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Comment Ludicrous (Score 2) 191

Shame on you slashdot. This is a disgustingly misleading headline that has absolutely nothing to do with the paper. The paper is only offering recommendations for the future, based on some incorrect assumptions about the network (which is that there will be difficulty in propagating transactions). This is not a "flaw" in the protocol.

The Bitcoin network is well-connected and the only nodes that have incentive not to forward txs make up a tiny percentage of the network (less than 1%). Even if they were the only nodes on the network, the network is designed so that users can locate them, and it costs nothing for a user to forward their transaction to many/all of them. This is completely a non-issue.

Comment Re:To be clear... (Score 1) 247

Someone purchases X BTC from an exchange, donates it to Wikileaks anonymously and easily. Wikileaks then sells X BTC to an exchange -- or if there is a problem with official bank transfers, I'm sure they can sell to investors who would be happy to buy for 10% off. In the end, Wiki leaks gets the 90%*X*exchangerate, which is dramatically better than the 95% loss due to income due to gov't/bank freezes on assets and transfers. The volatility risk is only in the time between when they receive the BTC and when they sell it, which is a very short time given how fast BTC transactions can happen.

Comment To be clear... (Score 1) 247

Bitcoin has some intrinsic value -- but unfortunately, most of this value has the most impact on those doing illegal or unethical things. The ability to control and move them across the globe, nearly instantaneously, with no restrictions or fees, and without the ability of any government/bank to stop/freeze it, has produced quite a market for it (and it can be anonymous if you know what you're doing). You say it has no value, but what about Wikileaks who have had 95% of their assets and income cut off by governments and banks freezing their money. They'd still be 100% functional if they were dealing in BTC. And of course, the drug trade benefits too. These aren't the most "ethical" reasons for it to have value, but they don't have to be good reasons to impart actual value. The fact is, there are people who want BTC, and as long as there's a scarce amount of it, it's going to acquire value in the minds of some. (BTW, I have no interest in these unethical properties, I'm all for BTC because of the fact I have control over it, and don't have to pay anyone or give out any information to use it).

To those arguing about bubbles -- I'm interested to see how this exactly looks like a bubble. Bubbles burst, BTC didn't. The fact is there's still lots of people involved in BTC, there just happens to be more people selling than buying, which is why the prices has declined slowly over months... it didn't just collapse in a week like most bubbles.

Personally, I'm happy to see all the speculators get out of BTC, and hopefully it can maintain some degree of stability now without all the gambling. Unfortunately, botnets and Trojans like this are probably the biggest reason for the price decline, as their constant sell-off causes negative pressure on the prices. But what is interesting is that so far no one has actually succeeded at attacking the protocol itself. Sure, individual websites/exchanges get attacked, but the protocol itself remains secure. I think it's worth something that the botnet owners have decided to play by the rules of BTC... because if they could break the system to make a quick buck, they would. But so far there has been $20,000,000+ worth of value in the BTC for many months, which is plenty incentive for every unethical person in the world to break it--yet no one has.

I'm not convinced that Bitcoin 1.0 (right now) will survive the test of time. It's security is great, but it's name has been soiled, and some lessons learned really need to be applied, but cannot be once the beast is set in motion. I wouldn't be surprised if it stuck around for a while, but even if it doesn't, something else will replace it. There's too much value in "freedom-enhancing" currencies, and there's no doubt that Bitcoin has been a proof-of-concept for it that it works.

P.S. - Bitcoin really shouldn't be referred to as a "currency." It's more like a commodity, similar to gold, since there is a finite amount of it in the world. If BTC is going to survive the legal battles, it would be best for its supporters to not fight for it as a currency, as that can open it up to all kinds of legal attacks.

Comment I love the pot legalization responses (Score 1) 920

Guys... what did you expect? Nobody supports pot legalization more than me, but publicly supporting it as acting or candidate president is still suicide in today's politics. You can complain all you want, but that doesn't mean Obama is going to suddenly turn around and support an issue that is likely to destroy his chances of re-election. If you've been paying attention to politics at all, ever, you'd know that "politically correct" is not even close to the same as "correct." You have no choice but to play the politics game once you're in the game. This statement/response is part of that game.

Of course I whole-heartedly disagree with this statement, but show me one presidential candidate who publicly supports pot legalization and has a tangible chance of being elected. That politician has never existed. I assure you, Obama actually believes pot should be legal. As do hundreds of other politicians out there. But the solution (for the politician) is not to sacrifice their job to admit he believes in legalization, until the population is ready is ready for it. The real solution (for the constituents) is getting people in the population educated on the matter to the point that it actually becomes acceptable for a major politician to support it. This isn't Obama's problem... it's our problem. I only wish we had a better education system that encouraged people to think for themselves, instead of just believing everything they heard the first time.

Comment At least it wasn't due to security flaws (Score 1) 709

I have been writing BTC software for the past couple months as well as studying the cryptography behind it. One thing BTC has going for it is that it's remarkably secure given that it's decentralized. The price drop is more to do with lack of interest (and probably dumping by botnet owners who mine only to sell them). This leaves two possibilities:

(1) BTC has a chance to continue to be used, and catch on again later, when its merits have been demonstrated through simple longevity. If, in two years, there still has not been a successful attack on the network, people can mess around with it without feeling like they're taking a huge risk.
(2) The proof of concept is done. Whether BTC itself survives, or there is some new, related cryptocurrency, Bitcoin itself proved that such a decentralized system can exist. I fully believe that something like BTC will prevail in the future, whether it's BTC itself or not. In a world where people are craving less gov't and less big banks/money, I think there is a lot of desire for a decentralized, secure currency.

I think it's major downfall was the lack of usability by regular users -- which is why I set out to write my own software. The core developers did a great job with protocol and security, but it was never usable by non tech-savvy people who were only mildly interested. I still have grand plans for how to bring all the features of BTC to the general public without requiring waiting 24 hours for the blockchain to download, and with the ability to easily encrypt wallets and keep BTC safe offline. It was only recently that the core developers were able to get wallet-encryption implemented, but it was way too late--after a string of high-profile attacks and thefts caused negative PR and massive loss of interest in the currency.

Something like BTC will exist in the future. And I think the system that succeeds will be one in which both the protocol is secure and the system is usable by Joe the Plumber.

Comment On the bright side... (Score 1) 258

I fail to see how this has any impact on the BTC network stability -- in fact, they're only helping to make the network more secure. The only known vulnerability in the network is the threat of someone being able to write blocks faster than all the other non-cooperating nodes, which means single-handedly controlling more than 50% of the entire global bitcoin computation. The more miners there are, the harder this is.

The more direct threat here is if the botnet itself approaches 50%+ of the network. But as it is, the global computation rate is high enough that you'd probably need a few million computers in your botnet to even get to the same order of magnitude as the rest of the network.

As for complaints about "illegal bitcoins," there's nothing to see here. Do people lose confidence in USD everytime someone robs a bank because there are "illegal" dollars in the wild? No, money is money, bitcoins are bitcoins. The problem/illegal part was the person robbing the bank or unauthorized access to people's computers to create a botnet. They're still legit Bitcoins. The only threat to the network is as someone else said: the people controlling the infected computers are probably dumping the coins on the market right away to convert it to cash, which will lower the price slowly over time. And other miners (like myself) will make a few less milli-BTC per day for our watts...

Comment It's all about the demand (Score 1) 674

Maybe this has something to do with people not actually noticing the difference in sound quality from their equipment. If a critical proportion of people could hear the difference and cared, then there would be demand for it, then there would be more options for it.

Instead, you end up with something like the "Hi-Def TV" revolution that had something like 30% of people with HDTVs, but they weren't watching in HD because they were using the wrong cables, and they didn't even know it

Comment Bitcoin miners have known about this for a while (Score 2) 204

I realized this at the end of winter when I had 8 high-power GPUs running in my condo mining Bitcoins, and my central heating was not running anymore. You put your hand behind one of the quad-GPU computers on full load, and it feels like a blowdryer, running 24 hours per day. Seemed to have no problem heating 1200 sqft. This seems to apply to GPUs more than anything, though. I don't know how many CPU servers can produce 1.5 KW of heat...

Comment Re:Way to survive the "Big Crunch"? (Score 1) 188

By the way, does time stop completely below the event horizon? Might be another reason why hiding out in a black hole wouldn't be such a good idea.

Amusingly, I just attended the last class before my final exam in general relativity, and all we talked about was the math behind black holes. Pretty interesting stuff, if only I could've understood all of it...

It turns out that space and time actually switch inside a black hole. Your time vector becomes space-like and your spatial vectors become timelike. What does that mean? I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that there is no escape from hitting the singularity at the very middle of the black hole. Since time is always moving forward, and your radial distance from the center is now your time vector, you have no choice but to eventually hit the middle. So far, what is at the middle of a black hole is still a bit of a mystery.

On a related note, the higher the gravity field you are in, the slower your time moves relative to observers outside that gravity field. Therefore, as you fall into a black hole, you will actually reach the event horizon in a finite amount of time (by your own watch), but a stationary observer from Earth watching you, will see everything slow down exponentially as you get closer to the event horizon. It slows down so much that they never actually see you hit the event horizon--it takes an infinite amount of Earth time for something to hit the event horizon. However, the infalling object experiences only a finite amount of time before getting to the event horizon, and then another finite amount of "time" before hitting the singularity at r=0. What happens there is still a matter of speculation.

Comment Nexus One was pretty good (Score 1) 129

I have had a Nexus One for almost a year now, and I absolutely adore it. I was quite disappointed to see that it got mediocre reviews. At worst, internet access can be a little slow (and a bit more latency than I'd like). But it has every sensor in the world, and a decent [enough] battery life. I'm also quite fond of having vanilla Android, because it means upgrade immediately (I got a gingerbread upgrade notification today, actually), and the OS doesn't risk being bastardized by some provider company with less-capable software people than Google.

If my Nexus One broke today, I'd buy a Nexus S in a heartbeat.

Comment This is nothing new (Score 1) 139

My job is image processing, and we are all well aware of the "quirks" of storing images as JPEG. Since it typically uses frequency information, converting to a BMP for a photo editor, and then converting back with some minor modifications introduces all sorts of artifacts into the JPEG coefficients upon recompression. These artifacts can be detected by a program looking for them, and I'm surprised such algorithms are not in use in existing software. And the detection would be able to ignore image resizing...

Of course, this kind of detection can be evaded by someone who understands the compression algorithms and knows how to work around it... but at least it could flag images modified by amateurs. After all, the TFA has the same goal, just it wants to make the "flag" be user-visible, not just rely on a program for detecting and flagging it.

Comment Re:The Real question is... (Score 2, Interesting) 785

Careful... it's not always about languages. I completely agree that time is going to favor the experienced programmer if it's something like learning C++ when you've only worked in Java. However, it's not always like that.

Take CUDA for instance (NVIDIA-based GPU programming), which is a relatively new technology that is in extraordinarily high demand in my work place (a physics lab). The fact is, learning it is not like learning another language, you have to understand a completely different hardware model, and it takes a level of algorithmic puzzle-solving to find efficient ways to store/move/handle/process data in parallel. The rewards are dramatic, but it can't be conquered by just teaching your old programmer a new language. It's a whole new programming paradigm. Such changes in the nature of the design may be difficult for someone with a lifetime of other experience to mold into.

Of course, you can't move too far in favor of the young guys, because you can't jerk people's salaries around like crazy. It's one reason we frequently have low correlation between salary and "value." If they were perfectly correlated, I'd be making $500k some years, $20k other years, making it impossible for any employee or employer to handle budgeting in any sane way. Is the company going to be able to justify continuing to pay this kid $200k in 5 years when the "hot new tech" is the norm and everyone is making 30% less? Making salaries too flexible adds a level of unsustainability to the entire system.

Comment TMI (Score 2, Insightful) 586

Wikileaks behavior here is ridiculous, and I don't think we should be supporting them at this point. Trust me, I am all for exposing corruption and illegal behavior, but that's not what Wikileaks released. Every partnership, company, country, etc, must have the ability to have frank internal conversations about various relationship with others, that must be private. Examples:

Clinton instructing diplomats to spy on UN officials : RELEASE
Afghan corruption throughout military operations: RELEASE
Candid assessments about Karzai's leadership : DO NOT RELEASE
Name calling of the Prince of England : DO NOT RELEASE


These extra releases have done nothing but put many countries into very awkward diplomatic relationships, which does nothing to benefit "fighting corruption." Those kinds of releases are stupid and unecessary.

In this case, I think wikileaks went waaay too far. Assange just wanted to make history by releasing all of them, because nothing like this has ever become public before. On that note, despite my bitter disagreement with him, it is intensely interesting to see a complete cross-section of classified US diplomatic discussions and assessments, and related communications with otehr governments. Probably not worth the damage done to global "social" health, but I will read every word of it...

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