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* Posts by Loyal Commenter

1621 posts • joined 20 Jul 2010

Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?

Loyal Commenter
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Boffin

Re: What? Dates and times still a problem?

In short, GMT is a time-zone, and UTC is a timekeeping system:

http://www.diffen.com/difference/GMT_vs_UTC

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Mt Gox's 'transaction malleability' claim rubbished by researchers

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Re: Comprehension fail.

To add to that, as far as I am aware, pretty much 100% of fraudulent credit card transactions are 'successful' in terms of the crooks getting the money and getting way with it. When they get caught, it is rare enough to make the news. In terms of 'losing' your money, the credit card companies essentially insure you against such losses. They do this by charging ~4% fees on something that happens 0.1% of the time (paid by the merchant). Taking their other costs into account, this is why they have big shiny office buildings and their executives have big houses.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Comprehension fail.

The only reason the success rate was 20% is because MtGox were using a version of the Bitcoin wallet which they had branched from the 'official' reference version, in which this particular bug was fixed in 2011. Had they not been using shoddy software, the success rate would have been exactly 0%.

This vulnerability was known - it was their sloppy processes that allowed it to persist for years, and this reflects badly on them, not on Bitcoin.

Imagine if a vulnerability were found in VISA, and they announced that all POS terminals should be updated to avoid fraudulent transactions. If a POS manufacturer were found, three years down the line, to not have fixed this bug, and still allow fraudulent transactions to clear, who would be liable - the POS manufacturer, or VISA?

In answer to your question about whether Bitcoin transactions can be reversed; the simple answer is no. Unlike credit card fraud, however, it is not possible for someone to copy your wallet, or operate an equivalent of a 'cardholder not present' scam. Your 'wallet' is, in fact, a cryptographic key which allows access to your balance on the block chain. If you were to allow that key to be stolen, either by having your computer hacked, or by other means, your wallet would be compromised, in the same way that if you had your actual wallet stolen, you would have no way of regaining its contents. Mitigations against this sort of thing consist of keeping funds in an 'offline' wallet, or a 'paper wallet' (essentially a print-out of the key as a 2D barcode) in a safe, and encrypting your wallet so that you need a password to access the key. These measures are all in your hands.

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Loyal Commenter
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I tihnk maybe it's because it's a figure of '20% of fraudulent transactions succeeeded', not '20% of transactions are fraudulent'. You'll probably find that with conventional payment processing, a significant proportion of transactions are fraudulent (0.1% of credit card transactions according to wikipedia), and of those 0.1%, they probably have a much higher than 20% chance of getting away with it.

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Loyal Commenter
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I have been wondering the same thing.

Since the block chain is essentially a public ledger, if the addresses used by MtGox are known, then it should be possible to trace the bitcoins and see where they went. If indeed there were a vulnerability which lead to transactions essentially being doubled, this should be visible in this audit. If, however, it can be seen that the deposits to MtGox addresses, minus the withdrawals do not add up to the numbers they say they have, or if a large number of Bitcoins have been transferred to a single, or small number of addresses, it might indicate that someone there was siphonng off BTC into their own wallets.

If this is the case, is it then possible to trace where those wallets are held via the IP addresses, or some other means?

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Running OpenSSL? Patch now to fix CRITICAL bug

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Re: And this is why you cannot trust open source

How does one pressure the FOSS community to conduct regular, professional security audits?

Are you seriously suggesting that becuase something is open source, no code audits are performed, but when something is closed source, they are? I would suggest that the opposite is in fact true, and that assurances from a software house that thye have conducted such audits is not in fact verifiable, UNLESS you have access to the source code.

The fact that world renowned security experts such as Bruce Schneier disagree with you and state that "security by obscurity is no security at all," leads me to trust their opinion, rather than that of some anonymous internet commenter.

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Too late, Blighty! Samsung boffins claim breakthrough graphene manufacturing success

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Assuming this isn't a poor attempt at trolling, please explain what idea they have stolen, other than the idea of carrying out primary research and development, and from whom.

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Re: The Fountains of Paradise.

This has already been answered, google is your friend...

http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/15052/graphene-space-elevator-possible

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Loyal Commenter
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Facepalm

Re: How hard it is to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere

so - basically, extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and then burning it would be approx. 3x more expensive than burning coal?

would still be loads cheaper than windmills / nuclear etc

I can only assume that this is a joke. If you were to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, remove the oxygen from this (presumably electrolytically?), the theoretical energy used to remove the oxygen would be the same as you would get from burning it. Note theoretical - in practice, nothing is 100% efficient, as noted above plants manage this at 2% efficiency with photosynthesis, which has evolved over billions of years to be pretty much as efficient as it can be, so you'd be using 20 times as much energy to pull those oxygens off the carbon as you'd ever be able to get back. Then when you burnt it again, you would only get 33% efficiency in a modern coal-fired power station, so you'd actually be putting in 60 times as much energy as you could get back, assuming you could manage a conversion process as efficient as photosynthesis.

Even if CO2 is a feedstock chemical for the process in question, sucking it from the atmosphere is almost certainly much less cost efficient and practical than simply burning any hydrocarbon fuel and collecting the CO2 from that.

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Five-year-old discovers Xbox password bug, hacks dad's Live account

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Re: A bug?

Reminds me of the early version of MS Office, where you could use the 'developer' software key of 1111-1111-1111-1111-1110 (or similar)

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

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FAIL

Re: it's not just about cancer.

it's about NOT eating chemicals!

This is why my diet consists solely of hard vacuum and superheated plasma.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: it's not just about cancer.

There is a certain element of serendipitous timing here...

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Loyal Commenter
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"Contains no chemicals"

First of all, by way of a disclaimer, I should point out that I am all in favour of a good, balanced healthy diet, and that my diet includes some organic vegetables.

Now that that is out of the way, there is nothing that annoys me more than marketing weasel words - things that are fundamentally dishonest in the name of profit. A good example of this is when a claim is amde that something does not contain chemicals. As a holder of not one, but two chemistry degress, I can categorically state that there never has been, nor ever will be any product produced that contains no chemicals whatsoever. of course, what the folk making claims about 'chemicals' in food probably mean are harmful chemicals, but this itself is a subjective term.

For instance, if you were to be suffering from a fever, taking a 1g dose of paracetamol would bring your fever down, and possibly even save your life as a result. If you were to take as little as 10g of paracetamol, it may cause acute liver damage and could well even kill you, so it could be said that paracetamol is a good chemical in low doses, but bad in high doses. Is it therefore harmful, or not? Paracetamol is a good example here, as the dangerous dose is close to the therapeutic dose, but in general, most medicines are good in small doses, but harmful in high doses.

Phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants) can also be a good example of things that have different effects at different doses, for example vitamin A is an essential precursor to the photoreceptors in the eye, a dietary deficiency can cause blindness. An overdose, however, is acutely toxic and can cause death. Many plants produce a range of compounds, usually as an evolutionary response to a threat, which reduces predation from insects, susceptibility to fungal diseases, etc. Because the production of such chemicals comes at a cost (they take energy to produce which could be put into growth and reproduction), plants normally only produce these in small amounts, unless there is a direct threat. The mechanisms through which they do this are many and varied and could fuel a number of PhD theses for many years.

The point I am leading to, is that plants grown in unstressed conditions, where they are fed psticides and chemical fertilisers tend to produce fewer phytochemicals that those grown organically, as they tend to be less stressed. organically produced fruit and vegetables tend to have higher levels of phytochemicals. Some phytochemicals are 'good' in the sense that we perceive them as 'flavour' (organic fruit and veg usually do taste better), or they have medicinal uses (many modern medicines originate from compounds isolated from plants in the first place), but some are 'bad' - they could cause damage to DNA, leading to increased cancer risk, or they could be nerve toxins, like solanine, found in raw potatoes, and likely to be there in higher levels if they are grown organically.

All in all, there is no black-and-white, 'organic is good', 'monoculture is bad' from a nutrition viewpoint, and usually the differences are small. There is no question that mass application of bulk chemical NPK fertilisers is bad for the environment - nitrogen and phosporus run-off into waterways, for example, causes algal bloom, leading to eutrophication (where the oxygen levels in the water fall), which kills wildlife. There is also some evidence to show that co-planting of several crops, whilst more labour intensive than monoculture can produce higher overall crop yields.

I would suggest to anyone who wants to take the topic seriously that the best course of action is to educate yourself. Don't take the words of others for granted, be wary of the agendas of others, and try to follow the scientific method, rather than believing anything published in the Daily Mail. Of course, this takes more effort than blindly accepting whatever opinion is most fashionable, but you can be comforted by the fact that you are better informed, and therefore more likely to be right.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: In other news...

I can go one better than that - bacon fried in bacon fat!

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Boffins make noise about D-Wave chip: it seems quantum

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Re: Duality

Whoever downvoted you for that is a miserable so-and-so.

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Dimwit hackers use security camera DVRs as SUPER-SLOW Bitcoin-mining rig

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I'm going to be generous and assume that one of these devices can manage a mining rate of 0.5MH/s (500 thousand hashes per second).

To put this into context, the current genreation of ASIC mining rigs hash at 1 TH/s, or 2 million times this speed. To match the hashing power of one of these devices, you would therefore need to infect 2 million of these specific devices - a number which may well not exist.

To put this further into context, lets look at the hashing power and mining rate of pooled mining. For my example, I'm going to pick Slush's pool which has a combined hashing rate of around 1PH/s and finds around 5 blocks of 25 BTC per day.

So, with 2 million infected devices, you could expect to make around 0.125 BTC per day, worth around £35.

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Raised £350bn in crowdsourced funding? Tell me about it (not)

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So...

Marketing bods exaggerate, distort the truth and downright lie.

Lazy journos print anything that makes an easy story.

You can't trust what you read, hear or see on TV to be true without fact-checking it yourself.

Also:

Water is wet.

The sky is up.

Politicians cast no reflection.

etc.

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Dear Reg: What is a 'Lag' and a 'Jacksey'?

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Re: Tread carefully

Causing offence may one day be a criminal offence!

If this does indeed become the case, then I shall be doing all I can to bring forward prosecutions for the many things I find offensive, starting with the attitude toward the people of this country of its politicians...

...or maybe common sense will prevail, and people will realise that nobody has the right to not be offended. Offense, is, after all, an internal process originating with the individual experiencing it.

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Facebook Oculus VR buyout: IT WANTS your EYEBALLS

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Gaming community a niche market?

a $75 billion niche market.

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Candy Crush King sees IPO go sour as stock price heads south

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What about EA and Activision?

That's right - they're the cause.

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Revealed: What the US taxman really thinks of crypto-cash Bitcoin

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You would have to explain to the IRS where that $$$ you spent in an overseas transaction obtaining the bitcoins went to, and I suspect an audit of some sort would be possible tying your IP address to your wallet address. Of course, if you were to mine the coins yourself, there would be no such audit, but then there would be the $$$ you spent on that ASIC miner, plus import taxes, and they'd quite happily be taxing you on the electricity supply used to run it too.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Taxing Income is Immoral and counter productive.

Taxing consumption is both moral and productive

Citation required.

Did you mean to say, "taxing me is immoral, taxing you is moral," because that's what it sounded like...

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Ancient telly, check. Sonos sound system, check. OMG WOAH

Loyal Commenter
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Holmes

Nice advertising piece

I hope they paid you well.

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MPs blast HMRC for using anti-terrorism laws against whistleblower

Loyal Commenter
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Re: Ah, fits perfectly

You're thinking of Cardinal Richlieu

"Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre." which translates as "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him"

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QUIDOCALYPSE: Blighty braces for £100 MILLION cost of new £1 coin

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Re: @Captain Hogwash

Eugh! Pass the mind-bleach!

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: "it has 15 faces (12 bevels, obverse, reverse, outer edge)"

...obviously I'm not counting the raised lettering, or the queen's head. If you count them, then good luck to you...

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Loyal Commenter
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Coin recognition

I would imagine this works by mesauring up to three things:

1) The size of the coin

2) The weight

3) The shape

For 1, I can't see this being more difficult than changing the size of a slot in a metal plate, through which the coin does, or does not fall. Cost - pennies for the part, 5 minutes labour to fit.

For 2, This will either be done by a balancing mechanism, or more likely electronically, so a simple software update is the most probable route. Cost - for the development required probably negligable per device, considering the number of devices, and the manufacturing and labour costs of swapping out a control circuit. One would hope that these have been designed so that they can be updated and re-used.

For 3, well we already manage to accept 20p and 50p coins, which in case people hadn't noticed are also polygonal, not round.

I think the figure of £500 to update each parking meter is vastly over-inflated. Given economies of scale, and the labour costs involved in physically updating machines, it's probably closer to £5, if that.

Edit - A quicki google tells me that modern vending machines also distinguish coins by their magnetic signature, which would appear again to be a software update issue.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: "it has 15 faces (12 bevels, obverse, reverse, outer edge)"

I count:

12 outer bevels - the 'sides'

12 inner bevels on each side

1 recessed face on each side

1 raised edge between the bevels on each side

Than makes a total of 40 faces, along with 96 edges and 72 vertices, if I count them all correctly.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: It has one face...

And is it just me, or does that rendering make it look like she has gills? The royal family can't trace their lineage back to Innsmouth by any chance, can they?

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Xenon: Bitmap Brothers' (mega)blast from the past

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The Bitmap Brothers were true pioneers

But PLEASE don't link to their current web-site, it's shockingly bad and embarrassing. Such a shame...

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Think drone delivery is hot air? A BREWERY just proved you wrong

Loyal Commenter
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Re: Nice advert. However, ...

There are now some very good American beers and their hoppy influence has crashed its way into the UK market.

The UK is quite capable of producing its own proper beer thank you very much, there's no need for ridiculously over-hopped and over-strength 'craft beers' to try to join the fray, if I want something so hoppy it'll make my mouth dry up while drinking it, I'll stick to a proper real IPA*, and if Iw ant something over-strength, I'll have a nice pint of imperial stout.

*Original recipe IPAs contain a very high hop content as a preservative, as they would be produced in the UK and shipped to India, in which time they would mellow. If you tried to drink them 'fresh', you'd find them very unpalatable. Most things sold today as IPA are nothing of the sort.

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They ACCUSED him of inventing Bitcoin. Now, Nakamoto hires lawyer to CLEAR his name

Loyal Commenter
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Re: Moderation

@Psyx

Just because your comment is not normally moderated, it doesn't mean that it has to be offensive. I'm as guilty as the next man of the odd childish, or trolling comment, but that doesn't change the fact that there are people here taking the piss out of an elderly stroke victim for not having a job, because they think it's big and clever.

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Loyal Commenter
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Re: Aha! But that's clearly two words! *claims internet pendant award*

(yes of course 'pendant' was intentional, what do you take me for!)

I thnk you should all be less pedentic

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Friday is Pi Day

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Flame

There's no such thing as Pi Day

Since middle-endian dates are wrong and stupid.

*Sits back and watches the downvotes from American readers*

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X marks the... They SAID there was a mystery planet there – NASA

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Re: I never knew...

Well then, you'd better tell it it's late for Ragnarok.

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Loyal Commenter
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Alert

"(An astronomical unit is roughly distance between our Earth and the Sun – approx 1.49 billion km, or 93 million miles.)"

Ummm. No. One mile does not equal 16 kilometres.

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Mt Gox fielded MASSIVE DDOS attack before collapse

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Re: Rumors that Mt Gox was doing a bit of fractional reserve banking on the side...

"transaction malleability" sounds suspiciously like exactly that. I have no idea whether bitcoin technically allows this.

"Transaction melleability" refers to a vulnerability in the bitcoin protocol known about in 2011, and for which a fix was done then in the standard bitcoin client. For MtGox not to have applied this fix to their own code suggests a severe level of incompetence on their own part, akin to running a bank's servers on a public-facing unpatched WinXP box.

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Loyal Commenter
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According to BitcoinAverage.com, which gives a weighted average of the current/recent prices on several exchanges, at the time of writing, the price of one bitcoin is $627.

$627/BTC x 850,000 BTC = $532,950,000

This is assuming you were able to shift those coins at a reasonable rate without causing the exchange to collapse. Given that the daily volume appears to be around 30,000 BTC, it would probably take some months to convert those to cash, but the exhange rate does seem to have stayed pretty constant over the last few weeks.

I think that falls pretty well into the 'hundreds of millions of dollars' bracket, either way, without any need to start waffling about 'street drugs', which has absolutely no relevance.

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Brit Bitcoin dev: I lost 'over £200k' when MtGox popped its socks

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Re: Suck It Berkshire Hathaway

Yes, bnecause Lloyds took the value of a ship (e.g. £1000), multiplied it by the risk of it sinking (e.g. 0.1), and then charged that amount PLUS A BIT (e.g. £125) to each ship owner. When 10% of the ships sank, thay paid out the £1000, but in this example, on average, they made £25 profit on each. As long as insurers calculate the risks correctly, and always charge a premium over that risk, they make a profit. It doesn't matter in the least how badly the ships are built in the first place.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Nice to see the gloating

So... My Space1999 cards from late '70s might be worth something?

A quick search on eBay tells me... yes.

Depending on their condition, and which cards exactly you are talking about, they're worth anything between a few quid and a few hundred.

Now, if only I'd held onto my original 'horror' Top Trumps from the same period. As you can see, scarcity, and subjective value, makes things more valuable. Whodathunkit?

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Inconsistency

Cars and stamps have real intrinsic value. If you started printing your own Monopoly-style money and using it to barter with your friends you couldn't expect the police to value it as anything other than paper and ink.

Glad to hear that anything that exists purely as a pattern of ones and zeros is fair game then. I 'm just off to download all the software, music, movies and games I feel like without paying the rights owner a penny. Either that, or your logic may have a teensy flaw in it.

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

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Re: Leading indicator...

Please explain why, if a currency needs an army, that there are countries without standing armies, and they don't do all of their trade in barter?

What actually brings stability to national currencies is regulation. I have said it before and I will say it again, companies which provide 'financial' services (such as banking, echanges, etc.) should be covered by national legislation. This legislation should require these organisations to prove that they have the reserves they say they have, and that they keep them offline in 'cold' wallets, to avoid the risk of theft. They should provide an audit of transactions, identifying customers if required by a country's national banking laws to do so. Direct wallet-to-wallet transfers as they are, are fine - these are the equivalent of a cash transaction, an important part of which is anonymity (although there is a good chance that a bitcoin wallet address is not as anonymous as you think it might be, if it can be associated with an IP address).

Such legislation does not (yet) exist in most coutries, but it is what needs to happen before Bitcoin sees widespread use and stable exchange rates. The fact that such legislation does not yet exist does not render the concept, or execution of Bitcoin itself worthless, it just means that you shouldn't go round trusting random 'banks' or 'exchanges' with your Bitcoins, as there is no guarantee of what will happen to them. Personally, I can see no benefit to trusting someone to 'store' your bitcoins for you, when you can do it just as securely on your own computer.

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

Loyal Commenter
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Re: No sympathy.......

Which is why the missing Bitcoin were found immediately after the loss were discovered,right? If the transactions were fully audited, actual source and actual destination would be known, and this problem wouldn't exist.

About the only thing right about what you said was the word "arguably."

The block chain is a full audit of every transaction. The fact that MtGox were obviously not verifying any of their transactions against the block chain properly, or indeed doing any sort of accounting whatsoever by all appearances is another matter. This is a weakness with MtGox, not the block chain. In matter of fact, every transaction can be identified in the block chain, although the owners of the addresses involved cannot (that's the anonymous part).

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: @ Loyal Commenter

I buy goods from abroad all the time. The currency conversion fee that Paypal charges me is pennies.

...And if you ever sell through ebay, you'll know they charge the seller 10%.

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Re: No sympathy.......

That's all fair and well, but Bitcoins aren't 'left handed sky hooks'. The technology behind them is proven, and what they provide, which is arguably of some value, is a fully audited, globally distributed audit of all transations, via the block-chain.

It is up to the users to decide what this is worth to them, but consider the following - if you want to buy something from another country at the moment, for example if you were to buy a book from a seller in France, and you live the the UK, you need to carry out the transaction in Euros - assuming you have a UK bank account, it is going to cost you to do so - if you make a transfer through your bank account, you bank is likely to charge you a transaction fee (£10 for the large UK bank I happen to bank with), and the conversion rate will not be in your favour (for example, the exchange rate is hovering around 1.20 Euros to the Pound at the moment, but your bank is likely to give you a rate of around 1.15 or worse).

Alternatively, you could do the transaction through a service like PayPal, and they will take their 10%, either from the buyer or the seller depending on how you carry out the transaction.

Either way, you are going to end up paying significant transaction fees. If you buy things online, or pay your energy bills with a credit card, a lot of retailers will add on a few percent to cover the card costs here. The financial companies involved do very nicely out of this, thank you very much.

Now, consider how you might use something like Bitcoin instead. Say I have bought something from a retailer in France that costs 100 Euros, and that the current bitcoin exchange rate is around 500 euros per coin. If I buy 0.2 Bitcoins from someone here in the UK and send them to the retailer in France's wallet, and they then sell them there, they have their 200 euros, and the transaction fees involved are very small (typically 0.0001 BTC per transaction, so a total of 0.0003 BTC, or around 15 Euro Cents in this example), the transaction fees go to the network, in the sense that the miner of the next block in the block chain get these on top of the block's value.

So it can be argued that bitcoins have an intrinsic value as a financial service, along with much more reasonable rates than PayPal.

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MtGox to customers: Your call is important to us … NOT!

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FAIL

...and this is why the following list of countries with no armed forces also have no monetary system:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_armed_forces

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Hello French polishers? @Loyal Commenter

My bank will actually give me (sell me) gold for the money I have there.

Really? I'm pretty sure that if I went into any high street bank and asked to see their gold supply, they would laugh me out of the building.

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Loyal Commenter
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Re: Hello French polishers?

The currency may not technically be a Ponzi scheme but the technologically baked-in anonymity means that it's easy to operate a $commodity market in a very Ponzi-reminiscent fashion.

Where you can replace $commodity with pretty much anything you like - for instance, cash, shiny beads, bearer bonds, bottle caps, etc.

The problem here isn't with BitCoin, it was with MtGox. MtGox itself may well have been operating like a Ponzi scheme, that doesn't make BitCoin one, any more than all the stuff with Bernie Madoff a few years ago that caused so much bother makes the US dollar a Ponzi scheme.

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Re: Hello French polishers?

Bitcoins may, or may not, be a safe investment. They have no more, or less, intrinsic value than a fiat currency (after all, your bank balance is just a number too - try going into your bank and asking for the gold, and see how far you get).

What it is not, is a Ponzi scheme. Read up on what a Ponzi scheme is, and what Bitcoin is, and you will see that they are not the same thing. Repeating the mantra ad nauseum does not make it any truer.

Note that I'm by no means advocating sinking all of your money into bitcoins. The whole concept of cryptocurrencies is still in its infancy, and no doubt there are still kinks to be ironed out. Writing the whole thing off as something it is not, however, is disingenious.

I will repeat myself once more, for the hard of understanding - if you think Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme, you understand neither what Bitcoin is, nor what a Ponzi scheme is, and you need to do some reading up on both subjects.

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Get Quake III running on Raspberry Pi using Broadcom's open-source GPU drivers, earn $10K

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Re: WOW!

Yes, 20 FPS on an embedded linux system that runs on 5V and is smaller than your hand. You do realise that the 1990 linux system you are implicitly referring to would have also cost many multiples of the £24 a Raspberry Pi costs, before you even take inflation into account, and would be the size of a small piece of furniture?

To stretch an analogy, you are not even comparing apples to oranges, it is more like you are comparing apples to the cube root of 47.

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