Archive for the Government Category

My piece about Bitcoin

Posted in Economy, Government with tags , , , on April 21, 2013 by Bradley Hall

As some of you know, Bitcoins are the new cryptocurrency currently sweeping the planet.

People are touting this as the end of government-controlled currencies, and yes, it does seem like something that’s really cool, but is it the end of money as we know it? That we have no need for government-controlled currencies?

No, I don’t think it’s the end of the Euro, Dollar, Yen, or whatever. An example of this can be found on Mt. Gox, the main Bitcoin exchange site. They list several currency exchange rates. Currently, the US Dollar is worth around $125 per bitcoin.

Sounds great, right? Well, yes, but…

The Bitcoin isn’t like the US Dollar where you have two decimal places of currency, like $0.00.

The Bitcoin goes to eight decimal places, so it’s 0.00000000.

To make this explanation easy, let’s imagine that one bitcoin (1.00000000) is worth $100 USD. So then we can say with certainty that….

0.1 BTC is ten dollars
0.01 BTC is one dollar
0.001 BTC is ten cent
0.0001 is one cent

Anything beyond that is pretty hard to communicate in terms of USD.

Okay, so, now, I have 0.00369536 BTC.

In our example, that would be $0.37 cent.

Over the past few days, I’ve been working off and on on a few “get bitcoins here” sites, most of which give 0.00000020 or less.

Oddly, even Crowdflower has programs that pay in BTC, but not a whole lot, like above. And yes, most of the BTC I’ve earned came from a few things they offered. Now, what’s odd, is that Crowdflower also offers small assignments via Amazon’s Turk program, where some things might pay 1 to 8 cent or so per task.

That eight cent would be 0.0008 BTC. So compare that to the 37 cent I’ve earned so far, and you see that by using those programs is a humongous waste of time since the ability to get up to the top three rungs of BTC will take far longer than just earning regular money.

Crowdflower also gets to pay out far smaller amounts than if the payout was in a recognized currency, such as USD.

So then, how to get BTC?

Apparently you can mine for it using computer hardware, but of course, my computer is too old and slow to be able to mine, either solo or as a group mining effort. The “mining” is essentially making your computer crunch numbers in an effort to uncover and decode new blocks of BTC data.

There was an article on Boingboing a few days ago where a guy who joined a joint mining group wrote about it. He earned more money from ads attached to his blog post about mining than he did mining for the week after he wrote it.

Another way is to do work in exchange for BTC. But of course, the problem with that is you’re paid in BTC, not USD, and 99.9999999999% of companies only accept money in USD right now. And because of that, I can’t put gas in my car with BTC or buy groceries with it either.

I liken the Bitcoin as almost a real-world version of the Darknet Credits from Daemon and Freedom (books by Daniel Suarez), or even World of Warcraft Gold. They have their uses, but so far too few people use them. Of course, as I’ve read many times over, it’s still the early days and there’s still plenty of coins to mine.

Of course, who knows where BTC will go. The price jumps around so much. At one point, 1 BTC was worth $10, then it shot up to $240, and is now around $125.

Just looking at the exchanges and stuff on blockchain.info is enough to get anyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

Anatomy of a Book Release

Posted in Book Reviews, Government, Intellectual Property, Piracy on January 26, 2012 by Bradley Hall

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, the United States Pirate Party released their first book, No Safe Harbor. As I was the editor of the book, this is not a review, I cannot objectively critique this book, nor do I wish to try.

We released the book as an ebook in several formats, including .mobi, .epub, .PDF, and others. There was also a printed book available for those who wanted them. The book costs $9.99.

The original price of the book was set at $13.99, the price gave the USPP $2 per book. Clearly we didn’t want to overprice the book, but we did still want some kind of residual from it.

The change came about a few days before release when Createspace, the company doing the Print-on-Demand services for the book, altered their royalty and pay structure. Amazingly it was in our favor. I decided to lower the price to $9.99. At this price, no one could say we were price gouging, and it still gave us the $2 royalty rate we wanted.

Whether anyone but I wanted that, is beyond me. While Andrew Norton and a few others worked on the book, I was the “main” editor. I contacted the authors, set terms, wrote contracts, and figured out what order to put the essays in.

While it was tedious at times, I’d still do it again, and plan to, actually.

The book, both ebook and printed book, were released under a Creative Commons license, BY-NC-SA.

Sometime on Jan 24th, the website went down. Andrew, myself, another guy named Andrew, Chris, and some others rallied to fix what was wrong. We created a page on Blogger and redirected our link, http://www.nosafeharbor.com, to it.

While we waited for traffic to pick back up, we scoured the Net and saw what happened. The site was Slashdotted. A deluge occurred.

The files for the book were hosted on the PPI site, no problem there. All we needed was a page for people to get to, hence, the Blogger page.

While watching the site stats, we saw it take off. First a hundred, then two, then, not even two hours after the site was back up, we had over 2000 hits to the page.

At the end of the day, it would go up to 13,000 hits.

At the same time, we had a Torrent set up. I have personally seeded nearly 3GB of a 50MB file (of course if someone is using uTorrent or a cooler system, they could download only the files they wanted and not worry about the 40MB RTF file.

We haven’t sold many copies of the physical book, we didn’t expect to. It was actually my idea to have a physical book, as I am struck by what Whitman called, “The mania of owning things.”

Somehow people seem to care more if your book/film/album is in a physical format, that it doesn’t “matter” if it’s not in something made of matter.

Within the day of the book’s release, I found somewhere I now forget where, someone translating the book into Spanish. I did however remember the link to the people translating it into Russian.

http://notabenoid.com/book/25510

I couldn’t believe it, Russians want to translate this book into Russian!? More power to them.

I love this, I really do. I keep Googling and seeing what I come up with.

I just got an email from Hosni Mubarak

Posted in Commentary, Government, Uncategorized on August 24, 2011 by Bradley Hall

Seriously, it’s an email from the deposed ruler of Egypt. He’s begging for my help and everything.

Of course, I know this is just another of those “deposed Nigerian Prince” style emails, it still makes me laugh that they started using a real deposed Egyptian guy for these. I look forward to receiving mail from Muammar Ghaddafi.

22/08/2011

Attn; My Noble Fellow

It will indeed be a pleasure to get associated with a good person of nobility like you. With this letter, I am making an appeal for your kindest attention. I only have limited access to communication so I will address straight to the point.

This is Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, deposed President of Egypt, I was allegedly deposed and forced to step down by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after the Egyptians protestsfor faster political reforms and demanded that I and my officials in my administration be forced to step down for political corruption, prompting the cabinet to look into reviving a law drafted after the 1952 revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

I would have called you on phone, but because the Egyptian Security Networking with Armed Forces is taping and monitoring myofficials’phone numbers, so it is no longer safe for me to call you which is why I think it is safe to send you this mail. I am placed under surveillance and still on detention and trials with my ex-Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, and six more senior ministry officials including my two sons.

However my main point of contacting you is to seek your sincere suggestion and guideline to move some allocatedfunds from my offshore accounts toyour country. Now I amcurrently incapacitated and suffering partial stroke and extremely worried over the political crisis which I cannot endure the ongoing catastrophe here, and please because of my position in the government now, I do not need to tell you of the absolute confidentiality which we both must have to observe as you are to help me in investing the funds in your country as my tycoon business representative.

Most of my private assets, bank accounts, my portfolio is being seized and confiscated by the Supreme Council, adding to that, the next session of my court trial is scheduled for September 5, that is why I decided to contact you now, though we are still going to court but the environment is good now to handle the transaction very safely before the specific date.

From the brief explanation of my present predicament which has befallen me now, you will understand my catastrophe with the Egyptian government now.I thank you very much for taking time to go through my mail, and please if you are sure you are truly capable to handle this transaction, revert back to me immediately.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely
Hosni Mubarak
Cairo, Egypt.

I love it, it really speaks to me, but more than that, it makes me laugh.

My dad’s letter to the president

Posted in Commentary, Government on March 30, 2011 by Bradley Hall

My dad just sent a message to President Obama. I have it pasted below:

Dear Mr. President:

I, like so many other Americans are disgusted with your term in office.

You promised us real change. We’ve had no real change. Everything is the same status quo.

The government is screwed up. The economy is screwed up. The country is screwed up. The world is screwed up.

Everything I hear coming out of Washington DC is such a bunch of bull. Everyone’s talking about 14 million Americans being out of work.

That’s only the ones still on unemployment benefits. The real number is probably 30 million. The difference being the ones who have run out of benefits.

Many people are like my wife who has been out of work for over two years, or like my two sons with college degrees who can’t find full-time employment.

This is crazy. We’re the United States of Damn America. And I’m sure a lot of people out there besides me are just getting plain fed up.

We sit here and watch us get into ANOTHER war in the Mid-East. Enough money was spent over there in Libya in a week that could have extended unemployment benefits for all those still out of work for at least six months.

The people in Libya will probably hate us when it’s all over anyway. Besides, everything I’m hearing, it seems like we don’t know who is really running things over there. We may be helping Al Qaeda or Hammas, we don’t really know, do we?

So the rest of us who are still working are dribbling away our life’s savings just trying to maintain while everything gets worse.

I know you probably won’t even read this, it’ll probably be read by someone you pay to read this, if it even gets read at all. Writing this letter was probably a waste of time, just like my voting has been for the last several years.

I’m 56-years-old and I’m not voting any more, I don’t see it as being something that helps a damn thing.

But I’ll bet you an ice cold beer that you won’t be president for the next go around, and that’s a shame because I thought you were really trying.

Good luck to you Mr. Obama, and God bless,

Nigel B. Hall

Jobless Benfits set to expire

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Government on November 22, 2010 by Bradley Hall

http://www.aflcio.org/countdown_widget_180px.cfm

Yeah, sucks doesn’t it.

I have some scary news. Millions of America’s unemployed job-seekers will be cut off from federal jobless benefits starting Nov. 30 unless Congress takes urgent action to renew and extend those benefits through 2011.

For administrative reasons, states actually need to shut down their extended unemployment programs in advance of the federal government’s Nov. 30 cut-off—which means some people will be spending Thanksgiving without food on the table unless Congress acts soon (and they’re only in town for a few days).

I just signed an emergency petition. Can you add your name, too? Just click here:

AFL-CIO website

Just found on YouTube

Posted in Government on September 26, 2010 by Bradley Hall

I just found this video on YouTube after a few friends on Facebook posted it.

How can you say you’ll do one thing and then several hours later do the exact opposite…

Do Republicans have memories that rival a goldfish’s in shortness?

The NSA’s Turn

Posted in Commentary, Government, Privacy on August 23, 2010 by Bradley Hall

A few weeks ago I sent out a few letters under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act to see if several United States “three letter agencies” had any information on me. So far, the FBI was the first to reply.

Today, I got the National Security Agency’s reply. I think it scares me the most.

Right off, the NSA says “a search of our most comprehensive filing systems which include applicant, personnel, security, medical, and training was conducted pursuant to the Privacy Act. Our records reflect that you have never been affiliated with this Agency: thus, no records were located in a search of those filing systems.

Further in the letter is this: “The classified nature of the National Security Agency’s efforts prevents us from either confirming or denying the existence of intelligence records responsive to your request.”

Wow… denied. I get the feeling they deny every request for data, but geez man, that wording makes it seem like they do have information on me.