Bitcoins, very secure unless perhaps you adhere to Moores’ Law

Monday, 29 September, 2014

Say what you will about Bitcoins, but they are certainly secure. Seemingly it would take many billions of years to break through their private key encryption. However there is a caveat, under Moores’ Law computing power is supposed to double every two years, so that colossal time span stands to be substantially reduced. Maybe.

Assuming computing speed doubles every year (Moore’s law says 2 years, but we’ll err on the side of caution), then in 59 years it’ll only take 1.13 years. So your coins are safe for the next 60 years without a change to the algorithms used to protect the blockchain. However, I would expect the algorithms to be changed long before it’s feasible to break the protection they provide.

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A helpful drone took our photo after we climbed this mountain

Wednesday, 24 September, 2014

Climbers, summit of the Jungfrau

Whose to say, but this photo, of a group of people who scaled the Jungfrau, a mountain in the Swiss Alps, by a drone, might just be the beginning of a trend…

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The dark of night, a relic of a bygone age?

Friday, 19 September, 2014

The dark of night has become a thing of the past, an anachronism, in an age where there’s always a light switched on somewhere… how’s that for a take on light pollution from US astronomer Tyler Nordgren?

“We’re losing the stars,” the 45-year-old astronomer told me. “Think about it this way: For 4.5 billion years, Earth has been a planet with a day and a night. Since the electric light bulb was invented, we’ve progressively lit up the night, and have gotten rid of it. Now 99 percent of the population lives under skies filled with light pollution.”

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Miss-mixing, the hallmark of the discerning DJ

Tuesday, 16 September, 2014

Whose to know if the dance mix you’re listening to is the product of a bot, or a real, live, human DJ? A technique known as miss-mixing, and one that is increasingly being employed by DJs, will help listeners make the distinction. In short, miss-mixing is the practice of deliberately making a mistake while re-mixing music.

Michael Briscoe, aka DJ Whopper, explains how it works:

“I like to drop in on the second or third beat, leave it play for a couple of bars and then quickly correct myself,” explained Mr. Briscoe. “It’s subtle yet affective, I call it The Perplexer. People who don’t know what they’re listening to won’t even notice it while other DJs will be thinking ‘that’s a great mistake, who is this DJ Whopper lad anyway?’ d’ya know what I mean?”

Get it, DJ Whopper? I suppose the… practice is a little like a writer purposely adding errors to their text, and seeing how many times the work is republished by people claiming they wrote the piece themselves, before the fault is noticed.

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Just because a ship has no crew doesn’t mean it is abandoned

Tuesday, 16 September, 2014

If we’re going to have driverless cars and motobikes, then it makes sense there will also be crewless ships, no captains, no no-one. It seems incredible, but apparently is quite possible:

The SINTEF company MARINTEK is one of eight partners working intensely to develop systems which can function without human intervention. Both day and night watches will be taken care of by a control centre onshore, and the Norwegian researchers believe that a 3 to 4 Mbit broadband connection will ensure effective communication between the vessel and the control room.

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For best results, take a short digital sabbatical each day

Thursday, 11 September, 2014

Sometimes I think the only reason people talk about taking so-called digital sabbaticals is just that, so they can talk. I think it absurd that we divest ourselves of the likes of smartphones, and tablet devices, because we think we’re too connected, or spend too much time doing one thing or another online.

Luke Thomas, in a Medium article on the subject, hits the nail square on the head:

Most discussion is geared towards extended periods of time (i.e. a vacation), and while that’s great, there doesn’t seem to be much discussion around incorporating a digital break into our daily/weekly lives. If you look at “being connected” as an addiction, since when is going cold-turkey a good idea? This is one of the toughest ways to quit, and many relapse.

Indeed, try going without your devices for a few hours each day, rather than taking the whole hog, for like a year, approach.

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Jeffrey Zeldman, the first twenty years

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014

I’ve been reading the articles of New York City based web designer Jeffrey Zeldman for near on seventeen years. Zeldman, also known as the godfather of the web, has been designing the web, and writing about it, for twenty years now. Time is passing.

His life and work is the subject of a documentary produced by lynda.com, and could perhaps feature the byline, “Zeldman, the first twenty years”.

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Have smartphones rendered plan making a lost art?

Friday, 5 September, 2014

Now that we make our often on-the-fly plans via our smartphones, have we become tardy, and non-committal, when it comes to events we have, or had, promised to attend? Alex Cornell recently explored the notion, and seems to think so.

I guess any happening will see one or two people back out at the last minute, or show up late, but I think it’s fair to say that the rise of smartphones has especially given rise to the “optimiser”, someone who is scanning through their text messages and social media posts, looking for that “something better”:

An optimizer is in a constant state of choosing which plan to execute due to the fact that they have confirmed multiple overlapping plans. Common SMS phrases include “maybe, where is it?” or “are their girls there?” Optimizing is a term used to describe everyone that uses a cellphone to make plans.

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On texting in the movies, not at the movies

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

The characters of films communicating with each other via text messaging is one of the more recent challenges to confront filmmakers… specifically, what is the best way present this interaction to audiences?

It is a subject that San Francisco based film aficionado Tony Zhou explores in his short documentary, A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film.

I don’t see all that many stage productions, but now I’m wondering what happens with texting in live performances and the like.

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Reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated

Friday, 22 August, 2014

Despite talk – over what, the last ten years now – of its impending demise, email is still very much with us. A system of written communication that trumps email may come along one day, but what other electronic messaging system about at the moment otherwise ticks all of the boxes that email does?

Email is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, email represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices. Email is a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled “web we lost.” It’s an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services.

If you ask me, much of the talk of email’s so-called end of days is simply an excuse to continue talking about email.

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