About Me

Aside

I’m a ex-Wall Street Techie, 11 years at Goldman Sachs, 3 years at JPMorgan.  I’ve worked with some of the smartest people that I have ever known.  Then I discovered Bitcoin, and that’s when I really started to learn about money, and how the economy really works, (and why it doesn’t)* — Jerry David

*a nod to Irwin Schiff

The WEB just ate my computer!

Remember those of you who are old enough, that once upon a time computers were not connected by default to the internet.  When things like token ring LAN and Novell Netware were tools that only companies could afford, and when emails didn’t exist and when you wanted to write somebody a memo, you fired up WordPerfect, write it up, print it out on your dot matrix printer, tear off the perforated holed edges, and handed it to your secretary.

Remember back before Steve Jobs (God Bless his soul) and computers were not connected by default?  Those were the days where applications were written for the computer that they ran on and software portability was an arcane and complex art.

Remember back then IBM had the foresight to realize that portability was a thing that needed to be addressed and thus they had big dreams about Java being the interface layer that would make the dream of “write once, run everywhere” come true?

They even developed ‘net terminals’ that were only running JVMs on them so that they could run any app that was a java app.  This thin-clients bandwagon was jumped on by many hardware manufacturers as they saw chance to sell a new hardware platform that could compete with the dominance of Intel, but they were restricted due to the limitations of the JVM, lack of applications and network bandwidth.  The idea was to put all the applications on servers, and then download them through the LAN to your Net Stations to run.  All storage of apps and data were to be stored back on the companies servers.  Clients were dead. Servers were to run everything.

Good ol’ Big Blue with another technology too early for its time

 

Whatever happened to that?

 

Simply put IBM, the research firm which they had become had pulled another technological whimsical gizmo out of their hat which was way too early for its time.  The world had nary time to get used to the advent of the World Wide Web, and there was IBM already trying to remove local storage from the computer.  This is bound to fail.  This was done at a time when the world had not become accustomed to software subscription models as yet, nor SAAS, IAAS based cloud computing.  The world was still based around monolithic native applications and segmentation of software by hardware and operating system camps and open source software was still relatively new. The best software was still proprietary ones.

If we look back now, the dream of write once, run everywhere has been realized.  Not by Java, or IBM, but by HTML, and Javascript.  The open internet came buy and ate their lunch.  HTML5, JS, PHP, Ruby, Python, front end frameworks, filled the gap, and made GUIs simple to write.  Javascript is now vastly more popular than Java.  Why?  Was it a failure of object oriented programming? Of compiled languages having good free GUI toolkits? Was it a lack of supporting services such as cloud storage and cloud computing that made storing data remotely so unwieldy?  Whatever the reason, it was a brief glimpse of the potential that would start the advent of cloud based services.  The big difference being that it would not be controlled by established technology companies like IBM or Novell or Oracle, but by internet companies.  Nowadays, machines need local storage less and less, with services like google drive, dropbox, microsoft onedrive.  The conversion over to ‘thin client’ Net Stations is complete, but in a decentralized way, thanks to tech like Linux and FOSS, and companies like Amazon, Dropbox, Google, Mozilla and Microsoft.

Call me old fashioned, but I think I’m still a bit reticent about having a local computer that doesn’t have any local storage, somethings you just need to have locally, such as secure applications or data that you want to stay encrypted under your exclusive control.  But more and more, I’m finding that the data produced through the course of normal daily work, office documents, PDFs, contracts, code, memos, notes, emails and the like need not be local.  These seem to be best stored in the cloud, so that multiple computers at home and abroad and in a pinch, my mobile or tablet can access it.  More and more I’m finding that my music collection is also in this category.  Even family pictures are now stored in the cloud.  How much of our data do we actual control and own?

Did you also notice how much more time you spend in your browsers vs stand alone applications in recent years?  Even Office apps are usable on the web with features that match those in standalone apps.  I think we can safely say the age of buying software in a box is over, and everything now is totally connected to the internet.  Whether we like it or not, all our data is belong to the internet.

This means data privacy is going to be more and more of a heated topic in the years to come.

The internet, is now the TV/Radio/Video Collection/Photo Album/Bookshelf for the generations to come.  I welcome our new robot masters.

/EOL

 

 

Time to start a new Chapter…

… in the Book of Bitcoin.  There comes a time in every story when the characters develop, evolve, die, or are reborn.  Such is one of those times in the grand adventure which we all started off on 8 years ago.  The Bitcoin Cash fork having successfully executed is now free from the oppressive roadmap which was being driven by Blockstream and Core, which would see most of Bitcoin transactions turned into just channel opening/closing tasks for untested 2nd Layer networks better suited for micropayments.

So in that vein, I would like to show everyone that micropayment payment channel applications don’t need to wait for Lightning Networks!  Yours.org is a homegrown, build by Bitcoiners, for Bitcoiners, paywall content platform that started off writing their own version of payment channels because LN wasn’t (still isn’t!) ready, then moved onto Litecoin because Bitcoin transactions got too expensive, but now thanks to the low fees on Bitcoin Cash, has moved onto BCC.  As such, I would like to support them by moving my blog onto Yours.org on a sort of a trial run.  Therefore, this month’s blog will be published there.  Yes, you will have to fund a BCC/BCH wallet in order to read the whole article. Yes, it doesn’t seem to support embedding media such as pictures inline yet.  But I hope that Ryan X. and team will be able to slowly improve their platform to the level of Medium or WordPress sometime, and it isn’t terribly hard to get your hands on $5 worth of BCC and funding the Yours.org wallet is dead simple.  Send BCC and it is instantly credited (no need to wait for confirms).

So without further adieu, I leave you enjoy reading about (and using!) Bitcoin Cash:

Bitcoin is Dead, Long Live Bitcoin! (cash)

If we are going to grow this community, we are going to have to start supporting its own economy, eat our own dogfood, so to speak.

 

 

Fork Wars Episode I – The Phantom Futures

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks then you know that the whole block size debate is boiling to a close.  Segwit2x arose to be a compromise solution, lead by ex-core developer Jeff Garzik, brokered and agreement in New York after the Consensus 2017 conference which had over 90% of the miners and ecosystem in agreement.  Since then BIP91 has locked in, which is an effective lowering of the much exalted soft fork consensus threshold of 95%, by which half of the inner circle of core devs felt was deficient. Regardless of how this was on the surface seen to be a ‘lowering of the standards’ it was done anyway and conveniently so, as segwit was not looking like it would ever pass the 95% bar anyhow (ahem. “I TOLD YOU SO” to all the neckbeards out there, and u/jonny1000!).  Now that segwit2x/segwit is going to be ‘forced’ by way of 90% of the miners starting to reject non-segwit signaling blocks, this ensures that segwit’s threshold of 95% of last 1000 blocks will be met sometime in mid-August.  (yes, you read correct, BIP91 was an 80% majority agreement to come to a 95% agreement by forcing the 20% to agree with you or be orphaned — by force!).

This has set the stage for the drama to follow.  For one there is already a growing group of big blockers who have mobilized to fork off the current Segwit2x/Segwit Bitcoin (let’s call this SegwitCoin) who have identified themselves as BitcoinCash.  They are a fork of BitcoinCore 0.14.x with Segwit and RBF components disabled, and a 8mb Hard Fork coded to engage at Aug 1, 12:20 UTC time.  This guarantees that there will be a ‘big block’ Bitcoin regardless of what happens with the SegwitCoin and the expected in-fighting among the new ‘stewards’ of the main chain (Jeff Garzik and his btc1 team) vs. the old guard which have been deposed (Bitcoin Core, Blockstream). Continue reading

Yoga Splits, Banana Splits, why not Bitcoin Splits?

The world is filled with great splits.  Sometimes a split is just the best way of getting the best of both worlds. It let’s bygones be bygones and leaves freedom of choice to the market which is in the ideal position to determine the best way forward.   But in Bitcoin space, talk of a split is tantamount to talking about White Privilege, racism, or dog meat as a food delicacy. Make no mistake, this is a carefully manicured and cultivated reaction culminating from 4 years of careful opinion “shaping” by interested parties, which I have written about several times in the past, but this is not a post to rehash those arguments.

Splits are Tasty. Why not in Bitcoin?

Splits are Tasty. Why not in Bitcoin?

This is an attempt to examine the practical realities of a split in Bitcoin, WITHOUT any of the ethical/emotional/political/ideological baggage that so many have deliberately or inadvertently attached to the debate.

Continue reading

Keep the Change! — Replay protection is a Red Herring

Much about the current Bitcoin splitting debate has revolved around the notion of a hard fork splitting of the network being dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that core developers have constantly stuck to the argument that the community should trust in their (exclusive) council in order to ensure that we don’t engage in anything that may be unsafe for ourselves. Trust them, they know what is good for us. When libertarians and skeptics around the world hear that they are immediately put on alert.

Most recently an exchange between ex-Bitcoin lead maintainer Gavin Andresen with Core contributor Matt Corallo was especially interesting.  Besides the run-of-the-mill talking past each other where Matt seems to ignore points that Gavin clearly addressed (regarding n**2 sighash issues, solved by capping txn sizes to 1mb) the core theme (pun intended) repeated again by Matt was that Hard Forks have no community support (by his own judgement) which is clearly shown by the fact that nobody seems to be giving much attention to the HF proposals in his (exclusive core dev curated) proposal list.  Not much surprise here, the standard echo-chamber reality distortion field stuff.  What was interesting, was that he once again mentioned the need, nay, the necessity of ‘replay protection’ in ANY hard fork proposal.  This is very important point in the core dev platform, as it serves a dual purpose.  One which on the surface is ostensibly for the public good, the other may be much more shadowy.  Let’s examine what replay protection is, and why we really don’t need it.

Continue reading

How will Bitcoin Miners be paid in the future?

The question of how miners will be paid in the long run, after mining subsidy rewards disappear is a much debated topic in Bitcoin.  For those who don’t know, mining rewards are set to half every 4 years until they finally reach zero sometime in the year 2140.  How the Bitcoin mining ecosystem will remain profitable (and thus healthy) is up in the air.  Miners are important as they provide security to the Bitcoin network because they convert real world energy into network security to guard against attacks from malicious forces.  Therefore, the more decentralized and diverse a mining ecosystem is, the better for Bitcoin.

So what will happen when mining rewards disappear? Well, some miners feel that transaction fees should rise up to fill up the shortfall.  As Ang Li puts it from an excerpt of the a recent article at Bitcoin.com

The incentives that Satoshi Nakamoto designed in the Bitcoin whitepaper are not enough to sustain mining for long, Li feels, adding that as the block reward halves every four years, miners income will continue to decline. According to him, keeping the block size where it New 22 Petahash Mining Pool Signaling Bitcoin Unlimitedis now will not provide enough incentive and therefore has to be reconsidered. Li also believes that only a larger mining transaction fee will maintain the balance. “By increasing block size, and transaction numbers, the fees will gradually replace the block reward, providing enough incentive for the miners to defend the bitcoin hashrate. This is the fundamental way to achieve healthy development of the whole ecosystem.”

Continue reading

Ouija Board Consensus – Decentralization Myths: Part 4

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series on the myths of decentralization. You can read the previous installments here:

Part 1 – Decentralization Redefined
Part 2 – Decentralization Myth
Part 3 – Decentralization comes with People

I’ve written quite a lot about the misconceptions and deliberate misdirection that some proponents in the Bitcoin community choose to spread around in order to shape the public perception of what makes Bitcoin valuable, and as a result change the fundamental value proposition of Bitcoin.  As you all should know by now, “Value does not exist outside the consciousness of Man” – Carl Menger.  So changing people’s consciousness by way of affecting their ideas, affects the value of Bitcoin.  Thus it is important that we re-evaluate our notions of why Bitcoin is valuable every so often with a huge dose of skepticism.ouija_board

In today’s article, I’d like to review what the fundamental security model of Bitcoin is, as intended by its mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, (at least in my interpretation of it) why that model is the best we can possibly hope for, and why any further attempts at adding extra layers of ‘security’ on top of this model just ends up making it less secure by making it more centralized.

Continue reading

Coming to Consensus: Governance is just as important as Blocksize

One of the heated debates that has raged over the years in Bitcoin space is whether the idea of a developer team lead by a benevolent dictator is the appropriate model to employ for a network worth more than 15 billion dollars in market capitalization.  Many have cited examples of how Satoshi, and then Gavin himself were benevolent dictators, and also how some well known projects have been successfully managed under the watchful eye of a wise and benevolent (though sometimes abrasive) dictator such as the Linux project.  It is also true that most civilizations evolve from dictatorships, starting with the tribal chiefs, to feudal warrior kings, to aristocratic monarchs, to emperors.  The transition to a democracy is not always a smooth one, and is mired by both slippages into oligarchies, totalitarian fascism to misguided experiments into socialism.  It is important then, to keep in mind that while most organized groups start as dictatorships, they eventually evolve into a system that is more inclusive of the common people’s will.

Oh, Glorious Leader, shepherd for the weak, show us the way!

Firstly, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  Dictatorships are vastly more efficient than a republic or democracy.  635984715851776795-AFP-551724097This is due to the fact there is little bounds on the leaders power, and his followers will carry out his instructions in the most expedient fashion.  Contrast this to a democracy where leaders are continually second guessed by their opposition, and their political opponents who are all vying for their own chance to run the show.  In a dictatorship, the only way a change of regime is possible is through open and widespread revolution.  This is why despotic Chinese emperors of old made it illegal to congregate in groups of 3 or more, restrict what can be discussed in public and on occasion just committed mass murders of all the academics and scholars for fear that they may spread seeds of dissent and dissatisfaction among the peasants with their pesky logic, philosophy, and ideals of morality. Continue reading

Core Segwit – Thinking of upgrading? You need to read this!

So, voting on core’s implementation of Segwit is now enabled, and all 3 of the miners that support core have already cast their vote (2 pools and 1 cloud mining MLM), totalling about 23% of the network.  Adoption seems to have stalled (as of 4Dec16) as the rest of the undecided vote remain undecided.  Perfect time for an analysis breakdown of segwit, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Segwit, the [un?]controversial softfork

Segwit, the [un?]controversial softfork

Segwit has been called a ‘much needed upgrade’ to the network by core proponents, which has a somewhat jury-rigged way of expanding the effective block size of a block. (to 1.7mb)

Let’s first cut through all the marketing jazz and spin that people supporting Blockstream want to put on it and evaluate it on its technical merits alone, addressing its first its pros, then its cons.

Continue reading

Hard Fork Risk Analysis: If the worse happens, how bad can it be?

This post is a culmination of about a year’s worth of thoughts and research that I have been informally gathering, which started with a simple question that started last year when I first read a piece which was written in the middle of the Bitcoin XT heyday describing what would be so bad about having 2 persistent forks by core developer, Meni Rosenfeld.

Forks are not scary, they are upgrades!

Forks are not scary, they are upgrades!

The post described the general understanding of forks at the time, and it was in this context that I wrote my original piece which was very much a pro-Core stance on the dangers of hard forks.  I was wrong on some of my assumptions when I wrote that, which I have over the course of the year corrected, but nevertheless that original piece earned me many twitter RTs and ‘follows’ by core devs and supporters at the time (who have mostly now, funny enough, all banned me).

Continue reading