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Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

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HughPickens.com writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period. Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Sharp Developing LCD Screens In Almost Any Shape

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jfruh writes: Traditional LCD panels are rectangular because the tiny chips that drive each pixel of the display are fitted along the edge of the glass panel on which the screen is made. But in a new breed of screens from Sharp, the chips are embedded between the pixels so that means a lot more freedom in screen shape: only one edge of the screen needs to be a straight line, which could give rise to a host of new applications.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security

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The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.

And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books.  Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.

How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.

Adobe claims that these reports are not quite accurate.  According to Adobe, the software only collects information about the book you are currently reading, not your entire library. It also collects information about where you are reading that book, how long you've been reading it, and how much you've read. Still disturbing, if you ask us.

Second, sending this information in plain text undermines decades of efforts by libraries and bookstores to protect the privacy of their patrons and customers. (Adobe does not deny transmitting the information unencrypted.) Indeed, in 2011 EFF and a coalition of companies and public interest groups helped pass the Reader Privacy Act, which requires the government and civil litigants to demonstrate a compelling interest in obtaining reader records and show that the information contained in those records cannot be obtained by less intrusive means. But if readers are using Adobe's software, it’s all too easy for folks to bypass those restrictions.

Third and most depressing: this flaw may have been unintentional, but we probably should have seen it coming. As our friend Cory Doctorow has been explaining for years, DRM for books is dangerous for readers, authors and publishers alike. Whether or not Adobe actually intended to create this particular vulnerability, if your computer is collecting information about you, and then transmitting it in ways you can't control, chances are you've got a security problem.

But there may be a silver lining to all of this. Several years ago, music fans were shocked and dismayed to discover that copy-protection software on music from Sony artists was actually allowing Sony to monitor the fans’ listening habits, sending information home to Sony, and creating a massive security vulnerability. Sound familiar? That discovery led to a public relations meltdown for Sony, not to mention numerous lawsuits. When the dust had cleared, Sony’s DRM cost it millions in fees and settlements, and, of course, did nothing to inhibit infringement. For Sony, and many others in the music industry, the price of DRM finally became too high, and it has since been largely abandoned.

So we’re going to try to be optimistic. The rootkit scandal put several nails in the coffin of DRM and music. If enough readers, librarians, publishers and authors speak up, perhaps this latest scandal will do the same for DRM and books. In the meantime, we'll be taking a hard look at our e-reader privacy chart.

Related Issues: DRMRelated Cases: Sony BMG Litigation Info
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‘The Bitcoin-technology by itself is worth nothing'; an interview with Dark Wallet front-man Amir Taaki

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If Bitcoin has its enfant terrible, Amir Taaki is it. Living on a shoestring-budget in squats throughout Europe, Taaki is leading the anarchist Bitcoin-countermovement known as unSystem, has built the alternative Bitcoin-implementation Libbitcoin, and helped to invent the peer-to-peer marketplace DarkMarket (which is taken over and re-branded as OpenBazaar). He is currently best-known as the front-man of the Dark Wallet, a Bitcoin-wallet designed to obfuscate Bitcoin users’ identities.

Amir, your main focus within the Bitcoin-sphere is clearly on the anonymous features of Bitcoin, and keeping the internetcurrency that way. Why do you care about this so much?

Anonymity is important because the current financial system is rigged against us. Right now the state steals from people through taxes and inflation, which not only contributes massively to state power and war, but it enables them to control who gets to accumulate capital. Anonymity will help us to avoid paying taxes, enable us to launder money, and facilitate us to evade restrictions by the state on how to manage our resources. It will protect the small guy.

Isn’t income from taxes used by the state to help the small guy as well? Through public services for instance, or subsidies, or welfare…

Yeah but these are very small things compared to the restrictions on how we live. Welfare in particular is just the by-product of a broken system. The cost of living in our society is artificially high, so if you can’t afford to pay for that your only other option is to go into welfare until you can sort yourself out to be placed on that narrow path that everyone should follow, and become a small part of a large institution or superstructure: work for the man.

But collecting welfare is not empowering, paying rent is not empowering, and working for the man is not empowering. What is empowering is for people to be cooperating together, to form their own businesses, to be independent and autonomous.

Some people do need help of course, but this should be something we provide together within our communities. I’ve lived in all sorts of communities where people help each other all of the time.

The tools you are developing can also be used by arms dealers or terrorists, while there was even an alleged IS-document floating around the web which mentioned the Dark Wallet. Surely these are not things you support?

Look, we can try to always manage our world and strive to purge it of some perceived threat or evil, but I think that in the end that logic is a faulty one. The way to change things is not by trying to create some sort of system with rules and police and courts and judges. If you want to make something that’s effective, it needs to be in the people’s own interest to promote that.

I believe that everything is so f*d up right now because we have been abstracted from our human values. It’s not natural to get up at nine o’clock in the morning only to sit in an office all day being told to fill boxes under strip lighting. When we evolved, we lived in bands of roving people who acted as an economic union. In the wild, the environment was constantly changing, continually facing us with new challenges. We’re fundamentally social and creative creatures. It might seem more comforting to manage the risk to certain levels, but it’s destroying us as human beings. Part of growing as a person is having these lows, these dangers, these dynamisms.

And at the same time, we need to have fun, which is also something we have taken out of our lives. It’s all devoid of passion. We’re all utilitarian people trying to live in comfort with smiles on our faces, but how many of us are really happy beneath that veneer?

Wouldn’t it be wiser to not actually promote Dark Wallet as a money laundering tool though?

Why?

Well, for one, it might get you into trouble with the law. Secondly, most people would probably not consider it the best possible PR either.

But I’m not acting through fear! I’m doing things as I think they are right. I would just be dishonest with myself if I try to play with words or cover up my intent. I want people to know what I think, and as many people as possible, because it’s not just about the technology we’re building. In fact, the technology by itself is worth nothing. What is important is the narrative, or the ideal that is being constructed through that narrative.

Bitcoin is a decentralized and uncensored money with privacy features. As such, it has opened up a new front in the ongoing struggle for freedom.

Moreover, one of the oldest artefacts in the world is the Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian document dating back to almost 2000BC which deals with contract law. Contract law is the foundation on which civilizations are built. And it is the basis for how we – no, they – have been able to create corporate society. Through contract law, you get access to a set of legal tools in order to incorporate and scale upwards.

With Bitcoin, we now have a new set of tools, that are not based on the law of the state, but based on the laws of mathematics. This enables us to create decentralized law, digital governance, and a wide scope of means for trade and business.

Then why is the narrative so important in and of itself?

Because the design of Bitcoin is not set in stone. It evolves and morphs through the actions of people. There’s this silly honey badger meme going around, like, “Bitcoin doesn’t give a f*k, Bitcoin is the honey badger of money”, but that’s false. Bitcoin is a consensus-system subject to all the different power groups acting upon it. And Bitcoin certainly can be corrupted. In very big ways.

Is Bitcoin being corrupted right now?

In some ways, yes. The Bitcoin Foundation is trying to establish itself as a central point of Bitcoin through which it can fund and steer development, while at the same time working together with the state and Wall Street. What’s going to happen, is that governments will use the Foundation to pressure Bitcoin development in certain directions.

Chief scientist and former lead-developer Gavin Andresen is paid by the Bitcoin Foundation, while his friends are the big Bitcoin-corporations. So, naturally, he’s more favourable towards their outlook of Bitcoin. And if you look at his actions and decisions…

He talks about Bitcoin as a payments-innovation, he developed the payments protocol, and now he’s pushing to increase the blocksize limit which would raise the maximum number of transactions on the network at the cost of even further centralization of mining. That is in effect in direct opposition to the idea of Bitcoin as a decentralized, private and uncensored system.

You don’t really see Bitcoin as a payments-innovation, do you?

No, it’s not very good for that. The Bitcoin-network is currently subsidized through inflation, meaning transactions cost about thirty dollars each. This vision of Bitcoin as a faster, cheaper and better payments-network is simply not tied to any technological grounding of what Bitcoin is really about. If we want to make Bitcoin a competitor to Visa or MasterCard, we would need to increase the blocksize and centralize mining so much that it is basically the same as existing payments networks. And even then, at some point, we’ll reach a limit where Bitcoin is just not cost-efficient. We don’t need to have all these miners crunching numbers just so people can buy a coffee. That’s insane.

If we do not increase the blocksize, however, Bitcoin would merely be able to handle seven transactions per second, meaning its scalability is rather limited…

Scalability, be very careful with that word. If we increase the blocksize limit, the bloated blockchain would make it harder for people to run full nodes. You’d need bigger hardware to store all of the required data, so in that sense it wouldn’t scale nicely at all.

But if we keep the blocksize limited people can always use Bitcoin for payments, they’d just have to pay a bigger fee. This doesn’t need to be a problem, in particular for the functionality of Bitcoin as an instrument to settle debts. The way banks work today is not that every transaction done between two parties is sent directly from one bank account to the other. Instead, they add up all transactions between the different banks, and settle the debts at the end of the day.

In a similar way, Bitcoin could grow to become the backbone of a whole new financial paradigm, as opposed to a payments network that merely papers over the cracks of the existing monetary infrastructure.

And yet, the general public will probably not care about any of this all that much. They just want cheap and fast transactions…

Well, a lot of people within the Bitcoin-community care about mass adoption way too much. They want to reach it at any and all cost. It doesn’t matter to them how much compromise we need to make, because they think Bitcoin will hit some critical point where – BAM – everything is revolutionized. This kind of quick fix mentality is very easy for people to grasp, but is not based around real social change. It’s an illusion.

It reminds me of the Esperanto movement, which had a split in the community. The Fina Venko aimed to one day reach this pivotal point where suddenly there would be some global revolution of people speaking Esperanto. This idea was later rejected by the Raŭmismos. The Raŭmismos appreciate Esperanto as a cultural movement, as a social movement, and as a language in and of itself.

I reject the Fina Venko of Bitcoin. That’s not to say some kind of global revolution can’t happen, but this focus on it is a diversionary tactic from the real thing that matters. Lots of consumers using bitcoin in their day to day lives doesn’t benefit Bitcoin. It might benefit the price, but the two are not the same.

So how would you suggest we move forward on a protocol-level?

I would actually suggest we step back for a second. Let’s really fix the fundamentals of the software, and make resilient and well written Bitcoin-implementations rather than trying to stuff everything into the protocol. I’m very conservative in that regard, because Bitcoin works as it is now.

There are problems, but I think that meddling with it by opening up the protocol is more of a risk than it is a benefit. Especially because a lot of developers don’t see the consequences of their actions. They’re just looking one step ahead when trying to fix problems, while totally ignoring all of the social implications and how it changes the politics.

Bitcoinj- and Lighthouse-developer Mike Hearn, for instance, was just pushing for an extension to the protocol in order to eliminate possible double-spend transactions in point-of-sale situations. He proposed a system in which miners can vote to steal the block reward from other miners if they accept double spends. The problem is that this opens up the possibility for large mining pools to collude against smaller miners, and use this power to blacklist transactions.

And this is just one example, there are many more like it. But it really is insane, it’s ludicrous. Just to be able to buy coffee with our Bitcoin-creditcards, and make it a little bit more convenient, we want to destroy all of the freedom it provides? Lose out on the opportunity to enable people to economically organize themselves over wide geographical areas, between different communities, and different organizations with different financial instruments, with tools we have never before seen in the history of humanity? Do we really want to give that up for a silly dream of a few corporations that want to sell a product to consumers, to pump the price? Come on… We’re really losing a big thing if we sacrifice Bitcoin for that.

You’re obviously very passionate about these issues, and you don’t hold back in voicing your opinions. As a result, you’ve berated some of the Bitcoin-developers before, and in particular because of their cooperation with regulators. Can you understand why they’d be annoyed with your attitude at all?

I’ll explain the mindset of these people. Some of them are just dumb-asses who actually believe we need the government to protect us and all that. But most of them really think of themselves as some kind of libertarian ninja going through the shadows to sabotage the system from within. They believe something in private, but act something else in public in order to build support for Bitcoin, not realizing that Bitcoin itself is subject to change.

And then people who oppose that façade suddenly become a threat, because it doesn’t conform to the front they’re putting on. So the libertarian view now all of a sudden becomes something they have to push out and censor, thinking we need to gain support from powerful actors. But this mindset slowly leads to the corrosion of their ethics, because they start to think that it’s OK to do one evil for a greater good, and somehow rationalize their own actions through this construct.

This is the real path to corruption. It’s not these big decisions, but small day-to-day things. If you compromise once, it becomes easier to compromise again. So you keep going and going and going until you end up with govcoin or corpcoin. We need to be guarded against this.

The post ‘The Bitcoin-technology by itself is worth nothing'; an interview with Dark Wallet front-man Amir Taaki appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Airbitz Launches Mobile Bitcoin Wallet Designed for Mainstream Consumers San Diego Startup Brings Bitcoin User Experience and Security to New Levels

Bitcoin Magazine -

LAS VEGAS, NV – October 7, 2014 – Airbitz today announced the release of its integrated mobile bitcoin wallet and business directory, now with 3,200+ listings and coverage in 14 countries, at Inside Bitcoins Las Vegas. Airbitz CEO Paul Puey will present a session on “Bitcoin Wallets: Balancing Security, Privacy, and Ease of Use” at the conference on October 7th at 2:00PM.

“In order to increase adoption of bitcoin and grow our ecosystem, we recognized the need to make transactions easier and more approachable,” said Airbitz CEO Paul Puey. “This was our impetus in creating a product with a carefully crafted UI and user experience, and we are extremely proud to bring the Airbitz wallet and directory to the masses.”

The Airbitz Wallet and Business Directory features simple account & wallet creation using just a username, password and 4 digit PIN, making bitcoin as familiar as mobile banking.

Features implemented for robust security, safety, and privacy include:

– Automatic wallet encryption and cloud backup

– Device-to-device account sync across phone, tablet, iOS, Android

– Local, client-side encryption giving Airbitz zero-knowledge and zero-access to user data or funds

– Great privacy through HD Wallets (changing addresses with each transaction)

Additional exclusive features:

– Payments via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) without QR code (iPhone only)

– Merchant Mode with the ability to detect partial payments

– User provided transaction data including Payee, Category, Notes and ability to search by these fields.

Airbitz is available for free on Android and iOS mobile devices at http://airbitz.co and in the Google Play and Apple App Stores. The Airbitz source code will be released as open source by the end of October 2014.

About Airbitz

Airbitz was founded in January 2014. Airbitz aim to bring bitcoin to the next billion users through amazingly simple yet feature rich applications focused on ease of use and ease of security. Its focus is to deliver software, services, and products with an amazing user experience, both visually and functionally, simplifying this advanced technology and delivering it to the masses while still retaining Bitcoin’s core principles of decentralization and privacy. For more information, visit www.airbitz.co and follow us at www.twitter.com/airbitz

The post Airbitz Launches Mobile Bitcoin Wallet Designed for Mainstream Consumers San Diego Startup Brings Bitcoin User Experience and Security to New Levels appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Coins In The Kingdom Wrap Up

Bitcoin Magazine -

Though the price of Bitcoin is shaky, and the mood of Bitcoiners is somber, Jason King is throwing quite a party down in Orlando, Florida. Coins in the Kingdom has come to an end after a packed weekend of speakers whose topics spanned the gamut of introductory programming and usage of Storj (Shawn Wilkinson) to the pragmatic applications of smart contracts by a seasoned attorney (Pamela Morgan). The atmosphere of the event was unique in the world of conferences in that: it is located in the heart of American consumerism, it embraces the simplicity of the world as espoused by Disney, and spent most of the weekend showcasing speakers who decry the absurdity of this surrounding circus.

Lower bitcoin prices means less conference attendees, but with the smaller crowd comes an intimate setting. While questions abounded as to whether the benefits of “The Mouse” were a positive or negative contribution to the greater good, all in attendance were in agreement over the benefits of a smaller conference. There is a significantly greater charm in playing poker with your favorite Bitcoin celebrity with YT Cracker rapping at the end of the hall, then there is in being a sardine in the proverbial can amongst a thousand newbies at the back of a giant conferencing warehouse. “Wishes upon a star” as promised, were being delivered.

This year has been a wild ride for bitcoiners (like there’s any year that isn’t). But for the tight-knit group of bitcoiners at the Coins in the Kingdom conference, the recent bubble was a comforting return to the wilder frontier of days gone by. Though the drop from $1100 to $250 was a wall of sadness to the speculators looking to cash out on a get rich quick program, for the veterans, the price drop was merely a chance to catch their breath from the insanity that characterized the last nine months.

Highlights for Saturday included an excellent keynote by Antonopoulos and Tucker, which featured two monologues and a Q&A session with the audience. Antonopoulos’ keynote discussed the ‘whitewashing of history’ that is practiced by historians, and highlighted the tendency of history books to gloss over the bumpy ride to success that characterizes most of society’s technological disruption. Tucker’s monologue was a similarly riveting speech exploring uses of the Blockchain outside of its uses for payment, chief amongst them, the impending Blockchain wedding.

The second day of the conference brought additional talks, a keynote by Bruce Fenton, and the world’s very first Bitcoin wedding. The highlight of the second day’s session was the announcement by Jason King of a mobile app, in development, that would would bring to the homeless a little bit of what Uber brought to the car-less. King’s app, named “Outpost Everywhere”, empowers the charitable to find homeless members of their community, and bring them the blankets, food, and help that they require. The app features an SMS gateway that enables the homeless to declare their location, and what they need. While many in the media choose to deride Bitcoiners for their anarchic Silk-road-esque applications, missing in this coverage is the compassionate disruption of bitcoiners with applications such as Jason’s.

While Paul Krugman gloats over the impending doom of Bitcoin, and the naysayers start their next round of pronouncements that “Bitcoin is dead,” the mood here in Coins in the Kingdom couldn’t be brighter. Counterparty’s XCP is appreciating rapidly, merchandise is selling, and the crowd is amused to see a reluctant Antonopoulos spending fiat at a nearby Mickey Mouse cafe. (Certainly, some small rock in hell has frozen over.)

While the wildest ride here at the Magic Kingdom turned out to be Bitcoin itself, Coins In the Kingdom brought to its attendees a welcoming and educated crowd, an encompassing roster of speakers, and a very smug mouse. Whether Bitcoin or Disney was the star of the amusement park this weekend was unclear, but what was clear was the wonder and magic that was Coins in the Kingdom.

The post Coins In The Kingdom Wrap Up appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Blockchain Raises Over $30M in its First Financing

Bitcoin Magazine -

London, 7 October 2014 – Blockchain, the world’s leading bitcoin wallet, today announced that it has raised over $30 million of capital in a Series A financing co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Wicklow Capital. Blockchain has been bootstrapped since it was founded by Ben Reeves in 2011; this constitutes its first outside financing round.

The UK-based company is the largest Bitcoin wallet in the world, with 2.3M consumer wallets, more than the rest of the industry combined. It is adding new wallets faster than any other Bitcoin wallet and since the beginning of the year has doubled its user base and surpassed US$ 26 billion in transaction volume.

“The company has grown exponentially in every way over the last eighteen months,” said Peter Smith, President of Blockchain. “We are honoured to add investors and partners to the team with deep expertise in financial services and consumer technology.”

Blockchain plans to use the funds to scale its product & engineering teams, in order to develop innovative new features for its users. It will also invest to further its international expansion and increase bitcoin wallet functionality and usability for the next 20 million Bitcoin users.

As part of the financing, Blockchain also welcomes Jeremy Liew, of Lightspeed Venture Partners, to its board of directors. “Bitcoin is a long game and the wallet is the crucial strategic high ground in the Bitcoin ecosystem,” said Liew, “We wanted to back the biggest player in the most important segment of the Bitcoin value chain, and that is Blockchain.”

“The potential for a global transformation in payments powered by Bitcoin is very exciting” said Sir Richard Branson, who also participated in the round. “Consumers are being offered much greater control and freedom with their money and more of them have chosen Blockchain’s safe and easy to use wallet to hold their Bitcoins than any other.”

Other investors in the round include Mosaic Ventures, Prudence Holdings, Future Perfect Ventures, and a number of angels including Rafael Corrales of CRV, Amit Jhawar of Braintree and Nat Brown among others.

 

About Blockchain

At Blockchain, our mission is to reimagine how the world transacts. We build innovative software that makes using Bitcoin safe, easy, and secure for consumers and businesses anywhere in the world.

Blockchain provides the world’s most popular Bitcoin wallet, the world’s most widely used Bitcoin APIs, the world’s most popular block explorer and the world’s most popular Bitcoin search engine. With over 2.3M people using Blockchain’s software to successfully transact over $26 Billion in value to date, it has what is widely recognized as the strongest, most trusted brand in Bitcoin.

Find out more at www.blockchain.com

 

About Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners (http://lsvp.com) is a leading venture capital firm with over $3 billion of committed capital under management and investment professionals and advisors in Silicon Valley, India, Israel and China with Lightspeed China Partners. Over the past two decades, Lightspeed partners have backed more than 200 consumer and enterprise companies, many of which have become leaders in their respective markets, including AppDynamics, Blue Nile, Brocade, Ciena, DoubleClick, Fusion-io, GrubHub, Informatica, Nest, Nicira, Nimble Storage, Nutanix, SnapChat and Riverbed Technology.

 

About Wicklow Capital

Wicklow Capital is a Chicago based fund created by Daniel Tierney and Stephen Schuler, co-founders of GETCO and current board members of KCG, a leading market maker in both the securities and commodities markets. Wicklow is an active FinTech investor and has previously invested in Motif Investing, Lending Club and CircleBack Lending.

 

About Mosaic Ventures

Mosaic Ventures (www.mosaicventures.com) is a Silicon Valley-style venture capital firm based in London, focused on Series A investments. Mosaic is investing a $140 million fund in founding teams that are fundamentally reshaping big markets. The Mosaic team has invested across 10 countries in over 70 companies that together have created about $200 billion of value.

 

About Prudence Holdings

Prudence Holdings, Inc. is a NY-based private investment firm that makes growth equity investments in market leading businesses as well as provides specialty credit for companies seeking financing solutions.

Founded in 2009, Prudence has completed 13 investments including HzO, Urban Compass, Thuzio and Wananchi Group Holdings.

The post Blockchain Raises Over $30M in its First Financing appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones – of Bitcoin

Bitcoin Magazine -

Apple computer’s return from ashes in 1997 began in the public’s mind with one wildly successful ad campaign: “Think Different”.

The story for how the ad campaign came together can be found on forbes.com. Back then, the hemorrhaging Apple Computer Corporation desperately hired back Steve Jobs, who led the company back from the ashes in spectacular fashion. The Apple PCs were then perceived as toys. Yet he established them as a counter-culture revolution. To be taken seriously by business and the public, it needed respect. It needed to show to the world how it was…different. It was an alternative.

Today, Apple is as mainstream as apple pie. They are now the fifth biggest company listed in The Fortune 500.  How long can you say you’re different when everybody else tries to be you? Is it possible for a company to continue to claim to ‘think different” when they are constantly being imitated? Think differently from who? Apple managed to climb all the way back up to the top of its industry and recent estimates indicate it has over 160 billion dollars cash on hand; the reserve is larger than many nations‘. This was all before lines began forming for the latest iPhone release.

The “Think Different” campaign is timeless. The poetic and timeless words were fitting for a company still on the edge of being regarded as a historical footnote.

Bitcoin is not a company, it’s a technology. Many of its initial fans formed into a spontaneous naturally occurring counter-culture movement rather than one being artificially designed by an advertising agency as part of a re-branding effort. Bitcoin has no expensive advertising campaign or budget. Its own culture started in true life back streets and basements of the world – not boardrooms and advertising pitches. The total market capitalization of bitcoin is currently less than 3% of just the available cash on hand at Apple.

In the “Think Different” advertisements, we see black and white images from some of history’s most brilliant people who became the literal poster boys of those that thought differently. Today, placing Steve Jobs on that list would likely not find much resistance. The spirit and achievements of this group have become legendary… and will live on long from now.

We pay homage to this great ad campaign and the spirit of rebellious respect it gives to the past “crazy ones”. Following the original spirit of the creators of the award winning advertising concept, we’ve recreated the message below but with a twist. Today, it seems to be more fitting that a true counter-culture movement be used. Today’s bitcoin leaders (with some creative license) that push forward the latest technology.

Here now are some of the celebrated  “crazy” bitcoin geniuses that have helped get bitcoin this far.

The post Here’s to the Crazy Ones – of Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Go Ahead – Peer Inside the DarkWallet

Bitcoin Magazine -

When you first lay eyes on the DarkWallet, you know you’re looking at something unique. For starters, it’s literally dark—the background is jet black. But the color theme is just the beginning of what sets this new privacy tool apart from all other wallets.

For starters, the DarkWallet offers something that no other crypto wallet has before: a stealth Bitcoin address. Because Bitcoin’s ledger of ownership, the blockchain, is available for all to see, the current balance and the full transaction history of any address is totally public. If your Bitcoin address is publicly known, you have little privacy. That’s where a DarkWallet stealth address comes in.

A stealth address is 102 characters long (whereas a traditional Bitcoin address is between 26 and 34 characters long). The DarkWallet software comes pre-installed with “spending”, “business” and “savings” pockets. Each pocket has its own stealth address, and you can create as many new pockets as you want.

Funds sent to a stealth address are automatically re-routed by the DarkWallet software. A new traditional address is generated to receive each stealth payment. In other words, the sender of a payment could check the blockchain to see which address his payment went to, but he couldn’t determine which other addresses belong to the stealth user. Aside from this specific payment, the sender has no access to the stealth user’s total number of bitcoins or her transaction history.

Why would anyone want a stealth address? There are likely as many reasons as there are Bitcoin users, but here are just a few examples:

1) You’re an online merchant, and your website doesn’t provide a new sending address for each customer order. All your revenue goes to the same address. Anyone can see your company’s account balance, transaction history and frequency of transactions.

This creates a competitive disadvantage, especially for startups and small businesses. A low account balance may make a business appear less attractive to potential customers. The inability to keep financial records private essentially creates a barrier to entry. A stealth address for receiving customer payments solves this problem.

2) You run a newsletter or site that publishes controversial opinions or content. You rely mostly on donations, and readers of your content are more likely to donate if they know that their donation cannot be traced back to them. Your publication’s freedom of speech is protected because donors can send to its stealth address.

3) You’re an average Joe or Jane, and you’d like to publish your Bitcoin address’s QR code on your business cards, in your outgoing email signature, on your blog and just about anywhere else you can think of. You feel awkward and even embarrassed, however, handing out a business card that’s essentially a free pass to view your current balance and transaction history. Publishing the QR code of your stealth address instead solves this problem and restores your privacy.

In addition to its totally unique offering of stealth addresses, the DarkWallet also provides the service of coin mixing (which is also found in a few other privacy-conscious wallets). Coin mixing swaps the inputs of multiple transactions, so that it’s hard to tell which sender sent to which recipient. Most wallets with this feature, however, require that a user take multiple steps to initiate the process. The DarkWallet, on the other hand, empowers the user to mix his coins with just the click of a button.

Lastly on the DarkWallet’s list of offerings is support for multisignature Bitcoin addresses. A “multisig”, as it’s called, is an address that requires the signatures of multiple private keys before funds can be moved. This is useful for securing money that’s shared by multiple individuals, or as a tool of escrow to protect buyers and sellers. The DarkWallet allows the creation of new multisig addresses or the importation of existing addresses.

The DarkWallet is currently in alpha testing phase. The wallet’s designers recommend that you use testnet coins to try it out, or that if you choose to use real money, do so knowing that it’s still unstable software.

Use of stealth addresses is only possible between DarkWallet users at this time, but if the feature becomes popular, it’s possible and even likely that other wallets will support them in the future. The DarkWallet is completely open-source, so anyone is free to use, improve upon and distribute the code themselves.

So go ahead—try it out by downloading the software. If you like what you see, consider sending a token of support to the DarkWallet’s developers at their multisignature address 31oSGBBNrpCiENH3XMZpiP6GTC4tad4bMy.

The post Go Ahead – Peer Inside the DarkWallet appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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