Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

My response to Robert Reich’s comment on cryptocurrency

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

1) I think it’s a good thing to take money – the power to mint it and control it – out of the hands of government. Crypto also offers the possibility of evolving money in two important directions – #1: we can start tracking metadata for each transaction including real world resources and man-hours – ETH already has the vehicle for this, although it would take getting everyone to understand why it was a good idea to get it implemented #2: We can start using separate types of money for renewable and nonrenewable resources. Cryptocurrency helps open people’s eyes to the idea of ‘multiple types of money’ and could also be a vehicle to help facilitate this. Squishing all types of value into one type of money is resulting in us repeatedly doing stupid things.
2) The large use of energy is something that could easily be rectified. If instead of having all participants constantly hashing and scaling the difficulty needed by the total hashrate, we required participants to *occasionally* hash to prove they *could have* (replace the proof of work with a proof of capability of work) and to hash on demand (allowing the network both to get the hashes it needs to make the blockchain go and also allowing the network to challenge suspected cheaters to prove they really can turn over them hashes) we could reduce power exponentially. The huge power usage is because no matter how many participate, the payout per block is the same – and stupid numbers of people have started participating. We can design the network to still do what it does while using a lot less power than it does.
3) Blockchain technology offers us a lot of awesome possibilities, including the possibility of checking vote aggregation ourselves. So far it’s the wild west on the idea of using it for money/value, but the idea is a good one – governments would likely be much better behaved if we took the power of the purse away from them. This is not saying I don’t believe in funding government operations – but right now, my government is murdering massive numbers of people using my tax dollars, and I feel represented by basically Bernie, AOC, and no one else. Cryptocurrencies offer us the possibility of taking some power away from governments and I think that is a good thing
4) Some cryptocurrencies also use very little power while empowering a new way of building a communications network – I gesture you to Helium.
5) All that said – the future of cryptocurrencies as a vehicle for value is extremely unclear. No one should invest any money in them they can not afford to lose. It is also not at all clear what future cryptocurrencies based on a proof of work that uses hashing have post the advent of large quantum computers.
6) Most of the time I agree with you, but on this one I think you’re probably under informed and acting as a shill for people in power that are frightened – though whether that’s because they *don’t* understand blockchain or whether it’s because they do, I don’t know.

Pipeline Shutdowns, Windows Versions, and dystopias

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

So, I’ve become sufficiently cynical to suspect that the actual running of the pipeline recently shut down by ransomware was done by industrial controllers, and the operators shut it down because they’re very conservative and they hoped they could make the Biden administration et al look bad. IT’s difficult to know, although I do hope this will push massive EV adoption. It would be nice if in their attempt to hold a gun to our head Big Oil committed suicide instead.

What I do know is that the hack occured becuase Microsoft abandons old windows versions. Now, this should be illegal – similar to how car manufacturers are required to provide repair parts for any mass produced automobile, Microsoft should be forced to release the source code for any operating system they abandon so volunteers can continue to maintain it. Linux proves that open-source software is more stable and secure than closed-source anyway.

Now, many people would say “No, you should be forced to regularly “upgrade” (in the case of win 10, downgrade) so Microsoft can continue making a profit. I don’t understand why these people want to live in a dystopia. Being forced to adapt to a change when you’re busy doing something else is clearly dystopian, and there’s also almost no chance that all the makers of (perfectly functional, useful, sometimes very complex and expensive) computer-interfaced hardware are going to manage to get drivers out for each new version Microsoft chooses to create.

Someone was trying to convince me we should nationalize Facebook because they’re upset Trump got kicked off it. No, that’s a horrible idea – my final argument that I would describe as a crushing blow was to ask if we should nationalize all communication infrastructure – should Fox News be nationalized? How is this different from Ganz Deutschland hört den Furher im Volksempfanger? No, I don’t think so. But we probably do need to have greater government oversight of Microsoft given the position operating systems play in our world – and as I said, they should be *forced* – if they want to stay in business in the USA – to release the source code of anything they abandon so it can continue to be maintained.

Let’s *try* to aim for *less* of a dystopia rather than more?

Side note – being forced to ride the upgrade train may be another example of how capitalism encourages us to make really bad decisions. It raises GDP, and our government seems to think a perpetually climbing GDP is a good thing, but it reduces effectiveness and wastes man-hours – it wastes real world resources to make paper ones. Sounds like another great example of the tool using us instead of us using the tool!

The windows 10 nightmare

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

So, this is a great article that I think sums up why I think windows 10 – and MacOs 11 – are both heading straight into dystopian land. Big corporations believe that it’s their computer, not yours, and thanks to Citizens United, those big corporations own the government as well.

(one of my friends immediately equates me saying this with me being a Trumpian Antimasker who believes the Hollywood Elites and Liberal Academia are responsible for all the ills of the world – and I really don’t think it’s the same thing at all. Trumpanzees and antivaxers believe in things which are *not true* – I believe in something which is *demonstrably* true, which is that Microsoft has placed themselves in a position to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent and is steadily abusing this position more and more. You *cannot* remove Edge from Windows 10. Nor a whole long list of other applications. Microsoft sincerely believes it is their computer, not yours. Even scarier, in S mode you cannot install Chrome)

At this point I am *hoping* Microsoft screws up in some way which results in bricking millions of windows PCs, because at least that will get the government to notice how scarily dictatorship-like their position is over the desktop market. In the meantime, I will keep running windows 7,

A possible alternative to ‘S mode’

Friday, April 30th, 2021

So, I had a interesting thought about a possible use for the blockchain. One thing it could be used for would be store known good signatures for applications – in this particular case, each time someone chose to run a application, you would look up the most recent block with that signature on it and you’d also run some hashes. As more and more hashes got run, the signature would become associated with a block starting with more and more zeros – the idea here is instead of letting Microsoft push a list of signatures as good (and after all, why should we trust them? They gave us windows 10, not to mention a long list of other stinkers) the group at large would decide which signatures were trustworthy. The idea here is that a attacker ideally would not be able to get a large enough bank of computers to do enough hashing to ‘legitimize’ a signature – you could also add things like a restriction of how many hashes per IP address per day could be registered etc.

I would like for us to have some way of knowing which binaries we could trust, I just don’t want to have to trust vendors we already know we can’t trust (i.e. Microsoft) for those signatures.

Another thought that came to me is how much better the world’s software would be if every ten years (say) everyone was *required* to release their source code and then anyone could develop it further. We’d end up with competing companies developing operating systems that ineroperated – it’s good that we have competing companies writing operating systems but it’s less than ideal that they can’t all run the same binaries (for example)