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Comment: We should all like this Bitcoin *concept* (Score 5, Insightful) 276

by mathimus1863 (#45616659) Attached to: This Whole Bitcoin Thing Could Be Big, Says Bank of America
We should all like this Bitcoin *concept* even if we don't all like Bitcoin itself or the culture that has evolved around it (and the get-rich-quick Bitcoin fan-boys). But all the bashing of the Bitcoin concept is disappointing, because Bitcoin represents everything that us nerds reading slashdot should like: It's a mix of cryptography, freedom of speech, computing, networking, finance, economics, and even politics. Most of us here dig that stuff.

Get over the hype and take Bitcoin for what it really is: a fascinating experiment that has, so far, withstood the amazing barrage of publicity, hacking attempts, legal uncertainties, and remains valuable for reasons completely contrary to everyone that says it's worthless. It may become worthless one day, but consider the possibility that Bitcoin is disproving all your wildly oversimplified assumptions about what makes something valuable. It is completely different than anything else we know, and there's plenty of reasons to believe that it could succeed as much as it could fail. (and in many ways it has already succeeded as a proof-of-concept of the idea of decentralized currency)

Why does gold have value? Nothing is backing gold, and if it was for its material properties alone, its value would only be a fraction of $1,300/oz. Yet it maintains value because of its properties to behave as a transferable store of value: scarcity, fungibility, density, identifiability, etc. Bitcoin shares a lot of those qualities and adds some new ones: ease of transfer over the internet, negligible transfer fees, fungibility, scarcity, storage efficiency, near-anonymity and built-in escrow. I don't think it's any more ludicrous for Bitcoin to have value than it is for gold to have value. And in the end, when I want to sell WoW weapons, buy webserver space, or play a few games of poker online, why would I use credit cards or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away personal information to be [improperly] protected by a third-party and/or pay a bunch of fees. There's plenty of value in being able to pay people across the world, instantaneously, without sacrificing your privacy, and without paying any fees. Why is that not valuable?

When you want to bash Bitcoin by saying it has no intrinsic value, ask yourself this: "what other system of payment/transfers allows someone to move $10,000,000 worth of value, to or from anywhere in the world, 24/7, nearly instantaneously, without fees, can't be debased or printed, irreverible, and without anyone being able to freeze or seize it (without direct access to your wallet)?" Regardless of its downsides, that's pretty f***ing powerful. There's a reason it's "could be a big deal."

Comment: Except for that previous Wireless Nexus Charger... (Score 2) 223

by mathimus1863 (#45483263) Attached to: Google Nexus Gets Wireless Charger
Yeah, they had one before. I got it for my Nexus 4 six months ago. But there's a reason it got 1-2 stars: it's angled and doesn't hold the phone:

http://www.amazon.com/Google-Nexus-Wireless-Charger/dp/B00BGSPIP2

I almost threw it out but then discovered this 3D printed adapter that actually fixed all of its flaws. It now works great, and it charges the phone fast when plugged into the wall! But since most people don't have a 3D printer, it makes sense they'd want to sweep the memory of that one under the carpet.

Comment: Re:We should all like this Bitcoin *concept* (Score 1) 276

by mathimus1863 (#45427883) Attached to: Bitcoin Hits $400 Ahead of Senate Hearing On Virtual Currency

The only problem is that contrary to gold, bitcoin alchemy is actually possible. As we see computing power increase bitcoin becomes more and more worthless. Quantum computing in particular will make it 100% worthless

This is a fallacy. Bitcoin is already partially quantum-resistance due to the fact that public keys don't have to be shared, and by the time they are revealed to the network, the money is already gone (though I'd argue it was accidental that is has that resistance). Most importantly, Bitcoin can survive with QCs for as long as is needed to transition to a system that is fully quantum-resistant. Not to mention that if QCs show up, the least of everyone's worry will be Bitcoin security, it will be "WTF ALL INTERNET SECURITY IS BROKEN".

Comment: We should all like this Bitcoin *concept* (Score 5, Interesting) 276

by mathimus1863 (#45425254) Attached to: Bitcoin Hits $400 Ahead of Senate Hearing On Virtual Currency
We should all like this Bitcoin *concept* even if we don't all like Bitcoin itself or the culture that has evolved around it. Yeah, I know it's the "fad" to bash Bitcoin. But it's disappointing, because Bitcoin represents everything that us nerds reading slashdot should like: It's a mix of cryptography, freedom of speech, computing, networking, finance, economics, and even politics. Most of us here dig that stuff.

Get over the hype and take Bitcoin for what it really is: a fascinating experiment that has, so far, withstood the amazing barrage of publicity, hacking attempts, legal uncertainties, and remains valuable for reasons completely contrary to everyone that says it's worthless. It may become worthless one day, but consider the possibility that Bitcoin is disproving all your wildly oversimplified assumptions about what makes something valuable. It is completely different than anything else we know, and there's plenty of reasons to believe that it could succeed as much as it could fail.

Why does gold have value? Nothing is backing gold (and if it was valued only for its material properties, it would have a value only a fraction of $1,400/oz). Yet it has high value, mainly because of its properties to behave as a transferable store of value: scarcity, fungibility, density, identifiability, etc. Bitcoin is really quite similar but with some different properties. Ease of transfer over the internet, fungibility, scarcity, storage efficiency, near-anonymity and built-in escrow. I don't think it's any more ludicrous for Bitcoin to have value than it is for gold to have value. And in the end, when I want to sell WoW weapons, buy webserver space, or play a few games of poker online, why would I use credit cards or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away personal information to be [improperly] protected by a third-party and/or pay a bunch of fees. There's plenty of value in being able to pay people across the world, instantaneously, without sacrificing your privacy, and without paying any fees. Why is that not valuable?

Comment: Re:Tired of bashing Bitcoin, yet? (Score 1) 285

by mathimus1863 (#45357409) Attached to: Security Breach Forces Bitcoin Bank Inputs.io To Halt Operations
"Bitcoin is a laughably complex solution that's looking for a problem."

If you tell me how you could move $10 million anywhere in the world, in 10 minutes, without third-parties, without fees, and without risk of reversal...then you just answered your own criticism.

Comment: Tired of bashing Bitcoin, yet? (Score 1) 285

by mathimus1863 (#45356295) Attached to: Security Breach Forces Bitcoin Bank Inputs.io To Halt Operations
Yeah, I know it's the "fad" to bash Bitcoin. But it's disappointing, because Bitcoin represents everything that us nerds reading slashdot should like: It's a mix of cryptography, freedom of speech, computing, networking, finance, economics, and even politics. Most of us here dig that stuff.

Get over the hype and take Bitcoin for what it really is: a fascinating experiment that has, so far, withstood the amazing barrage of publicity, hacking attempts, legal uncertainties, and remains valuable for reasons completely contrary to everyone that says it's worthless. It may become worthless one day, but consider the possibility that Bitcoin is disproving all your wildly oversimplified assumptions about what makes something valuable. It is completely different than anything else we know, and there's plenty of reasons to believe that it could succeed as much as it could fail.

Why does gold have value? Nothing is backing gold. Yet it has value, mainly because of its properties: scarcity, fungibility, density, beauty, etc. Bitcoin is really quite similar but with some different properties. Ease of transfer over the internet, fungibility, scarcity, storage efficiency, near-anonymity and built-in escrow. I don't think it's any more ludicrous for Bitcoin to have value than it is for gold to have value. And in the end, when I want to sell WoW weapons, buy webserver space, or play a few games of poker online, why would I use credit cards or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away personal information to be [improperly] protected by a third-party and/or pay a bunch of fees. There's plenty of value in being able to pay people across the world, instantaneously, without sacrificing your privacy, and without paying any fees. Why is that not valuable?

Comment: Ridiculously Over-Hyped (Score 3, Informative) 256

by mathimus1863 (#45332667) Attached to: Bitcoin Protocol Vulnerability Could Lead To a Collapse
The headline is just plain FUD. The ideas presented in that paper are merely theoretical. Not only would it be extremely difficult to achieve the right conditions to execute the attack (at the expense of losing money when you fail), but the paper makes vast assumptions about the social response to it working. Basically, the conclusion was "if this works [which it probably won't], then everyone will collectively make decisions that destroy the network because that's the rational thing to do." Obviously, it's not so rational if people don't want to see the system collapse.

This doesn't mean it should be ignored. It's an interesting "attack" that should be kept in mind as the protocol is developed further, but it's not even close to "bitcoin collapse". The headline is perhaps just wishful thinking of the submitter.

Comment: This is not just a Bitcoin problem (Score 2) 183

by mathimus1863 (#44576075) Attached to: Google Admits Bitcoin Thieves Exploited Android Crypto PRNG Flaw
This certainly affects Bitcoin the most, but a random number generator that actually produces the same "random" numbers is hardly random at all, and could present a serious problem for all types of applications. In fact, that's a thoroughly-broken random number generator and all crypto-related operations could be hosed. I'm wondering how such an egregious PRNG/seeding-algo made it this long without someone noticing. Maybe it's because Bitcoin provides a financial incentive to find these flaws, and honestly it's pretty easy to spot it from a one-minute blockchain scan -- just look for two transactions with identical r-values, plug it into the stupid-simple equation, and then steal the money.

This has actually come up in the Bitcoin space before: people were rolling-their-own-ECDSA for constructing and signing transactions, and were not aware of the importance of using different random numbers for every signature. As such, about a year ago someone did an identical blockchain search and was able to steal coins the exact same way: but it was due to script-kiddie ignorance. It was assumed this problem would go away when you start using the system PRNG, and taught people a lesson about rolling-their-own-crypto. Even if it's a weak system PRNG, the ECDSA signatures are fairly strong as long as the numbers are different between signatures. Apparently this was more than just "weak" though...

For Android/mobile, the answer is to leverage the variety of sensors that are on-board. Using the low bits of accelerometer output should work great for seeding a PRNG if someone is actually holding the phone. If not, snap an image or take a quarter-second audio recording should suffice. There's enough noise on the camera and microphone that the hash of the output should be different even if it's sitting camera down in a quiet room. A lot of times you only 32-bytes of entropy, and a single image with 5 million pixels can give you an order of magnitude more than that just from the random variations in sensor output in a dark room.

Comment: Not just a Bitcoin problem (Score 1) 137

by mathimus1863 (#44543069) Attached to: All Bitcoin Wallets On Android Vulnerable To Theft
This certainly affects Bitcoin the most, but a random number generator that actually produces the same "random" numbers is hardly random at all, and could present a serious problem for all types of applications. In fact, that's an entirely-broken random number generator. I'm wondering how such an egregious PRNG/seeding-algo made it this long without someone noticing. Maybe it's because Bitcoin provides a financial incentive to find these flaws, and honestly it's pretty easy to spot it from a one-minute blockchain scan -- just look for two transactions with identical r-values, plug it into the stupid-simple equation, and then steal the money.

For Android/mobile, the answer is to leverage the variety of sensors that are on-board. Using the low bits of accelerometer output should work great for seeding a PRNG if someone is actually holding the phone. If not, snap an image or take a quarter-second audio recording should suffice. There's enough noise on the camera and microphone that the hash of the output should be different even if it's sitting camera down in a quiet room. A lot of times you only 32-bytes of entropy, and a single image with 5 million pixels can give you an order of magnitude more than just from the random variations in sensor output in a dark room.

Comment: Re: Learn OpenCL (Score 1) 198

That's not because AMD is better. It's because AMD/ATI has some obscure instructions heavily optimized that happen to be the same instructions useful for Bitcoin mining. And they also tend to focus on a plethora of less-powerful cores, while NVIDIA focuses on using fewer-but-more-powerful cores. Again, that benefits SHA256 operations, but doesn't necessarily benefit other applications.

In a way, AMD got lucky with this one. It's the same reason the AMD CPUs outperform Intel on hashing -- because their bit-rotates are optimized to one instruction instead of three, even though it's not all that useful for other tasks. Thus, if your reasoning was correct, you'd also conclude that a lot of the medium-range AMD CPUs are faster than the high-end Intel CPUs.

Comment: Take it from someone who's done a lot of CUDA (Score 1) 198

There isn't really a painless way. Like a lot of skills in life, the only way to learn is through pain, suffering and frustration. But it makes the prize all the much more enjoyable. You need to be experienced at regular, serial programming in C/C++, then mangle all of it to figure out how to program in parallel. I literally read the CUDA programming's guide 5 times. And I felt like I gained as much on the fifth time as I did the first time. And don't expect your debugger to save you -- if it's like it was a year ago, you're going to struggle a bit with that.

Luckily, once you do get it, it all seems to make sense in hindsight. And when you do achieve that 10x-300x speedup, you'll feel like a superhero. You just have to be patient and expect some frustration. It's not like learning a new programming language. It's like a whole new programming paradigm.

Comment: Doomed to fail (Score 4, Insightful) 490

The problem is not Obamacare. The problem is the disgusting, predatorial healthcare system in the US. The problem is that the US doesn't follow every other developed country in the world and treats healthcare as a privilege instead of a right. As such, the monopolies that run the healthcare system exploit the lack of competitive pressure since people in the hospital frequently can't "shop around" for better & cheaper service. This leads to the practice of charging patients literally 10x to 100x what things actually cost.

The fact that the US even has to deal with such an unethical, predatorial system to begin with--instead of just offering universal healthcare--is what failed, not Obamacare itself. In fact, even though Obamacare itself is flawed, I'm hoping that at least the constitutionally-validated mandate will eventually lead to the US offering universal healthcare, since the current system is unsustainable and people are now required to have coverage. No matter how bad Obamacare is, I think it's still a step forward. Consider if it hadn't been implemented... then in 5 more years we'd be right back to town hall meetings with constiuents (and Sarah Palin) screaming about death panels, etc. At least there's a chance to get to universal health care from Obamacare: the mandate is a good excuse to have a government option at least.

Obamacare is bound to go poorly because the US healthcare system is shit. There's nothing Obamacare could do to be "good". We just need to fix our system.

Comment: Git is auto-backup (Score 3, Insightful) 378

by mathimus1863 (#44049773) Attached to: Subversion 1.8 Released But Will You Still Use Git?
For the same reason the summary complains about users having to clone the entire repo, you don't really have to deal with backups: the entire repo is already backed up by every single one of your users. In fact, this is one reason I use git, because I know that I don't have to worry about backing up. I can sync with github, and know that if github disappears, my code history doesn't go with it.

Comment: One exception (Score 1) 329

by mathimus1863 (#43626089) Attached to: Is Buying an Extended Warranty Ever a Good Idea?
In general, warranties (and insurance), are intended to make the supplier money. You are trading equity for lower variance. You can pay X now for and pay X again in the 10% chance it breaks. Which means that 90% of the time you pay X, 10% of the time you pay 2*X, which is statistically 1.1*X. Or you get the extended warranty and pay 1.2*X, 100% of the time. i.e. no variance.

But there is one exception to this: things for which it's easy to forget you have a warranty. There's a lot of people who buy an extended warranty, and then 2.5 years later their device breaks and they don't even remember they had it. Much like rebates, not everyone goes through the process even though it's "free" money. People are lazy, or forgetful. In this case, the warranties may actually be a good deal, because they can price it based on the assumption that only 30% of consumers will use it, even though they'd lose money if 100% of consumers did. In these situations, as long as you don't forget your have, it can actually be profitable for you. Essentially, the company is sharing the profits of the forgetful with you.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.

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