Bitcoin - I Hardly Knew Ya
I first heard of Bitcoin when the Free Software Foundation announced they would start accepting it for donations. Before long another story about Bitcoin appeared in my news feeds. Then another. And another. Then the new currency got a black eye, and finally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation stopped accepting donations of it. You know something is on very shaky ground when a non-profit will no longer accept donations of it.
Bitcoin began life just two short years ago as what some may characterize as an experiment in a new currency. It was to be one that wasn't tied to any country currency and demonstrated the characteristics of rising or decreasing in value somewhat like a stock on an exchange. Perhaps the best advantage of using Bitcoin currency was the ability to conduct purchases anonymously.
That latter point was driven home in an article on Gawker.com highlighting how many Bitcoin users were using their anonymous currency to purchase illegal drugs and other outlawed commodities such as incandescent light bulbs. That eye-opening article lead to an increase in the exchange rate of Bitcoin units, but also brought it to the attention to some of the same lawmakers that outlawed the incandescent light bulbs. With legitimate concerns such as illegal drug and prostitution activity, these senators and key justice department figures are seeking to shut down the Silk Road, the anonymous site used to sell and purchase illegal goods, and investigate how to castrate Bitcoin. Bitcoin is used for numerous legal tranactions as well, much like Bittorrent, such as donations to non-profits or paying for IT services. Some think of it as an investment. This chart shows the rise and fall of Bitcoin exchange rates coinciding with the Gawker.com story and subsequent hack and theft of Bitcoin user account data.
On June 19 hackers broke into and stole the database of accounts from Mt. Gox where most of the Bitcoin activity originated. When the news broke, many Bitcoin holders dumped their "coins" and combined with the flood of stolen coins sent the exchange rate back down to almost nothing. Mt. Gox immediately locked their system down. Rollbacks are being implemented, and accounts are being restored. Mark Karpeles, a Mt. Gox spokesman, posted that exchange rates should also be back to approximately $17.50 when everything is back to normal.
Not just because of the hack into Mt. Gox but for several reasons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation decided to no longer accept Bitcoin donations to help fund their civil liberties group. Among the other issues cited stem from legalities of using the currency and trying to convert Bitcoins into real cash. The EFF also did not want to be construed as endorsing Bitcoin or Mt. Gox.
As of this writing, the Free Software Foundation is still accepting Bitcoin donations. Nevertheless, the future of Bitcoin is very uncertain. Even if folks can figure out where they might use this obscure currency, can get over their fear of volatility, and discover how to purchase or earn some Bitcoinage; those in power will surely find a way to destroy anything they don't understand or can't control and tax.
Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
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