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posted by martyb on Saturday November 05 2016, @04:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the ether-is-ephemeral? dept.

[Ed note: According to Wikipedia, Ethereum "... is a public blockchain-based distributed computing platform, featuring smart contract functionality. It provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine, that can execute peer-to-peer contracts using a cryptocurrency called ether."]

I've been experimenting with digital currencies over the past few months. As of today, I give up on Ethereum. After the DAO mess, and the hard-fork, the block chain has become huge. I tried a fresh resync today, and gave up after it reached more than 70GB; restarted with --fast (which uses an abbreviated format), and it has been running for hours. Ethereum has apparently become unusable unless you trust an online service, which kind of defeats the point.

On a related note: It is now possible to get a refund from The DAO [The Decentralized Autonomous Organization -Ed.] I received an informative email from the BTC/ETH broker I use, explaining how to do this. In a nutshell:

  1. Visit This will take you to a page called "Withdraw DAO"
  2. Locate your wallet - you will have to give the service access (if you don't trust them, create a new wallet). Mist users: Your wallet is a "keystore file", you can locate it under Accounts:Backup:Accounts.
  3. You will then have to provide your password, to unlock your wallet.
  4. Select Withdraw DAO for ETH

If you bought The DAO near the end, when you were paying a premium, you can repeat the process in the tab "Withdraw extraBalance" to reclaim the premium that you paid. You can also repeat the process, to withdraw into the ETC hard-fork. I went through all of this today, and it was a surprisingly easy process.

Then - since synchronization appears to be impossible - you can use that same online service to get rid of your ETH:

  1. Go to your broker, and tell them you want to buy BTC with ETH.
  2. Go to MyEtherWallet, select "Send Ether and Tokens", and complete the payment in ETH.
  3. Note: You may want to leave 0.05 ETH or so in your wallet, if you think you might want to try ETH again someday. This would pay for "gas" for some future transaction.

Meanwhile, I've not only done all of that, but also submitted this story, and the ETH "fast" synchronization still isn't finished. Bye bye Ethereum...

P.S. I have no connection to except as a happy customer.

Original Submission

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Robbing the Ethereum Stagecoach 17 comments

Some time ago, I wrote that I had given up on Ethereum. While the problems coming from the DAO hack are now in the past Ethereum has had a few other problems.

Granted, these problems have nothing to do with Ethereum itself. They are all exploits in the surrounding ecosystem. Hacking the CoinDash website to replace their public wallet address was particularly cheeky. This all reminds me of tales of the Wild West, when money was transferred between banks by stagecoach or by train. The technology simply didn't exist to provide the necessary security way the heck out on the prairie.

Seems like that's where we are now. The necessary technology does not exist, to provide the security that currencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin really require. Website hacks are a dime a dozen, and when a hack can be worth $millions... The same for software: When professional programmers still write code vulnerable to SQL injection - when our platforms even allow this as a possibility - then we simply do not have the technology to secure the stagecoach.

$30 Million Below Parity: Ethereum Wallet Bug Fingered in Mass Heist
Hacker Allegedly Steals $7.4 Million in Ethereum During ICO
Used GPUs Flood the Market as Ethereum's Price Crashes Below $150
Ethereum Mining Craze Leads to GPU Shortages
Ethereum Unusable, DAO Refunds Possible

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  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:12PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:12PM (#422892) Homepage

    Dabbling in Buttcoins is gambling. Might as well take your pistol and a bottle of malt liquor and go shoot dice with Blacks in an alley somewhere.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:32PM (#422894)

      I shouldn't be surprised that EF uses bitcoins for gay sex with black men... But there you have it!

  • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:54PM

    by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Saturday November 05 2016, @06:54PM (#422897)

    Now, I have to go troll Bitcointalk for my appropriate "told-you-so" post.

    Coloured coins were never going to work. They defeat the whole purpose of money, which is to be fungible.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @07:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @07:32PM (#422902)

      And yet there are other things people want to do as part of exchanging value. Just because one thing has always been one way does not mean something new can not also do new things too.

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 05 2016, @10:34PM

      by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 05 2016, @10:34PM (#422934)

      And yet, by the end of the 19th \ early 20th century there were some 20 foreign banks operating dozens of branches in China cities and ports all buying and selling different notes using different rates. Even in the same city, you'd see the likes of Chartered buying and selling at different rates the same currencies.

      Overall, so long as you can get one rate with a small exchange, but a better rate with a big exchange, the commoditization of currency will always challenge fungibility.

      • (Score: 1) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Sunday November 06 2016, @05:10AM

        by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Sunday November 06 2016, @05:10AM (#423023)

        You missed my point.

        If a currency is not fungible, it is no longer a currency: it is a collectible.

        It may be valuable, but it is not as easy to exchange as something that is fungible.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @08:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @08:37PM (#422918)

    How is this still a thing?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @08:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @08:49PM (#422923)

    People come to SN for the comments?

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06 2016, @12:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06 2016, @12:27AM (#422957)

    I have been thinking about this since the original cryptocurrency discussions on the Internet, on the Cypherpunks mailing list, back in the '90s.

    I get the part about generating really large, statistically unique encryption keys and using those keys to establish who you are - you are the person with the key, or keys.

    There is a one-to-many relationship, person-to-keys, but that's OK as long as you are just using the system to establish authenticity.

    (As an aside, it is also possible to design a system where each person has one and only one encryption key - but, outside of the context of your organization, there is nothing to stop your employees from collecting other, similar keys that identify them to other, similar organizations, and so the relationship returns to being a one-to-many, as described above.)

    I get the part about using those keys to encrypt transactions so that prying eyes can't see what you are saying. Is it a bill? Is it a payment? Is it a Playmate JPEG? No way to know.

    I'm still a little vague about the repository of value. Someone, somewhere, needs to back this with something, otherwise it's not a currency, it's a fad. Right now Bitcoin is backed by public demand for Bitcoin. That's self-evidently circular reasoning and it's not going to last.

    I think the best use for these technologies would be in the creation of local currencies.

    Let's say you're a town in Colorado, or maybe you're Amsterdam. You have gold, you have silver, you have lead ... and you have marijuana. Tons of hashish.

    So you create a Cannibuck. It's a cannabis-backed bill. A one-unit bill is worth 1 gram of top-grade hashish. A 5-unit is worth 5 grams. Every note has a big honkin' encryption key embedded in it that identifies it to the central currency point of issue - and an expiration date, by which time the money must have been used, and returned to the 'bank' - perhaps exchanged for another, newer note.

    You need to be 18 years old if you want to go into the post office/state bank/dispensary to convert your notes into hashish, but that's not a problem, because there's a steady demand from people over 18 years old.

    The best part of all is that because the material backing the currency is organic, it decays over time and so it MUST be consumed in a timely fashion.

    I'm not against the central currency issue point being some sort of blockchain thingy but I think it needs human oversight. The blockchain would be most useful for identifying bills that were in your possession, if you were ever robbed, so that those bills could be marked 'stolen' and new bills issued to replace them.

    The nice thing about this is that because each 'bill' is, fundamentally, an encrypted identification and maybe denomination ... IE, just a sequence of binary digits ... its primary existence is digital, and so while it CAN be printed out, and scanned in ... it can also be transferred, electronically ... but in either case, it does not contain any identifying data.

    Food for thought.


    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by zeigerpuppy on Sunday November 06 2016, @02:07AM

      by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Sunday November 06 2016, @02:07AM (#422979)

      Bitcoin is backed by more than just speculative value,
      In particular it presents a cost efficient means of transferring money between jurisdictions (thereby reducing transaction fees). It also presets a potential hedge against currency volatility.
      There's a reason that big businesses are investing in bitcoin; the system itself has uses even if you're not interested in the bitcoin value per se.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06 2016, @02:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06 2016, @02:19AM (#422988)

      Public demand is what gives currencies value. So if bitcoin is used by people then it has value.

  • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Sunday November 06 2016, @06:23AM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Sunday November 06 2016, @06:23AM (#423040) Journal

    C'mon guys, two spell check fails in a single day?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by bradley13 on Sunday November 06 2016, @08:18AM

      by bradley13 (3053) on Sunday November 06 2016, @08:18AM (#423062) Homepage Journal

      Hey, if that's the worst thing you can find to complain about, your life is pretty ok...

      Seriuosly, the original typo is mine, and I did proofread before submitting. Life happens.

      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.