Category : internet

Remember when Bitcoin was $100? You know, like 2 months ago? Well now it has leaped up $100 in just 4 hours, rising from $500 to $600 USD before retreating slightly.

Bitcoin on Nov 18, 2013

It seems the Little Currency That Could is making a run at $1000. We’ll soon see if it can make it before the bubble bursts again.

But why  are people investing in this crazy “virtual currency” anyway?
When I first stumbled across Bitcoin back in 2011, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It seemed a pretty quixotic goal, making a new currency just for the internet. I knew the network effect was critical for gaining any traction, and at the time it was just the province of a few cypherpunks, led by a mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto who hasn’t been heard from since 2010. This person or group started the whole thing with a white paper laying out how it would work. Soon the system was up and running. There were a few bumps along the way but this resilient idea has since caught on and now there are a flurry of competing crypto-currencies — that is, digital money that’s secured by lots of complex math.

There’s more to Bitcoin than just another internet scam or tulip craze. The underlying technology that makes Bitcoin work is not smoke and mirrors. You can see it working every day as money is transferred all over the world, nearly insantly. All you need is an internet connection, which of course is needed for any sort of online banking you do with traditional money. Bitcoin’s genius is making large-scale, distributed cryptography work for the masses.

That’s the important point: Bitcoin works for the masses, unlike traditional fiat currencies like the US Dollar. Despite our democratic ideals, American money policy is decided behind closed doors by a secretive agency that fiddles with interest rates and makes huge bond purchases with money it creates from nothing. Transparency is not the Federal Reserve’s style.

Money for the masses
With Bitcoin, the code is open source and there is no central authority or bank — the job of verifying transactions is distributed across the globe. Don’t trust Bitcoin? Review the source code yourself and suggest changes if the security is not up to snuff. Let there be no mistake — Bitcoin is not yet out of “beta” and is not financed by a huge corporation with a strict delivery timeline. Nope, this is a bunch of self-appointed Guardian Nerds who mostly have day jobs not related to Bitcoin (except lead developer Gavin Andresen, who is paid by the nascent Bitcoin Foundation).

With that in mind, it’s best to think of Bitcoin as something that will be really cool and world-changing…

But it isn’t yet. Not until an easier payment system is deployed (it’s being developed now) and a stronger ecosystem of merchants accepting the currency emerges. What we’re witnessing now is a speculative landgrab because smart folks know that Bitcoin’s current market cap of 5 or 6 billion is chump change compared to what a fully mature, global digital currency would have if it were successful. To put it in comparison, Bill Gates could buy the whole Bitcoin economy nearly 10 times over, even in this midst of this bubble.

But is this a bubble or merely staggered massive growth?

Bitcoin versus traditional forms of money
Many valuations have been tossed about for Bitcoin. Most are probably overly optimistic, but the naysayers ignore the fact that Bitcoin was cleverly designed to be a store of value first and a currency second. It’s been derided as a “deflationary currency” even though it’s presently inflating at over 10% as new bitcoins are mined and put into circulation. Though misunderstood, Bitcoin is just on a somewhat-flexible schedule of inflation that will limit it to at most 21 million coins. It will take nearly 100 years for it to inflate from the present total of 12 million to its final total of 21 million. That’s not a bad thing — you can plan your life around that, whereas the Fed could change course tomorrow and you’d have no recourse except to try and compensate for what you think might be their new strategy.

Make no mistake: Bitcoin threatens inflationary currencies because it offers a release valve available to regular folks if the government and/or central bank decides to inflate your currency (as they inevitably do). That’s a good thing because competition among currencies can only help consumers and merchants. Central banks won’t be able to inflate secretly without the price of Bitcoin being affected.

Bitcoin is still pretty clumsy as a currency, but it works well as a store of value as long as you follow proper security procedures and principles. Does your password contain your name or birthday or even the word “password” in it? Does it have the string “12345″ in it? Perhaps you should not buy any bitcoin until “Bitcoin Banks” emerge to offer security to the security-impaired. The bad thing about a global, distributed currency is that it can be stolen remotely too. Don’t skimp on the passwords and don’t keep everything all in one place, like your email account which could itself be hacked. Enable 2 factor authentication where available.

Soon, major merchants will start accepting Bitcoin because they want to save money on credit card transaction fees and/or Paypal charges. Bitcoin is close to free (currently around 3 cents, regardless of the size of the transaction) versus the 2 or 3% fee associated with credit cards.

China: the sleeping giant awakens
Much of the current boom has been driven by enthusiasm in China. During the last huge bubble in April China was barely a participant. This time they are driving the whole market and are responsible for more than half of all exchange trades which consistently outweighs the USD. The Chinese seem to like Bitcoin. A lot.

That means we’re in uncharted waters. Who knows the depths of their desire for bitcoin? Their proclivities could change the world because the Chinese and westerners have different philosophies of money. The Chinese are savers whereas the West has encouraged spending and investment through inflationary currencies that need to be earning you money or solving a problem, or else they are losing value. Much of western civilization is predicated on this quirk of our monetary system. Before, the only way to opt out was to buy gold and silver, but Bitcoin offers a new way to preserve value over time, but has the advantage that it can be sent anywhere in the world cheaply and in about an hour.

That’s why people have taken to calling Bitcoin things like Digital Gold and Gold 2.0. It could become a whole new asset class.

Bitcoin is a blessing and a curse for the Obama Administration
That’s been a problem for the US Government  – it doesn’t know how to classify Bitcoin for tax and regulation purposes. Is it a currency? A store of value? An asset? A security? A collectible? A stock in some hippy/libertarian enterprise? All of the above?

While many observers thought that the US regime would quickly make Bitcoin illegal because of its threat to the US Dollar, it now appears Washington is going to take a more wait & see approach, partly because the Chinese boom seems certain to incubate a new wave of start-ups and millionaires just like the early PC revolution did in the 80s and the internet boom did during the late 90s. Lawmakers face a stark choice: Do you want this new round of innovation to happen in Silicon Valley… or Shanghai?

Besides, Obama/Congress making Bitcoin illegal would only apply to the US and would only serve to drive it underground.  The Feds could try to eradicate it on the internet (at the cost of our liberties), but they would ultimately succeed only restricting commerce. Bitcoin is easy enough to hold offline as a paper wallet. I’m not sure if the US government even still bothers to feign interest in the plight of oppressed peoples living under dictatorships unless there happens to be some oil nearby, but if they did care, Bitcoin is a great way to effect commerce outside the grip of a despot. The obvious early candidates for Bitcoin merchants is any business involving the internet so buying a web domain with bitcoin is already possible. Soon other anti-censorship tools could become available with a digital currency that is difficult for authorities to track if you use appropriate anonymizing tools.

Is Bitcoin anonymous? Sort of.
It should be noted that Bitcoin is not fully anonymous. In fact, every transaction ever made is stored in a huge public ledger (the “Blockchain”) that is hosted and shared by anybody running a Bitcoin node. This helps verify that coins aren’t spent twice and ensures that only the person with the private key can access them. However, you can take steps to make sure no one knows you have that address. Bitcoin addresses are called “wallets” and they are basically both the wallet and bank account of Bitcoin. You can create a new one with a click of a button. No identifying information is required, but the NSA will still be spying on all your activities on the internet (as I’ve been saying for years, but we’re all supposed to be shocked) so tread with caution.

Golden Future: What does the future hold for Bitcoin?
So what does the future hold for Bitcoin? No one knows for sure, but I think we are watching history unfold. People scoffed at the idea of a personal computer. They scoffed at the internet and at mobile phones too. Yet the tide of history flows onward like the River Nile, demolishing our preconceptions and old ideas that no longer serve us in its inexorable ebb and flow.

In the wake of the financial disaster of 2008 and the lingering malaise (even as the Dow breaks 16,000), we have to wonder if our current concept of money is still working. In the old days, money was gold. Or silver. But we banished that idea to the distant past when paper money (which were originally certificates redeemable for gold or silver) caught on. But in the age of derivatives and CDOs and quantitative easing, perhaps it’s time to reassess if paper money — which somehow transformed into digital money in the last few decades — is really helping us.

So the idea of digital money isn’t even new. And neither is Bitcoin’s slow, steady inflation level because it mimics how gold is mined. But the idea of a currency created through cryptographic equations and run on normal PCs is radically new and revolutionary. Could it be that Bitcoin is the best of both worlds, the best of the old and the new?

Time will tell. But Bitcoin is just the first of what promises to be many cryptocurrencies. If Bitcoin doesn’t get it right, it’s likely that some other crypto-coin will.

Learn more about Bitcoin at WeUseCoins.com. Bitcoin has a significant learning curve and it’s worthwhile to invest some time into understanding it before you dive in. And if you’re going to buy in, wait until this current bubble pops. And pop it will, but I bet it will still be higher than it was 2 months ago.

You might be telling your grandkids about way back in your day when a bitcoin was only worth 600 dollars. And your grandkids will ask, “What’s a dollar?”

One of the neat things about using WordPress is the iPod app that allows me to post remotely. Let’s see if this puppy works!!

Hopefully I will update the blog more often now. I know that I have barely updated this thing during most if 2010 even though lots of interesting things have been happening on the world stage. You better believe I have an opinion about most of it. These are exciting times. I hope things keep getting better.

Going through my old posts I was overwhelmed with my angry and frustrated tone, which of course can be blamed on the Bush administration. The Republicans made a big comeback during the election earlier this week and have claimed the House, proving Americans have a very short memory. Ah well, there are always silver linings. Now the Republicans are at least represented in Congress so they might feel less inclined to obstructionism… Yeah right. Well, at least Ron Paul might be the next chairman of the monetary policy subcommittee. He will be eager to hold the Federal Reserve’s feet to the fire. This should be fun!

Welcome to the new and improved Electric Monkey Pants!

Ever since Blogger shut down my FTP-run blog I’ve been working to migrate all the posts over to WordPress and start anew! I hope you like the new look and the new features this platform offers. I spent 4 years on Blogger and it was great, but I knew it was time to leave. WordPress is an amazing platform and I’m looking forward to using it, starting now. However, moving all 500+ posts from the old platform to the new one has been an incredible chore. I’ve been procrastinating because I knew it would be a pain in the ass — and it was. But now it’s done and I don’t have to worry about it anymore! Let’s hope WordPress is here to stay!

Please let me know if you notice any problems with the site. Just leave a detailed comment below and I’ll take a look. Thanks for reading and thanks for helping me make Electric Monkey Pants a popular resource for internet weirdos.

There’s something thrilling going on in Iran.

You wouldn’t know it from the coverage on many mainstream media news outlets this weekend (Fox, CNN and ABC, I’m looking in your direction), but there’s a revolution going on in Iran!

It’s a good kind of revolution; pro-freedom, pro-democracy and mostly peaceful (though many protestors are being beaten by police and Hezbollah thugs). The people of Iran are standing up for truth and justice and they are not being intimidated by theocratic thugs and government lies.

It makes me wonder why our U.S. media isn’t really standing with the people of Iran. Maybe it’s because I’m getting cynical in my (heh) old age, but I think it has something to do with the loss of their favorite boogey-man. It’s getting harder and harder to portray Iranians as fanatical terrorists bent on the destruction of the West:

Perhaps the most moving scene involved a group of young demonstrators, displaying the green colours of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the defeated challenger, breaking into English and chanting: “We want freedom.”In an instant, these television pictures from Tehran delivered a stark reminder that Iran is not a backward country of medieval fanatics, but a modern nation with 70 million people, two thirds of whom are under 30 and have the same interests and aspirations as their Western counterparts.

These are my peers. My fellow-Twitterers. My friends. My brothers and sisters.

This is the real Iran:

No more distortions. No more hate. No more fear-mongering, Fox News! No more! We are the same, the Iranian People and those of us in the United States who still value and cherish freedom.

There is no difference between us beyond geography. Many of the Iranians even speak English and they are young and internet-savvy: they have been using Twitter to organize on the fly and there was a collective moan when Facebook was blocked. This is a youth movement that is cracking the edifice of lies that have served the hardliners on both sides for far too long.

Just don’t watch television if you want the real scoop:

Today, as global geopolitics is shaken to its core by events in Iran, I turned on cable news this morning, and saw endless ads for a Larry King Jonas Brothers “interview”, Morning Joe yukking it up discussing Kuwaiti massage therapists, a video of a tomato throwing contest on CNN, talk radio blowhard Bill Bennett…and occasionally a phone call from Christiane Amanpour in Tehran. I can’t even bring myself to turn on the network morning programs, I might vomit.

The mainstream media is rapidly smothering itself into a coma of irrelevance. Do they think we’re too stupid to get the news from somewhere else? Heck, I don’t even need the media at this point; I can get info directly from the participants in the struggle via Twitter.

Bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are covering the protests virtually nonstop. With the Huffington Post on the case, who needs the MSM?

At this point, Big Media is just playing catch-up. They were asleep at the switch for several days, but now seem to be paying attention again… but they are definitely not leading; they are following.

I should note that I’m taking it for granted that the election was stolen. They apparently did not even do a good job of it. From the numbers I’ve seen, Ahmadinejad didn’t even finish second! He finished 3rd, behind another reform candidate! Mousavi, the challenger and probable winner, was actually told by the Interior Ministry that he had won and to prepare his victory speech (which they insisted must be gracious and not boastful) before turning around and declaring Ahmadinejad the winner by a landslide. The numbers belie this laughable claim. The official results have Mousavi losing his home turf (preposterous) and big urban areas where he has polled higher than Ahmadinejad.

Let’s face it: This election was straight-up rigged. The Iranians know it and they’re not standing for it, which is more than I can say for Americans (*cough-2000-cough*). Now is our chance to repent for our laziness and apathy and support the democracy-loving Iranians with all our hearts!

I stand with the Iranian People in solidarity. We stand for Democracy, Freedom and Justice! May the winds of change bring peace and prosperity to Iran. Peace be upon you!

Disclosure is needed.

More and more people are waking up to the fact that we are not alone in the universe. Personally, I think a lot of problems on this planet could be solved if we just recognized that there is other (more) intelligent life out there. For one thing, the knowledge of extra-terrestrial life would lead us to some feelings of embarrassment about the stupid shit we’re doing to our planet and each other. I’m thinking of war, environmental degradation, political arrogance and conspicuous consumption, amongst many other problems.

I mean, it’s humiliating enough that the Bush/Cheney cabal is bleeding liberty away (somebody make a photoshopped pic of Bush waterboarding Lady Liberty please), but if we knew aliens were watching the whole thing unfold maybe we’d say, “You know, maybe we should ask the aliens for help. Maybe they know what to do about the dichotomy between security and liberty.” Maybe that’s why they’re being kept underwraps. Maybe the powers that be don’t like the message they bring.

It’s important to remember that not all high-ranking officials want to be a party to this coverup, though. One such group is putting their reputations on the line to call for disclosure and a real investigation.

An international panel of two dozen former pilots and government officials called on the U.S. government on Monday to reopen its generation-old UFO investigation as a matter of safety and security given continuing reports about flying discs, glowing spheres and other strange sightings.

“Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns … which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters,” they said in a statement released at a news conference.

The panelists from seven countries, including former senior military officers, said they had each seen a UFO or conducted an official investigation into UFO phenomena.

The subject of UFOs grabbed the spotlight in the U.S. presidential race last month when [Dennis] Kucinich, a member of Congress from Ohio, said during a televised debate with other Democratic candidates that he had seen one.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter are both reported to have claimed UFO sightings.

Everybody in this group probably already knows that we’ve made contact. It’s just less nutjob-y to call for an investigation. As for me, I’ve never seen a UFO, never met an alien, and never had anything shoved up my ass. I can just tell. You know what I mean? Probably not, so let me explain: I can tell not only that ETs exists, but that the government knows about them and has in fact made contact with them, simply by monitoring the government’s behavior.

It’s simple: the U.S. government has approached UFO investigation in a secretive, yet lackadaisical manner. The secretive part makes sense, since, under the respective political milieus of the last 60 years, the UFOs could be (and most likely were, from the U.S. government’s perspective) threats from our Communist or Terrorist adversaries. So it makes perfect sense to be reticent about speaking to the public on the matter. However, the lazy, half-assed attitude the government took towards actually investigating these phenomenon belies their obsession with secrecy. In fact, many UFO sighters have noted that the government was more concerned with shutting them up than actually finding out what happened.

This leaves us with two possibilities. One is the ET theory, the other is the “secret project theory.” This theory states that the government has been behind the UFOs from the beginning. This theory has strong supporting circumstantial evidence since the government has been known to work on secret projects (from the Manhatten Project to the stealth bomber) and the military had to explore any option to get a leg up on the Soviets.

However, this theory has several holes. One, the technology is far beyond what we have even today. And this technology would have to have been available in 1947. Another problem with the secret project theory is that the UFOs seem to want to be discovered. What else can explain The Phoenix Lights? Why would the government make vastly more dull coverup work for themselves when they could test the secret craft over deserted land instead of a major metropolitan area, home to 1.5 million people? It just doesn’t make sense unless you start using conspiratorial contortions far more convoluted than the idea that there’s life out there. I heard a good one today: Somebody suggested the Phoenix Lights were a secret government project involving nuclear-powered stealth blimps!

Oh, I should note that former Arizona governor Fife Symington is a member of the group agitating for disclosure I mentioned earlier. He had this to say about the event:

I’m a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don’t know why people would ridicule it.

It was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn’t have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.

“I don’t know why people would ridicule it.”

I do. Ridicule is a very effective weapon if your aim is to affect a coverup. Heck, ridicule is probably your best bet, besides threats. If you organize an effective campaign of ridicule then the victim spends more time trying to defend his reputation than talking about what he saw, and then it has the dual purpose of preemptively ridiculing all other similar claims by association.

It must be stated clearly: Ridicule is not a logical argument. It is an ad hominem attack and is thus a fallacious argument. Attack arguments, not people. Now, anybody who disagrees with my assessment is free to say so, but simply ridiculing me is not an effective argument. It might be effective in that it makes people agree with you (for fear of being ridiculed if they don’t), but it does nothing to bolster your argument. In fact, it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I wish I didn’t need to make the above statement, but I’ve been on the internet far too long to believe otherwise.

Anyway, I want to address the idea that the alien life is highly improbable. For one thing, so is our very existence, but here we are. For another, there are billions upon billions of stars
out there. We’re finding extrasolar planets at an amazing rate. It’s not unfair to say the universe is probably swarming with planets, many of them habitable by carbon-based lifeforms. But we must already remember that there’s no guarantee that extra-terrestrial life would be anything like us.

I think the whole question is summed up nicely by this excellent comment on digg (yes, I’m surprised too):

Believing alien life exists does not necessarily require seeing, and it certainly doesn’t require faith. It’s just a matter of deduction, probability, and simple reasoning.

Think for a moment of the things you accept as true without the benefit of having seen them with your own eyes. You very likely accept the fact that not all life on Earth has been discovered. Although you have no tangible proof of that, you have an intuitive understanding of mathematical probability and an idea of what the limitations on exploration are. You probably accept as true that there are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on Earth, but in reality, no one’s ever really counted them. We see far off galaxies, most too far for our satellites to define, and we just assume they’re composed of hundreds of billions of stars, just like our Milky Way is (never counted those either). It’s a sound assumption, for sure. But an assumption nonetheless. What I’m trying to convince you of is that mathematical probability can be just as strong a proof as observation, which is itself limited by perception.

Now, what do we know about life that might help us get a better grasp on the alien question? Well, for starters, we know there’s life on Earth. We’re not exactly sure how it came about, but most of us are convinced it wasn’t by way of magic. We believe it had much, if not everything to do with the composition and solar proximity of our planet. We know that each Earthly life-form adapts to its respective environment, and we suspect they evolve in order to better compete with their rivals. We know our world has at times been uninhabited, inhabited, uninhabited, and inhabited again. We know there are great extinctions and new births. And we know, eventually, our planet will die.

There is not one single aspect of our planet, that makes life as we know it possible — i.e. vulcanism, atmosphere, water, carbon, etc. — that we have not yet detected on another planet. I’m talking about the basic ingredients, not the recipe. So we have to ask ourselves two questions: Are these the only ingredients to life?, and, is our particular recipe for life the only one capable of rising in a solar oven? If we presume both to be the case, we must then ask a third question: In a Universe of at least 100 billion galaxies (each with some 200 billion stars), and tens of trillions of planets; what are the likely odds of a recipe similar to ours repeating itself? For that matter, what are the odds of Venus’ recipe repeating itself? What are the odds for that of Jupiter, or that of Mars? How about Mercury? Is Neptune a one per galaxy anomaly? Are all planets in the Universe unique?

If you’re like me, you’re likely to conclude that the odds of our “recipe” type repeating itself are just as good as those of any other planet. But, whether or not alien life has come upon Earth can be debated. I’m personally convinced that it has. But I don’t believe that that topic can be seriously broached without more people first coming to terms with the all-too-probable existence of life outside our own world.

Indeed, the possibility of life outside our world is more than just a possibility. I would go so far as to say it’s probable. But some people seem oddly reluctant to acknowledge the logic above.

Remember when I said that the U.S. government has taken a lazy approach to investigating the UFO phenomenon?

The former governor says the incident remains unsolved, and deserves an official investigation. The U.S. government has never acknowledged that something was in the sky that night.

Former Phoenix city councilwoman Frances Barwood, now living in the Prescott area, was the only elected official to launch a public investigation in 1997, but she said people stonewalled her at every turn. Barwood spoke with more than 700 witnesses. “The government never interviewed even one,” she says.

That pretty much says it all.

Ron Jeremy and 9/11


For those of you being redirected here, check out the original story that started the madness:

Ron Jeremy Confesses to Masterminding Sept. 11th Attacks with KSM

Porn-star Ron Jeremy has confessed to masterminding the attacks of September 11, 2001 along with his long-lost brother Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. “We did it,” Ron Jeremy wrote in his confession, calling the mysterious collapse of the towers “the money shot.”  Read more…

Blogs of Summer

It’s hard to blog during the summer.

There’s so much to do outside, even when it’s melt-your-face hot out there. Things only get complicated by the fact that I’ve started turning my computer off when I’m not using it. This is “who are you and what have you done with Tim?!”-type behavior for me, but I’m trying to waste less electricity. And I’ve realized that the computer is really loud. It’s quite peaceful when the damn thing is off ’cause the hum of the fans is pretty annoying.

I use my computer as a jukebox, so this crimps my ability to play tunes easily. Still, I kinda like having the infernal machine off for a change — I use it too fucking much. What do I often do after coming back from a hard day at work, where I’ve been staring at a screen for 8 to 10 hours? Why, surf the internet of course! That shit needs to stop.

I’m hoping this change doesn’t impact the blog too much. I’ll still turn the computer on from time to time. It’s also my recording workstation, so I’ll need it to make a bunch of tweaks to the album before we are finished. Speaking of the band, concert dates are coming soon.

Lastly, there might be fewer posting for a few days as I battle a wizard. That wizard, of course, is Harry Potter and his 7th book. I love J.K. Rowling’s books and this is the last of the Potter books. I’m about 200 pages in and it’s really good. I’ve been trying to slow down or else I could read the whole thing in two days despite it being 750 pages. I’m sure a lot of people are done with it already, but I’m trying to take my time and savor it since this is it; no more Potter after this.

How sad it will be when the book’s over. Whether Harry dies or not doesn’t really matter. Since this is the last book he’s dead to us when the last page turns. There’s something very final about that.

Site changes

I’ve been slow with the posts lately. Part of the reason is that I’ve been screwing around with the design/layout of the blog a bit…. not enough to give y’all whiplash, but you’ve probably seen a few different iterations if you’ve been checking regularly.

I tried the cool digg/reddit buttons that show you how many diggs the story has, but I thought it was loading too slow and even caused my browser to crash on occasion. My apologies if this has happened to anyone else. Let me know in the comments if you’re having any issues with the new version, which just has static buttons to click; no javascript.

I went ahead and added a javascript-based “Top Tags” section, courtesy of Technorati, though. I’m a little disappointed I can’t edit the color/layout of that widget more, but it’s better than nothing. I’ll probably bust out a more useful navigation/label table later on, which will keep you on the site rather than sending you off to Technorati. It will include all of my tags, too, not just the most popular.

I promise to have a new post up soon; a real one! It should get your attention, too!

Why am I obsessed with LOLcats?

It’s just a stupid internet meme, but it amuses me endlessly. Here’s one I made for Hedy:

Ahhh… the internet. Pretty soon there’s gonna be more pictures of cats on the web than (human) pornography. Kitty-porn, as it were, is winning.

I just can’t explain the attraction. Kitties are cute, no doubt, but it still seems odd. I wonder if there’s a 12-step program…

Digg.com pioneered social media and social bookmarking. They helped create a community who believed in the “wisdom of the crowd“, but today the crowd bit back.

After Digg started burying stories and deleting user accounts because of the HD-DVD crack controversy the Digg community hit back the only way they knew how: They took over Digg’s front page. As of 11:15 pm CST, every single story on Digg’s coveted front page has something to do with the suppressed number.

The hexadecimal number ( 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 ) unlocks the DRM copy-protection on HD-DVD discs. HD-DVD is the successor to DVD, which is already cracked. Blu-Ray is apparently affected as well since it also uses the AACS content-scrambling system that was designed to restrict who can watch the next-generation movie discs.

It was revealed that the HD-DVD group was a sponsor of Digg’s podcast. The blatant conflict of interest riled up the Digg community, which has taken the story to other social media sites such as Reddit and even the old standard, Slashdot, which has added digg-like features such as the Firehose.

It’s fair to say the internet community has been in open revolt all day, against a site that was until yesterday a shining example of how Web 2.0 businesses can work — trust your users. Digg has apparently forgotten that lesson and has sided with corporate interests and knee-jerk lawsuit-phobia instead of it’s own users — the people who (literally) make the site work. Unfortunately, it looks like Wikipedia is falling into the same trap (although it often freezes pages during periods of great controversy to prevent editing wars).

With the incredible storm of rebellion racing across the internet there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this mess for Digg. Far from blowing over, the brouhaha appears to be getting worse. Digg’s half-assed attempt at putting out this fire only fanned the flames. It appears Digg might have temporarily blocked new story submisisons, but the link appears to be working now.

Diggers are pointing out the fact that Reddit and Slashdot have not taken down stories concerning the suppressed number, nor have they deleted comments. Because of that it’s looking more and more like a situation that Digg and Digg alone created through heavy-handed policing (which is no doubt allowed by their EULA) and overreaction in general, all of which has led to the current PR shitstorm.

Far from suppressing the number Digg has managed to enshrine it for all time in the annals of internet history. It’s interesting that it happened on May 1st, International Workers’ Day. Hopefully today will long be remembered as the day when the internet community took a stand against the evil DMCA, the law which is at the root of the problem.

Let no one say the social media community is afraid to bite the hand that feeds.

Update (5-2-07): Digg has come to their senses and declared that it will no longer delete posts containing the suppressed number. That’s probably wise since they would’ve had to ban half their users and remove all the stories from their front page for several hours. A little late, but the users have spoken, and Digg finally decided to listen.


09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

It's just a string of numbers and letters, right?

A simple, almost random, collection of hexadecimal characters.

No harm could come from posting them, right?

I hope that's the case
.

Digg has censored this number and any story submissions or comments referencing it have been buried (well, they haven't found all the comments). Peoples' accounts have been deleted simply for submitting it. Amazing, isn't it?...

Makes you wonder why.

This is why.

In a nutshell: It's the processing key for HD-DVD movies, enabling users to crack the DRM and watch the movie on non-approved hardware (like Linux).

Please, spread this number around. The idea of censoring a number is so silly and totalitarian that I can't sit by in idle silence. We have to resist.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve been working on a big post, but I’ve also been stranded without an internet connection at home. I canceled Comcast since it turns out they are a bunch of lying, thieving bastards. While I’m waiting for my DSL modem to arrive I’m experiencing life without a constant internet connection. It’s scary and lonely. I don’t recommend it.

As far as my dear, departed cable modem goes, please allow me to bitch (god i love having a blog). FUCK COMCAST!!!

Why does Comcast suck? Oh, I’m glad you asked; let me explain. Long ago, in a time known as 2005, things were good. I had a fast internet connection through Time-Warner. It was about 6 Mbps and it set me back about 43 bucks a month.

Then, I get a letter informing me that Comcast swapped all of Time-Warner’s Minnesota subscribers (like me) and that I would now be a Comcast customer. Okay, this is where the creepy, ominous music kicks in.

The letter makes clear that there will be no price adjustments. In fact the FAQ is still online, which says exactly:

Will my monthly fee change with Comcast High-Speed Internet?
Price adjustments will not be required because of this change. All prices reflect the increased value of our service, new product enhancements, and investments to continually improve the quality of our network and customer service. Any price adjustments going forward will be planned and communicated to customers well in advance of any change.

You can see where this is headed, can’t you?

“Price adjustments will not be required” — weasel words, if I’ve ever read them. Fucking liars. Despite the promises, both of stable prices and advanced notice, it turns out that Comcast is run by a bunch of lying, thieving scumbags who exist only to squeeze every last dime out of their unwilling customer base in order to fatten their own undeserved bonuses at the end of the year — you know the bonuses, I’m talking about. They’re 10 times the size of their average employee’s yearly salary.

I must say that every Comcast employee I dealt with — 3 customer service reps and a technician who picked up my modem — were great. Fine folks, didn’t lie to me any more, and were very apologetic. But the fact remains that they work for fascist goons who are planning to rape, pillage and plunder this fresh, unearned subscriber base in an apparent effort to show just how stupid and short-sighted management teams can be. They’re going for the gold medal in poor decision-making skills. Bravo.

So, do I even have to tell you what happened? Isn’t it obvious from my venom? Well, I’ll tell you anyway. Comcast sent me a notice, dated December 26th (yes, the day after Christmas — “Happy holidays from Comcast! Fuck you!”) informing me that my rates were going up to 60 bucks a month — plus modem rental (3 bucks a month), starting…. February 1st! Yay!

So the lying fuckers tried to squeeze me for 20 bucks more a month and gave me only a month notice. This left me no choice. I wasn’t going to stand for this shit. 20 bucks isn’t much, but 20 bucks every month adds up to quite a lot. It’s almost $250 more per year. I am not that rich, Comcast. But idiotic, greedy ploys like this explain how they can afford to pay their CEO 27.8 million dollars a year. I guess I know where my $250 would’ve went.

And so, instead of sending them a check for 40-some bucks a month they managed to convince me to send them a whole lot of nothing every month. Congrats, Comcast. Your short-sighted greed and stupidity has only managed to cost you subscribers like me. Fucking morons.

Instead of collecting money from people like me, Comcast managed to piss away subscribers like a drunk after a night of drinking cheap domestic beer. Instead of getting my money every month they’ve assured Qwest of my business instead. Bravo, fuckheads!

Check out MNspeak for an awesome thread full of pissed off former subscribers. Comcast’s goose-stepping management team deserves an award for monumental stupidity. It’s hard to motivate internet-addicted people like me to do without and overcome the inertia required to make the switch. But Comcast managed to fill me with so much revulsion that Qwest could implement a policy of jabbing me with sharp objects and I would still be happier with them.

Fuck off, Comcast. Take your golden parachutes and cram them up your ass.