21 posts • joined 3 Aug 2012
Re: Suck It Berkshire Hathaway
Yes, it's uninsurable - because there is no way to differentiate between 'I got my bitcoins stolen by someone guessing my password' and 'I transferred my bitcoins to a new wallet and lied to you'. You could insure the exchanges against failure or theft, but then the risk is such that you'd have to charge a pretty monster fee to cover it, since virtually every exchange out there is fly-by-night, coded by a self-taught nerd, running from a PO box office, and sometimes virtually indistinguishable from a ponzi scheme.
Having seen some (alleged - http://pastebin.com/W8B3CGiN) source code from MTGox, I'm starting to lean more towards a hack of their pretty dodgy code as the source of the leak (structurally it's not bad, but lacks any manner of sensible error logging, or indeed much logging at all, and it's somewhat inconsistent, oh, and coding bank/exchange-lite software using PHP(!)), rather than any issue in the bitcoin source code. There have been accusations that Mark Karpeles vanity may have been to blame. At least they are using transactional SQL, lack of which was blamed for another exchange hack this week.
Re: News just in
When was the last time you heard of a bank giving away half their money because they didn't do proper accounting and only hired blind tellers who would give away £20s instead of £10 by accident, then lose the keys to the vault, effectively sealing away the rest? Then closes down the bank for withdrawals for months, while still accepting deposits, all the while saying 'just technical problems'.
Insider trading, bad investments, insane payouts to bosses, mis-selling yes, but I'm willing to bet we've never seen ineptitude (or criminality) on this level.
It's been a long time coming
I've been watching this one for a while, and other interesting tidbits to come out over the last few days;
* A guy claiming to have interviewed for a website UI position with them says that MtGOX up until recently had no development environment at all - all changes were made to the live site
* A large sum of coins directly owned by MtGox have not moved since some time in 2011, yet are have been claimed to be 'hacked', 'lost' or 'inaccessible', opening up the possibility that this isn't a complete theft (although some level of theft is also probable), but involves losing the keys to the virtual safe in a stunning display of further ineptitude.
I wonder if they can go back to trading Magic the Gathering: Online cards after this...
Re: And yet we're still to believe...
My understanding the the 'hack' relied on the fact that MtGOX had a number of automated scripts for resending failed transactions, and for transferring money from their cold storage wallet to their internet attached wallet, and absolutely no internal audit procedures to check balances. It's like someone asking their bank for £100, then phoning someone at the branch, saying 'I didn't get my money' using a different funny accent each time, and the bank gives them another £100 because there are no checks in place and it SOUNDS like a different person - repeat over several years until the vaults are bare.
Absolutely smacks of bad internal procedures, no consulting with beancounters, and s**tty coding practice. One would hope that at least one or two of the other exchanges would have more competence that Magic the Gathering Online Exchange.
Not that it makes bitcoin any less of a electricity wasting global ponzi scheme.
In an ideal world...
I can see an iCar working if they are willing to throw some of their stacks of surplus cash at it and take some risks. The Tesla is a niche product, but so were mp3 players back in the day - if someone can bring it to the mainstream and throw in some innovation, it will be a hell of a lot better than the current market of poorly thought out ugly 'hybrids' and massively expensive, sometimes on fire electric cars.
'Backed by maths' - not really, backed by a large network of nerds running custom hardware and graphics cards consuming (and wasting) vast amounts of electricity, validated by a 13Gb blockchain you have to download before dealing with bitcoins, exchanged by unregulated, mostly unqualified and definitely insecure online exchanges, easily stolen or lost, massively volatile, unscaleable and with a price propped up primarily between people with large amounts of sunk costs, and speculators.
(most of those points are arguable to a certain extent, but noone can argue against volatility and the massive amount of exchanges that have closed or had their bitcoins 'stolen')
Ditto on raising the issue with the vendor. I once (many years ago) used a very popular bit of accounting software that was written for the US market for my business in europe - it supported multiple currencies, but there were a couple of reports where '$' was hard coded. There isn't any software on the planet that doesn't have bugs, so don't act so surprised - it sounds like they are (erroneously) rounding some numbers too early in the calculation.
I lived in Aus for ages, and I although I used to squish redbacks when I saw them round the house, I had no fear of them - there are plenty of toxic spiders out there, and I had a few aussie friends get bit and it was no major issue. Things like Golden Orbweavers were more scary to me since they wove webs at face height in the middle of the night even in heavily built up areas and could give you a painful wasplike bite. Nothing like walking home in the middle of the night and suddenly finding you have an irritated, grape-sized toxic insect crawling on your face.
Huntsmen are fantastic despite their size. We left the one who lived in our roof space alone because their favourite prey was cockroaches, and cockroaches are assholes.
I think I came face to face with about 10 or so different animals in the wild there who could have done me some very serious harm (wasps nests, giant ants, very dangerous snakes). Little non-aggressive spiders really are the least of issues for people in Aus.
As far as I've been able to tell, the various Skype teams did their own thing with little in common other than the protocols and a general corporate look. I've used Skype across almost all platforms almost since the start and the UI is actually more consistant than it used to be, but still confusing, odd and subject to changing without warning.
Re: "You WILL use CHROME!!"
In all honesty anything that forces people away from non-standards-compliant, buggy browsers is a plus for those of us who develop web applications. Older versions of IE (7&8 especially, thankfully we dropped support for 6) cause a massive testing and fine-tuning overhead that we could really do without. Chrome sending all our browsing habits to Google is a small crime compared to the horrors that are the mass of workarounds, hacks, extra code and hair-tearing that is required for IE compatibility.
Re: Electricity is free is you steal it
Actually, CPU mining (even with a large botnet) is inefficient. Even GPU mining is no longer vaguely profitable due to ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) dedicated to bitcoin mining that only do one thing - mine bitcoins at speeds approaching hundreds of giga-hashes per second while using comparatively less electricity.
Unfortunately ASICs are being delivered by companies with less than stellar engineering abilities - companies like Butterfly Labs delivering products months late and massively under-spec; with bitcoin the bigger the network is, the less profit you realise - so much so that even ASICs will probably never break even once you take into consideration the massive initial investment and high electricity costs.
The punchline to the whole bitcoin joke is that is now virtually impossible to cash bitcoins out - the major exchanges are under investigation by various banks and regulatory authorities, MTGOX and others are estimating it will take years for them to give you your cash and the current 'best advice' for turning bitcoins into actual spendable money is to meet up with someone IRL and give them your bitcoins in return for paper money. The main market for actually spending bitcoin on physical product was the now defunct Silk Road, and the only other places accepting the cyber-currency online are experimental, dubious, or prone to disappearing overnight.
It varies considerably - the main cost is the satellite/microwave connection because the infrastructure (power and security mainly) varies massively from area to area, and different levels of work are required for each school. I'm mainly involved in content delivery rather than the actual installation, but I do know that it's done on massively tight margins and even a donation basis with costs being offset in the poorer schools by turning the school building into an internet cafe after-hours, and costs to the school can be a low as $1/pupil/month.
I actually work with a company that provides connectivity (internet and mobile) to rural parts of various third world African countries, and connectivity absolutely does help improve the lives of people there, especially through education. I've worked on projects that provide market prices to farmers (via website, WAP, SMS etc.) to allow them to maximise their profit, educational websites for AIDS & malaria, educational cartoons aimed towards illiterate farmers children teaching basic irrigation, crop rotation, animal care.
For the price of a handful of low-spec PC's (and low cost tablets that the company have just launched), a satellite connection and a few days on a bumpy road with an engineer or two you can transform the ability of a school to educate their pupils for years to come. Some of these schools were running on a handful of ancient textbooks - now they have access to courses specifically designed for rural african markets, in addition to the educational resources of the entire internet.
It's also likely that a fair number of companies still on XP have limited IT budgets to maintain their hardware & software. I mostly see XP in charities and organisations that buy in IT support and consultancy three or four times a year when something goes wrong, and whose IT security policy involves locking the front door when they leave for the day. I migrated a small NGO with around 12 computers from a mix of XP and Vista machines (and one Ubuntu box that noone could explain the existence of) to Windows 7 a couple of years ago, and they didn't even have a password on their WiFi (which explained the number of tourists sitting outside their very centrally placed office with their laptops).
I'm one of their 'active' users because my phone backs up photos to G+ and I sometimes hit the G+ button on websites by accident - The only people I know who use the service as it is intended are a few people who dislike facebook for some reason or other, and a few google employees and their partners who I know. Having said that, I think it's actually nicer to use than Facebook - but about 80% of the people I know socially are on Facebook and not g+, and the other 20% are on both.
When I worked at an IT training company many many years ago, we used to have a monthly Quake tournament - the boss would raid petty cash and send someone to the offy down the road to pick up as much discount alcohol as they could lay their hands on, 2 or 3 hours of male -vs- female, secretaries -vs- managers, and various gimmick matches made more lively by piles of free hobo-booze, strategic pulling of network cables, flinging of projectiles and copious swearing.
If you're upgrading your password encryption (for instance from unsalted to salted) you can only realistically do it when the user logs in, since this is the only time your system has the unencrypted password to work with. It may well be that the 1% haven't logged in recently enough to be upgraded, and hackers have potentially got some nice and easy unsalted md5 hashes to work with.
I probably would have 10 years if the stupid things didn't keep dying on me from overheating/motherboard failure/powersupply failure. Usually about 1 month out of warranty too.
Re: No privacy to protect
Very true, I moved to the Borders 4 weeks ago, and am literally three miles from the nearest neighbour through some pretty rough terrain. Since I've been here I've had about 10 visitors asking who I was, was I local, what do you do, did I want to know the history of the area, do you want to see my dog, do you want to come shoot some pheasants. In 35 years of living in big cities I rarely got more than a 'Hey' from people who lived the next flat over.
The first thing the local farmer told me was 'I just shot a man'. At least I think that's what he said. I don't think normal rules apply here.
I think it's cute how the press keep trying to assign organisational concepts like 'Rules', 'Leadership' and 'Planning' to the ADD hivemind that is Anonymous.
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