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Last Forking Warning For Bitcoin

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the listen-up dept.

Bitcoin 334

ASDFnz writes "It has been just over two months since the bitcoin block chain was rocked by a near disastrous fork causing the bitcoin price to crash. The culprit of the crash was found to be a bug that prevented pre version 7.1 bitcoin clients accepting large blocks that could be generated by version 8 clients. A temporary fix was put into place by Bitcoin Project lead developer Gavin Andresen that forced version 8 clients to generate blocks that version 7.1 could understand. It is important to note though, the fix was a temporary one! In just under two days on the 15th of May the fix will expire and version 8 clients will once again be able to make large blocks that older clients will not be able to understand."

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334 comments

Seen any rancid assholes lately? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43707965)

My cock is a rancid rectum connoisseur of sorts, so I'm looking for assholes that are especially repugnant. Anyone have any leads? I can feel my little white tadpole friends going berserk in my testicles whenever I think about sticking my fetid cock into a rancid asshole! What say you?

Crap, the sky is falling (5, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43707969)

Oh shit, the sky is falling.

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

This is a technical problem, I am pretty certain it will be addressed. Not that I care much about Bitcoin in itself, but I like the idea of competing currencies and this is definitely a revolutionary one, so it's interesting to observe. I don't think it's going away any time soon even with technical issues.

Bitscam is not the only scam. So what!? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43707991)

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing.

Yes there are many ways to be ripped off online or in the real world. Bitscam is just one of them. What's your point? That it's okay to be ripped off by this because there are other ways to be ripped off?

Re:Bitscam is not the only scam. So what!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708591)

That's a mighty rancid anus you have there. How long has it been since you've had your disgusting asshole inspected? My cock just happens to be a rancid rectum inspector. My cock's going in! What say you?

Re:Bitscam is not the only scam. So what!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708647)

Yes there are many ways to be ripped off online or in the real world. Bitscam is just one of them. What's your point? That it's okay to be ripped off by this because there are other ways to be ripped off?

You obviously don't understand anything about the concept even though it's very simple, which suggests your intellect is less than simple.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1, Troll)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#43707995)

What technical problem is there?
It's just that the new Bitcoin and the old Bitcoin are becoming two different currencies. People need to convert all their old Bitcoins to new ones to avoid this.

No more like naked blind short selling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708055)

Sound a lot more like blind naked short selling trick, than splitting of currencies.
In Naked Blind Short Selling, a stock is sold on the promise the share will be bought/borrowed in future, and it never is. So two copies of the shares exist, the one that was sold (and never existed) and the one that actually exists. The non-existent one that was sold, is there on the books.

Eventually the short is filled or reversed, and the fake asset removed by manual intervention. Here it ended with block 225461. The v7 block-chain becomes invalid because its shorter than the v8 version, so its not like it would be valid.

Or perhaps like Bernie Madoff, buying and selling shares that didn't exist, or Wallstreet and the crash of 2007/8... in that case the Fed decided to turn the fake asset into a real one by buying the insurance company and paying out on failed bets. Thank f*** that bailouts aren't possible in BTC!

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (5, Informative)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43708289)

It's just that the new Bitcoin and the old Bitcoin are becoming two different currencies. People need to convert all their old Bitcoins to new ones to avoid this.

Bzzzt. Users of Bitcoin don't need to do anything beyond download a client written in the past year. They don't need to convert anything, they don't need to send themselves their balance to make sure the new program sees it, they don't even need to re-download the block chain. Just update their software.

Nothing about the currency itself has changed; just the removal of an artificial cap on block size placed in the original client, from back before the early developers expected it to take off so well.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about a year ago | (#43708405)

This isn't an issue of "two different currencies". What other time in history has a government issued a new currency, exchanged the "old currency" for the "new currency", and *let you keep* the "old currency" when handing you new currency?

The inability to deal with prolonged netsplits sanely is a fundamental limitation of the Bitcoin protocol.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708609)

What other time in history has a government issued a new currency, exchanged the "old currency" for the "new currency", and *let you keep* the "old currency" when handing you new currency?

The transition from old notes and coins to new designs of notes and coins. Or, if you want a more dramatic example, the transition of numerous countries to the Euro.

Misleading use of language to make it look legit (1, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43708505)

Neither of them is any more a currency than limited edition my little pony plates. They are a capped number enthusiast item traded among enthusiasts.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43708089)

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing.

You can remember your currency collapsing during your lifetime?

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (5, Informative)

MadKeithV (102058) | about a year ago | (#43708113)

There is a pretty long list [wikipedia.org] actually of places with serious inflation in recent times. It's not unlikely that there are slashdot posters from those areas, who have indeed experienced a currency collapse or at least runaway inflation in their lifetime.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708151)

I was born in the USSR, I lived through a number of currency collapses just in THAT country and then after the dissolution through collapse of new currencies created AFTER that country collapsed.

Yeah, I remember.

I also know enough history and geography that if you want, I can name close to 50 currencies of top of my head that collapsed. Oh, USA also had that, it was called the Continental. Today it's called the Federal.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#43708177)

Except that isn't even whats happening here. Its more like an issuing bank telling customers are retailers they are not going to do magnetic strip ATM cards any more and people need to replace their cards and equipment with the RIFD variety. Its a non-event except for people who were expecting to never have to upgrade software.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708477)

You can see it that way, but since the Bitcoin protocol and its adoption defines the properties of the Bitcoin economy, a forced upgrade of the client is in fact a big deal. Like this benign protocol modification, other policy decisions can be turned into fact by writing the code and finding a reason to force an upgrade.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708567)

It is not a big thing. Countries do this to their paper money all the time. They issue new bills that are harder to counterfeit. Then they set a date - the old bills will not be accepted after that. No big deal because you can change all your old bills for new ones before the set date. Or just put money in some bank and let them sort it out. It seems "big" because the bills themselves gets invalidated, but it is not. It merely means you can't store money in a mattress (or private safe) indefinitely. Normal people don't do that anyway.

Bitcoin deals in software rather than pieces of paper. Both kinds gets upgraded from time to time, with the "old" kind becoming obsolete.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#43708297)

The US dollar is still collapsing. and will continue to collapse fast for the next 5-10 years.

When you have real double digit inflation and cost of living increases you have a collapsing dollar. And yes, it's real double digit, the Fed is downplaying it to avoid a panic.

When you cant buy a week's of groceries (real food not ramen) for two people and stay under $80.00 you have a economic crash happening. Clothing, food, housing, gasoline. Cars are at disgustingly high prices... really an econoBox car is $15,000?

I am actually surprised the poor are not starting to band together and start killing the rich and stealing their stuff.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43708581)

I am actually surprised the poor are not starting to band together and start killing the rich and stealing their stuff.

And that's why the rich banded together to cause the State to take money from the middle class and give it to the poor. Aka the "Progressive Era" (16th Amendment, Federal Reserve, etc.).

But, yes, that system cannot keep up with a collapsing currency. When I tell people who area concerned about the poor that the 1964 minimum wage was just under an ounce of silver per hour (~$1.25) and that today's value would be around $25 per hour, their eyes glaze over in disbelief. They cannot believe their State would do that to them, because the State cares for them like Mom does; it's not a bunch of corrupt, rich, and powerful actors only looking out for others to the extent it protects their own interests. It's especially unbelievable to Democrats who are bickering about the difference between $7 and $8 per hour. If I suggest to them that the difference in value has gone to the financial sector through steadily controlled inflation that has taken wealth out of local economies and sent it to the Wall Street/Financial Sector fatcats, they know for sure I must be one of those Occupy loonies. And forget about it if I tell them that 2/3 of their 401(k) appreciation winds up as fees to the same group - that Just Can't Be(TM).

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

MrVictor (872700) | about a year ago | (#43708871)

Can you please explain the $1.25 -> $25 calculation. Do you have a source for this information?

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708899)

(here comes the usual "omg, value of dollar fell through the floor since 1900" graph, without corresponding "yeah, and median wages grew to compensate and more")

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708611)

I can, I live in one of the countries in Eastern Europe. We remember economical crash of nineties and the time when paper money become almost worthless - people were losing savings of entire life. There was once a popular form of saving for houses for your children, backed by goverment, paid when kid enters adulthood. In one month you could buy for these savings nice two room flat, in next month you could buy for them maybe TV set or personal computer.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708095)

Oh shit, the sky is falling.

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

This is a technical problem, I am pretty certain it will be addressed. Not that I care much about Bitcoin in itself, but I like the idea of competing currencies and this is definitely a revolutionary one, so it's interesting to observe. I don't think it's going away any time soon even with technical issues.

I'm interested in this perspective. When you compare Bitcoin fluctuations with 'real world' currency fluctuations as somewhat the same - which major currencies has recently lost 2/3rds of value overnight like Bitcoin did? If you had significant money in Bitcoin the sky was falling. Its value behaves exactly like very speculative stocks.

What is the actual 'real world' basis for this sudden notion that major 'real world' currencies can collapse any time? Yes, they can fluctuate a few percentages, that is very very very different than 60-70% loss of value recently for Bitcoin (or 90%+ the last time the price crashed).

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708167)

Look up the history of currencies just over the last 100 years.

Latest off top of my head is North Korea with 100 to 1 devaluation over 2 day weekend.

90%? How about 99%?

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708317)

Venezuela also recently had a 46% currency devaluation after having done a 100% deval some years ago*. And this is after they took 3 zeroes off.

I remember a friend was moving there (from Argentina no less) and one night he called his wife to talk to her abount buying a new car, and told her it would cost something like 30 Million in the then-current currency. Her immediate response was "are you crazy?!", which didn't last after he explained it was like US$ 12K, "oh, alright then"..

But, you can get gasoline for your car real cheap, really, really, real cheap. So it kinda balances out, except it doesn't.

* That is, of course, the official figures. The non-official ex. rate is....dire.

Argentina, Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708169)

"What is the actual 'real world' basis for this sudden notion that major 'real world' currencies can collapse any time?"

There's quite a few currency collapses, you really don't need to go back far, Argentina was the last major one in 2002, since then Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, quite a few African ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_economic_crisis_%281999%E2%80%932002%29

It's the usual problem with fiat currencies, they spend more than they earn, they print money to cover it, the currency collapses.

When the US had a meltdown in 2007, they did a massive currency swap with the Eurozone. The effect of that meant that the US central bank had euros to sell as well as dollars, and could sell euros and buy dollars to prop the currency up if panic ensued. You came a lot closer than you realize, I find your comment somewhat glib, based on ignorance of how bad 2007 asset collapse was.

Re:Argentina, Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708291)

When the US had a meltdown in 2007, they did a massive currency swap with the Eurozone. The effect of that meant that the US central bank had euros to sell as well as dollars, and could sell euros and buy dollars to prop the currency up if panic ensued. You came a lot closer than you realize, I find your comment somewhat glib, based on ignorance of how bad 2007 asset collapse was.

ok, fair, I find it glib to compare the fluctuations and risk we are seeing in major currencies as anywhere near the same as the extreme Bitcoin fluctuations we are seeing, there is an order of magnitude difference. Even if you take Iceland (which I wouldn't count as a major currency, but still lets take it), the value loss of 50% happened "gradually" over 2 years (as graphed on wikipedia). This is highly dramatic, yes, but Bitcoin lost 80% of value in 3 days (!) in April this year. And have had multiple crashes like that.

Re:Argentina, Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43708293)

too bad none of those are actual major world currencies. putting zimbabwe and iceland crashes on the same sentence doesn't make that much sense either..

Re:Argentina, Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708777)

Weimar Germany, 1921 - 1924. And that *WAS* a major world currency. Situation is actually very similar to ours. The currency was well regarded internationally, and many people held it outside Germany (like the US dollar today). Inflation took off after the government printed massive amounts of currency to pay off war debt.

You are a fool if you think the same thing couldn't happen here. The dollar will not remain the world's reserve currency forever.

Re:Argentina, Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine, (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#43708863)

Gotta love how libertarians keep blabbing about "fiat currencies" and how the currencies can collapse "at any time". While technically true, currencies collapsed under gold standards, and probably at a rate faster than what you see in today's economy. What folks don't seem to understand is that money has no value in and of itself, but is based on a population's ability to produce goods and services. Whether you use bitcoins, greenbacks, electrons on a hard drive or gold doesn't change this truth.

By definition, money is simply a means of exchange... tying it to an arbitrary material is silly. In the old days, countries manipulated currencies through artificial means and like today when those means run their course, bad things happen.

So, gold, paper or electrons, a country's prosperity is tied to the competence of its government. While this is a scary fact, it is the truth.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43708257)

What is the actual 'real world' basis for this sudden notion that major 'real world' currencies can collapse any time? Yes, they can fluctuate a few percentages, that is very very very different than 60-70% loss of value recently for Bitcoin (or 90%+ the last time the price crashed).

The question I would ask is less 'can real world currencies collapse?'(yes occasionally one does, albeit generally one of the lower-tier ones); but 'do real-world currencies collapse outside of conditions where things are going all to shit across the board?'

Given how much fun it isn't, it's not as though you go through a round of hyperinflation just for giggles. It's not as though everybody wakes up one morning and says "I can see it so clearly now! My fiat currency is nothing but a political construct subject to the whims of politicians! It's all over!" and the currency's value against real assets suddenly dives for the floor. If the situation, as measured in actual economic activity, commodity availability, etc. goes to shit, the currency may well follow; but at that point your problem isn't that your currency is a paper lie; but that things have gone to shit, at least within the jurisdiction that minted the currency, if not more broadly.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708473)

albeit generally one of the lower-tier ones

- I don't know what you consider to be a 'lower-tier one', when one is used on 1/6th of the total land mass of this planet, is it a 'low tier one'? I am talking about the USSR ruble in this case. I think that probably was the biggest currency collapse in terms of land area that used it.

Of-course in the former USSR there were many currency collapses, a number of times ruble was redefined and restructured all due to inflation and lack of productivity but huge government spending. That's what it takes: lack of productivity, government spending and thus inflation (the government controls the fiat currency and prints it to spend on government). But there is no productivity, so the increase in money supply only bids up prices for existing assets and products and prevents businesses from investing, because there are no savings in high inflation scenario and without savings the real interest rates are enormous. Of-course if that's also coupled with regulations and laws that prevent business from occurring then it's a double whammy. But really, think about the SIMILARITY of that to US dollar and the Euro (though in both cases there are areas where productivity is concentrated to a higher level, like in California, Switzerland, Germany, or resource rich areas, like Texas, Norway).

Nobody goes through hyper (or even just high) inflation for giggles, but note that the mainstream 'economics' is ALL about creating inflation. That's all that your 'economists' push for, that's all they promote. Well, that and higher taxes on the productive population, higher income redistribution. Really, those are not economists, from POV of economics they are shamans and politicians not economists.

All fiat currency IS a sham that is subject to whims of politicians, that's why it is FIAT. Fiat is by definition not real money and instead an abstract controlled (inflated) by the politicians, who like the power it gives them to spend without taxing and thus to keep in power.

This is different from Bitcoins in a very important way, though I DO NOT consider Bitcoins to be money. Bitcoins have 1 of 3 properties of money, but it is a useful medium of exchange that allows bypassing the official channels and fees and gives you speed and flexibility.

Also it's not commodities that cause inflation, commodity prices only respond to inflation, inflation is by definition expansion of the money supply.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708791)

Weimar Germany. Economy went to shit because of the currency, not vice versa. And that currency was widely held Internationally, like the dollar today.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | about a year ago | (#43708103)

Sure, sure... most real currencies don't go through that every two weeks, though.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708187)

North Korea devalued currency over the weekend 100 to 1 [businessinsider.com].

Cyprus basically split Euro in 2 at least, where if your money was in one of their banks, you lost anywhere between 40 and 100%, that would be a devaluation. All of a sudden if your money is in a Cyprus bank your Euro is not worth at all what other Euros are worth.

Rubble collapsed with the collapse of USSR, but even before the collapse it was just in a constantly accelerating free fall. Grivna or Hryvna or however you write that in English (Ukrainian post USSR currency) replaced another currency that existed before it (and there were more than one), which devalued at amazing pace day to day and things like that happen over DAYS or HOURS sometimes, that's because a restructuring is not a restructuring without massive losses.

By the way, that's a big reason as to why I only sees gold as real money, something that cannot be 'revalued' by gov't in a heartbeat.

There are South American stories, there are European stories, the Japanese are going down that path, there are African stories, Asian stories, you point at a location on the world map and if there are people there, there was a currency collapse there at some point (and there will be more later on).

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708607)

Cyprus basically split Euro in 2 at least, where if your money was in one of their banks, you lost anywhere between 40 and 100%, that would be a devaluation. All of a sudden if your money is in a Cyprus bank your Euro is not worth at all what other Euros are worth.

Nope. A money grab by the government is "taxation", not "inflation". This "half of your bank account belongs to us" scheme was brutal and surprising - but a one-off tax is what it was. Tough luck if you had an account there - "tax havens" collapse too from time to time.

Bitcoin, an important part of my money education (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708207)

I credit Bitcoin with giving me a further education on currencies.

My first revelation in this regard came to me when I realized there were two banks issuing paper money in HK ( before it became part of China ).

Then I came across the Bank Of Scotland notes ( which are British pounds printed by the Bank of Scotland ).

Then my grandfather mentioned that here in Canada the banks each used to print money. Essentially paper money is just like a cheque... or IS a cheque.. signature and all.

Then travelling I traded a good $5 bill for a practically worthless $50,000,000,000 ( i.e.billion) Zimbabwe dollar note ( that had an expiry date even ) from a fellow traveller.

Ha.. and in some countries it seems like a good ( or even not so good ) fake US$ bill is pretty much valid currency.

It all comes down to:
      Money, like most things, is only worth what __other__ people are willing to give you for it.

p.s. I would have a lot more respect for Bitcoin if the mining process actually served some real use instead of mainly wasting electricity - maybe help scientists look for asteroids heading to earth or monitor solar flares, or look for earth-like planets or work with seti or...

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (3, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | about a year ago | (#43708339)

However, other currencies don't have this problem where the currency just "breaks" suddenly, and basically stops working.

Imagine if bitcoin had been more popular, if everyone had bitcoin applications on their phone which take months to get updated, where half the world if running v7 and half v8. This would have (as I understand it, and I think I do) just fundamentally broken bitcoin, possibly beyond reasonable repair.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708351)

What do you mean? That's exactly what we just observed in Cyprus, the currency just broke. You can argue that it wasn't the currency, but the banking system in Cyprus, but I can say: bitcoins in your wallet didn't break, it's only a technical issue of client incompatibility.

Sure, and the same thing happens when a bank prevents you from withdrawing your money you supposedly have there and then you find out that anywhere between 40% to 100% of it is lost for you.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (4, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | about a year ago | (#43708407)

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

I agree that the dangers of bitcoin forking have been overstated, and are something of a manufactured drama - technical problems like this are not very difficult to surmount. The real problem with Bitcoin for me is that the system is not transparent, and nothing backs the currency (unlike those fiat ones you mention above).

A currency is a token of trust (trust that others will value it the same amount), and that's a fragile thing.

Bitcoin is currently a small curiosity, it's only just becoming big enough to attract the interest of the real sharks, and I'm not convinced the creators have the resources, motivation or interest to keep the currency fair and secure once serious money becomes involved. Many of the exchanges are still pitifully insecure (run on VPSs !), the infrastructure is not well managed (witness problem above), and the creators probably never expected it to take off or really thought through the implications. Once there is serious money involved, lots of people are going to want to change the rules. If Bitcoin becomes popular it will be easy to coopt, devalue, and tax until it is just another currency, probably tied to a particular corporation or government. There's absolutely nothing you can do about that as a user of bitcoin. If the developers decided to change the direction of the currency you have your life savings in, devalue it, create a new block chain, you don't even have a vote on the matter.

Currently, if the government of your country or anyone else with the power to control the flow of bitcoins decide it should become valueless for you, or illegal, that can easily happen, if someone corners a significant supply of coins, they can manipulate the market (this is probably already happening as there are ZERO controls in place to stop it), if the public panics due to misinformation or rumour in such an illiquid market there is nothing to stop huge swings in value, and if a government decides to coopt the currency, shut down exchanges and change the rules by fiat, no-one is going to be able to trade in it and interest will evaporate. I see that as the largest problem with bitcoin by far - there are no backers putting up their own goods, no-one to trust, and no way to ensure that others continue to play by the same rules as they used to. It's certainly very appealing to utopian crypto-anarchists, but of limited interest to anyone who wants to store value or exchange it, given that it has the disadvantages of cash (anonymous, fungible) with none of the upsides (backed by a sovereign government, relatively stable, regulated to a greater or lesser extent, insurable etc), and a few downsides of its own (massively fluctuating value, built-in deflation, early-adopters privileged).

Because it is untraceable, and not guaranteed by law, it's of no interest to the majority of people who use currencies to store and transfer value and receive payment. I *want* my transactions to be traceable, so that I can prove to gov. and counter-parties that I have fulfilled my part of a bargain, made a payment, and should receive goods or services in return. If I don't want a transaction to be traceable (very rare, but conceivable), I'd use barter or some kind, but a currency outwith the control of government holds little interest for me, *precisely because* it is outwith the control of all the rules of society I value. Those who've had their valuable bits stolen from some VPS have no come-back using bitcoin, and no way to find a thief or enforce punishment - I'd demand far better than that for any currency I put trust in.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (4, Insightful)

seizer (16950) | about a year ago | (#43708849)

I don't think you know enough about Bitcoin, and I encourage you to read more about it. While it is hugely volatile, and even more hugely risky - not to say stupid - to "invest" in, I think many of your criticisms are invalid.

Bitcoin is absolutely traceable - it's far more traceable than cash. Read up about how the blockchain works (and see the Zerocoin proposal to see how it could be made untraceable, optionally, in the future). (The only non-traceable coins are those minted by miners with very paranoid security arrangements).

Cornering a "significant supply of coins" would take a significant investment of "real world" cash to actually corner these coins - not a trivial thing to get your hands on. So I don't think this is a large risk for the current Bitcoin ecosystem.

Also, you suggest that with regard to an entity trying to coopt or alter Bitcoin, "there's absolutely nothing you can do about that as a user of bitcoin". That's not true - simply running the reference software implementation makes you a node in the network, thus enforcing your (i.e. the default software's) set of rules on the transactions you do/do not relay. And additionally, the computing power deployed by today's miners would probably be impossible to exceed except by a very determined and well financed attacker. How much would a government spend to attack Bitcoin?

And if the "creators" (by which I suppose you mean the current set of core devs) try to create a new blockchain, good luck to them - the blockchain is far more resilient and the network runs as a democracy. It wouldn't work unless a vast amount of users also followed.

Your point about exchanges is key of course - they are extremely amateur operations right now. But that's easily changeable by hard work.

Digital cash ought to excite any geek - whether Bitcoin is "it", or simply an alpha version of something better yet to arrive, who knows.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | about a year ago | (#43708411)

the whole argument for going thru the pain of adopting a new currency is that it's immune to the problems of the existing currencies. If it's going to have the same sort of problems, what's the point? Does it really matter to you whether the result of your currency being devalued is due to government policy or a bug?

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43708431)

Technical details will be hashed out, as I said - this is an interesting thing to observe. This is a revolutionary type of currency, the society is learning from it and eventually it will be replaced of-course by many other currencies that will learn from this one.

Personally I don't think it's a store of value or even a unit of account, but I think it's a good medium of exchange, the more people accept it, the easier it is to transact without involving large existing institutions that have their costs to consider and are regulated by governments.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about a year ago | (#43708761)

My government will always accept the current legal tender for payment of taxes
Any one trading in my country has to by law accept the current legal tender in payment

Some people will accept other currencies in exchange for the legal tender or in payment at whatever exchange rate they deem appropriate, but it is not required

No-one *has* to accept bitcoin anywhere, and the exchange rate is therefore *only* subject to market confidence and nothing else - and could be zero tomorrow ....

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708667)

You don't understand. It also means that there is nothing preventing that developer (or others) from comming up with an "Elite Client" that can process really large and complex blocks, but all existing clients can't. This means a select few COULD potentially be at the top of a pyramid, getting a vast majority of the wealth.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708779)

If it's troll, it's a 0/10 one. If it's not: "blocks" are basically pages in a global bitcoin ledger. This 7.1/8 fork was because 8 uses inch step for binder's punch holes, and 7.1 used 2.5 cm, so they can't file new pages from 8. The only effect of your client producing blocks too big is getting them not accepted by anyone else.

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about a year ago | (#43708705)

Real world currency - A currency that has a value backed by either :

              Physical something of real value - Gold, Silver, etc that actually exists in a vault somewhere

              A Large entity who guarantee to pay, and are trusted enough to do so (Government/Bank/etc)

      And/Or - Fiat currency that will always (and sometimes will only) be accepted for the purposes of paying taxes and so will always have value

        All real world currencies are usually legal tender - It is required that people have to accept legal tender as payment for good and services

Bitcoin - A currency backed only by the assurance that they cannot be faked/cheated but is otherwise free floating
          No-one has to accept Bitcoin, if they do they can assign any arbitrary value to it as an exchange rate depending on how much they trust it ...

Re:Crap, the sky is falling (1)

gidoca (2726773) | about a year ago | (#43708845)

Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

The Swiss Franc? Unless you count things like exchange rate manipulation by the central bank, but that isn't really a collapse.

In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#43708027)

Making the whole thing nothing more than an interesting academic exercise. Anyone who thinks bitcoin is the new gold or even frankly a replacement for ordinary money transactions is utterly deluded.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#43708047)

Compared to pieces of paper that a politician can devaluate with a single signature if there's another budget issue (and there always is)? Bitcoin's advantage is a strictly limited ability to print money.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (4, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | about a year ago | (#43708537)

That's a feature, but it's not a good feature to have (for Bitcoin). A currency's success is measured by its ability to facilitate commercial transactions, not by its ability to make you rich simply by holding it. That's what *investments* are for. Currency isn't an investment and shouldn't be.

The fact that there could never be any more Bitcoins ever again would encourage speculation and hoarding, which is not what you want from a medium of exchange.

If you're worried about currency devaluation and put some of your money/time into Bitcoins, that makes sense as a hedge against inflation (ie. an investment), but nothing more.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708057)

Bitcoins are not consumables. They can be reused infinitely. They do not "run out".

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43708149)

Bitcoins are not consumables. They can be reused infinitely. They do not "run out".

They are data, though, and we all know how good at keeping backups people are...

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708253)

"Bitcoins" are kept in the blockchain. That means that there's tens of millions of "backups" all over the world. What people customarily mean by "bitcoins" is actually the private keys to sign them over other people (your bitcoin "wallet" contains not bitcoins - they're in the blockchain - but the decryption keys that prove that you own them).

Backing up decryption keys is not hard. If you use a deterministic wallet, you just need to remember a passphrase, making it even easier.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43708281)

It isn't that backups are 'hard'(though in complex situations they can be harder than they look), it's that people don't do them, or don't know that they were doing them wrong until it comes time to find out the hard way. They also forget passwords, get hit by trucks, and otherwise suffer from unexpected data loss.

My thesis is hardly that 'zOMG, all the bitcoins will disappear!!!'; but that there will be attrition over time, with greater attrition if they gain traction with the relatively clueless.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#43708327)

So if my computer crashes, I can call someone and get all my bitcoins back?

No? Well then it's a scam.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (4, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about a year ago | (#43708377)

If you burn your cash, can you call someone to get it back? At least you can have backups of your Bitcoin wallets.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (3, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about a year ago | (#43708583)

A) That is why people keep money in banks, B) Yes, you can, sort of. In the U.S. you gather up the burned remnants of your cash and send it to the U.S. Mint where they have an entire department consisting of people whose job is to go through such remnants and determine how much money they can actually identify and then that amount will be returned. Now, what happens if someone figures out a way to break the encryption? What happens if someone steals and makes public many of the decryption keys? What happens if someone makes an affordable quantum computer that can produce the keys in trivial amounts of time? The problem with using math as a currency is that a math trick can destroy the value of the currency.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about a year ago | (#43708831)

Replying to your what-happens:

If someone breaks the encryption:
Hard to say, exactly. Assuming a full breach of SHA256, things would be pretty bad, the worse the longer it takes for the breach to be publicized. Once it is, the consensus would likely be to cease accepting Bitcoin transactions until a fix is issued - likely moving to a different algorithm, and considering all or some transactions since the breach retroactively invalid. There would be a lot of drama over this, understandably, and I don't know how long such a fix would take to implement technically. It would be a big deal and Bitcoin might not survive it, but that's not a given. Then again, being able to break SHA256 at will would be quite remarkable and would have serious repercussions for a lot of people quite apart from Bitcoin users. I'm not at all convinced breaking Bitcoin would be the best way to use such a trump card.

If someone steals and publicizes "decryption keys":
I assume you mean people's private keys used to control their bitcoins? This is like any other theft - if someone steals large amounts of cash and decides to redistribute it, robin-hood style, the victims are left without their money and some other people have more money than before, and a moral dilemma to go with the funds.

Quantum computers:
I'll point you to the Bitcoin wiki entry on the issue: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Myths#Quantum_computers_would_break_Bitcoin.27s_security [bitcoin.it]

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about a year ago | (#43708853)

Also, you can, of course, let others store your bitcoins for you. It's just not a particularly good idea at this time, since there is not, and in fact can not be, any company reputable enough to act as a bank for bitcoins. In my view, anyway. Later on, assuming Bitcoin continues to gain traction, I expect that problem will be remedied. The simplest solution would be for an existing financial institution to start offering Bitcoin banking, although I expect bitcoin deposits won't have the same kind of legal protections as fiat deposits do for quite a while to come.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708601)

Actually, in some cases you can. As long as there is something identifiable left from the money, you are eligible for replacement in many jurisdictions, although you will probably also pay quite some restoration costs. Money that has been burned doesn't necessarily disappear from circulation.

You can also quite easily save most of your own "real" money from burning: Storing it in a bank account of a somewhat trustworthy bank might be a perfectly acceptable solution.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708745)

Yes. Of course you can. Other common accidents include putting large quantities of (paper) cash into a washing machine and accidentally crushing (metal) cash into an unrecognisable blob. In each case the issuers will investigate and replace your money for a modest handling fee, the same way they'll exchange obsolete denominations and fix other administrative fuck-ups. This is a perfectly usual service which comes for free with your use of a fiat currency.

Thank you for your enquiry about how your world works. Other exciting topics you might want to learn about today: "Life and personhood: Not actually the same thing" "Sometimes when people tell you their problems they're looking for sympathy and not solutions" "How to transition your corporate VoIP solution to IPv6".

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708389)

It's retards like you that make money so funny. Electronic or otherwise.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43708645)

So if my computer crashes, I can call someone and get all my bitcoins back?

No? Well then it's a scam.

Do you hold all your cash in person or do you use a trusted third party to hold most of your cash (digitally)?

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (3, Informative)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#43708085)

In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway

What do you mean by that? I thought that the very idea of bitcoins is that at some time no more can be produced, thereby causing deflation.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708157)

Deflation is not inherent to Bitcoin. While the money supply is strictly limited, the value of each Bitcoin does not have to go up over time. The protocol could be amended to include a fixed devaluation per time held, with the subtracted value paid towards the miners. This concept is basically already in the Bitcoin system, because miners will demand processing fees as fewer (and eventually no) new bitcoins can be mined. One could write into the protocol that all spending has to include a transaction fee of at least 1-0.95^y times the gross transaction value, where y is the fractional number of years since the value has last been transferred.

Rather obvious isn't it? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#43708313)

It means only a tiny fraction of the worlds population can ever possess any. What fucking use is that if its to be taken seriously as an online currency?

Re:Rather obvious isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708335)

If there were only one bitcoin, that would still not make it nonviable as a currency. Essentially you trade fractions of the total money supply. You might as well express them like that.

Re:Rather obvious isn't it? (3, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#43708557)

With 21million BTCs dividable into 100million satoshis each I think the world will have plenty of artificial bits to spread around.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (5, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43708445)

Consider this. Since there a some limit on the maximum number of Bitcoins any that are lost are gone forever. Wallet file misplaced or destroyed, coins stolen but unspendable (because although they are anonymous they are traceable), or simply sitting on forgotten hard drives somewhere.

Governments can print new notes to replace old ones that no longer exist or are presumed lost. Bitcoin has a hard limit.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708087)

Exactly! This thread is nothing more than blue-skying to try and divert attention away from the very obvious fact that there wasn't enough liquidity in the Bitcoin python to swallow the Cyprus cow. Now that particular bout of indigestion is over the beast has re-shrunk a lot in size.

Re: In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708093)

I am trying to figure out in which way Bitcoin is an academic exersize. As far as I can tell anything that is academic about Bitcoin can also be applied to any other currency. I can see it now: 500 B.C.E., young philosopher thinks "hey what if we invented these things called coins," and then people started trading in coins, meanwhile some guy is just like "coins are just an academic exersize." You are the 21st century version.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708173)

but but, we can generate large numbers with computers now.. do you hear me, with computers! therefore it obviously is a gold replacement!!!1

+1 if i had it to give it.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43708199)

Making the whole thing nothing more than an interesting academic exercise. Anyone who thinks bitcoin is the new gold or even frankly a replacement for ordinary money transactions is utterly deluded.

Yes and no: By design, 'the' bitcoin block chain will ever only have a limited number(20-odd million, I think...) of bitcoins associated with it. However, there is nothing mathemagical about this one, rather than the zillions of other possible ones.

If people were so inclined, any number of bitcoin-protocol chains could be run concurrently(subject only to computational constraints), each providing another chunk of the things. Of course, given how many of bitcoin's biggest fans are cyber-goldbug deflation enthusiasts(sometimes with nontrivial BTC reserves to provide financial as well as ideological motivation) I wouldn't be terribly surprised if an attempt to do that would be deeply unpopular, and that the value of non-canonical bitcoins would be nearly zero.

The situation is perhaps closest to what a fiat currency would look like if it were impossible for anyone(even the issuer) to counterfeit mint years and serial numbers: The supply of '1985 US dollars' or '$20 bills with serial numbers below XYZ' are fixed and slowly dwindling through attrition. Nothing prevents the creation of new bills each year, or printing bills with higher and higher serial numbers; but(in the case of bitcoins) there is nobody to say 'regardless of print year or serial, all of these things are equal', so the value of each printing, relative to other printings, and to other currencies and assets, is free to float.

It'd be messy(since nothing except total consensus would ever make bitcoins from different block chains totally fungible); but if people wanted there to be more of them, there could be more.

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708265)

Alternate cryptocurrencies are so deeply unpopular, they got their own subforum on bitcointalk.org ...

Re:In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway (4, Informative)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43708301)

Try 2140, not 2020. Your larger point may stand, but the specific urgency of it happening in the next decade - Or even without our lifetimes - does not.

Damn (5, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | about a year ago | (#43708107)

Damn, I thought this was going to be the last forking warning against posting Bitcoin stories on Slashdot.

Version inflation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708179)

Since when do we drop the leading "0." from the bitcoin-qt version number? Is that a thing now?

So upgrade the clients to version 8. (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43708241)

So upgrade the clients to version 8. Problem solved.

Or are we worried about updating the bitcoin clients we've installed on our criminally trespassing/theft of services botnets?

Extra value! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708279)

As a digital coin collector, I am extremely excited by these rare, limited edition "forked" bitcoins that will soon no longer be tender. I am trying to gather up as many as I can.

ASDFnz is a liar (2)

ras (84108) | about a year ago | (#43708295)

ASDFnz writes "It has been just over two months since the bitcoin block chain was rocked by a near disastrous fork causing the bitcoin price to crash. ..."

Right. Near fucking disastrous. You can see the effect right here [bitcoincharts.com], after clicking the "DRAW" button. At least, if you look very hard, and squint just right, you might just be able to pick up the crash that happened 2 months ago.

Actually, I can't see a bloody thing. ASDFnz is a liar.

Re:ASDFnz is a liar (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708329)

2 moths ago, price was 240. Now it's 120. That's half the size it used to be. I think the trouble is you have trouble seeing the screen with your head up your ass. Enjoy your nerdcoins.

Re:ASDFnz is a liar (2)

tantrum (261762) | about a year ago | (#43708681)

2 moths ago, price was 240. Now it's 120. That's half the size it used to be. I think the trouble is you have trouble seeing the screen with your head up your ass. Enjoy your nerdcoins.

2 months ago bitcoin was at 46, now it is 118 :)

The was a sharp in this period, but overall it has been growing steadily so far.

Re:ASDFnz is a liar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708841)

And 4 months ago, it was... 20.

And, as you say, "Now it's 120".

So shove it.

Re:ASDFnz is a liar (1)

Thavilden (1613435) | about a year ago | (#43708643)

Around March 12 you can see one day where the value drops slightly, but it's disingenuous to call this "rocked" when just a month after that you have the halving of the value of a bitcoin.

Let me see if I understand this (4, Funny)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about a year ago | (#43708471)

Basically, the long block chains are $2 bills, and the 7.1 client is Taco Bell. Is that about right?

Samzenpus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43708619)

This Samzenpus just gets less credible each time he posts. And why has someone added "scam" to the tags? This whole website becomes less and less objective by the day.

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