Friday, March 07, 2014

WABE, NPR, & Newsweek continue to blunder coverage of Bitcoin

by Bryan Grant, Atlanta GA, United States

On Friday March 7th, 2014 at 8:29am. Steve Goss, a news announcer for Atlanta's WABE NPR public radio affiliate,  stated "Stay with us! In a few minutes we will hear about the Collapse of Bitcoin" as a prelude to an NPR article discussing the possible identification of the Psuedoanonymous creator of Bitcoin,  Satoshi Nakamoto. (related AP Article)

Ostensibly, Goss' statement could mislead a WABE listener to believe Bitcoin has completely and irrevocably collapsed, and possesses little or no current value, that Bitcoin is now a financial smoldering ruin like a Lehman Brothers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The also failed to mention the largest business event of the Cryptocurrency market, "Texas Bitcoin Conference",  has been in full swing for the past two days including a Hackathon event designed to strengthen the currency in terms of the tools and security necessary for it's existence.

Far from without value or total collapse, at of the time of this writing the Bitcoin index value is $635.21/BTC trading volume down for the day to 31,900 BTC ($20,256,500), with a historical average around 60,000BTC.  If you had bought on the news of Mt Gox collapse at $430/BTC, 18 hours later you could have sold for a 20-25% return. Bitcoin recovered THAT quickly from a major market event. A few days later, the value was as high as $700/BTC, a 62.7% profit over the bottom of the market at $430/BTC.

Certainly, Bitcoin market value has wide and often abrupt swings (Bitcoin Charts). In November 2013 Bitcoin's value was $125, then meteorically rose to $1100 in December, crashed to the $500's  when China forced the closure of a large Chinese based Bitcoin exchange. Then a month later, bounced up to $900, then down again. One could write an entire article to summarize the market moves of the currency for the last three months.

For a speculative investor, one needs waves in order to surf and Bitcoin has yielded an amazing set of waves! For the average investor, this is nothing short of gambling, but then one can make the same arguments of the stock, bond, derivative, currency, and commodities markets.

Mt Gox, one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges,  (related articles) did collapse. Furthermore, Mt Gox appears to have been running a Ponzi-like scheme whereby 770,000 BTC, were literally stolen from the exchange members. This theft represents approximately 6% of the total amount of Bitcoins in circulation or nearly US$500 million at ~$635/BTC,  . Even if the investigation proves that Mt Gox was not responsible for the theft, their lax security standards were also to blame for this event.

However, Bitcoin ("BTC") as a currency has NOT collapsed. It would be like saying a company stock traded on NASDAQ has collapsed if NASDAQ went out of business. 

Rather than collapsed, Bitcoin has demonstrated amazing resilience, even "anti-fragility", in spite of the scale of this major market event, . Literally, one of the major exchanges appears to have been criminally and intentionally manipulated to rob it's members or a large share of the Bitcoin Market Cap, yet, the next day, the market value restabilized as if the event never happened. Two other exchanges were affected by this same exploit that ruined Mt. Gox, BTC-E and Bitstamp. Both were offline for a few days while they corrected the problem. Both are now back online, and the exchange members have not lost their holdings. Coinbase, the US based exchange company, was never down to begin with, since they had proactively corrected for the problem. As a result, the exchange value of Bitcoin on Coinbase is at a slight premium to the other exchanges, owing to the perception of reliable management Coinbase now enjoys.

As volume of of Bitcoin use for day to transactions increases, the market value with continue to stabilize. When we see the Bitcoin logo next to the Paypal logo at OfficeDepot check outs, the roaring days of speculative trading for small time players will be over. Even still, it is possible today for businesses to begin accepting Bitcoins by immediately selling the Bitcoins as the transactions occur so that the US$ value is locked in for the products or services the business sold at that point in time.  To convert Bitcoin into US$ on Coinbase it costs 1% much lot cheaper than merchant card service fees had a buyer used a credit card for the same purchase.

The Newsweek article is merely a distraction media article which lacks in substance and research.

"If unfounded, Newsweek’s scoop could very quickly turn into a PR nightmare, as the magazine ran the report in its re-launched print edition. Perhaps Newsweek was simply too eager to get a scoop for the big day?" One Does Not Simply Find Satoshi Nakamoto by Nermin Hajdarbegovic, article on  
To this day, the Bitcoin community has no idea who or what "Satoshi Nakamoto" actually is. The Pseudonym"Satoshi Nakamoto"could be a person or a group of persons who did actually draft the White Paper that is the basis of the Bitcoin Currency, which also spawned several similar, and perhaps related, currencies, generally referred to as "CryptoCurrencies".

Given the implications of this type of currency and it's corrosive effects it could have on banking profits, central bank's monetary policies and political controls, if Newsweek has actually outed the real "Satoshi Nakamoto", they have done nothing exposed them to a wide range of dangers, perhaps even endangering their life.

This sort of article is one of those typically unfortunate articles in that it is somewhat misleading, lacks any practical use, and appears to have done only the minimum of research on a topic that is easy to read about given it is an Open Source project with White Paper freely available for use by anyone, and all the resources related to the entire topic of Bitcoin systematically tracked and archived on the Bitcoin Wiki.

The general consensus is that there is NO Satoshi Nakamoto, at least not a human being with that name who created the Bitcoin framework and shared it with the world.

However, articles such as these are no surprise. They are merely thinly veiled efforts to mislead the public so that a game changer such as globally democractized currency immune to control by politicians and the banking industry will hopefully be marginalized to the point of failure. In doing so, they undermine their own credibility and draw even more attention to the potential advantages of this new currency model.  And as with any change, some people get hurt along the way.

"During the last few weeks, we’ve seen how far a player is prepared to go to prevent loss of control. We saw the constitution being violated. We saw young MIT students pressured with government subpoenas merely for creating a proof of concept. I saw my personal freedom lost when I was arrested off the plane, stripped naked, searched and my body violated, handcuffed, and escorted out of JFK airport while returning home from a trip with my girlfriend. We saw how forced measures and restrictions of personal integrity were used by the police, not for fighting crime, but for the obvious purpose of harassing the ones involved and everyone who has been anywhere near them. During the last few weeks, we’ve seen how far a player is prepared to go to prevent loss of control. We saw the constitution being violated. We saw young MIT students pressured with government subpoenas merely for creating a proof of concept. I saw my personal freedom lost when I was arrested off the plane, stripped naked, searched and my body violated, handcuffed, and escorted out of JFK airport while returning home from a trip with my girlfriend. We saw how forced measures and restrictions of personal integrity were used by the police, not for fighting crime, but for the obvious purpose of harassing the ones involved and everyone who has been anywhere near them. - Charlie Shrem"
Arrested Bitcoin Mogul Charlie Shrem Defiant In First Public Appearance Since Criminal Charges by Andy Greenberg Forbes Magazine  3/05/2014 

Shem was CEO of BitInstant, a US based CryptoCurrency Exchange site. US Based Users of the Silk Road would buy Bitcoins on BitInstant, since it was one of the few places anyone in the US could do so. After Silk Road was busted, the FBI was able to trace the actual Bitcoins, owing to how they are traded and created, to the exchange from where they were purchased. The fact that this is even possible should squelch any and all claims that Bitcoin is useful for money laundering. It is not. Every block or portion of a Bitcoin can be traced through every single wallet, and thereby every owner of the block, back to the time the block was first created, or "mined". How could that ever be good for Money Laundering? Right.

This would be similar to the CEO of NASDAQ being arrested because the shares traded on his exchange were later used, withoout his knowledge or control, for illegal purposes. Or more directly, it would be like the owner of the currency exchange booth at the airport being arrested because a tourist exchanged money and then the money was used in illicit transactions.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Make Makers of Students Tell Me More / Commentary #npredchat

Dear Miss Martin and Mr. Gusman,

I was listening to your show, Disrupting Class To Make Way For Technology. I appreciated your discussion of technology and access to learning modern tools to educate our children. Expensive tools such as Apple products, especially iPads limit access to  technology. Not only do they cost 2-3 times what an open source tablet would cost, one running Linux or Android, but they are designed so that the student may not be allowed to delve into them deeply, removing memory, replacing the operating system, and so forth. If they are just using the tablet as a mere User, instead of digging into how the tablets actually work, they are limiting the amount of access to depth of learning these tools can otherwise provide. An iPad needlessly imposes limits on what Students can learn, never mind their expensive price tag. By contrast, one can buy a generic tablet for around $70 retail.
There are several very affordable areas of technology that is largely ignored by school systems. Everything on the below list is Open Source, free to use without buying a license. They are interoperable. They are relatively inexpensive in terms of the actual hardware as well as the related manuals and books that may enhance a learning environment. All of them have huge communities for support.

Perhaps a great view into this area is expressed by this article:
With a mix of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and fun, Maker Box hopes to bolster Africa's future tech skills

Here are some keywords to read about these areas that can easily be introduced into schools at very little expense.
Linux / Android
Raspberry Pi
Make Magazine
Python Tutorial
Using Python in a High School Computer Science Program

Other FREE Online Tutorial "Schools"
One of the most disruptive repositories of technology is housed within the Open Source Ecology  website. "
The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. - See more here

Bryan “Beau” Grant
Office:   +1 (678) 389-9903 x701
Fax:      +1 (404) 348-4759
LinkedIn Profile Ghosted Gear Convivia Group SEPRR

Send/Request Bitcoins: 17RsHGG6PWDkXwJU9YmjPCG1ecKRP9tgtr
Donate Bitcoin to the SE Pet Rescue Railroad!  1PuA3HJdq5dwWTw9icEewbjR3isbdTYZ4m

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Product Review: ASICMiner Block Erupter Cube Bitcoin Miner: Great Design, High Performance, & ZERO Hardware Assembly Quality Control!

 >>Warning<< You do need basic computer hardware (A+ related knowledge) to get these repaired and functioning.
Do NOT turn these on without opening the case and inspecting the integrity of the screw torques, seating of the cards, and the attachment of the heatsink. You could literally fry one if you turn it on without opening them to inspect and repair.

That said.. These are wonderful devices, from a number of perspectives.
- They perform at 38 to 42ghash. We regularly get up to 42ghash on Bitminter, and rarely dip below 38ghash.
- The cases all fit together nice and neat. No need to fiddle with any erector sets as with some other products.
- Config UI is up to par.
- Cooling Fan does it's job.

Cons -
- These were priced at $1170 not more than 3 weeks before this review. As of today, they are at $650.
- Two vendors have both sent product that required disassembly/reassembly. One vendor claimed to have delayed shipping to inspect the units. If that is true, they need to polish their inspection skill set. ;-)
--Without exception, the Units arrived with parts rattling around in the case, two screws actually fell out of one of the devices.
-- Most had to have all the internal cards reseated.
-- Several heat sinks were not firmly attached to the boards, greatly reducing their heat removal efficiency.
Other comments:
All  units had heatsink screws that were NOT torqued. The thermal conduit layer between the sink and the board possesses a modulus of elasticity which should degrade the prospect of the screws becoming loosened due to lifespan.  That was 4 out of four screws on every board of every unit. Only one unit did not have any screws rolling around although 1 screw was only half way in.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

YAR Yet Another Remake: knockoff's, covers, & remakes of shows, movies, & music songs; negative connotation

I am Officially coining an acronym. Been using this for a few years now.. hopefully it will catch on, perhaps sending a message to writers to be innovative and to producers/editors to take more risks.

YAR Yet Another Remake: knockoff's, covers, & remakes of shows, movies, & music songs; negative connotation

To Qualify as a YAR it must be a poorly done copy cat of a better original, or a ineffective rehash of something that was already terrible, not improved by the remake, and amounts to a wasted effort.

For example, the recent cover of "Bad Company" by Five Finger Death Punch really was Bad. The original is a great classic rock song. The new one just gives a modern formula based facelift to the song without improving the earlier vesion in anyway, and usually mangling the earlier version.

The opposite of a YAR would be all the songs on the Soundtrack to Harry Met Sally  by Harry Connick Jr. Sure, Sinatra & Bennett are amazing, but Connick's renditions were going in new directions that stood on their on while not taking away from the earlier versions.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

ASUS Router RT-N16 fancy time waster

@ASUS Router RT-N16 fancy time waster via @bryangrant RE: @dlna

This device had several problems, and very little that deserves merit.

I filed a complete support ticket.. it is now day 3 waiting for a response.

I am returning the item this evening.

There is a long list of issues I found on their own site after the purchase, and the new Firmware created some new issues such as will not login via PPoE, will not print via LPR, will not stream DLNA media content over the same LAN subnet, will not mount external drive.

Opensource DDWRT replacement firmware will not support uPnP.

Since the primary use of this upgrade to my LAN, besides day-to-day home office tasks, will be to view content on the servers over DLNA, this product is rendered 100% useless.

Firmware 1.0.x
- Currently it ships with Firmware 1.0 installed. Noob users would pull their hair out if they tried to use that build since it has a very long list of flaky problems.
- WDS will not work,
- the uPnP doesn't work
- The WiFi flaps so badly it is not possible to reliably connect.
- PPoE is unreliable [pppd[1986]: Unable to complete PPPoE Discovery]
- External drive mounted flawlessly.

Firmware 3.0.x
- Will not import old router .cfg file. Manually reconfig the router from scratch. *sigh*
- WDS now works just fine
- uPnP is VERY broken. Will not look at external drive's partitions. Inserted a tiny partition onto the drive without my approval. DLNA service simply to NOT work.
- PPoE worked great for 4 days. Then.. just stopped. It will not login to the internet any longer. PPoE via direct cable to the DSL modem works fine, so the router is the culprit.
- Printer server no longer will access a HP LaserJet 1300 via LPR. Worked fine with old 1.0 Firmware.
 - The very same External HardDrive will no longer mount the partitions I wish to share.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

NetFlix Instant Viewing - poor selection, frustrating service. Skip It.

Warning to all people considering using using Netflix to watch videos over the internet, affording the convenience of instant access and dispensing with the need to fiddle around with mailing DVD's.

1- Library- Selection of videos is VERY limited. Compared to the NetFlix DVD database, there is a 1 in 20 chance of being able to download a video, instead of being able to view it instantly. There is no consistency in what is available for Instant Viewing. For example, of the Matrix movie trilogy, the first movie is only available via DVD mailing, the other two and the cartoon DVD are available via
instant viewing. Battlestar 1980 has all episodes except for the first one. Yes, I am a Sci-Fi buff, but is that too much to expect to have the entire series of a given title available versus pieces of a title? As for Sci-Fi, there is a very narrow selection of A movies, current shows are practically non-existent, and the majority of Instant movies are B class or lower. They have a few token classics, and that is it.

2- Wii- The viewing of the videos on the Wii Console is poor at best. For starters, the viewing of movies is poor at best. While you are able to watch a video on your laptop, though you are within 3 feet of the location of the Wii, the Wii will not find the server, though the laptop plays the video perfectly. The Wii will not access NetFlix, even though it is able to use Opera to view web pages, Mii can send Mii's, and the news/weather works very well. All indicators point to a very very poor implementation of the NetFlix for Wii software. It's malfunctions prevent prompt, reliable, or even enjoyable viewing.

The Wii NetFlix user interface also is lacking. You can not search for titles without a Laptop. I have dozens of Barney and other children's titles automatically populated, though I had completed the "interview" on the website which allows your selections to be selected "intelligently".

3- LG - LG has several players designed specifically for NetFlix. All the conditions in #1 holding true, the device presents video with a high degree of aliasing rendering a poor experience for the viewer with blocks of graphics and blurring. The user interface is vastly inferior to that of the Wii, and all the shortcomings of the Wii interface are doubly lacking in the LG.

Customer support is non-existent with an email connection that does not exist. You can only send an indicator to them that a given video has failed to perform. You can call them, but the hold times are regularly over 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Picasa, photo album applications, and our personal memories

I have noticed a few wishlist items that are not yet included in Picasa. Iwork on both PC and Mac platforms, but this statement should also be taken to include Linux platforms as well.
One of the long standing issues of digital photography management has been been related to tagging, file naming, and captioning of photos.
What is really needed is an open, published standard for the handling of captions, file names, and titles. Users invest a ton of time and energy into labeling their photos, and if you remember that the annotations on the back of physical photos are very useful for identifying to historians and descendants who is in a photograph, likewise, captions and labels are equally important and deserve a level of care which is not yet present in the tools available today. Furthermore, since we are all embarking into the realm of introducing video and audio media into our personal lives and histories, we should consider applying a similar open source standard framework to applications that display or host these file types.
The goal should be that where ever the image file is sent, the image is accompanied by the relevant captioning data, and is securable by the sender or creator.
One thing the latest Picasa 3.5 does do reasonably well is apply (c) copywright text information into the image itself so one can post it to the internet, and at least have demonstrable evidence that the photographer did attempt to protect their intellectual property rights for the image. It's only drawback is the file management, locating the originals and duplicates is a bit confusing to say the least. You also have to "trick" the program into actually labeling the photos, since the option only exists when your are attempt to upload the photos to the picasa site forcing you to follow a convoluted work flow to label your photos uploading, then downloading them locally for later use.
As for captioning labeling etc, I noticed this was a problem when I migrated FROM iPhoto to Picasa. I had hoped that Picasa would serve as a conduit so I could migrate from Mac to Windows and keep all the captioning information for the 5000+ photos in the library. Picasa ignores the captioning and albums in iPhoto. Picasa only imports the file name and the folders. All of this information in a XML file which could, in theory, be read by another application. The API is published since iPhoto plug-ins for Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa all allow the captions to be exported to the related web photo servers. Picasa's local client simply ignores the information.
iPhoto itself also ignores this information since if you back up your photos, suffer a catastrophic failure, then resotre, the XML file often does not work with the restored data.
On Windoze, Picasa has a better excuse since there are endless photo album/management software applications, it can not really be expected that Picasa would interact with any of them very well since there are so many. However, Picasa on Windoze and Mac does not recognize if you have Picasa web albums online already, and then match up your pre-existing local photos accordingly. It assumes you uploaded the photos from that Picasa location. You can download an album, but you end up with duplicates and a lot of work sorting them afterwards.