Bitcoin Lightning Network – Off Book Blockchain Trusted Transactions

lightning network for bitcoin

Short version: Lightning Network for Bitcoin is a good thing that makes it more economically viable as a real currency for merchants. But it does not come without consequences.

Long version: In programming, simple is good. To understand the Bitcoin Lightning network you first need to get a grasp of cryptocurrencies. I like simple so here goes:

  1. You are working at a retail store selling engagement rings.
  2. As a jeweler you “check” out a diamond from the store safe to show to a customer.
  3. Your customer will either buy it, or give it back.
    1. If they give it back, you return it to the safe. You write “returned to safe” on a clipboard next to the vault.
    2. If they buy it you write “sold” on that clipboard.

BOOM, now you understand cryptocurrency!

You’ve got a diamond and a clipboard. That’s it.

So how does something so simple become so complex? Well, because us geeks can’t use normal words. So let’s focus on human-speak.

Accountability – In crypto, there is something called a blockchain. The blockchain is just a ledger. That’s it. It’s a clipboard saying who has the diamond.

Value – Scarcity. Diamonds are rare. Or, with crypto, it’s a big math puzzle that limits how fast those objects can be created.

Cypto Analogy: Diamonds and Clip-Boards

Mining for diamonds. They are scarce. People like them.

is the same as

Calculating the next value of PI, a really big math problem that takes time. Scarcity. **

As Crypto Currency is to Diamonds, BlockChain is to Clip-Boards.

That’s really it. That’s the whole thing. Any value in that object is purely in the mind of humans. So why so much ado about nothing?

Well, Bitcoin comes along and provides both scarcity (big difficult math problem) and tracking (blockchain ledger) and allows them to be done anonymously.

Then bitcoin got popular. We found a funny thing happened on the way to mass adoption. (musical rendition). IT IS SLOW!

Yup, to be blunt – transactions are slow as heck. And the user interface is full of jargon from people like me who speak in some other language. And to be fair it does get technical. Ignore that for now.

Possible Solutions to Cryptocurrency Transaction Bottlenecks

The Bitcoin Lightning Network release. It’s kind of a big deal. It might just make BTC “do-able” for micro-payments again.

Example: You can’t buy your “$7-super-misto-double-shot-of-espresso” from Starbucks with bitcoin if you have to pay coinbase a usurious $30 transaction fee.

Thus, the BTC Lightning Network matters. Innovation is incremental. First the Internet, then the web.

to sow chaos and divide Americans

From the article on Putin winning /over/ Trump: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/08/01/russia-recruit-americans-mariia-butina-spy-intelligence-219079?cid=apn

“And here was the bonus for Russia: So what if Butina did get caught? The ultimate aim of the entire operation was to sow chaos and divide Americans in order to weaken the West, thus allowing Russia to pursue its agenda on the world stage. Now, half the country yells that the Republican Party was infiltrated by Russia, while the other half yells that it’s fake news and hyperbole. The payoff for Russia is still great, and they can now use Butina’s incarceration to continue to push their agenda of dividing the nation. There was no downside for Russia.”

We are being played. And we, so far, haven’t shown the ability to respond to a queens pawn opening. Never mind the abandonment of teamwork with our allies.

This is frustrating. I trust our political system will self correct. That’s what it designed to do.

Stay peaceful. Stay vocal. Celebrate the positive outcomes regardless of your party.***

*** I’m an independent. A POLS BS from TAMU. I have voted in primaries for both parties at different times. I have volunteered for candidates in both parties. Because that’s Houston y’all. We ain’t got no time for stupid or bigots – we have work to do. Help, be fair, or get the hell out the way while we actually build stuff.

to live in a world where tech companies get to decide what they publish

Just read Mark Zuckerburg’s comments on Holocaust Deniers. A direct quote:

I also don’t want to live in a world where tech companies get to decide who has the right to speech and get to police content in a way that is different from what our legal system dictates.

You ALREADY DO CENSOR***  RESTRICT WHAT WE CAN POST. YOU ALREADY RESTRICT OUR SPEECH based on your terms of service. And that is within your purview. The point of this post is that given only a government can “censor”, the capricious nature of what is allowed does not, in this author’s opinion, measure up the values of our country. ***

An obvious example would be #freethenipple. Because what is natural is bad according to FB and they have to put X’s over their nipples, the very ones that give us life?

Yet moronic thoughts of holocaust denial, a denial that ignores history, ignores evidence, and promotes hate, a denial that is factually untrue and is based on blatant falsehood – that is somehow OK? No. No those pages are not OK. And YES you can do something about it. 

Mark – as a leader, if you chose your path or not, it is your DUTY to approach it with respect for the power you have. Every hate speech site, especially including “deniers” and “supremacists” can and should be shut down. That is YOUR decision.

I run a tiny software company. TINY. And I make ethical decisions every day that aren’t profit motivated. I bring this up because it is beyond ridiculous that women’s rights are blocked by facebook but hate speech and idiot speech is not blocked. The dissonance is stunning. THINK ABOUT IT.

And yes, I do want to live in a world where companies act with dignity and that includes standing up against hate speech. Oh wait, I already do. You are just making poor decisions currently.

Think of it this way – company leaders get to dictate our health care. And they are ZERO knowledge of your needs. I know this. Because, as a CEO, I promise you, and you know this, there is no class we get sent to on how to pick a healthcare plan for people. In other words – we are absolutely UNQUALIFIED to make that decision.

Consider: I have personally made the decision that our company will not represent big tobacco. I’ve lost relatives and friends to lung cancer and I choose not to host sites that promote it.  Meanwhile I *absolutely* support an individual’s right to smoke. And I have smoked myself many times. I’m a hypocrite in that regard. I just know smoking tobacco is addicting and I choose to not host those sites. I choose. Because choice is part of being a leader.

Tendenci is open source so if someone else hosts a tobacco site using our software, well, that’s fine. I’m in NO WAY denying them access to our technology in any way. I’m in favor of OPEN.

Hell, I might have even made that decision while smoking a Lucky Strike debating Edward Bernays’. But ya, I made the call.

Zuck – do the right thing. Don’t hide behind the second amendment and allow people to spread hate, and in this case, completely ignorant speech. Then after that, tell Jack and Ev to do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the President of any country, we must not allow or tolerate utter bullshit.

PS – Zuck – I’ve never spoken to you directly, although also a speaker at SXSW back in the day I seem to recall my room was a bit smaller than the main stage.  I have spoken to Randi years ago on a joint proposal, and I understand you are playing at a different level (by far). Just if you see this post, consider my words or call me to discuss if you wish.

PPS – yes, I made the #freethenipple photo the featured image on this post, because I am choosing to censor OUT people who don’t know facts and history like deniers. That is my choice. I get to do that. I get to focus on the positive. You do to. So damnit man, exercise your own freedom of speech Zuck.  Do it.  

Edit: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/rubens-facebook-fight-artistic-nudity-56889860

*** This text was edited on Friday August 10, 2018 based on reasonable and logical discourse in a thread on facebook. You can view that thread here. But the bottom line is only a government can technically “censor” and I agree with that point. Therefore there is an even lower bar for companies to make the decision to kick scumbags off of their sites.

Grigory Marshalko, worked for the F.S.B. (Blockchain focus)

From the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/29/technology/blockchain-iso-russian-spies.html

SAN FRANCISCO — Last year, representatives of 25 countries met in Tokyo to work on setting international standards for the blockchain, the technology that was introduced by the virtual currency Bitcoin and has ignited intense interest in corporate and government circles.

Some of the technologists at the meeting of the International Standards Organization were surprised when they learned that the head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Marshalko, worked for the F.S.B., the intelligence agency that is the successor to the K.G.B.

They were even more surprised when they asked the F.S.B. agent why the Russians were devoting such resources to the blockchain standards.

“Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us,” he said, according to one delegate who was there. The Russian added that two other members of his country’s four-person delegation to the conference also worked for the F.S.B.

We are under attack. Thank you for noticing.

This is a great pull quote. It’s just from the wrong year. Let’s say … um … by 2013 it was obvious.

“The warning lights are blinking red again,” Mr. Coats said as he cautioned of cyberthreats. “Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

– Dan Coates, Director of National Security

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/us/politics/dan-coats-intelligence-russia-cyber-warning.html

Wendi Winters was a brave person who defined courage

This is what a hero looks like. Running at an active shooter with a trash can as a shield to save others.

Wendi Winters, victim of Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting, rushed at gunman (with a trash can shield)

Wendi Winters stood as soon as she heard the bangs.A man with a gun had broken the glass doors leading to the newsroom of the Capital Gazette and was shooting at her colleagues, many of whom dropped to the floor or dove under their desks. Not Winters.

Grabbing the trash can and recycling bin she kept by her desk, she ran toward the man and yelled at him to stop — distracting him long enough to allow some of her colleagues to escape. Of the 11 people in the room that day, six survived.

Agnotology – it’s in all of us

From the article: “Perhaps the best single example of the power of sowing doubt was the decades-long campaign by US tobacco companies to fog the scientific consensus over the link between cigarettes and cancer. As one famous internal memo noted: “Doubt is our product.” Robert Proctor, the Stanford historian who studied the tobacco campaigns, created a new word to capture the tobacco companies’ beguiling success – agnotology, or the process by which ignorance is deliberately produced.”

https://m.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2154040/donald-trump-master-manipulator-bias-trouble-we-go-along-it

#forgotten Hurricane Harvey and Houston

Ever wonder what it looks like to be in the eye of a slow moving hurricane? This is what it looked like during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 in Houston.

You know you’re ‘effed when, given I am registered as a Drone Pilot, we were grounded for four days. Because the sky is full of rescue helicopters.

Other images I took during Hurricane Harvey, most actually, I’ve never published.

I bring this up because we’ve done very little to improve Houston’s flooding problem. Except study it.

I’d just moved my primary location (I still travel of course) back from SF to Houston several weeks prior.

Awesome timing, I know, right?!

And yet I’m not sure our governor even remembers hurricane Harvey. Please drive down Bramblewood and let’s talk about “brain drain” and the economy of the country.

I’ve seen little if any action from our Congressmen or Mayor.

Eyes on the ground in 77079, the one’s who were specifically flooded and were saved by citizens from so many places who drove in with bass boats and air boats, but not much help from city, state, or dc.

This is what it looks like to be forgotten. To smile at your friends house, still half completed, while both of you have the same anxiety – they’ve done nothing to fix it. And now it’s hurricane season again.

I see no humor in it.

lexdexia untie

There is a social stigma with learning disabilities. People tend to believe, perhaps because they were taught, that dyslexia means someone “reads” the sequence “az” and sees “za”. Like it’s a problem with your eyes. I don’t believe this to be the case.

Perhaps the fallacy stems from the fact that while “walk” means the same observable behavior for everyone, “read” isn’t conducted the same way in our brains for all of us. (I dunno as I’m not qualified to answer that question. I’m just a curious person.)

Yet quite a few things in this article on dyslexia are spot on for me. https://www.wired.com/story/end-of-dyslexia/

Russian Ads on FB Released

From the article on Dark Reading regarding the Russian interference in the election of 2016.:

 … the House Intelligence Committee have shared more details of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election with the release of 3,000 Facebook ads. The ads, purchased by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), ran from 2015 to 2017.

Committee members this week released a total of 3,519 ads and stated more than 11.4 million Americans were exposed to them. The IRA also created 470 Facebook pages, which generated 80,000 pieces of organic content and were seen by more than 126 million Americans, the Committee reports. It plans to release this organic content at a later date.

Fairly audacious. One question to ponder. Have you ever heard of a company or government pushing a message out using one (and only 1) channel? Of course not. It will be good when their MSM advertising buys are exposed.

In CyberSecurity We Have a Problem. It is US!

Internet Crime Report Breakdown

In cybersecurity, as confirmed by the latest report on Internet fraud from the FBI for 2017, the problem is humans. I’ve highlighted the top 5.

Internet Crime Report Breakdown

FBI Internet Crime Report 2017

Source: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2017-internet-crime-report-released-050718

The greatest financial losses from cybersecurity breaches, the top 5 cyber intrusion methods, all have one (1) thing in common. The number 1 issue is we don’t keep our email secure and we lack common sense..

Plus email is based on an ancient protocol that was never designed for security. (facepalm)

/snark/ No way! TLS is only responding on 587!? Nobody will ever figure that out. /end-snark/

In short – I can barely find the humor in this.  The problem is – you, me, and all of us. Grifters are part of life. We have to adapt.

So this was OUR day. Honestly, pretty typical. Graphed. And this is filtered for noise already (excludes honeypot and silly scans, but includes most of the rest.)

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Consensus tokens, Russia and AMS systems

tendenci cloud security monitoring

The headline is ridiculous. But I couldn’t make this up in my wildest dreams. Yes, cryptocurrency, blockchain, and association management systems (AMS) are all interconnected. And the primary connection is Russia.

Stay with me for a second, get a cup of coffee, and read on.

First cryptocurrency isn’t a thing. It’s two parts. I try to explain cryptocurrency like this:

  1. BlockChain = Clipboard with a piece of paper. You check stuff in and out until you are out of paper. Some clipboards have more sheets of paper than others.
  2. Scarcity – Scarce object = some mathematically difficult to produce number. Or controlled by an authority like the Private Federal Reserve in the US.

Picture a clip board. And you are checking in and out some token. That token only has value if it delivers value. And the best way to determine that is really a classic economics popularity contest.

Note: This author does a GREAT job of explaining concensus capital: https://medium.com/@tompocock/consensus-capital-part-1-dff72ba39a63

These are not tulips. Blockchain is a tech that will disrupt everything from how we do a Turn-Around at the Olefins units at LyondellBassell, to how BP manages wind farms, to how carfax will be disrupted by a VIN blockchain startup.

What does this have to do with Association Management Systems?

Believe it or not, they are intertwined. So be careful on your selection of crypto for smart contracts. I’d recommend looking at HyperLedger  (https://www.hyperledger.org/) as an alternative to Russian Bank backed by Dmitry Buterin and his son Vitalik’s Ethereum .  ( https://futurism.com/ethereums-founder-struck-a-deal-with-a-russian-bank-to-create-ethereum-russia/ )

Not everyone in the crypto community is fond of Ethereum and Russian owned AMS Wild Apricot, now Personify, even in the crypto community. ( https://medium.com/@rateico_32282/how-much-would-you-sell-your-homeland-the-secret-of-ethereums-success-748f0b763c62 )

 

If you can’t access the code, self host if you want, and export ALL of your data when you want, well, why not? Why does anyone in the NonProfit / NPO / NGO / Association Management space tolerate that in 2018? It is 2018, right?

If you signed up with a company where the deal was “too good to be true”…. um…. ya, think that one through again. They have to pay people, so they are either funded by someone, or they are selling your data.

YOU are part of the problem with InfoWars and Propaganda in the US. (is that too blunt? Nope.) For example: Wild Apricot / Personify.

Wild Apricot, Russia, AMS
25% of American Constituents in Russian Backed Wild Apricot

Ethereum is at least open source ( https://github.com/ethereum ) so you can view the code. With the exception of Tendenci ( https://www.tendenci.com ) and CiviCrm, ( https://civicrm.org/ ) most AMS vendors aren’t open,  not even ones created and financed by Russia and the Chief Apricot ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/chiefapricot/ ), who is also coincidentally the father of Vitalik himself ( https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin ).

On the plus side, after years of joking about it, for once we can legitimately blame Canada and their dual-citizenships.

We’re building a wall with Mexico and allowing Russian company’s interests to mine Uranium ( https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/1114/What-s-the-real-story-behind-Hillary-Clinton-Russia-and-uranium ) in the US. And Russian programmers to control 25% (according to the Personify web site https://personifycorp.com/ ) of US Constituents like Washington’s League of Women Voters ( https://leagueofwomenvotersofwashington.wildapricot.org/issues ) .

And then we act surprised that Russia is meddling in our elections and knows know how to target voters.. Baroo?

These are strange times. But yes, Canada? I’m looking at YOU!

And as a reminder, as if y’all needed me to state this again, but we strongly encourage you to use an OPEN SOURCE solution with transparency. If it’s Tendenci, WordPress, Drupal, CiviCRM, Joomla,

Just please stand up for what’s right.

Demand access and transparency.

Tendenci is a movement.

Tendenci is a community committed to open association technology.

Global. Multilingual. Collaborative. Positive. Respectful of your privacy and functional at a level as you would expect from a product approaching 20 years old.

Associations are Powerful – and therefore Targets for Hackers

Associations are very powerful, particularly in America.

Think about it. Your Doctor is approved by the American Medical Association. Your Attorney is approved by the American BAR association. Your Accountant is approved by the American Association of CPAs (certified public accountants).  A person’s license /certifications may be “recognized” by the government, but ultimately it is a group of peers that form the association.

Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations… In democratic countries knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.

– Alexis de Tocqueville – Book Two, Chapter V. (source)

This may sound philosophical, and we’ve blogged about this before, but it’s important for associations to remember just how much power they have.  And with power comes great responsibility.

YOUR ASSOCIATION IS A HACKER TARGET

Why? Because it’s logical.

If you were a dictator in a country that had sanctions against it, I dunno, maybe they didn’t allow US Companies to help you drill for your oil reserves and you lacked the technology to do it yourself, wouldn’t it make sense to go after an association of accomplished professionals in that area?

St. Petersburg IP Address Alerts
Security Alerts with  IP addresses (listed as) St. Petersburg Targeting Associations. NOTE: IP Addresses are easy to fake so it could be a false positive.

It sounds horrible, but it is logical in a Machiavellian kind of way.

A story for y’all. I was talking to a client who had a Tendenci Open Source AMS site for a group of students at universities in the liberal arts. He said

nobody is going after English majors“.

“Oh really?” I asked.

Then I asked If any of his students attended X University (really I could have picked any University). He said “yes.” I pointed out that exact University also has extensive Chemistry, Energy and Engineering programs that do cutting edge work.

My point was if you can do spear phishing on a student to get closer to an Engineering Professor with expertise in Directional Drilling, wouldn’t Russia be interested in that? Would North Korea be interested in obtaining information on the latest tech in chemistry? Of course they would.

Those countries might not even be directly doing the hack attempt. But a entrepreneurial hacker knows there is a market for that data. Would Russia buy it? Yes. Would the US buy it? Yes.

My point was simply that if you can infect the computer or phone of one student, any student, then you can get into the network. And then move laterally. You are in.

Again – to the POWER of ASSOCIATIONS:

Americans combine to give fêtes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books, and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons, and schools take shape in that way. Finally, if they want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association. In every case, at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association. I have come across several types of association in America of which, I confess, I had not previously the slightest conception, and I have often admired the extreme skill they show in proposing a common object for the exertions of very many and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.

– Alexis de Tocqueville – Book Two, Chapter V. (source)

This is not to scare users of any association management software. It is pointing out facts and hopefully increasing awareness among NGO technology professionals, association executives, association leadership and in fact (hopefully) the whole country, that there is a serious vulnerability if not addressed seriously.

ALERT: Fruitfly/Quimitchin malware for Mac in the Wild

darkreading malware for mac article

Mac users, particularly in academia or the biomedical or academic field. Be aware of the Fruitfly/Quimitchin malware. It includes a keystroke logger, accesses your cam, takes screenshots of your desktop frequently which are then  uploaded, and more. What to do:

  1. Learn about Quimitchin malware at https://www.darkreading.com/partner-perspectives/malwarebytes/meet-fruitfly–mac-malware-targeting-biomedical-research-centers/a/d-id/1327953
  2. Put a sticker over your camera when not in use. I am a member of EFF and put one of their stickers over your camera.
  3. Install an antivirus like Avira Antivirus for Mac (only from official site or app store). If you can afford it, support them by buying their products.
  4. Install Malwarebytes or a similar anti-malware program (only from official site or app store)
  5. Use different passwords on different sites. Variations on a password like “Smoking Chair Hat5!” is far better than “zds9bhy4@”. It’s just statistics, you won’t use the second one because you can’t remember it. Just change the first one a bit every time for each site. Password crackers can’t “partially” crack a password. Plus we use Rainbow tables anyway.
    1. Remember, if you have a keystroke logger installed, then how complex your password is, well, irrelevant. Therefore first clean the computer. Don’t think Macs or Linux can’t be infected – they can and frequently ARE.
  6. Use common sense and DON’T CLICK THAT LINK IN YOUR EMAIL.

Stay alert folks. Because they really are out to get you. That’s not paranoia, it’s just reality unfortunately.