December 24, 2018

A Week in TMSR: 10 - 16 December 2018

Filed under: A Week, TMSR — Diana Coman @ 3:55 p.m.

On Monday, 10th of December 2018:

Mircea Popescu notices that the MP-WP1 installation on Pizarro's shared server seems broken as it fails to correctly process footnotes. In response, Asciilifeform2 asks BingoBoingo3 to look into it, noting also that other accounts on the server (Hanbot's) don't exhibit the same problem and therefore the issue has to be linked to Nicoleci's account on the shared server.

Mircea Popescu expresses his surprise at Nicoleci's apparent inability to express herself in writing anyway nearly as well as she is able to express herself orally. The difference is significant enough to be rather hard to believe if not directly witnessed. Further discussion with Trinque and Asciilifeform of Nicoleci's public writings on her blog - mainly summaries of TMSR logs - and of the sad state of what passes as "writing" in the US nowadays leads to the conclusion that the core issue with her writing is that it lacks any narrative structure: instead of telling a story of any kind, she seems to attempt to just give the gist of her thoughts at one moment or another.

Asciilifeform expresses his pleasant surprise at having recently tried a 3D device. He suggests it for Eulora but Mircea Popescu notes that Eulora is significantly more intellectual than visceral or graphical at the moment and the current struggle in this direction is anyway simply getting even basic art done for the game rather than improving public's access to it.

Danielpbarron publishes on his blog another snippet of his conversations with some dudes on religious matters. Trinque struggles to make any sense of the published snippet and points to Danielpbarron the solipsistic nature of his current activities as they can be perceived based on his publications. Danielpbarron fails to see Trinque's point and enquires whether there is anyway any significant difference between talking publicly of religion as he does and talking publicly of sex as Mircea Popescu does. This enquiry is promptly answered by Mircea Popescu who points out some significant differences: while every human being is interested in sex seeing how sex is fundamental to humans, not every human being is actually interested in religion seeing how religion is fundamentally gossip; moreover, while other types of gossip are at least interesting as they touch on interesting people, religion fails to captivate as it concerns nobodies. Danielpbarron disagrees with this view of religion and affirms that the "truth of the Bible is universally known", offering as unique support to this assertion a few citations from his Bible.

Nicoleci publishes her 101th post on her blog detailing some interactions with people from her past who failed to impress her as much as they told themselves they did even when she was younger while positively making her laugh currently with their unsolicited emails.

Ben Vulpes publishes an accounting statement for Pizarro for November, relying on a semi-automated process (numbers are produced automatically but the final format requires manual work to put everything together).

Diana Coman realises that her previously mentioned problem of an empty genesis .vpatch as a result of Cuntoo's bootstrap script is caused by an issue with the vdiff tool on the machine running the script (so nothing to do with Cuntoo's bootstrap script after all). After fixing the vdiff tool she reports that the Cuntoo script runs successfully and produces a .vpatch but the signature for it fails to verify. Bvt chimes in to report that he has a similar problem on his computer as the .vpatch he obtained from Cuntoo's bootstrap script fails to verify against Trinque's provided signature. Later during the day, Diana Coman publishes the .vpatch she obtained and Trinque is able to compare it with his own noting that there are several differences that he will need to fix, including his use of sha-based vdiff rather than the keccak-based vdiff. Diana Coman also notes that the Cuntoo bootstrap script fails on a different machine configuration (different operating system mainly), stopping with an error. She provides a paste of the error and Trinque is able at a later time to point her to the potential issue - an un-met requirement (having /dev/shm mounted) for compiling Python.

Diana Coman gives a talk on Bitcoin to students at Reading University in the UK. Later during the day she publishes a write-up of it including a detailed account of her Bitcoin talk and the supporting slides that she used.

Diana Coman offers to Asciilifeform the results of a tcpdump running on SMG's test server with Pizarro for several months during the year. The dump provides the content of some unexpected UDP packages that were observed during a previous test of UDP communications in October 2018. The dump includes some VoIP apparent scam that seems to originate from Iceland. As Asciilifeform is interested to investigate more into this, Diana Coman points out to him that it's all on Pizarro-owned infrastructure and so he asks BingoBoingo to reroute to one of his own computers with Pizarro all packets with unassigned IP destination.

On Tuesday, 11th of December 2018:

Commenting on Diana Coman's write-up of her talk at Reading Uni on the previous day, Mircea Popescu notes that the lack of a recording of the talk is rather unfortunate especially given how simple it is to obtain normally. Diana Coman and Mircea Popescu then discuss a bit the practical aspects of recording a talk and the rather shockingly basic conditions offered by Reading University on this occasion. Mircea Popescu notes in conclusion that the write-up of the talk looks good and the missing recording is more a matter of "missing out on a possible fanbase!" than anything else.

BingoBoingo reports that his Peruvian girlfriend finds Argentina very beautiful especially compared to what she knows of Uruguay. This prompts Mircea Popescu's "eh" and Asciilifeform's observation that Argentina hasn't quite managed yet to fully burry/destroy/run down the beautiful buildings it inherited from back when it mattered. The conversation then moves onto the significant differences in quality of buildings in different parts of the world and at different times, with Asciilifeform revealing that he can actually distinguish what he considers well-built structures by their smell that might be - or might not be - due to a combination of aging plaster, actual wood and perhaps old books in significant quantities.

Nicoleci publishes on her blog her summary of TMSR logs of 19th November 2018.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra an update on Macron's adventures in France and another update on Ebola's adventures in Congo.

Mircea Popescu draws on his extensive knowledge of world history and his extremely numerous interactions with a wide range of people to discuss his emergent view that multiculturalism fails first and foremost for lack of multiple actual cultures rather than for lack of potential merit in the idea of culture-mixing itself. Asciilifeform points out to the merits of China (at the time of Confucius) as an example of different actual culture that existed but Mircea Popescu notes that merits are irrelevant for the issue at hand: in practice, there is only a very narrow and unique way to culture and so everything that counts as such inevitably finds itself on this same path without much diversity possible. China is given again as an example since its current relevancy in the world is, in Mircea Popescu's view, fully due to and limited by the extent to which it copied white man culture. Addressing Asciilifeform's point, Mircea Popescu also notes that previously to this copying, China was simply a large bureaucratic state in a similar way in which the Inca state had also been one but still failing to actually develop as a culture since working organisation by itself is not enough. To support his point, Mircea Popescu remarks also that an actual alternative culture in China would be directly identifiable simply by its results. Given the obvious lack of such results - as there is no equivalent Chinese #trilema at all, let alone one bigger in size as it should logically be given China's size and more efficient organisation - it means therefore that there can't possibly be a culture there in any sense either. Both Mircea Popescu and Asciilifeform acknowledge that this might still be proven incorrect at a later time although the chances for such proof seem to them rather low. The more likely explanation for the current situation is in Mircea Popescu's opinion the simple fact that China can't seem to be able to advance past its remarkable efficiency at copying - currently copy successes that stop short of developing anything new including for instance mining Bitcoin but also owning the full fab stack and still failing at the same time to produce its own CPU architecture.

Asciilifeform rages at html's failure to provide a reliable way to format even basic equations so that they look the same across different displays and browsers (in particular without using javascript and/or images). Trinque suggests using SVG might be a good approach for the task but Asciilifeform rejects it because it won't be of any use for text-based browsers. Mircea Popescu provides a solution based on the use of html tables and top/bottom floating alignments, publishing it on Trilema as well, for future reference. At first, Asciilifeform balks at the proposed approach as he says it doesn't work with the Lynx text-based browser but Mircea Popescu points out that there is no way that works exactly the same in both text-based and graphical mode.

BingoBoingo announces that Pizarro's price for BTC is set at $4000 per 1 BTC for the month of December 2018. This price is based on an auction of $2000 that concluded on the 7th of December with the sale of the $2000 to Mats for 499.99ECu. Using this exchange rate, BingoBoingo produces Pizarro's invoices for provided services to bvt, jurov and trinque. Further invoices are likely due for Mocky's and Nicoleci's shared hosting with Pizarro and for SMG's test server.

Mircea Popescu states that he considered for some time Diana Coman's innovation/subversion distinction and he finds it to be well founded. He further notes that this distinction makes it clear that there is very little difference between subversion and "inclusion." Diana Coman agrees with this observation and notes that those finding change (hence, innovation by another name) difficult will simply push for subversion instead for as long and in as many ways as they can. Mircea Popescu adds to this the funny fact that Spanish uses the same word for expressing that something is expensive ("cuesta mucho") and that one finds something difficult ("me cuesta"), driving home the inescapable conclusion that indeed, the sort of person who finds it difficult to think (and therefore to change) has indeed no busines in #trilema or with Bitcoin for that matter. Diana Coman further links this "cost" of personal difficulty to the oft-heard complaint of "it's not fair" but Mircea Popescu considers the matter to be a much more intricate ball of nonsense than that. Nevertheless, he notes that a preocuppation with "fairness" (as opposed to correctness) is indeed a good heuristic for lack of useful intellect since it betrays significant inner voids that make it all together doubtful the subject is really a person at all.

A side note by Mircea Popescu on the provenience of the "arena" word in English from the Spanish word for sand turns into a short discussion with Diana Coman on the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica and subsequently with Asciilifeform on the properties of volcanic sand and the importance of semiconductors.

Asciilifeform announces that he will bid on a Symbolics MacIvory model and he will have it xray tomographied if he obtains it.

Mircea Popescu rages at Mozilla Firefox's idea of "releases" of the browser that include executables of all sorts and assorted signatures without any clear apparent meaning. Asciilifeform is rather amused at the idea that there is anything other than ceremonial in latest Mozilla offerings but notes also that he is not aware of any version of Firefox that did not suck to start with. Trinque chimes in to say that he has a version of Firefox that he built on Musl so that there is at least that as a potential de-facto graphical browser for Cuntoo. Mircea Popescu notes that at some point the republic will likely have to write its own sane browser anyway, getting rid in the process of all sorts of useless junk that currently come stuck with any graphical browser.

On Wednesday, 12th of December 2018:

Nicoleci publishes on her blog her summary of TMSR logs of 20 November 2018. She also notes that fetlife has deleted a post of Mircea Popescu from 2 days before since it was apparently more liberal than their liberalism can take.

Phf brings back the discussion on fairness/correctness from the previous day noting that he naturally considered fairness to mean exactly that: a recognition of correctness even when it's not to one's own advantage. In response, Mircea Popescu points out that this meaning of fairness as unpleasant-but-correct has always been a purely eastern one while the western definition always focused on a sort of weighing and comparing of outcomes. He links this to Hajnal's line in the sense that fewer and later marriages give more idle time to be spent on the contemplated sort of "fairness" considerations.

Mircea Popescu redirects Nicoleci away from attempting to summarize TMSR logs and on to transcribing old proceedings of the Royal Society of London that are rather interesting to read but are hardly readable in their existing format since they've been mangled by the automated OCR process.

One of Trilema's readers suggests to use a Wordpress Latex plugin to properly format equations. Mircea Popescu passes on the suggestion but Asciilifeform says he already investigated the plugin and it fails to solve his problem as it still relies on images and therefore it produces output that is not entirely suited for text-only browsers. Mircea Popescu points out that Mathematical notations are simply not fully alphabetic and as such they can't ever be pure text and therefore it's up to terminals to work correctly by being able to handle text + adnotations rather than text only. The discussion further advances on to what sort of text preprocessing should be actually done by a browser with Mircea Popescu noting that this question doesn't yet have a clear answer and Asciilifeform noting that at any rate, existing answers such as tags totally fail to actually answer anything. The mention of tags touches a nerve with Mircea Popescu and he notes that they are a very good example of the fundamentally broken approach that created the significant current technological debt: "simplification" implemented without regards to actual secondary costs incurred and by removing the barriers to entry that kept out precisely the sort of people that had no place to enter in the first place. While Asciilifeform heartily agrees with this view, he considers it old news and summarises it as "mechanization + idiocy == mechanized idiocy." He adds however that this sort of simplification "works" anyway simply by subversion of the very object called computer since actual computers are even more difficult to obtain than they were before while the objects that are now indeed very easily obtained are computers in name only.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra four articles: on Britain's no confidence vote in its Prime Minister, on the death of a Physics professor at Stanford University, on the secret conviction of George Pell in Australia and on one of the FBI's terrorism charges.

Mircea Popescu discusses with Asciilifeform the dilemma of Free Software raised by Naggum: while useful code has indeed value as Naggum clearly argues, its valuation cannot be approached in the way that Naggum seems to suggest, namely by attaching some value to the lines of code itself and/or closing code so that its source is not freely available anymore. In Mircea Popescu's view, free access to useful code source does not take away value of the code but instead adds a very useful entry point that works also as a passive but effective filter so that valuable contributors can be discerned from time wasters. Asciilifeform does not disagree with this view but expresses some reserve: he says he did not learn from reading ugly code despite reading loads of it but rather from reading non-code text; he also notes that Naggum seems to have been aware of the fact that lines of code added do not translate into value added but rather the opposite (the best code is no code); he adds also that Naggum's statement regarding the loss of value of software through free publishing are likely the result of his own personal history of trying to make a living by solving complex problems and seeing the tools he needed gradually vanishing as their producers failed to be valued enough to be able to continue their work. Mircea Popescu acknowledges that this is very possibly true and even proposes the neat packing of this pattern into a foundational myth under the title of "avik killed naggum"4 but notes that nevertheless the view that publication destroys value is not only misplaced but dubious in that it actively serves only those authors that attempt to extract more than their work is worth on closer examination. And since the abstract work of computer programming is much more similar to other abstract work such as that performed by doctors, the correct valuation should also follow similar patterns rather than attempting to follow patterns (such as copyright) that are derived from valuation of non-abstract work. As a result, Mircea Popescu notes that on one hand the requirement to publish code does not have to apply without discrimination and on the other hand the only correct way to pay for abstract computer work is through the crown allocation process: authors of abstract work may receive their payment as a recognition by a higher authority (the crown) of their valuable contribution but not as some quantifiable, formula-calculated amount that most users can decide on since most users are utterly unqualified to evaluate this type of abstract work in the first place.

As a continuation of the previous discussion on evaluating abstract work in general and code in particular, Mircea Popescu further stresses the important fact that valuable abstract work is by its very nature and fundamentally a surplus phenomena - meaning that there has to be first some surplus in order for one to be capable of performing abstract work of any value. In practical terms, this means that the authors do it without strictly needing the payment for it and as their own personal choice of doing it in preference to doing other things - some of them with clear payment even - that they are perfectly able to do. Asciilifeform also links this to operating from causes rather than for purposes (i.e. for obtaining some specific payment in this case).

A further continuation of the same discussion explores also to some extent the further difficulty in assigning rewards for valuable abstract work even through the crown allocation process. The process does not make the evaluation of abstract work any easier and it also doesn't provide a clear way to ensure optimal labour allocation at times of need. Essentially, Mircea Popescu notes that existing tools (money as a signal of value and market forces as regulators) although a good fit for concrete work and objects are nevertheless a disastrous fit where abstract work is involved and their failure is so significant that it likely drives intelligent people towards some form of socialism (as the only sort of alternative perceived) in their attempt to find a solution to the problems caused. The conclusion overall is, in Mircea Popescu's own words: "labour allocation is broken and nobody has any better".

BingoBoingo issues Pizarro invoices to Mircea Popescu for Nicoleci's shared hosting and for SMG's test server. He also updates Pizarro's public page to reflect the 10% discount offered on shared hosting for annual subscriptions over monthly subscriptions. Later, following Mocky's request, he also invoices Mocky for an annual shared hosting subscription.

Mocky asks BingoBoingo to bill him for his shared hosting with Pizarro on an annual bassis. He reports that his search for a job is still ongoing although slowed to some extent by holidays of his interviewers. Mircea Popescu suggests perhaps pooling resources through running a TMSR version of bourbaki: specialist appliers to remote jobs dumping tasks in a file that gets passed around for TMSR people to choose from as and when they want to do some non-TMSR work. Mocky chimes in to say that he previously considered outsourcing some of his own work, while Trinque notes that Oracle for instance is known to actually do precisely this. Asciilifeform says he'd be delighted to work in this way but expresses his doubts at the scheme, mainly due to the difficulty he perceives with task level/definition/discussion and the potentially problematic case of tasks that nobody wants to pick up within the allocated timeframe. Mocky says that his concern with this model is the fact that it can take him a year to become capable of actually solving specific problems within a reasonable time.

Asciilifeform and Mircea Popescu discuss the actual relationship between employer and employees with specific focus on Asciilifeform's apparent inability of escaping employee status. Mircea Popescu notes that the core issue seems to be the mismatch between the favourite "select first and then talk to selected" approach of most republicans and the opposite "filter the ocean" approach5 that is actually required for any search outside of TMSR (a search for employer included). Relatedly, he asks whether Pizarro has managed to do anything of the sort in order to find the clients it needs for survival. At a later time, BingoBoingo replies, revealing that the short answer is no, Pizarro has not yet managed to do anything of the sort but it might perhaps still manage to do it if only an "awk ninja" materializes to write the needed scripts.

On Thursday, 13th of December 2018:

Nicoleci publishes on her blog her summary of TMSR logs for 21 November 2018.

Diana Coman negrates douchebag for obstinately wasting her time. Probably in retaliation, douchebag carves in his own nick on freenode the message that nobody is interested in listening to, doing the irc equivalent of sandwich man. This prompts some laughter and merriment all around and Phf notes that douchebag's vulnerability finding is all about form rather than substance. Diana Coman says that the proposed view fits indeed the observed behaviour and moreover makes the whole activity very similar to a form of political correctness applied to code. Mircea Popescu takes this further and says that in this case the whole thing is also the precise equivalent of period politruks that attempt to police the code as the currently relevant form of speech.

Diana Coman publishes Chapter 12 of SMG Comms containing a thread-safe Ada implementation of simple queues that are specific to the needs of Eulora (as opposed to the generic thread-safe Ada queues of the standard).

Diana Coman informs Trinque that she experienced some problems obtaining an answer from deedbot to the !!ledger command. Trinque notes that the command currently works for him and he suspects the issue was most likely due to a lost connection between the irc bot that receives the command and the back service that actually handles all wallet functionality.

Diana Coman rates juliankunkel, the lecturer at Reading University that invited her to give a Bitcoin talk to students. Asciilifeform and BingoBoingo welcome him but he doesn't have much to say.

Asciilifeform reports he acquired the bolix on which he previously bid and he says he will therefore xray it. A bit later, Mircea Popescu contributes to this with a warning for Asciilifeform to check the rated power of the equipment he intends to use since not all equipment is powerful enough for such a task. Asciilifeform however reveals that the task is not likely to require high power anyway as there is no middle metal layer.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra: on the use of facial recognition at a pop concert.

Mircea Popescu, Asciilifeform and Diana Coman discuss the best approach to take for implementing (or not!) a sender/receiver layer as part of SMG Comms. The conclusion is that there will be such a layer as part of SMG Comms but a very thin one that simply moves UDP messages from/to outbound/inbound queue and the UDP socket. The reason for this layer to exist is the need to move UDP messages quickly from the relatively small queue on the IP stack to the larger in-memory queue. The reason for it to be part of SMG Comms is that it's not specific in any way to any given application since it's so thin as to focus exclusively on moving messages from/to socket and queues.

On Friday, 14th of December 2018:

Asciilifeform provides a paste of his talk to adlai in #asciilifeform as proof that quitting drinking has at least *some* effects. Mircea Popescu suggests a recuperative scholarly series on the SNS server and later notes that this is simply for documentation value rather than some silver bullet (or indeed any sort of working bullet at all). Asciilifeform indulges his love of old/interesting hardware mentioning items rarer than the bolix: xerox lispm and tandem. Phf reveals he has worked on a tandem (known as HP NonStop) at some point and he appreciated the architecture but noted that the software was entirely written in Cobol. This is interesting to Asciilifeform but it makes him poke Phf about some promised Bolix documentation that he previously said he might have. Following on from this, Asciilifeform reveals that he will likely perform the xray of his Bolix machine with his own hands but that he'd like to have Phf's papers (if there are any) to check against. The next day, Mircea Popescu adds to this discussion noting that there is proper xray-hygiene to follow when performing such a task.

Danielpbarron publishes on his blog another talk with unknown people on religious matters. A reference to reddit in there prompts Trinque to enquire if Danielpbarron is meanwhile militantly anti-republican. Danielpbarron flatly answers "no".

Nicoleci publishes on her blog her summary of TMSR logs of 22 November 2018.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra: on Germany's three choices of sex on paper.

On Saturday, 15th of December 2018:

Danielpbarron publishes on his blog another talk with random people on religious matters. Asciilifeform gets from it the impression that Danielbarron's approach is essentially calvinistic but Danielpbarron rejects this assessment on the grounds that "calvinism leads to hell". Some further talk reveals that Asciilifeform hasn't followed the religious life of Danielpbarron all that closely.

Asciilifeform further discusses with Phf his current plan for xray-ing his Bolix machine and then using the gained knowledge to build probes for further knowledge gain.

Asciilifeform notes that Ben Vulpes' logging bot is not working and Mircea Popescu notes that anyone can start another logging bot and simply aim it at the chans of interest as the bot code is published already.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra: on the latest adventures of Macron in France.

Mircea Popescu provides another sample from the responses he gets to one of his ocean-filtering actions. Asciilifeform is curious on the percentage of responses that manage to at least read the full initial message that usually gets cut off on various mobile phones and the like. The response is that there are some that pass this basic test but the percentage is very small.

Nicoleci publishes on her blog her summary of TMSR logs of 23 November 2018.

On Sunday, 16th of December 2018:

Asciilifeform announces he received his Bolix in perfect packing, with all accessories and able to run. He notes that he was in the end the only one to bid on this machine but he still did not want to miss the opportunity to buy it since the price apparently increases by $1000 every year. Phf suspects that there aren't that many bidders anyway and it's all more of a show with other owners of older hardware simply hoarding it as they notice they can't replace it anymore at any cost. The emerging picture seems to be that 2009 is the cutoff point for hardware that one can trust. A bit later, Phf provides Asciilifeform with DKS patches for Bolix and a port of 'zork' to Bolix.

Mircea Popescu laughs heartily at the Unity Web Player being now reportedly no longer working on Chrome, Firefox and Edge browsers. His faint interest in the matter focuses on the fact that it's totally unclear why and how did Unity exactly achieve its previous popularity. His hypothesis on this is that Unity got "chosen" simply for lack of any alternative. Asciilifeform offers as similar puzzle the success of qt but Mircea Popescu notes that they are in fact not comparable since Unity never actually worked nor did it ever have serious resources to speak of while qt both works and is not in fact going anywhere. Asciilifeform then links this to Bolix noting that the 3d engine for it still exists and is called Mirai. Its forum however is not working as it was overrun by spam. Amberglint joins in the discussion to correct Asciilifeform's assertion that Mirai was ported to CPP - he says it was in fact ported to Allegro Common Lisp. He also mentions that the most well-known work done in Mirai is the Gollum character for the Lord of the Rings film.

Asciilifeform publishes on his blog Chapter 14A of the FFA series covering the first half of Barretts Modular Reduction.

Mircea Popescu publishes on his blog the result of his wtf is a "Post Malone".

Diana Coman publishes on her blog a summary of TMSR logs from 3 to 9 December 2018. Mircea Popescu provides feedback and some corrections to it. The summary also prompts Mircea Popescu to add to one of the main topics previously touched namely the existing conflict between different versions of database management systems (mysql and postgres) being needed for different sort of tasks. This spills into the next day and the next week.

  1. A customized version of the Wordpress blogging platform produced by Mircea Popescu, packaged in V format by Hanbot and currently used by most republican blogs and by the Pizarro ISP for its clients that share space on a server. 

  2. Main tech for Pizzaro ISP. 

  3. Founder of Pizarro ISP and the only current local pair of hands. 

  4. Avik is the self-styled "master" that reportedly feeds his slaves a cocktail of pills, works at precisely the sort of software that crowded out of the market the tools needed by Naggum for his work and otherwise keeps pestering Nicoleci with unsolicited emails. 

  5. This is a term of art meaning literally talking to EVERYONE and then filtering out 1 / 1mn or in similar ratios those contacts that are in fact of any interest. 

December 19, 2018

A Week in TMSR: 26 November - 2 December 2018

Filed under: A Week, TMSR — Diana Coman @ 4:45 p.m.

On Monday:

Asciilifeform publishes on his blog Chapter 13 of the FFA series.

Trinque announces that he has a working Cuntoo bootstrapper that runs entirely offline and reliably produces the same genesis .vpatch that can then be verified against his signature. His write-up on the topic is due for next day. As part of his work on this, Trinque wonders whether vdiff could or should perhaps be able to produce a genesis .vpatch without requiring an empty directory. Asciilifeform points out in response that the current approach is both standard and without fault to his eyes. Moreover, later during the day, Mircea Popescu also notes that the empty directory is perfectly fine from a philosophical point of view since it represents the perfect code. He also states that an alternative, specific solution (such as diff against /dev/null) is perfectly valid as well for as long as it doesn't turn into a different mode of operation: essentially as long as vdiff simply diffs whether for genesis or not, it's fine; as soon as one wants to define some diff as diff and then something-else as genesis, insanity creeps in. This turns quickly quite vicious as Asciilifeform points out that such insanity is usually the "being smart" of code and as such the bane of any programmer who wants to do something as opposed to just write more code; in turn, Mircea Popescu strikes back with the even pointier point that the "being smart" of people is the even greater bane of any man who wants to do something as opposed to just breathe in and out for yet another day.

As further result of his work on the Cuntoo script, Trinque notes that he doesn't find sane the default behaviour of vdiff to exit with what is normally an error code (i.e. returning something other than 0) just because the given parameters are not as expected. Nevertheless, he makes do with it for now and uses it as it is in his Cuntoo script. Mircea Popescu chimes in to note that Trinque's point on this is valid - there shouldn't be a need to keep adding the check for this case. Phf takes note of the issue raised and says that he is adding it to his backlog of issues to fix and curiosities to look at (with naked eye, powerful microscope or a bigger hammer, as required).

Nicoleci publishes her summaries of #trilema logs of 9 and 10 November 2018. Asciilifeform finds at least one sentence in the latter hilarious.

Spyked comes back from a longish absence due to unexpected health issues of his father. He rates and introduces his new bot, feedbot, points republicans to its help page, promises to publish its V tree as well in the following days and tells Trinque that he can disable the rss part of his deedbot since feedbot is taking over that job. Mircea Popescu would rather have a smoother approach to this take over and points out to Spyked that a planned and gradual take over is likely to be less bumpy (for everyone involved) than the original para-dropping of feedbot into TMSR territory.

Asciilifeform enquires whether there is some automated or semi-automated way to submit new .vpatch and/or .sig files for inclusion into the main repository at http://btcbase.org/patches. His enquiry fails to get an answer and so far he doesn't seem bothered enough to press the issue further.

The current bot count in channel further increases by one as Asciilifeform resurrects his own FFA-bot - his name is PehBot. Asciilifeform gives PehBot a spin, illustrating the newly added capabilities of the bot that matches now the FFA content up to and including Chapter 13. Initially, Asciilifeform plans to move PehBot to #asciilifeform but Mircea Popescu points out that bot or not, one can stay in #trilema for as long as one doesn't become a nuisance.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra an article on the seizing of some Ukrainian ships in the Kerch strait. Both deedbot and feedbot jump on the new feed and announce it, prompting Mircea Popescu to poke spyked who hasn't yet noticed the call for a smoother take over. Smoothness might need to be forced upon with a bigger gun.

Asciilifeform fixes the commenting form on his blog after more than a year since they last worked and more like a few days since the latest round of pointed complaints about it from people who wanted to provide feedback on his FFA series. As part of the fix, he replaces one set of tripping wires for commenters with a single tripping thread hoping that the decreased complexity means that at least *some* commenters survive it now.

As part of his www winter-cleaning, Asciilifeform also installs the selection script that enables one to link to specific parts of text in a post. He goes on to have as a result an oft-repeated argument with Mircea Popescu regarding the proper way to keep - since you have to! - and especially keep in check your www stable that includes dirty beasts such as php and wordpress.

The ups and downs of reported fiat-value of Bitcoin continue to entertain as the "valuation" goes down to 3000 green papers out of infinity per one coin out of 21 million total. Asciilifeform saves his laughter for when the valuation goes to 3 green papers for the same coin but as part of the discussion, Mircea Popescu digs out and links several older posts on trilema.com that are a good read at any time.

From valuation of Bitcoin, the discussion moves seamlessly to valuation of people. Mircea Popescu notes that the bar to being a "wise man" in TMSR keeps increasing but there is hope that this increase is actually capped since the steep increases recently witnessed are likely due to catching up with neglected work rather than anything else. Illustrations range from dirty socks to recent (douchebag) and a bit less recent (kakobrekla) failures in #trilema and from Arthur Blair to C.S. Lewis or cardinal Newman in the world at large. As a side point, there is also a definition of "fractional girlfriend" and the observation that not everybody seemingly asking a question is actually looking for its or indeed for any actual answer.

On Tuesday:

Mircea Popescu provides a concrete example of the need to filter an ocean to find a crumb of usefulness. Empirical results seem to suggest that it's about 1 person in 1000 that seem to interact at all with what they read.

Mircea Popescu asks for feedback on his recently published (last week) first draft towards defining a republican replacement for DNS aka the GNS. Trinque says he hasn't yet got around to read the published piece but he promises he will read, digest and come back with a response.

As promised on the previous day, Trinque publishes on his blog his new script for bootstrapping Cuntoo. He asks people to let him know if they try it and with what results. Asciilifeform quickly looks and promises to try it at a later time but for the time being he questions the way in which the script steps through 2 GCC versions to get to the desired 4.9.4 version and the fact that it lacks ave1's gcc. In response, Trinque says that having ave1's GCC is the plan in the longer term but the point of the current item (the script) is to provide a stable starting point made of what-is so including mainstream 4.9.4 gcc. Mircea Popescu chimes in at a later point to say that nevertheless the ebuild with ave1's gcc should be made and preferably quite quickly. He also sketches out the roadmap for the longer term, including the full removal of SSL (all flavours and from all places) that is to be replaced with straight RSA. This sort of replacement is meant indeed for all republican items including for instance TRB although Mircea Popescu notes that the replacement might be FFA or a different republican RSA implementation depending on the practical requirements and constraints of each application.

Joining in the conversation sparked by Trinque's Cuntoo script, phf reveals that he has various POC1 bits and pieces that explore some potential ways of installing packages on a system in a V-reliable way. Trinque would like to see those and Phf promises to pull them out from their respective hiding places but only after he finishes his current move from the US to Russia. At a later point, Diana Coman reads the script and asks for clarification from Trinque on whether the published script can also be used to upgrade an existing gentoo installation to Cuntoo. Trinque replies that such a feat is in principle possible but it's currently undocumented and as such unexplored territory to be yet tried at explorer's own risk.

Nicoleci publishes her summaries of #trilema logs of 11 and 12 November 2018.

Spyked notices the request for smoother transition to his feedbot and acts accordingly to synchronize with Trinque.

Phf "snarfs" the latest FFA vpatches from Asciilifeform. The "snarf" is a term of art and it means that the new .vpatches and their signatures are now mirrored in the main TMSR repository at http://btcbase.org/patches. Asciilifeform profers his fondness of Phf's repository infrastructure that is "unspeakably helpful".

Asciilifeform, Diana Coman, Mircea Popescu and Phf discuss briefly the way in which Ada transitioned from initial ugly and gnarly find to republican standard language for programming. As part of the discussion, Asciilifeform links to Mocky's useful summary of the arguments for using Ada.

Davout was last seen in TMSR in April 2018, more than 5 months ago. Meaningful work from Davout was last seen several years ago. Mircea Popescu gives a quick summary of Davout's known involvement so far: being a tech in the early days and doing the receivership for BitBet at a later date.

A "grubles" from 2014 joins #trilema in 2017 and doesn't last long. By contrast, the negative rating he acquired in 2014 continues to last.

Asciilifeform corrects his own oversight and negrates "Hasimir".

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra a short announcement of the release of Cuntoo bootstrapper and a brief note on the adventures of some people who run any code they happen to find.

On Wednesday:

Danielpbarron's blog sends delayed pingbacks from 2016 as he is finally uploading old articles on the new hosting with Pizarro. Following the delayed pingbacks, Mircea Popescu reads the content in which they are embedded and expresses puzzlement over the mismatch between the interests and worldview they reflect and Danielpbarron's desire to continue being a lord of TMSR. When asked directly, Danielpbarron states that Bitcoin is still an interest of his and it's simply a matter of enjoying his position and being materially invested in Bitcoin via running a node and having items and ECu in Eulora. He also says he may be lazy but not "morally opposed" to doing meaningful work in TMSR.

Amberglint pops by to offer Asciilifeform a pointer to someone who wants to decap an Ivory processor board. Asciilifeform points out that the operation can't be trusted to anybody walking in through the door as the Ivory is a very scarce resource so the wannabe de-capper is cordially invited to get in the WoT and convince people that he can be trusted with such a task. Phf also chimes in to ask Asciilifeform to postpone any attempt at decapping an Ivory until he gets the chance to provide the docs that he has somewhere burried among other stuff and might shed some light without the dangers of decapping anyone. Asciilifeform publishes a high resolution photo of the Mac Ivory Model 2 processor board together with a shouty "Do Not Touch!" warning neatly guarding it.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra 2 articles, on the jailing of a 64 year old woman over holding cotton candy and on sanctions issued against Bitcoin addresses, respectively. He also publishes on his own blog the Peso exchange rate of the day and his practical cooking lesson involving birds and stuffings.

Nicoleci publishes her summary of #trilema logs of 13 November 2018.

Asciilifeform wants to store his valuable Ivories with Mircea Popescu or even just pass them on to him but the latter is neither interested in adding to his pile of rarities nor offering vault space.

Mircea Popescu briefly toys with the idea of sending some bitcoin to the 2 addresses that were "sanctioned" but he notes that they haven't really been used anyway. In the process, he reveals that he can't quite tell apart the orlov of today from the orwell of yesteryear - they are all an orlol to him. Nevertheless, with Asciilifeform's help, he unearths the desired reference that turns out to be from the more recent writer - the topic being that a strongly held "no" is deeply disturbing to those who never encountered such a thing before.

Mocky briefly stops by to let BingoBoingo know about the fate of most recent wires that he sent. He also notes that most employers in his area now require "secret government clearance" for would-be employees.

On Thursday:

Mocky wonders at the latest job descriptions that include "blockchain engineer". He also states that searching for employment sucks but his previous solution for it - to stay with the same company for 14 years - also ended up sucking. Mocky then points out that he got so far precisely what he wanted, namely a lot of kids and a lot of code but he feels like an idjit for not having saved anything during all this time. Mircea Popescu validates Mocky's feelings on this matter.

Nicoleci publishes her summary of #trilema logs of 14 November 2018.

Spyked coordinates with Trinque to take over feeds in the switch from deedbot to feedbot. He also announces he bought himself a c101pa thinking it is a good place to test Trinque's Cuntoo bootstrapper on. Asciilifeform quickly points out to him that no, the c101pa is no such thing.

Mircea Popescu reveals he is burnt to peeling as a result of slut wrestling in the Costa Rican sun. Based on this information, Asciilifeform estimates that he'd last about 10 minutes under similar circumstances and reveals that he can also become crisplifeform under the sun on the 39th parallel.

Asciilifeform compares the LOC2 count for his FFA series that is in the low thousands with that of TRB which is in the tens of thousands not including additional unknown ball of dependencies pulled in. Diana Coman points out that the quality of any lines of code also matters - so it gets even better than the naked numbers show since she'd gladly read Asciilifeform's 1000 LOC at any time in preference of reading even 100 lines of Koch's.

Diana Coman states that she read and will sign Chapter 3 of the FFA series. She has however a question for Asciilifeform on it, regarding the exact meaning of overflow for a shift operation. As she points Asciilifeform to the exact code in question, he is able to confirm that she is right in observing that the code can produce garbage if called with arbitrary arguments but the procedure in question is strictly for internal use of the lib and as such strictly called with correct arguments that don't result in garbage.

Asciilifeform points out node that is stuck behind the top of the chain and he suggests that the aggression patch of trb should be deployed to help it catch up. Lobbes acknowledges that the node is his but notes that it is already running with the aggresion patch so that further investigation is needed to find out the reason for its sad situation.

On Friday:

Mircea Popescu notes the remarkable similarities between apparently different things such as the fate of competent versus incompetent engineers in the current environment or the ability to remain synchronised with the network of Bitcoin nodes hosted with a reliable service as opposed to those hosted with a less reliable one. The similarity comes from the overwhelmingly socialist streak of the environment that is essentially described as "hindering the worthy to prop up the unworthy."

Nicoleci publishes her summaries of #trilema logs of 15 and 16 November 2018.

A certain "zx2c4" revisits #trilema providing Asciilifeform with ample opportunities for restating various basic points including the fact that the technical can never be separated from the political, the fact that a "proof" that requires faith (be it in unread, supporting code) is at most a proof of the proponent's idiocy and otherwise no proof at all and the competent opinion that "Rust" is a "leprous pile of shit" no matter how one looks at it. Upon coming online to the whole zx2c4 display, Mircea Popescu swiftly negrates zx2c4. The action prompts Asciilifeform to cite from "Левый марш": ваше слово, товарищ маузер! (tm). Upon coming online to this last line in Russian, Ave1 embarks upon making sense of it and as a result swiftly publishes his attempt at translating the "Левый марш" to English. Asciilifeform contributes in the comments to Ave1's post with his own quick translation of the whole thing.

Diana Coman publishes Chapter 10 of her SMG Comms series including an implementation of Action and RSA keys types of messages for Eulora's needs. She also signs chapter 3 of Asciilifeform's FFA series.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra 2 brief notes on some US new fines and Argentina's new deal to buy soy from the US. He also updates his previous Qntra post on the 2 Bitcoin addresses that were sanctioned: the update includes the clear evidence that the sanctions are worthless since there are newly confirmed transactions to those addresses.

The potential decapper of Ivories turns up under the nickname of SeanRiddle. Mircea Popescu confusingly thinks he's the author of pbfcomics.com and rates him accordingly. Further discussion regarding SeanRiddle's procedure for decapping reveals that he does decapping only as a weekend hobby, uses rust remover to remove top layers, leaves stuff with multiple layers for someone with better equipment, doesn't do any comic stuff and works as a programmer for most of the time. He also provides on his blog only low resolution photos because of limitations of his initial blog setup that involved blogspot and wikimedia. Mircea Popescu points out that he is better served with an actual blog of his own where he can also simply upload files as big as they might be to have the high resolution that is needed for the task. Asciilifeform notes that the number of layers to remove from the Ivory is not known and Mircea Popescu re-rates SeanRiddle with the more apt reference to his existing decapping hobby as opposed to his inexisting comic work. Upon further discussion, Asciilifeform passes on the offer of using SeanRiddle as a decapper for the precious and rare Ivory and SeanRiddle himself agrees that he'd rather leave this job for someone else. Amberglint joins in and provides a few .pdf files of potential interest, prompting Mircea Popescu to suggest he starts his own blog already, possibly hosted with Pizarro.

Mircea Popescu complains to Mocky about an issue with Mocky's bot in Eulora but Mocky says he won't be able to look at it until he is done finding his new "daily bread overlord". Mircea Popescu acknowledges the answer and points out to anyone able to read that there is this opportunity waiting for them to contribute by fixing the bot issue.

On Saturday:

Danielpbarron publishes on his blog his conversation on religious issues - it turns out he took out parts of it anyway so it's only some of the conversation, with some dudes in some chat room called #LRH.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra the November 2018 Report on Qntra activity noting 3117 words published during the month, all of them by BingoBoingo himself. He also publishes on Qntra an article on an FBI raid.

BingoBoingo and Asciilifeform discuss the unreal state of the real estate in Uruguay and Argentina noting mostly the inflated prices of flats and the similarly inflated expecations of owners.

Amberglint pops by to point to Asciilifeform the Soviet Refal machine and other hints of Soviet Lisp machines but Asciilifeform is already familiar with those and points to Amberglint the place they all went to: /dev/null.

Danielpbarron will consider visiting Uruguay but doesn't actually plan a visit. He also considers running a poker bot but his consideration is stopped dead by the realisation that he can't legally operate a gambling anything from the country he is in. Mircea Popescu points out that this aspect is a problem of the country itself to the point that one cannot legally operate almost anything there but Danielpbarron doesn't consider that to be the worst of things anyway.

Mircea Popescu illustrates the issue of naive extension of notions to domains or situations where they don't apply. As concrete example, he notes that amortization does not make sense as a concept to be considered by a country when deciding what to do with its current generation since each generation is a set of resources that will be spent anyway and always without any possibility of saving any of it.

Mircea Popescu and Asciilifeform discuss the nature of what distinguishes individuals out of a mass. Initially Asciilifeform seems to consider it is a matter of having more or less of some characteristic such as courage but Mircea Popescu points out that the only practical way to distinguish is the answer or lack of answer to some specific situation - essentially whether one gets the "calling" or not.

Asciilifeform and Mircea Popescu disagree in their view and interpretation of Lavrentii Beria. The discussion spills onto the next day.

On Sunday:

Asciilifeform and Mircea Popescu continue at length their discussion of Beria, Stalin and the whole entourage. Asciilifeform provides a curated fragment by Bukovsky in support of his own point. Mircea Popescu attempts to read it but quickly runs into abundant examples of stupidity and therefore stops before getting to full blown rage.

Ben Vulpes asks BingoBoingo to send him over the Pizarro transactions so that he can produce the full statements and move on to making and filling with data a customer equity tracker for Pizarro. BingoBoingo provides the required data.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra a short post on the protests in France. He also publishes on Pizarro's blog a summary of his activities for the business.

  1. Pics and pocs might be anything but here I read it as proof of concept! 

  2. Lines of Code 

December 16, 2018

A Week in TMSR: 3-9 December 2018

Filed under: A Week, TMSR — Diana Coman @ 8:11 p.m.

On Monday, 3rd of December 2018:

Hanbot is recovering from an appendectomy.

Spyked publishes a regrind of the various TMSR bots as a single V-tree with two branches. His regrind brings together 4 previously separated V-trunks by Trinque, while aiming to preserve the history of the code. Commenting on this work, Mircea Popescu notes that a history-preserving regrind is certainly worth doing when the author is indeed qualified to do it properly as in this case; alternatively, the most basic sort of regrind (that is less demanding of the author's time and skill) simply collapses all existing work into one single genesis vpatch. Spyked's newly published regrind also serves now as a golden standard for any future regrinds with respect to testing - any new regrind should be tested by its author on ALL noted V implementations. In other V-related empirical results, Lobbes reports that a newer GNAT version fails to work with the existing VK.pl implementation of V. This does not come as a big surprise to anyone anymore.

Diana Coman announces her talk to students at Reading University, UK, scheduled to happen on the 10th of December.

With the help of the forum, Spyked realises that he purchased a boobytrap in the shape of a laptop or otherwise a rather expensive desk decoration/ paperweight. The item in question is called c101pa and it has the rather dubious honour of resisting so far ~all of Asciilifeform's significant attempts at disinfection.

Asciilifeform reveals that his day job is that of a genie caught in a lamp with rather unpredictable rubbing-schedule. As a result of having his lamp rubbed at odd times, his own TMSR schedule might go poof in a cloud of smoke at any time.

Esthlos is noted to have stopped any meaningful activity somewhere in November this year. His log summaries are missed, his fate is unknown, his reputation is - as always and for everyone - on the line.

On Tuesday, 4th of December 2018:

Mircea Popescu announces that he will delay making the reports for Qntra, S.MG and S.NSA due to Hanbot's appendectomy.

Mircea Popescu points out the expensive but inevitable bridge-maintaining work needed to gradually build sanity (as TMSR aims to do) from within an insane environment (as everyone currently finds themselves in). He notes that such bridges, if improperly managed, can potentially leak insanity to such degree as to kill off the attempts at sanity on the other end, as illustrated by a potential shattering of bot-code into incompatible and separate parts depending on the underlying type of database system used. Adding to the complexity of the issue is the fact that several choices (even fundamental ones such as the choice of a database system) may still have to be preserved for as long as none emerges as the clearly best option overall. As an example, Mircea Popescu notes that there is already a potential conflictual case of mysql vs postgres - each of them being best for some specific types of use but significantly worse than the other in other cases.

Mocky comes up for air from his search for a place of 9 to 5, Mon to Fri (or similar) servitude. He notes that the search is eating up his time, apparently delaying his reports on the previous Qatar trip and otherwise requiring vodka access as a prerequisite.

Asciilifeform turns 35 but doesn't believe that to be a prime.

Asciilifeform notices empirically that on the Internet it takes two questions to prove one is human after all: non-humans can xor correctly, but they fail to know - as yet - about the proper serial rate of a Fuckgoat.

Spyked takes over the delivery of republican RSS feeds from Trinque. The takeover means that Spyked's feedbot will announce from now on in #trilema all new posts on republican blogs. This very useful service had been previously provided - in an excellent way - by Trinque's deedbot for lack of any other better-placed bot to do it.

BingoBoingo reports on Qntra about Denmark's plans for criminal and expelled migrants.

On Wednesday, 5th of December 2018:

Mod6 briefly stops by to say hello.

Phf is alive in Moscow, Russia and is preparing to sign the lease of a flat there.

Lobbes and Spyked talk of a takeover of rss feeds in #eulora by feedbot from the existing lobbesbot.

Ben Vulpes completes various data entry tasks for Pizarro.

Bingo Boingo publishes on Qntra a brief summary of the adventures of Tumblr with AI and porn.

Trinque and Asciilifeform note that their respective irc bots (deedbot and pehbot) sometimes fail to reconnect. The reasons for this failure mode are yet unknown and nobody had yet the time to sink into investigating the issue.

A few people from some obscure "L0de Radio Show" join the forum brought in by danielpbarron. They talk of printer scam campaigns, keybase and what the majority seems to think of the latter. The result of this is rather predictable but it will take until next day to fully mature.

On Thursday, 6th of December 2018:

Anniez from L0de re-registers with a key that is at least not held by keybase.

BingoBoingo reports that there is now at least one new case of Leishmaniasis in Uruguay.

Mats reports a failed experiment on the ESP8266 microchip when using the rigol ds1054z instrument, due to insufficient sensitivity of the probe. He also outlines his future plans to return to Hong Kong in spring and attempt to acquire a permanent ID card and a Taiwan passport. The process involves additional steps such as applying for the right to abode but has apparently better chance of success than the experiment with ds1054z since Mats was born in Hong Kong and can reasonably expect therefore to be a good match to local probing.

Diana Coman signs chapters 4 and 5 of Asciilifeform's FFA series. She also publishes on her blog Chapter 11 of the SMG Comms series that makes the changes needed to allow arbitrary (as opposed to single, pre-defined) size of the public exponent for RSA encryption.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra two articles: on a confused ransomware guy and the adventures of Huawei's CFO in Canada.

Mircea Popescu publishes the delayed Qntra report for November 2018.

Danielpbarron publishes on his blog some talk he had with another dude on religious beliefs.

Lobbes deploys a fix to his auctionbot so that the messages at the end of an auction reflect correctly whether an item was sold to somebody or by that same somebody.

Some things mature quite quickly - Mircea Popescu negrates the main L0de guy.

Mircea Popescu publishes the delayed S.NSA report for November 2018.

On Friday, 7th of December 2018:

Asciilifeform leaks a few results of his chapter 14 of FFA but notes that he doesn't have any further ways to improve the speed performance of the code going forward. Essentially the performance to be reported in Chapter 14 is as good as it gets from FFA.

Bingo Boingo publishes on Qntra two articles on Leacher's Paradise (a torrent tracker) and France's street protests, respectively.

Feedbot fails to report the new posts from Qntra, prompting Diana Coman to enquire if feedbot doesn't track Qntra and Asciilifeform to note that feedbot is down. Spyked sorts out the issue when he comes online, noting that it was due to a failure of all of his connections to freenode. Spyked also plans to take over the feeds in #eulora from Lobbes.

Mircea Popescu publishes the delayed S.MG report for November 2018.

On Saturday, 8th of December 2018:

Nicoleci publishes on her blog a summary of the TMSR log of 18th November 2018.

Lobbes updates his bot's help page, mainly adding content and more detail to existing explanations of available commands.

Mircea Popescu publishes a guide on the exact ways to piss him off. The guide is essentially a structured model of his internal annoyance mechanism, providing also useful pointers to anyone interested in recognizing intermediate steps - milder levels of annoyance as they build up. Hanbot contributes in the comments noting the non-linear accumulative effect on the intensity of resulting rage of repeated failures of enrager to engage with the attempts at sanity on different levels.

On Sunday, 9th of December 2018:

Mats finds out the original meaning - "I'm your slave" - of many common greetings in Europe (e.g. "schiavo", "salve", "servus"), sparking a discussion with Mircea Popescu on what slavery is ("do what you're fucking told to do") and the fact that it exists mainly because a lot of people have a lot of trouble following with any efficiency the only existing alternative to it ("figure out something for you to do").

Lobbes provides to Spyked the list of rss feeds for #eulora.

Diana Coman provides Trinque with feedback on running his Cuntoo script: the script is successful in producing a bootable installation on the specified drive but fails at producing the expected genesis .vpatch of Cuntoo. Trinque helps her better understand the script, describes a way to speed up a subsequent run by copying already built packages to their place and suggests running the script again with a flag set to get additional information.

BingoBoingo publishes on Qntra an article on the hijacking of Linux.org. He also publishes on Pizarro's blog a weekly update of his business activity.

Mircea Popescu publishes on Trilema a post explaining how the stupidity ratchet works. The article is short, its embedded references are a den of rabbit holes.

Nicoleci publishes on her blog an account of several of her old acquintances turning out to be rather different than she thought they were. The difference seems to be that they thought and think they own her while she had no inkling that she was/is their property. As a result, their persistent attempts at "saving" her from her own choices - indeed from making any choices that are not "approved" - seem rather painful.

December 10, 2018

My Talk of Bitcoin at Reading Uni

Filed under: TMSR — Diana Coman @ 11:01 p.m.

As mentioned already in the logs1, today I gave a talk for students at Reading University (UK) about Bitcoin. Following the very useful advice from the forum, I centred my talk on "What Is Bitcoin?" and then I built on that with a discussion of actual innovation in Bitcoin (WoT, V, Deedbot) as opposed to the attempts at subversion of Bitcoin ("blockchain technologiezzz") that are usually touted about as "innovative!!" by all those "involved" through mere talking and repeated mentioning of all the buzz words in whatever happens to be the current consensus-approved sequence. Since there is no recording of the talk2 I decided it's best to do this write-up now, while everything is still quite clear in my memory. Who knows - it might help someone else who is looking to actually understand this Bitcoin thing rather than just copy/paste the most commonly copy/pasted stuff.

Initially the University had this bright approach to schedulling of talks and rooms so that they could not even guarantee that I'd have some sort (any sort!) of board on which to write during the talk and so I decided to make the most of it and make some supporting slides, despite the fact that I rather hate doing those things. Nevertheless, I've made them now so you can download the slides for this talk - just be aware that they are meant precisely to support the talk not to replace it so they don't actually contain even 10% of the talk, they just help *illustrate* what I say. So no, here as everywhere else, you can't really replace the person doing the talk and not see any difference, such is life, totally unfair. I'll try though to summarize in here the main ideas I covered - keep in mind that the whole talk was 90 minutes, of which I'd say about 30 minutes were Q&A throughout (i.e. not all at the end, as I took questions as and when they were able to actually ask something).


After an initial brief presentation of myself and Minigame establishing some basis on which I am actually giving this talk, I collected the existing "definitions" that students had about Bitcoin. As expected, they were not much in terms of meaning but surprisingly enough they were also rather difficult to extract - perhaps shyness or in a more optimist interpretation some well-placed notion that no, they don't actually have any idea what the thing is. Anyway, for the record, I got only two definitions: "a very volatile currency" and "an immutable ledger of transactions." So I noted that those touch a teeny tiny bit on what Bitcoin has in common with "currency" and "ledger of transactions" respectively while missing at the same time the much wider part of what is actually new, different and essentially disruptive about it. And I noted that the only way to actually get an idea of a complex notion (such as Bitcoin) as a whole, is by starting from its basic principles and following their characteristics and implications. So without further digression, I moved on to enumerating the 4 basic principles of Bitcoin (asymmetric cryptography, databases, peer-to-peer (p2p) and anonymity/pseudonimity) and then presenting each of them in turn.

For explaining asymmetric cryptography, I used Mircea Popescu's excellent approach of starting with the simple example of obtaining the 2 prime factors of a given number vs obtaining the number itself from those 2 prime factors when they are known. I took though rather bigger numbers because my audience was - it is to be hoped at least - made of people able to use their computers for such a task at short notice (I hope!). Based on this, I introduced the notion of public and secret (private) key, using the slides to graphically build up the whole thing piece by piece, aka keys, arrows, locks and all that bling. Basically I showed them a mini animated cartoon, what! And I'd say it worked - I could clearly see some ears pricking up!

Following on from the above, I discussed how that makes it possible to send messages without divulging the content but also without divulging the intended target either! Cue more animated cartoons with people simply trying to decrypt messages from a pile until they find the one (or at least one) that they *can* decrypt with their private key - hence, if they can decrypt it, then (and only then), it is meant for them! At this point they actually started to sit straighter and even nod from time to time as it - apparently - made sense. I finished this first part with a summary of what I had said so far, essentially the slide behind me in that picture.

The database and p2p principles I covered much faster as it was really just the main ideas that were of most interest to me for the task at hand: a database is essentially structure applied to data and that means any structure; p2p allows participants to find and obtain all the different parts of information out of a given set, without having to rely on any central authority /middle man but simply by communicating and interacting with the other participants. Nevertheless, p2p was also good for another mini-cartoon to illustrate that one needs to be able to assess what part of the whole they might have at any given time, what parts they are missing and to what degree a proposed part is what they are looking for.

After this brief interlude of databases+p2p I got back to building on the asymmetric cryptography introduced earlier aka introducing anonymity and pseudonimity. As the students were by now rather intently listening, I asked them what they could tell about those 3 messages on slide 30: there are 3 signed messages (encrypted with secret keys) of which 2 verify (decrypt correctly) and one doesn't verify with one given public key. After a few hesitations and false starts, they actually got it - yes, one can say that both that decrypt correctly were actually encrypted with the *same* private key! So I took this further and pointed out that this implies authorship (the one controlling the pair of this public key is the author of the first 2 messages), continuity (whoever signed the first message, also signed the second) and repudiability - one can easily prove that they did NOT sign the 3rd message! All very useful things since together they allow one to obtain pseudonimity - in other words, to have a way of gaining authorship and continuity without having to give up privacy and mix up in there personal information such as date of birth or where they hang out with friends on a Saturday night. So no more of "verify your identity by giving us the keys to your house and generally whatever else we might think of asking". Instead, pseudonimity by means of public/private keypair - one neat and simple way of enjoying the results of your work (aka building your reputation) without having to give up more private information than you choose to. This was the first time I mentioned reputation and I took the time to give a few examples since I was preparing the ground for the WoT later on. Judging by the large amount of questions that the WoT sparked, I'd say it hit home.

Putting everything together, I showed this boring slide 36 with classic bullet points. To make up for it and to check to some extent how much of the head-nodding actually meant some sort of understanding, I asked the students to identify in that definition what exactly "caused" each of those main characteristics listed there. They were fine with p2p -> no middle/central authority and they worked their way on pseudonimity. I explained the other two (reputation vs blind trust; irreversibility) in more detail since there were some important aspects there that weren't apparently all that obvious - including the "trust" in banks and governments and parents and what-not. Basically when many still trust without even realising that they really just ..."believe" and nothing more.

For the next step, I pointed out that innovation with/in Bitcoin is simply something that *maintains* all those main characteristics of Bitcoin while attempting otherwise to adapt the world ("how things are done") to it and NOT the other way around. By contrast, anything that tries to chip away even in the slightest at *any* of those main characteristics is nothing more but an attempt at subversion. As soon as one tries to change Bitcoin to fit the world ("what people expect/need/want"), one is - whether they admit it or not, whether they know it or not - trying to subvert Bitcoin, not innovate with it. So the difference being clear and easy enough to make hopefully, one can tell for anything whether it's innovation or subversion and they can then *also* tell whether the author is at least honest about it! At which point of course, they can therefore update the reputation of this author... even quite publicly if they are using the WoT!

From this point on I went online to show the WoT and V directly, exploring it a bit and discussing the actual meaning and use of the WoT and then linking it to deedbot and the voice system + wallet in #trilema. By this point there were several hands raised at the same time so questions started to really pickup. Quite a good number of questions focused on the "but it's not fair" aspect of an existing WoT + a signed-patches-only V:

  • So a newcomer needs to trust implicitly the deedbot owner in order to get into the WoT?
    • No, a newcomer needs first to find at least one person in the WoT who is willing to give them a rating. Unless and before they do that, they are just not part of the WoT and therefore there isn't much that they can do really. This is NOT meant to be (and nothing can be) a replacement for talking to people or getting to know people!
  • But then it's not fair for those that are not in the WoT!
    • Sure, life is not fair, nor will it ever be fair. Yes, it can be hard to get in the WoT if nobody knows you. So make yourself a key and start building up your reputation so that people CAN get to know you!
  • How do I know you did not rate yourself?
    • You talk to those people who rated me. If you can't talk to them, their rating is meaningless for you anyway. And yes, one can make as many "identities" (aka private keys) as they want to but remember that building up each of them takes time and effort. So why exactly would I waste this time and effort in bogus identities instead of increasing my real reputation?
  • But what if everyone negrates me for a tiny mistake I make in a patch and I can't participate to the community anymore3?
    • What of it? You TALK to them and see what you need to do to get them to change their rating; and if they are indeed as unreasonable as you assume them to be then why would you actually want to work with them?
  • Why isn't the WoT stored in the blockchain so that there isn't a "single point of failure" in the person owning deedbot?
    • You are confusing there the WoT with its *representation*! Deedbot simply stores a representation of the WoT but it is NOT the WoT, nor does it own the WoT. It is participating people who actually make and own the WoT. So if deedbot goes away or its owner turns rogue -as it actually happened with assbot before4 - the WoT simply moves/splits/migrates following the people. The ratings I give are neither fixed in stone nor anyone else's property and it is always and everywhere the people that matter, not the bots. And for that matter there can be *any number of WoTs*, what.
  • But what if the owner of deedbot cheats with the ratings?
    • Well, how exactly? People who gave those ratings know what ratings they gave and they will shout/negrate as soon as they notice any foul play. As for "bots" - what of them, their ratings are worthless since nobody rates *them* (and pure circular ratings you to bot and bot to you won't get you anywhere really, at least not with any sort of thinking people, no).
  • Why is the WoT implemented through deedbot, with a central model? Wouldn't it be better5 to rely on the blockchain only for the WoT so you don't have to trust a single person?
    • Why would the WoT need the blockchain? Ratings are NOT immutable. And at any rate, I'd much rather trust a person (who I can negrate if things go wrong!) than a... network as a whole (which for that matter is not even all that trustful, read about mining cartels to start getting some idea on this matter). Once again: there is no substitute to talking to, interacting with and ultimately trusting (or NOT trusting) individual people!
  • But what stops deedbot's owner from running with all the money?
    • Nothing can ever stop anyone from doing what they want to do. But the incentives here are stacked *against* this: his considerable reputation is on the line; and he can much more easily earn money AND increase his reputation by simply charging a fee for services rather than running away with the piggy banks. It's the same with any sort of contracts too, really: what stops the other party from breaking their contract? "The law!" No, the law doesn't and can't *stop* anything. You may trust some particular state that it will enforce that law and therefore give you some compensation for the breach of contract but it is just that - trust, blind-faith.

There were in fact many other questions but those are the ones that I think are rather usual so the answers can help others perhaps as well as the students who asked them this time. Obviously, the answers given above are those given at a talk - without the time to go deeper into details and without the luxury of linking related logs/posts from the abundant existing materials. I still did point out to students that there is much more to read on the subject both in the logs (which I demonstrated a bit) and on the TMSR blogs but whether they will do any reading of this sort or not is entirely up to them - since the benefits to reap for doing so as well as the losses to enjoy for failing to do so will also be for each of them personally and only for them.

All I can say is that I'm genuinely rather curious whether any of them gets to actually register a key and do something with it, now that they nodded at the talk, they asked the questions, they came at the end to me to say that they liked the talk and now that they have in front of them this opening, this way to get into it all6 - for as long as they actually have it, of course, since nothing is for ever!

  1. Yes, that's where pretty much everything worth the mention is... mentioned. Where else? 

  2. And barely any photos as the prof I asked to take some photos followed the talk so intently that he...forgot to take any! So he had to take a couple at the very end, while students were still asking questions, what can I do. 

  3. I let pass the whole community participation as there were bigger fish to fry this time. 

  4. Yes, I did give them the summary of the #bitcoin-assets debacle. 

  5. I honestly think he just-about-said "fairer" 

  6. Yes, I did tell them about #eulora and #ossasepia and even that I will rate them if they show up and convince me that they were at the lecture. Not that it makes in itself a difference - those who would come would come and find their way anyway and those who won't still won't, I know that. 

November 13, 2018

V with VTools, Keccak Hashes and Its Own Tree

Filed under: Coding, TMSR — Diana Coman @ 10:49 p.m.

The republican versioning control system, V for Victory, is very much used, very much needed but nevertheless not yet versioned itself. As this has caused already way more talk in the logs than it's worth it, I promised I'll do a write-up of my own V setup and publish it, with a proper versioning for V itself included. So I've dug up old versions as well as my current setup and packaged everything in 2 different ways:

  1. A V-tree (using Keccak hashes) that captures the changes to v.pl code1 from the first version that I ever used, namely 999942. To use this, simply download the .vpatches, the .sig files and my signature, check them and then press the tree with either a different V that you might have or otherwise semi-manually with phf's vtools (vpatch more precisely). Note that you WILL need vtools (or equivalent) at any rate! Once you pressed V itself successfuly, you should have a v.pl that you can run - it will check its dependencies and complain if it doesn't find something (most notably the vtools parts namely vpatch and ksum).
  2. A signed .zip meant as a starter package for someone who hears of V for the first time in their life. Download starter_v.zip and starter_v.zip.diana_coman.sig. Check the signature! If and ONLY IF the check passes, unzip and then read the scripts in there. The build.sh script will simply build3 the vtools that are included in this starter pack and it will copy to the starter_v directory all the executables that are needed (v.pl renamed as vk.pl to make it clear it uses Keccak hashes, vdiff, vpatch and ksum). The included vtools are the code obtained from pressing current vtools tree up to and including the ksum .vpatch.

My changes to Mod6's v.pl simply replace older sha-based dependencies and calls with the vtools-based ones. Note that you'll need to have ksum and vpatch in your PATH or otherwise ready and accessible as v.pl will simply try to call them when it needs them.

For potential reference, here's my usual workflow to make a .vpatch:
mkdir a
mkdir b
cp -r old_stuff a/stuff
cp -r new_sutff b/stuff
vdiff a b > newpatch.vpatch
gpg --armor --output newpatch.vpatch.diana_coman.sig --detach-sig newpatch.vpatch

To check / press a V tree:
mkdir patches
mkdir .wot
mkdir .seals
cp some_patches patches/
cp corresponding_sig_files .seals
cp corresponding_trusted_pubkeys .wot
vk4 f
vk l
vk p v testdir chosen_patch.vpatch
cd testdir
read, compile, run etc

The .vpatches and .sig files:

The .zip file and corresponding .sig file:

For something to test your new shiny V on, head over to my Reference Code Shelf and take your pick. For trouble and questions, use the comments box below.

  1. Note that you are warmly invited to implement your own V! This version here is mod6's V implementation that was much discussed and iterated upon in the early days. 

  2. Note that V's versions DECREASE rather than increase, as per the explanation

  3. It requires GNAT. If you have no idea what that is, dig around, read the logs, ask humbly. 

  4. As I have all sorts of V implementations living side by side, I tend to give them different names - this is the vk for V-Keccak! 

July 17, 2018

Discriminatory Code Sharing

Filed under: TMSR — Diana Coman @ 2:10 p.m.

While the world at large is making itself busy with the current fashion of discrimination hunting and public pillorying of any offenders it can get its public hands on, TMSR is peacefully and earnestly discussing in the forum the introduction of a new code release paradigm that is quite as discriminatory as it can be and as a result to rather significant benefit to all. The initial proposal as stated by Mircea Popescu in #trilema has the following parts (split and formatted from the logs in a way that I find easier to read):

the following code release paradigm :
client (code) author
a) releases code encrypted to l1, signed and deeded (so basically, gpg -aer asciilifeform -r ave1 -r etc) ;

b) releases precompiled binaries for allcomers.

1. permits us to control binaries, which means stuff like http://btcbase.org/log/2018-07-16#1834888 (which i'm very much impressed with, btw) ;

2. permits to reserve some interest for the author, because the strategic thinking over at minigame is that we'll want client competition (from skinning all the way to all the way) and remuneration by installs (hence all that hash dance in the new c-s protocol) ;

3. very clearly quashes the idiocy of rms-ism AND ers-ism ("open source" bla bla), and makes the strong political statement that indeed there is a difference between nose breathers and mouthbreathers and so on.

this only works if we can rely on l1 to keep a secret ; which means things (such as, that it can't be as big, for instance).

The discussion can be found in the logs but it can be a bit difficult to follow as it spills over into next day and into other topics on the way. The initial focus was on the issue of "keep a secret" and then on that of "controlling binaries". While both those aspects are worth discussing and are certainly covered to some extent in the log throughout yesterday, they are actually NOT at all central to the proposal as I came to understand it at length. And the discussion perhaps focused on those at first mainly because the speakers - both I and Stanislav - have more practice with the technical perspective and so we read the proposal first through that lens. However, as I kept prodding the issue with questions, various bits and pieces fell into place for me and the whole thing started making more sense. Specifically, this is my current understanding of this proposal:

Discriminatory Code Sharing

The proposal is simply a clear and pointy (i.e. with actual practical power and means to use this power) discrimination between:

a. the general "public" who has access to binaries and nothing else.

b. qualified individuals (l1) who have access to sources.

Note the mass noun in a. and the distinct persons in b.

Note also that the a/b distinction above is a political issue first and foremost. It *does not matter* nor it could possibly matter if some non-l1 somewhere gets at some point his hands on some code or the other. So it sees it. So what? For as long as the "seeing" happens outside the walls of TMSR or otherwise put outside the structure of authority, there is no meaning to it. In practical terms, they can of course see the code, come within the walls and contribute as a result and then what's the problem or the loss? Or they can herp and derp outside and be ignored by TMSR just as they were before they found that code in the woods, so again what's the problem or the loss?

Essentially, code is to be shared but not with anyone able to push some keys. Code is to be shared with and even offered to those who can do something meaningful with it - and only to those. What they decide to do with it, if anything, is of course their own call entirely.

There are significant advantages to this approach:

1. It makes explicit and it gives more meaning to an existing and unalterable difference between "users of software": some can and will read source code, others will just execute whatever they download. Those who consider themselves in the first category but possibly unjustly lumped at the moment with the second, have the option of doing some work and getting into l1.

2. It offers quite a few things to those who actually write useful code:

  • a way of getting help from those most able to give it;
  • as much protection as there currently is anywhere to be found against the significant and eternal pressures of the mindless horde1 as well as against the very real monkeys who are always looking to pick up the fruit of someone else's labour when it's ready;
  • a clearer and arguably easier avenue to making a name for themselves and in the process finding their own place, be it in l1, l2, lx or outside the walls entirely.

3. It adds more meaning (power and responsibility, what else) to the l1 status.

4. It puts more pressure on the need for reproducible builds since the practical and technical aspects of most of the above relies to some extent on those and the actual exercise of the new powers will inevitably run into the issue of non-reproducible builds (as well as any other relevant technical issues that are perhaps yet to be revealed as people stumble upon them).

The only disadvantage stated from the beginning was the fact that the approach is unlikely to scale very well as the size of l1 increases - there needs to be a rather close agreement within l1 at the very least on the core aspect here: code is not secret but sharing it is a responsibility and choosing the recipients is a matter not to be taken lightly.

I can perhaps see a potentially different issue with submitted code that keeps growing in volume. However, I'd expect that it is a bit too early to worry about that and the solution is more likely to be naturally found - if nobody actually reads it, there is no effect. For the code's author it's just as if the code wasn't even submitted in the first place if not even worse since he might easily land in the soup for being an idiot who can't read the log and doesn't understand at all how lines of code are weighed in the first place.

Based on my above understanding of this proposal, I must say that I'm all for it. From all I see, it's a rather significant improvement for everyone even remotely touched by it and at relatively little real cost to anyone involved.

It might be of course that I misunderstood the proposal in parts or entirely in which case I very much want to hear in the comments below where I'm mistaken.

  1. Also known as the horde of idiots, mountain of idiots, sewer rats and so on. 

March 28, 2016

When the Messenger Shoots Back

Filed under: TMSR — Diana Coman @ 11:56 p.m.

I could title this: the post I did not want to write. There has been a lot written already on the BitBet issue and the #b-a logs have frothed over it more than enough. Still, seeing how after all this time nobody in the midst of it all seems to either see what I see or otherwise care enough to state it, I have no choice but to write it anyway, because the alternative is that this view is never even put out there at all, for better or for worse. And to make it clear: I do not write this for whatever may come out of it (there's nothing positive I can really see coming either). I write it because this perspective is somehow entirely absent from any public discussion that I can see and therefore I can no longer keep quiet on it.

Let me state from the start that I have no stake in BitBet at all. For full disclosure: I had a few shares bought in the very beginning and I sold those quite some time ago. I bought them because I saw (and still do) huge potential in the underlying idea of BitBet. I sold them when I realised that the infrastructure that BitBet needs to thrive is simply not there1.

The perspective I have to write here as best I can will not go into technical details at all. First, such technical details have been discussed to death in the #b-a logs by people more knowledgeable on this matter than I am. Second, I truly do not consider that I know enough of these technical matters to discuss them at this stage. On such matters, I specifically defer to people such as asciilifeform and mod6. Third, I don't think that they are truly relevant to what I have to say, seeing how the discussion really focused in the end on Mircea Popescu's call on the matter rather than on any of the technical issues involved.

A very short history of the issue here: the betting site owned and run by Matic Kocevar (Kakobrekla) and Mircea Popescu entered into receivership as a result of a irreconcilable difference between the two owners. This difference became apparent over the handling of an incident that started off as a significant delay in the processing of one of BitBet's payment transactions. Mircea Popescu detailed his interpretation and handling of this incident in A Miner Problem. Both his interpretation and his handling have then been discussed in the comments section in Qntra and in the #b-a logs, with people mainly disagreeing on his interpretation of the result as evidence of a miner cartel. After he published the BitBet statement, the discussion focused almost exclusively on the 17BTC lost as a result of the incident and included in the statement as BitBet's loss. Essentially, on one side Mircea Popescu stated that the funds were lost by BitBet and therefore rightfully a business loss, while Kakobrekla stated that they were lost as a result of a mistake made by Mircea Popescu and therefore his own personal loss (or a loss that is to be covered by him). This difference of perspective proved deep enough to cause BitBet to go into receivership and to cause subsequently what seems like a split of people previously in #b-a (known as members of tmsr) and currently in #b-a and/or #trilema.

It's this last split that brought to light very clearly the fact that the issue is truly about the people involved and not at all about any of the technical issues or even the BitBet incident in itself. The BitBet incident was the trigger only. A trigger that proved to be attached to quite a bigger gun than initially thought perhaps, but what difference does that make anyway. In all this however, some misunderstandings seem to persist or are allowed to persist. Compare and contrast those two snippets from the #b-a logs:

On 2 March 2016, Mircea Popescu gives a brief statement of his reasons for his handling of the BitBet incident:

17:16:59 mircea_popescu: so that the problem can be fully exposed, in detailed, solid fact, so as to be handwaved by people.

17:17:04 mircea_popescu: i'm a masochist like that.

On 28 March 2016 phf and kakobrekla frame the discussion again as one of handling competency, while making reference directly to the statement above:

19:14:13 phf: but more importantly to a hypothetical court trial is how much knowledge mp had about this topography, so that way we can say whether or not his call was competent or not

19:14:42 kakobrekla: phf by his own admission hi call was 'masochistic' (but later billed sadistically)

This last part continues into a discussion of what Mircea Popescu actually meant by that statement that he was "a masochist like that." While each of those involved has his own interpretation of it, none of those interpretations seems to me to actually hit the nail on the head2. And it's a rather important nail seeing how all the discussion in #b-a keeps coming back to it.

In my semi-detached, silent-observer view of the whole matter, the BitBet incident was essentially a case of shooting the messenger for bringing up the unpleasant news in such a terrible, hurting manner. And at this stage one can say that both Mircea Popescu and BitBet were unwanted messengers, except that the first is way more difficult to shoot and he clearly shoots back too. The initial incident exposed a significant problem for BitBet first of all and as such one for BitBet to deal with and solve. The masochistic trait of Mircea Popescu in this has nothing to do with losing some BTCs or the like: it has to do with his deliberate choice to bring the bad news in such a way so that people won't ignore it although he quite knows beforehand that they will still do all they can to actually wave it away. In his own words: "so that the problem can be fully exposed, in detailed, solid fact, so as to be handwaved by people." So yes, he expected the double payment to happen, but that was at the same time the only opportunity to get full evidence of a significant problem for BitBet.

The 17BTC in this context was the price BitBet paid to ascertain the extent of the problem and to obtain clear and unavoidable proof of it, forcing it to light in a way which can't be denied in any form (and indeed, post-incident, there hasn't been any denial of the fact that yes, BitBet has a problem). However, despite the acknowledgement of this problem and of its importance for BitBet, the discussion solely focused on the 17BTC in the way of: oh, but they needn't have been lost by BitBet! One has to stop first and consider: by whom should those BTC be lost then exactly to still have the problem exposed? The answer apparently given so far in the #b-a logs is: by Mircea Popescu! Presumably because he insists on exposing the problem - the messenger deserves at least a few lashes for insisting to make the bad news heard, doesn't he?

There is also the opinion that the 17BTC shouldn't have been paid a second time, given the clearly obvious and highly probable result of a double payment and therefore a loss. The question never asked on this is: how clear would the problem have been then? What proof would there be and of what exactly? What measures would have been taken and what value would they have on such shaky grounds?

At the end of the day, I see this as a clash of two approaches that are indeed irreconcilable: either expose rot as early and clearly as possible, at all costs and settling for nothing less than full eradication or otherwise mend and make do, working around the issues as best one can, minimising costs. I must say that I don't really condemn either - people afford what they afford and make their choices accordingly.

I want however to make it as clear as I can that this is the choice being made, the choice that killed BitBet, the choice that split tmsr. Your choice to make at every turn, too.

  1. I include people in "infrastructure" - call me names for this if you need another reason to do it anyway. 

  2. Nobody goes to just ask Mircea Popescu what he meant by that, either. 

July 17, 2014

"Get one just like bitcoin people"

Filed under: TMSR — Diana Coman @ 1:49 p.m.

When too much text is too much text, what do I do to get to read it? Why, get a dump of all data1, throw some automated analysis at it and have the lulz quite guaranteed2. No better test to see text mining fail, it seems, than applying it to irc logs on bitcoin-assets: a careful calibration of state of the art tools3 yielded only a clear case of "by the time you figure out and implement everything needed to obtain even reasonable results, you surely did the "automated" work at least 5 times if not 10, if not 100." Not that it was totally unexpected, of course, but still, given the enthusiasm of text mining people (or possibly just that of text mining people I know), I'd have expected at the very minimum some more robust convo splitting and/or term extraction, with a bit of help4. Not a chance: the results are better even if I split for convos based on the delay between lines (and that's one rough way to do it for sure).

As for extracting key terms, the main result that can be offered is that text mining can find by itself only terms that one has no interest in, or at least not on btc-assets: it did manage to find "BTC" as an important term (go figure) and that was about it all. How terribly useful and incredibly surprising, isn't it? Still, after a bit more fiddling around, it turns out that there is a bit of fun to get out of it. Here's a pretty picture with main "key words" for the logs of May 2014. It makes for good candidate captions such as "never really need to tell," "get one just like bitcoin people" or "mircea_popescu can like just bitcoin people." Real bits of wisdom there, aren't they?

Wordcloud for bitcoin-assets logs from May 2014 Wordcloud for bitcoin-assets logs from May 2014

Still, data is data and text is no exception, even if spewed forth at incredible rates day and night by a bunch of bitcoiners (and the occasionally lost newbie) on an irc log. Hence, back to more basic tools and trusted numbers, via R. And at least I got some pretty pictures!

Easiest thing to find out: who's most active? Top 10 contributers (as number of lines rather than number of words) seem to be quite the same, whether it's the whole period considered or just a month. However, the contributions follow (of course) a power law distribution, meaning that there are a few users who contribute a lot to the discussion and many users who contribute very little5 There is also quite a sharp decline at the top, with mircea_popescu contributing around 20% of the discussion and the next (ThickAsThieves overall or fluffypony in May 2014) barely contributing around 8% and 10% respectively. Here are some charts and lists (I excluded assbot, gribble and ozbot):

Percentage of lines contributed by distinct nicknames on bitcoin-assets logs between 26 March 2013 and 12 June 2014. Percentage of lines contributed by distinct nicknames on bitcoin-assets logs between 26 March 2013 and 12 June 2014.


Percentage of lines contributed by individual nicknames on bitcoin-assets in May 2014. Percentage of lines contributed by individual nicknames on bitcoin-assets in May 2014.


Top 10 contributers on bitcoin-assets between April 2013 and June 2014. Top 10 contributers on bitcoin-assets between 26 April 2013 and 12 June 2014.

Top 10 contributers on bitcoin-assets in May 2014.
Top 10 contributers on bitcoin-assets in May 2014.


Top 10 contributors overall (total number of words) Top 10 contributors overall (total number of words)

Top 10 contributors in May 2014 (total number of words) Top 10 contributors in May 2014 (total number of words)

Mean number of words per line for top 10 contributors overall Mean number of words per line for top 10 contributors overall

Mean number of words per line for top 10 contributors overall Mean number of words per line for top 10 contributors in May

Top 10 overall (mean number of words per line) Top 10 overall (mean number of words per line) Top 10 in May 2014 (mean number of words per line) Top 10 in May 2014 (mean number of words per line)
Mean number of words per line for top 100 contributors (up to at least 12 words per line) Mean number of words per line for top 100 contributors (up to at least 12 words per line) Mean number of words per line for top 100 contributors (limited to those with at least 12 words per line) Mean number of words per line for top 100 contributors in May 2014 (limited to those with at least 12 words per line)


Why is the above interesting? Mainly because it gives the newcomer one reasonable way to start figuring out the whole mess that is otherwise dumped on her head if taking the logs as a whole. Instead of trying to go through all the logs, set a threshold and start by filtering the logs to show first only the contributions of top people, as they are most likely to actually lead the discussions anyway. Considering how fast the percentage of contribution decays, I'd say that taking the first 10 contributors is quite a reasonable option, but for those in a hurry, it will probably do to select even just the first 5. This would reduce the logs effectively by more than half, with minimum chances of truly missing anything really important.

Then again, you could also just hang around in the chan there and the important will not miss you I guess.

  1. Thanks to kakobrekla

  2. And as a side result, I also get to actually read the logs, which was the point in the first place anyway, as I'd much rather read them for the purpose of designing some kind of tool to extract info out of them in the future than just...you know, read them. But that's just me. 

  3. think GATE plus all the cool plugins that can be used with it, as well as some custom-made JAPE grammars for the task at hand. 

  4. To be fair, it probably can be done, but with a TON of help rather than a bit and it kind of defeats the purpose from my point of view right now. Sure, after knowing the logs inside-out and building a good ontology for them and then defining and testing and polishing the rules until they shine, you might be able to get something kind of reasonable from the machine too, but by that time you'd probably get something kind of reasonable on the matter even from your dog. 

  5. or nothing at all, but I did not count those users here. 

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