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Comment: Re:What. (Score 1) 284

by iserlohn (#46604569) Attached to: U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

Baidu has an almost non-existent marketshare outside of China, so basically whatever they do don't affect the US population much.

However, let's suppose it was Google (with it's marketshare in controlling access to information) censoring result due to political reasons - lets say they blacklisted "Tea Party" or "Gay Marriage" from their searches. Ok, you say Google isn't a monopoly, so what about Microsoft in the late 90s. What if they implemented a filter in IE that stopped those words from being displayed for the same reasons.

Yes, it may not be a first amendment issue, but it is a valid issue nevertheless. Just because the censorship is not being done by Government, doesn't make it right. If you know anything about tort law, you would know about the various duties of care an organization might have towards not only their customers, but also the public.

Comment: Re:What. (Score 1, Insightful) 284

by iserlohn (#46602295) Attached to: U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

Corporations have grown to a size that the power and influence it has over the public is comparable to government, if not surpassing it.

What good is the first amendment if private entities providing essential information services to the public can effective bypass the right for people to be heard?

Comment: Re:Way back when ... (Score 1) 301

by iserlohn (#46572377) Attached to: Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin

We developed a complete string of measures to prevent that from happening again. This requires public oversight and a certain amount of state control. However, the whole point of Bitcoin (originally, as proposited by S. Nakamoto) is the cut the state out from the equation, reverting to the previous state. So the question is, what can we do to provide the same amount of safeguard we have now for cryptocurrencies, without changing it's very nature?

Comment: Re:Lifers? (Score 2) 597

by iserlohn (#46245245) Attached to: Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

The UK wasn't like this before. The system has been Americanized. Before 1998, there were no tuition fees for public universities (All top UK Universities are public), but afterwards (apart from Scotland) this was increased first to ~£1000, then ~£3000, and now to variable fees with a £9000 cap.

The government still has to spend similar amounts of money to back these loans, so in the end, the whole reason for introducing this change in policy is because this spending is classified differently in budget. It is a graduate tax in all but name, however, administered in a more complex fashion.

Comment: Re:Depends... (Score 1) 113

by iserlohn (#46216647) Attached to: Oil Companies Secretly Got Paid Twice For Cleaning Up Toxic Fuel Leaks

It depends on whether the insurance is a fixed payment, or a payment for damages. If you get a lump-sum payout on an event triggering the payout, it is usually stackable. If it is for damages to property or for cost to remedy a problem, then the policy usually is not stackable.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is not vulnerable (Score 1) 396

by iserlohn (#45910801) Attached to: A Rebuttal To Charles Stross About Bitcoin

Yes, I see your point and I agree completely. However, does the small number of benefits that Bitcoin have over gold weighed against the benefits of gold over Bitcoin, justify the use of Bitcoin? Why not just trade in gold instead? (Aside from the obvious fact that the Gold bubble has burst and gold bugs need something else to hype up)

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is vulernable to government manipulatio (Score 1) 396

by iserlohn (#45905363) Attached to: A Rebuttal To Charles Stross About Bitcoin

That's the advertised ask/bid prices, but what is actually available on the market? Take a look at the ask/bid volume charts and you see that a lot of the times, there is only 1BTC or less keeping those ask/bid prices that close. When you go above those small volumes, the spread increases dramatically. This is mostly due to the absence of market makers. With market makers you get a more consistent spread, but the spread would also be bigger (market maker profits).

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is vulernable to government manipulatio (Score 1) 396

by iserlohn (#45905175) Attached to: A Rebuttal To Charles Stross About Bitcoin

Um no... the 7tps artificial limit can be removed. The real limiting factor is the size of the blocks that records the acutal transactions.

The 10tps limit due to the max size of the blocks (at 1MB). The average tranaction size is 166bytes. 600 seconds in 10 minutes (average time for each block)

1,000,000/166 = 6024.096385542
6024.096385542/600 = 10.040160643

So the end result is roughtly 10tps.

You can increase the 1MB limit, but then the blockchain gets very big very fast. Right now it is nearly 13GB. Due to the interest in Bitcoins in 2013 (or maybe Satoshi dice), 9GB was added to the blockchain in the past year alone.

To get the same 25000tps performance, you would need to increase the max for each block to 2.5GB (2500MB).

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is vulernable to government manipulatio (Score 5, Insightful) 396

by iserlohn (#45903629) Attached to: A Rebuttal To Charles Stross About Bitcoin

But is Bitcoin payment processing really that cheap?

Disclaimer: I started mining Bitcoins using the official client with CPUs. However, I don't really buy all of this blue-sky "to the moon" Bitcoin hype. For me it's more of a cool concept to test and mess around with.

Although the Bitcoin concept is revolutionary - if you use it as a payment network - as you can get rid of banking and payment processing industries, with such a peer-to-peer architecture, you have scalability issues that limit the amount of transactions that can be processed. Aside from the elephant-in-the-room technical limits (with the current 1MB blocksize, Bitcoin can process 10tx/s max. The VISA network can process a max of 25000tx/s) , you also have the question of why using Bitcoins is any better than current methods for the customer or merchant.

Fully decentralized peer-to-peer filesharing was hot back in the day because there was no digital content available on the net. It was also very slow on the completely decentralized systems. Now that the content industries have caught on, most people prefer to use those offerings (Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, etc.), due to the convenience and speed of those services.

With Bitcoin, it is the other way around. We have a very well developed retail financial services sector. You can pay people and businesses easily through many different means. The payment processors charges a comparatively small fee for commercial transactions - usually around 3%, and gets lower as volumes increase. Customer don't see this at all as credit card fees are paid by the merchant. From a customers point of view, why would I pay in Bitcoins, if I can much more protection by paying with a credit card? If you don't have any bitcoins, you will have to do a fiat-bitcoin conversion and then the merchant does a bitcoin-fiat conversion back for stabilty? That kills the values proposition of low rates. The spread for the two conversion will already be close to or over the 3% you pay your current payment processor. Not to mention the hassle. You can introduce a processor like Coinbase to optimize the process (and also increase transaction performance by keeping local transactions off-net), but then you've just introduced a middleman that will also charge you fees.

Wiring money overseas will cost customers a bigger fee, but this fee is usually fixed, so batch transfers are usually done. Furthermore, for people with frequent Forex needs, you can open an account with a dedicated Forex company that will give you much better rates and you can probably save on some fees with them as well as they have many local bank accounts in different countries accepting and sending money.

So all-in-all no, I don't think it's all smooth sailing for Bitcoin and once people wake up to the limitation of this particular and novel implementation or decentralized digital currency, it will be better for everybody involved. We will start asking the right questions (eg. is if possible at all to create a decentralized crypto-currency network with similar performance to commercial payment processing networks) and maybe incorporate some of the better ideas from Bitcoins to more practical applications.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir