1. 1

    This seems really cool. I’d love to have email more under my own control. I also need 100% uptime for email though, so it’s hard to contemplate moving from some large hosted service like Gmail.

    1. 4

      If email is that important to you (100% uptime requirement), then what’s your backup plan for a situation where Google locks your account for whatever reason?

      1. 1

        Yeah, that’s true. I mean I do have copies of all my email locally, so at least I wouldn’t lose access to old email, but it doesn’t help for new email in that eventuality.

      2. 3

        Email does have the nifty feature that (legit) mail servers will keep retrying SMTP connections to you if you’re down for a bit, so you don’t really need 100% uptime.

        Source: ran a mail server for my business for years on a single EC2 instance; sometimes it went down, but it was never a real problem.

        1. 1

          True. I rely on email enough that I’m wary of changing a (more or less) working system. But I could always transition piece by piece.

        2. 3

          If you need 100% delivery, then you can just list multiple MX records. If your primary MX goes down (ISP outage, whatever), then your mail will just get delivered to the backup. My DNS registrar / provider offers backup MX service, and I have them configured to just forward everything to gmail. So when my self hosted email is unavailable, email starts showing up via gmail until the primary MX is back online. Provides peace of mind when the power goes out or my ISP has outages, or we’re moving house and everything is torn apart.

          1. 1

            That’s a good system that seems worth looking into.

          2. 2

            Note that email resending works. If your server is unreachable, the sending mail server will actually try the secondary MX server, and if both are down, it will retry half an hour later, then a few more times up to 24 hours later, 48 hours if you are lucky. The sender will usually receive a noification if the initial attempts fail (and a second one when the sending server gives up)

            On the other hand, if your GMail spam filter randomly decides without a good reason that a reply to your email is too dangerous even to put into the spam folder, neither you nor the sender will be notified.

            1. 1

              And I have had that issue with GMail, both as a sender and a receiver, of mail inexplicably going missing. Not frequently, but it occurs.

          1. 2

            … What? SAT is already NP-complete. This paper talks about constructing a problem related to SAT and proving that that problem is also NP-hard. As far as I was able to digest from my quick read, it does nothing to establish the relationship of the new problem to SAT in terms of complexity, and it’s hard to see how that approach could prove anything about P even if it did.

            The writing is also kind of unclear, but I’m hesitant to ding a preprint just for that because it’s possible that English is not the first language of its author. But of course for a paper on a topic this important to be taken seriously, it would almost have to have perfect writing and come from a well-known name in the field.

            1. 5

              The paper is better than that, but there is still probably a mistake. I mean, a serious one, because I have already found a fixable one.

              1. The author defines yet another NP-Complete function. I think it is even claimed to be previously known.

              2. The author says that the new literal-compatibility-satisfiability is «isotonic» — nondecreasing in every variable.

              3. The author remarks that polynomial-time algorithm implies a polynomial-size boolean circuit.

              4. The author claims that a boolean circuit for a non-decreasing function can be built out of AND and OR with a constant overhead compared to the optimal circuit. The proof ends up listing some NOT operations in the final count… I will not be surprised if this is fixable, but that is a warning sign that not all the details are fully polished yet.

              5. The author presents a way to assign weights to all the elements of an AND-OR circuit for the NP-Complete function in question; the claim is that every element has a polynomial weight but the total weight is exponential. There is nothing apriori wrong with such an approach.

              (4) has a typo-level mistake and (5) could easily hide a few mistakes. I am not currently in the mood to check, and statistically it is likely that there are mistakes and someone will post a detailed explanation next week. Or maybe (4) is actually substantially wrong.

              1. 1

                Interesting. I appreciate your explanation, I wasn’t able to focus on it enough to understand that.

            1. 4

              As usual, David apparently fails or refuses to understand how and why PoW is useful and must attack it at every opportunity (using his favorite rhetorical technique of linking negatively connoted phrases to vaguely relevant websites).

              That said, the article reminds me of a fun story - I went to a talk from a blockchain lead at <big bank> a while back and she related that a primary component of her job was assuring executives that, in fact, they did not need a blockchain for <random task>. This had become such a regular occurrence that she had attached this image to her desk.

              1. 10

                What would you consider a useful situation for PoW? In the sense that no other alternative could make up for the advantages in some real life use-case?

                But otherwise, and maybe it’s just me, since I agree wuth his premise, but I see @David_Gerard as taking the opposite role of popular blockchain (over-)advocates, who claim that the technology is the holy grail for far too many problems. Even if one doesn’t agree with his conclusions, I enjoy reading his articles, and find them very informative, since he doesn’t just oppose blockchains from a opinion-based position, but he also seems to have the credentials to do so.

                1. 1

                  Relying to @gerikson as well. I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important (what David dismissively refers to as “conspiracy theory economics”). We know of two ways to achieve this: proof of work, and proof of stake. Proof of stake is interesting but has some issues and trade-offs. If you don’t believe that PoW mining is some sort of anti-environmental evil (I don’t) it seems to generally offer better properties than PoS (like superior surprise-fork resistance).

                  1. 13

                    I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important

                    I personally also prefer decentralised or federalised systems, when they have a practical advantage over a centralized alternative. But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain. Bitcoin, as a prime example, to my knowledge is too slow, too inconvenient, too unstable and too resource hungry to have a practical application, as a real substitute for money, either digital or virtual. One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop, just because some other transactions got picked up first by a miner. It’s obviously different when you want to do something like micro-donations or buying illegal stuff, but I just claim that this isn’t the basis of a modern economy.

                    Cryptography is a substitute for authority, that is true, but I don’t belive that this is always wanted. Payments can’t be easily reveresed, addresses mean nothing, clients might loose support because the core developers arbitrarily change stuff. (I for example am stuck with 0.49mBTC from an old Electrum client, and I can’t do anything with it, since the whole system is a mess, but that’s rather unrelated.) This isn’t really the dynamic basis which capitalism has managed to survive on for this long. But even disregarding all of this, it simply is true that bitcoin isn’t a proper decentralized network like BitTorrent. Since the role of the wallet and the miner is (understandably) split, these two parts of the network don’t scale equally. In China gigantic mining farms are set up using specialized hardware to mine, mine, mine. I remember reading that there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power. All of this seems to run contrary to the proclaimed ideals. Proof of Work, well “works” in the most abstract sense, that it produces the intended results on one side, at the cost of disregarding everything can be disregarded, irrespective of whether it should be or not. And ultimately I prioritise other things over an anti-authority fetish, as do most people -which reminds us that even if everything I said is false that Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

                    1. 5

                      there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power

                      There was one pool that was at 42% of the total mining power! such decentralization very security

                        1. 5

                          To be fair, that was one pool consisting of multiple miners. What I was talking about was a single miner controlling 10% of the total hashing power.

                          1. 7

                            That’s definitely true.

                            On the other hand, if you look at incident reports like https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0050.mediawiki — the pool policies set by the operators (often a single person has this power for a given pool) directly and significantly affect the consensus.

                            Ghash.io itself did have incentives to avoid giving reasons for accusations that would tank Bitcoin, but being close to 50% makes a pool a very attractive attack target: take over their transaction and parent-block choice, and you take over the entire network.

                        2. 0

                          But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain.

                          Then I would advise researching it.

                          One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop

                          Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                          Low-risk merchants (digital goods, face-to-face sales, etc.) rarely require the average 10 minute (not sure where you got 20 from) wait for a confirmation.

                          If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism. Look into the payment limits set by high-value fungible goods dealers (like gold warehouses) for bitcoin vs. credit card or check.

                          Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

                          Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                          1. 10

                            Please try to keep a civil tone here.

                            Also, it’s hard to buy a cup of coffee or a steam game or a pizza with bitcoin. Ditto stocks.

                            1. -4

                              It’s hard to be nice when the quality of discourse on this topic is, for some reason, abysimally low compared to most technical topics on this site. It feels like people aren’t putting in any effort at all.

                              For example, why did you respond with this list of complete non-sequiturs? It has nothing to do with what we’ve been discussing in this thread except insofar as it involves bitcoin. I feel like your comments are normally high-effort, so what’s going on? Does this topic sap people’s will to think carefully?

                              (Civility is also reciprocal, and I’ve seen a lot of childish name-calling from the people I’m arguing with in this thread, including the linked article and the GP.)

                              Beyond the fact that this list is not really relevant, it’s also not true; you could have just searched “bitcoin <any of those things>” and seen that you can buy any of those things pretty easily, perhaps with a layer of indirection (just as you need a layer of indirection to buy things in the US if you already have EUR). In that list you gave, perhaps the most interesting example in bitcoin’s disfavor is Steam; Steam stopped accepting bitcoin directly recently, presumably due to low interest. However, it’s still easy to buy games from other sources (like Humble) with BTC.

                              1. 6

                                IMO, your comments are not very inspiring for quality. As someone who does not follow Bitcoin or the Blockchain all that much, I have not felt like any of your comments addressed anyone else’s comments. Instead, I have perceived you as coming off as defensive and with the attitude of “if you don’t get it you haven’t done enough research because I’m right” rather than trying to extol the virtues of the blockchain. Maybe you aren’t interested in correcting any of what you perceive as misinformation on here, and if so that’s even worse.

                                For example, I do not know of any place I can buy pizza with bitcoin. But you say it is possible, but perhaps with a layer of indirection. I have no idea what this layer of indirection is and you have left it vague, which does not lend me to trusting your response.

                                In one comment you are very dismissive of people’s Bitcoins getting hacked, but as a lay person, I see news stories on this all the time with substantial losses and no FDIC, so someone like me considers this a major issue but you gloss over it.

                                Many of the comments I’ve read by you on this thread are a similar level of unhelpful, all the while claiming the person you’re responding to is some combination of lazy or acting dumb. Maybe that is the truth but, again, as an outsider, all I see is the person defending the idea coming off as kind of a jerk. Maybe for someone more educated on the matter you are spot on.

                                1. 5

                                  There is a religious quality to belief in the blockchain, particularly Bitcoin. It needs to be perfect in order to meet expectations for it: it can’t be “just” a distributed database, it has to be better than that. Bitcoin can’t be “just” a payment system, it has to be “the future of currency.” Check out David’s book if you’re interested in more detail.

                            2. 8

                              In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                              But I don’t have to wait months for both parties to be content the transaction is successful, only seconds, so this is really irrelevant to the point you are responding to, which is that if a Bitcoin transaction takes 10m to process then I heave to wait 10m for my transaction to be done, which people might not want to do.

                              1. -1

                                Again, as I said directly below the text you quoted, most merchants don’t require you to wait 10 minutes - only seconds.

                              2. 5

                                Then I would advise researching it.

                                It is exactly because I looked into the inner workings of Bitcoin and the Blockchain - as a proponent I have to mention - that I became more and more skeptical about it. And I still do support various decentralized and federated systems: BitTorrent, IPFS, (proper) HTTP, Email, … but just because the structure offers the possibility for a decentralized network, doesn’t have to mean that this potential is realized or that it is necessarily superior.

                                Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                                The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered. The Bank, the credit card company or whoever has signed a binding contract lining this technical part of the process out to be what they have to care about, and if they don’t, they can be sued since there is an absolute regulatory instance - the state - in the background. This mutual delegation of trust, gives everyone a sense of security (regardless of how true or false it is) that makes people spend money instead of hording it, investing into projects instead of trading it for more secure assets. Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                                If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism.

                                I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s. Even it you think about it, there are far more that just 7 purchases being made a second around the whole world for this to be realistically feasible. But on the other side, as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it: The region I live in has approximately a million or something inhabitants, but according to CoinMap even by the most generous measures, only 5 shops (withing a 30km radius) accepting it as a payment method. And most of those just offer it to promote themselves anyway.

                                Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                                (I prefer to think about my phrasing as a exaggeration and a handful of other literary deviced, instead of a fallacy, but never mind that) I’ll give you this: It has been a while since I’ve properly engaged with Bitcoin, and I was always more interested in the technological than the economical side, since I have a bit of an aversion towards libertarian politics. And it might be true that money is invested, but that still doesn’t change anything about all the other issues. It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble, and as it is typical for bubbles, people invest disproportional sums into it - which in the end makes it a bubble.

                                1. 0

                                  The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered.

                                  Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending. Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses. There are lots of good technical articles online about combatting this with machine learning which should give you an idea of the scope of the problem.

                                  makes people spend money instead of hording it,

                                  Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                                  Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                                  So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                                  I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s.

                                  https://lightning.network

                                  as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it

                                  This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume), and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency. How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                                  Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                                  It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble

                                  It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                                  1. 5

                                    Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending

                                    You’ve still missed my point - it isn’t important if the money has been actually transfered, but that there is trust that a framework behind all of this will guarantee that the money will be there when it has to be, as well as a protocol specifying what has to be done if the payment is to be revoked, if a purchase wishes to be undone, etc.

                                    Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses.

                                    Part of the reason, I would suspect is that the Internet was never made to be a platform for online businesses - but I’m not going to deny the problem, I’m certainly not a defender of banks and credit card companies - just an opponent of Bitcoin.

                                    Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                                    Could you elaborate? You have missed my point a few times already, so I’d rather we understand each other instead of having two monologues.

                                    So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                                    No, if it’s volatile people either won’t buy into it in the first place. And if a currency is unstable, like Bitcoin inflating and deflating all the time, people don’t even know what do do with it, if it were their main asset (which I was I understand you are promoting, but nobody does). I doubt it will ever happen, since if prices were insecure, the whole economy would suffer, because all the “usual” incentives would be distorted.

                                    https://lightning.network

                                    I haven’t heard of this until you mentioned it, but it seems like it’s quite new, so time has to test this yet-another-bitcoin-related project that has popped up. Even disregarding that it will again need to first to make a name of it self, then be accepted, then adopted, etc. from what I gather, it’s not the ultimate solution (but, I might be wrong), especially since it seems to encourage centralization, which I believe is what you are so afraid of.

                                    This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume),

                                    Sure, there might be a great quantity of shops (as I mentioned, who use Bitcoin as a medium to promote themselves), but I, and from what I know most people, don’t really care about these small, frankly often dodgy online shops. Can I use it to pay directly on Amazon? Ebay? Sure, you can convert it back and forth, but all that means it that Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are just an extra step for life stylists and hipster, with no added benefit. And these shops don’t even accept Bitcoin directly, to my knowledge always just so they can convert it into their national currency - i.e. the one they actually use and Bitcoins value is always compared to. What is even Bitcoin without the USD, the currency it hates but can’t stop comparing itself to?

                                    and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency.

                                    The same problems apply as I’ve already mentioned, but I wonder: have you actually ever used Bitcoin to pay in a shop? I’ve done it once and it was a hassle - in the end I just bought it with regular money like a normal person because it was frankly too embarrassing to have the cashier have to find the right QR code, me to take out my phone, wait for me got get an internet connection, try and scan the code, wait, wait, wait…. And that is of course only if you want to make the trip to buy for the sake of spending money, and decide to make a trip to some place you’d usually never go to buy something you don’t even need.

                                    Ok when you’re buying drugs online or doing something with microdonations, but otherwise… meh.

                                    How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                                    Why should they? And even if they do, they convert it back to US dollars, because that’s the common currency - there isn’t really a point in a currency (one could even question if it is one), when nobody you economically interact with uses it.

                                    Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                                    So a round-about payment over a centralized instance - this is the future? Seriously, this dishonesty of Bitcoin advocates (and Libertarians in general) is why you guys are so unpopular. I am deeply disgusted that I have ever advocated for this mess.

                                    It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                                    So you admit that is has none of the necessary preconditions to be a currency… but for some reason it will… do what exactly? If you respond to anything I mentioned here, at least tell me this: What is your “model” for what Bitcoin’s role is going to be?

                            3. 14

                              Why don’t you believe it is anti-enviromental? It certainly seems to be pretty power hungry. In fact it’s hunger for power is part of why it’s effective. All of the same arguments about using less power should apply.

                              1. -1

                                Trying to reduce energy consumption is counterproductive. Energy abundance is one of the primary driving forces of civilizational advancement. Much better is to generate more, cleaner energy. Expending a few terrawatts on substantially improved economic infrastructure is a perfectly reasonable trade-off.

                                Blaming bitcoin for consuming energy is like blaming almond farmers for using water. If their use of a resource is a problem, you should either get more of it or fix your economic system so externalities are priced in. Rationing is not an effective solution.

                                1. 10

                                  on substantially improved economic infrastructure

                                  This claim definitely needs substantiation, given that in practice bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                                  1. -1

                                    bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                                    Come on David, we’ve been over this before and discovered that you just have a crazy definition of “better” explicitly selected to rule out cryptocurrencies.

                                    Here’s a way Bitcoin is better than any of its traditional digital alternatives; bitcoin transactions can’t be busted. As you’ve stated before, you think going back on transactions at the whim of network operators is a good thing, and as I stated before I think that’s silly. This is getting tiring.

                                    A few more, for which you no doubt have some other excuse for why this is actually a bad thing; Bitcoin can’t be taken without the user’s permission (let me guess; “but people get hacked sometimes”, right?). Bitcoin doesn’t impose an inflationary loss on its users (“but what will the fed do?!”). Bitcoin isn’t vulnerable to economic censorship (don’t know if we’ve argued about this one; I’m guessing you’re going to claim that capital controls are critical for national security or something.). The list goes on, but I’m pretty sure we’ve gone over most of it before.

                                    I’ll admit that bitcoin isn’t a panacea, but “it does everything worse” is clearly a silly nonsensical claim.

                                  2. 4

                                    Reducing total energy consumption may or may not be counterproductive. But almost every industry I can name has a vested interest in being more power efficient for it’s particular usage of energy. The purpose of a car isn’t to burn gasoline it is to get people places. If it can do that with less gasoline people are generally happier with it.

                                    PoW however tries to maximizes power consumption, via second order effects , with the goal of making it expensive to try to subvert the chain. It’s clever because it leverages economics to keep it in everyone’s best interest to not fork but it’s not the same as something like a car where reducing energy consumption is part of the value add.

                                    I think that this makes PoW significantly different than just about any other use of energy that I can think of.

                                    1. 3

                                      Indeed. The underlying idea of Bitcoin is to simulate the mining of gold (or any other finite, valuable resource). By ensuring that an asset is always difficult to procure (a block reward every 10 minutes, block reward halving every 4 years), there’s a guard against some entity devaluing the currency (literally by fiat).

                                      This means of course that no matter how fast or efficient the hardware used to process transactions becomes, the difficulty will always rise to compensate for it. The energy per hash calculation has fallen precipitously, but the number of hash calculations required to find a block has risen to compensate.

                                2. 6

                                  We’ve been doing each a long time without proof of work. There’s lots of systems that are decentralized with parties that have to look out for each other a bit. The banking system is an example. They have protocols and lawyers to take care of most problems. Things work fine most of the time. There are also cryptographically-anchored trust systems like trusted timestamping and CA’s who do what they’re set up to do within their incentives. If we can do both in isolation without PoW, we can probably do both together without PoW using some combination of what’s already worked.

                                  I also think we haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of building more trustworthy charters, organizational incentives, contracts, and so on. The failings people speak of with centralized organizations are almost always about for-profit companies or strong-arming governments whose structure, incentives, and culture is prone to causing problems like that. So, maybe we eliminate root cause instead of tools root cause uses to bring problems since they’ll probably just bring new forms of problems. Regulations, disruption, or bans of decentralized payment is what I predicted would be response with some reactions already happening. They just got quite lucky that big banks like Bank of America got interested in subverting it through the legal and financial system for their own gains. Those heavyweights are probably all that held the government dogs back. Ironically, the same ones that killed Wikileaks by cutting off its payments.

                              2. 8

                                In what context do you view proof-of-work as useful?

                                1. 11

                                  You have addressed 0 of the actual content of the article.

                                1. 5

                                  A point that the author doesn’t make (because the post is about setting up usernames for a new site) is that you can have requirements for new registrations that are stricter than for existing usernames, although it will be less efficient.

                                  You can forbid new usernames looking similar to the existing ones, even if there are false positives (well, one name from each cluster can still exist). You can forbid new usernames that are different only in case from the existing ones, even if there are some confusing username pairs in your DB. You can even allow logging in with a username in a different case unless there are two usernames that match.

                                  Even if you do not solve a problem, you can freeze its scale, and prevent it from later becoming a noticeable load on support (or from being unexpectedly abused).

                                  1. 3

                                    I don’t think the MitM vector is clearly described on the article (or the blogpost it links to for that matter). Anyone care to elaborate why is this MitM-able?

                                    1. 2

                                      From reading the article this is better described not as MitM but as reducing the security of a popular workflow back to the level equivalent to software wallets. Although I could probably find a way to explain why it is in some sense MitM.

                                      The idea of hardware wallet is partially that the limitated protocols it uses make it very hard to attack; so the abilities of a worm which runs under your user account on your desktop to manipulate your payments is removed, unless it finds a vulnerability in a narrow-scope software.

                                      In this case, one of the workflows includes doing something in Javascript on the desktop side, while the verification on the token side is optional. This means that there is a workflow where manipulating your browser is enough to trick you into making a different payment than you expected.

                                      1. 2

                                        That I could understand, but (in my very humble opinion) that sounded more like a CSRF-like vulnerability rather than MitM. Either way, that’s just semantics :)

                                        1. 2

                                          It just depends on what you would call end-to-end. I think the idea of calling it MitM is that you don’t trust your desktop and want to trust only the hardware wallet. You still use your desktop for a part of communication, because of convenience and network connection and stuff like that. Turns out, a program taking over the desktop can take over a part of the process that should have been unmodifiable without infiltrating the hardware wallet.

                                          So MitM is the desktop being able to spoof too much when used to facilitate interaction between you, hardware token and the global blockchain.

                                    1. 2

                                      Anyone have a copy?

                                      1. 2

                                        Just google “iboot github” and find a not-yet-dmcad link. Currently https://github.com/emrakul2002/iboot works.

                                        1. 1

                                          Apparently the original upload have been taken down, but there are more copies that can be easily searched at the same site. I would assume that a lot of people have copies by now…

                                        1. -1

                                          Eventually we will stop investing in chemical rocketry and do something really interesting in space travel. We need a paradigm shift in space travel and chemical rockets are a dead end.

                                          1. 7

                                            I can’t see any non-scifi future in which we give up on chemical rocketry. Chemical rocketry is really the only means we have of putting anything from the Earth’s surface into Low Earth Orbit, because the absolute thrust to do that must be very high compared what you’re presumably alluding to (electric propulsion, lasers, sails) that only work once in space, where you can do useful propulsion orthogonally to the local gravity gradient (or just with weak gravity). But getting to LEO is still among the hardest bits of any space mission, and getting to LEO gets you halfwhere to anywhere in the universe, as Heinlein said.

                                            Beyond trying reuse the first stage of a conventional rocket, as SpaceX are doing, there are some other very interesting chemical technologies that could greatly ease space access, such as the SABRE engine being developed for the Skylon spaceplane. The only other way I know of that’s not scifi (e.g. space elevators) are nuclear rockets, in which a working fluid (like Hydrogen) is heated by a fissiling core and accelerated out of a nozzle. The performance is much higher than chemical propulsion but the appetite to build and fly such machines is understandably very low, because of the risk of explosions on ascent or breakup on reentry spreading a great deal of radioactive material in the high atmosphere over a very large area.

                                            But in summary, I don’t really agree with, or more charitably thing I’ve understood your point, and would be interested to hear what you actually meant.

                                            1. 3

                                              I remember being wowed by Project Orion as a kid.

                                              Maybe Sagan had a thing for it? The idea in that case was to re-use fissile material (after making it as “clean” as possible to detonate) for peaceful purposes instead of for military aggression.

                                              1. 2

                                                Atomic pulse propulsion (ie Orion) can theoretically reach .1c, so that’s the nearest star in 40 years. If we can find a source of fissile material in solar system (that doesn’t have to be launched from earth) and refined, interstellar travel could really happen.

                                                1. 1

                                                  The moon is a candidate for fissile material: https://www.space.com/6904-uranium-moon.html

                                              2. 1

                                                Problem with relying a private company funded by public money like SpaceX is that they won’t be risk takers, they will squeeze every last drop out of existing technology. We won’t know what reasonable alternatives could exist because we are not investing in researching them.

                                                1. 2

                                                  I don’t think it’s fair to say SpaceX won’t be risk takers, considering this is a company who has almost failed financially pursuing their visions, and has very ambitious goals for the next few years (which I should mention, require tech development/innovation and are risky).

                                                  Throwing money at research doesn’t magically create new tech, intelligent minds do. Most of our revolutionary advances in tech have been brainstormed without public nor private funding. One or more people have had a bright idea and pursed it. This isn’t something people can just do on command. It’s also important to also consider that people fail to bring their ideas to fruition but have paved the path for future development for others.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    I would say that they will squeeze everything out of existing approaches, «existing technology» sounds a bit too narrow. And unfortunately, improving the technology by combining well-established approaches is the stage that cannot be too cheap because they do need to build and break fulll-scale vehicles.

                                                    I think that the alternative approaches for getting from inside atmosphere into orbit will include new things developed without any plans to use them in space.

                                                2. 2

                                                  What physical effects would be used?

                                                  I think that relying on some new physics, or contiguous objects of a few thousand kilometers in size above 1km from the ground are not just a paradigm shift; anything like that would be nice, but doesn’t make what there currently is a disappointment.

                                                  The problem is that we want to go from «immobile inside atmosphere» to «very fast above atmosphere». By continuity, this needs to pass either through «quite fast in the rareified upper atmosphere» or through «quite slow above the atmosphere».

                                                  I am not sure there is a currently known effect that would allow to hover above the atmosphere without orbital speed.

                                                  As for accelerating through the atmosphere — and I guess chemical air-breathing jet engines don’t count as a move away from chemical rockets — you either need to accelerate the gas around you, or need to carry reaction mass.

                                                  In the first case as you need to overcome the drag, you need some of the air you push back to fly back relative to Earth. So you need to accelerate some amount of gas to multiple kilometers per second; I am not sure there are any promising ideas for hypersonic propellers, especially for rareified atmosphere. I guess once you reach ionosphere, something large and electromagnetic could work, but there is a gap between the height where anything aerodynamic has flown (actually, a JAXA aerostat, maybe «aerodynamic» is a wrong term), and the height where ionisation starts rising. So it could be feasible or infeasible, and maybe a new idea would have to be developed first for some kind of in-atmosphere transportation.

                                                  And if you carry you reaction mass with you, you then need to eject it fast. Presumably, you would want to make it gaseous and heat up. And you want to have high throughput. I think that even if you assume you have a lot of electrical energy, splitting watter into hydrogen and oxygen, liquefying these, then burning them in-flight is actually pretty efficient. But then the vehicle itself will be a chemical rocket anyway, and will use the chemical rocket engineering as practiced today. Modern methods of isolating nuclear fission from the atmosphere via double heat exchange reduce throughput. Maybe some kind nuclear fusion with electomagnetic redirection of the heated plasma could work, maybe it could even be more efficient than running a reactor on the ground to split water, but nobody knows yet what is the scale required to run energy-positive nuclear fusion.

                                                  All in all, I agree there are directions that could maybe become a better idea for starting from Earth than chemical rockets, but I think there are many scenarios where the current development path of chemical rockets will be more efficient to reuse and continue.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    What do you mean by “chemical rockets are a dead end”? In order to escape planetary orbits, there really aren’t many options. However, for intersteller travel, ion drives and solar sails have already been tested and deployed and they have strengths and weaknesses. So there are multiple use cases here depending on the option.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Yeah right after we upload our consciousness to a planetary fungal neural network.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      So if a bunch of people decide to fork their own version of Roko’s Ransomware, which one should I pay protection fee to to not be tortured for eternity?

                                                      1. 3

                                                        Addressed in the Charlie Stross blog post I referenced in a comment in this thread:

                                                        why should we bet the welfare of our immortal souls on a single vision of a Basilisk, when an infinity of possible Basilisks are conceivable?

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Good stuff.

                                                          There’s also the question “why should we care about hypothetical copies of ourselves in the future?” - after all, there should be hypothetical copies of ourselves in parallel universes and if the present universe is infinite, there be an infinity of copies of ourselves here, some portion in hell, some in heaven, some in bizarre purgatories.

                                                          Moreover, even if you posit a god-like intelligence able to accomplish virtually anything in the future, that godlike intelligence seems unlikely to be sift through the quantum noise to create truly exact copies of ourselves (I could make reference the “no cloning” theory of quantum mechanics and etc). So the hypothetical punished copies wouldn’t even be as good as copies suffering whatever other fates might await elsewhere or elsewhen.

                                                          It seems like the construct illustrates the difficulty humans have in separating intelligent ideas from garbage-thoughts when one is conceiving AIs (who has noticed that humans follow stated goals in a highly nuanced fashion rather than literalistic fashion? Not lesswrong it seems - or at least they haven’t consider this is key part of our being “more intelligent” than computer programs or the way we’re still better than programs).

                                                          1. 3

                                                            As for hypothetical copies — this version of a basilisk seems to be worded carefully enough to say that you cannot be sure if currently you are a pre-Singularity original version, or a simulated copy.

                                                      1. 4

                                                        I hadn’t watched a SpaceX launch previously. Seeing those two side boosters return to land and touch down together was pretty amazing.

                                                        So the first person to Mars get a free Tesla?

                                                        1. 7

                                                          Wikipedia says they put it into a Mars transfer orbit with no mention of putting it into orbit around (or just plain into) Mars, so it will be a very large solar orbit.

                                                          And it looks like the center core crashed into the drone ship and they’re keeping mum for a better first wave of PR.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            I did miss the restored video feed with the smoke clearing and no rocket, as visible in the background of the post-lanuch talk. I was wrong. Technically, it didn’t crash into the droneship.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              To the best of my knowledge, SpaceX has given up on having a video link from the droneship survive the approach of the core trying to land. Live video of droneship landings has been previously streamed from a helicopter, but that was still closer to shore than this time. The video feed from the ship itself goes down 100% of the time.

                                                              What we see in the last frames is consistent both with a core crash and with a nominal landing, so I am not sure if anyone already knows the fate of the main core for sure…

                                                              1. 8

                                                                Musk confirmed that the core crashed.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  Yes, thank you.

                                                                  A few quotes from the statements for the press: http://spacenews.com/spacex-successfully-launches-falcon-heavy/

                                                            2. 1

                                                              Despite SpaceX marketing, it’s heading for a solar orbit.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                UPDATE: That information was from 30 minutes or so before launch. Things changed.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  And now it has been confirmed that the orbit crosses the Mars orbit and then goes almost to the inner part of the asteroid belt.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    You’d think the exact orbit would have been calculated beforehand…

                                                                    1. 6

                                                                      Actually in this case I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t know the exact orbit before the last burn. If second stage has any difference from the Falcon 9 second stage, SpaceX cares about detailed performance data more than about the orbit — so it makes sense to make the maximum possible last burn for the second stage instead of trying to ensure a specific orbit (which usually requires performing slightly below the maximum — just in case).

                                                                      In a sense, the fact that the launch date got delayed multiple times in small increments means that they couldn’t know the exact orbit relative to Mars. Of course, Mars makes a catchy headline, so that’s how the press releases were worded. Now Elon Musk just says «exceeded Mars orbit».

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        That makes total sense, thanks for the detailed clarification. I forgot this was supposed to be a “test flight”, not an actual mission to deliver a payload to a specific space-time coordinate!

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          In a sense, there is a wide range of level of significance of the orbit for realistic space missions. We see Falcon Heavy test flight, where you want the things to sound nice and in reality you are collecting the data about the vehicle, not about anything in space. There are missions towards some planet where getting to the planet is what counts. There are solar measurements, where the probe needs to be close to Sun — at some point in time, from some side, but the distance and velocity matter most… but then these are done by gravitational slingshots, and that means that the trajectory must be synchronised very well with the orbital motion of multiple planets, and your launch window is quite tight and doesn’t repeat often.

                                                              1. 3

                                                                In my personal setup, multiple “virtual desktops” (workspaces, how he calls them) work like a charm. I’m so used to them, with all the keyboard “shortcuts” that working with a single one is little frustrating.

                                                                I wouldn’t consider it “harmful”, different people work differently.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I think the author isn’t even considering just a single workspace with all windows always there as a viable option. Multiple workspaces are criticized not for being different from single workspace, but for not being different enough.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  This was a lot of fun, well done on the interactive article. I wish the solver-assisted final version would pointed out some deduction you could have made when you err, as it is making a mistake is needlessly frustrating. Edit: turns out the known cells are marked a subtle (to my eyes) red.

                                                                  It’s also quite easy to get it spinning in seemingly clear situations, such as when you’ve uncovered nothing but a few isolated numbers. (Try it: ask for help right from the start, and spread those over the board. Here it gets very slow starting at 5 or so uncovered squares.) It should not be too hard to modify the AI to only permute all squares that neighbor uncovered ones, and treat the other squares equally.

                                                                  I’d dispute the claim that this is more fun than classic Minesweeper, though! Nothing wrong with a bit of twitch. And if it’s the puzzling you’re going for, it will be hard to beat a good hand-crafted minesweeper puzzle, such as https://www.gmpuzzles.com/blog/2017/12/minesweeper-john-bulten/ or (shameless plug) https://maybepuzzles.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/mines.png.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    Hand-crafting doesn’t scale! When I wanted minesweeper puzzles (but I was OK with small ones), I implemented a brute-force solver, a very primitive pattern-based solver, and then ran them in a loop: generate a field, if nothing can be opened ot marked — open a random empty cell next to the already opened ones (if there are any), if pattern-matching allows doing something — do it, else let the human try. That actually produced quite interesting (small) puzzles.

                                                                  1. 11

                                                                    As far as I can tell, this is a revival of dwm’s tags/views model.

                                                                    While, apparently, many dwm users use tags as if they are workspaces, that is only a fraction of their potential; and, when used properly, they can offer a workflow identical (from my perspective) to the one mentioned in the post.

                                                                    cf. tags are not workspaces.

                                                                    This is not to say that the author is wrong or is stealing and should give credit or anything like that. It is only to suggest that this paradigm has been known and is available in some window managers.

                                                                    Now, here’s where my knowledge of the subject gets a little thin. Where dwm supports this paradigm, I am unsure as to whether or not its many derivatives do (e.g., awesomewm, xmonad, etc.). I’d be interested in hearing from those users if this type of configuration is possible (presumably, anything is possible in xmonad since it’s really just a WM library and you can have whatever logic you’re willing to program, but I more meant, well-supported and easy to achieve through minor configuration changes).

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      Awesome supported this, I believe. I remember having Win+[1-9] set to switch between tags, and when I would accidentally hold control when switching I would get windows from both tags!

                                                                      I like the idea of this, but I struggle with the execution when bringing in another tag causes overlaps or forces my current workspace to rearrange. For example, if I had chat and a browser open together taking up most of the screen while dealing with some operational issue, adding the editor group/tag to the screen would either overlap (if things were floating) or rearrange/resize existing windows (if some kind of tiling).

                                                                      To those that use the group/tagging feature in the way described in the post, how do you deal with the overlap or resizing issue?

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        I fix the areas, so I don’t say «give me also group X», I say «please put group X in this subarea (and — in majority of cases — remove everything else from this subarea) without touching the rest of my screen»

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          I have pretty much the exact shortcuts you describe. I use tiling mode almost exclusively, so I expect it when I look at two at once. It seems totally normal. I also have super + J and K for moving windows up and down in the current order.

                                                                        2. 3

                                                                          I’m not running xmonad at the moment, but it seems like xmonad-contrib has a XMonad.Actions.TagWindows module that does this.

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            dwm’s tags are indeed capable of handling that workflow I describe in this post, and even more IIRC. My first experience with groups came with cwm which lets you add windows to a group. Doing so would automatically remove the window from any other groups. With dwm, a single window can have multiple tags, thus allowing finer control over your task set, and which application to bring back and forth. This might be a little more complex to manage though, as you are responsible from adding AND removing windows from tags. Automatic removal from groups is, to me, the best compromise between workspace and tags.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            Meh. I’m not sure it’s valid to extrapolate “This is the best solution for me,” into “This is the best solution for everybody,” in this case. Everybody’s going to have their own preferences and their own workflow that makes them most efficient.

                                                                            I’d guess the productivity gains around more efficient window switching must be pretty minimal, anyway.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Well, there is time saved (not much), energy saved (probably not much, either) and avoided hatred to the entire idea of a computer (that can depend on personality)

                                                                              I would say that «global workspaces with each window in exactly one workspace and switches changing everything at once» is indeed too simplistic to be a non-annoying solution; specific solutions differ.

                                                                            1. 4

                                                                              I used wmii for over 10 years because of the tagging. I haven’t found a “fork” or “clone” that has all the same elements of tiling, tagging, multi-tagging, and dynamically named tags.

                                                                              I recently gave up (as wmii is long since unmaintained) and got i3 as close as I could to my workflow but without multi-tagging. Maybe there is one that does all of this that I’ve missed. Or I can sort of cobble together my own window management with some scripts and utilities.

                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                Transitioned to i3 from wmii myself, and I miss the multi-tagging too. Otherwise i3 is a solid piece of work. I wonder how difficult it would be to hack in multi-tag support in i3. Have you looked into i3’s code base?

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  What is multi-tagging? Assignment of multiple tags to a window? Isn’t this a part of definition of tagging in the first place?

                                                                                  (I ask because at some point I have implemented tagging for StumpWM, which of course supports assigning many tags to a single window; then ended up using only one tag for each window in practice — because making groups per-screen-subarea turned out to be more convenient than multi-tagging and global groups)

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    I haven’t looked into that. I switched recently. If I had the programming skills, though, I would have cleaned up and maintained wmii.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  In my case the solution ended up being «the problem with workspaces is that they are global».

                                                                                  I have a multi-tagging system implemented for StumpWM, but in reality almost all the tags are assigned automatically by very simple criteria (there is approximately one exception that should not be fixed by writing one more script). And the tags I actually use are almost always one-per-window.

                                                                                  What I do use heavily, though, is that I have a few commands to resplit the screen, and then I assign a set of windows by tag to an area, not globally. Global workspaces with no overlap are, indeed, not powerful enough.

                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                    The article has a small mistake: capital-T sticky bit is, of course, for lack of execute bit for the directory, not the write bit. Capital letter S or T means that execute bit was reasonably expected there, but is actually missing — without a capital letter this would be invisible.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      meh, this is really a cat and mouse game. just test it like:

                                                                                      if (navigator.webdriver || navigator.hasOwnProperty('webdriver')) {
                                                                                        console.log('chrome headless here');
                                                                                      }
                                                                                      

                                                                                      And there goes the article until the author can find a way to bypass this now…

                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                        The point of the article is sort of that it’s a cat and mouse game. The person doing the web browsing is inherently at the advantage here because they can figure out what the tests are and get around them. Making the tests more complicated just makes things worse for your own users, it doesn’t really accomplish much else.

                                                                                        const oldHasOwnProperty = navigator.hasOwnProperty;
                                                                                        navigator.hasOwnProperty = (property) => (
                                                                                          property === 'webdriver' ? false : oldHasOwnProperty(property)
                                                                                        );
                                                                                        Object.defineProperty(navigator, 'webdriver', {
                                                                                          get: () => false,
                                                                                        });
                                                                                        
                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          Yet there are other ways that surely make it possible for a given time window, like testing for a specific WebGL rendering that chrome headless cannot perform. Or target a specific set of bugs related only to chrome headless.

                                                                                          https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=617551

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            Well, eventually you just force people to run Chrome with remote debugging or Firefox with Marionette in a separate X session, mask the couple of vars that report remote debugging, and then you have to actively annoy your users to go any further.

                                                                                            I scrape using Firefox (not even headless) with Marionette; I also browse with Firefox with Marionette because Marionette makes it easy to create hotkeys for strange commands.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Even if there were no way to bypass that, don’t you think that you’ve sort of already lost in some sense once you’re wasting your users’ system resources to do rendering checks in the background just so that you can restrict what software people can choose to use when accessing your site?

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                If headless browser is required to scrape data (and not just requesting webpages and parsing html), then website is already perverse enough. Noone will be suprised more if it would also run webgl-based proof of work before rendering most expensive thief-proof news articles from blob of malbolge bytecode with webgl and logic based on GPU cache timing.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  You’re paying a price, certainly. But depending on your circumstances, the benefits might be worth the cost.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            FAVORITE GAME OF ALL TIME especially the Amiga version!

                                                                                            So much deliciously quirky humor and creativity spilling out of every nook and cranny of this game.

                                                                                            I played SO many hours of this - really never understood why it kinda fizzled out - IMO I’d love to see modern Lemmings versions for every platform.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              I would hate to think that Lemmings 3D on the PlayStation was the series’ last gasp, although that was post-Sony Psygnosis and I don’t think DMA was involved directly with it.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Yeah the whole “Lemmings 3D Franchise was not amazing and honestly only very tanentially in the spirit of the original.

                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                Well, it is not a Flash or HTML5 game relying on a server, DosBox (or Qemu with FreeDOS and full-VM checkpoints…) runs on almost every platform by now.

                                                                                                As for a modern version… Maybe someone could at least save what is out there and relatively easy to save. By that I mean take over Pingus.

                                                                                                Pingus is written using SDL1, seems to be buildable for X11, Windows and macOS. You could try to collect all the levels that are lying around the net and convert them to the latest format. I think xskat.de collection mentioned on Wikipedia can be converted by the scripts inside the 0.7.6 source distribution, but I haven’t tried.

                                                                                                I guess to gather attenation for any actual development, one would need to make a Pingus-revived release 0.7.6.1 with fresh binaries of the latest source release for 64-bit desktop platforms, and all the levels available (should be a couple hundreds). That part should be a couple of weekends (and not full-time on these weekends) or something like that after there is someone willing and able to build on Windows and someone willing willing and able to build on macOS. I know the build on 64-bit Linux/GNU/X11 is easy, and I have just checked that the game runs as built from Nixpkgs.

                                                                                                I have no idea how much (or how little? — one can hope…) pain would be to port Pingus to SDL2, though. With SDL2, Wayland support should happen almost for free (Arch Wiki thinks SDL2 runs in Wayland with no changes after setting a single environment variable). Android + SDL2 is advertised as feasible, but that might be a lot of additional work even after SDL2 version works.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend the Amiga version. Psygnosis were Amiga fanatics and it really shows.

                                                                                                  The DOS version was a port. A good port given the limited platform, but a port nonetheless.

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    The Mac version is a pretty faithful port of the Amiga version as well.

                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                I assume this is just a set of someone’s bookmarks. Why fork? Because upstream can force-push, and if upstream doesn’t do that, the fork is cheap. I think forks could even survive upstream repository deletion, but I am not sure.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  It depends on how it was deleted, I believ when the author deletes the repository, forks survive, if github nukes the repo, all forks get nuked too.

                                                                                                1. 13

                                                                                                  A person I know who was active on Twitter around 2010 said that he felt at home with the geeky culture on twitter then, and regrets the loss of that culture as twitter became more mainstream and politically relevant on an international scale. I suspect that some of the homey feeling of mastodon is this same effect - because of its newness, and lack of backing by an expansion-seeking corporation, it hasn’t attracted enough people the author doesn’t like yet. Just like Twitter in 2010.

                                                                                                  This doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Mastodon. In fact, I’m strongly in favor of it, and I hope it gains more adoption as a competitor to Twitter. I’m always in favor of open, decentralized platforms that are not controlled by a profit-seeking corporation. But I’d like to see the author revisit this article in 1 or 3 or 5 years, if the same people who he thinks make Twitter a “garbage pile” are on Mastodon as well.

                                                                                                  Of course one crucial difference between Twitter and Mastodon is that by design Mastodon makes it easy for communities to arise that have the power to systematically block content they don’t want to see. So maybe even in that future, the author would still feel “at home” on Mastodon, and so would the garbage pile people, and everyone would be happier than they are today.

                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                    if the same people who he thinks make Twitter a “garbage pile” are on Mastodon as well.

                                                                                                    Some of them are already on the Fediverse, if not using Mastodon. Each instance can control who it federates with, and life goes on.

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      I have heard it is even better: sometimes instance A federates with B, but only for explicit subscriptions and targeted messages (not for global search etc.). In this case, communicating with both sides of the schism of the day becomes feasible even on individual-user level, not just on the instance-level.

                                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                                      Of course one crucial difference between Twitter and Mastodon is that by design Mastodon makes it easy for communities to arise that have the power to systematically block content they don’t want to see. So maybe even in that future, the author would still feel “at home” on Mastodon, and so would the garbage pile people, and everyone would be happier than they are today.

                                                                                                      I’m not familiar enough with Mastodon to know how this works. But if it’s as you describe above, then given the current highly-polarized state of Western democracy, we must recognize the downside of a system that would encourage people to disappear even further into the comfort of their own ideological ingroups.

                                                                                                      To the extent that Twitter users are confronted with opinions they vehemently disagree with, that’s a good thing for society. (Even though it’s notoriously rare for such a disagreement on Twitter to lead to a productive conversation.)

                                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                                        On the one hand it is true; on the other hand, having a global conversation seems to encourage everyone to take a side in every conflict, which drives the polarization even deeper. It is not enough to show people things they disagree with, you have to show mostly the high-quality examples of the opposing views for anything good to happen.

                                                                                                        Maybe overlapping personal bubbles could provide better diffusion of ideas by avoiding indestructible walls? I am not sure this would work, I just don’t think we have any obviously-better simple options.