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Comment Growing Pains (Score 1) 692

It's disappointing to see articles like this, because it doesn't separate out two completely disjoint concepts: where Bitcoin is, versus where Bitcoin going. Bitcoin has the potential to behave very much like a stable currency system, and at a certain threshold it will. But that threshold is very high. Probably at the $2,000/BTC range (which corresponds to about $25 billion market cap). Once it reaches that level through legitimate growth, then the depth of market exists to absorb all this insanity. Right now, any gambler with a million dollars can swing the market around (and manipulate it) because even the biggest exchange (Mt. Gox) doesn't have enough volume to swallow those gamblers into the noise.

So what Forbes should've said was "it's too volatile, right now, to be used as a stable currency/barter system." For individuals and businesses to actually hold BTC for more than a few days, the volatility has to come down. But he missed the point that depth of market solves that problem. So there is a bit of a chicken&egg problem here, but it's one I think Bitcoin will overcome -- it's virtues are still highly-valued, and lots of people still take on that volatility risk to help grow the system and benefit themselves (such as merchants enjoying the absence of chargeback possibility).

Comment CPU Bitcoin Mining still makes sense for Botnets (Score 5, Interesting) 132

To the people that are saying it's not worth it for malware or botnets to mine coins with CPUs... a single CPU does about 4 MH/s. If 250,000 computers all over the world are affected, that's 1 TH/s, which is about 67 BTC/day at the current difficulty. About $1,000/day, or $30,000/month. Scale appropriately for how many computers are affected.

Yes, it's a waste of time and electricity for an individual to mine Bitcoins with their CPU, but if you have access to 100,000+ machines doing it, and you're not paying for the electricity, it's obviously worth it.

Comment Nuclear waste is much better than greenhouse gases (Score 1, Interesting) 599

With nuclear waste, at least we can choose what do with it. This is not the same as coal, where the waste goes into the atmosphere and we couldn't reverse it even if we wanted to. Sure, we need to solve the waste problem -- but at least we have the option to solve it, long after the waste has been created.

Comment What's with all the hostility? (Score 5, Insightful) 437

Yes, there's a lot of people who are in Bitcoin because of become-a-billionaire-overnight fantasies. But you remove all that and you're left with a really fascinating system that should appeal to everyone on Slashdot. 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, 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 gold, credit card or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away information and/or pay a bunch of third party 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? Seriously... quit focusing on the get-rich-quick kids, and start appreciating Bitcoin for it's unique properties and philosophy.

Comment You forgot a variable (Score 4, Insightful) 328

How about reliability? I require a PSU that I know is going to

(1.) Not die within a year of running at 50-75% load
(2.) Not take any other components of my computer with it.

Power supply problems are the most annoying to diagnose, because the symptoms usually show up in other components (like apparent RAM corruption, HDD stuttering, etc). I would pay $50 extra for a power supply that is *not* 80-plus if it has stellar reliability, because it means I only have to build my computer exactly once. On that note, the Corsair HX series power supplies have not only stellar reliability, but also pretty much silent. I refuse to buy anything else, and you can usually them 20% off if you watch slickdeals.

Efficiency saves you money, while reliability saves you time *and* money. And time is a limited resource for some of us...

Comment Ignitable Tap Water (Score 3, Informative) 208

FYI, "fracking" has been verifiably linked to flammable tap water. It's no surprise that this had to be pushed quietly through system, because there's a lot of very good reasons fracking shouldn't be done at all, especially near populated areas.

And just for fun: here's a fun video showing what can happen when you live too close to it.

Comment Why all the hostility? (Score 4, Insightful) 467

Yes, there's a lot of people who are in Bitcoin because of become-a-billionaire-overnight fantasies. But you remove all that and you're left with a really fascinating system that should appeal to everyone on Slashdot. 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, 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 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 gold, credit card or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away information and/or pay a bunch of third party 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? Seriously... quit focusing on the get-rich-quick kids, and start appreciating Bitcoin for it's unique properties and philosophy.

Comment Very old news (Score 1) 65

This is nothing new at all. It's actually why some super-security-sensitive workplaces have strict control over even the keyboards. A keyboard modification can be made so that the scroll-lock/caps-lock/whatever-LED light actually blinks out a code for every key press. Then, any detector anywhere in the room can detect the frequency and record the keypresses, which can effectively compromise many such systems. And to the human eye, the LED blinking is too fast to detect, so it just looks like it's on.

Comment This could be great for Bitcoin (Score 1) 216

Many posters here are missing the point of this credit card, claiming that it will have all the downsides of both systems it is merging.

--Bitcoin is not required to be anonymous to be useful, and it's a benefit you can still have if you forego the credit card
--The point of the credit card is to make it possible to leverage your Bitcoins for every day purposes. If you reload the card using Bitcoins, but then you can use the card anywhere people use Mastercard -- now your Bitcoin savings can be used just like USD.

This bridges a huge gap for Bitcoin. Currently, those who own Bitcoins, have a tough time using them to get what they want. They're waiting for more widespread support, because the use-cases aren't diverse enough yet. With this, you can actually use them to buy stuff on Amazon (which you were going to do non-anonymously with your CC, anyway), but you can still maintain the benefits of Bitcoins for your own savings and services that support them natively.

This means that Bitcoins can join the party without being required to be supported everywhere. As merchants realize that they can save a couple percent and not deal with chargebacks, they can start supporting Bitcoin knowing that some part of their customer base already uses it. This normally requires a critical mass of users to be worth it for the merchant to take the leap -- this softens that curve quite a bit. For both users and merchants.

Also, if you are hostile to Bitcoin, please read this: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2810657&cid=39797419

Comment It's not a mandate (Score 5, Informative) 2416

It's a new tax to cover the healthcare costs of those who end up in the hospital without insurance.

You can get a tax break for having your own insurance, as proof that you won't be costing taxpayers anything when you end up defaulting on $200k of hospital bills after an accident.

I don't know why the democrats couldn't shape the message that way. That's really what it is, and sounds better than "pay up or pay up".

Comment Re:Nobel Peace Prize winner (Score 2) 351

Two options: take military action against Iran to prevent them destabilizing the region, and possibly starting a war. OR write a computer virus that stops them from destabilizing the region without violating any airspace, starting wars, or killing anyone.

If doing nothing and letting Israel bomb Iran possibly leading to war is your version of "peace", then I'm glad you're not in charge. Life isn't always pleasant, sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two bad situations. In this case, no one died, no one got invaded, no bombs were dropped. That may not be worthy of a peace prize in itself, but it certainly doesn't violate one.

Comment What's with all the hositility (Score 5, Insightful) 381

Yes, there's a lot of people who are in Bitcoin because of become-a-billionaire-overnight fantasies. Yes, they are silly. But you remove all that and you're left with a really fascinating system that should appeal to everyone on Slashdot. 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 attempted, 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, and there's plenty of reasons to believe that it could succeed as much as it could fail.

I like to think of Bitcoin like gold. Nothing is backing gold. It's a material for which there is a limited supply in the world, and which is universally regarded as value because of various properties it has: perhaps beauty, fungibility, density, etc. Bitcoin is really the same, with a limited global supply, except that it has different properties, mainly ease of transfer over the internet, fungibility, 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 gold, cash or paypal, which all require me to remember log-in creditials, give away information and/or a bunch of third party 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? Seriously... quit focusing on the get-rich-quick kids, and start appreciating Bitcoin for it's unique properties and philosophy.

Comment Useless without Entanglement (Score 1) 133

Here's previous comments about what quantum computing really is: Informative!

D-Wave has always been known to be full of $#!+ when it comes to quantum computers. They've never demonstrated entanglement in their QCs which pretty much makes this a classical computer with a different medium for pushing information around. That's not to say that their research is complete shit. They are pioneering better ways to control qubits. But actual quantum computers are a major threat to modern day cryptography, and this "quantum computer" doesn't concern me at all.

Comment Let's get something straight (Score 0) 450

I'm really tired of hearing the same Bitcoin-is-worthless jargon coming out of /. on every Bitcoin headline. And it's not like there's a Bitcoin story every day... it's once every couple months, so you can't really be getting "sick" of it...

People can argue all they want about economic theory and fiat currency, intrinsic value, etc. But the fact is that Bitcoin has had value >=$1/BTC for over a year now. And it's growing. When the speculator bubble burst, everyone thought for sure that was the end of it. But what really happened was that the speculators got out of the game, and now Bitcoin is progressing much more naturally... and so far it's been successful.

I don't care what your economic theories are: Bitcoin still exists and is used for online commerce. I don't care whether you think it's worthless: they have clearly demonstrated they are not worthless, and in fact have very non-negligible value to a great very many people. I don't care whether you think the gold-standard was a bad idea, or whether Bitcoin is a commodity or a currency: Bitcoin is thriving and has been thriving for a long time. There's still plenty of questions left to be answered about Bitcoin and its place in society, politics and economics. But one fact remains: Bitcoin itself is empirical evidence that all your theories about whether it should, could or will remain valuable, may not be accurate. That's not to say there's no truth at all in your arguments. But Bitcoin is a truly novel, one-of-a-kind thing, and it has demonstrated more than just being worthless-bits, simply by the fact that it not only still exists, but that it is thriving.

And geezuz: I thought /. was about geeks. Bitcoin should be a popular topic here, as it represents online freedom, cryptography, politics, economics, computing, and networking all in one big, brilliant mess of bits -- basically everything everyone loves talking about, here. Even if you think the currency will crash tomorrow, it should still be a fascinating topic, hardly worth the intransigent beatings that it receives on every slashdot story.

Comment Pre-emptive strike against wtf is a QC (Score 5, Informative) 132

I took a class on Quantum computing, and studied many specific QC algorithms, so I know a little bit about them.

Quantum Computers are not super-computers. On a bit-for-bit (or qubit-for-qubit) scale, they're not necessarily faster than regular computers, they just process info differently. Since information is stored in a quantum "superposition" of states, as opposed to a deterministic state like regular computers, the qubits exhibit quantum interference when mixed with other qubits. Typically, your qubit starts in 50% '0' and 50% '1', and thus when you measure it, you get a 50% chance of it being one or the other (and then it assumes that state). But if you don't measure, and push it through quantum circuits allowing them to interact with other qubits, you get the quantum phases to interfere and cancel out. If you are damned smart (as I realized you have to be, to design QC algorithms), you can figure out creative ways to encode your problem into qubits, and use the interference to cancel out the information you don't want, and leave the information you do want.

For instance, some calculations will start with the 50/50 qubit above, and end with 99% '0' and 1% '1' at the end of the calculation, or vice versa, depending on the answer. Then you've got a 99% chance of getting the right answer. If you run the calculation twice, you have a 99.99% chance of measuring the correct answer. However, the details of these circuits which perform quantum algorithms are extremely non-intuitive to most people, even those who study it. I found it to require an amazing degree of creativity, to figure out how leverage quantum interference constructively.

But what does this get us? Well it turns out that quantum computers can run anything a classical computer can do, and such algorithms can be written identically if you really wanted to, but doing so gets the same results as the classical computer (i.e. same order of growth). But, the smart people who have been publishing papers about this for the past 20 years have been finding new ways to combine qubits, to take advantage of nature of certain problems (usually deep, pure-math concepts), to achieve better orders of growth than possible on a classical computer. For instance, factoring large numbers is difficult on classical computers, which is why RSA/PGP/GPG/PKI/SSL is secure. It's order of growth is e^( n^(1/3) ). It's not quite exponential, but it's still prohibitive. It turns out that Shor figured out how to get it to n^2 on a quantum computer (which is the same order of growth as decrypting with the private key on a classical computer!). Strangely, trying to guess someone's encryption key, normally O(n) on classical computers (where n is the number of possible keys encryption keys) it's only O(sqrt(n)) on QCs using Grover's algorithm. Weird (but sqrt(n) is still usually too big).

There's a vast number of other problems for which efficient quantum algorithms have been found. Unfortunately, a lot of these problems aren't particularly useful in real life (besides to the curious pure-mathematician). A lot of them are better, but not phenomenal. Like verifying that two sparse matrices were mulitplied correctly has order of growth n^(7/3) on a classical computer, n^(5/3) on a quantum computer. You can find a pretty extensive list by googling "quantum algorithm zoo." But the reality is that "most" problems we face in computer science do not benefit from quantum computers. In these cases, they are no better than a classical computer. But for problems like integer factorization, bringing the compute requirements down to polynomial time isn't just faster: it makes a problem solvable that wasn't before.

Unfortunately [for humanity], there is no evidence yet that quantum computers will solve NP-complete problems efficiently. Most likely, they won't. So don't get your hopes up about solving the traveling salesmen problem any time soon. But there is still a lot of cool stuff we can do with them. In fact, the theory is so far ahead of the technology, that we're anxiously waiting for breakthroughs like this, so we can start plugging problems through known algorithms.

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