Edward Snowden Says Bitcoin’s Downfall Is Public Ledger

I couldn’t have said it better myself although I have said as much about all cryptocurrencies which have a public ledger.   Edward Snowden made the comment at the Blockstack event in Berlin, Germany.   They are completely insecure and unsuitable for personal or business use in the long-term due to a lack of privacy.   There are other issues that Edward touched on such as extremely slow transaction times and many more I’ve talked about in other posts.

Snowden also predicted that a coin which fixes these various issues could be the one to replace Bitcoin.  While I fully agree privacy and security in Bitcoin and most other coins are an issue, aside from that most currencies are slow, inefficient, difficult to use and simply don’t work properly to send or receive payments.  This will all eventually be fixed but so far what I find is that some currencies fix one problem while ignoring the rest.

Youtube’s Communist Censorship Plan

Youtube has announced it will be the new thought police.  They’ll be doing this by discouraging and contradicting any thoughts, beliefs or theories that are not within mainstream beliefs or teachings.  At this rate they’ll have met the gold standard for censorship and subversion and China will be viewed as an easier place to share your thoughts.  On its face it may not sound that bad to link to Wikipedia articles but in fact anyone can write and manipulate Wikipedia.  Google will be choosing what counterpoints to make by of course selecting which article(s) get linked to.  This is quite alarming and also frustrating since hate, racism and other harmful activity has been rampant on the web ever since it began but no company or government have made any concrete steps to counter it.  So why worry about people posting their alternative beliefs and thoughts online and exposing the lies of the news?  By the gauge of most the mainstream news is the fake news yet media giants like Facebook want to declare thoughts outside of that realm as “Fake News”.  By this method then the PRISM system of spying on and intercepting people’s private information is a “bad conspiracy theory” that people have to be warned away from (of course most now understand this was never a conspiracy since Edward Snowden revealed more details about what most already knew).  There are some valid reasons for this to be done (from the perspective of nice government men and corporate greed).  There is a lot of information being shared on Youtube about pharmaceutical companies and really whole swaths of very solid information about a lot of things going on in our world.  The majority of it is well sourced and quoted and most people won’t view that content as conspiracy.  Could it be that anything that doesn’t fit the viewpoint or ends of certain elite companies and people are what is really being targeted?  Until racism and hate has been cleaned up from these platforms I am just not buying there is any good or genuine reason for Google to do this.    I think we’re heading down a slippery slope to the point where freedom of thought and expression will be completely eliminated gradually through these policies.  Eventually Google will probably start deranking websites which fit into this category of “non-conformity” to the mainstream and elitists.

What do you guys think?  I think it’s time to support Tron (TRX) and any other decentralized social media platforms.  It’s time to take the internet back!

Washington Org Warns Of Petro Coin Threat

Based on an article from Brookings Institute they have a dire warning for all cryptocurrency users!  They first take a shot at the very idea of it helping Venezuela in the first paragraph “the idea that the petro can ameliorate an economic crisis rooted in the bolívar’s volatility seems unbelievable”.  It goes on to say it is a threat to all cryptocurrency “petro will not only fail to cure Venezuela’s economic woes but will also weaken the integrity of cryptocurrencies writ-large”.  And my last but most favorite quote is what I think it’s really about “As Turkey, Iran, Russia, and other sanctioned countries deal with their severe economic impacts, they might pursue the same fraudulent strategy as Venezuela: create a cryptocurrency tied to a government-controlled asset, raise money in violation of sanctions, and proceed to manipulate that cryptocurrency’s value to maximize profit.”

While they do make some valid points governments around the world create their own currency usually without any backing of gold or resources out of thin error and continue to manipulate their currencies all the time.   To call Petro Coin over any other coin or ICO doesn’t seem to be based on anything other than political views. I think the article is highly biased and that Brookings is essentially the mouth piece for Washington and cannot be taken seriously.

The fact that Petro raised over 700M USD is significant and is less likely to be a scam than the other 90% of ICOs out there.  If I want to offer criticism of Petro I am frustrated that they don’t have their own top level domain for it and that they didn’t allow individual investors to get in on the coin.  As an investor when things are difficult and information is not easy to find I get frustrated and lose interest.  I think that is really the biggest risk to the Petro Coin.  I also disagree with larger countries sanctioning smaller countries who do not do their bidding since it just ends up creating poverty and suffering for the average person.

I am long Petro Coin if they can get more organized and get out better information.  Petro Coin stands to succeed if not for the reason that there are powerful backers of it.  Historically this been enough for the weakest of states, currencies and assets to continue floating on.  It’s also the same principle of what makes Bitcoin work, people have invested into it in different ways and it continues to be used although I do agree all cryptocurrencies essentially need an overhaul and they are certainly lacking in ease, functionality and security but his will be resolved in time.

 

Net Neutrality – USA’s Version of the GFW – Death of Freedom and Information

If you can understand the title you can probably guess where this article is going.  This is both my personal and professional opinion on a blindingly, obvious and simple issue that only benefits extremely large and powerful organizations and individuals.

What is really happening in a one-liner is the US is implementing it’s own Great Firewall Policy to rival and surpass China’s by far in terms of surveillance and censorship.

This is really a no-argument, argument the latest move in the US to get rid of Net Neutrality legally gives the ISPs the right to block, filter, throttle and censor content for any reason.  Obviously the primary and initial reasons will be for business and competitive reasons, this means if your ISP has an issue with Google you could have issues reaching Google services.  It could be if your healthcare provider is suing your ISP or vice versa that you’ll have trouble accessing their website.  It could be that your less than mainstream news sources are competing or disliked by management at your local ISP and you won’t be able to visit anymore.

Some of the first to be impacted may be services like Netflix, Hulu etc which most local cable or telco companies have lost a lot of revenue to.

But it can become so much more than this, access to certain banking portals, including cryptocurrency could be restricted.  In fact another huge implication is that if a US government agency orders an ISP to block access to content, both the government and ISP would be legally absolved.

Since the majority of internet traffic still transits the US and a huge number of services are hosted there, the impact is really the whole internet.

However, we can already see legal challenges on the way.  If they are successful then things will continue as normal but if they are not successful, the internet could enter a dark age.

In fact this should be interpreted more as the USA’s version of the Great Firewall masked as a good thing with ill-intentions that will harm virtually all people and businesses.

I don’t believe we will see massive changes overnight, the system will be implemented gradually to reduce the blowback.

With this insecurity there is also the chance that this could backfire and could create an alternative internet or secondary network that operates independently out of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.  There is simply too much at stake to risk the USA Great Firewall from impacting business and freedom of access and information.  There is also the unintended risk that the USA could be isolating itself if other countries develop countermeasures.

Can VPN’s help get around this throttling?  Yes, and no as now the ISPs could legally block or throttle access to VPN providers’ websites, service or even the protocols themselves.  There is very little that can be done against these measures, it depends how the USA’s firewall is implemented though.  It may be possible to use a variety of protocols and proxy your traffic through hundreds of thousands of IPs collectively to try to avoid blockages and throttling, but it all depends on how aggressive their policies are.  Only the stakeholders who have unleashed this policy know what they really intend to achieve but it certainly isn’t of any benefit to us.

From my standpoint there is no benefit from me as an internet user or business person in having a censored, throttled and firewalled internet.

All speculation aside, it would be wise for both users and businesses to hedge and place their business IT assets overseas at least in backup or secondary mode.  this is the best way to insure against the risk that your business could be severely impacted or inaccessible due to the USA GFW 5.0 as I dub it.  Certainly Asia and Europe are locations that look attractive.  One of the top destinations in Asia to me would be Hong Kong’s internet, in fact I predict Hong Kong and other areas will see a surge in demand as a result of the current firewall policy in the US.

My New Phone – OnePlus 5 8GB RAM/128GB Storage

Around the time I posted my thoughts on the iPhone-X I finally decided on a Chinese phone like the post hinted after a few hiccups with sellers in China. I’ve searched for several weeks and almost bought a Xiaomi (there are so many to choose from) but I felt the OnePlus 5 even though it has increased in cost was the best value. One big issue with a lot of other Chinese phones is if you look at the bands or frequency of LTE, they often only support only 1 or 2 common bands in North America. This is a big problem of course and phones like the OnePlus tend to support the same or more bands than phones from our local market. However Xiaomi is making phones like the M1 which are not as high spec’d but with most of the same bands so things are changing, but still many other Chinese phones are lagging in terms of LTE bands and this should be a big factor if you check the bands supported do not match with your local carrier.

Why did I choose the OnePlus 5?
The specs are high and so is the value with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space even though some have complained that the value is not as great as previous models I still consider it a smart buy at $540 USD (I originally purchased it for $519.99 but it turned out to be a bait and switch scam-more on that later). The camera is also great on this phone and it is another alternative for capturing business and family moments on the go when I don’t have a dedicated camera with me.

In short it’s basically a quality, flagship, superphone at a reasonable price. There’s no need to pay more for less such as Google’s Pixel2 with only 4GB of RAM for $899 USD. Samsung S8 was on my list but not so much after a string of quality issues and my previous Note not working as well as I expected (I will say for its time the camera was fantastic though).

I think this is a fantastic business phone and nothing out there really beats it. I could spend more but why bother when the OnePlus offers top end specs and reliability?

What factors made me almost not-choose it?
Not having a SD card slot and removable battery are some things I really tend to stay away from. Either of those issues made it hard for me to Choose the OnePlus5 I do hope they will change this in future models.

Why haven’t I reviewed the phone more?
I’m still waiting for it, I wasted several days after buying it on sale at GeekBuying.com only to be told I had to pay $25 more (essentially they didn’t honor their own sale price) and it took time to get a refund from them. Apparently they do this a lot after searching about the same issue. I then purchased from another place called GearBest at a higher price $539.99.

The most difficult thing about this phone has been dealing with the companies in China. Some of the most recommended sellers based on internet forums/blogs which I suspect some of the praise is not authentic suggest “GeekBuying” and “GearBest”. Part of this motivation is of course because they have affiliate programs but there are slew of complaints similar or worse than mine. Customer service at these sorts of companies is usually not helpful when they’ve made a mistake or they’re asking you for more money.

I wanted to buy from OnePlus.net directly but they won’t allow Canadians to pay in USD (because this works out to be cheaper at the moment) and they didn’t seem to understand why someone would want to pay in a different currency. Their system forces you to pay by only the currency of the shipping destination.

Has anyone else bought a OnePlus or other Chinese phone and can you recommend more trustworthy, honest and reliable sellers in China? Please let me know in the comments section.

I’ll have the full review once I have the phone but shipping has been a bit slower than I expected from Singapore Post (normally it is much quicker).