Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Very Good Sentences

Their common saying, "Oh, that's politics," always pointed to something that in any other sphere of action they would call shabby and disreputable. But they never asked themselves why it was that in this one sphere of action alone they took shabby and disreputable conduct as a matter of course. It was all the more strange because these same people still somehow assumed that politics existed for the promotion of the highest social purposes. They assumed that the State's primary purpose was to promote through appropriate institutions the general welfare of its members.


That's from Albert Jay Nock's essay Anarchist's Progress, originally published in the American Mercury, 1927.

Another juicy part:

The State did not originate in any form of social agreement, or with any disinterested view of promoting order and justice. Far otherwise. The State originated in conquest and confiscation, as a device for maintaining the stratification of society permanently into two classes — an owning and exploiting class, relatively small, and a propertyless dependent class. Such measures of order and justice as it established were incidental and ancillary to this purpose; it was not interested in any that did not serve this purpose; and it resisted the establishment of any that were contrary to it. No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose than to enable the continuous economic exploitation of one class by another.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What is Crypto Anarchy?

Some of us believe various forms of strong cryptography will cause the power of the state to decline, perhaps even collapse fairly abruptly. We believe the expansion into cyberspace, with secure communications, digital money, anonymity and pseudonymity, and other crypto-mediated interactions, will profoundly change the nature of economies and social interactions.


- THE CYPHERNOMICON, by Timothy C. May V:0.666; Q:2.13.1

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Debit cards poised to get much more expensive

According to this LA times article (HT: qualia8):

The bottom line is that banks stand to lose more than $10 billion a year in merchant fees and more than $6 billion in overdraft fees. They'll be looking to make it up somewhere — and it's likely to be from the mainstream debit card users, not just the sloppy ones.


More incentive to switch to a lower-friction medium of exchange.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Future

The Extent of the Bank Run on Mt. Gox

Update -- 2011/06/26 13:24pst: I still can't get to my money, but it looks like they still have at least ~26000BTC left.

From:



It's that large, recurring transaction at the top with the slightly downwards slope. Mt.Gox can presumably pay it's debts until that gets to zero (at least).

I don't have my money yet, but I'm not worried. For now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bitcoins are Free!

The Global Bitcoin Stock Exchange (GLBSE) is Live!

It can be found at https://glbse.com (But I get a certificate warining)

See the stock prices here:


A breakdown of some the stocks:

1) GLBSE:UBX


Ubitex makes it easy for you to meet someone in person, and do the transaction face-to-face. And since you pay in cash, face-to-face, fraud is nearly eliminated.



2) GLBSE:SIN

SkepsiDyne Integrated Node is a mining company that is publicly listed on GLBSE.com under the ticker SIN. As of June 19, we've sold 1,547 shares, and sold the BTC raised for over $9,000. We currently have 9 rigs producing ~8.1 Ghash/sec.


Some more stats for SIN

3) GLBSE:DISHWARA

As far as I can tell it's another mining company?

4) GLBSE:OPTIMALBITCOIN

Yet another mining company

5) GLBSE:CM400

CentiMine: Anonymous mini-mining contracts

6) GLBSE:BITFLOWSYS

Another mining company

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Assorted Links

1) Meshkit looks super interesting

2) The flashcrash has convinced me it's time for lastpass

3) RantRadio looks interesting

4) LulzSec strikes again!

5) Bitcoin and Agorism

Gavin Andresen reads MarginalRevolution

Awesome.

marginalrevolution.com is my favorite blog. Tyler Cowen's blog (and book!) has (very evidently) been a huge influence in how I approach blogging.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19th 2011: The Bitcoin Flashcrash

In case you missed it:

Mt. Gox Account Compromised. Huge Sell-off.

UPDATE: MTGox Database compromised. That password is no longer secure. Change them!

From their blog:

Huge Bitcoin sell off due to a compromised account - rollback

The bitcoin will be back to around 17.5$/BTC after we rollback all trades that have happened after the huge Bitcoin sale that happened on June 20th near 3:00am (JST).

Service should be back by June 20th 10:00am (JST, 01:00am GMT) with all the trades reversed and accounts available.


The Canadian exchange cavirtex did not collapse, and AFAIK does not need a rollback.





Friday, June 17, 2011

Very Good Rhymes

See some of us are looted with mail and suited as well
But still blind like you're fluent in Braille

-Chali 2na

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bitcoin: What would Milton Friedman Say?

From wikipedia (HT)

Friedman believed that if the money supply was to be centrally controlled (as by the Federal Reserve) that the preferable way to do it would be with a mechanical system that would keep the quantity of money increasing at a steady rate.


Note he advocates a steady rate, if the money supply was to be centrally controlled. I wonder what he'd think of Bitcoin's deflationary nature?

However, instead of government involvement at all, he was open to a "real," non-government, gold standard where money is produced by the private market: "A real gold standard is thoroughly consistent with [classical] liberal principles and I, for one, am entirely in favor of measures promoting its development."


It sounds like he's for private banking backed by gold, but..


He did however add this caveat, "Let me emphasize that this note is not a plea for a return to a gold standard.... I regard a return to a gold standard as neither desirable nor feasible—with the one exception that it might become feasible if the doomsday predictions of hyperinflation under our present system should prove correct.


Inflation like this MIT estimate? An elaboration:

A real honest-to-God gold standard is not feasible because there is essentially no government in the world that is willing to surrender control over its domestic monetary policy


So he was for a steady rate of monetary growth, if centrally controlled. He was for gold, but didn't know how to get there as no government would surrender control.

Now there's the potential to take it back, weather they surrender it or not.

I'm left with more questions than answers.

Ghost Cities

What's wrong with this picture?



No, it's not CG. It's one of many Chinese ghost cities (lots of pics!):.

China plans to build 20 cities a year for the next 20 years. The unacknowledged problem is finding buyers for those hundreds of millions of new homes.


"China consumes more steel, iron ore and cement per capita than any industrial nation in history. It's all going to railways that will never make money, roads that no one drives on and cities that no one lives in."
"It's like walking into a forest of skyscrapers, but they're all empty," he said of Chenggong.

Very Good Sentences

I think Bitcoin and cryptocurrency stands to challenge and has the potential to topple the very notion of unlawful trade, just like the printing press challenged and toppled the notion of unlawful speech.


That's from Rick Falkvinge's (@Falkvinge) piece "Bitcoin’s Four Drivers: Part One – Unlawful Trade"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Very Good Sentences

In fact, Bitcoin takes the denationalisation of money a step further than Hayek did. Where Hayek’s system requires government to remove legal tender laws and Rothbard’s requires governments to return to the gold standard, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have no such political prerequisites. There is no bank to shut down, no specie to seize (the downfall of the ill-fated Liberty Dollar) – nothing at all for governments to aim at, except individual users. And as the war on internet piracy should demonstrate, such a campaign cannot be other than costly and ineffective.

That's C. Harwick's (@thrica) article 'Bitcoin and the Denationalisation of Money'.

Tomorrow (June 15th) should be a big day for Bitcoin

Tomorrow Gavin Andreson (@gavinandresen , Bitcoin technical lead) will give a presentation on Bicoin to the CIA. He'll then join Bruce Wagner (@brucewagner , host of the Bitcoin Show) on onlyonetv for a de-breifing.

Combine that with the bump that's surely on the way from the Economist article and it should make for an interesting day!





Some videos to prime you for the action:

1) Bruce Wagner joins Stefan Molyneux on Freedomain Radio



2) CIA's venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel evaluates Bitcoin

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bitcoin coverage roundup: June 12th

1) Looks like bitcoin survived it's first major correction as an old-timer cashed out. This is a good thing. It makes the market stronger, and lets us pick up bitcoins for a deal. To those yelling 'bubble', lets maintain perspective: this correction only undid 4-days worth of growth.



2) More Bitcoin/Silk-road scaremongering. DEA has yet to say anything definitive



3) IMF is hacked. Maybe someone should tell them about bitcoin.

4) Ripple / RainDrop looks really cool (hat tip: bitcoin sun). Need to learn more.

Bitcoin Browser Extensions

For Chrome

1) Bitcoin Ticker





2) Mt. Gox Peek





For Firefox

1) Bitcoin Prices

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bitcoin Show - Episode 2

Discusses TradeHill.com



They need to fix the audio...

I love this shirt!



If only they'd accept payment in BTC

New Bitcoin Exchanges

With the assault on Bitcoin imminent, redundancy in exchanges is critical.

1) Canada gets its first exchange! https://www.cavirtex.com/ (other resources for Canadians)

2) Another new exchange: https://www.tradehill.com (register now and get a 10% lifetime discount on commission)

3) Gavin Andersen (technical lead) on ABC Australia

4) Mt.Gox Day trading platform

5) Not earning enough mining? Earn BTC for cracking hashes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The First Volley in the Attack on Bitcoin

Here's Reuters:

Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart in a letter that expressed concerns about the underground website "Silk Road" and the use of Bitcoins to make purchases there.


Watch Charles Schumer's press conference here.

Here's a Fox affiliate:

Both of Missouri's U.S. senators tell Fox 2 they are joining other federal lawmakers who want a drug-dealing web site shut down.


I assume that's Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill? I can't find anything else on them weighing in.

We do know that the CIA is at least aware of bitcoin too..

Some reactions to this warning shot, and some advice:

You probably have a little more time before the attacks come (maybe a couple of months?) to acquire bitcoin with cash – and there are profits in speculation to be made until then but, when the raids come, expect a sharp correction before exchange values move on to new highs over a longer period of time. What you do not want to do is be involved as an “exchange service” conducting exchanges in and out of national currencies and you definitely do not want to have your money sitting in the exchanger’s account when they are raided and shut down.


Of course, having many reliable exchanges is the key (think many torrent search sites). Here's a brand new one.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bitcoin coverage roundup: June 5th

1) Senator Charles Schumer (Dem) and Senator Joe Manchin (Dem) are asking federal authorities to take down the silk road. Good luck, they're going to need it.

2) An interview with Nefario, founder of Bitcoin Global. He lays out why shutting down sites like the silk road wont be so easy (and will get progressively more difficult)

CryptoCloud is to be a cloud based computing platform (ala. Amazon AWS) that is hidden in cypherspace (inside the darknets I2P or Tor) so that their location cannot become known. This will allow anyone to easily start any kind of project that if it were illegal in whatever jurisdiction, will be able to run with impunity on CryptoCloud. So services such as Torrent sites, copies of the original Napster, and even directly selling copyrighted materials will be allowed (actually the policy as it stands is that pretty much anything will be allowed).

3) A Bitcoin billboard!

DIY links

1) DIY boats

2) DIY badass eco-house

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bitcoin for Canadians

UPDATE: June 23rd.

There's now the canadian exchange cavirtex.com which was accepting CAD via interac e-mail, but no more till they're out of beta.

There's also a google-group discussion about an alternative:
-----------------

1) Join us on IRC (check out the quickstart guide, if needed)

2) Join the bitcoin-canada meetup group!

3) How to securely trade bitcoins using Interac email transfers and clearcoin.

4) Checkout the RFC for a Canadian bitcoin exchange. Tell us what you think!

Happy 1:10USD Day Bitcoin

Hooray!

In honour of this momentous occasion, I give you (surprise, surprise) assorted links!

1) Buy drugs with bitcoin! (currently not accepting new members)

2) 7 Linux Shells Using Built-in Tools

3) Today I discovered reddit.tv. Not sure what to make of it yet

4) But it did lead to the discovery of Satarii, which is pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

China has discovered bitcoin

A large number of Google searches for 'bitcoin' are now coming from China.



Bitcoin: Not just for paranoid white dudes any more. I see this as significant.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The culture that is Japan

From the BBC:

A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station.

Further down:
"I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," he says.

"Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On writers and grammar

Most writers paragraph for effect, punctuate on impulse, and let split infinitives and comma slices fall where they may. Omnivorous reading substitutes for systematic study. Syntactic nomenclature is a thing they learn only if, somehow trapped into teaching others the craft, they find themselves in need of terms to describe the errors of their students.

Dwight V. Swain, Techniques of the selling writer, ch 2; pg 22.

Assorted Links

1) Buy newegg hardware with bitcoins! (or newegg-like hardware)

2) Future HTC Andorid devices will come with an unlocked bootloader!

3) D-wave gets its first customer

4) Palestinians can now travel to Egypt. Hopefully trade will begin soon.

5) A very cool DIY XBMC project.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tyler Cowen, America's Hottest Economist

That's the title of the Bloomberg's Buisnessweek's coverage of Tyler Cowen. And if you're not already reading his blog marginalrevolution, you should be.

From the article:

In his posts, Cowen often serves as a kind of agony aunt for intellectuals. On May 9 a reader asked about the best books on American history and culture written by foreigners. Cowen suggested Vladimir Nabokov and Ayn Rand and linked to a two-year-old list of fiction in the Wall Street Journal. In the same week he summarized a book on the origins of World War I, recommended the Chinese food in the basement of the Golden Mall in Queens, N.Y., and asked his readers to name the best pop album that never caught on. Cowen blogs like he reads: prolifically and about pretty much everything.


Further on:

He begins his analyses by assuming that if a market, or a person, behaves in a certain way, moral failure is the least likely explanation.


I consider Cowen to be my most influential living person that I've never met.

Bitcoin coverage roundup: May 27th

1) Rick Falkvinge's (founder of the first Pirate Party; @Falkvinge) article: The Information Policy Case For Flat Tax And Basic Income

2) The Atlantic: Bitcoin, Digital Currency of the Future?

3) MIT Technology review: What Bitcoin Is, and Why It Matters

4) Spend BTCs on Amazon with no transaction fees!

5) A Browser-based GPU miner!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Assorted Links



1) /r/bitcoin has a new logo! Happy to have been part of the bitcoin bounty.

2) SickBeard seems to be a pretty sick way to dowload TV automatically.

4) Crypto-cat: easy, encrypted, browser-based chat. Perfect to use with tails.

3) Netflix releases an Android client!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reactions to Bitcoin

Bitcoin's competitive advantage

One of bitcoin's biggest competitive advantages, IMO, is it's ability to cut through inefficient regulations. The general public might actually see (in terms of prices of consumer goods) just exactly how inefficient these 'legitimate' institutions are.

Take California's Bill 2789 (HT: The monetary future):

What the law accomplishes sounds mundane enough: it requires money transmitters--companies that act like banks, but aren't, such as PayPal--to get licenses. As usual, however, the devil is in the details. Previously, California corporations were only required to get money transmitter licenses for international funds transfers, and domestic transfers were unregulated. Now both kinds of transfers are regulated. Also, the price of each license is a little bit steep: half a million dollars and change.


Half a million dollars? For a license to transmit money? Bitcoin will do it anonymously, for free. It get's worse:

Oh, and if you want to do business nationwide, you'll need 43 more of those licenses from almost every state. The forms and requirements are different everywhere, most states want your fingerprints to do a criminal background check (the exact same criminal background check, it turns out), and the price varies wildly from a measly $10,000 to $1,000,000+ per state. Want the forms? Good luck finding them; some states don't post them on-line.


Things like this alot of times are the major cost of doing buisness.

At the very least it set's a minimum on the size of transactions that are viable. Also, it's the consumer who ends up bearing most of this burden of which the poor, as with most regulation, bears the brunt.

Not anymore.

Now ordinary people can raise microbounties!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fun with QR codes

Ok, working on photo timestamping (forum), I've got 2 simple bash scripts:

- genQR.bash
- checkQR.bash

Using genQR is easy:

desktop:~/QR$ ./genQR.bash
stamp: 2011-05-17 06:01
hash: 659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01
QR: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/code/32/659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01


What it does is, generates a timestamp '2011-05-17 06:01' (utc time), salts with with a secret hash and then takes the resulting hash.

The timestamp has a minute resolution, so re-running ./genQR.bash within the same minute gives the same hash. The idea is to publish the stamp and resulting hash far and wide. People wanting to timestamp documents can include the hash before singing the document.

Using checkQR is also easy:

desktop:~/QR$ ./checkQR.bash '2011-05-17 06:01' '659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01'
Encode string: 2011-05-17 06:01 | A2778CC2A16EEC5CC8EB867C30D550BB15B2A6BC
Right answer: 659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01
Your answer: 659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01


The (encode string) is secret, and should never be seen. But the other two lines are easily used to verify the timestamp.

The exciting part comes with how easily it is to timestamp images. The QR url from genQR.bash gives the following QR code:



And with a bit of scripting, we should be able to validate the timestamp of photos as long as the QR code is somewhere in the background (and of sufficient quality)

Check it out! Here's a picture of the QR code

Decode it here


Raw text 659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01
Raw bytes 21 41 13 33 e3 94 e6 86 81 ce 21 c4 7a 21 55 45 28 48 05 f3 92 ab 0a 12 51 07 6a 04 00 80 ec 11 ec 11 ec 11
Barcode format QR_CODE
Parsed Result Type TEXT
Parsed Result 659A54AB2E563038C5F77F3925A7F977D81EEB01

Bitcoin and Technical Analysis

In the spirit of keeping the TA people accountable, I feel the need to point this prediction out.

And the outcome:



Although, its unclear what the timeframe in the prediction is, bitcoin certainly isn't following that red line...

I don't know much about technical analysis, but I'm skeptical. I'm willing to admit it might have some predictive value, but I would need to be convinced it outperforms other models.

Loved this cartoon



From the New Yorker's The Secret Sharer - Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state? which is also great.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My preferred way to backup a bitcoin wallet

I encrypt it and email it to myself. In the email, I put decryption instructions (minus the passphrase, of course)

What I wanted was cross-platform decryption instructions, so that in a pinch, I could get my wallet from anywhere (Mac, PC (with cygwin) or Linux) and use it.

Here's what I've come up with, courtesy of lifehacker.

WARNING: If you haven't done this before, you should probably have a read through here first to get an idea of what exactly it is your backing up.

Then, shutdown your bitcoin client, and make a copy the wallet.dat and place it in a new, working folder.

Let's take the MD5 hash now, before we mess with it


> md5sum wallet.dat
f802a7fa2c7119cf15385b282443eb0f wallet.dat


Now, think of a passphrase, and encrypt.


> openssl des3 -salt -in wallet.dat -out wallet.dat.des-ede3-cbc

enter des-ede3-cbc encryption password:


Now rename the wallet.dat file to a backup before decrypting:


mv wallet.dat wallet.dat.orig


And decrypt:


> openssl des3 -d -salt -in wallet.dat.des-ede3-cbc -out wallet.dat

enter des-ede3-cbc encryption password:


Finally, check the MD5 of the newly decrypted wallet.dat:


> md5sum wallet.dat
f802a7fa2c7119cf15385b282443eb0f wallet.dat

What's New in the World of Bitcoin

1) Looks like the price has yet to stabilize after its first major correction. Google trends will continue to be informative, I believe. If the search volume stabilizes or rises, I predict the first major correction is soon over. If it falls, there's more to come.

2) The first issue of the Bitcoin Sun is out! (On twitter @TheBitcoinSun)

Contents (amongst other things):

- Unfairness and Pizza: The Key of Bitcoin’s Success?
- From Alice to Bob: A not so simple introduction to bitcoin’s inner workings.

3) Bitcoin Price/Difficulty, over time. (HT: @obinine) Would love to autocorrelate these 2!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Great Bitcoin Roadtrip

@TheRealPlato is travelling across America, spending nothing but bitcoins!

Check out his progress on his blog.

Help him out on his Google Map.

Bitcoin-otc quickstart guide

Here's how to get quickly up and trading on bitcoin-otc on Ubuntu.

1) First off, connect to the IRC channel here. Choose a username.

2) Start a private chat with the gribble bot, in the IRC window, so you don't flood the channel messing about. All future IRC commands are to be entered into this private chat with gribble.

/msg gribble ;;help

3) Generate a gpg key (if you don't already have one). See here for details. At a command prompt, type:

gpg --gen-key

4) Publish your key.

gpg --list-keys --keyid-format long

Look for something like:

pub 4096R/46ED38A2A668A578 2011-02-18

Take the 16 digits following the slash, that's the KeyID. Now push:

gpg --send-keys --keyserver pgp.surfnet.nl 46ED38A2A668A578
gpg --send-keys --keyserver pgp.mit.edu 46ED38A2A668A578


5) Register with gribble, back in the IRC chat window with gribble:

;;gpg eregister Nick KeyID

After registering, use eauth to authenticate


;;gpg eauth BobJones


6) Gribble will spit back a http:// url. Copy that and run:

wget -O - http://bitcoin-otc.com/otps/46ED38A2A668A578 | gpg --decrypt

7) Now take the output and verify with gribble:

;;gpg everify freenode:#bitcoin-otc:6132ffd1c3c4468e40303d844f3e30661bc34617054f7cc5e3fa03c8b41c376e


You should now be authenticated! Happy trading! Some useful gribble commands:

See the current exchange rate:

;;bc,mtgox

See orders for canadian dollars:

;;book cad

Privately message someone online:

/msg BobJones

Leave a message for someone offline:

;;later tell BobJones Hey there big guy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Anarchism, Bitcoin and the Impending Revolution

This article exactly captures my excitement about the future. Worth reading the whole thing. Some juicy parts:

The reason that government is everywhere is that government wins. It's a Darwin thing. The reason that government wins is that a bigger ship is more seaworthy, and a big enough ship needs a thousand builders, and a thousand builders need an organizer to deal out paychecks, and sooner or later the organizer's paychecks become more important than the ship. The ship is still made, of course, and it crosses the world conquering savages for loot. But in the end, the organizer is a king, and we all swear the pledge of allegiance. The original reason for building the ship? Shit, no one remembers. Anyways, here we go. (Ever watch Cube?)


And:
Bitcoin doesn't need to be legal to operate. And it's encroaching on the sort of grand scale project space that first gave governments their legitimacy. I think this is significant.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Learning about QR codes

So now I'm motivated to look into how easy it is to use QR codes....

1) Create your own QR code easily
2) A list of QR decoders
3) Online QR decoder

EDIT: As usual, Google does it the best

Web Buisness idea: Time Verification Service

So Here's a silly idea:

You want to verify a photo was taken a a certain time. You could go get a copy of todays paper, or you could go to phototimestamp.org (just registered it)

When you go there, a QR code (similar to this) is generated.

Then just take a picture of whatever, with the QR code in the background (changed every 15 minutes).

Then the other user can submit the image, and the time that it was claimed to be taken at, and the website will spit back true or false.

Bitcoin and Gambling

With the feds seizing pokerstars, full-tilt poker, and absolute poker Alternative modes of gambling will surely be on many's mind.

Bitcoin and gambling are a natural fit.

Play poker with bitcoins. Apparantly, the industry standard rake is 5%. With bitcoins, it's 1%

You can also do sports betting with bitcoin.

Then there's the BitCoin lottery. It's currently down for (among other reasons, including a bug) not having many players. I take this as evidence of bitcoin user's intelligence.

Oh, and if bitcoin weren't easy enough, now there's instawallet

EDIT: You can also play roulette with bitcoins

TIL: In-Q Tel

Today I learnt about In-Q Tel, the venture capital arm of the CIA.

In their own words (pdf):

IQT’s initial mandate [was] to identify software innovations in specific areas such as natural language processing, geospatial analysis, and machine translation, among others, and adapt and deliver them for use by our government customers.


Later...

IQT’s mandate has expanded over the past ten years to also include physical and biological as well as security technologies, our focus on software and infrastructure endures.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Iatrogenesis: the negative marginal rate of return and moral hazard in healthcare

What is Iatrogenesis?

The medical establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an epidemic. Iatrogenesis, the name for this new epidemic, comes from iatros, the Greek word for ‘physician’, and genesis, meaning ‘origin’.


Healthcare spending is making people less healthy:

To have any hope of controlling healthcare costs, doctors will have to raise their diagnostic and treatment thresholds. And higher thresholds would be good for more than the bottom line. Less diagnosis and treatment of disease would return millions of Americans to normal, healthy lives. That's right: Higher thresholds could well improve health.

Endgame for the EU?



From Der Spiegel:

Greece's economic problems are massive, with protests against the government being held almost daily. Now Prime Minister George Papandreou apparently feels he has no other option: SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained information from German government sources knowledgeable of the situation in Athens indicating that Papandreou's government is considering abandoning the euro and reintroducing its own currency.


Then there's the always insightful Tyler Cowen, writing for the New York Times

…if any one euro zone country were to start exiting the euro, there would be bank runs on the other fiscally ailing countries. The richer European Union nations know this, and so they are toiling to keep everyone on board. But that conciliatory approach creates a new set of problems because any nation with an exit strategy suddenly has enormous leverage. Ireland or Portugal [or Greece!] need only imply that without more aid it will be forced to leave the euro zone and bring down the proverbial house of cards. In both countries, aid agreements already are seen as a “work in progress,” and it’s not clear that the subsequent renegotiations have any end in sight, because an ailing country can always ask for a better deal the following year.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Things to do with bitcoins

Fun things to do with bitcoins

1) Get a website made (it doesn't look nice, but the portfolio is decent)
2) Install a dead-drop in Montreal (TIL: about dead-drops)
3) Buy a specific linux distro for mining bitcoins (WIP)
4) Web hosting, for that website you just made. (bitcoin-otc promo code for 20% recurring discount on majority of services, apparantly....)

The best bitcoin market I've found is here. Then there's BiddingPond. Reddit has one too, but it's pretty dead. Bitbid looks promising...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ingenuity Everywhere

There's some amazing people out there doing some aweome stuff!!

1) Mission Liberty
Devoted to making libertarian/anarchist/agorist activism happen.

2) Human IPO
Accelerate your startup!

3) Clean Tech Accelerator
To help humanity address its energy needs for the 21st century, using environmentally, socially and economically sustainable methods

4) The $300 House

5) A 1sqkm artificial floating island of solar panels?

On Gardening

I know nothing about gardening. I wish I did. Someday I'll get into it. Here's what I'm keen to try:

1) Lasagna Gardening: The basics of a non-traditional method of gardening that is organic, earth friendly and easy.
2) Howto grow 100 lbs of potatos in 4 square feet
3) Vertical vegetable gardening [2]
4) Window gardening

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reasons to hold bitcoins

1) Cheap. There are no Transaction fees . (or very low -- you set them)
2) Safe. Decentralized, cryptographic nature is secure, trusted.
3) Growing mistrust. Increasing interest in citizens circumventing corrupt/irresponsible governance will drive demand. As of writing, most of the Google searches for bitcoin is coming from Russia
4) Rampant Inflation. According to MIT's most comprehensive ever estimate of consumer prince inflation:

Over the last 12 months, prices have gone up 3.2%,... [but] annualize the data from the last 3 months and you get 7.4%

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Refreshing Frame of Wikileaks

There are a whole lot of 'frames' the media imposes on facts.

I have to admit I see it here, and it plays into all my biases.

This is a clear demonstration of how authorities exert control over the media through the use of soft power - under the threat of removal of access and privileges when journalists start doing journalism. Besides encroaching on the freedom of the press to report on matters of high public interest embarrassing to the president, the move would appear to be redundant, since Marinucci was not the only party to the event who recorded footage, nor was she the only person to post that video on the internet.


He's still right though. And I love it.

I also love how Wikileaks dropped 2222 Canadian-related Cables on us days before the election. This will lead to interesting allegations whose severity and truth won't be fully determined until after the election.

No really, I love it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The CIA has their eye on bitcoin

So it begins. I predict smear campaign (it's not safe, it's for terrorists and drug dealers, etc.) by the end of 2012.

How to burn an ISO from the command line

Keep forgetting dd syntax. Here's how to write an iso directly to media (optical, usb) from a (linux) command prompt

First, make sure the device is unmounted. Here, my USB drive is /dev/sdb. /dev/sdb1 automounts so:

umount /dev/sdb1

Then write the disk

sudo dd if=./ubuntu-rescue-remix-10-10.iso of=/dev/sdb

Monday, April 25, 2011

Noam Chomsky on Anarchism

Noam Chomsky on Anarchism:



It's based on the assumption that any... structure of authority and domination has to justify itself. None of them are self justifying. Whether they're in individual relations or international affairs or the workplace or where ever. They have a burden of proof to bear, and if they can't bear that burden, ...they're illegitimate and should be dismantled and replaced with alternative structures which are free and participatory.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where is the demand for bitcoins coming from?

As usual, Google knows.

Cheap way to record scenes

I think I've found what I've been looking for:



~$200 and works with iPhone and Android. Would love to have 5-10 of these to pull down data and merge the data over a mesh network...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Wisdom of the markets

How to you feel about these statements?

1) Netflix to have 30.0 million (or more) subscribers at the end of 2011. 60% Chance (as of 2011/04/23)
2) Muammar al-Gaddafi to no longer be leader of Libya before midnight ET 31 Dec 2011 62.9% Chance
3) Higgs Boson Particle to be observed on/before 31 Dec 2014. 30.0% Chance
4) NASA to announce discovery of extraterrestrial life before midnight ET 31 Dec 2011. 5.4% Chance
5) A majority government to be elected in next Canadian general election. 45.0% Chance
6) Ali Abdullah Saleh to no longer be President of Yemen before midnight ET 30 Jun 2011. 78.0% Chance
7) Ali Abdullah Saleh to no longer be President of Yemen before midnight ET 31 Dec 2011. 90.0%

As Robin Hanson would say, if you're convinced any of these estimates are wrong, why not pay yourself and fix them?

Assorted links

1. Cracked's excellent take on a post-scarcity society.
2. Made me laugh
3. Bitcoin is blowing up! Get some free bitcoins here
4. I need to learn more about I2P and Freenet
5. Sending anonymous email
6. Receiving anonymous email
7. Beginners Guide for GnuPG in Ubuntu

Introducing tails



Tails: The Amnesic Incognito Live System.

Boots from USB into an OS that forces all network traffic through TOR. Writes nothing to the disk. Easy, instant anonymity.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Many of the costs of poverty are sociological rather than narrowly economic per se

Many of the costs of poverty are sociological rather than narrowly economic per se.

That's the always insightful Tyler Cowen over at marginalrevolution. Definitely worth a read.

Observing that:
- 60% of Utah belongs to the church of LDS and has the lowest child poverty rate in the country
- The poorest community in the United States, in terms of measured income, is mostly Hasidic Jews (1/20)

He notes that:
A political conservative is more likely to make this point than to simply focus on the lack of money earned by the poor. A political liberal is more likely to assume that the rate of strict religiosity can rise only so high, and take that as a background constraint.


He's quick to point out tho that religion is a viable solution yes, but not a viable policy.

It's an example of his fallacy of mood affiliation

For this reason, liberals sometimes underrate the conservative point, because they do not like its political implications, and this leads liberals to misunderstand poverty. The conservatives end up misunderstanding poverty policy. Almost everyone ends up a little screwy and off-base on this issue

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A case for not voting

Here's some of the best news I've heard in a while, on voter turnout in Canada:

In addition to falling overall voter participation, another significant trend is the extremely low rate of participation amongst youth voters. Approximately twenty-five percent of eligible voters aged 18 – 24 voted in the 2000 federal election. Moreover, studies have indicated that many youth who don’t vote remain uninvolved in the political system, and do not voting when they get older.


Why is this good news? Well it has got alot of people worried. Low voter turnout can undermine the legitimacy of government. If everyone ignored government, it would go away.

"What a quack." you might be saying. "Convincing everybody not to vote -- that's not very realistic."

And yes, you'd be absolutely right. But you know what else isn't very realistic? Affecting the outcome of an election by voting. So that's how I'm choosing to exercise my vote this election - by not voting. You may think it's a waste of a vote; but its no more of a waste than yours.

Heck, even George Carlin Doesn't vote

And, back to the good news, not voting sends a very powerful message. It's gets people talking about electoral reform.

Some experts place much of the low voter turnout blame on Canada’s electoral system. Canada has a single member plurality system, commonly called First Past the Post (FPTP). In a FPTP system, a single individual represents a specific district. Instead of obtaining a majority of votes, the winner only needs to receive more votes than any other candidate.


Electoral reform. Isn't this what Canada really needs? The green party has support of somewhere between 5 and 10% of the Canadian public, yet they aren't even allowed into the debate. (Note: this is not an endorsement of the Green Party)



So that's how i'm casting my vote. For true, representational democracy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Aca-preneur..

or the Entre-demic. That's what I want to be. Sure, I want to be an academic, and write papers. But I don't want to write grants. I want to do my best to turn those idea into things people will pay for.

What do I want to study?

Well, I want to redefine legitimacy, but I'll start small.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rogers confuses data and bandwidth, cites inappropriate study and can't do math.

It looks like Rogers at least, is citing Cisco's global usage study and using it to draw conslusions about Canadian usage.

As mentioned in a previous post, it is irresponsible to cite a global study to make claims about Canadian usage. Surely global statistics don't apply to Canadians when Canada's internet is so much slower that the rest of the world's.



They also say that:

"Others say it’s more fair for customers to pay for the amount of bandwidth they actually use. We agree with this approach."

Then why not do this? Ie: Charge based only based on bandwith (2Mbps, 1Mbps, 512kbps, etc) and not based on monthly usage? Monthly usage is not bandwidth. Are you sure you're not getting these confused Rogers?

They are also making claims like:

"Our premium tier provides you so much bandwidth (175 GB) that you could watch streaming video on YouTube every day from 7 a.m. in the morning until midnight without reaching your cap"

Aside from the fact they again confused bandwith (usually measured in Mbps) with monthly usage limit (usually meaasured in Gigs), they also got their numbers wrong. YouTube bitrates vary from 0.25 Mbit/s to 5.0 Mbit/s. Watching from 7am-midnight is 17 hours. 17 hours/day for 30 days is 1 836 000 seconds.

Sure at YouTube's lowest bitrate, you can watch all month and only use ~56 Gigs. But even a modest bitrate of 2.0 Mbit/s will use ~448 Gigs, easily exceeding their Ultimate Internet limit of 175Gb.

By the way, am I the only one who can't get YouTubeHD to work in Canada without long buffering pauses?

Macleans thinks Canada's internet is "fast and modern". Harvard disagrees

Macleans (owned by Rogers) came out with an article on friday in favour of usage-based billing.

In it they claim conservatives are "encouraging the popular delusion that usage-based billing will condemn Canada to backwater Internet"

And they think Canada's internet is "one of the fastest and most modern".

Harvard disagrees, as my earlier post on a study out of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University covers. (pdf, pg 247)

"Though it was among the first nations in the world to provide widespread, retail broadband service, Canada’s recent broadband development has lagged behind other developed nations. Canada’s broadband penetration rates are often lauded, but the country is a poor performer on price and speed and a declining performer in penetration."

Canadian Media Giants: Pro-UBB, Anti-Net Neutrality

Shaw is big. Shaw, along with Rogers and Bell are Canadian media. See the list of companies they own here.

We already know they're pro-UBB, but they are also anti-Net Neutrality.

On Friday Feb 19th, "Cable companies, broadcasters and union representatives" met to discuss what should be done about their latest foreign devil: Netflix.

The meeting was hosted by Norm Bolen, president of the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), who says the meeting was to discuss the impact of online services “competing for content, competing for customers and the effects that might have on the Canadian system"

Hmm... Norm Bolen...

His bio tells us he was previously Executive VP -- Content at Alliance Atlantis, responsible for fine Canadian channels like "Food Network Canada" and "BBC Canada"...

But there's already a Netflix Canada, so he's probably out of ideas...

But wait!

Alliance Atlantis Communications was bought by Canwest which was bought by Shaw.

And we know what Shaw thinks (who, as one of only 3 major Canadian Broadcaster's, was surely there). They want Netflix regulatd by the CRTC. As Shaw's president Peter Bissonnette puts it his we-pay-taxes-so-they-should-too argument, companies like Netflix:

"Undermines the ability of Canadian broadcasters to finance Canadian programs because the foreign competition is sapping their revenue base."

It sounds like they, and other major Canadian broadcasters (Rogers, Bell, I'm looking at you) want Netflix taxed.

Is not selectively taxing specific internet services a violation of the principles of Net Neutrality?

Then that's our media industry for you folks. Three companies that are pro-UBB and anti-Net Neutrality.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cisco's stats and Canadian usgae based billing

It seem's like the following chart from Cisco Visual Networking Index: Usage Study might be a source of the oft repeated claim "A tiny fraction of the population is using a lion's share of the usage."



I'm not sure if this is the source material for the Canadian claims being made, but it shouldn't be.

This table is talking about global internet usage and if considered for a moment, makes alot of sense.

I bet if we considered the speeds offered in different countries as well as penetration in those countries, corrected for the popultation of said country, I bet all we would find is that the table above only tells us "the Japanese, Sweeds and Koreans are using the interet much more than the rest of us."

Stay tuned.

But in the meantime, does anyone have a source for Canadian usage statistics? StatsCan, as usual, seems to be of little help.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Failure by design: African cities edition

South Sudan wants to redesign it's cities into the shape of animals. No joke.



The role of intellectuals in society

Bryan Caplan
has an interesting article about research conducted by Hans Noel. Definitely worth a read:

He assembled a big data set of all the written issue positions staked out by major pundits in major outlets at twenty-year intervals, then did factor analysis.
The results:

The empirics by themselves are impressive, but he also shows that pundits' period of chaos and realignment precedes politicians' by about a decade. While it's not decisive proof, it's consistent with a story where intellectuals change their minds first, and activists, the rank-and-file, and politicians gradually get into line.
HT: MarignalRevolution



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Human vs. Machine: Current Standings





Watson: $77 147
Jennings: $24 000
Rutter: $21 600

Watson went against the 2 best Jeopardy competitors and trounced them. Three times over. Nuff said.

Connectivity in Canada: Stats

From: "Next Generation Connectivity: A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world"

Courtesy of The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University (pdf)

Overview of how Canada compares to the rest of the world (pg 247):



"Though it was among the first nations in the world to provide widespread, retail broadband service, Canada’s recent broadband development has lagged behind other developed nations. Canada’s broadband penetration rates are often lauded, but the country is a poor performer on price and speed and a declining performer in penetration."

Other interesting stats:






Friday, February 11, 2011

PublicSphere: An idea for an internet company

PublicSphere is part of the global conversation. It's the coffee shop and the pub. The lunch room and the dinner table. It's anywhere you engage in conversation.

You select a twitter tag and are randomly connected with another use via webcam. On the left side of the screen you see the video chat window (think chatroulette); on the right the live twitter feed of the selected tag.

You chat about what you see.

What's appropriate? That's not enforced by us. It's enforced by you, based on the hashtag. This would vary, as it would between the dinner table, lunch room and pub.

Its the PublicSphere. We're civil, we're moderated, but it's on our terms.

Here's how it works: each twitter tag has an associated public chat room. User's can report questionable behaviour to the admins of a particular chat room. They determine what sort of language/behaviour is appropriate for that particular tag.

How are people made admins? That's where things get interesting. Here's a breakdown of the rules:

1) There are two types of users in the chatroom: regs and admins.
2) Anyone who enters a room with no admins is made an admin.
3) Anyone who enters a room with a pre-existing admin is made a reg.
4) Any admin can ban any reg for 24 (48?) hours. She can only do this once per 24 (48?) hours
5) Every admin has to confer admin on another user every 24 (48?) hours or she loses her admin status. She's free to confer more admin status (to a reasonable limit TBD).
6) An admin's 'rank' is equal to the number of her children.
7) A coalition of admins can 'clip' another admin (make her a reg) by if the sum of their ranks is larger than hers.

So to rule a room, you must first infiltrate it. That is, be familiar enough with the opposing arguments to trick them into thinking your one of them. Then when the time is right, you and your coalition strike and overthrow the old regime. But you learn alot about their position in the process.

Of Interest

1. Honduras to form a charter city?
2. Milton Friedman on Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom'.
3. More evidence that Suleiman is a poor choice to lead the transition.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Shaw and their UBB absurdity

Purchasing Shaw "HD with digital basic" is $36.95/month. Adding "Movie central" costs $17.00/month, and comes with unlimited on demand HDTV.

Assume a fairly aggressive compression and that the HD video srteam is 10mbps. That means for $53.95 a month I can transfer 25920000megs, or 24.7 terabytes over shaw's infrastructure.

If I were to do the same using their internet service, buying their Nitro package for $160.00/month would give me a limit of 360GB/month. That would put me over my limit by 24942.8 GB. At shaw's $1/gig overage charges (I was quoted this by a shaw representative) my monthly bill would be $160.00 + $24942.80 = $25102.80.

$53.95/month vs $25102.80/month. Anti-competitive much?

That's an extreme. Here's a more resonable scenario. Say a family watched 2hrs/day of on demand content. Again, at the conservative estimate of 10mbps for HD video, that's 2.05TB of data they pull down across the shaw netowrk a month.

This works out to $53.95/month vs $1739.2/month.

So shaw, are you going to start penalizing the "heavy users" of your TV on-demand service as well?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fuck you Hillary Clinton

From CNN:

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a security conference in Germany, said it is "important to follow the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman."
Excuse me U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but with all due respect, go fuck yourself. Suleiman was the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate for a ruthless dictator.

As someone on twitter so elegantly put it: "Yeah, I'm sure he's a really nice guy."

But on top of that, thanks to wikileaks we know that he's buddies with the US and the CIA

“Our intelligence collaboration with Oman Soliman is now probably the most successful element of the relationship” with Egypt, said a 2006 U.S. diplomatic cable that used an alternative transliteration of his name. It described Suleiman as “formidable” and says he is Mubarak’s “consigliere” on foreign policy.

We all know you don't want to lose your precious puppet state, Hillary. Stop making it so damn obvious.



GlobalNet: An Ancap-Cypherpunk ideal.

The concept of the fictitious corporation GlobalNet is inspired by Wikileaks, Futarchy and of course, Google.

Since the dawn of Science, it has always been evidence, backed by hard data that has forged the best path for humanity. Today, technology has created a storm of data that can be used to make predictions. As conectedness and data scales, so do our prediction accuracies. We can use this data to answer fundamental questions about our existence. DNA et al can tell us about human nature -- calls, tweets and bills about human nurture.

Tech scales. Data scales with it. So do prediction accuracies.

But so do ethical and privacy concerns. This is the dillema.

GlobalNet is the solution. Shares are issued, capital raised and invested long term. Half the interest funds GlobalNetTech, half to GlobalNetData.

GlobalNetTech provides free digital services to the world. Search... SocialNetworking... Storage... -- shareholders decided the services they'd like to see. All publications (media, code, etc.) are without copyright. They even design/sell hardware at cost.

GlobalNetInfo monitors usage over all GlobalNetTech's infrastructure. But they behave with your data, and back that promise up with cash as many ways as it can. Sharehold capital is used as collateral on liability insurance. If they are ever deemed to have been negligent with user-data, (as defined by the shareholders) the company is closed and all capital goes to the plantiff. They will also receive anonymous leaks. Same deal applies, and the data is disseminated to whoever the source desires. Sometimes nobody.

While the gadets and services provided by GlobalNetTech are fun and life-improving. The service provided by GlobalNetInfo could be revolutionary. They act as an Oracle over all the data. Anyone may ask of it any question they like. If the question is deemed to be 'acceptable' (again, as defined by shareholders) then a betting line can be placed. GlobalNetInfo uses its data to make predictions, and its funds to match the volume of any line. Thereby disseminating accurate, 'acceptable' and relevant information to the world backed up with money.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ladies, gentlemen and robots - This is Jeopardy

And shortly, humans will be taken down another peg, and like chess, Jeopardy will be a game dominated by machines.

Watson is IBM's latest AI computer, which thanks to advances in natural language processing and parallel architecture/algorithms is able to parse and comprehend the riddle-like jeopardy questions.

On Feb 14th 2011, Watson will play 74-time Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings and Jeopardy all-time biggest money earner Brad Rutter.

And Watson is going to slaughter them. You can watch a short test-match they played here. Final Score: Watson - $4,400, Jennings - $3,400 and Rutter $1,200.

Notice how Watson consistently beats Jennings ringing in if they both know the answer. The humans wont even get a chance to buzz in if Watson wants to answer. Also notice how Watson was playing conservatively, not ringing in on answers where it was only ~60% confident. I wonder what the reason for that is? Wouldn't the rational thing be to answer the question as long as your at least 51% confident?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 10 MATLAB code practices that make me cry

Read the article here.

I'm guilty of #7, but that's because 'i' should be a for-loop counter dammit! Not sqrt(-1).

The 12 Commandments of Jiu Jitsu by Carlos Gracie Sr.

1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb the peace of your mind.
2. Talk to all people about happiness, health, and prosperity.
3. Give to all your friends the feeling of being valued.
4. Look at things with an enlightened point of view and update your optimism on reality.
5. Think only about the best, work only for the best, and always expect the best.
6. Be just as enthusiastic about others' victories as you are with yours.
7. Forget about past mistakes and focus your energy on the victories of tomorrow.
8. Always make those around you happy and keep a smile for all people who talk to you.
9. Apply the largest amount of your time on self-improvement and no time in criticizing others.
10. Be big enough so you can feel unsatisfied, be noble enough so you can feel anger, be strong enough so you can feel fear, and be happy enough so you can feel frustrations.
11. Hold a good opinion about your self and communicate that to the world, but not through dissonant words but through good works.
12. Believe strongly that the world is on your side, as long as you stay loyal to the best of yourself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Very Good Sentences: Why seasteading matters

While central governments were destined to search for efficiency with only the very unreliable compass of public opinion, the relationship between individuals and local government was very different. Rather than adapting policy to voter preferences, local governments can keep policy constant and allow consumer-citizens to adopt whichever bundle of services best matches their preferences. If consumers can vote with their feet, local government planners do not face the same information deficit as central government planners. In the limiting case with an infinite number of jurisdictions and completely costless movement among them, everyone would get exactly the bundle of policies and public services they most preferred.
Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor, Seasteading: Institutional Innovation on the Open Ocean