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Tom Briant

The MacValley blog

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth has your Weekend Roundup

he Best Smartphone In The World is Apple's iPhone 5S

How iPhones could end credit-card fraud

MasterCard is experimenting with a new technology to change that by using your smartphone's geolocation to verify that you are in the same location as your credit card at the time of sale.

Cryptocat Wins Apple Approval

Cryptocat, an open-source app for encrypted online chat sessions, is now available for free through Apple's iOS App Store

Review: Apple’s New Mac Pro

The Internet Is Actually Controlled By 14 People Who Hold 7 Secret Keys

ICANN is responsible for assigning numerical Internet addresses to websites and computers and translating them into the normal web addresses that people type into their browsers.

If someone were to gain control of ICANN's database, that person would control the Internet. For instance, the person could send people to fake bank websites instead of real bank websites.

On the other hand, if a calamity happened, the ICANN database could need to be rebuilt. So ICANN came up with a way to do that without entrusting too much control to any one person. It selected seven people as key holders and gave each one an actual key to Internet. It selected seven more people to be backup keyholders: 14 people in all.

The Fight Over Who Controls the Internet
There’s a battle afoot over who will control the web—and its profits. At issue is a slippery concept called Net Neutrality. Sam Schechner explains what it is and how it could change the Internet.!59B35935-B128-4974-A81D-0DA0D6E9A043

Experts say we now spend an average of 10 hours a day with our eyes glued to some sort of screen, roughly split between digital and TV.
What have we disengaged with in order to become more engaged with our gadgets?

What about our souls and our society?

Zuckerberg wants to own your mental space.  So does Twitter.  So does Instagram.

Miami Teenager's Facebook Post Costs Her Dad $80,0000

A Miami teenager is in big trouble.  As the Miami Herald reports, an appeals court just tossed out her father’s $80,000 age-discrimination settlement because she violated the confidentiality agreement by bragging about it on Facebook.

Do not overshare on social media.

How To Set It Up So That Facebook Will Warn You When You're Being Hacked

Study Links Frequent Facebook Use to Eating Disorders Among College Women

overall, social media platforms like Facebook have a negative impact on their body image

The Tech Utopian Dream Died Again On Mt. Gox

It appears that only now have many people woken up and realized that Bitcoin rests entirely on software, with all that that entails.

Yes, most of the money that we have (including bank accounts) also depends on software.

all software design requires implementation. All implementation requires human beings. And human beings make mistakes.

Andreesen and Co. are clinging to the idea that Mt. Gox was just a bad implementation, and the rest of the Bitcoin infrastructure is sound. That may be true. But ...... how do you know it is sound?

How are people supposed to verify the soundness of the Bitcoin infrastructure they are using without some trusted third party?

Part of the underlying problem is an unwritten law of software competition: Security, performance, and reliability all cost money, but features are cheap and popular. So in the short term, it's a rational strategy to race ahead with feature development, skimp on security, and hope that you don't get caught with your pants down. This is why it's hard to expect high quality software when you're in the middle of a technological land grab, which is exactly what's going on with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin as a monetary concept is potentially a work of genius, and even if Bitcoin were to fail in its present incarnation – a scenario that I cannot exclude but that I consider exceedingly unlikely – the concept itself is too powerful to be ignored or even suppressed in the long run. While scepticism towards anything so fundamentally new is maybe understandable, most of the tirades against Bitcoin as a form of money are ill-conceived, terribly confused, and frequently factually wrong. Central bankers of the world, be afraid, be very afraid!

It is to be expected that a new technology will be subject to setbacks.

Those who are lamenting the new – and yet tiny – currency’s volatility and occasional hic-ups are either na├»ve or malicious. Do they expect a new currency to spring up fully formed, liquid, stable, with a fully developed infrastructure overnight?

Recent events surrounding Mt Gox and stories of raids by hackers would, in my opinion, only pose a meaningful long-term challenge for Bitcoin if it could be shown that they were linked to irreparable flaws in the core Bitcoin technology itself. There were indeed some allegations that this was the case but so far they do not sound very convincing.

Mark T. Williams, a finance professor, wrote:
“Trust and faith that a sovereign is firmly standing behind its currency is critical.”

He seems to not have heard of Zimbabwe, or of any of the other, 30-odd hyperinflations that occurred over the past 100 years, all of which, of course, in state-managed fiat money systems.

through most of history – up to very recently – money was gold and silver, and the supply of money thus practically outside the control of the sovereign.

Flexcoin, which calls itself the bitcoin bank, said Tuesday 896 bitcoins were stolen from its wallet and the company will be shutting down.

How Bitcoin Bank Flexcoin Was Robbed Of Every Single Coin It Held Online

Despite the triumphalism of bitcoin’s naysayers this past week, cryptocurrencies aren’t doomed. You can’t suppress an innovation that permits global, low-cost peer-to-peer transactions and which renders obsolete the rent-seeking intermediaries of a cumbersome international payments system.

the end game could be the digitalization of fiat currencies, those creaky government-backed forms of paper money that bitcoin vows to disrupt.  the real game-changer would be a digital U.S. dollar.

If digital currencies were to fully replace their paper equivalents, he adds, central banks could tax bank accounts — effectively setting a negative rate — since depositors could no longer flee the taxman by storing dollars under the mattress.

the idea of an all-powerful central bank literally cutting your savings is horrendous for those who trumpet bitcoin’s independence. But it is arguably preferable to endless “quantitative easing” programs, which have lined the pockets of financiers but failed to create jobs for tens of millions.

Bitcoin’s recent problems have enlivened its critics. But the revolution it unleashed is only just beginning.

Why it’s easier to rob bitcoins than banks

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