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Author Topic: FirstBits.com - remember and share Bitcoin addresses  (Read 24402 times)
FreeMoney
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July 10, 2011, 07:45:35 PM
 #121

Shortening a hash, especially a Bitcoin address is just asking for trouble.


I think the convenience of being able to remember and say enough info to rebuild an address is too much to just pass up.

I know there are risks. Can you help clarify them?

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July 10, 2011, 08:29:47 PM
 #122

I'd be willing to bet that he's incorrectly expecting there to be collisions.
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July 10, 2011, 08:58:57 PM
 #123

I'd be willing to bet that he's incorrectly expecting there to be collisions.
I'd be willing to bet that you're right.
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July 10, 2011, 09:36:47 PM
 #124

Though in theory, the system is sound. In practice, things can happen. As we saw when they were using bad blocks data, the firstbits address given out may be wrong. You can never be sure that this won't happen again, right?

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July 11, 2011, 01:33:58 AM
 #125

an address created a couple days ago, and used for the first time an hr ago is not showing up, it has 6 confirms on the transaction.

edit after 12 confirms it works now.  (i didn't check in the middle of 6 and 12)

Set up the same thing..
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July 11, 2011, 01:48:57 AM
 #126

Has anybody asked what happens if at some point you give out your 4-bit address to receive some BTC from a new friend and they give the BTC's to a complete stranger? It just doesn't sit well...  Undecided

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July 11, 2011, 02:11:19 AM
 #127

Though in theory, the system is sound. In practice, things can happen. As we saw when they were using bad blocks data, the firstbits address given out may be wrong. You can never be sure that this won't happen again, right?


Can you think of ways to improve? It's not a complicated thing, maybe something open source could be written that would use your own copy of the chain?

If it ends up that you need to trust a party for look ups it is still better than other shorteners because anyone who can follow the simple rule can join and add redundancy. Obviously you can't just go trusting any one though. Hopefully some people with related business who already have trust will make conversions.


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July 11, 2011, 02:12:42 AM
 #128

Has anybody asked what happens if at some point you give out your 4-bit address to receive some BTC from a new friend and they give the BTC's to a complete stranger? It just doesn't sit well...  Undecided

You mean if there is a mistake? The coins would be gone.

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July 11, 2011, 03:41:51 AM
 #129

an address created a couple days ago, and used for the first time an hr ago is not showing up, it has 6 confirms on the transaction.

edit after 12 confirms it works now.  (i didn't check in the middle of 6 and 12)
Sorry, we need to clarify the 6 confirmations thing.  It does require MORE than 6 confirmations, so seven would be the minimum before you see it show up in a search.  This ensures the system has sufficient time to verify that all addresses have been gathered and added to the database.
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July 11, 2011, 04:51:05 PM
 #130

Has anybody asked what happens if at some point you give out your 4-bit address to receive some BTC from a new friend and they give the BTC's to a complete stranger? It just doesn't sit well...  Undecided

You mean if there is a mistake? The coins would be gone.

I'm assuming Bitman misgrokked the concept, as I and many others did before the moment of ah ha zen.

If the following were the ENTIRE block chain history, then the underlined prefix will have been and always will be their first bits:

1h8sjkl123456789 January
1h8sxx123456789 February
1h8abc123456789 March
1h7123123456789 April
1h8sww123456789 May
1z987asdf9isfhakls June




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July 13, 2011, 07:11:20 AM
 #131

Well, let's post something here, so that it works Smiley.

I have a transfer with 22 confirmations, involving an address that is still unknown to firstbits.com. It appears in the block explorer. What do I do?

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July 13, 2011, 11:45:25 AM
 #132

I agree that something doesn't seem to be working anymore. My address first in block 136059 isn't in firstbits.com's database, and it's now block 136071. I'm guessing that a bitcoin client crashed or something.

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July 13, 2011, 03:44:13 PM
 #133

Looks like a small change I made to the code caused it to get stuck in a loop, never moving beyond block 135948.  I'll fix it and let you know when the blocks have been filled between 135948 and whatever block we're currently at.
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July 13, 2011, 04:14:18 PM
 #134

Fixed and blocks are updated through 136101, so addresses up through 136094 should be retrievable now.
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July 13, 2011, 05:54:51 PM
 #135

Working now. Thanks!

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July 16, 2011, 06:56:27 PM
 #136

First up, thanks to FreeMoney and SgtSpike.This is awesome.

Then I would like to make two suggestions. The first relates to the checksum discussion. It is important to note that simply extending the firstbits name beyond the minimum required characters is NOT the same as a traditional checksum. Where a standard 1 character checksum is sufficient to detect any single character typo, this does not hold for extended firstbits adressess. The 1 character extended 1kk5k address is 1kk5kf. If this is mistyped as 1kk5kg it may well point to another valid address. It doesn't today, but it could. In this case the typo was actually in the "checksum" meaning that you end up worse off than you would have been had you just quoted 1kk5k as your address.

A simple way to add a (still optional) checksum would be to use a separator followed by a traditional checksum i.e. 1kk5k-A or something similar. One simple implementation would be to ensure that the sum of the characters (when interpreted as digits in a base 36 system) adds to 0 modulo 36, But you could also have multi-character checksums that can detect more elaborate typos.

Once something like this is in place, I see no reason why this shouldn't be in the mainline client. It may initially refuse to accept firstbits adresses without checksums and later allow one to bypass this rule if you click through enough "are you SURE SURE SURE" dialogs.

Oh! Some brat already took 1Linux. Grrr.

I can hardly believe that this hasn't been discussed more. If the discussion is elsewhere please point me to it.

Vanity addresses and the firstbits algorithm make for a potent combination. If you think 1kk5k was easy to remember, try 1spike (or even 1spike-AX since you don't really have to "remember" spike the "additional" load of remembering the checksum suddenly seems even more trivial).

The only hassle today is that there is currently no way to transfer ownership of such an address. I don't own 1Linux, but if I did, I might be willing to sell said address to BkkCoins if the price was right Grin. Today the only mechanism to do that is to send him the private key, but he would be a fool to accept such a deal since I may well have kept a copy of the key and be in a position to steal any funds he subsequently receives.

I am pretty sure that this can be added to the existing algorithm without any breaking changes (i.e. if 1linux or 1kk5k or whatever belonged to you before it is guaranteed to still belong to you unless you choose to dispose of it). One way of doing this would be to do the lookup as before, but once the address is found to check all subsequent transactions from that address for one that matches a to be determined arbitrary pattern. If such a match is found then the destination of that address becomes the new owner of the firstbits address in question. Rinse and repeat. This is slightly more computationally expensive than the existing algo, but no one is doing millons of firstbits lookups per second are they?

One example of a pattern that may signify a transfer of ownership is a payment from 1linuxdhfgf... to 1linuxtrsyudas.. of EXACTLY 123 satoshis. The amount should be very small and chosen in such a way that no such payments allready exists in the blockchain (so no-one has accidentally transferred ownership of their firstbits alias while trying to buy coffee  Wink).

This is just an example to clarify the concept and not suitable for actual use because it leaves open the possibility that someone may in future transfer a firstbits alias without intending to, either due to an incredible coincidence or because they were actively tricked. A better solution would be to use the pubsig script as an indicator. An otherwise nonsensical script can be used as an indicator that 1stbits ownership is being transferred. It has the downside that some BTC is being burnt (since it would be impossible to claim that output of the tx) but I don't think anyone is going to miss a few satoshis  Wink. On the upside, one would need a special client to transfer alias ownership so no aliases would be transferred by accident.

If this was implemented we would suddenly have a market for firstbits aliases and hopefully I can sell 1Hannes to one of the many billionares out there with Hannes as a first name  Wink. The only downsides that I can see is the slight increase in computational complexity of a lookup (as mentioned before) and the fact that if one does a firstbits lookup under the new standard one really needs to be online and up to date with the blockchain (allthough you would be able to get away with an offline lookup 99.9999% of the time).

In my original example I showed transfer of ownership of the 1linux alias from 1linuxdhfgf... to 1linuxtrsyudas.. but one could debate whether the second address needs to start with 1linux at all. If it didn't then we would have a marketplace even for firstbits aliases that have not yet been claimed. I would like 1HannesNaude but don't have access to the ridiculous amounts of hashpower I would need to generate it myself. But for anyone that is already running vanitygen the cost of adding it to their patterns list is close to zero. If it was in everyone's pattern lists because everyone knew that I would pay a million BTC for it Wink, it would almost certainly be generated within a day.

Obviously anyone can introduce either of these suggestions, but I really believe it would be best if the firstbits originators did it. Then there would be no confusion or competing standards. Also this is much easier to do now while there is really only a single implementation to adapt than later when many clients and e-wallets have implemented firstbits and lots of code needs to be updated.
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July 16, 2011, 08:05:03 PM
 #137

The only hassle today is that there is currently no way to transfer ownership of such an address.

I had thought about this, but didn't want to post twice in a row Smiley.

What I had in mind was that if I own 1linux123 and other person were more interested in "1linux", he/she could generate an address such as 1linux456 and pay me some money, then I would use half (?) of that money to pay firstbits for having 1linux123 deleted from the database. Then, I tell the other person that he/she can enter 1linux456 into the site and get the "1linux" firstbits.

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July 16, 2011, 08:20:55 PM
 #138

...then I would use half (?) of that money to pay firstbits for having 1linux123 deleted from the database. Then, I tell the other person that he/she can enter 1linux456 into the site and get the "1linux" firstbits.

What makes firstbits great is the fact that there is no centralized database. The blockchain is the database and it is by definition impossible to delete something that has been confirmed by enough blocks from the blockchain. So to transfer ownership one has to enter a "redirect" tx into the blockchain.
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July 16, 2011, 08:23:11 PM
 #139

You can transfer a firstbit the same way you can transfers a regular bitcoin address, either send the whole wallet file or the keypair for the address

(I dont always get new reply notifications, pls send a pm when you think it has happened)

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July 16, 2011, 09:42:01 PM
 #140

Where a standard 1 character checksum is sufficient to detect any single character typo, this does not hold for extended firstbits adressess.

What do you mean 'extended firstbits addressess'?

A simple way to add a (still optional) checksum would be to use a separator followed by a traditional checksum i.e. 1kk5k-A or something similar. One simple implementation would be to ensure that the sum of the characters (when interpreted as digits in a base 36 system) adds to 0 modulo 36, But you could also have multi-character checksums that can detect more elaborate typos.

A 5-bit checksum (~35 alphanumeric) is pretty good validation of the entire 5 character string. I could imagine replacing the prefix '1' with a firstbits checksum, such that 1kk5k could be x-kk5k. I suggest that the 'checksum' represent LAST character of the full 33+ character address. That would correctly detect 97% of potential errors or 99.9% with two characters.

But generally, I don't see the need for a checksum at all. I've rarely called a wrong number and if money was on the line, I'd triple check, checksum be damned.

The only hassle today is that there is currently no way to transfer ownership of such an address. I don't own 1Linux, but if I did, I might be willing to sell said address to BkkCoins if the price was right Grin. Today the only mechanism to do that is to send him the private key, but he would be a fool to accept such a deal since I may well have kept a copy of the key and be in a position to steal any funds he subsequently receives.

I don't see a practical way around this 'problem' nor is it eager to be solved.

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