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1  Other / Off-topic / Crowdcube - a good investment opportunity? on: December 16, 2011, 12:39:51 PM
Crowdcube are currently looking for investors on their own website:

They have been very successful in raising money so far.  Who still wants to invest needs to be fast.

I am temped to invest because I think the idea has huge potential, but I though that the equity offered is a bit low.

What are your thoughts? Would you invest?
2  Other / CPU/GPU Bitcoin mining hardware / Purchasing a Bitforce unit = betting on stagnation? on: December 08, 2011, 12:03:43 PM
At current difficulty, a Butterfly Labs Bitforce unit takes about 8 months to earn back the 230 BTC that it cost to buy.  Even if the number of miners remains equal, I would expect difficulty to go up as a result of miners switching to Bitforce units.  So a more realistic amortization time is about 12 months.

This doesn't seem like a very good bet to me.  12 months is like a century in the bitcoin universe.  My prediction is that in the next 12 months, bitcoin will either a) experience another huge growth spurt, perhaps by 1-2 orders of magnitude, or b) continue to shrink until only a handful of diehard enthusiasts use it.   I don't see very much room for stagnation.

If case a) materializes, the Bitforce unit is a bad investment because it will never earn back the 230 BTC.

If case b) materializes, it's also a bad investment because then you can make more money by selling those 230 BTC now and buying them back when the price is hits 0.1 USD.

Even if stagnation materializes, it's a risky investment because the unit could be made obsolete by superior ASICs much sooner than Jan 2013 when it finally starts to return profits.

If you are one of the buyers, I am curious: What are your motivations?
3  Other / Politics & Society / Why I am not concerned about the ethics of miner botnets. on: November 27, 2011, 09:48:07 PM
I just had a look at Litecoin project, and I was perplexed that its susceptibility to botnet mining was listed as a "disadvantage".

I see botnet operators as petty criminals who have managed to find a large number of victims.

1. Most of their victims don't even realize that they are victims.
2. The damage per victim is small (a few extra dollars a month in electricity bills)
3. A clever botnet operator doesn't get greedy and causes as little disruption as possible to his victims.  The "market" weeds out the ones who get too aggressive and only the stealthy ones survive long term.  The guys who start stealing CC numbers in addition to mining will inevitably attract attention from their victims.  The "nice" botnet operators, on the other hand, can continue mining for months without being discovered.
4. It's not in the interest of a botnet operator to do a 51% attack because that will make his booty worthless.  Unless he gets paid by someone whose aim it is to destroy bitcoin. But that someone could just do the 51% attack himself without going through a middleman.

Sure, botnets are a "disadvantage" for the victims, but not for the cryptocoin itself.

Should it bother me that a part of the bitcoin network is being secured by criminals, and that when I buy freshly minted coins, some of them come from criminals? Perhaps.

Here is the thing though:

Almost everybody I know buys their fossil fuels from criminals, without even giving it a second thought.  And we are talking about real criminals here, people who commit mass murder and torture, not some nihilistic geek living in his parents' basement who causes a barely noticeable inconvenience for a few million people.

This is why I don't understand all this moral outrage about miner botnets. First things first, surely?
4  Other / Politics & Society / Why I have fallen out of love with democracy. on: June 05, 2011, 02:59:36 PM
I have come to realise that democracy has a fundamental flaw:

Democracy is cheap.

The voter isn't accountable to the politician and the politician isn't accountable to the voter.

If you vote for a really stupid policy that is going to ruin other people's lives needlessly, you are not liable to compensate them.  Somebody else will always pick up the bill.

On the other side of the coin, votes create no obligations to politicians. If they fail to keep their end of the bargain, there are no or few personal consequences for them.  

Being part of the Bitcoin community was the final straw.

Here, if you feel strongly about an issue you don't vote for it. You offer a bounty.

If you are dishonest or make a stupid choice, you pay with your money and reputation.  

If someone is a jerk, you don't complain ineffectually. You ostracize them.

If you make a risky investment, and it tanks, you suck it up and don't whine for someone to bail you out.

And so on...

The Bitcoin community has a beautiful way of putting its money where its mouth is.  It has proven to me that superior alternatives to democracy really can work in practice.

When I was younger I had a love affair with the concept of democracy. (brainwashed by school I guess)

When I got older I felt that democracy was a necessary evil.

Now I think it is just evil.

Democracy will never work, except perhaps on a very local scale. It's time for society to move on.    

Now I feel very lonely. I see everyone around me still worshipping democracy like a religion.  I hope Bitcoin will make them change their mind too.
5  Bitcoin / Development & Technical Discussion / Fuzzycoin: defending against the kiddie-porn-in-blockchain attack on: May 31, 2011, 03:28:57 PM
Here is how Bitcoin could be modified to solve this attack (mentioned several times on other threads):

1. Transfers to young addresses incur high transaction fees. Transaction fees drop as addresses age in block chain.

2. Users cannot make exact transactions.  Say, for example, that I sign a transaction for 1.0000000 BTC.  This will only be included in a block if the miner also signs it. However, by default, miners always reject my first proposal and send back a signed proposal salted with a random number, say 0.97429313 BTC. I can then choose to sign this, and commit it to the block chain, or make another first proposal.  The whole thing can of course be automated in the original client.

Blocks that contain transactions not signed by both parties are rejected by the protocol.

6  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Is speculation good or bad for Bitcoin? on: May 28, 2011, 07:14:36 AM
*For the purpose of this poll, speculation is defined as buying/selling BTC with the intent of making a profit on the difference.
7  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Conversation I had with my girlfriend the other night on: April 28, 2011, 05:42:22 PM
GF: You never get off that damn computer. What are you doing anyhow?
me: Uhm, just ... sorting out my finances.
GF: And why is this taking up so much time? Are you opening your own bank??
me: Actually, that's pretty close to the truth.

Perhaps it's time I tell her about my involvement with Bitcoin. It's been 6 months now and I still haven't told anyone about it. I can't exactly explain why, but I'm really nervous about coming out.

8  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Poll: Your work status? on: March 17, 2011, 10:04:07 AM
I am a corporate whore, but I plan to change that once I have gained enough experience. Curious to know where other Bitcoiners stand.
9  Bitcoin / Mining speculation / Change in difficulty after block award drops from 50 to 25 BTC? on: February 24, 2011, 11:29:35 PM
Curious to know what the community expects to happen. I predict that it will drop more than 80%, because the competitive nature of the mining market will mean that the majority of miners are just barely profitable, and a drop in net income by 50% will make most of them unprofitable.
10  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Technical Support / Downloading blockchain causes CPU to overheat on: December 15, 2010, 10:10:45 AM
I'm running Bitcoin on a Dell laptop with an Intel i7 CPU. OS is Ubuntu 64 bit.

I deleted the contents of .bitcoin and copied a new wallet.dat. After downloading about 50,000 blocks the computer shuts down and I get a bios message saying "warning: CPU temperature has exceeded 90 degrees".

The funny thing is that this only happens when downloading the blockchain. I can generate coins for days, even at 100% using all 8 CPU cores, and the computer doesn't overheat.

Seems like a peculiar behaviour. I have used a lot of computationally intensive software before, but I've never managed to fry the CPU like this. What might be going on?

What's the best way to avoid this? renice? It's quite an anxiety-inducing message and it could put some people off using Bitcoin. Shouldn't the client go a bit easier on the CPU by default?
11  Other / Off-topic / Am I a hypocrite for taking unemployment benefits? on: December 06, 2010, 01:45:11 PM
Graduated from uni in 2009. My temporary contract expired last month, so I'm unemployed again after working for only 14 months.

Now I'm living (quite comfortably) from unemployment benefit, thanks to my generous social-democratic government.

When I talk to my friends about the benefits of Bitcoin (undermining gov. etc.) they say I don't practice what I preach.

Now as a libertarian I'm not particularly proud of doing this, but a man needs to do what he needs to do to survive, and the opportunity is there, so wouldn't it be stupid not to make use of it? Of course I do not intend to keep claiming benefits long term.

Here are some more counter arguments I came up with...

Unemployment benefit is not a tax but an insurance  so I am simply consuming a product/service that I have already paid for(coercively).

The government is partially to blame for my unemployment. One of the reasons I'm struggling to find a job is because I don't have "3-5 years work experience". I would be happy to work for less than minimum wage, on a precarious contract, just to get that experience. But labour regulations in my country are extremely rigid. As a result, taking on someone on a permanent contract is a huge burden for a company. As a result, companies are reluctant to take on people with little experience. This exacerbates the chicken-and-egg situation for new entrants.

Sound reasonable? Or I am being a hypocrite?
12  Economy / Trading Discussion / Why is it so damn hard to get hold of Bitcoins? on: October 11, 2010, 07:27:02 PM
MtGox and Bitcoinmarket are frozen, Bitcoin Exchange only selling small amounts, the other traders accept Liberty Reserve, but getting hold of Liberty Reserve itself is tricky  - all the exchanges listed on their site bring up scam complaints on Web of Trust.  Then there's still cash in the mail, but that too is too risky for anything above $100.

It almost feels like someone doesn't WANT me to own Bitcoins.  Angry
13  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Technical Support / I'm anxious ... how to split wallet.dat? on: October 09, 2010, 01:22:16 PM
I don't want to store all my wealth in a single wallet.dat file because if someone gained access to my laptop they could steal all of it.

But I am scared to split my wealth into several wallet.dat files because I've heard that replacing that file can make it unusable if you don't do it right.

I need a foolproof way of doing this. One where I can be certain that I am not going to lose the coins due to lack of technical knowledge.

I was thinking about running bitcoin inside a virtual Windows machine. One virtual machine for each wallet.dat.   

Do you know any better options?

14  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Can Bitcoins be owned by non-humans? on: October 07, 2010, 11:48:16 AM
I had an idea for a program:

Inside an encrypted part of the program are stored the private keys for 10,000 Bitcoins, and some code. Then there is some plaintext code that executes the encrypted container.

The program is self encrypting. So even when executed, it sends garbled pieces of data to CPU and RAM that return garbled pieces of data.

What it comes down to is that only the program itself "knows" the bitcoin private keys and the code inside the cointainer.  They would never be revealed to the host.  I don't mean security by obscurity like spaghetti code, what I mean is that no amount of reverse engineering would reveal the contents of the container.

The only way the user could access the 10,000 coins (apart from breaking the cryptography) would be to interact with the program and convice it to spit them out. For example, by completing all levels of pacman.

Or, on a more advanced level, by giving the program some resource it wants (CPU access, internet access...).

I'd like to know your thoughts whether this would be possible in theory.
15  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / How to overthrow the GPU Oligarchs on: October 01, 2010, 11:31:46 AM
The strength of this project was meant to be its distributedness.

But now, it seems that an increasingly small and exclusive elite has taken charge of coin/block generation. It's dominated by specialists who have access to wholesale means of production and secret, proprietary GPU code.

The average user no longer has a fighting chance and has given up generating blocks altogether.

What does this remind me of? That's right, bitcoin is becoming like the physical money economy, where a small number of central banks now guarantee the trustworthiness of paper money.

There are two problems: One, the possibility of market manipulation, and more importantly, if only a handful of people do most of the proof of work, what is the point of a decentralized currency in the first place? It weakens us, because a powerful attacker would only need to bribe a few people to gain more than 50% of khash/s.

To stop this, I suggest the following:

1) Add more hash functions that must be solved in addition to SHA-2. The more, the better. The function ecosystem should include functions with very different requirements, eg. some that require lots of memory, some that can't be paralellized, some that require lots of disk space,...
Also, function parameters that change randomly every time difficulty changes. This would take away some advantage from people who are highly specialized at solving just one hash function.

2) Pooled block generation. For instance, if 100 users join a pool and one block is solved, the 50 coins are distributed among those users. This would encourage amateur users to start generating again.
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