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Bitcoin Tech Talk #364
Beauty and Mental Health - The article is about architecture and how certain types of ugly architecture literally create more pain. As in, recovering patients with a view of a brick wall will want more painkillers and take longer to recover than ones with a view of beautiful scenery. Modern architecture is decidedly ugly and the article posits that a large part of our current dissatisfaction is caused by the general ugliness around us. I suspect that’s also the case, not just of architecture, but art in general.
Marginal Users Suck - This is a rant by a software engineer about why apps allow so little customization and are so dependent on algorithms. The blame goes to the user… sort of. It’s really the marginal user who determines how apps behave because apps are generally sticky, and the users that leave are the ones on the margin. As a result, most apps cater specifically to the users that are interested in the app the least. Thus, we get less user agency and more algorithmically selected content, making the apps worse. This is one of the subtle effects of giant scale that these companies need to satisfy their VC-backed companies, and sadly, it makes users obedient servants of the apps. Thanks fiat money!
Optionality and Individualism - The essay, like many, is about the decline of community and the values that preceded it. The author argues that Baby Boomers basically are having their cake and eating it too by having been the individuals that had no obligation to their extended families and being taken care of in their old age by government subsidies. The article is an excellent reminder that subsidization leads to disconnected, shallow individuals, much like the Boomers described in the article. Sound money does not allow for this option of a generation eating our seed corn.
What I'm up to
Gen Z - I talked to Arsh and Ella (18 and 20 respectively) about their experiences orange-pilling their peers. What I hadn’t realized was just how much marketing money has been spent by altcoins to affect this generation. In many ways, I found that the pitfalls that older folks have are the very same ones that younger people face as well.
Black Blockchain Summit - My talk for the event is up on YouTube where I opined on AI, opportunity and adoption. I also talked a little bit about my new book and made the case that as fiat money decreases we’ll be unlocking human capital from all over the world.
Thank God for Bitcoin Meetup - On Wednesday, I’ll be speaking at the Thank God for Bitcoin Meetup, which is a satellite event to the Pacific Bitcoin Conference. I was really surprised last time I was in LA with the number of Christians that came out to the Swan event that Cory threw, so I suspect this will be a great event to meet some Christian Bitcoiners.
Pacific Bitcoin - I’ll be at Pacific Bitcoin as well to be on an altcoin panel with Tone Vays and Pierre Rochard. I’ll also be signing some books, so if you want a copy, please stop by and say hi!
Nostr Note of the Week
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Mara’s Invalid Block - 0xB10C has an analysis of the block which Marathon mined that turned out to be invalid. The main reason was that they ordered the block transactions by fee, making the highest fee transactions go first and lowest last. This seems like a reasonable thing to do, except that transactions have to be topologically sorted, and for CPFP transactions, specifically, they tend to have higher fee transactions in the child than the parent. Mara learned a 6.25 BTC lesson.
Covenant Bulk Softfork - James O’Beirne has proposed that the three different covenant proposals, OP_CTV, OP_VAULT and ANYPREVOUT all be in a single soft fork. The idea is that there are some synergies between them like CTV/VAULT make the vault use case pretty straightforward. The main argument seems to be that reviewing/activating these together is going to be much less costly than reviewing/activating all of them separately.
Undetectable Selfish Mining - One of the most frequently cited attacks on Bitcoin is the Selfish Mining attack, which, while requiring 1/3 of the hashing power, has the ability to orphan certain blocks for the gain of the entity executing it. The problem with selfish mining is that it’s very easily detectable, as there are orphan blocks that occur with each selfishly mined block. The main technique is to withhold certain blocks that would orphan others to preserve undetectability. This reduces the profit for the entity, but will not out them as a bad actor. The paper doesn’t go into when these blocks appear on the network, which would give away the game, but the result is still worth keeping in mind.
Improving Payment Reliability - Routing is hard. Not only is the network graph not easy to analyze, but they’re coming and going and changing things all the time. The team at Mutiny wanted to make their payments more reliable, so they figured out some tips and tricks in how they operate to make their wallets succeed much more often. The main trick seems to have been in updating the fees of each node by probing the network every hour instead of every day. The network is becoming more of a commercial entity as more people use it, and we can expect these algorithms to optimize more for reliability than fees going forward.
Payment Splitting - A really interesting proposal where routing nodes can split payments when asked to route a payment. Currently, only the paying node can do multi-path payments, which helps send through larger payments. But when an intermediary node receives the request, they still have to use a single path. By allowing routers to use multiple paths, the idea is to fail fewer payments and more efficiently balance the liquidity that a routing node has.
Lightning-Pay - This is a lightning payment app, specifically for Nigeria. Mobile payments are very popular in Africa, and this app takes advantage of the various APIs to make paying in Lightning easy for people there. Note that this is for all kinds of bills, like electricity and internet and many others. This sort of omnibus payment is common in a lot of countries and a bridge between lightning and these systems will likely make living on a Bitcoin standard much easier. I suspect this is an excellent business opportunity in many of these countries in the years to come.
Economics, Engineering, Etc.
Bitcoin Perception Survey - Block Inc (Jack Dorsey’s Company) has released its findings from the second annual survey of Bitcoin perceptions. The survey is unique in that it surveys people from a lot of different countries and aims to see how these perceptions change over time. They found a couple of correlations, particularly around self-custody. Unsurprisingly, the people that were tech enthusiasts were more familiar with Bitcoin self-custody. There also seems to be a correlation between the optimism people feel toward Bitcoin and the use they make of it in remittances. The full report is well worth reading.
Failure of the eNaira - The would-be CBDC was implemented against the will of 99.5% of the population, and wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t work. It turned out that most poor people were using cash and eliminating those were a necessity before CBDCs would dominate. So they made the old banknotes worthless. That triggered a lot of protests and riots and anger all around, and eventually the government caved and restored the old notes. This seems more like an IT rollout failure, which governments are all too likely to have, but sadly, the eNaira continues and no doubt, they’ll be pushing this again in the future.
Fake Cricket Betting - One of the most perplexing yet understandable stories I’ve read involving Bitcoin that I’ve read. The story is on the surface about a match fixing scandal in an Indian Cricket League that a guy set up. It turns out the entire league existed for the purposes of a betting website called 1xBet. The whole thing was not just a way for the website to earn money, but a way for the owners to launder money. This is a company that has operations all over the world and has been kicked out of a lot of them. They’ve survived in large part because they take bets in Bitcoin. The appetite for betting is not small, and the fact that this sort of scam exists explains the almost infinite appetite for gambling. It’s no wonder altcoins have proliferated.
Microstrategy adds more BTC - Another 5000 BTC or so on their balance sheet, they’re still down overall (average price ~$29k)
Futures dampening BTC? - Willy Woo thinks that we’re in for endless manipulation because of the cash-settled Bitcoin futures markets.
China softening on BTC? - China, after banning almost everything Bitcoin, seems to be softening its stance.
Chase UK bans Crypto - The ban is slated to go into effect Oct 16.
Google Anti-Trust Lawsuit - You probably haven’t heard much about this because Google controls so much of the internet, but this is a big deal.
Fiat delenda est.