reddragdiva: (party)

My Bitcoin pundit career is going great guns! I got to go on BBC Newsnight and call cryptocurrency garbage. Don't ever buy into cryptos, btw, they're a car crash. Trust me, I'm an expert.

Soooo I just got a note inviting me to speak at a seminar, about why blokechain is pants, to a small number of people who have money. I'm gonna charge for my time of course, but I can sell books there. Which means physical paperbacks I bring in a box.

Now, one of the great things about this self-publishing racket in TYOOL 2017 is 0 capital expenditure. Has anyone here done this, or anything like it? Was it worth it? Did you end up with a box of books under your bed forever?

The books are $3.03 each to print, but all author copies come from America (because Createspace is dumb), at some ruinous shipping rate to the UK. Assuming Kindle and CreateSpace pay promptly I'll have a pile of money on September 30, but I sorta don't right now.

Does anyone have suggestions as to how to approach this? Doing a talk with a box of nonfiction books - good idea, bad idea, no idea?

(I'll no doubt do a pile of flyers for people who haven't got cash on them right there. Who carries cash in the UK these days? Less people than you might think.)

reddragdiva: (Wikipedia)

In a small way. But gosh!

Also, the print version is gorgeous. (If you're in the US, that's the link to tell people, 'cos I get the most money from it.)

the paperback art )

I've turned the book site into a sceptical Bitcoin blog. Because punditry is my life now. That and trolling bitcoiners on Twitter, of course.

The book is doing shockingly well for a self-published work without any money spent on promotion. About 800 ebooks and 100 printed copies in a month. People who read it love it ... so I need to get the word out. Please tell everyone you know!

(how the hell do I get journalists to look at an ebook.)

reddragdiva: (Default)

Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B073CPP581/ (edit URL for your country if you can't get to it from there)

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/739078 — includes back cover image

Print: trundling through the CreateSpace process. It's gonna be gorgeous, though. EDIT: Monday 7th August.

See the website for press coverage etc. Did an hour-long Financial Times podcast that came out Thursday, that was fun.

reddragdiva: (Default)

My book Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain is up for pre-order (available worldwide, that's just the UK link) and will be released Monday 24 July 2017!

(so I'd better finish it by then, hey)

Here's the art, by the wondrous Alli Kirkham:

(click for large version)

Back cover to follow, when I work out the paperback dimensions and aspect ratio ...

I've just posted a new excerpt, ICOs: Magic Beans and Bubble Machines, in case you ever wanted to know what on earth ICOs were and how they worked.

TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

reddragdiva: (geek)

Dear Lazyweb! How do you manage keeping spring boot applications up to date?

We run an arseload of Java webapps. Our devs have taken a strong liking to spring boot, where everything including the Tomcat is uploaded as a JAR. A delight for them, but somewhat of a concern for the sysadmins who are the people first dealing with security issues.

So I've been asked to come up with recommendations to deal with this, and I haven't a clue as to how to do this other than laborious iterative checking, or automated versions thereof. Nor can I find recommendations.

Has anyone else got this problem or one like it? (Where applications are uploaded as a package that then runs.) What do you do?

reddragdiva: (rocknerd)
Over on my Facebook, I'm posting drafts of basically the whole of the blockchain book for critique by the collection of querulous nerds I call friends. It's being fabulously productive and has already improved the draft tremendously! And quite a lot of work. I really want the book out ASAP and I haven't even got a front cover yet. I need to set up preorders ASAP though. Posts are public and comments are open, come and be querulous.

Also, in late May 2016 I thought "I have a shitload of ramblings about music on my Tumblr, why don't I post any of that to my literal music blog." So I started. One a day where possible, though it's stretched to every second or even third in some circumstances. Still, hitting 100 readers on a good day! Yeah, it's a fanzine. I get records in email now instead of the post. Largely industrial, prog, metal or industrial prog metal. I don't know why.

I had a recent bout of tinnitus from Hell with hyperacusis which meant I literally couldn't listen to music for a week or so, which is approximately the record nerd's worst nightmare. Turns out all the old people telling me to wear earplugs were right! Hyperacusis is better now, though the tinnitus remains bad. Mostly above 10kHz though.
reddragdiva: (stress relief)

Danese Cooper swung through London as she periodically does, so we met for breakfast at Gail's and I got a pancake. Grumbles about how people are a problem, bragging about children and (step-)grandchildren.

Still trudging through the book-shaped albatross. Looked at the site on Danese's phone and went "FUCK," it looks like a web page for ants. So I'll be installing a WordPress on that today then. Yet again doing the thing I tell everyone else not to, i.e. self-hosting WordPress. Bah.

The cover is the big blocker right now. I know what I want now, big block "business book" lettering and a coupla Sergio Aragones style silhouettes. Main blocker is my complete lack of artistic talent.

Also, I posted a rough draft of the Bitfinex section to Reddit /r/buttcoin and ... Mark Karpelès of Mt. Gox bought me Reddit Gold. :-O

reddragdiva: (gosh!)
I'm here and not over there. Hello to everyone coming here from there! I post here extremely rarely, basically when I remember. It's mostly Facebook and Tumblr of late.

Um, I'm still trying to finish this bloody book before the entire contents are outdated. Suggestions welcomed for the next one, I suspect having multiple things to procrastinate on may help.
reddragdiva: (geek)

you know that thing that firefox on linux does, where if you click on the scrollbar it doesn’t just take you up or down a page like every scrollbar in the past thirty-odd years, but instead moves the scrollbar slider to where you clicked?

this is a gtk+3 thing, because GNOME’s UI team are relentless desktop innovators.

workaround: add this to ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini :

[Settings]
gtk-primary-button-warps-slider=false

then restart firefox.

this being GNOME they will doubtless tch at people evading their superlative user interface vision and break it. until then, though, gtk+3 apps will work properly once more.

HT [livejournal.com profile] psych0naut

reddragdiva: (stress relief)

Went down pub last night with a laptop with a book on it. Much help right there and then. I can see people getting into this.

I have the unlicked lump of words ready to send out to beta readers. If you would like to participate, please email me, dgerard@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a link to the .odt and .docx of the rough drafts.

(This is not the prerelease review version, it's the "how am I doing" version ... we'll see how it goes.)

There's more excerpts up if you want tasters: http://davidgerard.co.uk/blockchain/

reddragdiva: (flame war)

The book progresses. Current total: 17,472 words of body text. My target is about 500 usable words a day, so today I have to top 18,000. I expect it to make 20-25,000, at which point it gets edited and will probably end up 15-20,000. Amazing how much work one can put into a Kindle Short.

If you want to watch my ranting progress, it's on Tumblr with bits on Facebook. Here's a rough outline and to-do list.

I have a rudimentary page up for the book, with rough draft excerpts!

(it'll also probably end up actually for real being called "Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain" because I was sitting in bed with [personal profile] arkady, who is an artist and got all inspired with pulpy cover art ideas. I may even need to do a pulp cover and a sober business cover.)

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

A. Sadly, Amazon Kindle only accepts conventional currencies.


The DAO

You just learned chemistry and the first thing you built was a giant bomb and you can't understand why it blew up in your face.

– brockchainbrockshize, /r/ethereum1

Not content with their existing sales of Internet fairy gold, some Ethereum developers at German blockchain startup Slock.it came up with an even more complicated scheme: The DAO (a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, with “The” as part of the name). This was a program running as a smart contract on Ethereum which would take people’s money and give it to projects voted on by the contributors as worth funding: a distributed venture capital firm.

The DAO’s Mission: To blaze a new path in business organization for the betterment of its members, existing simultaneously nowhere and everywhere and operating solely with the steadfast iron will of unstoppable code.2

Bold in original. I’m sure there are no obvious problems there that jump right out at you.

The DAO launched on 30 April 2016, got massive publicity and became the biggest crowdfunding in history, with over $150 million in ETH from 11,000 investors. Fourteen per cent of all Ether was in The DAO. It was also the most prominent smart contract of all time, achieving much mainstream press coverage. It proceeded to illustrate just about every potential issue that has ever been raised with smart contracts.

The DAO’s legal footing was uncertain (and widely questioned). Selling tokens in The DAO closely resembled trading in unregistered securities – particularly when DAO tokens themselves hit cryptocurrency exchanges – and the SEC had come down on similar schemes in the past. There was no corporate entity, so it would default in most legal systems to being a general partnership, with the investors having unlimited personal liability, and the creators and the designated “curators” of the scheme likely also being liable.

Shortly before the go-live date, researchers flagged several mechanisms in the design of The DAO that would almost certainly lead to losses for investors, and called for a moratorium on The DAO until they could be fixed.3

Worse, on 9 June a bug was found in multiple smart contracts written in Solidity, including The DAO: if a balance function was called recursively in the right way, you could withdraw money repeatedly at no cost. “Your smart contract is probably vulnerable to being emptied if you keep track of any sort of user balances and were not very, very careful.”4 This was not technically a bug in Solidity, but the language design had made it fatally easy to leave yourself wide open.

The principals decided to proceed anyway, Stephen Tual of Slock.it confidently declaring on 12 June “No DAO funds at risk following the Ethereum smart contract ‘recursive call’ bug discovery”5 … and on 17 June, a hacker used this recursive call bug to drain $50 million from The DAO. And nobody could stop this happening, because the smart contract code couldn’t be altered without two weeks’ consensus from participants. The price of ETH promptly dropped from $21.50 to $15.

(Tual posted on 9 July a hopeful list of reasons why the attacker might just give all the ether back, just like that. Because it would be in their rational self-interest.6 This didn’t happen, oddly enough.)

Ethereum Foundation principals discussed options including a soft fork or a hard fork of the code or even of the blockchain itself, or a rollback of the blockchain. The community wrangled with the philosophical issues: this contract had been advertised as “the steadfast iron will of unstoppable code,” but it appeared only one person had read the contract’s fine print in sufficient detail.7 Some seriously debated whether this should even be regarded as a “theft”, because code is law and intent doesn’t matter (unlike in real-world contracts operating in a legal system, or indeed in fraud law). Others merely argued that the integrity of the Ethereum smart contract system required that incompetent contracts, which The DAO certainly was, needed to be allowed to fail.

(The proposed soft fork solution was to blacklist transactions whose result interacted with the “dark DAO” the attacker had poured the funds into. This would have been an avenue for a fairly obvious denial-of-service attack: flood Ethereum with costly computations that end at the dark DAO. This approach could only have worked by first solving the halting problem.8)

The DAO was shut down soon after, and on 20 July the Ethereum Foundation — several of whose principals were curators of The DAO9 and/or heavily invested in it — changed how the actual code Ethereum runs on interpreted their blockchain (the “immutable” ledger) so as to wind back the hack and take back their money. The “impossible” bailout had happened.

This illustrated the final major problem with smart contracts: CODE IS LAW until the whales are in danger of losing money.

Ethereum promptly split into two separate blockchains, each with its own currency – Ethereum (ETH), supported by the Ethereum Foundation, and Ethereum Classic (ETC), the original code and blockchain – because this was too greedy even for cryptocurrency suckers to put up with. Both blockchains and currencies operate today. Well done, all.

Apologists note that The DAO was just an experiment (a $150 million experiment) to answer the question: can we have a workable decentralized autonomous organization, running on smart contracts, with no human intervention? And it answered it: no, probably not.


1 brockchainbrockshize. Comment on “Attacker has withdrawn all ETC from DarkDAO on the unforked chain”. Reddit /r/ethereum, 25 July 2016.

2 The DAO front page, archive of 22 June 2016. Yes, that’s after the hack. The page doesn’t say that any more.

3 Dino Mark, Vlad Zamfir, Emin Gün Sirer. “A Call for a Temporary Moratorium on The DAO”. Hacking, Distributed (blog), 27 May 2016.

4 Peter Vessenes. “More Ethereum Attacks: Race-To-Empty is the Real Deal”. Blockchain, Bitcoin and Business (blog), 9 June 2016.

5 Stephen Tual. “No DAO funds at risk following the Ethereum smart contract ‘recursive call’ bug discovery”. blog.slock.it, 12 June 2016. (archive)

6 Stephen Tual. “Why the DAO robber could very well return the ETH on July 14th”. Ursium (blog), 9 July 2016. (archive)

7 There’s an amusing (if probably just trolling) open letter purportedly from the attacker posted to Pastebin (archive) that makes this claim explicitly.

8 Tjaden Hess, River Keefer, Emin Gün Sirer. “Ethereum's DAO Wars Soft Fork is a Potential DoS Vector”. Hacking, Distributed (blog), 28 June 2016.

9 Stephen Tual. “Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood, Alex van De Sande, Vlad Zamfir announced amongst exceptional DAO Curators”. blog.slock.it, 25 April 2016.

reddragdiva: (flame war)

sandifermessages You might try knocking together an ebook short. Aim for $2.99 and 15k words. "Why Bitcoin Is Stupid" or something.

reddragdiva :-D that's actually a REALLY good idea

sandifermessages Glad to help. :)

reddragdiva any tips? how hard should i work on this thing? how should i market it? etc etc just off the top of your head, i know 0 about this basically. i'd start with everything i've rambled on the topic in the past whatever which is huge amounts

sandifermessages I'd just market through your existing channels, and try not to spend more time on it than it needs. I'll give it a shout-out as well, obvs.

Well, I did it to him, now he's done it to me ...

So now I’m going through just my YOSPOS ramblings on the subject. In an hour I have 1200 words of abbreviated notes. Plus of course the start of a Rocknerd post on Machina Dynamica (which has nothing to do with blockchains, but I always thought if my sense of ethics left me I’d run an audiophile scam. Bitcoiners are EVEN BIGGER suckers). There’s still my /r/buttcoin and Rocknerd to go through as well, of course.

Oh good Lord this is going to eat my brain.

I doubt this will be kickstarted, I’ll just write the thing, put it up and promote it a bit. If I achieve 100 sales, I’ll call it spectacular success. If I achieve 20 I’ll be very pleased that this is possible.

Current working title:  “The False Promise of Blockchain: Bitcoin, blockchains, smart contracts and the madness of crowds”. Mind you, that's probably way more ambitious than I should actually be doing.

Ideas and suggestions most welcomed! What would you like to see covered?

(I'll probably do what Phil did and offer review copies to anyone who promises to write a review, positive or negative, and put it up on their blog. Then refine it based on those.)

Also front cover ideas. If only I had Chuck Tingle’s graphic designer.

edit: STATUS: 5000 words of notes and ideas. The resulting book would be 100k-200k words. I think I may need to focus more for the first one. There can be a series, and probably will if this turns out not to be a waste of effort.

What would people like to see in a short booklet-sized book about this general area? One person would like scam stories and why these people are annoying ... that’s a general area.

I don’t want to promise something that would need 200k. I need a small segment of that that will be 15k! [personal profile] arkady notes this is precisely the fact equivalent of breeding plotbunnies. “The last thing you need is to give the plotbunnies viagra.” I need a subsegment to start on ...

reddragdiva: (geek)

CodeValley is the latest from the world of Blockchain™.

The "idea" is that you have a problem, so you put up a contract to fully-automated Vendors to supply the libs for a program to solve your problem. At no point does a coder have to write actual code apparently, it's all done by the machines ... somehow. All of this is paid for in penny shavings.

"This isn’t open source, and it isn’t closed source. It’s no source." (well, that's bracingly honest of them.)

Even Hacker News doesn't buy this shit. "the whitepaper reads something like what I'd imagine somebody trying to troll the software industry would write"

Here's the "whitepaper". It reads like a example of the CodeValley concept applied to marketing, or perhaps Hacker News fed to a Markov chain. (And be sure to "View Source" on that page.)

To be fair, it's reviving an old hype: "this will end programming! All you need to do is fill in a form and define the problem." This was first said about COBOL. I think the last time anyone said it quite that bluntly was The Last One in 1981.

Putting it on Blockchain™ is of course the obvious next step, and suggests a network of autonomous software vendor programs seeking out old sucker scams to put on Blockchain™.

So, what is CodeValley? It is literally code from thin air. Here is the lead CodeValleyer explaining it. Now it sounds saneish up to a point — you work out what lib-like things you need, those are contracted out to a Vendor. That's the bit where you'd expect a human would be doing the job. But no:

I just wanted to stress one last time that that trickling down goes all the way to the hardware. There is no more writing of code, as we have outsourced (and outsourced and outsourced) the design of the program until it is so detailed that only bytes need to be placed (or binary CPU instructions). Pretty cool huh?

So cool it's literally fucking magic.

Looking at how it's supposed to work, the lead proponent says:

A developer's IP — the decisions they automate their Vendor to make and the supplier that Vendor is automated to contracted — stays protected inside their Vendor program. We are not privy to how you designed your Vendor any more than any other user in the network is.

You fill in a form, and define the problem. (This is assumed to constitute a creative work you have a defensible copyright in.) Then you send this to a multilayered compiler chain that puts it together at byte level. You might think that THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT PROGRAMMERS DO, and that "do what I mean" is the entire hard bit of programming no matter how many layers it's on top of, but obviously you need enlightening as to the magic of Blockchain™.

There's a whole advertising subreddit: /r/codevalley

I'm wondering who the target market is. Sucker VCs? Developers themselves?

This sort of sci-fi (not SF, but bug-eyed monsters and special effects) approach was the sort of thing people were talking about before open source became popular, a fractal micropayments nightmare world where everything contracted to everything else for penny shavings. "Imagine if we had micropayments in open source for every lib that every lib you use uses, how much better it would all work." Except now they've automated it on Blockchain™. Left-pad on Blockchain™.

reddragdiva: (geek)

One critical aspect of the plagues, though, was quickly refilling earth’s population. The Horvath had hidden a subtle genetic change in several of the viruses that were spread. The change had to do with female reproduction, especially in the “blonde” genetic subgroup. Women who were effected, and the spread had been very nearly one hundred percent, were subject to a “heat” cycle similar to male reproductive drive and pharmaceutical contraceptives were functionally useless. The Horvath had anticipated their plagues essentially depopulating the planet and wanted to ensure a steady supply of new human slaves.

Friendly Glatun medical AIs and doctors had stopped the plague from killing most of humanity but since most of the world’s population was infected by the orbitally distributed plagues, they were left with the problem of what was called “Johannsen’s Syndrome.” The only way to fix the global issue was a reverse plague. But not only were the ethical considerations against infecting people without their consent, to stop the Horvath plagues they’d immunized most of humanity with advanced nano-bots that stopped virtually any biological or nannite in its tracks. To undue the damage required multiple medical visits and advanced technology that, at that point, was fairly rare.

This left virtually every woman on the planet with so much as a trace of blonde gene as a baby factory. The first year after the plague, Germany had one birth for every reproductive aged female. Scandinavia at one point hit an average birth rate of 9.1, meaning that if the rate continued the average Scandinavian—Dane, Swedish and Norwegian—woman would bear nine children in her life. The teen pregnancy rate got completely out of control for about five years before education and cultural effects started to get a handle on the new reality.

It was all very well to say “be fruitful and multiply.” Johannsen’s made the situation simply insane. The nature of the plague meant that, in some cases, there were serial pregnancies meaning that more than one viable fetus was in the womb from multiple inseminations. Some women had three children in as many months.

There's more of this satirical Swiftian takedown here.

reddragdiva: (geek)

The thing that really struck me about Hugo vote-stackers the Sad Puppies was founder Brad Torgersen’s lament that he could no longer tell from the cover of a science fiction novel what it was about. So I wrote a rant on Tumblr and just put a more polished version up on Rocknerd and it's quite popular. Intro:

I won’t try to explain the entire saga of the Sad Puppies and their Rabid Puppies offshoot. But in short, a bunch of reactionary science fiction authors were upset that people other than white straight guys were getting their stories noticed, so started a backlash to take over the Hugo Awards through slate voting, and made stupendous dicks of themselves.

If anyone knows where would be appropriate on Reddit, please post this there, let's give the 32GB server a good old workout. It survived a Scalzi-dotting after all.

I also have a Castalia House review on Eruditorium Press tomorrow, which was way too much fun to write (in a "here, look what I just stepped in" sort of way).

reddragdiva: (rocknerd)

I've been posting almost-daily to Rocknerd of late (I missed one day in each of June and July). And I have a new theme, which looks nice!

So if you haven't been around in a while, go back through about the last three front pages. It's great fun. I feel like I'm writing a fanzine again.

There's also a box on the right-hand side of the page where you can get an email for every update. And/or there's [livejournal.com profile] rocknerd_rss on LiveJournal. (I thought there was one on Dreamwidth but I can't find it. edit: [syndicated profile] rocknerd_feed)

reddragdiva: (geek)

Yet another in the series "stuff I'm blogging so future poor buggers can find it in Google."

If you've seen this supercilious and not actually helpful error from ant:

Cause: Could not load a dependent class com/jcraft/jsch/Logger
It is not enough to have Ant's optional JARs
you need the JAR files that the optional tasks depend upon.
Ant's optional task dependencies are listed in the manual.
Action: Determine what extra JAR files are needed, and place them in one of:
-/usr/share/ant/lib
-/home/fun/.ant/lib
-a directory added on the command line with the -lib argument
Do not panic, this is a common problem.
The commonest cause is a missing JAR.
This is not a bug; it is a configuration problem

— it is a bloody bug, and it's a bug in Ubuntu that hasn't been fixed in years.

  1. Install the relevant packages: sudo apt-get install ant-optional libjsch-java
  2. The symlink to make it work! sudo ln -s /usr/share/java/jsch.jar /usr/share/ant/lib/

The bug is that it should make that symlink. (The other bug is that ant-optional should have libjsch-java as a dependency and doesn't.)

reddragdiva: (flame war)

I've spent the last six months editing a book. Phil Sandifer found himself writing about "A genre dominated by, in effect, an AI crank, an extremist technolibertarian, and whatever the fuck Nick Land is" and I begged to preview it. I ended up researching, editing, copyediting and helping with the publicity. It has been six months of solid and hearty yuks and lulz and a sheer delight.

The kickstarter is up now (announcement). So far it's landed about $1500 in twelve hours; people seem quite keen to get this book. And let me assure you that the stretch goal essays are also things the world needs.

There are also excerpts ([0] [1] [2]) and images of what the conspiracy zine and full colour editions will look like. (If I had $70 of actual money spare I’d be sending it in to get the conspiracy zine and color editions, which look to be gorgeous productions.)

“Or, to put it another way, this is a book that uses Eliezer Yudkowsky, Mencius Moldbug, and Nick Land as a loosely stitched together foundation on which to build an oddball philosophical structure made of bits of Hannibal, China Mieville, Alan Turing, Thomas Ligotti, John Milton, and a futuristic AI that will torture you for all eternity if you buy a mosquito net.”

edit: and at $3000 in the first 18 hours, Phil decided he'd better preview the $4000 essay, "The Blind All-Seeing Eye of Gamergate."

reddragdiva: (geek)

installing and setting up xubuntu 16.04. why the hell does vim-gtk have apache2 as a “suggested package”.

to make capslock a control key, run /usr/bin/setxkbmap -option "ctrl:nocaps" from Session and Startup->Application Autostart, and fuck you xubuntu for still not including an interface for this basic x11 config shit. you’re darned lucky you haven’t comprehensively sodomised the pooch like gnome or kde.

(i'd be running xfce debian if it wasn't as bloody ugly as sin and mint if they'd ever heard of security.)

how the fuck do you set preferences for nautilus when you’re not actually running gnome. edit: the answer: gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer 'list-view'

reddragdiva: (geek)

(posting this here so future generations can Google for it)

My work Lenovo X230 has been overheating and abruptly shutting down a bit of late. This creates problems if I'm running e.g a long compile from source. When I start again I may get an error like:

/home/fun/libreoffice/workdir/CxxObject/sd/source/filter/eppt/escherex.o: file not recognised: File truncated

If you get the errors file not recognised: File truncated or file not recognized: File truncated when compiling something from source, it means there was a crash during compilation and a damaged .o file was written that the linker is not happy about.

FIRST STEP: delete the offending .o file, make again.

SECOND STEP: if this doesn't work, the offending .o file was cached somewhere. Remove the file (again), clear the cache, then try again. If it stops at a different offending .o file, remove that file (or just make clean to remove the lot), clear cache and make again.

In my case it's LibreOffice, so of course I'm using ccache as they recommend. So enter: ccache -C to trash the cache and start again from scratch.