You’ve heard about it somewhere. Maybe a local restaurant has a sign that says ‘bitcoin accepted here’, or maybe you’ve just read about a Ponzi scheme or drug and firearms deal associated with it. What is sure is that you probably don’t have the full story on it – and you should – it’s revolutionary.
To start with, take exactly 1 minute and 44 seconds and watch this video from the folks at www.weusecoins.com:
Next in line for your study is the Wikipedia page where you can go as deep as you want into the details
Summary of how it works
My understanding of Bit Coin (so far) is that it fits somewhere between ‘commodity’ (like gold) and a ‘currency’ (cold cash) and ‘bartering’ (exchanging products/services for other products/services). Here is a copy and paste from the Wikipedia page that expands on the ‘supply and demand’ aspect of bitcoin which shows it more as a ‘commodity’ with limited supply, behaving like gold or silver:
The number of new bitcoins created in each update is halved every 4 years until the year 2140 when this number will round down to zero. At that time no more bitcoins will be added into circulation and the total number of bitcoins will have reached a maximum of 21 million bitcoins.
Therefore, in my opinion, it’s more like a ‘precious metal’ than a currency or normal physical commodity. With gold or silver, we have a limited amount in the earth now, but there is not a known end point to how much silver or gold ‘could’ be mined from the earth. Someone ‘could’ find the mother load tomorrow and decrease the value of gold notably. Similarly, a government could (and probably will) just print a bunch of bills and decrease the value of currency with a quick vote. With bitcoin, the limit is 21 million and once they are mined, that’s it. One could present a very good case that mining, buying and being paid in bitcoin could be a very good future financial investment when/if it becomes accepted by the average citizen.
How an actual payment is made:
- Create your virtual wallet (at a place like blockchain.info) with a bitcoin application which generates a unique ‘address’ which can then be turned into a convenient QR code
- Bitcoin recipient shares their QR code (or address mumbo jumbo which looks like a string of random letters and numbers) and the person who wants to pay scans the code, enters how much, and boom. They have money.
- Bitcoin recipient can also send payment via blockchain’s SMS and email option. I just tested the SMS option and it worked. It looked as if a .0005 bitcoin transaction fee was applied to my account after doing it.
Side thought: So, theoretically, I guess you could carry your unique bitcoin wallet address with you as well as the QR code and you wouldn’t technically need a mobile device with you to receive payment, although it would be an unlikely scenario. However, is it possible to pay someone via bitcoin without a mobile? I suppose they could do it from any internet accessible computer…
The Big Picture
Before looking at the list of strengths and weaknesses of bitcoin, it’s important to focus back on the bigger picture. Our current monetary and trading system has some serious problems. Here is a quick list:
- currencies are tied to specific countries which are subject to specific problems (wars, government mismanagement, etc). Most people are not sophisticated enough to be able to trade in currencies to take advantage of this flaw so we just go up and down with the value of the day. What’s more interesting (a.k.a. ‘disturbing’) is that global currencies are valued against the US Dollar. How did this one country and it’s money become the benchmark for the rest of our money? Something worth considering.
- credit card companies are nasty in their business practices and their business model both to the customer and the merchant – while they are round-house kickin’ the customer for not paying on time, they are kicking the merchant in the crotch with both transaction fees and percentage of sales fees, for giving the customer the ability to get round-house kicked. Others call them ‘genius business model’.
- commodities are linked to a currency and are traded on a trading system/exchange that is linked to a country and currency – you think of gold as worth X amount in your native currency, not how much jewelry you can make from itn- and you can’t go hand someone gold dust for an americano…
- all of this stuff is tracked
Here are some real situations where bitcoin is superior:
- You pay your hairdresser with bitcoin and he goes and pays his barista for his coffee and his waiter for his meal. No parties declare any of it as ‘income’ because it never left the ‘bitcoin system’. In this situation it’s a ‘bartering’ system with a way to conveniently transfer funds without fees. Many have tried this in the past (Barter Dollars, Trade Exchange, etc) but convenience and fees made it more tricky. Although I’m definitely *not* an accountant and will not be held liable for this as taxation advice, I cannot see how this is not legitimate. Once you take it out as ‘cash’ (like an RRSP if you will) then you sign up to have both your yin and your yang taxed through the wazoo.
- When you buy your americano with bitcoin your coffee shop owner didn’t have to pay through the same yin-yang in both transaction fees and percentage-of-sale fees to Visa for your electronic convenience. If enough people did this, there is no reason why the savings couldn’t be passed back to the customer. Perhaps some businesses will offer a 1.5% discount to their customers for using bitcoin? Why not?
- You want to travel with money but you don’t want the amount of money limited to some governmental limit. Take bitcoin in your head. It’s not in your wallet or a bank so all you need is your password.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Here is a list of strengths and weaknesses that should be considered, yet not considered conclusive or exhaustive:
- decentralized (not under one government)
- fair fees (about 1 cent per transaction to keep system going)
- free to mine (anyone can mine for it)
- open source (no one owns the code)
- based on the internet which can go down
- if you lose your password you could lose your ‘wallet’
- Currently getting easier but not yet ‘easy’ to find businesses that accept it, especially brick and mortar businesses (this will change)
- Since it’s like cash, bad people can do bad things with it without being tracked (ie. drugs, firearms, Ponzi scams, etc).
- No one (yet) to turn to if a transaction goes sour, or for some reason a technical blunder occurs, or the unlikely event that your ‘wallet’ is compromised by a thief. But… is this any different than cash?
- Advantage given to early miners based on the half-life release of the bitcoins. I list it as a ‘weakness’ but is this any different from the ‘advantage’ the first courageous miners gained who risked their lives and went up north to the gold rush and struck it rich? Or like the entrepreneur who risks every dollar they ever earned to open a new business? Some consider this ‘unfair advantage’ but I consider it ‘first-mover advantage’ for the visionaries.
- you need some access to the internet and/or a mobile device which may be out of the reach for some less financially able folks.. although you could use the public library, I guess.
At some point soon I will publish an FAQ of questions that are not answered in this post. I will link it here when it’s published. Until then we hope to see you with full bitcoin wallet!
Do you like ham? You don’t have to eat ham to like it because now you can do the Baofeng UV-5R+ Plus.
I’m not paid to make sense so suck it up, Buttercup.
I’m talking about the most awesome ham *radio* ever. Well, it’s definitely the smallest and cheapest ham radio ever.
Leave it to the Chinese to make a good thing cheaper – and add on a flashing LED flashlight to boot. First it was Dim Sum, then Bruce Lee and now, ladies and gentlemen Baofeng.
As is standard with all Chinese products, there are a few flaws that you have to live with as punishment for not paying enough as follows:
- horrific user manual with creative Chinglish
- a bit of overheating
Not too bad, considering my radio and a handful of other accessories came to less than $100 on amazon.ca.
Here is what I gained:
- super small ham radio
- improved sound quality over my 15 year-old beast
- an LED flashlight…. ?
- VHF frequencies (my other one didn’t have it)
As much as I don’t want to admit it nor support it, my experience shopping on the Rainforest-like web shopping site went very well.
I will very likely, in the next little while, put a post together that brings all the Baofeng Wisdom of Ancient China together in one convenient place so keep your eyes out for that .
This post is more for myself but if it works then I’ll leave it up for others.
Goal: To be able to put any .apk file on my Android phone without having to use a google account and use their servers
Problem summary: It seems as though Android doesn’t come with a .apk file installer, even though it is widely known that it’s possible.
Details of problem:
I want to be able to avoid needing Google to use my phone the way I want. I paid a lot of my hard earned money for it and I don’t want someone telling me how I’m going to use it. That’s why I bought Bondage Bot instead of the Fruit Company in the first place. It was the lesser of two evils, I heard. And Ubuntu Touch is not quite ready for this phone so triple lame.
My buddy told me about a .apk file that will allow me to download and install basically anything – both bad and good. So, I got the .apk file on my SD card in my phone but couldn’t figure out how to install it. It seems there is not an installer. Lame. During the research I also found out that it seems Bondage Bot also does not have a file browser in the OS so I can’t just search for the file and click on it.
Apparently if i download a .apk file from the internet it will prompt me to install it (as long as I’ve allowed my phone to do so). So, I’m going to
1. upload the .apk file browser to this blog post
*FAIL! .apk is apparently not allowed to be uploaded ‘for security reasons’. Sheesh.
*Now uploaded to another site: see below
2. Upload the .apk file that allows me to get files in the future and attach to this blog post
3. Make sure my settings of phone allow installing of third party apps
4. Download the file browser .apk file (#1) through my phone’s web browser which will hopefully prompt me to download then even more hopefully, install it
5. open file browser app and search/find the ‘fake market’ app and install it
6. put any .apk file on the SD card and be able to install it with the file browser I installed.
Wish me luck. If it worked, then I’ll leave post as is. If not, I’ll come back and do some edits.
FILE BROWSER –File removed as you can search it and install it once you get the file below installed–
-Update: Almost worked. but says ‘has a problem parsing the package’ for file browser.
HOWEVER! the second one worked and now I will try to get the astro browser through the fake market.
– Update: Amazing. it worked. I just searched ‘astro file manager’ in the Black mart app and now I’m downloading the file. Hopefully it will install from there but if not I guess I don’t really need it anyways since I can get stuff through this app.
So Google (gmail, specifically since that’s all I have left with them) used to bother me a little bit. Once in a while they would sneakily try to get me to register my mobile number in connection with my Gmail account under the cover of ‘extra security’.
Hey, Wayne. Just enter your mobile number here and then you can recover your password and stuff if you lose it. – Mister Googal
Sounded good. I considered it briefly until I thought again about why Google should have my number associated with 4 quadrillion advertisers and the rest of my personal information that they have gradually sucked onto their servers over the last ten years (yes, I was an early gmailer).
I refused to give it to them for the last three years or so when the message would pop up from time to time.
Today, though, they changed their message. Now they said “Keep your account more secure! Know instantly if someone is messing around with your account!” It showed an image of some evil dude hacking your computer while your mobile displays an alert.
First of all, if evil dude hacks your gmail, now he’s got your mobile, too. But worse than the evil dude having your mobile, Google has it!
I’m not surprised that El Googoo wants it so bad, though. They aren’t even close to unintelligent. In fact, they are so good at what they do that it’s disturbing.
And for that reason alone I won’t hand over my mobile number.
In fact, all of this stuff has motivated me further to get ‘off the grid’. Thanks to a few friends, I’ve dusted off my ham radio and started using that. I’d like to see M. Gougou try to spam me there.
I’d also like to propose a challenge to everyone out there to un-google with me. I’ve started slowly but I’m making progress. I bet you can’t do it!
I have been a happy member of the Ubuntu community and user of the product for years now. Today I decided to ask the internet ‘why’. I had my own reasons why but I wondered what Mr. WWW was telling people.
I was surprised. I couldn’t find any short summary. It was all too product-based or too philosophy based but didn’t quite sum up the ‘big picture’ for someone who wanted a quick read. I was tempted to call this post “Ubuntu: Why all the Hype?”
I remember Randall Ross saying somewhere… or writing somewhere something about ‘How Many P’s are there in ‘Ubuntu’?” I searched his blog but was unable to find the P’s. I’ll kindly request that Randall officially publish those or if someone could fire a link to these in the the comments below that will be much appreciated. The P’s that I remember are Philosophy, People, Product which are the key things that got me moved over to Ubuntu and kept me there. I think Privacy might have been one, too.
Even the official Why Use Ubuntu page on ubuntu.com wasn’t really that satisfying for me.
So without further adieu, my spew:
- it doesn’t cost you money, and therefore is not reserved for the elite. A child in a poor country has the same rights to be involved as a rich man
- it is built by the community and therefore for the community. Instead of a boardroom of software execs deciding which new thing they can craft up that will keep the users in bondage to their business model, a grandpa alone in Moosejaw (that’s a real place, by the way) can, with the help of the community, suggest or even write a change to the system and watch it take place before their eyes. They can do software instead of being done by software.
- you remain in control of your hardware that you paid for. Now that I’ve been an Ubuntu fanboy for a while, I find it disturbing to think that the operating system – the thing that has complete control over your hardware – could be shipped to you pre-installed without your consent. The company could limit you from what you could do with that hardware you paid for, or they could give themselves power over it without your consent. I no like.
- you’re not alone. There are people out there who are really excited about Ubuntu and they’ll help you. They want to see you succeed because when you succeed so do they. People are volunteering lots of their time to organize meetups, to write helpful material and to write code to improve everything. You can join or start local groups and you can network online. Instead of clicking aimlessly online you can talk to people.
- it’s unified. it is the only operating system to have unity (hence the name Unity) from a PC, to a laptop, to a netbook, to a tablet, to a TV all the way down to a smart phone (search ‘Ubuntu Phone’). Across all hardware, Ubuntu unites them.
- it works. Ubuntu never fails to amaze me. Whenever I use it, everything just feels and works better. I don’t get paralysing crashes, slow bootups, lag times, etc. Its smooth and it works.
- it’s fast. On one occasion I was forced to use a big slow operating system. For fun I decided to boot Ubuntu from a USB stick which should be slower than the native operating system since it’s running on the external drive. To my surprise it was like someone handed me a new laptop – it was alive again and snappy fast. The proof is in the pudding.
- it’s safe. I challenge you to find any virus written for Ubuntu and if you do, I challenge you to show me that it had any negative impact. I have not so much as thought about viruses since I made the switch years ago. Want the world to see everything you do on your hardware? Do not use Ubuntu!
- it’s both cool and creative. I just love the way that every few months I have something to be excited about. I know that someone in the community has changed something for the better and that soon enough when I upgrade to the next release something will get cooler. Compare that to my crippling and enslaving experience with big proprietary company’s updates when I dreaded the next release because I knew something I paid for in the past would no longer be supported and I would have to pay extra to get it working again.
- it’s simple and easy. My mom and dad are 74 years old and have been with Ubuntu for years. They haven’t experienced any major problems and if they did the community was there to help get it resolved – for FREE
- its growing. Although I don’t have the reference here I was under the understanding that Ubuntu was the fastest growing operating system in the world (reference needed). The point is is that it’s not dying like many other systems and seeing a downward curve.
- its freakin’ awesome. No further comments
I found another P in Ubuntu.
I hope that this has been helpful in converting you from darkness to light and from folly to wisdom. The great part about having a free will is that no one will stop you from smashing your own head against a cement wall if you want to. That’s your right. No one can take that from you (although they probably should).
Do what you choose but I strongly recommend doing your due diligence and doing the right thing wherever you can. Imagine regaining your freedom and how sweet that would feel? It’s empowering.
Join the Ubuntu Project today.
Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com, Sat, 07/16/2011 – 23:47
I avoided Apple for a long time. A very long time. While everyone was running around snapping up their expensive, locked-down hardware for extreme prices, I enjoyed more open items like Ubuntu operating systems and Android mobile devices.
However, we didn’t have a touch device for home, more specifically, for my wife who periodically wishes to distract our daughter with it. During a marriage-altering blowup, my precious throws in her lack of an IPhone or IPod Touch (or my vehement opposition to its purchase) as one reason why I suck. So, I decide to give my blessings towards the purchase of an Ipod Touch because at least we won’t be stuck on some wackage-package from a cell provider…
My woes didn’t take long to surface. Here they are as I discovered them:
1. You cannot expand the storage memory at all! Like.. no SD slot. Nothing. Further, there isn’t a micro USB input! Could you be any more lame?
2. No wall, 110V outlet power charger. Just the USB charger. I would love to charge for 5 times longer than necessary so please make sure to not include that in the box. 🙁
3. They force you to synchronize with Itunes!!! Like… you can’t seem to move files back and forth without the installation of Itunes. I accepted that, but then I found out the real doozy – you can’t put Itunes on Linux!! Now I’m just fuming. Not only do they lock you out, but they also lock you in! It’s like the jail of jails. You Apple to get in, and you need Apple (or Windows) to get out. So lame. So, so, lame.
4. When I finally got Itunes downloaded and ready to install on my virtual machine in Ubuntu, I discovered yet another thing that sucks – Itunes is one of the biggest most annoying programs I have ever installed! It took me like five years to finally get it installed. I think I saw 4 million registry files being edited 🙁
5. Now that you finally have your precious and highly-proprietary Itunes installed on your Windows (or Mac)(but not any other OS) system, you’ll be pleased to know that the pain is only just beginning. Now you have to become an Apple-Man and get yourself a IAccount. This requires submitting pretty much everything about yourself to Apple headquarters. Apple finalized the deal, after getting all that info from me, with a request for a credit card or some kind of payment information. I assumed that you’d probably have to submit this even if you wanted free apps because they probably have a payment-portal system set up regardless of whether it’s free or not. I’ll find out about that soon.
So, my first two hours of Apple have been poop-lame-sucky. I hope the actual use of this device makes me forget how black my soul got this evening 🙁
PS. Any of you who think this was all ‘ok’ should seriously check yourselves in. I’m here to tell you that THERE IS A BETTER WAY. Make your next device NOT Apple even if it’s just for the stuff I blogged.
And three more un-smilies for the road 🙁 🙁 🙁
Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com, Thu, 10/13/2011
I found that I was posting this too much and it was annoying copying and pasting all these links, so here is a funkly little static page that has all the funkly little linkies that you can simply short-link and tweet to your buddy and your gramma.
Hope it adds value to your life and helps you win friends and influence people:
I think it’s interesting how most people who claim to care about freedom don’t have a ham radio (amateur radio) license, especially you folks in open source.
You reject and rebel against the Monopolists in Redmond and the Fruit Devices from Cupertino recognizing that they are dictating how you will and will not use the thing you are spending all your money on.
You recognize that it’s freaky and weird to give all the power of your privacy and information over to a company.
You think it’s insane that someone would participate in something where not paying a license fee could jeopardize a business or the functionality of someone’s day-to-day.
You relish and brag about your freedom – and rightfully so.
You are a warrior in the battle against the Man and the eyes of Big Brother.
Have I puffed you up enough? Very well, then. Get ready to be brought low.
If you don’t have a ham radio license don’t come around calling yourself a man. You are a pansy-boy, sissy-girl. And if you’re already a girl, you’re a flaky fan-girl – a Barbie Doll at best.
Real men have hams.
Real women have call signs.
Real men speak to real women with their ham radios.
The service on your cell phone (except for a 911 call) is merely leased to you by likely one of a few mobile service monopolists. If they had their way, they would also charge you for that 911 call. Until the Ubuntu Phone was announced a couple of days ago, even the operating system on that smart phone that you pack with you is owned by someone else – and the data on it – don’t kid yourself.
So don’t tell me you love freedom that much.
“Oh, but I use a dumb phone,” you say.
Nice try. Let’s see how well your dumb phone works during an earthquake or if you don’t pay your bill. But really, nice try.
A ham radio requires a little studying, but once you get it, you’ve got yourself a ‘free cell phone forever’ – if you can find someone to talk to. And that, in essence, is the root of the problem.
The only people who seem to have a ham radio are wearing Depends, on serious medication or are serious geeks – and I mean serious. That’s why I always went alone. I didn’t want anyone to find out that I hung out with these people and liked what they liked.
But lately I’ve been thinking about it. It’s almost like the whole system we live in is Anti-Ham. The test isn’t that hard… so why aren’t more people doing it? In Canada you get free custom license plates for your car with your call sign! Isn’t that reason enough? Nope. Still no one does it. You can make a free call to your family if they have licenses – unlimited airtime – for free. Not good enough. You can connect to the internet with it and speak to ham radios all around the world: you could speak to your ham-buddy climbing a mountain in South Korea from just like he’s around the corner – for free. Still not good enough.
It’s almost as if the entire system is Anti-Ham and we shouldn’t be surprised.
Ham radio gives power to the people – like Ubuntu, unions or voting. To put it in perspective, you can take away my cell phone and I can still remain connected to the world – while mobile. That’s a power I’m assuming the mobile service providers don’t want you to know or think about. I’m assuming they are not rushing around trying to help promote ham radio.
My parents have a cabin where only one cellular network works. Instead of taking my advice and getting licensed and throw a killer ham radio in their car and cabin (maybe $500-$750 capital investment?) they will likely spend well over $2400 over the next five years to get suited up with a monthly mobile plan on that network.
Hams own their own network!
Enough about this already. You get the point. Get licensed and track me down on the ham waves.
My call sign is VE7CAK (that’s Charlie Alpha Kilo” to you)
“Be a man. Do da light fing.” – R. Peters
I don’t usually get excited much these days because all advancements in smart phone technology seem to be coalescing to a very dangerous point – monopoly of your life and complete control over your privacy.
In Randall’s article he announced the first thing that excited me in this arena since Angry Birds – The Ubuntu Phone. He explains well about why it’s awesome. However, he only hints as to why it’s important but I wanted to make sure people started thinking about the ‘why’ right away.
No one can deny that there are currently really only two options out there for people who want to own a smart phone: Bondage Bot (Android) and Fruit Devices (Apple products).
Symbian (Nokia) seems dead. Rest in peace, by the way. You were the best before this U-Phone announcement.
Microsoft is laughable. Actually, it’s more like an uncomfortable laugh – like when you politely laugh at the socially-awkward person who inappropriately blurts something weird out as they try desperately to fit in to what’s happening.
Blackberry is App-less in Arizona (that looks like ‘appless’ without the dash which is weird, eh?).
I don’t think we need to worry too much about the latter three, but the former two do concern me.
The Fruit People from Cupertino seem to want to control their victims by telling them how they will or will not use the hardware (that they paid way too much for) and by making them think they are cool.
Team Bondage-Bot seem to make the most useful and addictive tools for our daily lives while subtly buying every small company under the sun and gathering every last piece of information about you and storing it on their servers.
Both options are freaky and I no rike it.
So, a big thank you to all the people out there in Ubuntu-Land who have given me something to be excited about again – a smart phone that leaves me with the freedom we deserve. This is Ubuntu Gangnam Style