- Bitcoin Markets Down — value of bitcoins plunges as market uncertain after largest bitcoin exchange goes insolvent after losing over 750k bitcoins because they didn’t update their software after a flaw was discovered in the signing of transactions.
- Flappy Bird for the Commodore 64 — the 1980s games platform meets the 2014 game. cf the machine learning hack where the flappy bird learns to play the game successfully.
- Air Hockey Robot — awesome hack.
- Run 30 Lab Tests on Only One Drop of Blood — automated lab processing to remove the human error in centrifuging, timing, etc. that added to variability of results.
Over time, crypto-currency networks such as bitcoin will get stronger
If a crook gets access to the credit card or wire transfer networks, it’s a disaster. That’s because, as I explained in my recent article about security models, these traditional financial networks achieve trust by excluding bad actors through access control. Effective access control requires exclusivity and strict vetting, only a small carefully vetted group of “trusted actors” are granted control.
Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies based on the blockchain invention are different. Trust is based on computation, not access control. On the bitcoin network you trust math so everyone can have access. That also means that there will be bad actors, arguably just as there are on access control networks, and nuisance attacks. Fortunately, these types of attacks cannot affect the distributed asset ledger, the blockchain, because to achieve the level of trust to write into the ledger you must apply enormous distributed computation. The root of trust is in the majority of computing power, not individual actors or any central authority.
A shift from trusting people to trusting math.
Bitcoin is a distributed consensus network that maintains a secure and trusted distributed ledger through a process called “proof-of-work.”
Bitcoin fundamentally inverts the trust mechanism of a distributed system. Traditionally, as we see in payment and banking systems, trust is achieved through access control, by carefully vetting participants and excluding bad actors. This method of trust requires encryption, firewalls, strong authentication and careful vetting. The network requires investing trust in those gaining access.
The result is that such systems tend to be closed and small networks by necessity. By contrast, bitcoin implements a trust model of trust by computation. Trust in the network is ensured by requiring participants to demonstrate proof-of-work, by solving a computationally difficult problem. The cumulative computing power of thousands of participants, accumulated over time in a chain of increasing-difficulty proofs, ensures that no actor or even collection of actors can cheat, as they lack the computation to override the trust. As proof-of-work accumulates on the chain of highest difficulty (the blockchain), it becomes harder and harder to dispute. In bitcoin, a new proof-of-work is added every 10 minutes, with each subsequent proof making it exponentially more difficult to invalidate the previous results.
R GUI, Drone Regulations, Bitcoin Stats, and Android/iOS Money Shootout
- Deducer — An R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
- Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF, FAA) — first pass at regulatory framework for drones. (via Anil Dash)
- Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
- iOS vs Android Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — roundup comparing Android to iOS in recent commerce writeups. More Android handsets, but less revenue per download/impression/etc.
Semi-Structured Text, Bitcoin Built On, Cryptic C++, Kickstarter Wins
- textfsm — Python module which implements a template based state machine for parsing semi-formatted text. Originally developed to allow programmatic access to information returned from the command line interface (CLI) of networking devices. TextFSM was developed internally at Google and released under the Apache 2.0 licence for the benefit of the wider community.
- The Money is in the Bitcoin Protocol (Vikram Kumar) — some of the basics in this post as well as how people are thinking about using the Bitcoin protocol to do some very innovative things. MUST. READ.
- Parsing C++ is Literally Undecidable — any system with enough moving parts will generate eddies of chaotic behaviour, where the interactions between the components are unpredictable. (via Pete Warden)
- Kickstarter Raises 6x Indiegogo Money (Medium) — a reminder of the importance of network effects. Crowdfunding is the online auction side of the 2010s.
Technical Bitcoin, Tracking News Flow, Science Advice, and Gov Web Sites
- 6 Technical Things I Learned About Bitcoin (Rusty Russell) — Anonymity is hard, but I was surprised to see blockchain.info’s page about my donation to Unfilter correctly geolocated to my home town! Perhaps it’s a fluke, but I was taken aback by how clear it was. Interesting collection of technical observations about the workings of Bitcoin.
- NIFTY: News Information Flow Tracking, Yay! — watch how news stories mutate and change over time. (via Stijn Debrouwere
- EO Wilson’s Advice for Future Scientists (NPR) — the ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper. (via Courtney Johnston)
- Healthcare.gov New Web Model for Government (The Atlantic) — The new site has been built in public for months, iteratively created on Github using cutting edge open-source technologies. Healthcare.gov is the rarest of birds: a next-generation website that also happens to be a .gov.