back to article Kill the blockchain! It'll make you fitter in the long run, honest

I am looking for a fit man. Sorry, did I forget to put that in quotation marks? C'est Mme D qui parle and she's staring at her computer screen. "I am looking for a fit man," she repeats in a monotone. I have a quick check around the room: nope, we haven't acquired an Echo, although she did say it twice (heh heh). Is she using …

  1. AdamT

    I love that the ad that I've got in the right sidebar for this article is for the "London Blockchain Summit"

  2. katrinab Silver badge

    And I love that the payment methods accepted should you wish to attend it are Visa, Mastercard, and Amex.

    If bitcoins are so amazing, why can't you buy blockchain conference tickets using them?

  3. getHandle

    They're sharks, not shark-bait!

  4. Swarthy Silver badge

    Re: They're sharks, not shark-bait!

    You got that right, chum!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "London Blockchain Summit"

    perhaps "Dung Hill" would be more appropriate ?

  6. Bob Wheeler

    Someone at work ...

    ... during the WannaCry outbreak suggested that we use the spare CPU capacity in our data centre to mine Bitcoins in case we need to 'payoff' anyone.

    Not a good look for a local authority.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Someone at work ...

    Also a tempting target for employees to steal since they wouldn't be on any inventory list and would most likely never be used so there wouldn't be any reason for anyone to verify they were still there...

    It would be like keeping gold coins in the unlocked supply closet accessible to any admin, but no one ever checking to see that they weren't replaced with gold plated equivalents.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blockchain just needs the word cistern in front of it as it stands.

    Thanks for the enable flash picture, I got a chuckle out of that because I said to myself before I read the text underneath "You can f*ck right off" and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

  9. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    What on earth...

    ...democratising the energy supply...

    ...does this mean?

    Can I vote for more Watt-hours?

  10. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Re: What on earth...

    Power to the people!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What on earth...

    Ohm with you on that one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What on earth...

    Nah, better stay grounded.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What on earth...

    Joule be sorry you started this.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What on earth...

    Ohm with you on that one.

    Resistance is futile

  15. HelpfulJohn

    Re: What on earth...

    Watt?

  16. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: What on earth...

    ..democratising the energy supply...

    ...does this mean?

    Draw up a chair, and I'll explain, and help cure your insomnia. In the electricity system, all the generators pile in (hopefully) enough watt-hours to keep everything ticking over, at the instruction of the System Operator. Currently that's National Grid, although the wankers of Ofgem would like that not to be the case. At your end you turn on the light switch, hopefully it works. Your supplier bills you based on your meter reading. But how do each of the c90 suppliers, and hundred of industrial customers who trade wholesale on their own account pay the many generators the right amount, and who pays for the c12% system losses? How are things sorted out when a supplier gets their sums wrong and hasn't contracted enough generation, or has too much? How does the system work so that suppliers can flog you electricty for 13p/kWh all through the winter, when peak wholesale prices can exceed £1.50 per kWh if there's a crunch. TaDa! The Balancing & Settlement System sorts this. There's a broadly similar system for gas. All in there's over 10,000 pages of system codes, so joining this party requires you to be pretty big and clever, or you can pay somebody big and clever to do it for you. All the arrangments and codes are publicly available, you can find them on the web and set yourself up as an energy trader and party to the Balancing & System Code if you want.

    According to the blockchain beard-fondlers, there's a problem here, that there's only one body who runs this system - for electricity it is Elexon. Somehow that's a closed, anti-democratic system, that wankchain could do away with. And it would supposedly enable magical things like peer-to-peer trading of energy, for example from residential PV owners directly to other parties. You can do that already with a "private wire" connection, but not if the electricity goes into the grid. Of course, if the PV owner exports to the grid, then blockchain "provenance" turns to ash because you can't direct a specific kWh, nor label it, but lets not let facts spoil their soya lattes. One interesting aspect of a block chain energy system is that the customer would need to either 100% accurately forecast and contract their capacity directly, or pay somebody else to provide the additional power above that. Paying to manage the risk in advance via a counterparty is expensive, taking the risk unhedged and uncontracted is financial suicide (as various small energy suppliers have found). In blockchain energy system, all those risks can be yours.

    In reality, the balancing and settling systems are really cheap to operate and effective. Like any good system, they work quietly in the background, 99%+ of the population don't know, don't need to know and don't care. The gas settlement system recently had a huge overhaul (Nexus) because it was running on an ancient lash up of systems, but outside the industry nobody knew or cared, and life went on as normal.

    So there's no value in replacing a (nominally) closed ledger with a distributed open version. As with everything blockchain, it is a complex, unproven solution searching in vain for a problem. But with shit head consultants bombarding our directors about the "importance of blockchain, AI and virtual reality, we keep on having to tell them "forget about it, it isn't a huge industry disruptor, its just a crock of shit being touted by charlatans".

  17. Montreal Sean

    Re: What on earth...

    I'm shocked that his has gone on for so long.

  18. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Re: What on earth...

    Resistance is futile

    I'm reluctant to accept that.

  19. Blockchain commentard
    Facepalm

    I feel as if I should comment :-)

  20. Rob D. Bronze badge
    Paris Hilton

    Burn the heretic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2yN_HIxLzI

    'Nuff said. (Paris, because she believes.)

  21. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Devil

    A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    explained that to derive value from B**lockchain, it needed to be combined with IoT and Artificial Intelligence. The example use case was a pay per use lift, micro-charging passengers per floor rather than an up front capital investment.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    A large consultancy at a tech conference this week explained that to derive value from B**lockchain, it needed to be combined with IoT and Artificial Intelligence.

    As in "please daisy-chain enough buzz words to completely disable anyone who dares questions our bills"?

    Ugh. I may have my beers early at this rate. Not that I need an excuse, but this would be one :)

  23. Franco Silver badge

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    Pah, that'll never work without an agile cloud leveraging DevOps behind it.

  24. Mr Sceptical
    Facepalm

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    Use the stairs?

  25. D@v3

    Re: AI lifts?

    They'll just end up hiding in the basement.

  26. ma1010 Silver badge

    Re: AI lifts?

    Don't you mean "Happy Vertical People Movers?"

  27. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    *Stands up suddenly, chair overturns, waving something overhead*

    BINGO! Bingo! I got a Bingo! That means I get to leave now - see you at the pub!

    *Runs for the door with my Bullshit Buzzword Bingo card clutched in hand & a full row of words blotted out*

  28. HelpfulJohn

    Re: AI lifts?

    Where are all these happy vertical people? Many people I meet are happiest when horizontal.

  29. Chris G Silver badge

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    AI, Blockchain, IoT and a variety of Autonomous stuff all are in need of axing. Which brings me to the question; why has the Axe Murderer's axe got it's head on upside down?

  30. The Oncoming Scorn
    Thumb Up

    Re: AI lifts?

    Or try moving sideways (briefly) as a sort of existential protest.

  31. EarthDog Bronze badge

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    Not so fast. It needs to be containerized BYOD 24/7 serverless leverage synergy apps with social media capabilities.

  32. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    The example use case was a pay per use lift

    Because, dontchaknow, we are all just gagging to be able to pay to use the lift.

    Moi, I'll take the stairs.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: A large consultancy at a tech conference this week

    >please daisy-chain enough buzz words to completely disable anyone who dares questions our bills

    Strangely enough, I was just reading a security-product website and was tempted to start a buzzword-bingo card just so I could shout *arse* when I got a full card..

    (Which would have been about 2/3 down the home page)

  34. Multivac

    You could create your own clock chain to keep track of who's round it amongst your regular drinking partners or even tracking hours in a baby sitting circle, it doesn't have to be a power guzzling pseudo currency, just a distributed ledger. Bitcoin really gets Blockchain a bad press.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: You could create

    "...clock chainto keep track of who's round it amongst your regular drinking partners..."

    That may ensure I will soon have fewer regular drinking partners.

  36. VinceH Silver badge

    Optional

    I encountered a flock chain while out walking once, when all the sheep in a field I was crossing decided to follow me.

  37. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    Ewe should feel sheepishly ba-aa-aa-ad over making comments like that! But I see through your warped weave - you can't pull the wool over my eyes!

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the bottle of lanolin in the pocket. =-)p

  38. VinceH Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    Ah, but the thing is... it's true.

    I can even identify the exact date by glancing back through my pictures (none of the sheep - just by finding the the right set of photos, including those from where it happened): 9th April, 2007 - Fice's Well on Dartmoor.

    I'm just glad I hadn't watched the documentary Black Sheep (2006), the night before.

  39. The Oncoming Scorn
    Coffee/keyboard

    Re: At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    The more terrifying thing is when it's a herd of cows stalking you.

    I was following a footpath through one of the several interconnected fields on my then normal evening walk (While Mrs Scorn was left watching the recordings of Corry\Brookside on her return from work), when the cows started moving en-mass at high speed from the corner of the field I was currently in to a position in another corner & then stop to chew the grass & stare at me. A few minutes later they did it again.

    As a kid I hung around the nearby cattle market & armed with that knowledge & experience, thought that this was unusual behaviour for cows & perhaps instead of following my more normal walk through the rest of the fields to the pub I was aiming for, I should opt for the shorter route out of the field & towards the stile nearest to me.

    I was about 100 yards away, when I heard the hooves again & glanced to see what they were doing now & discovered they were bearing down on me at speed, my legs instantly went into overdrive & I ran like fuck for the stile & near enough vaulted over it, then coming to a panting sweating stop, I turned around to see that the cows had stopped & were as tightly packed as they could manage at the other side of the style, huffing & mooing at me.

    I had always preferred my cows well done on a plate or as furniture, footwear (or any other garment or furnishing), since then it's become a vengeful lifestyle.

    Icon because of the damn lucky escape I had.

  40. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    At The Oncoming Scorn, re: cows.

    There is a campground not too far from where I used to live. It is part of a farmer's pasture where his cows graze, but since they're used to people & everybody leaves each other alone, the farmer earns a bit of cash renting out bits for campers.

    It's quite nice, on the shore of a lake, great fishing, hiking, bird watching, canoeing (no power boats allowed), & generally a most pleasant place in which to pitch a tent, sit around a camp fire, & make Smores (melted ghram cracker/marshmallow/chocolate treats).

    One night I'm out at said site, need to take a wee, & come out of my tent... to find a cow standing not ten feet away, absolutely still, staring at me as if it's considering the best way to get away with murder. I cautiously step aside to go around, the cow steps sideways to match. I move back the other way, so does the cow. I stop, he stops. I wave my arms & yell, he just chews his cud & says "moo" in the same tone used to deliver lines like "I bet you die screaming."

    I freak out, run the other direction past my tent, & sprint just as fast as my legs could carry me to the nearest stone outhouse. I didn't come out until morning. I found my tent had been trampled, the tattered remains shat upon, & my leather hiking boots stomped upon until they were barely identifiable.

    The farmer gave me my site rental fee back, I got the hell out, & I hope there were LOTS of hamburgers for supper the next few months.

    Fucking cows.

    It's a good thing I'm blind now & can't see, otherwise I'd take a flame thrower to the site & have me a BBQ.

    *Cackle*

    I'll get my coat, it's got my Dried Frog Pills in the pockets. Lots of 'em. Tasty, tasty pills...

  41. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Re: At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    The more terrifying thing is when it's a herd of cows stalking you.

    A single bull is more than sufficient.

    One summer job I had was staking out the grid for a seismic survey: some geophysicist takes a map, draws a grid on it, then a bunch of fellows go out in the field to transpose each of the grid lines to the Real World. The first group has 1:10000 maps, compasses (pre-GPS, all this), a 30m long cord, stakes, and a notepad. Following a few km back are the grunts, carrying cables, geophones (kind of like a tent peg with a sensor on top), drilling equipment, explosives and cat litter. The first crew stakes out the line, noting the locations where the drilling pattern has to be changed because of proximity to underground cables, pipes, sheds, etcetera. The second crew places the geophones, drills holes in the ground, puts explosives in them and topping up the hole with cat litter, things go boom, geophones record reflections of boom against various underground layers, recording gets fed into a computer which then spits out a nice cross-section of the underground layers, geophysicist ponders output and divines the spot to drill for gas (in this case).

    Some of that work was gruelling. You don't want to know how much time it takes to proceed through shrubland brimming with ripe raspberries.

    One day I was working alone to stake out a section which took me through a meadow with a number of calves in them. Rather annoying, they tended to eat the stakes and crowd around me slowing my work, but never mind. As long as I could continue at the far end with maybe a few meters error, that would be fine; at the next point on the map that provided an absolute reference the error would be taken out.

    A few fields on the occupants were adult cows. Still fine initially, they were in the field next to the one I was in. Alas, the gate between the fields was open, and one of them was not a cow. Who clearly resented my presence, and went to express his displeasure with great speed. This prompted me to perform a sprint that would have Usain Bolt take up bonsai gardening or something, finishing with a diving roll under a fence with a hedgerow behind it, allowing me to get out of sight of the bull.

    I fully agree with the attitude expressed re. bovine uses.

  42. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    I had always preferred my cows well done on a plate or as furniture, footwear (or any other garment or furnishing)

    And this is why I think sheep should like me - I'd never, ever voluntarily eat one[1]. I wear plenty of stuff made from their wool though. And I would privately would admit to having a sh**pskin jacket..

    [1] The last time I was presented with lamb that I couldn't refuse (without causing great offence) I managed to use up most of a jar of mint sauce - just so I wouldn't taste the lamb. Goat has a similar effect - I've tried curried goat a couple of times and I'd like to say I loved it (and probably would if it was anything other than goat or lamb) but I was nearly sick after a couple of mouthfuls. I just don't like lamb/mutton/hogget/goat.

  43. onefang

    Re: At Vince H, re: FlockChain...

    "You don't want to know how much time it takes to proceed through shrubland brimming with ripe raspberries."

    You could no doubt get through it quicker if you don't stop to pick and eat the raspberries.

  44. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Max facked up

    use blockchain to handle cross-border transportation payments between autonomous vehicles

    Maybe this is the magical technology that half the Cabinet is currently arguing for in their max fac* fix for Norn Irelan's problems. It's either that or some more ministers are going to have to learn about the right hashtags needed to solve the problem.

    *Or maybe it's the 'pretend this is the EU' customs payments fix. I can't keep the nonsense straight anymore.

  45. Jon 37

    Blockchain is the wrong solution to anything

    Blockchain is an interesting technical hack to make Bitcoin work.

    It works equally well/badly for all the Bitcoin clones out there.

    For anything else... it doesn't fit.

    The whole hype about blockchain is (at best) buzzword-driven / solution-driven architecture. I.e. "we know what the solution is, lets try to fit it to another problem even though it's not actually the best solution to that problem". All the blockchain applications I've heard of could be implemented simpler and better with normal centralized databases.

    At worst, most "Blockchain" is a scam that is used to part the gullible from their money.

  46. katrinab Silver badge

    Re: Blockchain is the wrong solution to anything

    But there is also a "smart contract" which can do all sorts of amazing things, though nothing that wasn't predicted in the book Ada Lovlace published in 1834.

  47. MiguelC Silver badge

    Shame on me, indeed

    But, in my defense, as it came from Dabbsy and was on El Reg... OK, no excuse, I'll go flagellate myself now

  48. Goonery

    ...the cat farts...

    My eyes started watering, my stomach heaved and I burst out laughing - all at the same time.

    Thanks Dabbsy!

  49. chivo243 Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: ...the cat farts...

    +1

    I liked the bit about tumble weeds.... they should also be in slow motion ;-}

  50. Tikimon Silver badge

    Re: ...the cat farts...

    "I liked the bit about tumble weeds...."

    Don't forget the forsaken moaning of the arid wind, broken only by the piercing cry of a distant hawk in the parched, burning sky. Bonus points for a cow skull in the foreground!

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