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Comment WTF is he talking about? (Score 2) 393

What is this article on about? Who the fuck is SpiderOak, Silent Circle? GPG, pgp, gnuPG are standards of encryption, not some un evaluated service, or new software.
And there are *literally* people taking to the street:

And these are just the top 3 google news articles. I agree that the software solutions are terrible, and hard to use. And I agree that the news media are doing a good job of shifting the focus to: "Edward Snowden for leaking some of the country's most sensitive intelligence secrets". Which is agonizing to watch, but not half as agonizing as stupid articles like this couched in the voice of the people, but in actually spinning the story away from the truth.

People are angry, there are secure solutions, it has to be open source and on your own computer under your direct control to be secure. Open source software development is notorious for flubbing the user experience, but that is the bad news. We do care about privacy and personal security, we can fix the software to be easier to use, and we are actually fighting for our rights. So STFU with your crap message about our doomed future, and stupid populace. Of course it's not easy, but people like Snowden keep coming along and reminding us to be more vigilant.

Comment Re:The 51% attack is fatal (Score 1) 179

I apologize to the internet gods, but I can't help it. I must respond to the trolls.

Bitcoin is a multiparty computation system.

But it is not a "secure multiparty computation", so immaterial to your argument, and not in anyway relevant to my first post, or the link you posted.

Yeah, and guess what? The security definitions of those systems assume a central bank that issues the money.

Yes the referred too digital cash systems rely on a central authority. Of course I believe you it's in the textbook I referred you to, and as I pointed out these are all well understood. Bitcoin is the same type of system. Some details and features are different, but you did not argue that there was a question regarding it's decentralized ledger feature of this digital cash system, you said wait for it.... "Of course, the lack of a security definition for Bitcoin makes this point moot anyway."

Digital cash has a security definition (to use your make believe terminology)
Public key cryptography has a security definition
Hashing algorithms have a security definition
Secure multiparty computation has a security definition (although completely irrelevant to anything we are talking about)

Therefore you don't know what you are talking about, QED.

tl;dr - never mind me people, I just like talking to walls. Please go about your business nothing to see here.

Comment Re:The 51% attack is fatal (Score 1) 179

Ok I get it. You clearly know very little about bitcoin and cryptography, and you are using words way out of context. Bitcoin does not employ 'secure multiparty computation' in any part of its design. You are probably trying to refer to the hashing of blocks in the block chain which is public. But each block is clear text and the only computation that is involved is the finding of a hash value that shows you've done a certain amount of work. This process is not related to secure multiparty computation, which is a term of art that refers to a very specific and different thing (which one would probably understand by reading the first sentence of the link you include).

As for security definitions. What is the definition of "security" for a Dollar bill? Bitcoin it a type of crypto-currency not a secure messaging system or some new way to keep your computers secure, to the degree that it employs public key and other cryptographic system these are standard techniques that are well defined and accepted. The same types of crypto that have been securing web transactions for more then a decade. Bitcoin itself it not a new crypto system in need of some definition.

In terms of the concept of digital cash in cryptography this is also well defined. I direct you to the principal textbook of cryptography "Applied Cryptography" by Bruce Schneier 1996 page 139.

So clearly you don't even have a 101 intro to crypto, and are not qualified to spread FUD in the discussion of bitcoin.

Comment Re:The 51% attack is fatal (Score 2) 179

It is not fatal by any definition of fatal I'm aware of. To the degree it has any effect at all it is only in terms of the current and ongoing transactions for the duration of the attack. To fit some definition of fatal the attacker must maintain the attack indefinitely, the attacker must also be able to respond to any effort by 'honest nodes' adding additional computing resources in response (i.e. there is a counter attack), and the existence of the attack is detectable and locatable.

Anecdotally the current hash rate is greater then the combined resources of all known supercomputers in existence today, so there is no plausible argument that we are discussing 'one user'. If anything we are talking about a state actor, with unimaginable resources, and to such a state actor other attacks are far more efficient. For example a public opinion war, such as what you are trying to wage.

In that this is fatal, it is because of usability, and functionality not cryptography. In other words it is exactly not "fatal, at least from a cryptographic standpoint." In this scenario there is no compromise of the cryptography in any way at all. This is precisely the type of misinformation I am trying to prevent in my post.

Also, "lack of security definition" has no meaning in this context so I'm at a loss for what you are trying to say there.

Comment The 51% attack myth (Score 2, Informative) 179

People continue to be distracted by the 51% mining control issue when in fact that is not the issue, or it is not the issue they think it is. This sort of attack doesn't only happen at 51% it can happen at any level of computing power, but the probability of success increases and the attackers relative computing power increases.

Further once and attacker has such power the ability they have to do damage to the system is limited to specific things. Things that importantly don't include taking all your bitcoin savings.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

See this is much better, you've started talking about perceived real issues instead of just emotional reactions, or less emotional anyway.

I do not think bicoin is perfect, and I was pretty explicit about that. I just don't think its the root of all evil that most on /. seem to think, and I'm not scared of learning more about it.

I agree that there are risks, as there are with any technology. I'm not aware of any botnet threat (will look into that further), apparently Satoshi dice is a pretty similar to a DOS attack but isn't bringing the network down. Forking is probably not one, there was a forking problem between the 0.7 and 0.8 mining clients because the 0.8 client could allow larger blocks then the 0.7 could, but that incident proved that such an event would not cause bitcoin to fail. Once one fork is selected over another all transaction on the rejected branch that are not already in the accepted branch go back into the pool to be accepted. The system works. The worst that could be said was that the hashing rate of bitcoin was reduced for a while.

I agree that it does not have perfect anonymity, and certainly not default anonymity if you are someone being investigated. This may reduce it's popularity with a certain group of people, but by no means is this an argument for its death either, and of course knowledge of this is baked into the current valuation so it's not going to lead to some surprise in the future that kills bitcoin.

Your arguments about blocking are a bit suspect since there has been a fantastic amount of money and research pored into that problem with torrent to no avail. Not saying a state actor couldn't put even more effort into it in a pinch, but it's by no means a trivial problem. I think the much more likely argument here is that various countries outlaw trade in their jurisdiction

Deflation is an open debate, but even expert economists seem to come down on both sides of the issue. My observations are that deflation does not keep one from being able to use bitcoin for online transactions. The fact that hoarding or as some might say saving is incentivized is as much in effect now as it will ever be (and so baked into the valuation) yet the bitcoin economy is functioning, nay growing, and trade does happen. Deflation is why national economies might stagnate, but it's yet to be seen if it's a problem with currency in the abstract. Gold is deflationary and it worked as the basis of almost all monitory systems until just a few decades ago.

Regarding your 'soft' issues, I think the biggest plausible danger is that bitcoin trading would be declared illegal in the US and or other countries. That is an example of a surprise that is not currently baked into the valuation. However, there is not a lot of precedence for this, and the more legitimate economy that exists prior to that the harder such legislation would be to pass.

I also agree that "unforeseen" things could happen. Absolutely! But thats not how people on /. are arguing, they are arguing as if they know and can see the obvious flaws, but they can not they are just not yet familiar with the technology. You could say unforeseen things could happen about anything on the plannet throughout history. That's already buit into everyone's understanding of the risk landscape. What is impressive about bitcoin is how many of the things that can be foreseen have been addressed.

The food for thought is an interesting observation, but as bitcoin is opensource and emergent it evolves instead of fails like companies that must profit from their work.

Comment Re:Fundamentally it isn't, in reality it is (Score 1) 385

So yes, all currencies are just theoretical constructs, they have value purely because we believe they do.


More or less, national currencies are backed by the economy of that nation. Because of that economy, they are useful and valuable to at least the people in that nation.

100% agree with you up to this point, but none of this is an argument against bitcoin.

Bitcoin has none of that. It is just some geeks faffing about that read Cryptonomicon and thought it was a guide, not a work of fiction.

Here, however, is where you go off the rails and just get emotional.

Very, very few places accept it, and they just use it for payments, they immediately convert it to a real currency.

This is not quite accurate, since many people (rationally or not) like bitcoin and keep it as bitcoin. Also it isn't a matter of number of places that accept it, the fact is that the number of places / people / services that you can use bitcoin with is increasing. Did facebook fail because it only had 1000 users at one point, or google or apple or any business ever. It's early and it's growing, that doesn't sound like failure to me. In fact I've personally used it to commission work done by someone I never meet in another country. Nobody in between just email, and bitcoin between us. That to me is unbelievably cool.

It fluctuates as much or more than a thinly traded stock, any currency that fluctuated like it did would be said to be in extreme crisis. It's value is almost entirely based on speculation. That means that for its value to hold or increase, the hype and speculation needs to continue. If it vanishes, the price will crash, perhaps down to zero.

Real currencies that actually get used as currencies don't need hype to keep them going.

Well these are unsupported assertions, but I certainly agree that the valuation has been very volatile. But how does one distinguish between a new monetary system that is totally successful genius idea and a totally horrible idea? Wouldn't either one exhibit such volatility early on? In fact wouldn't the horrible one simply disappear quickly? Four years on and no one has been able to crack the confidence in bitcoin. Quite the opposite, it has a larger user base and valuation now then it ever has and the long term trend has been growth, not failure.

One of the things that drives the emerging economy of bitcoin is the value of the bitcoins (valid or not). People are finding ways to get them because they are valuable. Telling people that are irrationally afraid or angry with bitcoin does nothing to get them more bitcoins, and is of almost no value, but starting an online business that can accept bitcoins from customers anywhere in the world regardless of who you are and your access to bank accounts and CC clearing services can get you bitcoins. We are seeing exactly that, new bitcoin accepting businesses starting up all the time. Also existing companies such as wordpress and reddit start accepting them, or simply individuals offering services, because all the gatekeepers and costs are gone.

The only reason I'm on here talking about it at all is becuase I'm trying to cut through some of the noise and provide accurate information. You don't have to like bitcoin. Fuck I don't like java. But it is clearly working, like it or not. Might as well get the facts about why. Don't you think?

Comment Re:One or more of the higher ups is in it (Score 2) 385

Well as a world traveler I'd disagree with you a bit on your characterization of the ubiquity of the US dollar. Nevertheless, I agree the USD is an extremely convenient and well respected currency, with lots of lovely features pursuant to being issued from one of the most successful countries in the world. However that is not an argument against bitcoin.

You are correct that no large organizations accepts bitcoin for payment yet (whether they consider it a 'real currency' is rather harder to ascertain). It does make one wonder though if that was not so similar to what people said about cars before highways where built, or computers before the personal computer or the internet before the world wide web. Are bitcoins just pet rocks? Maybe, but it doesn't seem likely, there doesn't seem to be any evidence for that, just some people's emotionally negative reaction to it that is always very thin on facts.

That something is *only* successful now and growing in popularity and peer reviewed success constantly since it's inception couldn't possibly mean that it is an idea that could have some future success. It just must fail becuase it isn't the most successful thing in the world yet. /irony

Regardless of arguments it is a fact that bitcoin is successful now, and does store value now. It is theory that it will fail. Your assertion that bitcoins have no value or practical use is clearly and demonstrably not true, and that it is not legally enforceable does not seem to have any effect on it's adoption rate. You are arguing why it won't be accepted, but we have already passed that point, it is accepted, and just like any innovative new technology that acceptance is growing bit by bit.

Comment Re:One or more of the higher ups is in it (Score 0) 385

This is almost exactly not true. One of the big advantages of bitcoin even now is that you can convert it to local currency almost anywhere. Which is also what you'd have to do with dollars (with hefty exchange fees). I'll grant you that there are fewer bitcoin currency converters at the moment, but since literally anyone could be a converter and bitcoin is on a growth cuve (in terms of proliferation, not value) this should improve quite a bit over time.

You donutholes have no value because no one would be wiling to trade with you for them. Bitcoin does have value, people do trade them.

Please if people are going to argue against bitcoin can we at least stick to things that bitcoin is actually bad at?

Comment Re:One or more of the higher ups is in it (Score 1) 385

Well it's not a very effective strategy since most up-voted posts are against the technology.

I'm starting to find the sociology of bitcoin even more interesting then bitcoin. It's fascinating how people are so passionately against a piece of crypto technology. Many people seem to have such a visceral dislike for it long before really understanding the fundamental technology. It's as if people kept yelling about how /. should stop posting about some new programming language.

Oh wait I think I did do that about java back in the day. God I hate java.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

What’s amazing to me is how passionately people are against a pice of technology.

I mean just look at the moderation of this thread! People are up voting repetitive posts about Enron, and tulips and generally uninformative fear while not upvoting objective explanations of the technology, or economics. It’s bizarre. People say things like /. is pushing bitcoins. Clearly it’s not. Every up voted comment is antagonistic towards the technology.

You act like I’m trying to pull a fast one. I am not. I’m trying to explain what bitcoin is and why/how it works in exactly the same way that I would try to explain public key cryptography, or java script programming. It's like I'm saying "You don’t think public key cryptography will work, ok well in your mind what’s the failure mode of public key cryptography?"

After one understands how bitcoins work then by all means argue the finer points of why it will stop working in the future.

Saying something like everyone might just suddenly stop wanting to use it is perhaps a valid failure, but it’s silly. It’s like saying Apple might fail because people might suddenly stop liking Apple products. It might be more compelling if there are some clever indicators as to why this would happen, but you didn’t provide any. The fact is right now bitcoin is popular. Maybe not to you, but that’s not an argument for why they will fail, some people don’t like Apple products. So what? As long as there is even a single bitcoin node on the internet then bitcoins will continue to exist.

As far as I can tell people are having a vicegeral reaction to it. Almost all arguments against it are emotional, not factual. It *feels* like a scam, or a pyramid scheme or a new religion or just something is wrong about it. Well I agree it does feel that way at first, but when you look into it and understand it better you realize it is not those things. It may have flaws, but those are not them.

I also agree that bitcoin might be experiencing a valuation bubble right now but so what? We didn’t stop using houses because there was a housing bubble (or even tulips for that matter). So the value will correct in the future, no big surprise there, free markets always do that.

Even if you never hold bitcoin (and I generally don’t think people should speculate on bitcoin), it is a useful piece of technology.

And by the way I am not even remotely equivocating about the facts, previously I was just rhetorically asking the question: “Could bitcoin store value?” and the answer is a fact: yes they can because they currently are doing exactly that.

What is theatrical are all these emotional arguments that they will stop holding value in the future, and so far no one has put forward a lucid well informed argument for why that would happen. The non lucid or ill-informed arguments have all been addressed and disproven with proofs provided in the various FAQs.

Here are other useful facts:

Bitcoin uses the same cryptography as the banking industry and the secure web.
Transactions are instant, they only take 10+ minutes before you can start spending the money. They are much faster then credit card transactions that take 30 days before you can start spending the money.
They work around the world, and thereby enable business to easily have a world wide audience.
The costs of moving them around is very low.
No one can freeze, or take your money.
You can use these features without ‘holding’ bitcoin, simply convert to the currency of choice immediately upon receipt or before sending.

Never mind the current or future value of bitcoin on a purely technical level these are really interesting and useful features.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

That has not happend even once in the 5000 year history of gold, and there is no evidence of it happening now with gold or bitcoin so um.. no.

It's the *why* would everyone stop using it that is the question to be answered.

Again, that bitcoin "could be useful" or "could have value" has already been proven and is now fact. The theory is that it will stop being useful or hold value in the future. Well why? Clearly none of the theories put forward so far have convenced the people using and investing in bitcoin now. Quite the oposite, as naysayers (as I was) really look into it and learn more about it they realize that most if not all of these theories of it's demise are baseless, or worse magical like 'people will just suddenly stop wanting to use it for no reason'.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

Enron was a company. When companies run out of money they close because they can't pay their debts.

You missed my point, which was that, "people say a lot of things", doesn't make it necessarily true.

Ok then you're saying the same thing as "Some people think the world is flat" and a company like Enron doesn't enter into it.

What is the failure mode of bitcoin?

Currencies collapse when people don't see their worth being above a certain value any more. I don't see this much different from the Enron situation because of that. They can both fail, it doesn't matter how big it is.

Well the glaring difference is that bitcoin does not have expenses or employees so theres no compelling reason to stop. Currencies fail because governments fail (or vice versa in a few cases), but bitcoin is not associated with any government so again no reason to stop. This is why it is better to compare bitcoin to gold since gold can't fail perse it's value can fluctuate for any number of reasons, and could even become very low, but there's no reason for it to go to zero value (even if it had no intrinsic value).

What is the failure mode of gold for that matter?

A guess in this matter would be.. Something like Palladium becoming the new precious substance for trading as Gold becomes irrelevant due to the supply being far greater than the needs, as well as say Palladium having far more uses in in electronics and manufacturing as well as replacing Gold usage in various circumstances, therefore weighing it's necessity over Gold etc.

In reality, I suspect comparing Bitcoin to Gold is not really a good comparison since Gold has actual real world applications outside of being just currency.

Iirc most economists agree that real world or "intrinsic" value is not a desirable property in currency. Currency like the dollar represent value, but aren't in and of themselves valuable (paper and ink).

Many people are concerned about bitcoin, and rightly so, but everyone starts by thinking it's ridiculous until they understand it better and realize that their concerns are addressed by the design or general economic theory. People are objecting to it because it's a new idea, not because it's a bad idea. Extremely knowledgeable people have evaluated it to the core and continue to do so, but have not yet been able to find a significant flaw (well there is actually one that happens way in the future and is expected to be fixed long before we get there).

Bitcoin's value is not theoretical, predictions of it's demise are.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

No, that's not it.

A) The curent computing volume of the bitcoin mining network is over 640 PetaFLOPS. That is more then 6 times the computing capacity of the top 500 supercomputers in the world COMBINED. It is not likely that any one organization has 50% of that capacity. Nevertheless, any computation race only leads to double spend threats, so as long as you don't do business with someone form the NSA it would have no effect on you, they still can't create money or control other peoples wallets, only double spend the money they have.

B) First you'd have a much bigger economic problem them bitcoin if that happend, and also the bitcoin network continues to function on any scale. As long as there are any computers connected to the bitcoin network it continues to function.

Comment Re:It will never be that cheap again (Score 1) 583

There is no reason to expect it to ever get that low again. The market is bigger now and there are sites which accept bitcoins which didn't back then.

Reminds me of what people told me about investing in Enron.

Enron was a company. When companies run out of money they close because they can't pay their debts. What is the failure mode of bitcoin? What is the failure mode of gold for that matter?

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