There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

The Many Sides of Bitcoin

Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, , and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka ), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort of “geek fantasy” or in this case, a means to launder dirty money, primarily used by criminals engaging in drug trafficking, credit card fraud, or even murder for hire. Just prior to this news, bitcoin market prices had stabilized, hovering around the mid $100s.

The news brought with it an unsurprisingly quick but temporary dip. Importantly, it gained enough attention to trigger a serious rally on various international bitcoin exchanges, with BTC-China, seemingly leading the way. A rally that would see a single bitcoin reach an all time high of $1242 over the Thanksgiving holiday. While daily news focused upon predicted value and claims of “Tulip Mania redux,” the newly curious were drawn to the promise of unexpected richesAllegations of theft and fraud were equally common. The latter however, did not appear to negatively impact bitcoin’s growing popularity. That is, not for long.

As public interest increased, so too, did government interest. With a November US Senate Hearing, and announcements from various governments relaying their stance on the now, blooming bitcoin (is that like an onion? or should that be, tulip?). The news that The People’s Bank of China had officially banned financial institutions from engaging in bitcoin transactions sent the bitcoin market price tumbling to a temporary low of $500, then stabilizing at around $800. The Royal Bank of India issued a cautionary that it neither regulates or supports bitcoin. And Russia clarified its laws regarding the illegal use of any currency other than rubles.

On other fronts, bitcion startups, such as Coinbase began to see serious investments from the venture capital community.  Heavy hitting Wall Street firms, such as Second Market and Fortress Investment Group, began adding bitcoin to their portfolio offerings. And large e-commerce companies, such as Overstock and TigerDirect added bitcoin to their payment choices. Both, arguably attempting to get a head start on the projected b-commerce stampede. Law Enforcement appears to be catching up, as well, as various known and unknown individuals have been arrested and indicted on money laundering charges, causing some to proclaim that “bitcoin is under siege.”

And then, there’s Mt. Gox, the thorn in bitcoin’s side. Whether it’s the hack of 2011, the DDoS of 2013, or the recent decision to indefinitely suspend BTC  withdrawals, citing bitcoin transaction malleability. The latter, a known issue since 2011, is discussed in a technical paper, “How to deal with malleability of BitCoin transactions” by Marcin Andrychowicz, Stefan Dziembowski, Daniel Malinowski, and Łukasz Mazurek, of the University of Warsaw, published on December 11, 2013.

The Mt. Gox history, curious, in and of itself, began as a “Magic: the Gathering” trading card exchange, converting to bitcoin trading in 2011, and accounting for 70% of bitcoin trades by April of 2013. Because of this, bitcoin value repeatedly reported by the press is usually based upon Mt. Gox’s market index, which regularly hovers as much as $100USD over other exchanges. This may change. Especially since Coindesk finally removed Mt. Gox from their market index.

This is but one side of bitcoin.

Another side begins with Satoshi Nakamoto’s seminal bitcoin design paper, which, admittedly to this author, has reminescent flavors of the of old. Nakamoto’s paper proposed a peer to peer compute intensive cryptocurrency, bitcoin. The general concept involved a headless means to execute and confirm transactions (aka ) via a distributed network, removing the middleman, while adding a layer of anonymity. The proof of concept arrived on January 3, 2009 and was christened, the Genesis Block.

To mathematical purists and technical aficionados, the design was nothing less than elegant. Something that solved a complex problem, trust and double spending, by relying upon hashing algorithms to validate transactions. Once verified, blocks of transactions would be added to the Block Chain, and those who used their computers to verify these transactions, would be awarded 50 bitcoins: a number that would halve every 4 years.

In a sense, bitcoin was written off as a geek novelty. A concept that challenged the average layman… “what do you mean by mining? who backs bitcoin? where is it located? can you hold it in your hand? how can i spend it?” are standard questions when raising the topic.

Unlike bitcoin as a commodity, to be bought and sold, this side involves bitcoin as a new form of currency. A means to transact business online. Arguably, anonymously. Importantly, without a central body controlling the value. In this context, wide-spread bitcoin adoption is crucial. Even so, bitcoin does not need to replace fiat to be successful. Rather, it need only be seen as yet another payment option and not at all dissimilar to accepting Mastercard, Visa, or American Express, as opposed to cash.

This unfortunately cannot occur until a means is found to secure bitcoin, while at the same time, making it convenient to use. Bitcoins also need to be dispersed to a wider audience. However, as long as the consumer sees bitcoin as a commodity, they will rely upon the market index to assign a fiat value to bitcoin, thereby being mentally unprepared to part with their coins, in hopes that the market price increases. An extreme example of the perceived consumer risk is the pizza purchased for 10K bitcoins.

While market volatility issues are important to the consumer, not so with the merchant. The present b-commerce design and implementation immediately converts bitcoin to fiat, thereby obviating risks introduced by market volatility. This in turn removes merchant adoption hurdles and increases the likelihood that merchants will hop aboard the bitcoin train as its popularity grows. Increased merchant adoption can have an interesting effect by inviting the consumer to transact in bitcoin regardless of perceived value. Consumer adoption would be accelerated if an e-commerce giant such as eBay or Amazon were to accept bitcoin.

In the end, these are but two sides the coin. The real beauty of bitcoin is not whether it is a commodity or a currency. Rather, it is the potential “other sides” that the protocol, by design and implementation, introduces.