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Comment: Re:Dear NSA (Score 4, Interesting) 299

by tftp (#46207513) Attached to: Online, You're Being Watched At All Times; Act Accordingly.

If you're unashamed of your past (harmless) behaviour it's harder for people to "use it against you".

This is not how it works. Not even close.

Political operatives dig something up - often something entirely harmless, something that neither you nor any of normal people would even consider to be shameful - and they blow it up until it crushes you. Take, for example, "Dean Scream," or Swiftboating of Kerry, among many other. The defining characteristic of such attacks is that they are, generally, dishonest, and influence the uneducated audience, forcing the candidate to take defensive posture - which never helps. The attack itself may be an outright lie, or a lie constructed upon some foundation of a real event, or a real event that is completely misrepresented.

Besides, a person who has nothing to be ashamed of in his past is either a saint or a narcissist. I am not aware of *anyone* who'd manage to live from cradle to grave without making an unfortunate mistake somewhere.

Comment: Re:Ohhh, Slashdot beta makes sense now (Score 1) 299

by tftp (#46207445) Attached to: Online, You're Being Watched At All Times; Act Accordingly.

They could not possibly want to "watch" everybody. You'd have more watchers than watched.

You are presuming that the watcher is a human. This does not need to be so today. Even existing, crude algorithms are capable of analyzing your writing, determining what languages you are familiar with, what level of education you likely have, and other things. The software can watch for certain key words and alert humans. The software can compare the manner of writing that you use to post on different web sites and determine that you are the owner of both accounts. The software can take data not only from scraping the public blogs, but also from intercepts of IP when they are available. It is already possible to watch everyone's online activities - the question is only in how much hardware the government is willing to buy with your own tax money to monitor what you do.

Comment: Re:Can a bitcoin advocate explain.... (Score 1) 149

by tftp (#46199493) Attached to: Florida Arrests High-Dollar Bitcoin Exchangers For Money Laundering

My point is that you *don't* hear about those things as often as you do with bitcoin, and I was wondering why.

You probably do, but you simply don't pay attention. (Those examples are just from the top of a random Google search.) A bureaucrat takes cash bribe for a favor ... stop the presses!

On top of that, I would think that a large number of cash transactions are successful, and invisible to the government. (All drugs are sold and resold for cash, modulo the extinct Silk Road.) The proceeds are then carefully and accurately laundered through a network of businesses; and those operations are not ran by fools, like in this case. The underground economy is alive and well, and its size far exceeds the entire supply of BTC in the world.

Comment: Re:Why do they always make grand inaccurate claims (Score 2, Interesting) 149

by tftp (#46198851) Attached to: Florida Arrests High-Dollar Bitcoin Exchangers For Money Laundering

If anyone comes to you and says something along the lines of, "I've got some drug money to launder, I need $30,000 in bitcoins..." don't say yes. I mean, Jesus Christ, how fantastically stupid do you have to be to go for that?!

On the other hand, one has to be fantastically naive to expect a similar magnitude of business from people who only want to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. BTC attracts criminal proceeds like honey attracts flies. In essence, there is hardly any legal use of BTC (outside of pure speculation and experiments.)

One would be better off buying that TV or that subscription with an inflating currency than with a deflating one. Credit cards also give you insurance, and protection, and a small kickback, and a grace month during which you own the item but haven't paid for it yet.

Comment: Re:I'd say Great Idea (Score 1) 192

by tftp (#46198507) Attached to: Cops With Google Glass: Horrible Idea, Or Good One?

The summary must be wrong because Google glass has a 30-minute battery life while shooting video.

And, of course, there is no way to connect GG to a much larger battery that hangs on the policeman's belt, alongside with his Taser, his firearm, and a ton of other stuff?

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Comment: Re:Enough with this "fuck beta" nonsense. (Score 1) 249

by tftp (#46198455) Attached to: Bitcoin Plunges After Mt. Gox Exchange Halts Trades

Slashdot's content is produced by the people (you and me and 3 million others.) We are supposed to write comments on this Web site. So a better analogy would be: you go to a concert, but the performers are singing protest songs because their manager threatens to disband the group. You may not like it... but admission is free, so you cannot demand your money back. If you walk away and ignore the event, the band will be soon gone.

Slashcott is a boycott of Slashdot. No visits, no submissions, no comments next week. A Google search brings up enough entries to get started. For some strange reason, Slashdot's own search returns nothing...

Ineffective campaigning at its "best".

Well, thanks to your interest, the campaigning just got a little better!

Comment: Re:Set for a crash anyway due to difficulty of min (Score 1) 249

by tftp (#46198361) Attached to: Bitcoin Plunges After Mt. Gox Exchange Halts Trades

Either mining remains profitable, or miners will stop mining.* At the point where they stop mining, the difficulty goes down until mining becomes worthwhile again.

Can you imagine what a rollercoaster this will be? Price of a commodity is set at an exchange with a simple phone call or with an electronic contract. This price is set and is changed (as need be) easily and effortlessly, with lag that today is measured in milliseconds. However in BTC land in order to send the message to BTC Gods you have to close up your business, fire your workers, and sell (to who?) all your equipment. Then maybe enough other miners do the same, and within a year the network realizes that something is wrong and the difficulty drops. Then you are free to re-buy all your miners, rehire the workers, and reopen the company - until the next dip. This is insane.

Yes, in principle this is self-balancing. It's just not self-balancing on human scale of time and effort.

There is another catch here. As mining becomes more and more corporatized (which is necessary to run 100,000 miners in Iceland, for example) you get concentration of mining power in one pair of hands. Or in several, but still highly countable, pairs of hands. Those guys can not only outmine all the hobbyists - they can also outprice them, as they buy power in bulk and in a region that is known for cheap power. Hobbyists will have to surrender their 50% of hashing rate - and what do you have then? A 50% attack that is only not happening because of the honor of the businessmen who run the pyramid?

there are many hobbyist miners who will operate at a loss just for the sheer love of it. No, I'm not kidding.

They are irrelevant in every sense of the word. Their influence scales only proportional to their investment, like a gold miner who washes sand in a coffee cup.

Comment: Re:Either... (Score 1) 21

by tftp (#46198131) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can some of us get together and rebuild this community?

It's easier if you are a KDE fan, like I am. Linux Mint KDE is perfectly good for me as it comes out of the box.

I heard that GNOME has more complaints. I wouldn't know that firsthand. Ubuntu is not an option for me because of tracking and because of Unity. I tried it, did not like it. I have Ubuntu LTS on a few servers, but their GUI is called SSH, so I don't care much; and they are old enough to not have *-lens on them. Some are server distributions, with neither X11 nor the desktop environment.

Comment: Re:Enough with this "fuck beta" nonsense. (Score 1) 249

by tftp (#46198059) Attached to: Bitcoin Plunges After Mt. Gox Exchange Halts Trades

So you'd also protest against actions of your local supermarket by going there and punching the customers in their face?

That would be analogous to defacing your comments. But this is not happening. What is happening is an equivalent of a picket near or inside the store where shoppers walk around and shout their message from time to time. Sure, this may hurt some sensitive shoppers who only want to buy something, and not to become involved in politics... you may avoid politics, but the politics will not avoid you. Head in sand is rarely a good solution.

Shashcott Feb. 10-17!

Comment: Re:US will ban if they can't tax it (Score 1) 207

by tftp (#46193303) Attached to: Russia Bans Bitcoin

You own a legal claim to the deposits you made with your bank. [...] You might be able to cause a spend. [...] There is no counterparty that has guaranteed this to you.

Actually, deposits under $200K (IIRC) in US banks are insured, so you can say that there is a 3rd party who guarantees that your money are safe. There is no such guarantee with BTC, and no recourse if your Bitcoins are stolen (that had happened already.) This alone makes banks valuable: they, at no cost to you, insure your spending.

There are various situations in which you would not even be able to enter a spend. One example is: local network or electrical outage.

Those are basically acts of God; they are so rare that nobody in the modern society is worried about them. When was the last time you couldn't withdraw money because of local power outage? This may be a problem after SHTF, but everything will be a problem at that time. The Bitcoin does not fare any better, actually, because the bank may have a diesel generator; but what percentage of Bitcoin network is independent from the grid? That includes communication lines, of course. If anything, I'd expect banks to recover far faster than the BTC because individuals will have far more serious needs on their hands than to be a BTC node.

The fact is; while you control the private keys, you don't control the bitcoins.

May I have an example when I, an owner of a BTC wallet, know the password but cannot control the bitcoins? (Outside of a SHTF scenario, of course.) It is true that a 50% attack is a possibility... but a very remote one. Once someone gains control over the decisive portion of the network, BTC will be effectively dead. You can have far more concern about the crash of conventional currencies - especially because such crashes periodically occur all over the world (like every few years.) Those are not scenarios that play out in normal operation of the currency (like loans, payments and transfers.) We should focus first on how the currency in question operates in peace time. Only after that we can look at how it reacts to unusual events. (Most of currencies fail right away, with exception of precious metals, such as lead, brass, silver and gold.)

Note that "control" does not have to include everything under the Sun. You may own your car, but it's stuck in the snow and you cannot drive it. Does that mean that you don't own it anymore? If someone steals your car from that snow bank and drives away, he is now in control, though he has no right to be in control. You are now only legally an owner; but as matter of fact the thief owns the car because he can do anything he wants with it, and you cannot. If you control the wallet with BTC, you control those Bitcoins as well (unless the wallet has a mind on its own, which is fairly rare these days.)

Just a toy currency that is part of a virtual game environment.

Ah, but that's not for you or me to decide. It's for the GOVERNMENT to decide - and it has decided that BTC is money. Period. They have authority over such matters.

Comment: Re:US will ban if they can't tax it (Score 1) 207

by tftp (#46192693) Attached to: Russia Bans Bitcoin

That's a curious theory, on par with Slashdot Beta.

What's interesting about BTC is you don't "own" coins.

You need to define what you think ownership is, and then compare it to ownership of other items that we commonly call money.

The public ID is recorded as having "coins" assigned to it; much like if you have a username on a World of Warcraft server, the server has a database record that says your username holds a certain number of warcraft gold tokens.

Well, I don't own the servers at my bank. There is nothing in this Universe, other than virtual association of some monetary units with the number of my bank account, that says that I have money on my account. But you wouldn't say that I don't own the money that my bank holds for me, would you?

Some more strict debaters may say that no, I don't own that money; it's just the bank has a debt to me, payable on demand. But from every practical point of view (that excludes high-flying economists) I do own that money. What is the test for ownership? I guess it's quite simple. If I may have access to it at any time, and if I can spend it in any way I want. I guess the money at the bank satisfies that test. BTC in your wallet is also technically owned by you because you are free to spend them on anything you want, or to destroy (by deleting the wallet.) There is no authority other than you who can do it (aside from the 50% attack.) If you ask any IRS agent, any lawyer, any judge they will tell you that you own a thing if you exercise full control over it. The duck test, if you wish.

I cannot say what laws govern in-game toy money, but most likely they are just game items that you collect during the game. As long as they are not declared money, or other goods in real world, they are just part of the game; you cannot call the police if a demon of 34th rank jumps you and robs you of all your gold.

BTC is declared to be money, for better or for worse. This means that it is now regulated as money. You'd better declare BTC that you hold in foreign accounts, and pay tax on all your BTC income. Welcome to the club of big boys, BTC. And, by the way, the big boys don't like you at all, and the system is biased against you. Such is life.

Comment: Re:Graphics doesn't scale well (Score 1) 876

by tftp (#46192165) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

It became very clear why digital circuit designers abandoned graphics and switched text for complex designs.

HDL compilers also do a better job at optimization and detection of problems. A schematic on a sheet of paper will not tell you that some of your inputs may be driven by HiZ outputs, or that two connected HiZ-capable outputs will be active at the same time. A simulation of your code will find that.

Comment: Re:One practical example (Score 2) 876

by tftp (#46192107) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

Simulink is not as easy as it looks. Not every block has compatible I/O, and not every arrow from block A can connect to block B. You have to understand what data those blocks are producing and consuming. Simulink is a useful tool ... but only for a specific class of problems. I am not sure if it can be even used to calculate primes. A simple airline ticket reservation system would require sheets and sheets of Simulink graphic.

Text-based code is very powerful. A mathematician can write a formula with just a few symbols ... but each of those symbols requires a university course to understand.

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