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Everything posted by Philder

  1. Interesting discussion about Bitcoin :- Finextra interview with IBM architect Richard G Brown about Bitcoin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gERNbqUNMm4 Think there are some interesting ideas in there, and it's nice to see a discussion that isn't planting a flag for a cause. In the meantime, I'm up and running with the Litecoin and Feathercoin clients. Nothing in them as yet, but going to use them as an experiment.
  2. There's a certain irony in me posting conspiracy ideas, but hey, I'll do it anyway. For me, Bitcoin just looks too convenient. Created out of nowhere by an anonymous entity, part of me still thinks it's a gigantic honey trap, or at the very least part of a move to a wider end game. We know from the Snowden leaks the NSA and GCHQ actively worked to undermine encryption and piggy backed assorted bits of critical web infrastructure, so for all the appeal of a decentralised money system, I'd hold off the "revolution!" ideas for now. The whole thing could be an enormous double bluff. Creating what seems to be a revolution, then keeping a very close eye on who shouts about it the loudest would seem like a reasonable intelligence approach to me. Likewise monitoring purchases of ASICs and the related kit required to build a commercial scale mining rig. Far less anonymous that some would have it. Let's also not forget where Tor originated. There's also still major weak links that I seldom hear mentioned, and that's the reliance on power grids, ISPs and the hardware manufacturers. Bitcoins won't be much use when someone pulls the plug and things go dark. If Iranian nuclear scientists can get assassinated, Bitcoin developers and crypto-coders would seem to be fair game also. The ideas are fascinating, but I just have a gut feeling that those calling them the future of money are being spun a yarn. Even if none of the above is true, if crypto-currencies are indeed the future (or part of it), you can bet the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook et al will want in on the action, not to mention the investment banks. We're constantly told JPM and Goldman are manipulating [insert market here], so why wouldn't they also seek to manipulate Bitcoin, especially when it's so loosely regulated and hugely volatile? Would seem like fertile ground for manipulation if you ask me. Set up an exchange or a new Silk Road, ramp up the hype through false "free thinking" podcasts and YouTube clips, let the coins roll in and then take everything down and trouser the Bitcoins. Exchange the stolen Bitcoins for the next big thing (Litecoin or whatever) whilst simultaneously repeating the process to ramp that up as the next big thing because it overcomes the shortcomings of the first one. Who are the wallet holders going to complain to, given there's no central authority? ETA - could also just be a beautiful confidence trick. Nobody knows who or what Satoshi Nakamoto is, so it follows nobody knows how many Bitcoins he/they hold. Given it appeared in the middle of the financial crisis, it could be a beautiful way of riding the distrust created by said crisis. Introduce what appears to be an amazing new alternative money right in the midst of a global financial storm, having mined an unknown number for yourself first whilst the resource cost was low. Sit back and watch the distrust of governments and financial institutions build interest in your product, which in turn gets adopted by the alternative media. Wait until interest spikes and the perceived value rockets, then cash out and leave people to it. Couple that with the increasing difficulty (cost) of mining now as compared to the "then" of your first batch, and your initial Bitcoins have a locked in lower fixed cost, meaning nobody can exploit the value increase as much as you can.
  3. Philder

    Autumn Budget Statement

    Must admit I hadn't heard this rumour, but I'd have thought any limit would relate to cumulative subscriptions rather than investment value at any given moment? Presumably the idea of a lifetime limit is you still have an annual subscription (e.g the current £5760), but up to a given ceiling. You're not losing your subscription if your investment goes down, as your book value is unchanged.
  4. Sounded like I was having a dig at you, but wasn't the intention. My point was more that there's plenty of decent information readily available to very quickly confirm or deny such incidents, the Transport for London Twitter feeds for each tube line being a case in point. Anyone posting these sorts of rumours without first checking those (which takes what, thirty seconds?) is being either dishonest or sensationalist. Anyone propagating their claims without first double checking is being lazy, which is possibly the (constructive) criticism I'd level at you in this instance. Similarly, I'd have thought the conflict between the Mail article talking about rush hour disruption and the alleged incident happening on a Sunday (when there is no rush hour) ought to have jumped out immediately, especially to anyone deeming themselves a critical thinker. Granted, that doesn't mean there wasn't an incident, as there may have been local issues, it just means the linked news piece is referring to a different one (I think from 2011), but given the information provided by the train operators themselves, I'm not sure a tabloid newspaper would be my first port of call in such a situation?
  5. When he talks about wealth redistribution, is he including his own? Railing against the 1% seems like odd behaviour for somene so wedded to the vacuous celebrity lifestyle, and dropping "paradigm" into every other sentence isn't going to make me think he's doing it for anything other than self publicity. Perhaps he's all out of funny material? I think I'll stick with Bill Hicks and Stewart Lee, maybe even Doug Stanhope when he's on proper form. Biggest thing I take from that Hicks interview is how ill he knew he was at that point and how relaxed he seems within himself. I'm not one of these "Hicks is the Messiah" types, but he did have an impact on how I view the world, both through making me think about new things and offering hope that I wasn't alone in thinking about certain things the way I did. Brand uses a lot of words to say very little.
  6. A quick scroll back through the Northern and Victoria line Twitter feeds shows no notice of any unplanned major disruptions last night, so I'd have to say it was either a local issue that's been blown out of all proportion, or just trolling. One fairly glaring problem is per my view of the thread, DrBubb posted at 3:22am this morning with reference to a Mail piece talking about a 6:15pm event that impacted evening rush hour. Today is Monday...
  7. I use the Slick RSS extension in Chromium. Never really been one for the bells and whistles of other readers. I dislike the sharing options of a lot of readers, not for any Alex Jones sort of reason, more just that it gives marketeers a free ride on my data, which I wish to remain in control of. The ability to link my reader with Facebook and Twitter means lots of dots get joined across realms I like to keep separate, for any number of reasons.
  8. I honestly don't think this is a case of "preparing" anything, I think it's just a result of a greater scientific interest in finding exoplanets coupled with ever better technology and detection methods. We've been able to find the gas giants for a good few years, and that's helped develop the techniques and models. If anything, I think applying the a "Disclosure" type agenda does those performing the work something of a disservice, as it implies they have motives beyond the pursuit of the subject for the pure joy of gathering knowledge. Anyone with an interest has been able to find this stuff online for quite a while now, it's not remotely hidden. The Zooniverse "Planet Hunters" citizen science project (using data from the Kepler Mission) even lets you take part in identifying candidates! http://www.planethunters.org/candidates# http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45894586/ns/technology_and_science/t/planet-hunters-kick-four-new-worlds/#.UcsPmDufjCY https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~gbakos/HAT/ Public attitudes are certainly shifting, but I think that can be ascribed to things like a decline in religious belief and the internet allowing for ever greater access to scientific knowledge. It can certainly be encouraged along, but I don't think there's any sinister agenda at work. All boils down to this :-
  9. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Might be a bit of a tangent, but there's a very interesting documentary series on BBC2 at the moment, covering how TfL keep London running. They've done a series about the Tube, but they're now covering the less obvious world of surface transport. Last night was all about night buses. Interesting stat for me was that the night bus network has trebled in the last ten years as the population has increased and the 24/7 city effect has radiated outwards and ever more people are working at night (cleaners, bar staff, clubs, restaurants and whatnot). People tend to focus on property prices being impacted by rail network enhancements (Overground, Thameslink, Crossrail etc), but the bus network strikes me as another useful indicator, just perhaps more subtle. Either way, fascinating programme. There was one guy who had lost his job and house in the credit crunch, who now worked during the day and more or less lived on the night bus. His tactic was to ride the longest route that heads deep into the suburbs and ultimately Heathrow T5. He'd then use the washroom facilities at the airport, try and grab some rest somewhere quiet and then ride the bus back. That sort of existence had simply never occurred to me. Depressing situation, for sure, but a remarkably innovative strategy for adapting to it.
  10. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Is it me, or do all the cars in that mock-up appear to be Audis? Nicely subliminal! I'm a touch south of Hemel (in Watford), and we have the same sort of stuff popping up here. More to come, as a big station redevelopment is planned, although that's been on hold for a few years now. There's an empty office block immediately opposite our mainline station that I'm certain will end up as "heart of urban living only 20 minutes from London" luxury appartments. Not sure if it's to capture people moving out of London, or trying to create a halo effect for people moving in. Possibly sits in the intersection of the Venn Diagram? I'm at the point in my life where I'm seriously thinking about selling my little flat here and heading about 40 minutes further out along the mainline. Two bed house for more or less what my flat would go for, smaller town with more open countryside. Longer commute being the trade off. Buy on my own or rent with partner is the next question. Pass the crystal ball!
  11. The issue for me is not so much what people believe, more that the likes of KWN seldom challenges people when predictions turn out to be incorrect. I understand that the likes of KWN, Al Korelin and suchlike are coming from a very pro-PM school of thought, so a degree of bias is inevitable, it's just the asymmetry of response that bugs me. Let's say we'd seen today's move in reverse, you can bet the usual suspects would be heralding it as the beginning of the end for paper money and a vindication of their stance, yet when the move happens against them, it's simply shrugged off by a subtle moving of the goalposts such as redefining a time horizon or playing the manipulation card, none of which is ever challenged. The received wisdom is very much "move down equals cartel intervention, fundamentals are unchanged, good time to buy", "move up equals collapse of paper money, this is it, to the moon!". You see it on here. I've never heard anyone ask any of the players what I think is the most relevant question, being "if you think the market is manipulated, why would you tell people to invest in it?". It's like telling people a horse race is fixed and then encouraging them to place a bet! I'm all for holding physical metal, and indeed I do, but I just think the PM circuit is slowly going the way of things like ufology. Paranoia and conspiracy are taking over as the dominant position, which makes having a sensible debate really difficult, as it increasingly seems to be a faith based position.
  12. I used to listen to KWN, but it got to the point where it was just a cycle of the same people saying the same things over and over again. The minute you see the interviewee, you know exactly what the conversation is going to be, based on their previous interviews. Felt more and more like a small circle of friends trying to convince themselves their outlook was right rather than a genuine discussion. Given the plunge in gold today, may well have to listen in and see what excuses are made.
  13. As if by magic... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22026961 Recent Keiser Report had Max claiming BTC wasn't able to be manipulated, but to me it would seem pretty easy. Simply ramp up sentiment (and Max doesn't exactly help in that regard) by buying / mining / podcasting to create a spike, sell at the top, then DDoS the main exchanges and buy back on the drop. Rinse and repeat. Can't see this being the usual DDoS suspects like Anonymous, as Bitcoin is very much their domain, so it's either organised crime or a deliberate attempt to make it look volatile in an effort to drive people away. Is the Bitcoin hack linked to the drop in PMs today, or is that a reaction to the Japanese stimulus news? Seems rather coincidental.
  14. How long before we see peer-to-peer lending in Bitcoins I wonder? Lending completely outside the banking system in a currency completely outside the banking system. Would be an interesting development.
  15. The evolution of Bitcoin fascinates me, as does the decentralised nature of it and the implications for things like trade sanctions and accounting standards, but surely the bulk of the current spike is dubious money making its way cross-border to friendlier domiciles in the wake of the Cyprus bail-in mixed in with pure speculation? I just can't see the idea gaining mainstream acceptance. That said, the M-PESA system took off, so who knows? I know you can keep them offline, but as others have said, unless you have a secure "alternative" internet, there's always the risk the authorities simply pull the plug. I'm not sure I'd trust it as a store of wealth in the same way as physical metals, even foodstuffs. The flip side of course is that were an enlightened Government to draw up a means of integrating Bitcoins into the mainstream, they may find themselves well ahead of the curve as similar concepts evolve. I suspect we'll see local/regional parallel currencies before we see widespread acceptance of Bitcoin in anywhere but techy niche areas. ETA - a more conspiratorial thought would be that the computing heft required to actually mine Bitcoins is not something that tends to exist outside large organisations, be they states or businesses, so I wonder if we're seeing a deliberate bubble being inflated to ultimately be collapsed to scare people off?
  16. No idea about any geological reasons for or against the tube, but to be honest, that part of town is more than well enough connected with the Overground and bus network. Canada Water (Jubilee line for Canary Wharf) is about 15 minutes to the north, whilst Brixton is a short bus ride away. There are some "wish list" plans to take the Bakerloo further south on existing lines, so a proper tube link may yet get down that way.The Overground is now a very good service indeed, so much so that it's already at capacity with talks to increase trains lengths and upgrade stations. Really has transformed both the ease and feel of train travel in that part of London. And yes, despite the sprawl, that part of town is exceptionally green, and is getter greener. There has been a major effort in recent years to link the green spaces together - have a look at Green Chain Walk. London Reconnections is a great blog if you're interested in the transport side of the city.
  17. Just to add I'm fairly familiar with Forest Hill and the surrounding area, as boyfriend lived down there for a bit. As above, although nothing special at first glance, that part of South London actually has a lot going for it. There's a LOT of greenery (Nunhead cemetary, Crystal Palace, Green Chain Walk...), transport links are great and there are still nice pockets of independence - from greasy spoon cafes through to artisan bakers. You obviously have the Horniman Museum there, but there's also a nice undercurrent of artists, food markets and a fair bit of local activism (or sorts). Think Crystal Palace has a Transition Town group as well. Transport wise, you're on the Overground, with connections to the Underground about 15 minutes up the line, plus you are about 10 minutes out of London Bridge on the main line. Also easy connections round to Clapham Junction. Also on the London bus network, both regular and night bus. The latter are sometimes, um, entertaining, but in all the time I spent down there, I never had any issues. I'd concur that Lewisham and Catford are hell mind you.
  18. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    On a vaguely serious note, as eastern consumers become more akin to their middle class western cousins, I'd be looking at the dairy and meat industries, amongst others. Coffee probably plays a part in that as well.
  19. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    I'm interested in how much of this gentrification is due to the emerging middle classes from previous waves of immigration? It's been in the news lately, as the tabloids were making a fuss about the "white British" population of London dipping below 50%. Main driver seems to be the equivalent of white flight. People who were previously in inner city areas are radiating outwards for better houses and schools in much the same way the white middle classes have done, to be replaced by the next incoming wave. It's fascinating to watch both from a physical and social point of view. I'll see if I can dig out the link, but there was a great episode of the Londonist podcast recently where they interview the chief planning officer for (I think) City of London Corporation. He pointed out that London succeeds precisely because it's never finished, plus that the key to growth is ensuring young professionals have places to drink, eat and to pull no punches, meet for sex. When you view London through that lens, it is noticable how different "villages" cater for different tastes. West End/Soho for more mainstream clubbing, Shoreditch area for the "be seen" crowd, then Vauxhall and surrounds for LGBT venues. Recent years have seen me become more involved in alternative scenes, and it's amazing what's out there once you're "hooked in". Had never really viewed that as being useful for the cohesion of a city before now.
  20. Outlines four possible outcomes for a "post-oil" (or post cheap oil) planet circa 2050 :- 1) Magic bullet scenario. New technology discovered (nuclear fusion, graphene supercapacitors etc) that serves as a drop in replacement for oil and enables continuation of high mobility, high-energy but lower carbon society. Increased growth with reduced impact. 2) Digital future. Mobility role of oil largely replaced through digital technology (Skype, Cloud, Netflix etc). Production moves to local cells and 3D printing/rapid prototyping. Digital capital usurps carbon capital (e.g. IP for blueprints, 3D printing under licence etc) 3) Oil dregs future. Major powers seek to continue current standard of living despite rising costs. Escalation of resource wars, especially for water. Localisation through circumstance rather than choice 4) Planned and consensual transition to low carbon society. Intelligent demand management and localisation through choice (e.g. Transition Town type initiatives). High tech collaborative consumption model (Streetbank, timebanks etc) replaces individualistic consumer culture. Like I said, not got to that section yet, but it's already an interesting read. Dovetails nicely with Jim Kunstler's output and my own interests in open source software, Freecycle networks* and the promotion of quality of life over standard of living. * By way of an example, as and when we get a house together, partner and I have decided we want to furnish it as much as possible with willingly donated (Freecycle etc), repurposed and even downright scavenged furniture. If none of those options work, charity purchase comes next. Buying new is intended to be a last resort. Likewise home improvements should be through friend networks and timebanks if possible.
  21. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Yep, that's what I meant - long day and frazzled brain! All fairly speculative at the moment, it was more simply wanting to see how much the commuting side of the equation would have to tip to bring the housing side into line with the present location. For guidance, I estimate my flat would currently go for £115k or thereabouts, and 2 beds out to Northampton were in or around that area. That was a very quick look and I don't know the area...they may all be on fire for all I know, it was just interesting to see how a one hour commute could have such an impact on quality of life. Northampton isn't exactly a backwater either. Nothing special, but it's a large urban centre and well connected, plus a university town, which generally keeps things interesting in any number of ways. As for areas to look at in London - Elephant & Castle would be one IMO. About as desirable as herpes at present, but given the development of Bankside and the new towers in build / planned on Blackfriars road, I can see that stretch of the south bank being in-filled to join the gap between the developments at Vauxhall / Nine Elms and the swathe of appartments to the east of Tower Bridge out to Rotherhithe, Surrey Quays, Greenland Dock sort of direction. There's a big "landmark" development going up in Bermondsey just round the corner from where I do archery, plus of course you have the Shard and the redevelopment of the whole London Bridge area for the Thameslink project. No idea if it's sustainable and to be honest, I'm not looking to play the property speculation game (although have looked at REITs in passing), I'm just fascinated by the massive amount of regeneration going on south of the river. We are starting to see "Hong Kongfication" in various parts of town - high density mixed use, new public realm and mass transit as a feature. What was the quote about London? It'll be a great city when it's finished
  22. Philder

    New global accounting panel

    Slightly confused by this, given there's been a lot of effort in recent years to harmonise global standards with US regulations, but I suppose coherent standards can only be a good thing. Studying this professionally at the moment, so always good to keep up to speed. Of course, who's to say the IASB, IASCF, SAC and IFRC aren't just puppets for the NWO
  23. On a related note, I think many here would enjoy John Urry's "Societies Beyind Oil". Makes a link between cheap energy and how the resulting normalisation of a high-carbon mobile western lifestyle helped drive urban sprawl and inflate the mortgage bubble, then goes on to suggests it was peak oil (well, peak everything ultimately) that popped it. Outlines several "energy descent" scenarios, but not got to those yet. Interesting read if you enjoy listening to JH Kunstler, KMO and the like.
  24. Philder

    UK House prices: News & Views

    To touch on a topic I know DrBubb likes, I think a main driver has been the vast improvement in transport over the last five or so years. Leaving aside the mega-projects like King's Cross and Battersea Power Station/Nine Elms, there are new developments popping up all over the place, most noticeably along the southern rail corridor out of London Bridge down to the likes of Forest Hill. My hunch there is that's a lot to do with the much improved London Overground network, which has completely transformed metro services in that part of town. I think a lot of people have cashed in property in more central/northern suburbs and moved out a bit, knowing they're only a 20 minute journey from the City and/or Canary Wharf. The connections are fantastic, the service clean and frequent and the network is already at capacity at a mere five years old. Might be a smart move to start looking at the more grimy locales along the recently opened phase two link from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction, or longer term perhaps the currently ATOC run services TfL has an eye on for conversion to Overground in the future - services to Tottenham Hale and out to Welwyn being examples. Interestingly, and staying on the subject of rail, I recently did a comparison to see how far along the West Coast Main Line I'd need to go before my Watford studio flat (20 mins) became a two bed house - Northampton seemed to be the answer, at about an hour out of town. Got me thinking, as I'm getting to the position where my partner and I (currently living apart) are looking for a place. Having worked my parts off for twenty years (and still only 39), I'm wondering if it might be time to perhaps cash in on the London property effect, then stomach a train commute for another five years or so whilst working on a network of friends and a property we could sustain mortgage free by each working six months of the year. Food for thought indeed. Anyway, slight derailment (ahem). As you were.