should even take that long. I'll be fair and state that the 2-3 weeks is an outlier situation, but it's not at all unreasonable for someone transferring funds to a 2nd or 3rd world nation.

Comment: Re:Never trusted bitcoin in the first place. (Score 1) 631

by Linsaran (#46355091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?
If you want to get technical transactions on the bitcoin network are using the bitcoin protocol, which happens to be cyphered with SHA256. Also should the community of developers determine that SHA256 was no longer a viable cypher, it would be relatively simple to create a cutoff point in the blockchain where new transactions need to be processed in whatever the next generation cypher is. My point was that if the above protocols are compromised because the underlying cryptography is vulnerable, there are much greater dangers in terms of potential fraud or data security, considering every modern agency in the world relies on the premise that those protocols are secure.

Comment: Re:History repeating (Score 1) 631

by Linsaran (#46353211) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

Oh look, a bank-like entity failed and people lost money. Good thing the FDIC is there to--


If cryptocurrencies are going to repeat the last 100+ years of economic history, can they hurry up and rediscover monetary policy too?

To be fair I don't think that foreign investment accounts are covered under the Federal Deposit Insurance Company either. Or for that matter, there are plenty of charter banks that aren't FDIC insured domestically. Even if MtGox wasn't based in Japan, there's no requirement (except as provided by state law) for a bank to be FDIC insured. In short, if you're worried about your money you probably should have some caveats about putting it into an organization that has no official policy for how it's going to compensate you if they screw up, monetary policy or no.

Comment: Re:Never trusted bitcoin in the first place. (Score 2) 631

by Linsaran (#46353015) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

Several reasons:

1) OK, has anyone - preferably someone with solid crypto/math credentials - ever audited the fscking crypto behind Bitcoin? Anyone? Not that I know of.

The basic crypto behind bitcoin is sha256 it's the same crypto used behind TLS and SSL, PGP, SSH, S/MIME, and IPsec. If sha256 is compromised the fact that your bitcoins are now double spendable is the least of the world's problems.

2) Even if the basic crypto is sound, what about the wallet software? Surprise, surprise, it seems this is how Mt Gox was attacked... And wasn't a TV talking head wallet hacked after he showed the number on the air? Oooops...

The 'official' wallet software is open source, and is not subject to the sort of transaction malleability that affected MtGox. In short the official software is sound, however, the official wallet software is not designed to handle the volume of transactions that an enterprise environment like an exchange needs to be able to process. It simply isn't fast enough to keep up with hundreds to thousands of transactions per second. To this end MtGox like most exchanges used the official source code as a reference point and created their own custom wallet software to interact with their exchange. Unfortunately they made shortcuts in their coding to do this, which allowed this particular vulnerability to be exploited.

3) Any "market" where the majority of the "product" is owned by a very small group of people is not a free market - it's a cartel. And cartels usually are up to no good...

So, no, Bitcoin IMHO is not to be trusted.

And that's different from the over all distribution of USD how? Most of the people with large bitcoin fortunes are early adopters, and frankly why shouldn't early adopters be rewarded for taking a risk on something that ultimately may not pan out. You don't have to go far to find plenty of people who think Bitcoin is a scam, scheme, or otherwise 'no good'. You yourself imply as much. Like anything early adopters take a big risk, if BTC never got to be worth more than chump change they're out time and possibly money if they invested anything heavily into it. As another analogy, 25-35 years ago there were plenty of people who insisted personal computers would never be popular and there was no market for them. You don't begrudge people like Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates who took a risk on fledgeling technology and came out on top do you? Maybe in 10-20 years BitCoin will have gone the way of the betamax and vhs, but then maybe it won't.

Comment: Short answer, yes (Score 1) 631

by Linsaran (#46352713) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

I trust that bitcoin will continue to be a currency with value and use until something else comes along that replaces it (and given BitCoins incumbent status as king of the cryptocurency world is I believe, unlikely in the near future. There are a number of 'altcoins' which each seek to improve upon BitCoin's core functionality in some way or another, but none of them have successfully come close to dethroning BTC).

Bitcoin has a lot of functional benefits as a system for transferring value, even if it is eventually determined that its volatility ultimately makes it unsuitable as a currency for conducting day to day business with. This is especially true when it comes to international transactions. Currently the fees for transmitting USD across international wires, not to mention conversion to local currency (if needed) are significant, and time consuming (I've oft seen quotes of international wires taking 2-3 weeks to complete, depending on where it's going and what not). On the other hand, a bitcoin transaction is instantaneous, and after roughly 60 minutes is pretty much irrevocably entered into the block chain so that there is no possibility of the funds being lost or otherwise delayed in transmit.

Now does this mean that I trust bitcoin to go up, or down, or sideways, or do anything else? Well, I'd like to say I'm hopeful for a strong future for the currency, and I trust that in the long run bitcoin will eventually stabilize as it matures more, but in the short term, we're still in the wild west so to speak.

+ - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

Submitted by s.petry
s.petry (762400) writes "What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years."

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is not going to last... (Score 1) 332

by Linsaran (#46040633) Attached to: Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)
Have I actually tried what? Actually linking a wallet to a person. No I haven't, but then I don't have the resources available to me that most government agencies do. Sure the chain can be 'long' and it may be difficult, if not impractical to track down the owners of wallets that are mixed with a mixing service, but all of the transactions are public, and therefore CAN be traced, even if it is impractical to do so. Furthermore most mixing services could themselves be classified as performing or aiding in money laundering or structuring depending on local laws about the subject. So while a user of a mixing service might avoid getting tracked down for their drug charges, they could face money laundering charges instead. In my opinion there's little incentive to most users to use a mixing service unless they have dirty coins, the privacy gained just doesn't seem particularly worth it to me, considering the chain is already pseudonymous.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is not going to last... (Score 4, Informative) 332

by Linsaran (#46036093) Attached to: Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)
Bitcoin is pretty much the opposite of untraceable. For a bitcoin transaction to be valid it has to be reported in a giant public ledger where everyone agrees on it. If you send bitcoins to someone there is a permanent record of you doing so. Sure the ledger might not associate a wallet address with a particular person, it doesn't for example record 'John Q. sent Bill W.' 100 BTC, but it does record that wallet '1785' sent 100 btc to wallet '1863'. There are a variety of ways to link a particular wallet address to a physical person, especially if that person is attempting to cash out to any Fiat currency (either the transaction has to be done 'in person' or virtually every exchange that allows deposit or withdrawal of fiat currency requires some sort of identity verification, not to mention it's likely being withdrawn to a bank account, which also likely has a name associated with it). The long and short of it is, that if you want to transact business without a paper trail, cold hard, unmarked cash is still the best way to do it.
United Kingdom

UK Introduces Warrantless Detention 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cameras-are-for-hippies dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that the UK is introducing new laws tightening security around military bases, quoting the article "The Ministry of Defense is set to introduce "draconian" new powers to tighten security and limit access to US airbases in Britain implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes, The Independent can reveal. ... Among the 20 activities to be banned within the controlled area are camping 'in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise,' digging, engaging in 'any trade or business' or grazing any animal. Also among the offenses, which can result in an individual being 'taken into custody without warrant,' is a failure to pick up dog waste or causing damage to 'any crops, turfs, plants, roots or trees'"

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.