Monday, 25 December 2017

random thoughts on cryptocurrency future

We saw huge profit-taking at Christmas which drove the currency down across all cryptocurrency coins by about 25%. I think this was just profit-taking and not a sudden lack of faith in the market.

However, we’re definitely seeing weaknesses in btc at the moment. Slow response times - over a day - and very high fees - I’ve seen up to about $30. It’s unacceptable and unusable.

Ask yourself the following questions.

1. Is the future of currency digital?
2. Is bitcoin technologically sound? (will it be ok as-is for the future or will it have to be hacked to a new better version)

If you said yes/no, (as I do), then you should stay in cryptos but divest of btc itself.

If you said no/no (as skeptics do), then sell all and get out.

If you said yes/yes, then hold and see whether btc survives.

[obviously: If you said no/yes, then you’re confused, or don’t know what bitcoin is].

My suspicion is btc will survive as a reference currency - like the USD in fiat markets - but that it has a limited use case because of technical problems.

5.5 billion people competing for 16 million coins mean that each coin is split so that each adult gets 0.003 btc. Meaning that if we take it that 0.003 btc is equivalent to say a month's wages, and the average wage is say 1000 usd, it means that the target price for btc is 0.003 = 1000 usd. Or $ 343 000 per btc. Just a guess. It's looking pretty bad right now.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

List of useful mac apps

This is mostly a note to self so that I can share with others when they ask which apps I recommend.

Android File (*) get files off android device
Android (*) make android apps

audio (*) music deck (*) scrobbler (music recommendations) (*) scrobbler
Sound (*) editing sound files
To MP3 Converter (*) convert funny audio files to mp3

Bartender (*) get all the mini icons in the menu bar under a menu
Battery Health (*) show battery status

BTC (*) show current cryptocurrency values in menubar (*) best wallet app

Cleaner for (*) clean memory caches to improve performance for new files (*) keep clipboard history and strip font/formatting from copy/paste (*) best ftp client
Default Folder (*) force open/save dialogs to place you somewhere intelligent, e.g. the folder the file came from!

A Better Finder Rename (*) bulk file renames, e.g. to strip spaces or other funnies
Bitdefender Virus (*) mostly for PC viruses to help PC users out
Carbon Copy (*) best backup app, makes a bootable full copy.
CleanMyDrive (*) looks for garbage (*) best compression tool
StuffIt Archive (*) to open files from the above, listing files first
StuffIt (*) to just expand files from the above without ceremonies

NEVER INSTALL : mackeeper. It’s malware.

DjVu (*) to open DJVU files (like PDF) (*) to create document indexes for PDF (*) epub viewer and store, canadian
iBooks Creator (*) from Apple, try it.
Font (*) great app to convert OTF/TTF/PS fonts into other formats

graphics (*) batch resize or watermark images (*) similar to corel draw / adobe illustrator - very good (*) - similar to photoshop, much cheaper, very good


Pst Easy (*) - convert Outlook PST files to Apple mail files (*) screen sharing
Little Snitch (*) stop spyware from accessing websites - you approve/deny all interactions with internet. Basically lets you build a firewall on the fly. (*) far prefer to excel as it remembers stuff like copy/paste (*) far prefer to Word as it lets you create a spreadsheet inside a wordprocessing document. (*) tool to manage academic research papers

Combine (*) to tack JPGs and PDFs together into single documents, or split them into single pages
PDF OCR X Enterprise (*) convert bitmap PDFs to text-readable pdfs
PDF to
PDF to Word - Convert PDF to Microsoft
PDFKey (*) to remove passwords on PDFs (you still have to enter the password, but once you’ve entered it, it removes it)

+ PDF to (*) blogging app - saves you the bad interface of blog sites.
MindNode (*) mindmapper
MyPoint (*) to control PowerPoint from your phone
StakePoint (*) PM app

programming and maths
Daum Equation (*) to create math equations
MathMagic (*) ditto
QR (*) to make QR codes (*) to check the SEO-goodness of your website
XML Site (*) to create an XML map for google search

Project Management and similar
Flowchart Designer (*) mind mapper (*) PM app
Project Viewer (*) to open MS Project files (*) to control CPU fan speed (*) twitter client (*) find and delete duplicate images in bulk, keeping highest quality ones

Video (*) convert any video to any other video
Air Video (*) play streaming video from your mac to your ipad
AVI to Any (*) convert AVI (*) rotate a video (e.g. if you film with your phone sideways) (*) to play FLV files
MKV to Any (*) convert MKV files
MP4 to Any (*) convert MP4 files
To M4A Converter
WMA to Any
Wondershare Video Converter
Xilisoft Video Joiner (*) to join video clips easily and quickly
Xilisoft Video Splitter (*) to split...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

some crypto currency news and readings

Apologies for the link farm type of article, this is mostly to share with people interested with latest interesting stuff.

Academic certificates in blockchain:


Programming contracts in Ether:

Hedging cryptos:

Mastercard supports blockchain:



Why bitcoin stopped responding last weekend:

Amex supports XRP:

More scams, mostly because of last weekend:

POS software:

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Correct English


Please note this page contains the author's opinions only and may differ from the Rules and Regulations of the University. Please consult the University Rules, which overrule these.

Nice page:

On this page I list common errors people make in their usage of English, and provide the corrections. You'll notice that I can't make up my mind whether English is capitalised or not. I have the same problem with "earth." Anyone want to correct me?

PS If you don't think learning to spell is important, please consider the below:


Apostrophe, possessive and plural forms. This is used to indicate a missing letter which was historically present. Hence, the word "don't" contains an apostrophe because it is a contraction of "do not." the apostrophe replaces the O. Other examples are "let's", which is short for "let us", and "he's", which is short for "he has" or "he is". E.g., "He's got a car" means "he has got a car". Similarly, in the past, i.e., about 1000 years ago, English used -as for plural and -es for possessive (genitive). Since the loss of the vowel in these suffixes, we now use the apostrophe to denote the E in -es (genitive). e.g., John's apple's red colour—meaning, the red colour of the apple of John. If John has more than one apple, it would be apples (without an apostrophe) to indicate the presence of more than one apple, however, if we still want to talk about the red colour of John's apples, we have to add an apostrophe to indicate that we're not putting the -es of possessive form, but we know it should be there. So it would be: John's apples' red colour. American usage retains the second S, i.e., John's apples's red colour.

Why you should hodl (hold) before a fork

The trouble with buying additional bitcoin just before a fork is that the price inflations will counteract the value of the new coin.


Look at the previous case. BCH (bitcoin cash) came out as about $300-400 after the first fork in July. That was about 10% the value of the btc.


So if you panic-buy before a fork, you should not buy more than 10% of what you hold.


For example if you buy 0.1 btc now, it will cost R 10 000, or about $ 700. But after the fork, the value might collapse all the way back to $4500 or so. Meaning you lose about R 5500 / $ 400 value.


However, assuming 0.1 of the new coin is worth 0.1 of $ 300, you’ll make $30 from the new coins. $30 doesn’t compensate for the post-fork losses of R 5500 / $400.


In other words, when a fork comes up, hold or sell. (You can buy back when the market hysteria dies down at a lower cost).

Here’s an example of a fast buy/sell cycle.

Suppose you buy 1 BTC at $ 4000 at time X

Suppose a fork comes up and the price of 1 BTC goes to $ 7000 (like it just did), at time Y, just before the fork

The value increase is $ 3000.

Now, if you sell 1 BTC, you gain $ 3000 on your initial investment of 1 BTC.

Suppose after the fork, the price crashes down to $ 5000 - not as low as you originally bought at, but lower than the pre-fork hysteria price of $ 7000.

You wait for the crash to finish and the price to stabilise, and buy back at $ 5000.

You still have $ 2000 in the bank that you can keep or use to buy additional BTC.

If you decide to take your $ 2000 profit into BTC, you can get 0.4 BTC.

That means by selling just before a fork, you can come out at 1.4 BTC instead of 1 BTC with no actual material losses.

At the next fork, your 1.4 BTC won’t be a mere $ 7000, assuming the hysteria carries 1 BTC to $ 7000 again. Your 1.4 BTC will then be $ 9800.

Sell just before the fork, wait for the post-fork crash, and buy back at a lower price.

Rinse and repeat.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

I first encountered bitcoin in 2009 when it was released. However, at the time, the only software was Bitcoin-Qt, the mining software, and it used up vast amounts of space and CPU cycles on my machine, so I deleted it.
Every few years I did the same thing - tried it out, got irritated, deleted. Of course I now regret it because apart from the recent crash with the Chinese banning ICOs (basically the creation of new coins), it’s increased drastically.
I went to a Singularity Summit conference and they were advocating Bitcoin and Blockchain as future technologies.
So I thought I’d summarise my views here.
1. I suggest it is worth buying into the system. It seems to me to be the correct “next step” of money and fintech.
Look at it this way. Make three assumptions: (a) that all money will ultimately be based on the major crypto currencies. (b) that there’s a limited supply of cryptos. (c) that most working-age people will use them. From this you can calculate the rough maximum trading value of the major cryptos. Assume everyone ONLY buys bitcoin. That means that 21 million bitcoins have to be shared amongst 5.5 billion working-age people. Or that on average, most people will only have 0.0038 btc. If you assume that all people have some earnings, e.g. $ 1500 monthly salary, you can then work that as the equivalent of 0.0038 btc. Which is about 393 000 USD as a maximum value for one btc.
Another way to work it is to assume that the entire wealth of earth gets recorded as btc transactions in the blockchain when btc is accepted as the de-facto standard currency. I see that various sites estimate a value between 241 and 250 trillion USD as the net wealth of earth. So, take the maximum amount and divide by the number of btcs. The answer is 11.9, almost 12 million USD, per bitcoin.
Think about it another way. If there are 21 million btcs, and 5.5 billion working people, it means that anyone who holds just 2 btc in currency is one of the 11.5 million richest people on earth, or the top 0.21% of earners/rich people. You won’t just be the one percent. You’ll be the 0.21%.
2. One has to diversify ones portfolio - that is, buy other crypto currencies. However, with the China crash, all the cryptos devalued!
3. One should save paper wallets - that is, transfer the coins to desktop-only (non-cloud) wallet apps, and then use the “export keys” function to back up the keys literally to a printout (or encrypted disk image). This is in case you store all your cryptos in a cloud system and it gets hacked - like the Mt Gox case.
More here.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Space smells?

A most interesting thing I heard today. Listening to astronaut Dan Barry at SingularitySummit and he tells us that when an airlock that was open to space, opens and admits air, and you enter it you smell something acrid and metallic. Who'd have thought space smelled? 


Monday, 7 August 2017

How to chop large blocks of wood

If a block of wood is too large to chop, turn the axe upside-down and let the weight of the wood itself split itself. 

1. Chop the piece. 

2. Turn axe and wood upside-down and bring wood down on axe, rather than the other way round.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

PhD summary

I’ve recently completed my PhD and I thought I’d create this blog post to explain it as simply as possible.

There are three main sections to the work and one minor section.

Section 1. Bayes’ Theorem and Swinburne.

This section describes and explains Bayes’ Theorem, which is P(h|e) = P(e|h)P(h) / P(e), or, the probability our theory is right, given evidence, is, the probability we’d see that evidence, given the theory, times the prior probability of the theory (without looking at evidence), divided by the probability of the evidence itself. There are lots of nuances and things around the theorem, e.g. whether P(e) is theory-independent, but let’s leave it at that.

1. Swinburne argues that God likely exists because God is simple, because (a) he is a person, and (b) a _simple_ person, with (c) simple properties. He then argues that in terms of Bayes’, P(e), the prior of the (e)vidence, is low, because our universe is rare and special. He also argues that P(h) is high, because God is simple, and we prefer simpler hypotheses (h = hypothesis). Lastly, he argues that theism (h) explains the universe (e), that is, P(e|h) is high, or in English, this universe is just the sort God would make. If we do the calculation, however, we see he is wrong. If you put a very small value into Bayes’ Theorem for P(e) in the denominator, you have to also have a very small value for either P(h) or P(e|h) in the numerator. So Swinburne has a choice; either P(h) is low - God is not simple - or, P(e|h) is low - God doesn’t explain our universe. That’s the first, and most damaging problem. 

2. The second problem is we can’t objectively get values for P(e) and P(h) anyway, because we just don’t know how likely theism is, without begging the question - that is, assuming that it is true. Moreover, we only know how our own universe is, and have no frequency measure for it, so we can’t give a solid value to P(e). Swinburne tries ⅓ at one stage, but that’s way too high. 

3. If God’s omnipotent, he can make any universe at all, and there are at least N possible universes which are equally very good, that he could choose from. So even in a scenario like that, P(e) must be 1/N, very small. It’s worth noting that the atheists usually accept this point even with the Anthropic Principle in place. I’ll critique that principle some other time. However, if P(e) is very small, even given theism, it means that P(e|h) is small. Which means P(h) has to be very large indeed, because both P(e) and P(e|h) are very small. Yet we’ve already argued that P(h) can’t be large. So either P(e|h) is very small, or P(h) is very small - meaning that either theism is vanishingly implausible, or theism just doesn’t explain our universe. Necessarily, from the mathematics.

There’s also a question about whether God is simple, and whether P(h) is high for simple things. I dispute both of those. Consider pantheism and omnipresence. If God is everywhere, pervading everything, ie omnipresent, and he knows everything, ie., omniscient, it suggests that he’s more complex than the universe, since he’s everywhere, contains it, and thinks about it at all times (creatio continuans). If so, then P(h) would be very very low. Which would be fine, if we wanted to counterbalance the very low P(e) in the divisor, mentioned earlier. But it doesn’t match Swinburne’s claim that P(h) is very high.

Section 2. Atheistic evidence

Atheists like to argue that the Multiple Universe Theory (MUT) - that there are many universes, probably millions - combined with the Anthropic Principle (that we find ourselves in life-hospitable conditions, because that’s the only place we _could_ find ourselves), shows that our universe is likely. In other words, the atheist argues that our universe is probable, or P(e) is in fact high. There are many troubles with this approach.

1. MUT has some problems, e.g. no solid evidence for it. Also, the competing model, PUT (Pulsating Universe Theory), strikes me as plausible. (Many universes in a row, rather than existing simultaneously).

2. Anthropic Principle, which I don’t discuss at length, is a mere truism and doesn’t seem to prove anything. A theist could agree with it and still maintain that we exist in a universe which is life-capable, or could only find ourselves in such a universe, because God made it so. So it’s useless to the atheist.

3. P(e) being high means P(h) has to be high, or P(e|h) has to be high, either of which would actually support Swinburne who claims P(h) is high and P(e|h) is high.

4. The Gambler’s Fallacy (and Hacking’s Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy) affects all atheistic models. That is, just because we now find ourselves in a life-capable universe, does not mean there are many more (either parallel, or preceding ours).

So the atheistic replies to theistic cosmology are weak too.

This means there’s a stalemate.

Section 3. The problem of evil.

Theists claim that God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, meaning he deplores evil, knows about absolutely all of it, and could do anything to stop any of it. Yet clearly evil exists. Theists offer many explanations for this, the most famous three being

1. Free-will theodicy/defence: That we have free-will, and therefore choose to do evil (evil is our fault), 

2. Soul-making Theodicies: God allows evil so that we can be better persons, have free-will, be heroic, learn, etc., and,

3. Skeptical theism: We are finite beings who can’t understand God’s good plans for the future, and existing current evils are necessary for that good future which we can’t see.

Atheists however can respond.

1. Free-will theodicy/defence: We might well not have free-will. For more on this, see for example Derk Pereboom’s work. Furthermore, even if we had free-will, we can still have limited choices. God could limit us to choose between tea and coffee, rather than, say, genocide and working in a soup kitchen. Free will doesn’t have to be made available through extreme choices. God could give us partial free-will, or compatibilist free will (you get what you want because you wanted it). For more on compatibilism, see Frankfurt and Watson. It also doesn’t help against natural evils, where animals suffer, yet animals don’t have free-will.

2. Soul-Making Theodicies, that is, that God allows evil for a reason (e.g. to teach us endurance, persistence, heroism), is however a morally obnoxious position when one compares the virtues gained (heroism, etc), to the level of evil (Hitler, etc.). They’re disproportionate, and an omniscient being should have foreseen that. We only need courage, etc., because evil exists. If evil never existed, we’d not need courage etc.

3. Skeptical theism: Naturally, we could not know all the things an omniscient deity would know. However, if we can’t know God’s reasons for evil, we should not be claiming to know his reasons for good. Why would he hide the former and reveal the latter? It’s question-begging to suppose that there are reasons other than arbitrariness. In a formula: if we know why God created the universe (with evil), then we know why God created the universe with evil. Since we deny knowing the latter, necessarily, of logical necessity, we must deny the former, since they’re logically equivalent.

This means that either we can’t defend theism with cosmology, as argued in Section 1, or, God is neutral (not all-good), or, theism is false. Personally, I think the theist should go with “not all good”, since it seems to me quite clear that nature is neither good nor evil, and so should its Creator be. And indeed, it’s only Western and post-medieval philosophers and theologians who insist on the all-good thing. Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, etc., all allow that God can be malevolent, punitive or violent (as we understand these terms).

Section 4. Faith

I then conclude with a brief point on faith. We generally take it as true, when a Geography teacher tells us that Madrid is in Spain. We take it on faith from an authority. We know Madrid is in Spain, even if we’ve not been there (we have no evidence). And most people take God on faith. Hence, if we can know things through faith, we might still know God exists. More work in this regard is needed.

That’s all.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

recycling soap

1. Crush into smallish pieces

2. Add a little water

3. Warm till almost boiling

4. Mush and stir till the texture of guacamole

5. Pour into a mold while still hot

6. Place into freezer

7. New bar of soap.

Numbers above do not match illustration.

2017 04 08 10 02 23

php 7 nightmare

OK so Centos 6 insists on installing php 5.3 and even if you download other RPMs and install them, they do not replace the existing 5.3 whic...