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MtGox's "Transaction Malleability" Claim Dismissed By Researchers

Orgasmatron Re:Dear slashdot, (92 comments)

No, there is no intention to tighten the blockchain rules at this time. This would cause a hard fork, and breaking compatibility with old versions is not considered lightly.

Mtgox's software is unique. The reference client, for example, can not be fooled by changing transaction IDs. The frequency of success at actually winning the race to get the modified version into a block only matters if you've written your own software that is totally reliant on transaction IDs.

There are two values, each with a 1 in 256 chance. 1/256 + 1/256 = 1/128.

Bitcoin tends to attract fame-seeking researchers making wild claims. This is no different. The paper would be correct if the claim was narrower, that "this one type of mutation out of the many kinds possible, and which no one has suggested as a culprit, was not involved". But the paper is written to make a much broader claim, and I haven't seen the authors going out of their way to mitigate that misunderstanding in the press, much the opposite.

about two weeks ago

MtGox's "Transaction Malleability" Claim Dismissed By Researchers

Orgasmatron Re:Dear slashdot, (92 comments)

I didn't say that mutated transactions didn't exist, or that the researchers haven't actually seen any.

They certainly do exist, and I have no reason to doubt that the researchers have found some in the wild.

I'm saying that if such an attack had been responsible for Mtgox's woes (which I and, I think, most others find extremely unlikely), they would not be visible using the methodology discussed in this paper.

about two weeks ago

MtGox's "Transaction Malleability" Claim Dismissed By Researchers

Orgasmatron Re:Dear slashdot, (92 comments)

In my opinion, this was most likely incompetence. Or, possibly Mtgox stole from their users (or Mark stole from his own company, which is the same, as far as I'm concerned).

It is extremely unlikely, in my view, that transaction malleability played much of a role.

A malleability exploit is something that people might be willing to accept as "could have happened to anyone", so I think it was tried as cover for incompetence of the more ordinary "not clever enough to safely hold other people's money" variety.

about two weeks ago

MtGox's "Transaction Malleability" Claim Dismissed By Researchers

Orgasmatron Re:Dear slashdot, (92 comments)

The signature is two values (r,s). These values are stored and transmitted as binary strings. They have a maximum length, but not a minimum. So, if your calculated r is less than 2^248, the most significant byte is all zeros, ditto 2^240 and the next byte.

The spec says to minimize the encoding, but openssl accepts the padded form. The bitcoin software started refusing to relay transactions with improperly padded transactions, even though they are still valid, if they make it into a block.

So, as the new version got more popular, the odds of a padded transaction being spread from mtgox to a miner decreased. Note that this only matters for less than 1% of transactions from gox, those that by chance ended up with unusually small values.

At some point, they basically never spread across the network, but were available through an API. The claimed attack is that people took these transactions, fixed them, and broadcast them. The fixed version would spread, but the original would not.

In this case, you would never see these as modified transactions by looking at the network, which is what this paper was looking at.

There are other ways to mutate transactions that are visible on the network, but they don't work very often, since it involves accepting a transaction over the p2p network, changing it, then broadcasting your version in hopes of winning the race to reach a miner first. These do happen, and the researchers do see them. But they aren't particularly useful for scamming mtgox (or anyone else).

Oh, and did you notice that less than 1% of transactions were vulnerable to the real attack? To extract large sums, you'd need to constantly churn huge bitcoin values into and out of mtgox, profiting on roughly one cycle out of every 128. This would have left huge traces in the blockchain, which no one has noticed so far.

about two weeks ago

MtGox's "Transaction Malleability" Claim Dismissed By Researchers

Orgasmatron Dear slashdot, (92 comments)

This paper has already been widely dismissed by the bitcoin community. Not that we necessarily think that Mtgox was actually hit by a malleability attack. Just that this paper is nonsense.

The very short version is that what these "researchers" were looking at isn't actually how the alleged bug would have worked.

about two weeks ago

More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

Orgasmatron Junk (367 comments)

This is a page out of MADD's playbook.

Accident report forms are used to collect statistical data. Like a game of Telephone, as you get further from the event, the more the "data" reflects the currently prevailing biases.

Here is an example, one that has been documented by researchers trying to figure out where bullshit MADD claims were coming from:

Drunk pedestrian steps out in front of a car, gets hit and killed. The "Fatality" box gets checked, of course. The pedestrian's alcohol box also gets checked.

Now a researcher comes along and compiles them into alcohol-involved vs alcohol-free.

Then a second researcher comes along and looks at the alcohol-involved accidents and counts how many of them were fatalities. Sadly, this guy doesn't bother looking at the primary data, he just assumes that the alcohol involved was in the blood of the driver that caused the accident.

Bam! A drunk pedestrian has morphed into a drunk driver. And since there is lots of money to be had by producing statistics that support neo-prohibition, and none to speak of for honest research, the "researchers" are rewarded for their apathy.

Now imagine a checkbox on the accident report form labelled "cell phone present"...

about three weeks ago

Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin

Orgasmatron Wrong title (301 comments)

Should be "Researchers Find Their Biases".

Really, nothing new here. I blame the soft "sciences" for lowering expectations, science reporters for breathlessly reporting sensationalist drivel instead of digging in, and the global warming cabal for trying to pass off the output of their numerical models as "data".

I've read a bunch of this crap, but not all of it. Just off the top of my head, the global consensus does not in any way resemble a state machine, and writing a paper using one to draw "conclusions" about the other is a study of gullibility, not of bitcoin. So far, that one is still my favorite academic "research" into bitcoin.

In many ways bitcoin is an experiment. There are indeed open questions. With the huge number of unknowns in the system, I will continue to be skeptical of people that claim to already know how the experiment will turn out.

about three weeks ago

$30K Worth of Multimeters Must Be Destroyed Because They're Yellow

Orgasmatron Meanwhile... (653 comments)

Actual intentional Fluke clones stream across the ocean in small lots from ebay every day. Some of these are presumably actual Fluke meters, just being sold by the factory directly, rather than through normal channels.

Plus the hilarious things like FUKE meters, which are very clearly inferior copies, but intentionally made to look similar.

And then the generic $3 meters in red, black, yellow, orange, green, whatever. Sometimes these come with a brand name you've never heard of, sometimes they are completely devoid of all identifying marks.

I'm guessing that way more than 2,000 of these have made it in the country so far this year, mostly with laughably and obviously bogus customs forms.

From reading the comments, it would appear that Fluke really did "invent" the yellow multimeter, and they have a legitimate concern about protecting their trade dress. But for most people (particularly those under 40 or 50), "cheap multimeter" (of any color) is a stronger brand than "yellow multimeter".

about a month ago

FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

Orgasmatron Re:Consistent, yet counter-productive. (1098 comments)

Ugh. It seems like it must be a lot of work to be so completely wrong about this.

Under the GPL, if someone makes improvements to the software and then distributes it, they MUST provide the source of those changes to the community.

Under non-copyleft licenses, they can make the changes, distribute the changed product, and tell the community to fuck off.

It isn't about harming anyone, it is about ensuring that those who benefit from the community's work contribute back to the community.

about 3 months ago

Satanists Propose Monument At Oklahoma State Capitol Next To Ten Commandments

Orgasmatron Law (1251 comments)

Most legislative and judicial houses are decorated with historic laws and lawgivers.* In that context, the 10 Commandments are not there so much for their religious value as they are for their historic value. In practice, I suspect that it is the overlap that is most important here, with the 10 Commandments being the most important law code in the religious tradition that, like it or not, was and is the most influential in the US.

What historic lawgiving events are the satanists planning to depict? Yeah...

Now, if Tulsa's Babylonian citizens and Mardukists get together to fund a display of Hammurabi or his code, I'll personally pitch in.

* No, really.

about 4 months ago

Bitcoin Thefts Surge, DDoS Hackers Take Millions

Orgasmatron Re:dreamworld (305 comments)

I was going to consolidate all of your questions in this entire thread into a single reply that would answer all of them. But now I see that there is no point. You already know **all about** how bitcoin works.

Your dictionary must be different from mine. Mine would never let me claim to know **all about** something while I was asking basic FAQ-level questions about it.

Your musings about the unknown actors that pick blocks, and the unknown forces that cause the block subsidy to right-shift according on schedule were side-splittingly funny, when read **in context**.

That said, drop me a line if you ever learn the basics of bitcoin and still have questions.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Hardware Lab Bench?

Orgasmatron Scope is still critical (215 comments)

The scope still does everything. Other tools may have taken over some jobs, and may even be better at some things. But nothing can do as many jobs as the scope does, and I'm not even sure that a collection of tools can replace it entirely.

Also, building accessories for your scope is FUN. Tempted by cheap 8-channel logic probes? Don't buy one until after you've built a multiplexer for your scope. Other good projects include function generators, trigger modules (delays, holdoffs, strobes, logic, etc).

Buy a good soldering iron. Weller, temperature controlled. A couple of cheapo irons in different sizes and wattages can be handy too. Have a variety of good solder removal systems (bulbs, plungers, bulbs on hollow irons, braid). If you do surface mount work, find a decent Chinese clone of a Japanese (Hakko) rework station. My Aoyue 852 sees a lot of action.

Build a bench power supply out of an ATX PSU. They make boards for this, or you can make your own interface box, or you can pop the cover, drill some holes for a switch, some LEDs and a row of binding posts/banana jacks. This will cover 90% of projects for 90% of people. If you need more, build or buy something more capable.

Have a good variety of components on hand: resistors, different types of caps, diodes, transistors, LEDs. Have a bunch of interconnects on hand: snap-off pin sockets and pins, IDC headers, power pole, quarter inch QC tabs. Depending on the work you do, IC sockets, inductors.

Have a ton of solderless breadboards for prototyping. I really do mean a ton. I make a lot of little things and then just leave them intact because buying a replacement breadbord is less hassle than making it as a PCB. Plenty of copperclad perfboard is handy too, in a variety of styles (individual holes, bus strip, IC breakout).

Look into ways to make PCBs at home. I prefer the glossy paper/clothes iron toner transfer method, but direct milling is easier if you have a CNC minimill. With a little practice, toner and etchant gives finer features than milling. If you need finer features yet, or plated vias, or more than 2 layers, or silk screening, or resist masking, or... you need commercial production. There are several services that do group buys on short runs and small pieces. They assemble a variety of designs, send them out for fabication, then split them out and mail them back to you. I've used dorkbotpdx quite a few times, but there are plenty of others.

about 5 months ago

Why Is Broadband More Expensive In the US Than Elsewhere?

Orgasmatron Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (569 comments)


The town I live in is served by two cable companies. Both of them have full fiber networks, and service is dirt cheap. My house actually has three fiber pairs servicing it, one for TV, one for internet, and one for the other cable company. (I wanted my network ONT in a different spot, but haven't gotten around to redoing the coax inside yet, cable company had no problem putting up a second box.)

When the first company's exclusive franchise expired a while back, the second company lobbied for it not to be renewed. They then came in and wired up the whole town. No one complained about them doing it. The city didn't pay a dime for it. The old company had to cut prices to keep customers, and they did. A few years later, the new cable company came back and redid the entire town with fiber (this was a while ago). The next year, the old company ran fiber everywhere too.

Did I mention that my town is about 2500 people? Oh, and they did the rural areas around town too. I'm actually about 6 miles out.

The new company has detailed plans for fiber networks in every town in the area. Every few years they get another one to let their exclusive franchise lapse and they spring into action.

This "story" is a joke. Where the cable system has actually been deregulated to the point of breaking the government granted monopolies, internet access is cheap and awesome. Where the monopolies still exist, it sucks monkey balls. I'm not sure how anyone with access to a dictionary can consider a government granted monopoly to be "deregulated".

P.S. I have 50 down and 50 up for $45 per month. I could go much cheaper, or I could go much faster, if I wanted to. I used to live in a different city, where Charter has a monopoly. I paid close to $100 for 30 down and 5 up, which was top of the line there.

P.P.S. Oh, phone service is relatively cheap here too, from what I hear. I haven't looked into it myself because the notion of getting a landline seems quaint to me. Three companies providing phone service and all. But it isn't as cheap as you'd expect because phone service is mostly governed by the state public utility commission, which amusingly sets floors on what a company can charge.

about 6 months ago

Why Can't Big Government Launch a Website?

Orgasmatron Re:The reason is private insurance (786 comments)

"Something must be done! This is something, thus we must do this!". I've seen that notion expressed many times, but I was amused to find it in the constitutional debate from 225+ years ago.

There are ways to decouple medical coverage from employment that don't involve massive growth of government.

For example, they could transition the employer tax benefits of providing medical plans into a employer tax benefit for paying that out as cash (to be used in full, in part, or not at all for the employee to buy their own plan). That change alone would fix about 90% of what's wrong with the country's medical billing system.

That would resurrect proper health insurance, reform pre-paid medical plans (what people usually mean when they say "health insurance" these days), gut the administration and billing nightmare, and restore market pressure and competition to all levels of the process.

Malpractice tort reform and encouragement of HDHP/HSA plans would do the rest.

Note that all of these are things that would shrink the federal government and reduce federal power, so they are just as unthinkable as they are obvious.

about 6 months ago

Famed ATM Hacker Barnaby Jack Dies Days Before Black Hat Conference

Orgasmatron Shitty (110 comments)

That sucks.

He was an interesting character. He helped me sneak a girl into a hacker party at the Peppermill one year during Defcon. No one that drank with him, even once, will ever forget him.

God had better keep an eye on him. If the pearly gates have any exploits, he'll find them.

about 9 months ago

SEC Alleges 'Bitcoin Savings & Trust' Is a Ponzi Scheme

Orgasmatron well duh... (176 comments)

Yeah, we all knew it was a ponzi when it was running. No, really. Go read some of the old threads on the forums.

Some people were just happy to collect "earnings" while it was running. A few people even managed to cash out before it all went to shit.

Also, keep in mind that most of the losses reported by people were their account balances after a few months of compounded 7% per week "interest" (LOL). The actual losses were much lower.

about 9 months ago

Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

Orgasmatron Wow, did he ever call it: (1448 comments)

From 2004:

And we all know the course this thing will follow. Anyone who opposes this edict will be branded a bigot; any schoolchild who questions the legitimacy of homosexual marriage will be expelled for "hate speech." The fanatical Left will insist that anyone who upholds the fundamental meaning that marriage has always had, everywhere, until this generation, is a "homophobe" and therefore mentally ill.

about 9 months ago

Online Gambling Site Bets On Bitcoin To Avoid U.S. Laws

Orgasmatron Re:A coherent (and polite) response (347 comments)

This story is off the front page, and I don't know if anyone will read it. Also, this post is far too long, and I haven't got the time to make it any shorter. As a result, I'm not putting a lot of effort into polishing it. Some parts are detailed, other parts are just bare comments on parts of the parent post. If you get lost, read it along with the parent post and you should be able to get context by following along with what I was reading as I wrote each section (sometimes each sentence).

You dislike the generation curve chosen. Can you demonstrate an objective measure of the goodness of such curves? I personally can't think of any arbitrary curve where someone can't raise objections similar to the ones you raised. Oh, and don't forget that the acceptable inputs to the curve generating function are necessarily limited to verifiable objective facts, like block height.

Simply put, a curve had to be chosen. Every possible curve has good points and bad points, with no way to predict the future, and no way to collect feedback from the outside world. The curve we have has advantages above and beyond most curves in that it depends on two very simple integer math operations that no one can possibly mess up.

By the way, this comes up on the forums pretty often. Every single one so far has been at least as "stupid", and most are far stupider.

Science is that which is testable. If something isn't testable, it is by definition part of that "large pile of untested bullshit", and thus, not science. We are concerned with the nature of the things, not the names people like to call them by. "Computer Science" is mostly not science (but parts are). "Political Science" is not science at all, unless I've missed some recent developments. "String Theory" is a funny one. We aren't really sure if it is testable or not, so it currently exists in an indeterminate state. Eventually, we will either prove that it is untestable, or find a way to test it.

And no, we can't do economic tests. Not macro, not micro, maybe gedanken. For an amusing experience, read some papers claiming to have tested various economic theories. Count the controls that the authors acknowledge ignoring. Now find five more that they ignored, but didn't know or admit to ignoring. Now imagine someone finding five more that you didn't find...

As for macro, the central banks don't do experiments, they fiddle with knobs. When things go the way they wanted, they claim success. When things don't, they claim a confounding factor. What is really happening is that the confounding factors are always there, but they are just as much responsible for the successes as the failures. Since the "experiments" are unable to distinguish, they are not tests, and no science happens.

Your opinions on velocity are not needed, the data is public. Everyone in the world can see for themselves exactly how fast bitcoins are moving. Lack of a credit market does not in any way impede money velocity. Why on earth do you think it does? Also, there is absolutely no reason why credit markets cannot work with bitcoin. Don't take this the wrong way, but you are taking features of the specific financial system that we are currently using, and confusing them for universal constants. A lack of credit markets would be the death of the dollar because the dollar *is* the credit markets. Bitcoin is not built upon (that kind of) credit.

There are soft and hard constraints on bitcoin velocity, but we are nowhere near either of them. When you think of "Supply and Demand", you must always keep in mind that the market only acts on "effective supply" and "effective demand". In bitcoin, "effective supply" is "coins not hoarded" multiplied by velocity multiplied by value. I'm using value here as an abstraction, rather than any particular exchange rate. Velocity is practically unbound because the system is fairly efficient. Value is practically unbound because the currency supports division down to very small units. Put them together, and they can serve a very large economy indeed.

(Side note, fiat currency is not used because it is helpful to you or me or the economy in general. It is used because it makes certain forms of theft very simple and nearly invisible. That banks and governments can steal your wealth by devaluing your currnecy is not an unfortunate coincidence, it is a design feature.)

The bitcoin economy is very small compared to what it could be, not because of errors in the design, but because it is new and strange.

Stability comes from size. If you see a bit of sawdust blowing in the breeze, do you find that instability is a property of wood? A while back a couple of bored Texans grabbed the silver market and started dragging it around by the nose. They were able to do this because the silver market is small compared to the dollar market, and the silver market is relatively small because dollars are more useful. A few hundred years earlier, the silver market was the whole economy because most of the planet used silver as money. Silver was stable when it was big, and unstable when it was small. This is a property of size, nothing more. As bitcoin gets bigger (if it gets bigger), it will become more stable simply because it will take more effort to push it around.

Personal note, there was a time when my meager bitcoin holdings could have moved the market by a dollar or so. Now I'd be lucky if I could move it by a penny. Bitcoin didn't change, the size of the market did.

As explained before, I don't cry for the credit markets, and I don't see instability as a property of bitcoin, but a property of the current market size. With a fixed issue of currency, unending growth means unending deflation, but there is no reason to think that it must be large enough to make worthwhile lending unprofitable forever. I look forward to the day when they are forced to be honest.

Your notion of deflationary expectation is not supported by any evidence. Consider that right now the value of virtually everything is deflating relative to the dollar. According to the deflation theory, everyone should get rid of dollars as fast as they can because everything else that they might hold will be worth more dollars tomorrow. In reality, that only happens when inflation is very severe. Might it not be severity of change in currency value that is the problem, and not the direction?

I've addressed most of your paragraph about borrowing vs. selling equity already, so I won't ramble on. But note carefully that credit has special legal status. Lenders get a pass on proper risk evaluation because man's laws makes that acceptable. This is not a property of credit, nor of dollars, but of law. As such, that line of argument has no place here.

I have no problem with credit. I just want credit built on top of sound money, not shitty money built on top of credit. And I want an honest credit market, one where risks and rewards can be properly assessed. I can see no way to build an honest credit market without having honest money first.

about a year ago

Online Gambling Site Bets On Bitcoin To Avoid U.S. Laws

Orgasmatron Re:I didn't say Inflation led to Depression. (347 comments)

Sorry, but your entire post is wrong from top to bottom. Don't take it personally, it isn't like they teach this stuff properly in schools.

First, you did appeal to authority, and continue to do so. That you didn't do it in a way that is obvious to you is your problem, and yours alone. I will give you a hint: economics is not a science. There is no proof, there is no truth. If you take physics as your standard for avoiding self-delusion, economics doesn't have theories either. Citing "economics" as a source is automatically an appeal to the prestige of a collection of untested speculation.

Second, you ignore velocity and divisibility. If we assume that the hoarding hypothesis is correct, then you end up in a situation where deflation is forestalled, but acceptance is not. I'm going to skip my angry rant about people not understanding the dynamic equilibrium, but the short version is that virtually everything in your experience is the product of a balance of opposing forces. To the extent that hoarding can raise the exchange rate, the exchange rate tempts people to divest their funds. Acceptance is a product of utility and familiarity. Utility is very high and getting higher every day, while familiarity is very low, but also growing fast.

Third, you appear to have weak grasp on the distinction between money and wealth, and also on the Janus nature of credit and debt. I'm not sure how useful it would be to try explaining how much of your third section is wrong. From your point of view, your analysis appears to be completely correct, but it isn't, because your mind is wrong. In our current system, borrowing money is really damn cheap because most of the cost of your borrowing is paid for by other people (mostly through currency inflation). If you ignore the external costs, then yes, borrowing is the cheapest way to go.

Capital is wealth, you cannot borrow it unless someone has already produced it and is willing to lend it to you. You cannot buy it unless it has already been created and someone is willing to sell it to you. You can, however, create it yourself, but specialization says that your efforts are likely to be better spent doing whatever it is that you do well instead.

Money on the other hand, is merely a system for accounting and exchange. Since it is ruled not by laws of the universe, but by laws of men, it does whatever we say it does. We can create and destroy it at will. And by "we", I mean special people. You and I don't got a vote. Bitcoin is an attempt to more closely approach the platonic ideal of money-ness, and part of that is by deciding up front the answers to the questions "how much money?", "who gets it?" and "when?".

Bitcoin is an agreement among men, made real through software. We agree to follow certain rules, and give up any chance at special privilege, in return, we know that everyone else also has to follow the same rules, and are prevented from ever trying to claim special privileges for themselves (like the ability to shave a bit off of other people's money to make new money for themselves).

I tend to come off a bit harshly, but I hope this post was educational rather than offensive. I hope you (and everyone else) will ponder carefully on what is real, and what is imaginary.

about a year ago

SceneTap Patents Using Cameras To Determine Bar Goers' Weight, Height, Gender

Orgasmatron good idea (76 comments)

I'd pay for an app that tells me the average weight of the chicks at a bar before I go there. Even better, the simple quantity of non-fat girls.

about a year and a half ago


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