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Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 355

So once again, you missed the whole point where the data came from the EU Commission and the UN.

The raw data may have been, but the raw data does not say that there is more violent crime in the UK than in the US. That is a conclusion that the Daily Mail has jumped to.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 355

Second, you still haven't done any research.

I didn't made any citations in my previous post. That does not mean I haven't done any research.

You scoffed at my source as it did not conveniently fit your preconceived notion of the facts.

I scoffed at your source because it's a trashy tabloid that is well known for being economical with the truth.

You basically said that it is impossible to prove my point because any data I want to provide is either biased, inaccurate, or simply ambiguous

I'm not saying your data is wrong, I'm saying you're jumping to conclusions.

Let's assume both of our sources are correct. There is more violent crime reported in the UK than in the US, but considerably less murders. What can we conclude from this?

Well, there are a number of possibilities. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are:

1. Criminals in the UK are more likely to be violent, but less likely to kill you.
2. More types of crime are classed as "violent" in the UK.
3. UK citizens are more likely to report violent crime that does not result in a murder.

You appear to be jumping directly to theory number 1, but theories 2 and 3 also fit the available facts.

I personally find it hard to believe that criminals can be more violent but less likely to take a person's life. Even if we take into account the increased number of firearms in the US, it seems unlikely that the technical difference between shooting a person and stabbing them would account for a such a huge difference. Perhaps there's something psychological about pulling a trigger that makes it easier than stabbing someone? I'm not sure.

In any case, I'm merely professing skepticism about one particular theory. If you want to actually defend a theory, you need to supply some evidence to support it over other explanations.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 355

Couldn't be bothered to do a little research, eh?

Apparently more than you.

Violent crime statistics between countries are unreliable, as different countries have different definitions of what counts as "violent crime". This is why murder rate is commonly used as a yardstick, because the definition of murder is fairly consistent between nations.

Furthermore, the Daily Mail is the UK tabloid version of Fox News. Whilst it might occasionally stumble across a fact or two, it is not usually considered to be a reliable source.

Comment Re:Why? Bitcoin and Slashdot? (Score 2) 258

The most important one is that the creation of a bitcoin is *not* backed by anything. It burns computational power for nothing.

In general, it helps to have some understanding of a system before criticising it, otherwise you risk looking like an idiot.

Bitcoin does not burn computational power for nothing. The computations have a very specific purpose: to make it infeasible for an attacker to double-spend bitcoins. All that CPU power is dedicated toward securing the network.

This also gives bitcoins value beyond that assigned by speculators. Securing a distributed digital currency requires a lot of processing power. The more processing power you spend on it, the more resistent it is to double-spending attacks. Bitcoin already has the equivalent of millions of dollars worth of computing power embedded in its block chain - any competing distributed currency would have to start from scratch.

Comment Re:Holding off using it for other reasons (Score 1) 265

The semantic tags are out of date before the spec has even finalised

Presumably things like this is why they dropped the version number and moved to a "Living Standard". The HTML specification will be continually updated, so there's always going to be time to extend the spec to meet changes in the web.

Thus far it seems to have taken the web backwards in terms of compatibility, many of the new features work differently in different browsers, harking back to the days of HTML3/4 and Netscape/IE battles.

The very minor incompatibilities between today's browsers are nothing like the incompatibilities of the Netscape/IE battles.

In the past, the two browsers had different box models, and entirely different syntaxes for DHTML. Modern incompatibilities tend to revolve around the best way to render rounded corners.

XML syntax seems discouraged which means you'll run into more people using the SGML syntax which seems to be pushed more than XML which makes the web more of a ballache to work with- no more of a push towards simple XSLT

Good! XSLTs are absolutely horrible.

Whilst XML is somewhat easier to parse than SGML, it's not like there's a shortage of good HTML parsers.

Also, unless you're screen-scraping data, a lot of the time you'll be using a JSON or XML RESTful API to pull data from websites.

It's not that I don't like some of the new features proposed in HTML5 like canvas etc., I think they're great ideas. It's just a shame the rest of it is just so painfully amateurish from a software development perspective... I'm hoping for a quick iteration to XHTML6, run by people who actually know what they're doing so we can just bypass the mess that is HTML5, but that's probably a bit much to hope for.

HTML may not be perfect, but it has one big advantage over other solutions: it's actually being implemented.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 2) 355

Violent crime in the UK is much higher per capita than in the US

In 2009, the US had 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people. The UK had 1.28 homicides per 100,000.

I find it a little hard to believe that there are more violent crimes per capita in the UK, but almost four times less murders.

Comment Re:Bitcoin ended up as a pyramid scheme (Score 3, Interesting) 391

The Bitcoin thing has gone off in a different direction than its promoters anticipated. They were thinking "payment system", like gift cards. The idea was that most Bitcoins would be tied up in people's "wallets", and spent slowly. All that static value would anchor the currency.


That's not what happened. Bitcoins turned into a speculative vehicle, with "miners" grinding away solving hashes and generating more Bitcoins,

Which in general is good. The more miners there are, the more secure the currency is against double-spending.

The exchanges are tiny; today's worldwide Bitcoin trading volume is comparable to the sales of one supermarket. The daily volatility is huge, even on days when there isn't a break-in. So no major retailer can accept Bitcoins; they don't know what they will be worth at the end of the day, let alone the end of the month.

There's no reason retailers have to wait until the end of the month or even the end of the day before cashing out their bitcoins. A retailer could cash out their bitcoins immediately, or after the first confirmation block. The volatility of Bitcoin is only a problem for speculators.

The difficulty level has reached the point where buying and powering the new hardware is not cost-effective. And that was before the price of Bitcoins crashed. (The current price is around $13.)

No it isn't. An average ATI graphics card will still net you $100 per month profit, even at the current difficulty.

Worse, they're not just "exchanges". They're depositary institutions, holding customer balances. Mt. Gox customers are now very aware of this, because they can't get at their money while Mt. Gox is down. Some people are worried over whether the money will be there when Mt. Gox comes back up.

Why anyone would store money in Mt. Gox and not immediately take it out after a trade is beyond me. Clearly some people do, but that seems like asking for trouble.

The "exchanges" represent a mis-design of Bitcoin. There should have been a way to do an exchange in a distributed way, without the exchange holding customer assets.

It's not a "mis-design". Acting as an exchange is beyond the scope of the Bitcoin protocol. If you want a distributed exchange, that's an entirely separate project.

However, I can't see how a distributed exchange would work, unless it was just some manner of trust network and actually making the trades was up to the individuals. That doesn't seem particularly user-friendly to me, so I suspect that exchanges will have to be centralized websites.

That said, it would be better if (a) people used alternative exchanges more, and (b) the exchange source code was open sourced.

The EFF was right to bail.

The EFF bailed for entirely different reasons. If the future legality of bitcoin is contested, they want to be able to fight without also being the one of the ones being prosecuted.

Comment Re:Disconnect (Score 1) 642

The main problem with current electronic voting systems is that they are not independently auditable. If a machine says that 1000 people voted for Alice, and 500 for Bob, we have to trust that the machine is correct. With a paper system, there are multiple independent systems (i.e. human beings) counting the votes, and votes can be recounted if the result is contested.

Now, there are cryptographic voting systems that get around these problems. In a good cryptographic voting system, your can verify your vote was posted, and independently verify the result. The problem is that no-one currently uses cryptographic voting schemes like this.

Bitcoin works in a similar fashion to cryptographic voting systems, in that all transactions are public and can be independently verified. In fact, there's even a financial incentive to verify them.

Comment Re:Volatility (Score 1) 476

Of course Bitcoin's success is far from certain, but there's a chance that it will succeed. Even if it becomes only as popular as Paypal is today, I'd imagine many of its proponents would mark that as a distinct success. At least we'd be free of Paypal's tendency to freeze assets without notice.

However, I'm not sure why you consider that the most successful Bitcoin can be "even in theory". As it stands, the network could scale to 10,000 transactions per second (i.e. peak VISA-level) and a total economy size of around $10 trillion without any change to the protocol. Above that and one might have to start tweaking the design, but that's not going to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

Comment Re:Volatility (Score 1) 476

You could have made very similar arguments about the early Internet.

The things that differentiated the Internet from other networks that were arising at the time, was that it was decentralised, pseudononymous and had a low barrier to entry. These are the same attributes that differentiate Bitcoin from traditional fiat currencies.

At the time, many technically adept people, most famously Bill Gates, considered the Internet to be a dead end. With hindsight, it's clear that they underestimated the power of a decentralised network that was cheap to join and easy to add new services to.

It's far from certain that Bitcoin will become as successful as the Internet; but I'm not sure I'd write it off so quickly.

Finally, tulip bulbs are somewhat different to bitcoins. One is something you put into the ground and which turns into a flower. The other is a cryptographically signed transaction history wrapped in unit of work proofs, providing a pseudononymous and decentralised way of transferring wealth across an arbitrary communications channel. The only similarity is that they were invested in by speculators.

Comment Re:Volatility (Score 1) 476

That wouldn't work. People would just swap coins between several accounts in order to reset the expiration date.

That's precisely the point. To give users an idea of how many BTC are actively being hoarded, rather than the permanently inaccessible ghosts of coins that were created when some user overwrote their wallet file.


I mean sure, it gives people a little more information about the market, albeit at the cost of increasing the number of transactions, but what exactly would it change?

Comment Re:Bitcoin is worthless in the long run (Score 1) 476

The ultimate value of Bitcoin does not seem to exist

It allows you to transfer wealth electronically and pseudononymously without the need for a centralised broker.

One might as well claim that the Internet has no ultimate value, as there's nothing apart from being electronic, pseudononymous and decentralised that sets it apart from traditional means of disseminating information.

Comment Re:Volatility (Score 1) 476

Aside from trying to play hot potato with bitcoins, what exactly makes bitcoins valuable? I can't take a bitcoin and turn it into energy, or use it to move things, or settle a tax debt.

No, but bitcoins can transfer wealth electronically and pseudonymously without the need for a centralised broker.

Bitcoins is to currency what the internet is to traditional media. It lowers the amount of initial capital needed to innovate with finances. Quite frankly the appreciation of bitcoins is relatively uninteresting to me; it's the sheer technical potential of a decentralised electronic currency that gets me excited.

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