Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired


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Saturday 13 April 2013 The Forest Road Reader, No 23

Bitcoin, bitcoin, bitcoin. Seems like the whole world is talking about bitcoins. It's a thing I've heard floating around for sometime, but never properly understood. Your computer does some hard sums, gets given coins in return. Doing the hard sums somehow 'creates' the coins. For some reason, the coins have value, real world can be exchanged (or at least sold for) actual cash money that you can spend in the shops. And right now, that value is booming. Wah? The Economist explains : How does Bitcoin work? Except it doesn't. Explain why they have an exchange rate with real money, or fiat currency, as it's known in the trade. (I know this, as I know so much, from The Baroque Cycle which has extended and, believe or not, thrilling plot lines concerning currency trading, futures, debt crises, and so on. I found it so illuminating, I recommended my brother, a banking regulator at the time, read it too). I just don't get how burning CPU converts to anything other that heat. My kids happily spins through millions of cycles playing Minecraft and Need for Speed, but they don't earn anything from that. Quite the reverse - it costs me. Burning is the right word here, by the way, because spinning CPUs needs power.

So I guess I still don't understand Bitcoin. I still don't understand why Yahoo paid $30 million for a 17-year-old's startup. This is why I just write the software.

Earlier today Daniel accepted my first pull request through GitHub.

Noise: A Human History, on the wireless, has been a fascinating little series. The most recent one I heard talked about the Great Cat Massacre - an event that took place in Paris in the late 1730s. It's the subject of a surprisingly entertaining book by a chap called Robert Darnton, which documents any number of peculiar things the French did with cats at the time.

Yes, ok, I was standing behind him saying "Press that button there, the green one, ... the GREEN one ..." No millions coming our way anytime soon. Not even in pretend money.

One of Natalie's university friends did her PhD on sound in the Early Modern period. I remember enquiring of El Morso on her behalf as to the sound a meteorite might make. I'd not thought about her for years, until prompted by Noise and, because we all live in the future, was able to find out what she was up to within seconds. The PhD must have come off ok, or perhaps widened out into other senses too, because she's a book out - Hubbub : Filth, Noise, and Stench in England, 1600-1770. There's a little interview there you can listen to, but nothing to feel or smell.

Odd day, peppered with marriage and the shadow of death. A friend got married today, other friends announced their intention to marry, we've been married 20 years, these are all good. This is very bad - a dear friend is in hospital and will not, I think, be going home again.




Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

Feed

Follow me on Twitter
My code on GitHub

Contact
About