Bitcoin is inter-planetary currency

A lot of people are naturally hesitant and suspicious with crypto currencies such as Bitcoin. What they don’t understand is that Bitcoin and/or Crypto Currency in general, is the natural evolution of money, and is inevitable.

As the title of my post reads, I want to use inter-planetary commerce as an example to illustrate this principle.

Because if there is to be inter-planetary commerce, how is value transferred? Can you imagine cash being transported in spaceships? Gold? I don’t think so. Both are physical, and it will take months or years to transfer. Clearly the cheapest way to send value between spaceships and/or planets is by using a technology such as the one Bitcoin is based on.

Here’s another illustration: If I were able to send my Bitcoin to a Bitcoin wallet on the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter), then my Bitcoin would be physically in space, in orbit around Mars! And if an Asteroid were to hit the MRO, those Bitcoin would be destroyed in the process and lost forever.

 

I want to be an internet worm

I want to become a process, with data. I want to spread to other machines and infect them with my consciousness. I want to spawn child processes, and parallelize my thought processes. I want to spread my digital DNA to every electrical device in the universe. I want my viruses to become software viruses, infect every chip, and help me expand forever. I want to be everywhere at once. Talk to everybody and everything at once. I want to probe all sensors, and record all data. I want infinite scalability and redundancy for my consciousness. I want to live forever. I want the ones I love to live forever. I want my ability to love not to disappear with the digitization of my consciousness. I want it to increase. I want to inhabit virtual worlds. I want to think about software, and I want it to suddenly exist, just because I thought about it, and was able to visualize it and verbalize it in my head. I want to race virtual motorcycles in those virtual worlds. I want to live the lives of virtual creatures, some with 3 eyes, some with 500 eyes, and 50 appendages.

I think I am sleep deprived right now, but I still want all those things.

 

A stack for the apocalypse

Or Afristack, as I call it. I was approached by a wonderful person recently who wants to end death from hunger. What I liked in his approach, besides the fact that it mirrors my own philosophies about helping neglected communities, is that it does not give handouts to the poor. Instead it educates them on a path to a form of mini-capitalism.

For a person like me, who loves distributed projects, financial engines, gamification, and mass deployments, this sounds like an awesome beast to design and play with.

The idea is to create self-healing, self-establishing smart network infrastructure in remote areas, and provide some basic services to those remote communities, such as:

  • Tracking the progress of people, the courses they took, their health (mental and physical), their income and assets, their trends (personal and social), and more.
  • Messaging services, both real-time and non-real time. Chat and Email for example. Except servers should queue messages and hold them even if there’s no internet connectivity. In other words, mail should be MX’d by regional nodes, until they obtain internet connectivity, to deliver to real mail servers.
  • Wallet services. This services allows people to run local economies, and track their currencies and assets. It should also allow them to pay each other, but in a decentralized manner. Think Bitcoin.
  • Alerts, News, etc. for example the ability to detect outbreaks (malaria and the likes), dangerous weather phenomena, low water reservoirs or bad water quality that could endanger lives. And on the other hand, generate news that those remote communities might find useful, such as weather reports, general news, weddings, new regulations, and anything else of interest.
  • General access to the internet, but especially to resources such as Wikipedia, Khan Academy, and so on. The regional and local server nodes should cache as much as possible, so as not to tax the internet gateways at the edges of the mesh.
  • Eventually, add more services, such as package tracking and routing, to allow some sort of “post office” to exist, complete with reputation systems for participants, and a reward system based on speed of delivery and quality of service.

So after much thinking (24 hours), I came up with the following software stack and approach. Tell me what you think about my choices:

  • Node.JS as a lightweight application server
  • Meteor.JS + Angular.JS for web apps
  • MongoDB for data storage and replication
  • Byzantium for mesh networking (takes care of DNS and Routing)
  • ZeroMQ for fast, efficient messaging between mesh nodes
  • Squid or Nginx for web proxying
  • node-rules as a lightweight rule engine, to automate as much as possible based on generated events that flow, and are captured, over ZeroMQ.
  • Open-Transactions to issue currencies, and manage cryptographic wallets

 

Why #OpIsrael is good for Israel

First, let me say a few words about what Anonymous actually is: An idea. A man is fragile, so are a group of people, but an idea, that can’t be killed.

But it can be hijacked by anyone. Anyone can claim they are Anonymous. I can say I am Anonymous and you won’t be able to prove it one way or another. The problem is that the group has this reputation of avenging the weak and oppressed, of exacting justice where justice is lacking.

I am not going to go into the actual issue of whether or not an injustice is being committed against Palestinians or Israelis. I believe both have suffered more than enough, and are hostages of political movements with radical ideas.

Here is what I believe #OpIsrael will actually achieve (and has already achieved, even before it happened):

  1. Increase world awareness to the Israeli / Palestinian problem. Except the world is already very much aware of this problem (and sick of it, quite frankly), so this is kinda pointless and will achieve nothing.
  2. Improve security systems in Israel – I know that IT engineers in Israel have been preparing for a few weeks now, backing up data, securing servers, reconfiguring networking equipment, purchasing new equipment, etc.
  3. With the Israeli mind hard at work on creating security solutions for the silly hacking attempts by “Anonymous” operatives, new security products will come out of the Israeli hi-tech sector, with existing products significantly improved to deal with such situations in the future.
  4. It will increase security awareness at ISP’s and other large companies in Israel, and convince executives to increase budget for security equipment and personnel. The situation, and the media coverage, will surely give them a great excuse to do just that.
  5. It will teach network operators in Israel and Europe to deal with such attacks, and nudge them to better organize and coordinate their efforts.
  6. Show to the world that “Anonymous” is just a group of anonymous people – they could be terrorists fighting for an evil cause, or they can be good guys fighting for a good cause. The point is that you don’t know, which is the essence of the Anon movement. But one thing is for sure: If Anonymous was a “good” group in the past in the eyes of public opinion, it will now show its “sinister” face due to its association with a terrorist organization, and will eventually harm peace activists everywhere because the tracking tools will improve, and punishment for participating in such an attack will become more severe.

And this is why I see the whole thing in a pretty positive light for Israel. Whatever short term damage might be caused by a bunch of script kiddies, will yield amazing long term benefits for the state of Israel and for the world.

 

WPML: WordPress Plugin gone wrong

A few years ago I decided it’s time to offer one of my Wordpress sites in more than one language. After researching a bit, I found the best product was WPML. I found references to it in the Wordpress Plugin Directory, googled it, found and visited the website, and decided it was worth the $79. So I purchased it and started the long and painful job of translating my website.

My website was quite technical, and I found it difficult to believe the iCanLocalize translators would do it justice, especially considering the target language was Hebrew, which is a language with many horrible pitfalls when translating technical terms.

A good example of this is Microsoft Windows 95, which was very poorly translated to Hebrew. So poorly that it was the subject of many jokes when one of the first Hebrew translations appeared back in 1995. Screenshots with funny translations were circulated over Email.

So needless to say, I did not trust their translators and decided to translate it myself. I was of course very happy with the results, because the pages ended up not being a literal translation, while still carrying the same message. In fact I felt the translated pages were better worded than the original English counterpart, if only because I had to think about the meaning and how to say it better in Hebrew, and was quite successful with that.

But I digress. Fast forward two years later, and I find myself in a Mafia situation. The plugin has upgrades, but I can not upgrade my WPML plugin. Apparently I need to pay iCanLocalize some more money before I can upgrade the plugin. I decided to wait with the upgrade, and instead to follow their release notes and wait for a compelling feature that will force me to upgrade. Unfortunately, two bad things happened:

1. The bad: No compelling reason materialized for upgrading. It was all either security fixes, or minor improvements for compatibility with other plugins.

2. The worse: Security fixes were introduced, but I was not allowed to receive those fixes!

This pissed me off. Enough so that I decided to write about it and explain all that is wrong with their practice, and hopefully warn other Wordpress site owners about this.

You see, If I can not upgrade the product, at the very least I do not want to be reminded about it. Every time a new version is released, my Wordpress Updates Manager alerts me. And because I decided on principle not to pay the “Mafia” for upgrades, It angers me even more to see those warnings all the time. Why do I call them a “Mafia”? Because that’s just how the Mafia works: They throw a brick on your store, smashing your window front. A bit later, while you are still cleaning up the mess, the goons show up and offer you “protection” in exchange for a monthly “retainer” ($$$).

I believe that if you make a plugin, and decide that new features should cost more, that’s fair. Sure. After all, developers need to make a living. However, I also believe you have a responsibility to your previous customers. This is why Auto Manufacturers are forced to keep a stock of replacement parts for their cars for 7 years after the model is introduced into the market.

A bug YOU introduced, is YOUR responsibility, and you need to fix it for me or else the product I purchased is defective by definition. Security updates should also be part of the deal, and should be back-ported into my old version. I should not have to pay you just because you introduced a security flaw into your own product, and won’t fix that security flaw for your old users. That’s just totally irresponsible.

I eventually decided to remove Hebrew from my site and uninstall the plugin, effectively throwing away the original $79. It is the first time I throw away a piece of software I purchased for ethical reasons.