Could Blockchain Be Used More Appropriately To Facilitate Cashless Society?

Thinking out loud is often done in a haste hints the nature of it.  Thus my thinking out loud in this post isn’t solid, but I like to dabble on here.  One thing people fear about a cashless society is that once the digital numbers are being erased somehow, their worth would be gone without any trace for recovering.  Thus, people are definitely still preferring cash as a mean for emergency backup.  After all, if their digital world is being shut down, they got cash to help them survive daily such as buying foods and whatnot.

Bitcoin is probably going to be an enemy of the banks since banks want to be the middlemen of the transactions.  Bitcoin takes out the middlemen role and allows people to have a direct transaction between the two parties.  In order for the bank to receive commission and gain liquid fund, the bank needs to be able to insert itself into the deal.  Simply put, Bitcoin is against a traditional bank which isn’t accepting Bitcoins!

Banks can accept Bitcoins, but people won’t use banks as of how they would use a traditional bank.  Bitcoin users may want a bank to behave as a trustful Bitcoin exchange to facilitate the Bitcoin transactions in safety manners.  This way any Bitcoin bank can still insert a banking role in a non-traditional way into the deal.  Since Bitcoin will be more transparent — plus demoting a traditional banking role somewhat, I don’t think the banks will be able to create more creative derivative means for creative investments.  I could be wrong since this is thinking out loud session.

Bitcoin is also very similar to a cashless society because it isn’t cash and it’s digital medium.  Taking away Bitcoin, underneath it all is the technology itself which is the blockchain.  The blockchain technology is more important than the clothes it is wearing such as a crypto coin (i.e., Bitcoin).  Why?  I think blockchain technology is good at keeping transactions honest.  This honesty is rather important for cashless society don’t you think?  Nonetheless, current Bitcoin way isn’t helpful for blockchain technology since the implementation is rather crude, allowing people to hack and steal each other Bitcoin without a clear way to trace back to the original owner of the lost Bitcoins.

If I’m not wrong, a will be successful cashless society could use the blockchain technology to keep cashless money honest so the original owner of the money won’t fear the tyranny of a cashless society shutdown event.  By that I mean the only way for a person in such a society to lose wealth is being incriminated with evidence and wealth get confiscated by a court of law.  In such an orderly way the blockchain technology could be used to keep track what money belongs to whom before the exchange takes place and long afterward so a cashless society shutdown event which occurs by any other mean besides the legal ones such as the one I stated just a moment earlier would be a futile effort.

I think people would be able to accept a cashless society when their wealth won’t be suddenly disappeared overnight in a mysterious event.  Of course, people are still going to fear that if they’re innocent and being convicted wrongly; their wealth got confiscated in such a rude event — they could be helpless as they would not be able to survive daily when their digital wealth got shut down in a cashless society.  I think once one accepts a cashless society, one has to accept such possibility as there won’t be any legal cash laying around to act as a legal tender for acquiring daily things.

By writing this blog post, it doesn’t mean I support a cashless society!  I just merely thinking about the possibilities and effects of it all when such a society occurs.  Although China isn’t a purely cashless society, because paper money is still going to be a legal tender within China.  Nonetheless, China is one of those countries that is leading the race in facilitating the use of money through digital devices such as the smartphone.  I think once the money becomes digital numbers, money is indeed facilitating a cashless society.  A cashless society is definitely taking some shapes or forms around the world, and so I’m writing this to amuse myself with both negative and positive possibilities of such a phenomenon.

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Break Out (Music by Vinh Nguyen)

I just released a brand new single “Break Out.”  You can download it at CDBaby.com for $0.99 a download.  Meanwhile, you can visit my music blog, VinhCanDoMusic.com, to listen to “Break Out” for free for a limited time.  In few days more or so, “Break Out” will be available in various online music stores and services.  Enjoy!!!

Break Out Music Cover Art Pix 1

How Real Is Cyber Threat?

Technology is like anything else that can be used for good or for evil purposes.  Many things have dual purposes or even more than just dual purposes, and technology is no exception to this fact.  Perhaps, there is an exception to the rule, but my small brain cannot think up one for the moment.  Anyhow, there are forces in the world that are trying to use technology for evil purposes.  For an example, from nuclear to cyber threats.  Nuclear threat has existed for many decades already, and by now most people know what MAD means.  In this blog post I’m not going to bother with voicing my opinion on nuclear threat.  Instead, I’m going to focus on voicing my opinion on cyber threat.

Lately, we have seen big powers like USA and China accuse each other of cyber warfare.  It’s obvious that it’s hard to know who is doing what in term of hacking one another in the cyberspace.  Nonetheless, I think I know why cyber threat is a growing concern.

On the surface, before we unravel all the layers of onion, we truly cannot see why there are fusses about cyber security.  For some people, they think that cyber threat can be dealt with best cyber security practices and no more than that.  Of course, it’s true that cyber security measures such as installing well known antivirus software and firewall are definitely going to help counter most cyber vulnerabilities.  Nonetheless, there are other cyber vulnerabilities out there that won’t be eliminated by even the most powerful firewall and antivirus programs.  Why?  I think there are some well kept or new cyber vulnerabilities that have not been dealt with, because these cyber vulnerabilities are well kept secrets or too new.  By using these cyber vulnerabilities and better hacking tools, hackers are able to wreck havocs on the cyber networks of the world.

When we peel more layers of the onion off, we can see that cyber security is very important.  How come?  In my opinion, it’s about a digital future where money mainly get create in digital form.  This is the future trend that our present (the world) is heading for.  Of course, if we just rely on cyber networks for communication and not for banking and monetization, then cyber security can only be boiled down to privacy and few other things but not of money matters.  Nonetheless, cyber networks as in the Internet can be used for electronic commerce, banking, and the whole nine yards.  This means cyber security is needing to be taken seriously, otherwise hackers can just waltz in and erase, steal, change, and do whatever else to the digital money that belong to various money matter institutions such as banking, electronic commerce giants, and whatnot.

I can imagine a scenario that a group of powerful hackers that is sponsored by a powerful organization hacks a cyber system of a country to a point that they erase all of the digital money from this country, leaving this country as a bankrupted nation.  Nonetheless, this country can totally create new digital money out of thin air if she wants to, but will this be ethically, legally, and sensibly?  Can such an incident be covered up easily?  After all, we’re living in a globalized world, and transactions are having been done globally all the time; something like this if to rain upon a country will not be easily covered up.

This is why I think cyber security issues are so important nowadays.  Without proper measures to protect cyber networks, the vulnerable Internet can gradually weaken the trust of digital money transactions, leaving countries and everyday people seek out the traditional means of doing transactions.  Perhaps, this is why we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional transactions today.  Cash is one good example of traditional transactions.

When I’m hearing how one country is having difficulty in protecting a state secret from being leaked out through the cyber networks, I think it’s absurd that such a country is connecting her secret networks to the Internet in the first place.  I think each country should keep her state secrets on an Intranet that won’t be connected to the regular Internet.  Furthermore, such a country needs to provide physical protections to her Intranet, because when hacking cannot be done remotely someone ought to waltz into such a network physically so the hacking can be done eventually.  For an example, stealing state secrets with the usage of a thumb drive (USB devices or similar devices).

In summary, I think the fusses about cyber security threat are real.  This is why we are hearing countries complain about being victims to hack attacks and whatnot.  Corporations are also experiencing cyber security issues, because corporate espionage can be done through cyber networks with ease.  Whenever an entity is connecting to the Internet and it doesn’t matter what type of entity that is, cyber security issues become real just like any other important issue that matters.  Of course, if there is a day that we do not rely on the Internet anymore and money transactions do not take place in the Internet, then cyber threat will not be a threat of anything but only a historical fact.

Personal Note:  The advance of encryption is also important, because encryption can be incorporated into various network tools to secure the Internet transactions.  With strong encryption, it’s harder for hackers to decrypt the Internet transactions into plain text, thus preventing important information from being leaked.

Can Bitcoin Be Real Money?

The bitcoin logo

The bitcoin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bitcoin is all the rage recently as value per Bitcoin has climbed really high.  As I’m writing this blog post, it’s about $866 per Bitcoin.  Furthermore, more reputable businesses are beginning to join the fun by accepting Bitcoin as payment for business transactions.  With Bitcoin is moving toward mainstream or so as people think it is doing so, we have to wonder how long will Bitcoin would shine right?

As we all know, money has to be backed by something.  Sure, money can be in various currencies, but all currencies have to be backed by something.  In the antiquity time, countries accepted all sorts of bartering items as currencies.  Nonetheless, most of those bartering items could not withstand the test of time.  Gold is one of those few bartering items that have withstood the test of time thus far.  Gold could be used as money in the antiquity time, and even today some parts of the world are still accepting gold as real money.

How can gold be so resilient against time?  For obvious reasons such as scarcity and so forth, gold cannot be seen as just another bartering item.  Scarcity is important, but gold has one more trait that is very very important.  People have often overlooked that gold has always been special throughout the globe and through time.  By special I meant since the antiquity people have found gold to be valuable and sexy.  Since the whole world is being captivated by gold since the antiquity, therefore gold cannot be easily discarded in time.

Bitcoin might have the appealing of gold if it can convince people that it too can be valuable and sexy, worldwide.  As I have mentioned earlier, money (currencies) have to be backed by something, and so we have to wonder what is backing Bitcoin, right?  I think what is backing Bitcoin is how people put Bitcoin into practice throughout the world.

Nonetheless, without a specific government endorsement, can Bitcoin last?  I think Bitcoin is special in that it’s not being bounded or controlled by a specific government, and yet the people throughout the world are willing to have faith in Bitcoin.  With that being said, if Bitcoin doesn’t have the appealing of scarcity, it would probably be just another funny money (i.e., monopoly money).

Bitcoin can be scarce since it does require tremendous amount of effort in mining it.  For an example, one has to be spending real money to buy expensive hardware before one can mine Bitcoin effectively.  One might have to mine 24/7 for months and years before one can have few Bitcoins.  Now, if one is really rich and wealthy, one can build many Bitcoin mining rigs that can churn out Bitcoin really fast.  It is all about being rich in the first place, right?  There is a saying and it might go like this, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

In summary, I think Bitcoin can be real money, but for how long I won’t know.  I know though that if people around the world use Bitcoin as money, then Bitcoin won’t easily be discarded.  If the whole world is using Bitcoin, then not a single country can stop Bitcoin from being used as money.  If the whole world is using Bitcoin, then politics will become less important when it comes down to currency manipulation.  Bitcoin can be traced just like how cash can be traced, but both Bitcoin and cash can be way more stealthy than most forms of currencies.  With stealth as one of its awesome traits, Bitcoin can definitely be facilitated as cash-like money.  With all of that being said, Bitcoin isn’t cash since it’s not physical.  Since Bitcoin has to be used in a digital form, it might just be inconvenient enough that some people will not want to use Bitcoin as their money.  Invention such as smartphone apps to facilitate the Bitcoin transactions might help Bitcoin to be seen as physical cash, because there are so many people who carry their smartphones around.

Can Microsoft Studios’ Project Spark Spark A Game Designer In You?

Microsoft has revealed something which I think it’s one step closer to my dream.  I love to be able to program easily, create stuffs out of thin air in term of being creative with digital, and so on.  Nonetheless, saying is easy, but doing these things are like enduring multiple torturous headaches or yawning marathons.  Sometimes, programming or making digital things creatively can be very hypnotic and exciting, but only sometimes.  Most of the times, it’s worse than counting sheep unless you’re the type of person who could endure such sheep counting of course (and won’t go to sleep).  My dream is that I could use hologram to control, program, and create digital stuffs.  Of course, using hologram to program is still pretty much science fiction at the moment, right?  Well, Microsoft has revealed Microsoft Studios’ Project Spark which allows just about anyone who has creative idea to be able to create a video game easily.  How easy is it?  Well, from what I see it’s pretty much like what you see is what you get sort of things.  Instead of painting a video game in 2D like how you would use a paint app, you would paint a game in 3D.  Nonetheless, from what I see so far in couple demo videos on YouTube and elsewhere about Project Spark, it seems that Microsoft Studios’ Project Spark makes this process super easy and effortless.  Imagine, you can just conjure up a digital world for a game within seconds, all customizable with personal touch of your own imagination, isn’t it so awesome?  I think it is!  So, it might be one step closer to my dream, really!  Anyhow, check out Microsoft Studios’ Project Spark videos right after the break and you will know more about this awesome game creation software/app.

Afterthought:  Obviously, you might not be able to create a game with Project Spark on the level which is on par with video games that get release by major game studios such as Irrational Games (Bioshock Infinite is one of their awesome games), because major game studios are expertly concentrating their time and resources into making games for living.  Nonetheless, Project Spark is the right idea in how to allow people to enter the game design arena.  Also, Project Spark is the right idea for making the game creation process easier.  Now, if you have more time and resources and a team of artists, I think you might be able to rely on Project Spark or another app that is as capable as Project Spark to come up with games that might be as awesome as major game studios’ games.  I think Project Spark is great and has great potential, but it’s not a magical solution to all great video games.  In the end, I think it’s all about how you create the story, characters, material designs, and a host of other things in order for a video game to be great.

Is It Truly Necessary To Actually Own Digital Books?

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a piece of software is being updated often enough so newer features can enhance a user experience, people tend to care little about the terms of the agreement which came with the software .  Perhaps, the terms of the agreement for different software are varied in terms, and some might allow the buyers of the software to actually own the software.  Other software might come under the terms of licensing only, and by these terms the buyers of the software might not even know that the software they had purchased are not truly theirs.  This is understandable, because most people would gloss over the terms of agreement when there is a big ooO button which says click here to agree with the terms before you can install the software.  Have you ever purchased a software that would present you the terms of agreement first before you pay up?  To the best of my knowledge, I don’t remember any software purchase I had made over the Internet (i.e., digital download) would ever present me the terms of agreement before I already had paid up with a credit card.  Has common sense told us that we should have only agreed to something first before we purchase anything?

The digital age is rather convenient but senseless as hell.  Why is that?  Not only software front is unclear about who own what when a transaction has made, other digital types of purchase are being challenged in the same sense.  NBC News came out with a piece with the title “You don’t own your Kindle books, Amazon reminds customer,” and as I read this an anger simmers inside.  I’m not angry at a particular entity or a person, but I’m angry at how we, the consumers, have allowing the murky water to darken otherwise a pretty clean understanding of what a purchase really means.  When people are forking over money for any good, whether it would be digital or not, people should have a guaranty of some sort that their purchase would not end up be meaningless when the meaningless is not of their own fault.  This means, as long a buyer of something isn’t breaking something on purpose after he or she had purchased the product (digital or not), this very person should not bear the brunt of a complicit understanding that the access to a purchase isn’t in the control of the eventual owner (i.e., a buyer of a product ).

I love books, and sometimes I have to admit I purchase books for the thinking that I will read them later on.  Sometimes I do read some of the books that I’ve purchased on a moment of temptation, and sometimes I forget about them completely.  Then there is that time that I pat myself for purchasing a book early on, because such a time inspires me to go on and read and not have to go on and ponder on the prospect of owning such a book.  As a book lover and a reader with a small brain that can hardly contain much after a reading, I think highly of a book purchase.  I want to know that whatever book that I want to purchase will be able to allow me to have access to it for its entire lifespan.  With a physical book, physical damages can definitely shorten a lifespan of a book.  With a digital book, a file corruption can just be as lethal.

Since digital books have become so prevalent today, it’s in our interest to ponder on the meaning of purchasing a digital book.  Is it truly necessary to actually own digital books?  The prevalence of digital books have upended the possibility of actually owning a book as the case in which NBC News had reported, and knowing this is truly saddening me.  It’s saddening me not because I might not be able to revisit the same book decades later, but it’s more of a case of knowing a digital book outlet can turn off one’s account to prevent one from having any access to a digital library that supposedly being owned by…  Perhaps, owning a digital library is not actually owning?  When one cannot truly own a copy of a digital book, is it worse than a book burning?  Of course not, because a book burning equates to eradicate all copies of a book from the existence, thus some important knowledge might as well be lost.  With having said blocking one from his or her digital book library isn’t as bad as book burning, this is still pretty serious.  This begs us to ask, isn’t digital-information age is all about spreading more knowledge and not about having barriers between a woman and her books or a man and his books?

It’s understandable that some degree of greed is tolerable.  A good example of this would be a software which gets update often with newer features… and the buyers don’t have to actually outright owned this software as they’re more of renting it even though they are actually buying it.  I think it’s intolerable for digital books to be treated just the same as software.  Even a technical, digital book that gets update often with newer knowledge, the buyers still have to purchase the updated version of the book with the same or even at a higher price.  There is no guaranty that any software that is being updated will have a cheaper upgrade price, but it’s mostly the case that we see newer versions of many software get cheaper upgrade prices.  The same thing cannot be said for most books, digital or not.  With this understanding, I think vastly different digital products should be purchased and owned in different manners.  Personally, I think the acts of buying and owning digital books should equate to  the acts of buying and actually owning digital books.  How come I didn’t compare the acts of buying and owning of digital books to the acts of buying and owning of physical books?  It’s because I think the acts of purchasing and owning digital books should speak for themselves.  For an example, nobody should have to ever again fear that one cannot have access to her or his digital book library just because he or she might anger a digital book outlet overlord for whatever reasons.  Sure, a person can just go to another digital book outlet to purchase the same books to build a digital library again, but this means this person has to spend more money for the same things.  One has to wonder though, what if several specific books would only be carried by the digital book outlet which had banned a person’s access to his or her digital book library?

In conclusion, it might be wrong of me to think that it’s almost OK for one to complicit in renting a software even though one actually is purchasing a software.  It also might be wrong of me to almost compare the case of being banned from a (paid for and owned by) digital content library as to a case of book burning.  Nonetheless, I think we have to admit that having a common sense on owning digital contents is really really important.  Furthermore, to narrow down our focus, I think it’s super important for us to have a common sense on owning digital books.  After all, digital books have become so prevalent!  Digital books are so prevalent in a sense that people tend to reach out for them more than otherwise.  Whether people want to acquire knowledge conveniently or not through the mean of digital books, digital books are so ready to be purchased on a moment of temptation.  Perhaps, digital books will become one of the few preferable ways for people to acquire knowledge fast and cheaply.  As digital books may become even more prevalent than how they already are, it’s in our interest to know and question our digital book consuming behaviors (i.e., buying and owning digital contents).  Thus, I wonder is it truly necessary to actually own digital books?

Source:  http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/you-dont-own-your-kindle-books-amazon-reminds-customer-1C6626211