Blockchain is best known as the technology that underpins Bitcoin, but it is so much more than that. Its uses are endless and in the very near future, we can expect all trade to occur on a blockchain, as well as more abstract uses, such as electoral voting.
Over the last few years, if you’re Internet-savvy, you may be aware of blockchains. If you do, you probably know it as the technology that underpins Bitcoin. If you know more than that, you’re in a very small group of people who actually understand what it does and how it’s capable of so much more.
Let’s take a step back. For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” which is a currency that uses cryptography to handle transactions. Bitcoin is not backed by any central government as most currencies are today (the dollar is backed by the Federal Reserve and so on) and thus, is not subject to the purview of government. It is in this vein that many people have perceptions of Bitcoin being used for illicit activities. And while it does afford a level of anonymity if one so chooses, its uses go far beyond that and the illicit usage is only going to represent an increasingly small percentage of Bitcoin’s users as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more prevalent.
The reason that Bitcoin can work without the backing of a central institution like the Bank of England is what is known as triple-entry accounting, made possible by the blockchain. In modern accounting, we use double-entry accounting, which means that for every debit, there has to be a credit somewhere else. This system has been in use since the 1400s and provides error-checking, but doesn’t stop people from falsifying records (think of “cooking the books” a la Enron). The “third entry” in triple-entry accounting is a cryptographically-secure public record of every transaction so that these transactions can be verified. This is the blockchain. When you make a transaction using Bitcoin, a record is made in the blockchain and now everyone knows that one wallet paid out some Bitcoins to another wallet and so everyone agrees how many Bitcoins are in each wallet. Continue reading “Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes”
A pedestrian stands at the side of a six-lane road with a speed limit of 55mph, but there’s no marked crosswalk. Surely you, the driver, have the right of way? Not in Oregon.
If you should ever come and visit Oregon, you need to be aware that laws governing pedestrians are probably quite different than what you’re used to.
The main difference is that every single intersection is a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. So, whether you’re travelling on a residential street or a six-lane arterial road, if a pedestrian is waiting to cross at an intersection (that is, where two roads meet, not necessarily a marked crossing), you must stop to allow them to cross. Continue reading “Oregon’s pedestrian laws”
Teeny-tiny cars and motorcycles have burned me one too many times. It’s time for legal action.
I’m introducing a new law for short cars which I think will receive overwhelming support from the public. Here it is:
All vehicles shall park such that the end of their vehicle is aligned with roadside end of a parking space rather than the wall/sidewalk end.
Why might you ask? Well, I was just bitten again by this situation – a situation I’m sure you’re all very familiar with. You’re driving around the car park looking for a space and 10 spaces in front of you, you see an open space, so you commit, line up, turn in before slamming on the brakes because you realise there’s a teeny tiny car or a motorbike parked there.
All cars are now required to park such that their car is visible from the driving lane to avoid these infuriating incidences.
I’ve wanted a tattoo in honour of Ellie for a while now and seeing how free and joyful Ellie is when she hears ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ was perfect for expressing my love of her in ink
Back in January, I went ahead and got my second tattoo. Whereas my first tattoo was for Marti, I decided that I also wanted one each for Ellie & Jack.
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about exactly what I wanted to get that embodied Ellie and how I feel about her. One of my favourite videos that I have of Ellie is when she fell in love with Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars and she would rock out to the chorus when it came on. Every single time I watch that video, her uninhibited joy makes me smile. And every single time I hear that song, it instantly makes me think of her.
Ellie asked for a dance party
I knew that I wanted to use A Sky Full of Stars in my tattoo for her when one day I was vacuuming with my headphones on and A Sky Full of Stars came on. For some reason, I was overcome with emotion (to the point of falling to my knees and sobbing with joy, which has never happened before) thinking about how much I love Ellie, what a blessing she is and how one day she’s going to be a grown woman that I may have the honour of walking down the aisle. Continue reading “A Sky Full of Stars”
By using a dynamic DNS service in conjunction with some static routes on your home computer, you can access your home network, files and computers remotely, even if your main computer which reports your IP to the dynamic DNS service is permanently connected to a VPN.
This is a problem that I’ve been trying to crack for a long time now. I want to be able to access my home network remotely. The problem seems simple enough, but there were a number of roadblocks stopping me from doing this.
Firstly, my Internet connection at home has a dynamic IP address. This means it’s hard to target it because the IP address changes regularly. The solution to this is to use a Dynamic DNS service. The way these services work is to run a utility in the background on your computer and report its current IP address back to the Dynamic DNS service. It ties this IP address to one of its own domain names or a custom domain name that you ascribe to them.
I started to pursue this option. I purchased my own domain name and got an account at Dynu, one of several free dynamic DNS services and attached my domain name to it. I installed the IP Update Utility on my home computer, added my account credentials and successfully started reporting my IP address back to Dynu. However, there was a problem…
My computer is always connected to a VPN. Thus, whenever the IP Update Utility retrieved my IP address, it was getting the IP address of my VPN, not my public IP address. Thus, if I tried to use that to access my home network, I’d instead end up at the servers of my VPN service. Continue reading “How to remotely access your VPN-connected computer with Dynamic DNS”
It’s taken 30+ years of life experience and 10+ years of marriage to realise that there’s a LOT more to apologising than I ever thought possible, and frankly, most people kind of suck at apologising.
“I’m sorry” is one of the most common phrases in the English language, but probably one of the most misused.
Before I got married, I didn’t understand any of the art of how to apologise. I thought you did something, you recognised that it was wrong, you said sorry and you perhaps asked for forgiveness. I was missing out on huge swathes of psychology, intricacy and emotion behind the phrase.
Since getting married and learning both by experience and by reading, I have learned that there is so much more to apologising and I was certainly doing it incorrectly in the past. A quick rundown of some of the things that you’re probably doing wrong when you try to apologise: Continue reading “How to say sorry”
Our current library of terms for describing certain periods of the day aren’t adequate enough in my opinion, so I’ve taken the liberty of creating a couple of new terms that fill this gap.
I’m going to propose a couple of new terms that fill a gap in our available descriptions for certain times of the day.
For example, you want to meet someone at 4 or 5 pm. Would you say that you’re meeting them in the afternoon? In the evening? Over dinner? No. The first two don’t really represent the general time period that you have in mind and over dinner might suggest (perhaps incorrectly) that there’s food involved. The solution?
It’s a portmanteau of afternoon and evening that adequately describe the grey area between the two.
Similarly, but a little less elegantly, perhaps the period between what is clearly morning and what is clearly the afternoon should be called the mor·ner·noon.
Or, perhaps, I use portmanteaus a little too often and humanity has gotten us this far without such words available to them…
Uber, AirBnB and Bitcoin are at the forefront of a trust revolution, where we’re ditching our faith in institutions like banks, governments and churches in favour of trusting complete strangers that we can reliably put our faith in.
I love a good TED talk. Every now and then, one resonates so well with me that I feel compelled to post it here to share it with other.
Rachel Botsman’s recent talk was one such talk. She discussed how trust has moved through three distinct phases in history: local trust, where our trust was knowing those in the village, institutional trust, where we relied upon banks, companies and governments to determine who and what could be trusted to the recently emerging distributed trust, where our behaviour, reputation and globally accepted practices and technologies dictate what we can trust today.
Continue reading “Why institutional trust has vanished and distributed trust is soaring”
Preface: I’m keenly aware that as someone who has no voting rights in the USA, my words carry little weight, however, I’m also raising children (most notably, a daughter) in this environment, so I’m exercising my voice on behalf of my children who will one day have the ability to shape the world in which they live.
I’ve very much come to terms with the fact that Trump will be the next President. It’s done and I accept that.
What is much harder to come to terms with is the fact that people think this town jester who:
- mocks the disabled,
- lusts after and assaults women like an immature and dangerous college student,
- considers “religion” to be an appropriate factor in determining one’s suitability for entering the country,
- perpetuated the longstanding lie that Obama was born in Kenya
- adjusts his limp backbone based on the response he gets from the people,
- claims business acumen when his wealth would be double what it is today if he’d have retired in 1982 and invested in the S&P500,
- derides people based on their looks despite looking like an orange-tinted, wig-adorned, plump corpse himself,
- etc., etc. ad nauseam
is someone that a (near) majority of the people consider to be fit to serve in the highest office in the USA. It’s an absolute mockery. Continue reading “Coming to terms with Trump”
Donald Trump is the product of years of political stunts, extremism and a wide variety of differing right-wing political stances that have caused big chasms in the Republican party.
I typically try to stay out of political discussions, mostly because the opportunity for meaningful, thought-provoking and intelligent discussion has all but evaporated these days and because as a British citizen, I am little more than a bystander in American politics.
On a broader note, I saw this video this morning of a speech that President Obama made, where he criticised the GOP for creating an environment in which Donald Trump could succeed, abandoning him at the eleventh hour because openly bragging about sexual assault is apparently one step too far, and then trying to benefit politically from ditching him.
He brings to light the fact that the GOP has promoted, fostered and cultivated such extreme and disparate positions that there is simply no unity in the party anymore. Donald Trump is the prime example of this, saying what his brain tells him to and then recanting, flip-flopping and swerving in response to popular consensus, rather than stating his honest views and sticking by them. Continue reading ““Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere””