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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (153 comments)

I would guess that one reasons that retailers are converting BTC to local currency immediately is that it is insanely volatile right now, so holding BTC comes with risk. If the value becomes more quiescent (say, on a par with the USD), and if the retailers can purchase their supplies from other retailers who also accept BTC, then direct re-spending of BTC would rise without the vendor going through an exchange first. Which would be ideal, since any exchange is going to skim a little off the top.

See, I also think cryptocurrencies in their present form have a good chance of failing, but for very different reasons:

1. The blockchain doesn't appear to scale well. It takes a long time to verify transactions, and we're hardly stressing BTC to reasonable levels. 1.2 million users is paltry compared to the population of the world. One would ideally need something like a BTC credit card, where actual transactions are mediated by insured banks that act as buffers, providing the illusion of "instantaneous" and "reversible" transactions for a fee that might be paid for by either card holders or merchants. The bank would then take on the risk of a transaction subsequently failing to verify, using typical means to go after the offending party to get the funds back.

2. It all goes south when the power's out. If there's a widespread blackout or communications outage, I can't use my BTC. I can use the bills in my wallet, or even trade the physical goods/services I have for the ones I need. Of course, you might say that credit/debit cards have the same problem, and increasingly that's what we use for daily purchases. If the computing infrastructure of the world were to collapse, I'd say we'd have bigger problems to deal with -- but I still like the idea of coins and paper money as a backup for temporary outages.

3. Properly securing a wallet is hard, and using a compromised wallet is easy. Have you seen what people do to print a secure paper wallet? Disconnecting the printer from the internet, etc.? Average Joes and Janes won't do it. And then access to that single number gives a thief access to however much money you've got in the wallet. Since some folks are storing tens of thousands of USD in wallets, thieves are highly motivated. Money has to be simple to use.

But all this is tangential to the original discussion: do we need special regulation of cryptocurrencies? To which I say, no. Like it or not, they're being widely used as currencies, moreso than the native currencies of certain island nations, so we might as well treat them as such. Now, they may be a bad implementation of a currency, but that's another topic entirely.

6 hours ago
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Your lack of a clue is not my problem. (153 comments)

Hmm, I can't at all see where I "personally attacked you", although I do see you lashing out a lot. But that's ok, son... I ain't mad. :-)

It does seem like you're having a lot of problems convincing people on this thread. Maybe if you stated clearly why you think a cryptocurrency valued at 7.5 billion US$ isn't a real currency just because there's no government backing it, you might get some folks to see things your way. But saying things like "your argument is irrelevant" or "you can't debate facts" without telling us what facts you're talking about is just going to make those people grin and shake their heads.

7 hours ago
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Extra-double illegal because it's digital!!! (153 comments)

Again, agreed. I think the reason people leap to the idea of "regulating" Bitcoin is that it has notoriously been used for shady purposes due to its effective untraceability (yes, you can find out that X BTC were transferred into wallet Y, but finding the real-world owner of Y can be difficult, and can be made even moreso).

But there may be other regulations in place regarding "currency" that pertain to banks and exchanges, and perhaps that is what the OP was thinking. But even so, I don't think we should have special rules for cryptocurrencies, any more than we should have special rules for Canadian dollars. If it's a popular medium of exchange, then it's a de facto "currency", Webster's be damned. And if it's a currency, we know how to deal with it.

The only one thing we can't do with BTC and its ilk is appeal to a central regulating authority, like a government. But given that a consortia of mining pools could collectively control >51% of BTC transactions and act as a regulating authority (deploying changes to the protocol where beneficial, etc.), that may not be infeasible.

8 hours ago
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (153 comments)

Sure, agreed. But every time someone comes up with a "Bitcoin can't buy X" argument, someone else posts an article like this -- which was updated today:

http://www.coindesk.com/inform...

Again, I don't own or use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, but I do appreciate the technology, and how its adoption has spread . And there are a lot of people who seem to be rooting for it to fail, although I can't quite understand why. Jealously at not being one of the early adopters? Fear of the unknown?

8 hours ago
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (153 comments)

Oh, I'm sorry... I wouldn't have wasted all that time citing actual numbers if I'd realized that I was talking to the sole authority of facts related to economics! :-)

8 hours ago
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (153 comments)

This is always the crux of the Great Bitcoin Debate. What counts as backing the worth of something?

A non-trivial amount of Bitcoins are "owned" by somewhere roughly between 500,000 and 1,200,000 people, depending on how you calculate the number (https://bitscan.com/bitnews/item/how-many-people-really-own-bitcoins-and-why-does-it-matter). They come from numerous countries across the globe. Any one of those countries could collapse, and in theory the BTC holders would remain solvent -- this is touted by the BTC community as one of its big pluses.

In contrast, let's look at some countries with their own currencies, which all have fewer "users" than BTC:

Tuvalu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvalu):
- Population ~11,000.
- Native currency: Tuvaluan_dollar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvaluan_dollar).
- GDP: ~37 million USD.

Barbados (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados)
- Population: ~278,000
- Native currency: Barbadian dollar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbadian_dollar)
- GDP: ~7 billion USD.

Maldives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldives):
- Population ~394,000.
- Native currency: Maldivian rufiyaa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldivian_rufiyaa)
- GDP: ~2.2 billion USD

I don't know how stable the Tuvaluan, Barbadian, and Maldivian economies are, but I'm pretty sure that the combined military might of these countries is no match for the military might of the countries whose citizens hold the majority of BTC's current equivalent of 7.7 billion USD.

(I don't own Bitcoins, BTW... I just think it's fun to watch this stuff unfold.)

yesterday
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (153 comments)

With cash income, there's a paper trail - the IRS can look at pay stubs from your employer and look at bank statements to determine whether or not you are paying enough in taxes.

Actually, I think you mean, "with employer-declared or bank-mediated income, there's a paper trail." If I pay someone in small green pieces of paper to mow my lawn, and they keep it under their mattress until they need it, then there's no paper trail at all.

yesterday
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Re:Extra-double illegal because it's digital!!! (153 comments)

We are arguing exactly the same thing. I pointed out the three regulations that we most likely care about, and then I said:

So... can we just formally decree that cryptocoins meet the definition of a "currency", and be done with it? Otherwise I'm afraid that we'll be creating another legal (and patent) swamp where "...with Bitcoins" will become the new "...on the Internet".

yesterday
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US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

QilessQi Can we just recognize it as currency and be done? (153 comments)

I imagine that the sorts of things we'd want to regulate about "digital currencies" are the same things we'd want to regulate about any foreign or domestic currency; e.g.:

- You can't use it to pay for illegal goods or services
- You can't receive it in payment for illegal goods or services
- You can't use it to hide other transactions related to illegal goods or services (i.e., money laundering)

So... can we just formally decree that cryptocoins meet the definition of a "currency", and be done with it? Otherwise I'm afraid that we'll be creating another legal (and patent) swamp where "...with Bitcoins" will become the new "...on the Internet".

yesterday
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AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

QilessQi Celebrity-studded WHAT? (119 comments)

I read that as:

Code.org credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS porno film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Eeesh. NSFL.

2 days ago
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Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists

QilessQi String theory deals with singularities similarly (225 comments)

IIRC, string theorists have also proposed the idea that there are no singularities. In their model, the gravitational collapse of a star of sufficient mass causes all the strings of its component particles to coalesce into one highly-energetic string, sort of a super-particle. The information content of the original matter would be preserved in the vibration pattern of the final string.

5 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

QilessQi Re:Who is stopping him? (368 comments)

I have to disagree. I've also been coding professionally since the early '80s, and I think it's more fun today than it ever was.

I work on a huge enterprise system with dozens of independent applications and services, all working on concert. Over fifty developers, plus dedicated architects, integration testers, ops staff, DBAs, business analysts, etc. We have internal and external websites and are continuously keeping our technology and tool stack up to date, because the world is constantly changing. There's no way we could keep moving forward without good IDEs to help us manage volumes of code, automated unit tests and the continuous build systems that run them, design documents/reviews, planning meetings to figure out who is doing what and when, and daily scrums to make sure everyone knows the plan for the day.

It's like performing in an orchestra. It's not as simple as being a solo street performer. You have to play an approved instrument, and keep your instrument in tune with everyone else's, and play at their tempo, and maybe you don't even get a solo. But in exchange you get to be in the pit for a Broadway play, or onstage at the Met. You get to be a part of something bigger.

Here's the best advice I can give you:

Change is inevitable. There can't be progress without change, and there can't be change without something strange entering your life and something familiar leaving it. Embrace change, and you embrace the present as well as the past. Embrace change, and will never think of yourself as an "old guy".

5 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

QilessQi Boy, do I hear you! (368 comments)

As a surgeon, I long for the good old days when I could just give my patients a rag to bite on, grab my hacksaw or a good pocket knife, and BOOM, DONE. Now I'm forced to use an "operating room" which has to be "sterilized" along with everything in it -- you wouldn't believe the time it takes! My boss won't even let me use my own hacksaw; instead there's this bewildering array of "scalpels" and "clamps" and things -- they're supposed to make my job easier, but I spend half my time trying to figure out which one's the right one for the job. Oh, and goodbye rag -- I have to have an anaesthesiologist now, and IV tubes for blood and fluids, and all these doohickeys to monitor heartbeat, blood pressure, O2 sat, etc. It's a nightmare!

Just let me cut!

about a week ago
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China Has More People Going Online With a Mobile Device Than a PC

QilessQi Re:Symantics (58 comments)

Agreed. "PC" is also apt to be confused with a Windows PC.
A better term would have been "desktop system" vs "mobile system".

about a week ago
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Bing Implements Right To Be Forgotten

QilessQi Re:Irony (64 comments)

What's "Bing"?

about two weeks ago
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DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

QilessQi Re:Superman logo is a Trademark (249 comments)

Yup, it has nothing to do with copyright:

"It was important for me because I really felt I wanted to capture the photograph of Jeffrey wearing his Superman costume and have it as close to that as possible," Boyce said.

"Basically they didn't want to have the character of Superman associated with child abuse. They weren't comfortable with that."

Superman will therefore go back to being associated with wholesome, cheerful things, like planets exploding, orphaned kids being abandoned in a Kansas field, and slow death by radiation poisoning from green rocks.

about three weeks ago
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DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

QilessQi Re:What a Stupid Idea (249 comments)

Kids starves to death -> build a monument where you feature him as superman.

There must be some crazy logic going on to come to that course of action.

I'm sure it would appear crazy to someone who didn't actually read the article. Third link in the summary above:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gt...

Which begins with the words: Before he died of starvation at the hands of his grandparents, Jeffrey Baldwin dreamed of being just like Superman.

Right under this photo of the kid in a Superman costume: http://www.thestar.com/content...

about three weeks ago
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DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

QilessQi Has DC Comics Done Something Stupid Today? (249 comments)

Someone tell the site maintainer that it's time to reset the counter to zero:

http://hasdcdonesomethingstupi...

I say, they should do the monument exactly as they imagined it, just without the "S". I'm sure some volun^H^H^H^H^Hvandals will gladly paint a nice big "S" on it once it's installed.

BRB, off to the hardware store for some red enamel pa... um... screws.

about three weeks ago

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