Bitcoin’s increasingly rapid rise

If you’ve never heard of Bitcoin, or you think of it in a negative light, here’s some reading that will help you gain a better understanding of what it is:

Bitcoin can replace Wall Street

Regulation of Bitcoin is not a crackdown 

Here is the German Finance Ministry’s view of Bitcoin (BTC):

The German Finance Ministry recently made Bitcoin officially usable in the country by classifying it as a unique financial instrument that’s not quite national nor foreign currency but rather “private money” that can be legally used to transmit value between parties, like swapping gold or stock certificates to settle up. “We should have competition in the production of money,” said German Finance Committee parliament member Frank Schaeffler. He discourages hasty decisions on the fate of virtual currency: “Sooner or later, depending on the success of private currencies, authorities will feel the urge to ban or regulate private currency. A free country should resist and not intervene in citizen’s private choice of money.”

What an excellent attitude to have! I wholeheartedly agree with this. The value of any currency is not determined by government, but by many individuals all making their own decisions which accumulates into what we call The Market. The Market decides what the value of a currency is. What many people struggle to understand is how money becomes money. How does something which is essentially valueless, attain value? Well, the key to understanding this dilemma is knowing that not ANYTHING can take on the role of money. It has to have very specific properties, such as:

  1. It must be able to act as an efficient store of value
  2. It must be easily convertible into either goods or services directly, or indirectly into other trusted currencies that are tradeable for goods and services
  3. It must be scarce

Bitcoin meets all these criteria. So how does it attain value? That is probably the hardest concept to understand. After all, any number of people could deploy a new virtual currency and many already have. Some of them may be known to you, such as Second Life Linden dollars, OMC and ACD. There is also Litecoin, a variant of Bitcoin. The fact is that a currency gains value just as a political party gains power. At first it is obscure and has little value / power, but as it becomes known to more people and they accept it / vote for it, it gains value / power, until eventually it achieves critical mass and it becomes a mainstream juggernaut. A little acorn grows into a large oak tree.

So, the truth is that you do not have to personally value Bitcoin, you just need to realise that many people do and if you wish to purchase a Bitcoin, you will have to pay real money to get one. Vice versa, if you own a Bitcoin, you can sell it for US dollars,  British Pounds, Euros, Swiss Francs, South African Rands etc. You can also purchase goods and services directly. In time, I expect South African shoppers to be able to purchase goods marked in Bitcoins simply by scanning a QR code with their smart phones and authorising payment from their online eWallet via an app on their phone.

To be sure, Bitcoin is still a maturing vehicle of commerce and the bitcoin protocol and the client software that people use to transmit Bitcoins to others is still undergoing improvement to make transacting in Bitcoins an easier task. More reading: Bitcoin payment protocol improvements

If you wish to begin trading and / or investing in Bitcoins, I can recommend virwox.com and bitx.co.za. BitX.co.za is a South African Bitcoin Exchange. This site allows you to buy BTC with ZAR and sell BTC for ZAR. Current price for 1 BTC is around R1700.

Wi-Fi move over for Li-Fi

Please read these three articles before continuing:

Mashable BBC Register

Here’s a quote about security included in ALL three articles:

There’s also a side benefit, in that light can’t penetrate walls, which is more secure than radio that can be slurped in a drive-by hacking.

This is, of course, pure utter BALDERDASH. What none of the geniuses writing these articles (and copying from each other without engaging any thought process whatsoever) considered is that offices have these things called WINDOWS, and through these windows, one can see into the offices, which involves seeing the light. So, all the FBI, CIA, foreign / commercial spies, hackers etc. have to do is sit in an building opposite your building and point a Li-Fi detector at your offices and they can read every packet that is passed (which may be encrypted), but they can still get the raw data stream and feed it into a bot-net to hack your encryption in real time. This would actually be easier than Wi-Fi, because Wi-Fi has much shorter distance limitations than light which can be seen from several kilometres away on a clear day or night. I acknowledge and imagine that day time detection would be more of a challenge than night time for obvious reasons, but time will tell whether Li-Fi signals can be eavesdropped during the day. I imagine  it depends on the sensitivity of your detector.

Nonetheless,  it is a very interesting concept none-the-less and certainly it will work in many situations as described in the articles, such as hospitals and aircraft where Wi-Fi signals can interfere with other vital equipment.  However, I don’t think the CIA, NSA, MI5, KGB and other spy / security / intelligence gathering agencies will be keen to start using Li-Fi for anything that needs classification.

What I haven’t been able to work out yet is the nuts and bolts of how Li-Fi works. I can understand the broadcast side of things – how the data gets to the PC, but it’s not clear to me how the PC transmits data back. Also what equipment is needed to turn an ordinary lighting system into a Li-Fi network, or if that is even possible. Maybe the whole thing needs to be taken out and replaced with a fancy new lighting system?

If anyone can shed some “light” on this, I would be most grateful. Googling has not turned up much yet. I guess I need to see what lies beyond page 1, or try some more inventive terms. Or maybe Bing knows?

RSA ID needed soon to get your codeine fix

From January 02 next year, people will need to present their RSA ID to get medicines containing codeine over the counter, according to this blog post.

Codeine is an opiate, i.e. a very effective painkiller (analgesic). What is not so well known is that it is also good for treating coughs, diarrhea, hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety, and depression. Codeine has sedative and hypnotic effects. When I say, hypnotic, I don’t mean trances, but rather that it has a soporific effect which induces sleep. Because of this hypnotic effect, it is not a good idea to take codeine with alcohol (alcohol has strong sedative and hypnotic properties), because overdosing on hypnotic drugs often leads to death.

Codeine is habit forming so regular use is not a good idea. If you stop using codeine after regular use, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms which may include:

“drug craving, runny nose, yawning, sweating, insomnia, weakness, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasms, chills, irritability, and pain” – quoted from the Wikipedia article

Codeine is metabolised in the body to become morphine. For this reason, women who are breastfeeding should not take codeine because it gets passed via breast milk to the baby. Even a “normal” dose of codeine  taken by the mother can kill a breast feeding infant. The morphine suppresses the respiration of the baby.

Codeine is a scheduled drug in many countries, but not yet in South Africa where it is still freely available OTC (over the counter, without prescription). Travelers are warned not to take codeine with them before checking the legal status of the drug in the countries they plan to visit. Even if they have a prescription for it, possession of codeine can lead to imprisonment in some countries including Greece, The Maldives, and The United Arab Emirates. If you are unsure, it is best not to take codeine with you.

What I hated about id Software’s Rage video game

So apparently id Software is not going to release a sequel to Rage- no Rage 2, instead they are working on DOOM 4.

Here’s a list of blog posts announcing this:

geek.com metro.co.uk venturebeat.com ign.com

However, there is still some hope that Rage 2 may in fact still be released. Here’s some articles that give us hope:

vg247.com wikia.com

Now let’s get down to brass tacks - DOOM is bullshit. I never liked it. Not the original DOOM, nor 2 nor 3. They were all a bunch of bullshit. The original Wolfenstein 3D was great (at the time). crappiest graphics ever, but still loads of fun. I couldn’t play it now without laughing, of course. I didn’t play the 2009 Wolfenstein and still won’t because I don’t want to mess up my experience with it. One Wolfenstein was enough, and ditto for DOOM. So I won’t be playing DOOM 4 when it comes out. Nothing about the entire DOOM franchise appeals to me. To me, it is fatally flawed. I much preferred playing Wolfenstein 3D and today, I’d much prefer id to be working on Rage 2 and Dishonored 2.

Rage was a pretty good game, but there was also a lot about it that I grew to really hate, especially on replays.

The mini-games were dead boring for one. Jesus, what a bunch of bullshit. The road racing I pretty much hated but had to get through in order to drive the story forward. What I wanted was an FPS with optional extras, but Rage forced me to do stuff I didn’t want to do – like racing their dumb cars. Even going out on a mission, involved the stupid cars and bandit cars, which just wasted time and pissed me off. I also hated Monster TV – absolute bollocks. And then there were the hours of fucking dialogue to get the game moving forward which was also bs. The actual missions themselves were great, but the running around talking to people to get missions is rubbish. Also having to buy stuff is rubbish – I just want the game to give me all the sexy weapons and ammo without the ridiculous “buying shit”. Jesus, that is so lame, having to buy stuff in game with lame credits. I hated that shit.

Rage 2 must focus more on being a great FPS with more of a range of weapons right from the start, like, getting the best weaponry at the very last mission is total bs. I want it from the start! Also, I want bigger, open maps. I want 10 or more different paths I can follow to get to the end. I also love KILLING EVERY DAMNED THING on the map, and I want to be rewarded for doing so. That’s the one thing I hated about Dishonored – the game rewards you for killing nobody, but that is a wank. The whole entertainment of the game derives from killing every fucking thing that moves and it is beyond lame to penalise that!

I’d like a FPS that does not waste time with characters leveling up (like some lame RPG) or saving the best for last. I want the best damned character from the start with all the best weaponry, upgrades and weapons from the get go. No levelling up, no upgrading of weapons. You go in with the best of everything and the entire game is just mission. mission, mission with rewards for wiping everything out. We’re not here to negotiate – we’re here to nuke everything on the map. Kill it all, and you get slaps on the back. Cut scene of you chugging beers with the mates back at base and then back out there. Also, I’d like to have combat buddies to tag along with you on missions and help you take down the hordes of bad things. Throw in some snappy and entertaining badass dialogue and I’m happy. Also I’d like to be able to communicate with my buddies using those fancy combat hand signs you see in the movies. I also don’t mind having a base that one can explore and check out and play some cool mini games. The mini games should be pure, for fun stuff, nothing that affects the main game and totally optional. You can have a whole varied selection of combat buddies that you meet along the way and add to your team. When going out, you select up to 3 combat buddies to go with you.

Modern Christian Values

I recently wanted to rent a room in a 3 bedroom flat which advertised that they wanted Christians to share with them. I felt encouraged to contact them because I appreciate Christians who live by their faith, but I ran smack bang into a snag – the man wanted over R5500 upfront for a single room! When I asked him about this, he said “money talks”. This is the attitude, I’m afraid of many modern Christians. They have forgotten the core Christian values and adopted secular, capitalistic values. It is atypical to demand two months deposit for a room. Typically, 1 month or half a month or none is asked. And usually people will let you pay it off, but Brett the faux Christian was adamant that he needed the full amount upfront and refused to consider me. I gave him references and explained that I was waiting for money to become available by the 15th of the month, but he wasn’t interested. This Christian is all about the money and nothing else.

Here is the gumtree advert of Brett, the faux Christian.

Jesus had a lot to say about men and their money. He said the rich cannot get into heaven. He told a rich man who wished to follow him to first sell ALL that he had, give it to the poor and then come follow him. He said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven. He said that what you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.

Here is what a modern pastor did to remind his congregation of what is is to be a Christian.

I feel personally challenged by this blog post myself because I have a habit of dismissing the homeless myself. Money is not going to save me, and I have a personal choice to make – I can have my treasure on Earth or I can have it in Heaven, but not both.