Ron Helwig

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since Jul 28, 2014
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Recent posts by Ron Helwig

Whenever I hear someone mention how much electricity it takes to run the bitcoin network, I always wonder how that compares to the fiat banking system. How much electricity does it take to run their centralized servers? Their headquarters? Each bank branch? Each ATM? Etc. Add in all the pain and suffering caused by the banking system's manipulation of politics and government, their regulatory burdens, and so on.

And then understand that the amount of money to be made as a miner is a mostly fixed pool, so new miners will only dilute the profits for all miners, and we'll eventually see mining growth tail off.

I'm not sure the economics of POS and other challengers to POW are viable, but I'm glad experiments are going on. Over time we'll find out which system works best.
5 years ago
No, not yet.

Any replacement will need to replicate most of the functionality, but without the drawbacks. And while many are working on it, it will be a while before anyone even comes close.

I say this as someone who was excited about Diaspora, but saw that become a total failure. I haven't logged in for at least a year, and not regularly for several.

A good replacement must be censorship proof (not just resistant) while giving the users control over what they post. There shouldn't be "algorithms" controlling what you see. It definitely needs to be decentralized, not residing on any particular server. It most likely can't be web-based, especially since domain names are controlled by evil forces.

That said, I haven't checked out a few of the newer ones like yet. But I'm not hopeful (yet).
The video is really frustrating for me. She does seem to identify symptoms, and the donut things is interesting - although I might disagree with some of the categories she uses therein. But then she ignores the biggest underlying problem while not really proposing anything solid, just feel-good platitudes. And whenever someone blames capitalism for problems, I know their biases have fooled them.

When she mentioned how the currency system is based on loans that have to be repaid with more than was loaned I thought she was heading in the right direction. After all, the currency being used underlies virtually all transactions in an economy. And when a currency requires inflation, then everything built on that currency also must inflate. That is the primary source of unnatural growth. Sure, an economy might grow naturally, of its own accord. But when it is artificially forced to grow then things really get out of hand.

When we (my U.S.A. centricism is showing here) were on a gold standard (or a silver/gold standard) then the economy grew at a more natural pace. As we went away from that, inflation forced the economy to grow faster and the necessary corrections got worse. We had recessions and depressions under the gold standard, but they were short and small. As we moved towards an inflationary currency they got worse, eventually leading to the Great Depression. And since that bastard Nixon took us totally off the gold standard inflation has only gotten worse. That inflation underlying the monetary system is the primary driver of excess growth. And the controllers of the currency have learned better how to prevent the corrections from happening, which will make the eventual correction much worse. Gotta take your medicine!

And that is the main reason why the economic growth is unsustainable: because we have an unsustainable currency.
5 years ago

Christian Huble wrote:
1) Reading through Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ for lovers of plants, humans, and words alike. Her prose is sensational, and inspired so much in me.

Holy small world, Batman! I had no idea she wrote a book. Her brother Neal was one of my best friends growing up. I remember hanging out in their basement laboratory and playing on the teletype computer hookup at the college. Sadly, the year I took physics at the college was the year her dad took a sabbatical.

I checked out the article at and it was nostalgic for me. I just might have to get the book.

Thanks for posting!
5 years ago
This sounds like a really good fit for crypto-currencies. I know you can do things with crypto like create a transaction with a time limit, where the sender locks up funds for a specified amount of time but can also finalize the transaction early. Code could be added so that, for example, if 50+% of fellow contributors finalize, all others will too.

A quick search finds some projects that sound similar. is one that got listed, that sounds at first glance worth checking out. I haven't looked into it, and it isn't ready yet, but maybe there is something that is. Or maybe there's something that will be soon and folks might want to contribute to.
5 years ago

Benjamin Bouchard wrote:Not sure I've come across ground truly too rocky for a scythe yet.

LOL, I have yet to come across (in this area) any land flat and smooth enough that a scythe would work.

We use a battery powered string trimmer. Ours is a Dewalt brand. The rocks eat up the string quickly and you damn sure need to wear long pants, but otherwise it works pretty well. And the battery lasts long enough that your hands start getting sore, so when a full battery gets depleted it is time for a break anyway. Just get a bulk order of string.

I do wish someone would make a string trimmer that wasn't so damn hard to reload. I guess they assume everyone using them has really long and incredibly thin fingers. I'd also bet that the designers never actually try their products, or try them in ideal conditions.
5 years ago

Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:I've heard good things about Stripe for accepting credit cards. I haven't looked into it myself though so I'm not sure if it meets all of your criteria.

I used Stripe for a while after PayPal closed my account. (Paypal didn't tell me why they closed it, just that they couldn't service me anymore.) Stripe was pretty good, and they at least told me why they had to close my account: the bank they use didn't like my business. The bank made an incorrect claim about it, but there is no way to challenge that. This is one reason why crypto-currencies are needed.

paul wheaton wrote:
I like the idea of accepting bitcoin and other coin, but i would need it be quick.  Anybody know what the options are?

There are a lot of options for accepting crypto-currencies, but as far as I know they are all kits that your developers would need to integrate. Which one would be best depends on several things including what software your website is developed with and what your acceptance preferences are.

BitPay has been around forever. I used them years ago and they worked almost perfectly for me until they asked for stuff like my business tax ID. They allow you to specify how much (by percentage) you want to keep in crypto, and how much you want to be converted automatically into dollars in your bank account. They also have a debit card that you can load using a few crypto-currencies. Highly recommended.

When I started with BitPay they didn't have a plugin for the software my site used. I asked them to make one and in a week it was done.

I also recommend ShapeShift. They have a plugin for websites that allows you to accept almost any crypto-currency and have it automatically converted into your choice. If you like bitcoin, you can have Dash, Ethereum, Monero, etc all converted easily. I think it's still a 1% fee for conversion. There is a competitor that charges 1/2%, but isn't as well known or big. Also, I know the owner of ShapeShift personally and he's a good guy. ShapeShift doesn't require accounts or anything to use, although it might require one for the website plugin to access their API.
E-books ONLY!!!

I can no longer read physical books. Just the act of holding and manipulating them puts me to sleep.

I can't use Kindles because they idiotically choose to keep one of the worst features of physical books - turning pages. With a physical book you have to use pages, but they are an artificial construct unrelated to the content. Content is made up of letters, which make words, which make sentences, which make paragraphs, which make chapters, which make books, which make volumes. Each of those has natural breaks between them, which allow you to ingest the info. But a page break is unnatural and takes you out of the flow.

I can understand why they kept the page in their E-ink readers. That's because the screen technology uses so little power that they can't refresh fast enough to keep up with scrolling. But they also keep it in their phone and tablet apps. Even if they just had a button that scrolled to the next paragraph that might work - that's how I read, read a paragraph then scroll to the next one. It keeps the entire para in view so I can consume it all at once.

And I despise PDF. It is a poor hack of a data format (I had to look into it a long time ago as a programmer) designed specifically for printing - and it can't even get that right. It doesn't allow text to reflow when you resize it, so if you need to make the text larger to read it then you often end up having to move the screen left & right constantly to see the entire line. To me PDFs should ONLY be used when something MUST be printed and MUST be printed in the exact same layout each time. (And that's where it fails the worst. I've tried making PDFs where I needed exact measurements, down to the millimeter. But the same file will come out different on different printers, voiding PDF's entire reason for existing.)

These are in addition to the obvious advantages of E-books like being able to have a virtually unlimited umber of books. And a friend posited another advantage most don't consider: if your stuff is being stolen or seized, e-books can be easily deleted, preventing the thief from gaining from their crime.

Finally, most newer phones and tablets, as well as good E-ink based readers, have a resolution so good that it is virtually indistinguishable from paper. IIRC most humans can't see at any better than 300DPI. (But I can still see how paper's illumination profile can sometimes be better.)
5 years ago