Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bitcoin is a scam

Ah cryptocurrency, how young you are. I am waiting for the day when I can travel to any country and not have to be extorted each time I need to buy something in your native currency, and so, bitcoin was born (perhaps.) 
 
It started its life under the shroud of secrecy, what with the need to use Tor and various other steps just to simply purchase any of its currency. And yet, even with a bitcoin's receipt it remained ethereal because all you gained was merely an encryption key to the coin - from a traceability standpoint (at least) it was very hard to determine the true ownership / transaction of a bitcoin - which was music to the ears of the underworld.
 

much wow


Maybe I'm jumping ahead a little. Perhaps I need to explain the basics of what makes a bitcoin. At its most basic, each coin has a ledger (or blockchain) of all the transactions which have occurred since first being created. As the number of times it's transacted increase, the complexity of the bitcoin increase as well. The ownership of said bitcoin is dictated by the ability to encrypt its next transaction which is handled by an encryption key. And, as an added layer of complexity, each bitcoin needs to go through a thorough a vetting process to validate its authenticity after each transaction.

- or in even-more layman's -
 
Bitcoin is an encrypted currency which becomes increasingly more complicated to validate as it's bought and sold
 
And herein lies the problem. Now, before you simply write me off as some kind of naysayer, hear me out. Even if you set aside the money laundering, human trafficking, drug dealing, murdering, illegal firearms and such, the one fundamental problem is in its complexity - or the effort required to authenticate each bitcoin. And this is where bitcoin miners come into play (think gold prospectors.) To offset the exponential amount of processing required to authenticate the latest transaction bitcoin (or perhaps investors) have turned to throwing out fractions of a coin to anyone willing to throw a few CPU cycles their way to alleviate the exponentially growing effort required. Bitcoin (as a whole) is already at the stage of being compared to multiple countries when it comes to how much energy is required to validate the next transaction. The fact that it's floating around $50,000 (!) per coin as we speak has afforded many entrepreneurs the opportunity to create bitcoin mining farms which has only proved to exacerbate the energy usage for this virtual currency - even if you may be able to buy a Tesla in the near future.

Unless something is fundamentally changed with the way bitcoin works I don't see the currency surviving. It is already at the stage of requiring multiple country's-worth of energy to validate its transactions - how long until it requires a worlds'-worth of energy? Perhaps with the advent of quantum computing this can be alleviated - but, fundamentally, don't you think bitcoin has to be doing something wrong?

Ask yourself: how can this be our future currency?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Where there's money there's bias

A long, long time ago I came to the realisation that almost all mainstream award shows carry no weight to what is truly great. When there are obvious biases, agendas or picketing involved in getting the winner across the line then why would you even care what the result is?



As a classic example we have The Last of Us Part 2. A game where (I would estimate) at least 50% of fans from the first one did not enjoy playing. Dare I say it, I don't think even Naughty Dog enjoyed making it, considering the multi-year 48+ hour-week crunch to get it across the line. Personally I think the sequel was always in for an up-hill battle considering the first TLOU ended so perfectly. In the wonderful PC/SJW-compliant world we now live in, Naughty Dog (or should I say the simp going by the name of Druckmann) went full woke and created an agenda-laden game which subverts expectations so he could try and feel smart. Perhaps I'm not seeing the point but a game's main purpose should be to entertain you, shouldn't it? Having to play through forced set-pieces involving killing dogs, torture porn, sex scenes (you would rather not be involved in) and characters you wish you did not have to murder (or save) is not my idea of a good time. Maybe in a post-apocalyptic world this is seen as entertainment - but we're not quite there ... just yet.
 
And all would be fine if this game just faded away into the ether of things I do not care about - but, oh no, somehow they thought we should all recognise this masterpiece in mediocrity. And the people spoke and Druckmann was welcomed by the cold, hard facts of reality of the people preferring another game (a really, really good one at that.)
 
And then we have the 'actual' video game awards (where judges account for 90% of the final vote.) To note: Sushi Ghost did not win as much as it should have. And that is that. I put far more weight in the public's vote because, even if certain people have an agenda, any personal biases are washed away by the power of numbers. I played through (the much-awarded) God of War (at a deeply discounted price) and I still maintain that the game really isn't much fun. It's a beautifully produced game which has some fun puzzles opening chests ... and that's about it. The gameplay was boring, annoying and a slog and I got no enjoyment from hanging out with Boy - even the Blades of Chaos weren't enough to warm me up. The end-game conclusion also was dissatisfying and I can honestly say that outside of production, graphics and sound design that game should not have won much else. This was not a fun game to play and, really, isn't that the point of games: to be entertained?

Friday, November 20, 2020

The saga continues (Oh, Microsoft)

On the quest to make my PC all parts ninja I bought a 240Hz variable-refresh-rate monitor. Considering that when you plug a monitor into your PC it does a little handshake to tell the PC which resolutions and refresh rates it supports, you would think that Windows 10 would be smart enough to realise that you wish to use the highest and fastest refresh rate your monitor allows.
 
 
Apparently Microsoft doesn't think so, because your ninja monitor will be set to 60Hz by default. For many less tech-savvy users they will be placebo'd into thinking that their high-refresh-rate monitor is amazing - while only gaming at 60Hz. Even if you have a frame counter stating that you're hitting 200+ FPS (frames per second), if Windows 10 hasn't been enabled to utilize 240Hz, you will still only be playing at 60 FPS. And if you look at your display settings, there isn't any clear indicator of what refresh rate your monitor is running because Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided that displaying the refresh rate of your monitor was too technical - just because. For those who are wondering, here are the steps you need to walk through to get to the monitor refresh rate:

  • Open Settings → Display Settings
  • Click on Advanced Display Settings (scroll down)
  • Click on Display Adapter properties
  • Click on Monitors tab
  • View/Adjust the refresh rate from the drop-down

 

It's only in that last step that you can even see which refresh rate you're currently using. This seems so ... unnecessary and, really, it is. I don't know of anyone who would use a lesser refresh rate for their target resolution so why does Windows 10 default to 60Hz in the first place? I guess a few years back 60Hz monitors were the standard but as we all know the times, they are a-changing and it seems clear that Microsoft hasn't yet got the memo.

 

Monday, November 16, 2020

twitch triggered

Ever since I was a young lad I was one of those people who enjoyed going to the arcades to watch people play fighting games well. I vicariously played the game the way it was meant to be played - even if my skills weren't quite as stratospheric. At the downfall of the venerable arcade scene (circa 2000's) we all moved indoors to play multiplayer games - but I at least still wished for a medium where I could watch people play games competently. And this was where twitch stepped in. And all was good in this world - up until now.



Perhaps it was the level of moochers or perhaps it is the ever-driving desire to wring every last dollar out of the unwashed masses but Twitch in recent weeks has made a serious misstep. In the early days it was relatively easy to watch a Twitch channel and get some instant entertainment - and possibly a few ads every few hours or so. This is no longer the case. Now, if I click on an unsubscribed (i.e. unpaid) channel I am greeted with an unskippable 15-second ad (or even five ads back-to-back) before I have even seen one second of this channel. This is incredibly alienating and, at least based upon my viewing habits, motivates me to avoid watching Twitch (for the most part.) 

It really disappoints me - and I would presume the content creators - that Twitch has turned to this model for making teh moneys. But, rather than simply complaining, I would suggest a few different options which may prove more palatable:
  • Have the heavy-handed ad break 15 minutes into previewing the channel - that way at least you get to see whether you like the current stream
  • Integrate the ad break into a break-out panel - rather than overriding the live stream (and missing out on clutch plays)
  • Buffer any lost content while the ad is playing and then allow the viewer to fast-forward (at their own volition) or continue watching from the buffered offset
  • Allow the channel creator full control of when ads are shown with, possibly, a minimum ad quota on an hourly basis
  • Provide the Twitch viewer an x-minute window of free viewing before forcing an ad break - ideally with some kind of count-down

Dependent upon Twitch's desires to maximise ROI any of these options are better than the current solution they have in place. Unless Twitch is very careful they will lose their audience (and their content creators) to better solutions which don't have heavy-handed revenue models which penalise new viewers and dissuade you from discovering new content. 

 You have been warned, Twitch. You have been warned.

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

How not to fix racism

So, I came across an article which points out that one of the Microsoft gaming heads stated that there needs to be more black leaders ... whatever that means. My first thought, even before I even read the article was, aren't you missing the point? How exactly do you fix this 'racist gaming industry' by simply appointing a person not based upon their abilities but the colour of their skin?

Now, before you think I'm some kind of bigoted white supremacist, don't you think I have at least an iota of a point? I'd like to think I would never judge a person based upon their outward appearance but rather their actions. That is not to say that I haven't prejudged - I am human after all - but at least on a few occasions my initial prejudice has proven to be incorrect. We as a society have yet to reach the zenith of treating all humans as equal (until their actions say otherwise.) It is unfortunate that in many circumstances we have yet to even strive towards removing these biases - but that doesn't excuse taking the opposite approach of promoting <under-represented minority> for the sole reason that they are an <under-represented minority.> This is working under the misconception that every gender, race, creed and so forth should be uniformly represented in their institution ... which is fundamentally wrong.


Dave Chappelle, you genius

If you still remain unconvinced, I will point you to mathematics as your source for what should be deemed a truly unbiased representation. In mathematics, if you were to graph an unweighted and truly random distribution, you would note that with a reasonable sample size there would be perceived clumping and outliers - that is, certain areas of the graph would be perceived as being 'unfairly weighted' in comparison to other sparser sections. This is to be expected. What would not be expected, however, would be a uniform straight line distribution - this, contrarily speaking, would be perceived as a non-uniform distribution. That is not to say that it isn't possible - just that the chances of a completely balanced distribution being graphed from randomly-generated values would be astronomically unlikely.

 

By taking a truly unbiased perspective and employing, promoting and befriending based upon a persons' actions, you will truly reach a moment in humanity where biases can be set aside. That is the future I look forward to ... but I don't think I'll see in my lifetime.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Lyrical Analysis - Sister Christian

I was listening to the classic Night Ranger song 'Sister Christian' and my mind subconsciously began trying to make sense of the lyrics. By the end of the song I had come to a hilarious conclusion. Similar to the antics of Tarantino and his interpretation of the song 'Like A Virgin' I will now (perhaps) put a different slant on this song merely being about a guy hooking up with a chick.

It all begins in the opening stanza with:
 
        'Sister Christian, oh, the time has come. And you know that you're the only one' 
- so far so good - 
        'To say okay'

What? The first line feels like he has found his life partner and that they are perhaps about to exchange vows. And then this is dashed as we all know that 'okay' is not a facsimile for 'I do' but rather implies that he's referring to an opportunity to bump uglies; with uglies being the appropriate word (as you will soon see.) 
 
This guy has to be one ugly mofo. He's tried peddling his wares across town but with no luck. Even back-alley Betty wouldn't accept money for her services. That is until he gets to his sister (?) who's is presumably named Christian. I'm sure the by-product of this unholy union would be wondrous.


Then we get to the following stanza:

        'Where you going, what you looking for
        You know those boys don't want to play no more with you
        It's true'

This one is jam-packed. This implies that she's the village bicycle - who has been a few too many times around the block such that none of the boys want to ride her anymore. But he does. This implies that not only is the singer one ugly mofo; she's no oil painting, either. He points out that all that remains of the revolving gyro of male companionship is his paltry offering of congealed and rancid off-cuts which remain uneaten in the drip-tray.
 
To add insult to injury, apparently this guy still has to pay for her services with:
 
        'You're motoring, what's your price for flight?
        In finding Mister Right'
 
This dude must have a second head for the village bicycle to still require payment.

        'You'll be alright tonight'

Even with her payment procured, he still needs to give her reassurances that it won't be so terrible, in fact, it will be alright. He is neither an oil painting nor particularly adept in the bedroom department. Which probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise if she's the only one to permit him through the gates of heaven.

The rest of the song basically repeats those lines and, with every repetition, the song becomes more hilarious. Now, if you were born beaten to a pulp with the ugly stick then I feel sorry for you but even you would have to admit that the lyrics are pretty funny.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Oh, Microsoft

You would think that with all the billions in your bank account you would direct a few more dollars towards your marketing department. Case in point: the current naming scheme of the Xbox. The first release was unimaginatively called the Xbox - or DirectX Box. For those not in the know, Windows uses DirectX for all its graphical and audio needs, and so, Xbox was basically a Windows PC which can only play games. This was then followed on by Xbox 360 ... and then the Xbox One - or X-Bone. Colour me confused - the marketeers had somehow created a new numbering system where they go from (1) to 360 and then back to one.

 


And all would be right with the world if their marketeers had just left it at that. They then decided that they would fragment the X-Bone with the X-Bone S (which is the refactored/diskless version) and X-Bone X (which is the slightly more powerful version of the stock X-Bone). They then decided that this wasn't confusing enough so the next generation of XBox will be known as - wait for it - the Xbox Series X (for the top-end version) and the Xbox Series S (which is the less powerful than the Series X and less powerful than the X-Bone X ... but with raytracing). I look forward to having parents around the world picking up the last generation X-Bone X and thinking they got a good deal on their next-gen console.

Notably, the Xbox Series X can be (puerilely) abbreviated to Xbox SeX. At this time I must think the marketeers are leaning into their five-year-old mentality - or they're taking a leaf out of Musk's playbook. Whatever the case, having two different hardware targets will cause fragmentation and result in sub-par releases for the top-end version as developers will not be arsed utilising the full capabilities of the top-end if that means having to dedicate twice the level of effort testing and optimising for two different hardware targets. Even if I'm a PlayStation fanboy, the two PS5 versions scheduled for release will utilise the same hardware for both the disk and non-disk version. There won't be any fragmentation and will result in games fully utilizing hardware (if the developer is worth their salt.) 

 I don't enjoy any company merely being successful because there's no competition - we are all better for a healthy triopoly (if you include Nintendo) as that will force all parties to do their best. I really hope that I am wrong with regards to the next-gen XBox's ... but my spider senses are tingling even now.