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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3174 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Bitcoin bank Flexcoin pulls plug after cyber-robbers nick $610,000

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: And yet...

Mark.

As the saying goes, 'the markets can stay irrational, longer than you can stay solvent'.

It's probably a bubble, because the current price of Bitcoin isn't sustainable. It's artificially boosted by 'investors'. When it stops being volatile, they'll have no incentive to stay. But because the Bitcoin market is so small, they have a disproportionate effect on the price.

So if you're in it as a cheeky high-risk investment, then good luck to you. I've no sympathy if you lose your shirt, and you've got to time it so that you aren't the last one holding the parcel if Bitcoin does collapse. Which it could well do.

But if you're some kind of utopian libertarian wanting to build an international medium of exchange not subject to government whims, then watch out. As the hot money may all bugger off at once - taking a lot of your cash with them.

Yet given that each low is far higher than the height of the previous bubble

That's not true either. Hasn't it been down at $20 within the last 12 months? Or was that a few months before? One of the problems with Bitcoin is we don't have any figures as to what the economy is. Another thing governments are useful for. So we don't know how much real trade happens in BItcoin, how much it gets used for drugs, and how much it's just being hoarded. Without that it's only guesswork that it's a bubble. But good guesswork when you consider that there are several people who've publicly said they're investing tens of millions of dollars into it, and yet daily turnover rarely gets even close to the million mark.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: And yet... @Tim

Bitcoin trading volumes are pretty low. So it's relatively easy to manipulate the price. Particularly if you make your transactions on days when trading volume is particularly low, as it's also quite volatile.

I also wonder about the stats. Is somone checking to make sure the exchanges aren't price-fixing, or mis-reporting?

Also when trading volumes are listed, is that for several thousand Bitcoins per day i.e millions of dollars? Or is it transactions per day? As last time I looked at Bitstamp's prices, it listed the last 10 transactions, and the biggest was for 0.3 BTC. Also those 10 transactions moved the price from something like $618 to $622, in a few minutes. So that's a nearly 1% change in price - on transactions totalling less than $1,000.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: I'm telling ya..

But which state?

The state of denial. Which is the state most Bitcoin fans seem to be permanently in...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

My turn

Right. That's it. This is getting ridiculous! But don't worry! Help is at hand. I'm launching into the Bitcoin business myself. I admit, all my past scepticism was wrong.

Today I'm launching SpartaCoin. I can give a 100%, cast-iron guarantee that no scammers will get their filthy hands on our coins. It'll all be laid out in the Ts&Cs, fair-and-square.

I promise to steal all the cash and Bitcoins entrusted to our site myself. That way there can be no doubts, no worries, and no sick feeling of dread, as you see the website failing to load.

What are you waiting for? Get online NOW, and open your account on SpartaCoin!

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Hundreds of folks ready to sue Bitcoin exchange MtGox

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Devil

Re: ... Blood from a stone?

Captain Scarlet,

Yeah. The days of mining to get cheap Bitcoins are over. The way to do it now, is just to start up your own exchange...

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I ain't Spartacus
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I presume the lawyers must be charging a fee to 'register' with them for the case. I guess they feel that it shouldn't just be Bitcoin that can take the unwary punters' money, that's traditionally lawyers' work!

It's not like there's any realistic chance of getting anything back.

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Chillax, cranky commentards: Anger can KILL YOU

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: If this is true...

Actually I agree. The Daily Mail is a brilliantly put together product. It's designed to get its readerships' blood boiling ever so often. Along with news, celeb stories, human interest type stuff etc. I believe they've been the paper that's lost the least circulation consistently for the last decade. So they're doing something right.

Personally I hate reading it. Sadly a whole bunch of the editorial staff seem to have gone off to the Telegraph, and taken that in a similar direction.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

If this is true...

How come the entire readership and staff of The Daily Mail haven't dropped dead yet?

I guess we can answer for the staff. You can't have a heart attack, if you don't have a heart...

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Dark matter killed the dinosaurs, boffins suggest

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What do you mean emus are mythical! I've seen that fly-on-the-wall documentary in The Pink Windmill. Emus are real I tell you! Yes real!!!!

...Sorry, got to go... There's somebody at the door.

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Crack Euro banker team to probe whether virtual currencies should be regulated

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Re: Let's ask bankers

Nick Ryan,

There's no tangible asset behind any government debt. QE is just governent debt, which hasn't been sold to anyone yet. You unwind it, by selling that debt into the market.

QE was also used to buy corporate debt, but I think that was mostly in the US, and in short term bonds, so will get paid back quite quickly, as the Fed stops QE. That was basically identical to a central bank being a lender of last resort, but to other companies as well as banks. So it's reversible money printing, by design. In time, some of the government debt will probably get cancelled, but I'd imagine some will get sold to reduce market liquidity.

You need to remember that money isn't backed by assets either.

Bitcoins have no more "deflation", or perhaps more accurately "de-valuation" than any other currency

I'm not sure what you mean here. Bitcoin is deflationary, because there are a fixed number of coins. Thus as time goes by Bitcoins will buy more goods. That's the opposite to de-valuation, so it has less 'devaluation' than any other currency, not more, by design. This makes banking impossible. Because it costs more to repay a loan than the original loan was worth - as the value of each Bitcoin increases over time. Interest on loans is designed to protect the bank from inflation, plus to give them a profit. Without loans, you can't have investment. So you can't have a successful Bitcoin only economy.

In order to maintain the financial illusion that an economy is growing new money must be continually created

This is the wrong way round, mostly (I'm not a monetarist). Most money isn't notes and coins - which get printed. The money supply goes up when the economy is growing. Because the economy is growing. Money doesn't pool with the rich, because money keeps on circulating. Sure, some people hold on to physical notes and coins, but only a limited amount. Most people shove it in the bank, or invest on the stock market. The banks lend that money out, and the people who borrow it, spend it, and the people they spend it with bung it in the bank (or pay other people who do), and the banks then lend to different people. And the more people who are willing to borrow, the higher the money supply - but the banks aren't printing money, the money's just moving round. Because each time they lend, they have to have the money to lend with, which means someone's lent it to them.

Economics is weird. Money isn't what most people think it is. The job of banks is to recycle it into the economy. We're not on the gold standard anymore, so money doesn't just build up in rich peoples' safes.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Of course BT should be regulated...

Anonymous Coward,

That's all great. But totally beside the point. It would be great if government did less, taxes were lower and the economy worked better. Though only an idiot would pretend that there wouldn't be losers as well as winners in that scenario.

But we live in a democracy. And that's not what the voters currently want. So in the meanwhile, you don't get to opt out of taxes, just becasue you don't like what the government does with them. Tough shit. If you can't persuade people to vote to change the system your way, then deal with it, or vote with your feet and leave.

Oddly the rest of Northern Europe are pretty much all more socialist than us, and yet have better healthcare because it's semi-privatised. Though heavily government regulated and controlled. But if government gets out of healthcare totally, then there'll be no healthcare for anyone who's poor. Which would be immoral as well as having massively bad effects on the economy. Unless you want people starving on the streets, government can't get totally out of welfare either.

You need to address the real world as it is. Not some libertarian's dream. A mixed economy is what works best. It's just a question of arguing about how much government should do, what it shuld regulate, and where it should leave well alone.

However the private sector hasn't been covering itself in glory recenlty either. There's a notable lack of accountability and consequences there too. Which makes it pretty hard for an economic conservative like me to argue for moving to something more like the Belgian/Dutch model for the NHS - which means a mix of public and private hospitals, along with a mix of public and private health insurance.

By the way, do some research. Government spending isn't 80% of GDP anywhere (except maybe North Korea). It hit more than 50% of GDP in the UK after the crash, and part of that was due to borrowing/QE of £170-odd billion. But for the last 30 years it's been hovering around the lower end of 40-45% of GDP.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Let's ask bankers

Since governments don't "have" any money, they can keep their promise by doing one of 2 things - raise money through taxes, or print some more.

You missed one. Borrowing. Which is what most of them have been doing. Printing is unusual. Also QE isn't quite printing. At least not yet. I'm sure the Central banks will quietly delete the government debt they've paid for with printed QE cash, in a few years time. But they'll probably unwind some of the QE first, for form's sake if nothing else. Also it will be another way of mopping up excess liquidity in the markets without raising interest rates.

Anyway, except the crisis, no major world economy has been printing. Apart from a few half-hearted bursts of mini-QE from the Japanese Central Bank during their 20 years of stagnation/deflation. If governments had been printing for such a long time, rather than borrowing, we'd have had hyper-inflation. The reason I used the phrase 'real money' - is that I don't think Bitcoin qualifies, or should be taken seriously yet.

As for the Bitcoin fans who keep banging on about inflation, Bitcoin has built-in deflation, which is worse. That certainly means it can never be a fully-fledged currency, as it makes proper banking pretty much impossible.

The other big problem I see for Bitcoin is that it's international by design. Which is great for making international payments. But then what law regulates Bitcoin? And who regulates its institutions - i.e. the exchanges and design. What happens if some miners get onto the Bitcoin foundation board, and vote through changes that allow them to mint more Bitcoins? Who's to stop them?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Of course BT should be regulated...

Well there's two answers to that.

1. Taxes are necessary. If you want government healthcare, education, pensions, unemployment and sickness benefits etc., you gotta have taxes.

2. Bitcoin needs some regulation if it's going to be any use. You can't have a free market without some regulation. Without enforcable contracts, you can't do business. And without some institutions that you can trust, Bitcoin will remain a ridiculous vehicle for speculation and criminality. I'm well aware that some people use it legitimate purposes too. But anyone who uses it on anything other than a tiny scale at present is a fool. Unless they've got loads of spare cash, that they can afford to loose, and want to have something massively speculative in their investment portfolio. With the possibility of 100% gains in one month, comes the equal possibility of 100% losses.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Let's ask bankers

And how exactly do you buy your Bitcoins? Via banks perhaps? i.e. with real money.

Admittedly I do seem to recall there was a Finnish programmer who was getting paid in Bitcoins a few months back. I wonder if he still is? He'll have made a nice litle profit on his December salary. Shame about the 20% salary cut in one day in February though... And that's not the worst massive drop in the market that's happened in even the last 6 months.

The Bitcoin exchanges aren't banks. So they shouldn't be regulated like them. But they should probably be regulated like brokers. So if they're holding money (or Bitcoins) on behalf of their clients, they should be protected in a special account - that's separated from the trading funds, and the rest of the company. So they don't disappear if the company goes titsup.

Governments may be annoying, and tax people. But taxes pay for nice things, like healthcare too. And money laundering rules may also be annoying, but then money launderers are sometimes murdering bastards. And while it would be better if drugs were legal, they currently aren't. While that holds true, the people who trade in them tend to kill people.

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Font Change?

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Font Change?

diodesign,

Thanks for replacing the toner, and making the text darker again.

It looks like links in posts are fixed again too. As they were an even lighter grey.

But the El Reg links for navigating round the site still seem to be in a very pale grey on a white background. They seem to be a mid-grey before you click on them, and then once the cookie is set that they've been clicked on, it's back to almost illegible pale grey again.

Have the people who fled Microsoft after the Metro disaster all wound up doing your web design? Colour and contrast = good. Even if doesn't achieve some designer's definition of elegant, clarity is its own kind of elegance...

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Cyber battle apparently under way in Russia-Ukraine conflict

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Aha I see .... their security systems were only prepared for the more friendly kind of aggressor who does not brazenly violate the law but asks politely whether he can invade your country, and certainly wouldn't tamper with your phone systems unless he had your explicit permission.

Dr Who,

I suspect Ukraine's cyber defence systems aren't very well funded. Their government finances would probably be pretty sad, even if their last few governments hadn't been horribly corrupt.

But I suspect the thing they weren't prepared for was their internal systems to be captured on day one of conflct. Normally planners expect a build-up to hostilities. Total surprise invasions are pretty rare, as there's normally a build-up to conlict, where both sides do a bit of negotiating. Or at least a build-up of tension. Which gives the defences times to get prepared, and the diplomats time to strut their funky stuff - and try to avoid trouble.

But in this case there was a bit of Russian unhappiness, followed by Russian mobilisation (or "military exercises"), and invasion on the same day. And Ukraine was at the second disadvantage of being in the middle of forming a government at the time as well.

It's easier to defend against an external attacker than it is to deal with one in physical control of some of your own networks. And that would be true even if Ukraine was a match for Russia's capabilities, which I severely doubt it is.

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Security researchers uncover three-year-old 'RUSSIAN SPYware'

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Re: Don't be daft!@ All names Taken

After he won the competition for Ukraine to join his customs union...[snip]...he saw his victory stolen.

If that really is a valid version of the Russian government's opinion then they need to grow the fuck up.

Firstly it's not a game. Secondly democracy isn't about elections. It's about legitimacy. It's about creating enough trust in the system that the losing side is willing to accept the result of their loss, and to accept the winning side as legitimate. The Ukranian government failed in this, due to being monumentally corrupt and incompetent. They also didn't help by using machineguns and snipers on (mostly) peaceful protesters.

Putin may not understand this, as it's what he probably would have done. But earlier in his rule (in his first terms as President), he was a lot more subtle about weilding power than he now is. He played more at being the democrat, and found it easier to rig the system. Probably because he was genuinely incredibly popular back then. Which I suspect he isn't any more.

The lot who are in power in Ukraine now would possibly have made the same mistakes, leading to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea splitting off anyway. But we may never know now, as Russia invaded first.

A lot of Putin's victories are pyrrhic though. Maybe he's happy if he destroys Ukraine, but when they have to default on the $30-odd bilion they owe Russia, he may be less happy. It'll probobably also take out a couple of big Russian banks - plus even more Russian money will flee to Cyprus, London, NY etc. Russia needs the West. Sure we may need their gas, but their economy collapses if they don't sell it. Equally their own population don't trust their economy, and won't leave their savings in it, and foreign investors are becoming increasingly less willing to get involved, as they keep seeing their money stolen. The Russian Central Bank has been going through about $7 billion of reserves a week, trying to keep the ruble from collapsing and causing massive inflation. That's probably going to get worse now. Remember Putin was popular for 2 reasons. Firstly that he stood for stability and growth in the once chaotic economy. And secondly for being a tough-guy nationalist. I rather suspect the second will look less peachy if it fucks up the first. As Clinton said, "It's the economy stoopid."

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Re: Don't be daft!

Russia has an extremely competent and well funded spying agency. It also has some excellent computer skills, as well as quite a lot of effective cyber-criminals. Why would anyone be surprised if Russia was spying online, along with every other nation that's capable of it?

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MtGox: Yup, we're pretty sure your Bitcoin were stolen. Sorry about that.

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Re: No sympathy.......

Loyal Commenter,

Except if you buy your coins from a Bitcoin exchange, you'll be paying a lot more than 0.00000?%. Added to the risk that they lose,or steal, your money.

On the other hand, if I want to make a transaction with someone in euros, I could equally buy some Euros off someone. Which is an equally safe transaction as doing so with some random person in the UK, not via an exchange. As someone has to hand the cash or Bitcoins over first, there's no mechanism for simultaneous transactions.

On the other, other hand I can get a credit card. I believe that Halifax and/or Nationwide do one. Which has zero loading of exchange rates, and no commission on them either. So you get the straight inter-bank rate, at the time the transaction goes through. They of course take their 2% merchant fees or whatever. But then most merchants don't account for that individually, they set their prices for all transactions the same.

Then there's the other cost you ignore, which is the merchants' cost of turning Bitcoins back into real money. As most of their suppliers probably won't take Bitcoin yet.

Then you ignore fluctuations. Foreign currency tends to move by 1% on a really bad day. The pound might lose/gain a penny on the Euro every couple of months. Most days it moves in fractions.

Bitcoin can move by 10% in minutes. 20% in a day is not at all uncommon. So depending on when you buy your coins, your transaction costs could be truly enormous. Which means the merchant is going to have to charge a premium for Bitcoin.

Also your credit card costs you some money, but gets you insurance on all transactions over £100. And the change of chargebacks at lower amounts, if you get ripped off. Bitcoin doesn't.

I looked at one of the big Bitcoin exchanges a couple of weeks ago. They'd posted the last 10 transactions. Not a single one of those was for a while Bitcoin, it was 0.1BTC, 0.2 BTC etc. Over about a 10 minute period. The price had fluctuated between about $618 and $622. So the whole global bitcoin market was moved by nearly 1% in value in 10 minutes, on transactions of a total value of less than $1,000! That is an astonishingly unsafe market for retail investors to get involved in. Most people don't have the knowledge, or appetite for risk, to ever be involved in that kind of trade. Nor should anyone in good conscience advise them to do so.

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So what this statement is telling us, is that Mt.Gox were incomptent with their custom Bitcoin wallet software and processes, their cash-handling software/processes and their accounting software and processes.

Perfect!

Or in other words, they've just admittwe that they're at least criminally negligent. And that's if we can get over our natural suspicion that they may have just stolen it. Which is always what comes to mind first to this ex EVE player.

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Ever get the impression a telesales op was being held prisoner?

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Re: Not a bad idea actually

Strangely enough, a lot of people in prison aren't looking at a thrilling and fulfilling career ahead of them. As a group, they tend to be worse educated than average - and are obviously going to be struggling to make up a nice CV and references. Given they're currently in prison. So the options aren't great.

But the alternative is a life of crime. Which probaobly pays even worse, has even less in the way of prospects, and tends to land you with time in prison. Some people are willing to work far worse jobs than call centres in order to try and get back to a normal life. It is in their interests, and society's, that we should try and help them to do so.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Not a bad idea actually

Solo,

If they yelled at the customer what'd the manager (jailer) do? Increase the term?

Sack them. Working on something in the prison that you get paid for, is something some prisioners want to do They can use the cash to buy stuff. Also it looks good when the parole hearing comes up, if you've been working at a skill that might lead to a job when you're out. The opposite is also true, if you've been chucked off a rehabilitation program, parole may not be as soon as allowed.

Prison rehab programs are mostly under-funded and over-subscribed. Prisoners are trying to get on them, and don't want to get chucked off. Some for the cynical reason that they want to impress a parole board, some because they want the cash, some because they're bored and some because they genuinely want to get rehabilitated. And probably some for all of the above...

Many prisoners do try to get back on track. Re-offending rates aren't just made up of career criminals who can't change. Some people get let out with no skills, nowhere to live, broken family ties and just fall back into crime. It's worth making serious effort to help people turn their lives around, because many will. And that saves a lot of grief for both them, and society overall.

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Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

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Re: When you threaten Meetup, it's blackmail...

I suggest you learn the actual meaning of the word blackmail.

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Apple investors fall for CEO Cook's product-presentation prank

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Re: to all these multi-multi-paragraph writers

You too can be a multi-paragraph poster. All you need to do, is learn to touch-type. 50-100 wpm should get you a few paragraphs in reasonably quickly.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Interesting that Tim Cook directly mentioned blind people. That must be a personal hobby-horse of his. iOS was already more friendly than Android when he took over, or at least so the RNIB thought - as they recommended the iPhone.

But I happen to know that he's been personally involved in a company initiative to get testers who are blind. Oddly at least some of it's being done in Blighty rather than the US.

I don't know how much Android has improved accessibility since the days of 2.3 (the last time I seriously played with it). But Apple do deserve credit for this, as they had workable accessibility stuff on the first iPad - I can't remember if I tested this before that was updated to iOS 4, but if not - then they've had it since at least the iPhone 3. And so had done a lot more, at an early stage, than Google.

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French silver foxes use Fujitsu's Grandroid mobes... to send each other selfies

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Re: OS Version?

Followed by Grandroid Banana Fritter

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Insecure hipsters with BEARD ENVY spur facial hair transplant craze

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So what happens when beards go out of fashion and you've spent thousands of pounds on sticking hairs to your face, as well as permanent scars from the process?

Easy answer. You've now got a convenient source of hair folicles ready to move back topside, to counter the ravages of impending baldness.

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WTF?

Re: I think that.....

I unilaterally declare this guy the 'winner': link

For a given value of 'win'...

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Official FACT: Gadgets are giving YOU a wrinkly 'Tech Neck'

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Coat

I happen to enjoy having a permanent slouch.

theodore,

I knew you'd say that. I had a hunch about it...

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Booze and bacon sarnies: A recipe for immortality?

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Happy

Re: George Foreman - hero!

I've got the original George Formby grill...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Test subject

Mmmm beef dripping. That was so yummy when I was a lad. Maybe because I didn't get it at home, only at a couple of friends' houses (whose Mums were more old-fashioned than mine). I've not tried it in years though, as I suspect it would be horrible now.

Almost all nostalgic food trials I've done in the last few years have been horrible. Crisp sandwhiches (prawn cocktail Walkers) didn't work, Dandelion & Burdock is horrific and makes your teeth furry, Spangles and Chewits are icky and cream soda tastes over-sweet and bitter simultaneously.

Admittedly eggy-bread (french toast) is still the food of the Gods on a Sunday evening. You can feel it doing your arteries good.

I also don't think I've ever had bacon sandwiches with anything other than tea, water or fruit juice. Perhaps that needs to be tested. What's the appropriate drink? Beer, a chilled white wine, a robust red?

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Google Glass: Reg man tests tech specs

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Happy

Re: I'm not letting Motorola scan MY ring!

I doubt you will want to considering their price, although I have supplied said devices no-one uses them as they prefer guns.

What a dilemma for the Rapper about town, who wishes to do a drive-by barcode scanning. Does he for the bling ring, or the big gun?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Speech recognition

Why do you have to say "Go Glass" in order to get a menu up, that you move through by stroking a touch pad on the side of the device anyway? Why not just tap the touchpad to get the menu?

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Innocence of muslims.

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Stop whining. If they don't want to have comments on a topic, it's their bloody website. And given they have to moderate it, I don't blame them.

Shame. I was still under the impression that religious debate was not an offence.

It's often offensive though. And of notably low quality on here - as the smug self-satisfied more-scientific-than-thou brigade so often decide to grace us with their wisdom.

Those are the threads that I like to skip, as a user. Back in the days when I was forum Mod on a big internationall site - they were the ones I read with my finger on the banhammer.

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MtGox accepted new customers JUST DAYS before collapse

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Just losing his visa probably isn't that much of a problem. Especially if he isn't one of the losers from the collapse of Mt.Gox.

The point is that for Bitcoins to work in the long term, there needs to be some sort of assurance that you can't just easily steal stuff and get away with it consequence free. Maybe they can come up with some web-of-trust way of doing this all digitally and online-y, without involving government. But I suspect regulation is the only way this is going to work.

Of course, regulation may kill Bitcoin anyway. Given that you have to pay exchanges to convert into it, and then out to real currency for whoever you're buying from, I don't really get the point of Bitcoin. Any legal transaction can be done just as easily and cheaply with PayPal or the right (no foreign currency loading) credit card. But then maybe people are trying to avoid government and operate illegally. I suspect that the libertarian / anarchist / tinfoil hat supporters of Bitcoin are just going to have to realise that they aren't a good fit with the more criminally minded ones.

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Happy

In the good old days of castles, wasn't one of the favourite tricks of your common-or-garden ninja to pop up through the toilet in order to get to the target?

I suppose that's not really possible with modern plumbing. You'd need to very small ninjas to get through the pipes, perhaps you'd call them a thingja?

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Trollface

You don't mind if I steal your idea do you, and launch BooHooCoin?

Or would Waaaaaa!Coin be better?

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Re: Hmm

Why assume the corruption of government and big corporations, when the corruption of individuals is equally likely?

It looks pretty easy to set up in Bitcoin-land, and pretty easy to steal. It's the digital Wild West after all. And many of the users like it that way. But I suspect that's because they haven't thought too hard about the implications of getting out from under the yoke of government.

No government = no law = no police = no courts = no binding contracts = theft and fraud as well as the sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll some ar after.

We may find out soon how much law applies. Given Mt.Gox was seemingly playing with serious cash. If they've really managed to lose 6% of all Bitcoins in existence, then Bitcoin has serious problems - and is unworkable in its current form. However much its proponents may whine about narsty ebil gubbermint and fiat money / fractional reserve banking - neither of which any of them seem to comprehend the meaning of...

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I don't want to accuse anyone of fraud. Particularly on someone else's website. But that caught by surprise thing is hard to believe.

To be fair, it's a difficult dilemma, when a business is in serious trouble. If you own up to how precarious things are, your customers and suppliers may all bugger off, putting the final nail in the coffin. But you can't just keep building up the credit, hope for the best, and screw everybody else who loses. Though many people do.

In this case, there are rumours that they were trading insolvently for ages. It would be interesting to know how much of that supposed internal document was real - given that they've confirmed some of it was.

I think I'm going to continue my comparison between EVE Online and Bitcoin. Most of the big disasters from various 'banks' in EVE weren't out-and-out fraud. Some people managed to be good for long enough to build a reputation, and then steal the lot - but that's hard to pull off. Some went down due to bad investments - because there was no way they could enforce loan re-payments, any more than their customers. Also a lot expanded, and the new people who came in to 'help', were only after what they could steal.

Seemingly in most cases, when the bank went down - they didn't honestly stop, or try to carry on trading and recover. They converted into Ponzi/pyramid schemes, traded on and hoped for the best - or they just said "sod it", closed down and kept whatever money was left.

Which is why no-one uses banks in EVE any more. Even the honest ones all ended up in thefts. It'll be interesting to see what legal comeback there is over Mt.Gox. I don't know Japanese business law, but the organisation was holding millions in cash, let alone the Bitcoin funny-money. And yet they had an ongoing fraud, and seemingly on checks, or proper auditing.

What the Bitcoin pushers forget, is that you can't have a free market without regulation. However many insults they throw at governments, without contract law markets just aren't sustainable. Once you have something valuable, you're guaranteed thieves and chancers.

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Energy firms' security so POOR, insurers REFUSE to take their cash

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Trollface

It's funny, but I had no problems getting my Bitcoin exchange insured by Lloyds...

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NASA could have averted near DROWNING TERROR in SPACE

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Re: Could Not Have Prevented

I mostly agree with you. If they'd taken out the drink bag and squeezed it, they might have seen there were no leaks in it, and kept checking. Although that doesn't necessarily account for all the valves and tubing going to the drnking nozzle. And they probably don't have the tools onboard for a much better analysis than that.

But it is dangerous to assume that because you have a known problem, all problems of a similar type must be that known problem. And this is another reminder of that. Now we have two known problems that cause water leaks in the helmet.

I hiope no-one takes any blame, but everyone learns something.

They just need to act more like the idealised version of air safety than medical safety. Far better to place as little blame as possible, learn lessons, tell everyone and retrain. Rather than have a blame culture with financial penalties that leads to even more cover-up than organisations are normally prone to.

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Re: Hoover in space?

Well, in his blog, Parmitano did say that he nearly used the space vacuum cleaner. He decided that if the water got to his mouth, he would open the emergency release valve on his helmet, and hope that some of the water would escape and the rest freeze, thus temporarily closing the valve for him (in case he couldn't).

But he said he decided this was a definitely last-ditch thing to do, and never quite got to it. Even though he had to find the airlock blinded by the water, and with no working radio to call for help.

In space, no-one can hear you scream. Or even go "glub, glub, glub. glub, erk."

I know they pick people who don't panic easily to be astronauts. But it's one thing staying calm, when you're doing what you've trained for. It's another staying calm when your nose and eyes have filled with water, you're just waiting for it to get to your mouth, you can't see or hear, and your alternatives are drowning or asphyxiating in a vacuum.

Do NASA do an award for The Big Brass Balls of Calmness?

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Pine trees' scent 'could prevent climate change really being a problem'

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Happy

Yes, but remember not to use pine-scented bleach...

Talking of which, I found some Christmas mulled wine spiced bleach in Sainsbury's this Christmas. I really do wonder what marketing people are on sometimes.

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First 'production-ready' EUV scanner laser-fries its guts at TSMC. Intel seeks alternative tech

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The problem occurred when some idiot offered the shark dolphin and chips, during a production run. Being always hungry, the shark nodded, thus ruining its aim, and frying the machine.

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MtGox has VANISHED. So where have all the Bitcoins gone?

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Re: Were people really stupid enough to use MtGox as a bitcoin wallet

A banking account with a positive amount is just a very risky loan given to the bank...

Destroy all Monsters,

Not quite. A bank account balance (liability) is backed up by a corresponding bank loan (asset) on the banks' books. Plus a UK bank has at least 7% of it's total liabilities in its own assets - and the ability to borrow against this with the Central Bank.

If that all fails, then there's the bank guarantee.

You mention Cyprus. But no-one in Cyprus lost any amount of cash less than the €100k (or was it €80k) deposit guarantee. They did discuss doing it, but didn't.

Even there, you can lower that tiny risk, by sticking your money in a bank in a country whose government is able to bail out its own banks without help. The problem for Cyprus was it had too many bank desposits for the size of its economy, and required a bail-out from the EU/IMF/ECB. Who were fucking about, and trying to make up an economic policy that would get Angela Merkel re-elected, rather than one that actually worked.

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Re: Pronunciation question

So is MtGox SUPPOSED to be pronounced like "Empty Box"

Only if you're a rubbish ventriloquist...

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Re: Were people really stupid enough to use MtGox as a bitcoin wallet

TheOtherHobbes,

The banks have to agree their liquidity reserves with the Bank of England (Prudential Regulation Authority). Which is apparently 30 days of their net funding requirements under stress conditions, so I'd assume that's going to be whatever the BofE decided when it set up its stress tests, applied to the banks' figures.

Mark Carney is going to reduce this to 80% of that 30 days needs, in order to allow them to make more loans. As there's been a battle for the last 5 years between governments telling banks to lend more to boost the economy, and regulators telling banks to build up more reserves.

As they still have to have over 7% capital reserves, they can use the repo market to get cash, if required, or give the BofE sufficient assets to get cash from them.

Mt.Gox has apparently lost far more than 6% of its Bitcoins.

However the bit that you and Destroy all Monsters have missed is that Mt.Gox is an exchange not a bank.

When a bank is short of liquidity it's usually because they've lent too much money out - and therefore don't have the cash on hand to meet requirements. Normally this is no problem, because they've got loads of assets (the loans they're slowly getting repaid), it's just that they can't meet their immediate cash requirements. So they put up an asset (loan) as collaterol, and borrow the cash. When the global repo market froze up during the financial crisis, Central Banks took on this role - as they're designed to do in emergencies.

An exchange has to hold cash for all its accounts, because it doesn't make loans. So if it's giving out loans, or trading with its clients' cash, it's commiting fraud. One, because it's trading without a banking license, and two, because it doesn't have its customers permission to use their money in such a way. Particularly as it's not paying them interest, so they'd be taking risk with no reward.

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Re: And yet we're still to believe...

Like I say I fear that this is just the tip of the iceberg and the good ship SS-Bittanic is heading for a massive crash.

I think you've got that a bit wrong. But with just a bit of re-ordering, we should be able to correct it.

The SS-Bittanic has in fact hit the iceberg (and not just the tip of it). Now it's just a question of how long the pumps can keep up with the incoming deluge. And who gets to the lifeboats first - and therefore who there isn't room for, and gets to go down with the ship.

Would you trust a bank with your cash, without a government deposit guarantee? I suspect that many people would have said yes 10 years ago. Not many would now. Now add in the far smaller resources that BitCoin exchanges have - which means they're not really equipped to fight off the hackers, let alone their own staff.

I guess this is what happens when amateur hour hits the big time - and there's real money involved.

I saw a comment from someone recently who said better to get ripped off in EVE Online, at least that's got spaceships.

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MtGox MELTDOWN: Quits Bitcoin Foundation board, deletes Twitter

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Oh dear. Looks like Mt.Gox is no more. The site has disappeared and the cat appears to be out of the bag on their long-term hack / losses. Or possibly internal scam, but that might just be the ex EVE player in me talking...

I think I disagree with you on Facebook though. They make substantial profits and have the sign ups of the parents of all the teenagers that may be thiking of leaving it. The parents could well stick around. So they might well end up with 20 years of life.

Of course, the valuation might go down. $100 billion for a company that's making single-digit billion profits is somewhat over the top. I can't see it growing all that much. But the only thing likely to kill it is Zuckerberg going nuts, and bankrupting it buying other companies. He's un-sackable, as with only 20% of the shares, he's got over 50% of the voting stock. I suppose that's entirely possible. He doesn't look like good CEO material to me.

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Pony up: Botnet succesfully targets Bitcoin

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Happy

That's a lotta coins!

I didn't realise there were quite that many thingycoin things going now. What exactly would motivate someone to expend scarce computing resources and electricity, in order to mine junkcoin? 'Tis very strange. Also odd to assign monetary value to them, as I bet you can never actually find a buyer.

On the other hand maybe some, or all, of them will work. It's a free market out there - so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Therefore I propose that El Reg get off their arses, and get busy coming up with all their users really want. No, not spaceplanes or better forum software. We want none of such flim-flammery. Give us VultureCoin!

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