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Comment Re:Selective or Universal, Multiple Consensus (Score 1) 42

If you don't trust an identified host to execute your transaction how does blockchain magically make that better?

Tanktalus provided one example upthread, what you might call "trusted competition" (or "competitive trust"). More generally, "trust" in the real world has many complexities, many shades of gray, and they are are not static. You might trust Ben Carson (or at least a younger one) to perform complex neurosurgery on your infant, but you might not trust him to run HUD. (Ben Carson didn't trust Ben Carson to run HUD. Oops.) As another analogy, during the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union trusted each other in certain ways, not in others. In particular, they trusted each other to blow each other up if sufficiently provoked ("Mutual Assured Destruction").

You could easily make the same basic argument about Bitcoin, and I might even join you in making that argument -- that the world is full of currencies (including many better currencies in terms of what currencies are supposed to do), and there are many other ways to create and to operate a currency than to use Blockchain algorithms (and to consume the equivalent of Holland's entire electricity demand in the process, last I checked). I remember the early commercial Internet when lavishly funded startups like Pets.com could advertise on the Superbowl but made absolutely no business sense. Blockchain is going to have its share of dubious applications and hucksters. Bridge well crossed, actually. Blockchain's first use case (Bitcoin) might be extra dubious. That said, I'm not brave enough to predict that Blockchain algorithms have no reasonable use cases that are "best fits" for the technology, especially if parties who understand business and government at least fairly well are working together. No matter. We'll find out soon enough, probably within the next year or so.

Comment Re: Selective or Universal, Multiple Consensus (Score 1) 42

By that I mean, Intel, coke, att etc each get only one vote's worth of trust each, same as Linus, stallman, BoA and any registered, trusted developers.

Because that's not what certain industries (or regulators) want, but they have many, many use cases where Blockchain fabrics are useful. The Linux Foundation's Hyperledger fabric (and open source code) certainly isn't opposed to "flat" consensus models -- you can do that! But telling the semiconductor industry, or the beverage industry, or some other group that they must adopt one specific consensus model slams hard into reality very quickly. Choice is good, even democratic. ;)

Hyperledger provides something called Byzantine Fault Tolerance using the PBFT protocol as a supplied consensus algorithm. It's a great choice for many use cases, in part because it's well proven over many years, with mathematical proof. So you've got something solid to work with, out of the box. But the consensus algorithm is pluggable, and there are Hyperledger users plugging away. Pluggable consensus is critically important for openness and flexibility.

Comment Re: Could be big in Fintech (Score 1) 42

IBM started offering Blockchain as a Service some months before Microsoft did. This particular announcement is significant because IBM is apparently the first to offer Linux Foundation Hyperledger 1.0 Blockchain as a Service, and in the industry unique ultra high security form, too.

Comment Donate the Bitcoin (Score 4, Informative) 270

Devrtm (the original poster) can donate his/her Bitcoin to any IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt charity(ies) that accept(s) Bitcoin, for example the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Devrtm can then enjoy a U.S. personal income tax deduction for the full, fair market value of his/her donation, with no capital gains tax owed. It may be possible to make the donation anonymously, but Devrtm must keep records of the donation in his/her personal files, to document the tax deduction in case there is a future IRS inquiry. The tax deduction will likely be worth substantially more than what Devrtm paid (if anything) to obtain the Bitcoin. If Devrtm is subject to state or local income tax then there may also be charitable deductions allowed in those tax returns.

Comment Selective or Universal, Multiple Consensus (Score 3, Interesting) 42

Once you spend even a few minutes trying to understand how financial and other industries operate (and want to operate in the future), you quickly realize that one size does not fit all. There are a few Blockchain use cases when it makes sense (if you can meet the scalability requirements) to have an open network, to distribute every transaction record (in whole form) to every node, and to have a "flat" consensus mechanism, with every node getting one equal vote. An awful lot of real world use cases don't fit that particular formula -- maybe most of them. Yet Blockchain, as a solution approach, still makes a great deal of sense if you can relax those artificial restrictions. That's exactly what the Hyperledger/Linux Foundation community has done. The Hyperledger 1.0 network can be permissioned, can avoid distributing every record (contents) to every node (but still maintains the chain itself), and offers pluggable consensus mechanisms. And you don't have to consume the equivalent of Holland's total electricity production, and climbing, to make it work -- far from it. That's flexible, and that's significant progress. It's also open source.

Comment IBM's Role in the Patent Arms Race (Score 2) 65

That's the real answer. First of all, IBM ranks right at the top in terms of number of patents granted, and it has for a couple decades running. With all those patents, of course they'll vary in quality and significance. Second, IBM is the first to admit that its patent strategy is primarily defensive -- to grab the patents (or to make disclosures to establish prior art, which it also does a lot) before a patent troll, or a fading technology company turning into a future patent troll, does. IBM makes surprisingly little money on patent licensing, especially given the size and significance of its patent portfolio.

Just as one example, the primary reason Linux wasn't strangled in its crib is because IBM effectively extended its IP shield over it. We know that history, because most of it is public now. IBM profited (and profits) to some extent from Linux's success, but that's single digit percentage stuff. Something approaching 99% of the financial benefits accruing from Linux go to everybody else in the industry. IBM is fine with that, since it's still a winning profit equation for them.

With a malfunctioning patent system, I'm OK with IBM -- and other players that behave like IBM -- grabbing the patents. If their business models are to secure patents for defense -- and to stick to those business models -- that's OK with me. But I still want the patent system to be fixed.

Comment Re:Taces are not immediate and irrepairable (Score 3, Interesting) 476

Washington State has a sales tax. If an individual cannot enter the United States, that individual buy a pair of sneakers in Washington State, and the state is nearly instantaneously deprived of sales tax revenue. Retailers in Washington must file sales tax returns, and pay sales tax, as frequently as once per month. The State of Washington has already lost some sales tax revenue from the end of January, 2017, that would be owed in about 10 days (mid-February, 2017).

Washington's Solicitor General made a 100% factually correct argument about one aspect of the harm to the State, and the judge agreed.

Comment Re:Technical OR legislative? (Score 4, Interesting) 351

That's not a great argument. Companies, big or small, that ship security defective products, and that do not repair security defects in timely and convenient fashion, probably shouldn't be making Internet connected products at all. If your company ships crap, and if your crap stays crappy, causing material external harm to others, why should your company expect government acquiescence in your crappiness? You shouldn't.

Besides, it's not a "big" versus "small" issue, not in this instance. There are some excellent, security savvy companies that happen to be small, and there are some truly awful ones that happen to be big. What would be helpful to small businesses, if there is new regulation (probably), is for the industry to get ahead of that regulation and to promote a common, industry wide approach so that the U.S., E.U., and other regulatory "zones" are as uniform as possible. Frankly I'm surprised regulators have had as much patience as they've had. That patience won't last.

Comment Re:Technical OR legislative? (Score 1, Interesting) 351

Civil or criminal solutions are intrinsically Local, with varying measures of corruption involved.

No, I disagree. Governmental authorities are not equal, and that's helpful in this potential area of regulation.

If the United States and European Union were to introduce common IT security fitness requirements then they would likely be more than enough to form a "critical mass." A fairly straightforward legislative remedy, at least conceptually, would be to require Internet connected device and software vendors to provide complementary, opt-out, timely security updates for a minimum of X years after product withdrawal from sale (where X varies by product category, never less than 5) or, if failing in their obligations, to be barred from selling any new devices and to owe per device per month financial penalties to a consumer restitution fund. The penalty amount would be based on the product's market price but also subject to an inflation-adjusted minimum. Vendors might also be required to post performance bonds before first sale so that these security obligations (and restitution) survive their corporate demise. Then, even if Uganda, for example, does not enact the same legislation (or does not enact "proxy" legislation which simply says "the product can only be sold in Uganda if also legally offered for sale in the U.S. or E.U."), the combined might of the world's two largest economies would be enough to establish a global standard in vendor security maintenance practices.

Government product fitness regulation could work quite well in this instance.

Comment Re:So what would you use? (Score 3, Interesting) 427

Repeating something often enough doesn't make it true.

Rather the point! The fact is that the Java programming language and runtimes, today, utterly dominate Blu-ray disc players, Android smartwatches, and Android smartphones, to pick some examples. (And what examples they are!) They're powerful evidence that Java hardware and software efficiencies have improved tremendously over two decades. Java is a raging market success, including on devices that cannot afford much inefficiency. It's reasonable and rational to mark-to-market dated views of Java's hardware and software performance attributes. The successful, high efficiency use cases are staring us in the face, literally.

Of course it is still quite possible (a) to write lousy code that the toolchain and runtime, for any language, cannot performance-fix sufficiently for your intended use cases; (b) to have certain scenarios where Java and its toolchain/runtime (for a particular implementation at a particular moment in time) do not produce the very highest efficiency/performance result technically achievable. Point (a) is always true (although a richer and deeper toolchain, and associated skills, can help a lot), and point (b) simply means that you toss efficiency/performance into your calculus with the relative importance it merits for your particular needs. There are other programming languages (and associated runtimes) available, including five durable ones: COBOL, FORTRAN, C, C++, and PL/I. Plus myriad not-yet-durable (and most never will be) options. (Pascal, Ada, ALGOL.... IT history is littered with them.)

Comment Re:Cat got your tongue? (Score 1) 427

If Java is so great... why Mozilla and almost any sane browser ask us to not run anything based on it and block the plug-in?

Because the browser plug-in security model was/is fundamentally broken. Browser vendors are discontinuing that plug-in model for every plug-in. If you want to continue running PC client side Java applications then you'll be moving to something called Java Web Start. JWS is a different, more secure way to launch those applications. Meanwhile, the Web sites you visit are often running lots of Java code to generate the content your Web browser displays. And if you're browsing the Web from an Android device (far more numerous than PCs) then most of the apps you run are written in Java. There's more Java than ever, but the ways and places Java runs are changing and multiplying.

Comment Re:So what would you use? (Score 5, Interesting) 427

There is a need for a light weight, garbage collected language with static typing an efficient compilation, but it does not exist. So Java it is.

Exactly. However, Java is pretty damn lightweight and efficient nowadays -- a heck of a lot less heavy than many alternatives. Partly that's because hardware improved, but mostly it's because several Java implementations have improved tremendously over the circa two decades and counting of Java's history. So, for example, Java is a mandatory part of the Blu-ray standards on ~$50 video players. And Google's Android Runtime (ART), another implementation of Java technology, is the world's most popular smartphone platform. On the server side there are extremely fast starting, lightweight, lower memory runtimes such as IBM's WebSphere Liberty Profile. The traditional efficiency rap against Java doesn't apply any more. "Back in the day" people complained about COBOL because it was "too slow" compared to that (allegedly) hand tuned Assembler code they weren't actually writing. Well, for several years, they had a point. By about the 1970s they didn't. Hardware improved, and the compilers got a lot better -- and that process continues, also for COBOL. Java used to be slow, sure...but what's that in your hand and on your wrist now? (And color TV used to suck, and car tires used to blow out at the first pothole....)

Another huge point in Java's (and for that matter COBOL's) favor is that it's a durable programming language. The invested value in Java code, and the ability to draw from that code portfolio to solve problems, is utterly massive. It's so massive that the Java programming language has crossed over into IT immortality along with only a very few other programming languages (FORTRAN, C, C++, and probably PL/I). Also, Java is the most demonstrably portable programming language (and compilation/runtime path) we have. (Any other nominees?) It's not at all hard to write functionally portable Java code that'll run, unmodified, on platforms ranging from Android smartwatches to z/OS mainframes. That's the default, and it really does work. High quality, performance-optimized and/or battery-optimized code is always a separate question. Any programmer can write lousy code in efficiency terms, and most do at least for Version 1.

Comment Re:Unsigned integers ? (Score 1) 427

"Sort of." Java 8 added unsigned integer arithmetic methods to Integer. Examples: compareUnsigned, divideUnsigned, parseUnsignedInt, remainderUnsigned, toUnsignedLong, etc. You still use long and int, and they still have the capability to store signed values. However, if you want, you only use them for unsigned values and with the Unsigned methods.

I don't think it's a "glaring omission." Life is quite difficult without signed integers -- you've really got to have those. Signed integers (of sufficient width) can functionally do everything unsigned integers can do. (What *functionality* are you missing?) If you have both signed and unsigned integers then you've got to have facilities for typecasting, and that has proven to be at least complicated enough. I think the reason unsigned integer data types were created in other languages has much more to do with the "every bit is precious" constraints in the formative years of those languages and their ancestors. They didn't want to "spend" a precious bit on a sign for every integer, hence the unsigned integer data type. Well, the 1990s (and even 1980s) came calling, with 32-bit and 64-bit addressable memory, and we don't have to be quite so bit thrifty. Every integer can have its sign, even if we never need it.

Signed strings and characters in Java were probably a mistake, though.

Comment Using Satellites to Do What Satellites Already Do? (Score 3, Insightful) 159

Bearing in mind that public funds are involved here, I'm struggling to understand why improving radio communications using "plasma bomb" satellites is such a great idea when satellites already do such a great job improving radio communications. In other words, we have vast numbers of artificial ionosphere "bouncers" already orbiting our planet, and we can also have high altitude tethered balloons and long duration airborne aircraft (perhaps solar electric) that the likes of Google and Facebook are working on -- and with much less investment than even one copy of the some of the aircraft the U.S. Air Force flies. We already know how to bounce radio signals all around the globe, and it's already cheap, reliable, and secure. So what's the "value add" here that merits substantial public investment? Anybody have any ideas?

Comment Slight Elaboration (For the Record) (Score 1) 365

One further point. I'm implicitly assuming long-term capital gains tax rates, and that's a reasonable assumption when oversimplifying slightly. For the record, short-term holdings (assets held less than one year) can get taxed at ordinary income tax rates. The top marginal U.S. income tax rate is currently 43.4% inclusive of the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) if it applies. However, short-term holdings presumably haven't gained as much value as long-term holdings, especially in the aggregate, unless you've been particularly lucky. And there's a simple solution for that, too: wait until the short-term holdings become long-term holdings (held for one year), then expatriate.

These are not exactly middle class problems, are they? ;) You've got to be solidly within the top 5% on a wealth basis to get to an Expatriation Tax calculation, never mind actually owing any Expatriation Tax. And then, if you do pay some, you're resetting your cost basis anyway. You're just paying Uncle Sam what you would have paid when you sold the assets, less a blanket exemption. That's quite fair when checking out permanently, just as you must settle your hotel bill and minibar tab when you check out of a hotel.

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