Blockchain is a solution in search of a problem

Someone showed the Kickstarter board a fancy PowerPoint presentation with lots of big numbers, they ran to invest a bunch of their own funds in a blockchain without stopping to ask their own devs if the tech had any value for what the site actually does, and now they’re desperately trying to justify it after-the-fact.

…that’s my current running theory, anyway.

More analysis of Kickstarter’s announcement here — including a bunch of background explanation, for people who still aren’t following what all the new tech terms mean.

When companies announce a vague “shift to blockchain” with no specific idea what they’re doing: “Back in 2017, we reported on the bizarre story of the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranding itself as the Long Blockchain Corp. […] Now the Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked Long Blockchain’s stock registration, effectively banning the general public from trading its shares altogether.”

The big fraud in the heart of “Web3” discourse: “The cryptocurrency web3 starts with all our existing infrastructure. So I still need a DNS name, I still need a server, I still need storage, and I still have a distributed computation occurring between the browser and the server. So already I haven’t removed any of the gatekeepers from the conventional distributed system, showing the claims of gatekeeper-free decentralization are false. Web3 is only about adding an additional layer of complexity in the name of justifying the underlying cryptocurrencies.

Problem links about NFTs/”cryptoart” specifically

A few days after the Kickstarter announcement, I got my first alert through DeviantArt Protect that an NFT is linking to one of my drawings without my permission. So it’s been an inauspicious week for blockchain news all around.

(As of this writing, the NFT-selling site is entirely ignoring the copyright claim…but I do appreciate DA for alerting me that it was happening at all. This is what a site that actually cares about its creative users looks like!)

A breakdown of what NFTs are — in straightforward terms, not in wild/ridiculous metaphors. (Which, to be clear, aren’t wrong — it’s just that I know many people don’t find them helpful.)

My days of regularly sharing this link are coming to a middle: Here Is The Article You Can Send To People When They Say “But The Environmental Issues With Cryptoart Will Be Solved Soon, Right?”

You couldn’t store the actual digital artwork in a blockchain; because of technical limits, records in most blockchains are too small to hold an entire image. Many people suggested that rather than trying to shoehorn the whole artwork into the blockchain, one could just include the web address of an image […] Seven years later, all of today’s popular NFT platforms still use the same shortcut. This means that when someone buys an NFT, they’re not buying the actual digital artwork; they’re buying a link to it. And worse, they’re buying a link that, in many cases, lives on the website of a new start-up that’s likely to fail within a few years. “

2020: “The developers of non-fungible token project NiftyMoji pulled an exit scam as they have closed the official website, all social media and dumped their tokens on the market. Also the associated Coinbreeder accounts have vanished. The developers ran off with an estimated amount of one million dollars.

Alternately, the link could get replaced with something else. Say, a bunch of random photos of rugs: “I just pulled the rug at my NFT collection on @opensea. Nobody got hurt. It is pretty easy to change the jpg, even if it does not belong to me or it is on auction. I am the artist, my decision, right?”

“The Billion Dollar Torrent,” as it’s called, reportedly includes all the NFTs on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. These files are bundled in a massive torrent that points to roughly 15 terabytes of data. Unpacked, this adds up to almost 20 terabytes.”

Problem links about blockchains in general

Things crypto evangelists don’t like to talk about: “During a hard fork, software implementing bitcoin and its mining procedures is upgraded; once a user upgrades their software, that version rejects all transactions from older software, effectively creating a new branch of the blockchain. However, those users who retain the old software continue to process transactions, meaning that there is a parallel set of transactions taking place across two different chains.

In other words: there isn’t one single, central version of Bitcoin. It has multiple versions, and they’re mutually incompatible with each other. And yet, some people still believe blockchain is the magic bullet that will make every website interoperable. Suuuure.

Also, if you’re hearing anyone talk about how miraculous and unhackable anything blockchain is:

November 2017: “On November 19, 2017, more than $30 million worth of Tether tokens were removed from the official Tether Treasury wallet by malicious hackers. Due to this security breach, Tether has executed a newly hard forked version of the Omni Core code, which powers the Tether network. Why? Because this code refused to transact any of the stolen tokens.”

December 2021: “One of BitMart’s addresses currently shows steady outflows of entire token balances, some worth tens of millions of dollars, to an address currently labeled by Etherscan as the “BitMart Hacker.” In a follow-up tweet, PeckShield estimated the losses to be $100 million in various cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum blockchain and $96 million on Binance Smart Chain.”

“it is not new to me. im a distributed systems engineer & programmer. ive been building shit like this for decades i serve a playerbase larger than most countries and have built networks spanning the globe. blockchain is old news. it is my job to find new technologies and use them if they’re better. these are not. they are bad, embarrassingly bad.”

these issues have been documented on support forums for years, idk why Dell hasn’t patched them

Sunday: ran a standard Windows 10 update

Monday: discovered the camera had disappeared. Again. (Error code 0xa00f4244.)

Also, after months of good behavior, the machine started unpredictably rebooting to a diagnostic that ended on this screen. Again.

Tuesday: surrendered to the constant reminders and upgraded to Windows 11. Everything looks a little weird (suddenly all the corners are round?), but nothing new is broken. Paint Shop Pro still works. Had to install new drivers for my Epson scanner, but once it had them, it was happy.

Still no camera, though.

Wednesday: rebooted into the BIOS to find out if the “Integrated Camera” option had gotten un-checked. Nope, it was fine. Booted back to Windows without changing a single option — it specifically asked “do you want to save changes” and I said no.

…and now the camera works?

It seems, uh. Deeply improbable that “just look at the BIOS options without editing anything” would suddenly reawaken the hardware, after no amount of reboots/updates/scans/troubleshooters could find it. But if my camera goes foom again from the next update, this is the first thing I’m trying.

Spurred by the success, I took another crack at the google results for “Hardware scan complete with no issues” and found a solution that involves turning off permissions for the fingerprint reader.

My laptop doesn’t have a fingerprint reader.

But Device Manager had a “Fingerprint Reader” entry, which sure thought it was giving permissions to something.

They’re off now. Guess we’ll find out if it works eventually.

…speaking of things where I’m waiting to see if they’ll be fixed, Kickstarter just decided to present a gift-wrapped selling point to all their competitors. Glad I don’t have any new campaigns scheduled until late 2022 — if things don’t get better, I may need the time to comparison-shop the rest.

Multifandom fic recs (Red Dwarf, TCR, Labyrinth, Murderbot crossovers, Magic School Bus)

  • Colbert Report FPF | Jon/”Stephen” | G | where do you get those ideas? you’ve got a lively imagination.
    It’s not like Stephen was asking for love, no, that would be gay, and no Real Colbert had ever been gay. (Especially his Uncle Alex, who spent a lot of time doing manly things with his best friend Nick out in the barren wasteland that was Mississippi where they lived together. They did it to save money on housing, Stephen had been told, and Stephen was humble enough to admire anybody with the sensibility to save a few C-notes by doing so).
    series:fake news,pairing:jon_’stephen’,fic:one-shot

Multifandom fic recs (Hellsing, The Good Place, Good Omens, Murderbot)

  • Hellsing | Integra/Alucard | M | In This Darkness, I Have You
    These games they played may be dangerous, but then that was precisely the draw. Of course she called them games because she couldn’t bear to consider them anything more, but that was never something she’d dwell on for long.
    fic:one-shot,series:hellsing,kink:weird.sex,pairing:integra_alucard
  • The Murderbot Diaries | ART, Murderbot | T | layover
    During a cargo run, ART is subjected to a random security sweep. Murderbot falls back into its old routine of supervising annoying humans.
    fic:one-shot,pairing:art_murderbot,series:murderbot diaries,kink:identity porn,genfic

Deciding the internet doesn’t need a public log of everything I posted all the way back to high school

A friend recently batch-locked a bunch of their older posts — not inspired by any specific bit of harassment, just a general feeling of being Too Exposed On The Internet — and it got me itching to do the same.

I mean, good grief, I’ve had a WordPress blog since 2008, and a Dreamwidth journal since 2009 — which includes crossposted entries from Livejournal dating all the way back to 2003.

There’s not any specific bit of Youthful Miscreance, either, that I’m afraid some bad actor will dig out and then blow up on Twitter…but I’m not gonna sit down and comb through it all to double-check, you know?

WordPress makes it pretty easy to select large batches of posts and mass-edit the settings. (“Friends only” isn’t an option here, just Public or Private.) There’s probably a paid way to make it even easier, but the free way served me well enough.

I set everything pre-2020 (slightly over a thousand updates) to Private, then batch-unlocked stuff from certain categories. Mostly all those music recs posts I did, and the Burns & Allen transcripts I want to keep available as a resource for other fans. A couple of reaction posts to different books/TV. A couple of cat posts.

Dreamwidth lets you mass-access-change all the posts in a certain date range…if you have a paid account. They’re also doing their December end-of-year sale. So I figured it was the right time to pick one up.

I set every post before 2020 (also just over a thousand — mostly crossposted between there and WP, but not all) to Access List Only. Unlocking sub-selections of posts is a more tedious process there, so I only did it for the few that I definitely want to keep available for total strangers — that is, every older post in the “Yuletide” tag, and, again, a few cute posts in the “cats” tag.

Anything else I said, in any of those posts, that’s still important and valuable for people to read in the 2020’s…I’ll just have to say it again in the 2020’s.