* Posts by David Hicks

1243 posts • joined 22 Apr 2008

British designer builds $15m iPhone for Hong Kong mogul

David Hicks

Crazy?

"People say to me what makes you the best," Hughes said. "One word for that is that I've got to be the craziest by far."

But that's not crazy, it's just what you would do if someone said make me a 15 million dollar iphone, isn't it?

I would hope for the price you're getting the work of a premier artisan, and that would make him the best, because the lack of actual originality of design here is the opposite of crazy, it's dull.

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Bitcoins: A GIANT BUBBLE? Maybe, but currency could still be worthwhile

David Hicks
FAIL

LOL

Ten-pounds notes can be used to fund terrorism and paedos, so you'd have to ban them as well.

LOL @ expecting consistency in rules from government! Seriously, you think for a second that "buh, buh, buh, cash can do that too!" will mean anything to a fat-headed legislator that gets it in mind to ban subversive crypto-currency?

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David Hicks
FAIL

Re: Anonymity ?

"If you've found a way to consistently "algorithmically" correlate tor identities to real-world identities, there's a Fields medal waiting for you when you get home."

That's not what I claimed and who needs to do that anyway?

You just need to trace the coins (possible with the blockchain) to an exit point (exchange). Identifying when funds have entered the accounts of an exchange may or may not be all that easy, but if/when you manage it you then use legal muscle to demand they tell you what's up. Tor is absolutely irrelevant to this.

This may be a lot more tricky if BTC laundering is involved, sure, but tor isn't going to protect you as soon as you try and get the BTC back out into the real world.

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: Anonymity ?

5) Have a heart-attack when someone traces the coins algorithmically to an exchange or other exit-point and tracks you down anyway.

The anonymity argument really breaks down when you need to convert them back and forth to 'real' currency.

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David Hicks
WTF?

Re: A finite calculable resource [like] gold/precious metals -- NOT

Sterling inflation is decided by whim of the bank of england. At least bitcoins inflation is known beforehand.

Which means that when the money supply causes problems in the wider economy, there's nothing anyone can do about it. Some of us consider the bank of england to be a feature, not a bug.

The whole purpose of trading in gold was due to its measurable quality...

Yes of course someone could produce a "coinbits" based on the same variable. The greeks could also decided...

You miss the point - the current bitcoin blockchain really is only a brand name, and other, identical blockchains can be and are being started. There is only scarcity of "Bitcoin" branded coins, no real scarcity at all.

The original piece talked about a bubble, bitcoins are not a bubble by a long stretch.

Bitcoins have experienced absolutely classic bubbles twice now, because they are a speculative asset based on confidence and nothing more. 'Fiat' as you like to call it is backed by national economies.

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David Hicks
Thumb Down

Re: Limited

And those with a couple kBTC put away today will be the new kings, all worth hundreds of billions.

Count me out of an economy that creates a new aristocracy out of hoarders.

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David Hicks
Meh

Re: Anonymity ?

All bitcoin transactions are a matter of public record. The anonymous aspect is that you can't easily tie a human to a bitcoin address. That said, the exchanges all use all sorts of ID verification so if you suspected someone of using BTC to buy drugs you (the theoretical you that is a law-enforcement wonk trying to track silk road vendors) could probably set up a sting, follow the coins to an exchange and demand to know the name/address of the accountholder.

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David Hicks
Stop

"If someone breaks SHA-256 they'll have bigger prizes..."

But you don't often have to break the algorithm. Most good security hacks find flaws in the way people are using the algorithm and the data, not the algorithm itself.

Not saying the bitcoin protocol is flawed, I haven't done an analysis and I'm not (yet) qualified to, but just saying 'we use SHA256' or AES, or whatever it might be, turns out not to be very useful by itself.

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David Hicks
Megaphone

Re: not really

Bitcoins (at the end of the day) are a finite calculable resource

Bitcoin the current blockchain, sure. But unlike gold and silver, the only real limit and value is purely in terms of brand recognition. Other currencies using the *exact same* algorithms, source-code clients etc. can (and in fact already have) come into existance. There's no reason that an infinite number can't pop up. And each one can be identical to bitcoin. And this is before we even talk about crypto-currencies with different/competing models.

It's not like with gold, someone can't just come along and pull another type of gold out of their arse, but with bitcoin you can.

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63 TRILLION maths ops a second - in 5 inches? Mm, show me

David Hicks
Alert

You could cut quite a bit off the price...

... by stuffing in Geforce GTX Titan cards instead of K20X. One assumes nVidia must have neutered the Titan somehow, but it appears to have the same processor and capabilities, and possibly be clocked a little faster even.

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Bitcoin gets a $100 haircut on rollercoaster trading run

David Hicks
FAIL

Re: Non-scammable?

"You didn't mention the part of bitcoin which prevents paypal implementing a chargeback mechanism for bitcoin payments. Cash has no chargeback mechanism, but you can pay to use a mechanism created by someone else...or choose not to. Bitcoin...the same."

Right, so you agree it's a crap payment method, and in order to make it into a good one we effectively need paypal and VISA. excellent.

The pretty paper is not really printed by the government - they just mint the coins. The paper is printed by the banking system...

This is factually false. It's outsourced by the government to printing firms like De La Rue. Are you actually labouring under the illusion that coins are 'real' money but notes are just the bank promising real money? What an interesting world you live in.

So a banking system using credit-based money denominated in bitcoin is not inconceivable, and would grant you the inflation you desire.

So why bother? We already have that, so bitcoin adds nothing. Also, as with payment systems, it's good to see a BTC enthusiast admit we'll still need banks issuing fiat, only now we've decoupled them from any government regulation where it comes to currency. Awesome.

If inflation is 4% then everyone would look for investment opportunities which lose 3% per year; they will come out on top by destroying value. Do you see that you don't make sense?

No, in fact you don't make sense, that sentence doesn't even make sense. What the hell are you even trying to say there? I'll restate in case you missed the point -

If inflation is 4% then you come out behind the game by 4% if you stuff your mattress with cash, so instead you look for saving and investment opportunities to earn greater than 4% so you can at the least break even. This has knock-on positive effects on the economy.

If deflation is 4% then you come out ahead of the game by 4% just by stuffing your mattress. This has no positive knock-on effects for the economy.

To paraphrase your initial comment on this and really hammer it home - if you want 3% return in an inflationary environment you charge inflation + 3%, at the end of the day you come out 3% better off than if you had done nothing. If you want 3% return in a deflationary environment you *could* charge deflation +3%, but if deflation is greater than 3% you'd actually be better off doing nothing.

Do you understand the difference yet?

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David Hicks
Thumb Down

Re: Non-scammable?

No part of the bitcoin system prevents chargebacks being implemented, just as no part of Sterling specifically enables it.

Well, except we're talking about bitcoin-itself-as-payment-method, one of the many things its boosters say it's awesome for, a drop in replacement for paypal and credit cards, which it fails hard at. And before you say "nobody says it's the perfect payment method", please look around the internet and in fact in this very thread.

If you want a 3% return on your lending in an inflationary environment then you charge inflation+3%. If you want the same return in a deflationary environment then you charge deflation+3%.

But why would you bother? If deflation was (for instance) 4%, you're better off sitting on the cash and not taking the risk. This is the fundamental difference.

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: Non-scammable?

Remember this is a currency not a payment processor.

Which is exactly why I said "this does mean it's not a very good online payment system". And you'd be surprised how many people say, when they've had it pointed out to them just how bad a currency it is "but remember this is a payment processing network too!"

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David Hicks

Re: What can I say

Thing is, without chargeback, why would I trust a small seller? I'll stick to the big one.

And stability ain't looking so possible now. Gox has just closed its doors (for 12 hours apparently) and some of the other exchanges are trading in the $70 range! That's a $200 haircut...

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David Hicks
Meh

Re: What can I say

It's a terrible replacement for paypal - once a vendor has your coins there's no way to get them back, if they don't deliver or just drop off the face of the earth, you have no recourse. Paypal and credit cards are very, very good for the consumer.

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David Hicks
Stop

Non-scammable?

That depends entirely on what you do with it. As it has no chargeback capability it's a scammer's dream in a lot of ways. I know, I know, it's like cash and you can't chargeback with cash either. However this does mean it's not a very good online payment system, which is one of the things that it gets pushed forward for.

What's that, chargeback is open to abuse? Sure is, but compared to the abuse you'd get without it, and the lack of trade as people like me *never* shop online again, it's a blessing.

Now, as for currency use, it's pretty worthless as it fluctuates in value so damn much. And it always will because there's no central bank around to try and keep it stable. Were those the 'scammers' you were thinking of when you said "It's the only non-scammable currency."? I rather like them, they keep my currency roughly stable, keep a low, positive level of inflation (a positive for myriad reasons), and expand the money supply to suit the economy. They do make mistakes, sometimes huge ones, but it's better than a rudderless, bubble prone, speculative 'asset' that encourages mass hoarding.

IMHO, of course, you are within your rights to disagree with any and all of that.

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Winklevoss twins claim to have enormo $11m Bitcoin stash

David Hicks
Boffin

Re: Question?

Your actual bitcoin is a record in a public ledger that says addess a2342134c32d23e23441a..... contains this much. The address is really a public key, AFAICT. Your 'wallet' file contains the private keys that unlock all this. This is what can be moved around.

Therefore what they mean is that they have put the bitcoin into public accounts, viewable by all, but put the wallet with its private keys into a safe deposit box.

Unlike some other schemes, there is no such thing as an offline transaction with bitcoin, everything is online and public.

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'Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an always-on console'

David Hicks

Re: 'Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an always-on console'

And flash its DVD slot, don't forget that, it wakes up and glows at you FOR NO REASON. Or at least it used to, I don't let mine sit on standby any more. Bloody thing.

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Review: Intel Next Unit of Computing barebones desktop PC

David Hicks

Re: ODROID-U2

I like the ODROID, but exynos has no SATA, so I'm erring towards something like this - http://boundarydevices.com/products/sabre-lite-imx6-sbc/

But that's $200, which is a bit of a leap.

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Bitcoin briefly soars to record $147 high, driven by Cyprus bank flap

David Hicks
Pint

Don't worry, lots of folks got in when its cheap, and are now cheerleading like crazy.

BUBBLE.

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Card skimmers targeting more than ATMs, says EU

David Hicks
WTF?

For redundancy reasons your friendly banks included the FULL MAGSTRIPE on the chip which can be sent in the clear to the point of sale terminal.

Actually it's only a Track 2 equivalent, not the full track 2 details.

Additionally, the majority of chip and pin cards will accept an offline authentication whereby they verify the PIN between the chip and the point of sale. Again, they send this data back and forth unencrypted

This is factually false, the PIN is encrypted ASAP and never transported around the place as plaintext.

And If you have a chip cloning method I'm sure the class would love to hear about it.

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David Hicks
Thumb Down

Re: What no solutions?

"As this is a civil matter, they simply have to show on balance of probability that it was you."

With a credit card this is incorrect. They have to return the money now, pending investigation, as they are a party to the debt and you have disputed it. They will likely get you to sign something to the effect that you agree it is fraud under penalty of perjury, but that's the law.

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David Hicks
Thumb Down

Re: How to address skimming?

@Mike - "Errr. The magstripe contents and information is easily available and openly published."

And when the bank check the track2 data in the transaction, BOOM, transaction declined because it doesn't match a known card.

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: Playing devils advocate or just being bloody minded?

"Yes, a huge number of cards are stolen. It's a very big business. With a chip in the card, skimming of cards should be pretty pointless. After all, the systems should be expecting a chip and they're very difficult to copy....so what's the point of skimming?"

You have your wires crossed. I meant actually, physically stolen cards.

We were talking about contactless cards and the ability for small-scale fraud, I was noting that in order to do this you need the *actual* card, you can't just skim.

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David Hicks
Meh

Re: Funny Stuff - Tom 35

You might want to read the card agreement that came with the chip and pin cards. At least in Canada there are paragraphs of text that boil down to chip and pin is perfect, it's your fault. All of this text was new for chip and pin cards. In any case where chip and pin is used they assume you gave your card to a "friend" who bought stuff while you setup proof that you were someplace else at the time, then got the card back later.

In the UK it is their responsibility to prove that the transaction was not fraud if you say it was. With credit cards they are a party to the debt and this is their legal resposibility as lenders - return the money now, investigate later. With debit I'm less sure, but the banking code tends to support the same thing.

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David Hicks
Happy

Re: Funny Stuff - RE: AC

"1. Have the ATM machine inside a booth/reception area which you can only gain access to by swiping your card."

Guess where the fraudsters attach their skimming device then?

I'm not even kidding, I saw this one on tv years ago!

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David Hicks

Re: Playing devils advocate or just being bloody minded?

"I don't even want small value fraudulent transactions..........."

Are many cards actually stolen? Contactless still prevents skimming, which I think was the major target of EMV and Contactless.

Nobody *wants* fraudulent transactions. The banks figure that using their cryptographic protections ensures a card must be genuine, and that the constraints "must be a genuine card" and "can only be used for small amounts" fall within the level of acceptable risk for them.

And if you're not passing your card into/through any sort of reader at all then nobody gets to read and copy the mag stripe.

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David Hicks

Re: What no solutions?

"Chip & Pin. No good, if cloned banks won't believe you"

Err, chip cards are very hard to clone, and the bank doesn't have to believe you've been subject to fraud - they have to prove it wasn't you if they want to not refund you (in the case of credit cards this is by the CCA, debit cards are covered by banking codes and other laws).

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: How to address skimming?

"The crooks solved that one too. A bit of nail varnish will ensure the EVM is not sensed, and so the terminal can fall back on mag swipe :("

At which point the liability is with the terminal operator, because there is a code on the stripe that says "I'm a chip card, process me at your peril".

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: Playing devils advocate or just being bloody minded?

"Oh yeah, I wont even go into the fun to be had with contact-less payment, where you don't even need to know the pin, yet the transaction is reported as chip and pin. (on top of that the £15 a day limit is also toss, having used it myself at to at least £40 in a single day)"

Your limit is personal to you and is more about transaction limits than daily limits.

It is absolutely not reported as Chip and Pin though it is processed in much the same way.

The liability is between the bank and the merchant, so it really shouldn't worry you.

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David Hicks
FAIL

Re: Funny Stuff

"The whole point of "Chip and Pin" is to move the ownership of loss and fraud to the account holder, it has nothing to do with security,"

FAIL.

It's to move liability to the merchant. Also yes, it has a lot to do with security, and despite a few attacks being published, has largely succeeded in at least part of its mission to reduce card copying and related fraud.

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Facebook prepares to dominate Android

David Hicks
Stop

No thankyou

I already don't understand people using the FB app. It's a massive resource hog and it does the same stuff as visiting the page, only with more noise.

Even my friends that have a total disregard for their own privacy have stopped "checking in" all over the place due to that guy (you know the one) starting to turn up in places where they've just announced they're enjoying a quiet meal or pint.

I've got no problem with FB as a tool for posting nonsense about what you've been up to, and sending inconsequential messages about the place, but given their blatant (and financially motivated) disregard for privacy I really can't see why I would want anything they wrote being allowed to run on my phone, let alone take it over entirely.

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Stephen Fry explains… Alan Turing's amazing computer

David Hicks
Happy

A metre-wide rock that hangs around for a few months at a time isn't much of a moon! And it's definitely not what Fry et researchers were on about.

But ok, point conceded!

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David Hicks

"We do have multiple moons! Well satelites is a better word, but still. Multiple big rock like objects orbit earth for a while, before either crashing into it or getting flung away into space."

How long is a while, and how long are phobos and deimos likely to be around? Was pretty sure they are captured.

The big rocks mentioned on QI (cruithne, can't remember the other off hand) are not moons, they orbit the sun. There are apparently also some Trojans identified now but I can't find any reference to other moons of earth on the infallible guide to everything (wikipedia), can you enlighten me?

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David Hicks

He (and his researchers) have been wrong about quite a lot over the years. That whole thing on QI about there being multiple moons was nonsense too. There are some big rocks that orbit around the sun with us, and move around in our sky a little, but they're not orbiting earth and that makes them not moons. AFAICT.

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Freetard den isoHunt loses appeal against search ban

David Hicks
FAIL

Re: Another mole is whacked with a rubber mallet...

I dunno whether it was all taken too far, but it used to be that when you *bought* a game, you could play it. Not your computer could ask another computer if it was allowed to play it, and that other computer could be busy, or just go offline or whatever.

The anti-DRM squad have so far called everything correctly - media files that people bought in the early days of a variety of schemes are now screwed, games from multiple publishers can't be played every so often as servers go down, and it's only a matter of time before games are 'retired' and can never be played again because a publisher no longer wants to run the validation servers.

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David Hicks
Pirate

Another mole is whacked with a rubber mallet...

Where will the next one pop up?

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New-age tech marketing secrets REVEALED

David Hicks

Where's "flood communities with paid commenters until everything else is drowned out?"

Or as I think it might be called "Reputation management". A marketing technique which seems to have pretty much destroyed several tech sites, naming no names (*cough* *slashdot* *cough*)

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Review: Sony Xperia Z

David Hicks
Meh

Re: Should be nice and hackable...

This surprises me, after all the playstation related nonsense (and lawsuits!)

I've not had any problems hacking my samsung kit, mind, so I'm not sure what your gripe with exynos is.

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David Hicks
Linux

MHL and Host mode...

Can we have a standard that does both? Then I can have a cradle attached to a screen and a USB hub and fulfil the dream of having a cradle that turns phone into computer.

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Paying a TV tax makes you happy - BBC

David Hicks
Trollface

Sounds like someone doesn't want to pay for their BBC

What's that word you love so much... ? Ah yes, that's it FREETARD.

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Googlification of Britain: Forget 'IT worker', we're all just 'digital' now

David Hicks
Unhappy

Re: @ Camilla Smythe - From CIO to CPO

Looks like someone had more patience to probe into it than I did, and still got nowhere.

Basically I don't think anyone involved in gov.uk has any clue what they're doing, down to the people who wrote the site and just added GA because 'that's what you do on the modern web'. I know there are well qualified information consultants within the public sector, but they don't seem to have been considered in this hip, young, cool, open source, Web 3.0, startup-ethic portal service.

The ICO was going to be my next port of call, but it looks like they're a total waste of time/space too then. Who can we start to hassle about this next?

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David Hicks

Re: Synergisitc paradigm

While "omnishambles" isn't a *bad* neologism, per se, I'll always prefer the more gritty and honest term "clusterfuck".

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David Hicks
FAIL

Re: From CIO to CPO

"noting more than a reskinned Directgov website"

gov.uk?

That's annoyed the hell out of me. They use Google analytics. When I asked what was up with that (why are my interactions with my government going to a big US corp) I was told not to worry because they don't allow Google to use the data. WTF?

Then I was referred to a ticket they'd opened for me at a San Francisco based helpdesk-outsourcing service.

MUPPETS.

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HTTPS cookie crypto CRUMBLES AGAIN in hands of stats boffins

David Hicks
Boffin

Should be using AES-GCM anyway IMHO.

Authenticated encryption done properly.

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Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?

David Hicks

Re: 64 GB should be enough for anyone...

"Until the iPhone 5, standardising on the Apple connector for a household worked really well as an approach."

Oh I'm sure it did. But I still wouldn't base my HiFi choices around a phone, but that's probably because I'm fickle and wouldn't like the implicit assumption I'm going to get something similar next time around.

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David Hicks

Re: 64 GB should be enough for anyone...

" Switching from iOS to Android (or iPhone 5) would mean we've wasted about gbp500 in the last couple of years..."

Yeesh. This is why I buy stuff with standard connectors (USB, mini jack, even phono). Buying your stereo equipment around your phone choice, something which you change every year or so, well that's a guarantee'd way to cause trouble.

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Attention, CIOs: Stop outsourcing or YOU will never retire

David Hicks
Go

Re: Getting into Contracting

Step 1. Register a limited company (cost, 20 quid) and you'll probably want some related domains (another few quid)

Step 2. Open a free business bank account somewhere.

Step 3. Find contracts, apply for contracts, be nice to all the agents you speak to and ask them to keep you on file, make sure to tell them 'no, only interested in contracts'. Be prepared to take a few weeks over this.

Step 3. Interview, land position.

Step 4. Hire an accountant. There are specialist contractor accountancy firms that will do your company accounts for about £90 a month. They will handle all the tax registration stuff for you.

--Edit--

Step 4.5. - buy insurance. Public Liability, Professional Liability, Employer's Liability. Also probably join the PCG which is sort of like a professional group but really more like another form of insurance.

--End Edit--

Step 5. Do work, send invoices, get paid.

I find it stimulating to adapt to new codebases and new working environments every few months. The income I get from my daily rate would be hard to match in a perm job.

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David Hicks
Stop

Re: This isn't just an IT problem

"I'd rather make you redundant because you have not got the skills needed. The next person at my door with the right skills gets to eat your lunch. Your career and earning potential is in your hands, go do it and stop making excuses that your employer isn't offering training."

Except that businesses are now complaining that, after following this path for a few years, nobody has the right skills any more, which is the obvious conclusion of the policy of not training anyone.

Not a popular position, but it's dog eats dog out there and if I can gain better conditions/pay by skilling up and pinching someone elses job, then thats what I'll do.

You absolutely should, but the rub is that you're just a drop in the ocean, and there are lots of positions where companies are scratching around (and failing) to find skilled people to do this. Expecting to be able to pay peanuts also plays into this.

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David Hicks
Stop

"Average starting wage in the UK. 26k (I hate being in a holiday town.. . City prices for countryside wages... stupid 20k wage)"

Yeah it's an insult isn't it? And it doesn't rise that much with experience. In the US it's comparatively easy to hit six figures as a software developer. Australia too. UK? Hell no. I'm seeing jobs come up all the time that want multiple years experience and they're offering less (inflation adjusted) cash than I earned as a graduate in 2000.

UK industry has it so wrong. A combination of outsourcing and low pay is why there's a skills shortage. Low pay is why you can't find that tech guy you need to fill that job, you know, the one you said needed 4 years enterprise Java for 25K. Not to mention the ludicrous focus on domain experience, any decent programmer or IT guy can pick up new domain knowledge in a few hours.

"Need someone with 10 years of Linux-on-ARM device driver development, will pay up to 30K for the right candidate, no timewasters"

Yeah, good luck with that!

(As a contractor I must admit I find the whole skills shortage idea really quite exciting...)

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