Monday, August 29, 2016

Encryption and Zero Knowledge

2014 has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve been working with cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging (EMP) for a full year now. I watched the shutdown and persecution of Lavabit‘s owner, Ladar Levison with great curiosity and trepidation. A quick check of google trends shows that the term “encrypted messaging” is on an upward trajectory: While “email” is relatively flat: Google searches suggest that email has reached near maximum market penetration. Email’s inherent insecurity is also becoming more pronounced as cyber-criminals become more advanced. The State Department was targeted several weeks ago. Today the New York Times reported that several biotech …continue reading

Units of measure

Science Fiction has always shaped reality. Tablets were predicted by Star Trek, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and many more. Mashable even published a list of sci-fi books that predicted future events. I’m not implying that theses people posses some special skill, but rather that society follows ques. Science fiction writers happen to be particularly adept at telling what science may actually do in the near to long term future. In one specific case many sci-fi games & movies have currencies that are defined by “credits” or “units”. Theses terms both represent possession, rather than wealth. Some of these movies …continue reading

Altcoins are about to go crazy

At some point late last year the price of bitcoins started to go crazy. We saw huge month over month gains, anyone who got in at the right time did fairly well. Altcoins are just about to do the same thing. If you buy into Gresham’s Law this all starts to make a lot more sense. The value of money is directly related to it’s security. Security is comprised of two components, price stability and actual security. Price stability is still tough with crypto-currency but things are getting better, albeit slowly. Security on the other hand is pretty simple. Assuming …continue reading

Decentralized Mining

There’s been a lot of concern over Ghash reaching over 51% of the bitcoin network. Previously I’ve written about why this doesn’t bother me. There’s a very reasonable solution to all of this — location based domain were huge in the 90′s and early 2k’s. They make a lot of sense for mining pools. If mining pools are geographically they should be essentially equal, with a nexus around Lake Moses, WA. If you’re in the geo-domain community and this is something that interests you please send me an email: x (at) chicago.com.

Why Bitcoin Wins

There are some serious advantages to bitcoin for both consumers and merchants that have been seriously overlooked. Bitcoin is more than some strange technology, but rather a paradigm shift in the banking industry. Bitcoin turns banking into a commodity, thus allowing the free market to select payment processors on a basis of efficiency and nothing else. The banking industry drains hundreds of millions of dollars off of the economy every year. This cannot and should not be the case. Bitcoin encourages the very conceptual framework that my country of residence (USA!) was built upon, and they just sold 29k BTC. …continue reading

Why I’m not worried about GHash and 51%

The bitcoin wiki explains what an attacker with 51% of the network can do: An attacker that controls more than 50% of the network’s computing power can, for the time that he is in control, exclude and modify the ordering of transactions. This allows him to: Reverse transactions that he sends while he’s in control. This has the potential to double-spend transactions that previously had already been seen in the block chain. Prevent some or all transactions from gaining any confirmations Prevent some or all other miners from mining any valid blocks The attacker can’t: Reverse other people’s transactions Prevent …continue reading

ASIC-Proof Digital Currency

The other day someone proposed a hard fork of the litecoin protocol aimed at reducing the efficiency of ASICs. The idea of keeping users and mega-mines on equal footing is great in concept but in practice this will ultimately fail. ASICs by their very nature can attack any known problem. The solution to ASICs isn’t in a different algorithm, rather it lies in changing the algorithm on a regular or, perhaps, random basis. An ASIC simply can’t hit a moving target. By shifting the algorithm on a regular or random basis the best tool for the job becomes a general …continue reading

Taxes, Bitcoin & the Future

Yesterday the IRS decided on a tax treatment for bitcoin. This seems to have left a lot of people scratching their heads. There’s one decent synopsis here. Now, lets get to their ruling, and why I don’t think this can possibly stand. Bitcoin miners are just like many businesses the IRS has seen before. It’s a fairly simple value add model. Miners spend a fixed amount of money on a shiny metal box that helps them produce revenue while incuring other variable costs, most notably HVAC and power. Every major miner knows his or her cost per coin or at …continue reading

Lets get rid of MLS

I’m moving. This is the 6th time I’ve moved in my adult life, it’s always a pain point. To get the best deal you have to search a million sites; I’ve had tabs open on hot pads, craigslist and domu for an embarassing number of days. Then there’s the junk that you have to sort through, half the adverts are fake or spam for apartment brokers while many of the good ones may go un-noticed. Here’s a simple solution: use a blockchain, ala bitmessage. Realtors could provide streams, and, by way of these streams a longer than default hosting and …continue reading

Use the IRS instead of GameStop

I Do this every year. It happens to make resolving tax disputes very easy, and is certainly better than using GameStop as a bank. The United States Government is one of the longest running financial institutions in the world. Your money is probably far safer there than in a bank or any non-traditional mechanism. They won’t give you a great interest rate (roughly 3%) but at least your money is safe.