Democratic Currency:
Why Bitcoin is So Hard to Regulate

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With the recent Senate hearings that could determine Bitcoin’s fate (in the U.S. at least) there’s one word that’s been on the tip of many a tongue: Regulation. We’re told that Bitcoin could fund terrorism, fuel the “wrong” side of the drug war and even promote that hottest of hot-button issues: child pornography. The answer, we’re told, is regulation. Just let the government decide who’s allowed to do what and everything will be fine. Even if you agree with this perspective there’s just one little problem: Bitcoin is very nearly regulation-proof. [Read more...]

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Measuring Bitcoin Speculation

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I’m not normally one to delve too deeply into the world of financial charts, math and indices – oh I can read all variety of charts just fine and make arbitrary speculative guesses with the best of them, but I’ve seldom considered myself clever enough to make any attempt at inventing my own. The standard investment data has been around for ages, after all, and many were thought up by Nobel laureates so what kind of hubris would I need to even make an attempt? I recently had a realization that changes that viewpoint: None of those Nobel laureates had the kind of perfect and transparent view of a market that Bitcoin provides so maybe my observations, no matter how obvious they seem, weren’t implemented because the data wasn’t available, rather than because they’re silly or wrong… [Read more...]

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Stealing Bitcoins the Hard(est) Way

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It seems to come up every month or two on bitcointalk, IRC or any other place where newbie Bitcoiners congregate. Someone finds out that there are a finite number of Bitcoin addresses that can exist, that the addresses are chosen randomly and that there are no safeguards in place to stop someone from randomly generating the same address as someone else and steal all of the coins at that address. All of the above is true, of course, and it is technically possible to steal someone’s address and run away with their coins, but only in the same sense that it’s possible for one person to get hit by lighting 7 times and survive. Actually, no – even rarer since that’s actually happened and this variety of Bitcoin theft never has. [Read more...]

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57% of Users Admit to Piracy?

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There’s a new report from the Business Sofware Alliance (pdf warning) that claims, among other things, that fully 57% of the world’s PC users admit to pirating software. I can’t speak to the veracity of this statistic or anything else in the report – the BSA hasn’t got the best track record after all, largely considered to be the lapdog of other industries like the RIAA and MPAA who have their own notorious reputations – but what it would seem to indicate at first glance is that piracy has become such a mainstream activity that it’s probably the business-law equivalent to speeding (and we already know how I feel – and what the science shows – about speed limits). But what of the rest of this report? [Read more...]

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SWTOR Math/Formulas

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Freehugs, over on the sithwarrior forums, has done some excellent reverse-engineering work which represents the current most accurate formulas for calculating a variety of combat values in the current build of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Unfortunately, they’re all in one big block of text that’s not exactly easy to read. It’s not Freehugs’ fault, really, forums just don’t (usually) offer the kind of markup needed to beautifully express mathematical concepts… But MathJax does – and as it happens I’ve got MathJax installed on this blog, so let’s have a (prettier) look at the math behind the game, shall we? [Read more...]

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