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For most, a life on Bitcoin is a short experiment. For some of Pensacola, Florida's homeless, though, the currency has become a lifeline, making up the gap that low-paying or intermittent jobs and public assistance can't fill. Wired profiles the men and women who have developed an alternative virtual economy, raising charity money through Bitcoin and making small amounts of money through Mechanical Turk-like jobs that pay in Bitcoin rather than requiring a bank account. Though Bitcoin still isn't widely accepted, services like Gyft can turn the currency into gift cards for food or other necessities, and mobile phones and computers are affordable even for some people who can't make a monthly rent payment. Jesse Angle, who earns money by completing simple online tasks for Bitcoin, says the system is less risky and embarrassing than panhandling. He and his friends, he says, are "kind of the homeless geeks."

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There are all kinds of reasons to think that Bitcoin is a joke, and that the value of the bitcoins themselves will ultimately go to zero. It's inherently unstable as a currency, prone to hyperdeflation, has an artificial scarcity, and is subject to hoarding.

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Cyrus Farivar

Aurich Lawson

This is the first in a two-part series exploring Butterfly Labs and its lineup of dedicated Bitcoin-mining hardware. In part one, we look at the company and the experiences customers have had with it. In part two, to be published on June 29, we share our experiences running a Bitcoin miner for a couple weeks. Spoiler alert: we made money.

The more I dig into Bitcoin, the stranger it gets. There’s gray-market online gambling and Russian-operated futures markets—to say nothing of the virtual currency’s wild ride over the last several months. It’s full of characters with names like “artforz” and “Tycho,” supposedly two of the largest Bitcoin holders out there. Of course, like most things Bitcoin, it’s nearly impossible to know for sure.

While reporting on a Bitcoin-based gambling story earlier this year, I interviewed Bryan Micon, who works with a Bitcoin-based poker site called Seals With Clubs. (To continue the lack of information, Micon won’t say who owns the site.) Micon has taken it upon himself to investigate what he believes are Bitcoin-related scams—such as the ill-fated Bitcoin Savings and Trust online bank—and he makes public pronouncements about them.

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Stack Exchange

Stack Exchange

This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites.

Stack Exchange user and C# developer George Powell tries hard to follow the DRY principle. But as any good dev knows, it's not always possible, or even optimal, to stay original. Powell writes:

Often I write small methods (maybe 10 to 15 lines of code) that need to be reused across two projects that can't reference each other. The method might be something to do with networking / strings / MVVM etc. and is a generally useful method not specific to the project it originally sits in.

So how should you track shared snippets across projects so you know where your canonical code resides and know where it's in production when a bug needs to be fixed?

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Original author: 
Allie Wilkinson

Lynn Tomlinson

Cooperation occurs when we act on behalf of a common benefit, often at personal cost. Everyone would be better off if an entire group cooperates, but some individual members can do better if they go it alone, so self-interest undermines cooperation. A new study indicates that your reputation—in terms of whether people are aware that you're cooperating—plays a pivotal role in your decision to cooperate.

Studies on the evolution of cooperation, or how cooperation can emerge and persist, use the Prisoner’s Dilemma as the standard example to demonstrate why people may choose not to cooperate. In the Prisoner’s Dilemma, two men are arrested and held in separate cells. Due to a lack of evidence, the prosecution plans to sentence each man to year in prison on a lesser charge. If either suspect testifies against his partner, he will go free, while his partner will be sentenced to three years in prison; if both men testify against each other, then they will each serve two years. Each man is better off if he cooperates.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is an example of direct reciprocity, where two individuals affect one another's fate. But cooperation can also be based on indirect reciprocity, which is centered on repeated encounters between a group of individuals. In a sense, it’s the karmic approach—the belief that your good deeds toward others will come full-circle, and someone will eventually scratch your back.

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Cyrus Farivar

On Thursday, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, announced that it would require all users to “be verified in order to perform any currency deposits and withdrawals. Bitcoin deposits do not need verification, and at this time we are not requiring verification for Bitcoin withdrawals.”

The company did not provide any explanation about why it was imposing this new requirement, but it did say that it would be able to process most verifications within 48 hours.

The move comes two days after federal prosecutors went after Liberty Reserve, another online currency that had notoriously poor verification. (In court documents, a federal investigator in that case included an address of “123 Fake Main Street, Completely Made Up City, New York” to create an account that was accepted.) It also comes two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security started investigating Mt. Gox over the possible crime of money transmitting without a license.

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Aaron Souppouris

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The asset freeze at Mt. Gox was due to the Bitcoin exchange's failure to obey financial regulations as required by US authorities. The news comes via IDG, which obtained a copy of the seizure order from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The agency froze the Dwolla (a US-based online payments system) account of Mutum Sigillium (aka Mt. Gox) on the grounds that it had lied in an official form. When asked if his company "[accepts] funds from customers and send[s] the funds based on customers' instructions," Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles answered "no." When asked if Mt. Gox "deal[s] in or exchange[s] currency" for its customers," Karpeles again answered "no." In both cases, it seems likely — and ICE asserts — that these...

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Soulskill

CowboyRobot writes "Two researchers at San Francisco State University has successfully implemented hardware acceleration for realtime audio using graphics processing units (GPUs). 'Suppose you are simulating a metallic plate to generate gong or cymbal-like sounds. By changing the surface area for the same object, you can generate sound corresponding to cymbals or gongs of different sizes. Using the same model, you may also vary the way in which you excite the metallic plate — to generate sounds that result from hitting the plate with a soft mallet, a hard drumstick, or from bowing. By changing these parameters, you may even simulate nonexistent materials or physically impossible geometries or excitation methods. There are various approaches to physical modeling sound synthesis. One such approach, studied extensively by Stefan Bilbao, uses the finite difference approximation to simulate the vibrations of plates and membranes. The finite difference simulation produces realistic and dynamic sounds (examples can be found here). Realtime finite difference-based simulations of large models are typically too computationally-intensive to run on CPUs. In our work, we have implemented finite difference simulations in realtime on GPUs.'"

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Lee Hutchinson

Apparently, I'm a Bitcoin miner now, and it looks like I'm actually pretty good at it. Ars is currently in possession of one of the elusive but very real Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miners. It's a tiny little black box that fits in the palm of my hand, and it contains a specialized ASIC adept at chewing through SHA-256 cryptographic functions—exactly the kind of calculations necessary to bring more Bitcoins into the world. Turns out, it's very good at what it does: it computes hashes at the rate of about 5.3 billion per second.


The Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miner. Lee Hutchinson


Close-up of the ASIC's heat sink and some of the motherboard components. Lee Hutchinson


The Miner disassembled. That 80mm fan gets pretty darn loud. Lee Hutchinson

I've got any number of computers around the house here to try the Butterfly Labs box out with, but I took the masochistic route and chose to try it out on OS X. This took quite a bit of back-and-forth with John O'Mara, creator of the popular MacMiner Bitcoin mining application. After several hours of troubleshooting, we eventually arrived at success. Here it is, happily churning away:


The Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miner chewing its way through calculations at more than five billion hashes per second. Lee Hutchinson

According to my trusty Kill-A-Watt, the miner is drawing a pretty constant 50 watts at a similarly constant 0.73 amps. Its 80mm fan is whirring at what can only be described as "hair dryer" levels. According to MacMiner, the ASIC is generating a fair amount of heat, too—it's reporting a temperature of more than 80C.

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WIRED UK

Bryan Mills

A study of the Bitcoin exchange industry has found that 45 percent of exchanges fail, taking their users' money with them. Those that survive are the ones that handle the most traffic—but they are also the exchanges that suffer the greatest number of cyber attacks.

Computer scientists Tyler Moore (from the Southern Methodist University, Dallas) and Nicolas Christin (of Carnegie Mellon University) found 40 exchanges on the Web that offered a service changing bitcoins into other fiat currencies or back again. Of those 40, 18 have gone out of business—13 closing without warning, and five closing after suffering security breaches that forced them to close. Four other exchanges have suffered serious attacks but remain open.

One of those is Mt Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, with Moore and Christin stating that at its peak it handles more than 40,000 Bitcoin transactions a day, compared to a mean average of 1,716. It has been the victim of a huge number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks over the past month during the peak of the Bitcoin bubble (and its subsequent bursting—though the price now appears to be rising again). Its latest statement, dealing with the attack it suffered on April 21, is long and comprehensive, seeking to assuage the fears of Bitcoin users who feel that Mt. Gox is becoming a weak chain in Bitcoin's infrastructure.

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