The Uncanny Valley

Grown-up? Child? Both?

Grown-up? Child? Both?

Have you ever read/heard the term “The Uncanny Valley”?

It refers to the way the human brain perceives the slight differences between real human beings, or real living creatures, and the not-quite-there facsimiles created with rubber plastic and clay or in computer generated 3d animations.

Reborn Dolls are pretty scary as they really do resemble human babies

Reborn Dolls are pretty scary as they really do resemble human babies

The small differences in looks, or movements, or even behavior, may cause revulsion in us humans when we see it.

Why? that’s the million dollar question.

Hand in hand? Inside hand?

Hand in hand? Inside hand?

It’s that fine line between what our brains “see” as real – something that conforms with what we’re accustomed to look at as “normal” – and the obviously fake and artificially generated. It can be a doll, a photo, a humanoid robot, or anything else that doesn’t quite fit the bill of “normal”.

But how do we decide what is normal and what is not? some say that it has to do with the correct geometry and aspect ratio of the human/animal body/face. The ratio determining the distance between the eyes, the size and proportions of the nose, ears, eyes and even hair line and forehead.

Sometimes it simply has to do with motion. You might see a perfect replica of a human being, but the second that replica starts to move or speak, you can tell it’s not the real thing. It may be too slow, too fast, or even just too clumsy to be a real human.

But times are changing, and the too-real-to-tell is practically here. Mostly in computer games, and films. Most of the CGI effects in films and TV today are pretty seamless and are very difficult to tell from the regular shots. You can still see some difference at times, but the more budget a film has, the less chance you’ll see that disturbing change from what you think is real.

Do you think we’ve crossed the uncanny valley, or are we still mid-travel?

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Bitcoin Outlawed

No-Bitcoin-Allowed

Bitcoin being outlawed is not a new thing. The new-ish digital currency had many bumps on the road since it’s inception back in 2009.

One of the first that actually outlawed it, was Iceland which used an existing legislation made in 2008 to protect the local currency (Krona) against value loss. Bitcoin is illegal to sell and buy in Iceland, with one exception – Bitcoin that’s been mined in Iceland may be bought and sold freely.

The two other countries that explicitly outlaw the popular crypto-currency are Ecuador, and Bolivia. Both governments/central banks quote the usual excuses against Bitcoin – being the rapid fluctuation in value (ignoring the fact that their local currencies are just as unstable and usually lose value over time, while bitcoin mostly goes up), and the possible use for criminal purposes. Naturally, the real reason behind this move, comes from the fear the Bitcoin will become more popular than the state currency and will bring a collapse in value as well as loss of control over their financial systems.

Other countries, such as China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, and Lebanon restrict the use of Bitcoin with different levels of severity. They have similar concerns, but prefer to keep a close eye on the situation rather than outlaw Bitcoin all together.

One of the biggest concerns of all countries is the difficulty in taxing Bitcoin based transactions. As it is all done on an open-source, peer-to-peer platform over the global internet, taxation of such deals, as well as monitoring of global transactions is quite difficult to say the least.

Does, and will it stop or even slow down Bitcoin, especially in these countries that choose to outlaw it? probably not, for the reasons I mentioned previously. It will drive it to be an underground asset, but won’t slow it down.

People today have no better way of transferring money from one point on the globe, to any other point on the globe within minutes with little to no fee.  Western Union and similar money transfer services take a hefty fee and are also exposed to legal scrutiny as well as taxation. But bitcoin can go under the radar, with its ability to be moved either over the internet, using usb memory sticks, or even on a single piece of paper (paper wallet).

Here you got a live map of the world and the current legal status of Bitcoin in each of the countries:

Bitlegal

What do you think? Will Bitcoin depend on the good will of governments and become harnessed in heavy handed regulation, or will it continue to be a free option for the people of the world?

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HYIP dry/crash season

hyipgrowing

As you may know, I’ve been doubling with HYIP Websites for the last few months.

Just as the name implies, these are risky programs and are close neighbors (for the most if not the whole part) of the Ponzi Scheme.

And, as it turns out, the summer months (June-July-August) are the dry and riskiest season to invest in these programs. It may be the heat, or that people go on vacations, or maybe they’ve got enough interest or losses from previous investments.

In any case, people tend to lower their activities over these months, and as a direct result – even though the number of new hyip websites does not decrease much, the number of scams (sites that closed and whose administrators ran away with the money collected) and very short lived programs shoots up.

Some recent examples: Terra-elegance, ForexGHQ, and Zippfy were all quite successful while running but chose to close down after a relatively short run. These are the bigger ones and those that were run by experienced administrators.

So how can you keep safe in these treacherous waters? I got a guide for that and you’re getting it for Free! Enjoy it, and feel free to spread it around, as long as the content is left unchanged. Thanks:

Click here to get my updated rules to invest in HYIP!

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Why are computer/video games in movies always so much better?

Thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures for this image from the film "Her"

Thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures for this image from the film “Her”

I don’t know why, but somewhere on the way from mind to reality, computer games never turn out as cool as they do appear in films.

It may be budget constraints, lack of technological advancement, or simply lack of imagination, but somehow the films that depict games always make them look super-cool!

The photo above is just one of the latest examples, but others exist. The holodeck from “Star trek: The next generation” being one of the biggest ones, allowing one to create elaborate vistas and scene where they can play a role or engage in any activities they can make up.

In real life, the pursuit after a realistic or even semi-realistic gaming is quite elusive and makes slow (but definite) progress. No holodeck yet, but Oculus Rift brings us a big step forward towards virtual reality, and immersive open world games such as GTA 5, Watch_Dogs and others give us more and more freedom and semblance to the world we know around us.

What’s in store ahead? I see “Star Citizen: Squadron 42” as one of the spearhead bearers for the future. A game funded by the masses, continually evolving and growing and will offer one of the biggest and most immersive experiences to date with a space simulation that doesn’t stay in a space craft cockpit, but let’s you roam and experience a large and varied living universe of stars, planets, countries and cities.

I don’t know when and if we will get to a point where enough power and sophistication allows game to interact with us as well as we interact with them, but I’m sure the road ahead will show us some amazing things along the way.

What do you think?

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Drops and Bits of Bitcoin

Trying to get your grabby hands on my bitcoins? Shame on you!

Trying to get your grabby hands on my bitcoins, France? Shame on you!

On the regulation front, Wallstreet Journal reports that France is planning to implement new rules for financial institutions (like banks, investment houses, money exchanges, and any other possible bitcoin distributor) that will force them to collect and verify the identities of their users before opening any accounts for them to trade/buy/sell Bitcoin. These new rules are expected to be put in place by the end of this year (2014). The move will expose Bitcoin, which will now be classified in france as an asset, to taxation under France’s “Fortune tax“.

Bitcoin to reach 2000$ by end of year? Better go buy some!

Bitcoin to reach 2000$ by end of year? Better go buy some!

Bitcoin value now hovers around 620-640 USD per coin. But The Telegraph online version reports that there are estimations that the crypto-coin rising interest will bring to a soar in value to 2000 USD by the end of the year. Geof Lewis, a partner at the Founders Fund, made this statement at CoinSummit in London about a week ago. His statement is backed by Millionaire investor Roger Ver who’s been also known as “Bitcoin Jesus“. Ver even claimed that 2000 USD is a fairly conservative estimate, and that the value will continue its upward climb to thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, due to the finite nature of Bitcoin and it’s global spread.

Italy doesn't like its citizens having freedom with their own money..

Italy doesn’t like its citizens having freedom with their own money..

Now Italy is trying to hitch a ride on the regulation bandwagon as Italian authorities issue warnings regarding Bitcoin usage in money laundering operations, terrorism financing, and mafia activities. Luigi Ciampoli, the Attorney General of Rome, urged for regulation in order to  allow the government to trace and identify all those who deal with digital currency.

Does it seem a little grim? Well, not all is lost. The more regulation tries to slap its tentacles around Bitcoin’s slippery neck, the more solutions are being worked on around the open code community to offer more anonymity and freedom of global transactions. One of the more interesting ones is Etherum which is planned as a globally scalable platform for secure transactions using a new decentralized cryptocurrency named “Ether”. It will include tools that will permit direct dealings between individuals without the need for a third party (aside from the platform itself). However, it does seem to pose a challenge for the good not-so-old Bitcoin.  Gavin Andersen, the lead developer of Bitcoin, believes that the actual Bitcoin 2.0 can implement most needed changes within Bitcoin itself without needing to switch the world to a new cryptocurrency.

What do you think?

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Bitcoin Poised for a drop?

F.B.I. Got Coin

F.B.I. Got Coin

Bitcoin is about to take a hit. It is already declining in value due to the news.

The news are simple: on June 27th, the Federal Bureau of Investigations will sell the Bitcoin that’s been seized from the wallets of Ross Ulbricht who’s suspected to be the alleged “Dread Pirate Roberts”. The huge bitcoin loot amounts to just under 30,000 Bitcoins, worth about 17 Million dollars by today’s values.

The F.B.I. is planning to split the amount into 10 blocks, 9 blocks of 3000 Bitcoins each, and the last one is of the remaining balance - 2656.51306529 Bitcoins.

People and organizations who are interested in bidding, will have to produce a deposit of 200,000 dollars as well as a government issued photo ID and a filled PDF registration form to prove their identity and legitimecy.

The winner/s will be announced 3 days later, on June 30th. The psychological effect of this event is bigger than the normal effect of such a sale. This amount of bitcoin is a day’s worth of one of the bitcoin exchanges and should not impact the general value significantly.

However, it is my opinion that Bitcoin will not only recover, but this event will drive the next jump in value. The reason is that this kind of event induces a lot of publicity, and the media coverage will push the public interest in bitcoin even further than before.

Also, the sale will push more Bitcoin into the mass market and that will give it another boost.

What do you think?

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HYIPs Round-Up

Cash money

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of looking and checking out of this somewhat unknown and dark-ish field of High Yield Investment Programs, or HYIPs for short.

I even wrote a post about Leancy, the now closed but still well remembered and very successful at the time. It introduced a slick interface, live accrual of interest, and immediate withdrawals. But, like most or all other HYIPs, it had an expiry date which apparently was set at the princely sum of 5 Million Dollars. Once that magic figure was achieved, the administrator packed his/her bags (of money), and left all those who did not cover their investments in a lurch.

But that’s the risky part of these programs. People know that they can lose all or some of their money, but still take the chance because the possible rewards are HUGE.

And so, the smartest way to approach the problem is cautiously and with a size of investment that you are able to lose without much despair.

I will now present a few of the Programs I currently invest in:

ForexGHQ

 

ForexGHQ: A 30 Days program that gets you 2.6% each day from 10 USD to 500 USD. There are also higher profit programs but they require higher investments and/or longer periods of time.

Accept payments:  

 

Lucrativa

Lucrativa: 1% – 3% Daily. Principal Back Anytime. That means, that if you get worried that the plan is going under soon, you can cut your bets by withdrawing your investment (and keeping whatever you managed to withdraw till that point). Compounding is allowed.

Accept payments:  

 

Terra Elegance

Terra Elegance: The most interesting one so far. It offers continuous plans that depends on the size of your investment, but essentially it’s a daily interest of 9% for 10-100 USD, 10.5% for 25-250 USD,  12.7% for 50-500 USD, and 14% for 75-750 USD. They should last longer as they take 7% of any withdrawal as a fee. They also allow compounding.

Accept payments:  

One thing to remember: These are limited life schemes. Invest only as much as you can afford to lose – in case you do lose.

 

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Drops of Tech & Bitcoin News

Softbank human-like Personal Robot

We knew this day was coming, the sci-fi film and literature industries have taught us well: A Japanese corporation called “Softbank” announced that it will begin sale of personal robots by February 2015. These personal robots are meant to be used as baby sitters (or maybe monitors?), nurses , emergency medical workers and even party companions (“This is Rob, my party companion”) .

Woven carbon fibre

What if your new electric car’s battery was actually the car’s body? That’s what the KTH institute of technology in Sweden is working on. The smart guys there are working on using carbon fibre as the electrodes of the battery and in this way reduce the weight of the battery (and the car itself) considerably. However.. and even though carbon fibre got great tensile strength, I would be worried about what might happens in a case of a crash or collision..

Muscle memory is awesome!

Wearable computing almost automatically brings to mind Google glass, or the slew of android watches starring on the covers of magazines and gadget news sites. But this glove is actually useful! It is claimed that it can teach you how to play music, by using 5 small built-in motors to invoke muscle memory in your hand. Within two hours, the writer of the article was able to play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, and that is truly amazing for someone who never took piano lessons.

Bitcoin is the next big thing?

Is bitcoin coming to ebay (and Paypal as a result)? According to the CEO of ebay, the answer is a resounding “Yes” and pretty soon by the looks of it. That may be the breakthrough the digital currency is waiting for, that will shut the lead on all the Ponzi accusers – when Bitcoin will be accepted as currency for the customers of the online auction giant. We shall wait and see, but for now at least we know that ebay’s CEO is actually holding some bitcoin :)

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Review: Gas Guzzlers Extreme

Gas Guzzlers Extreme

Many years ago, there used to be a old racing game called “DeathTrack”. It featured for the first time (that I know) a racing game that involves the racers shooting each others (as well as crashing into each other) with a variety of destructive weapons – from mounted shotguns, to missile launchers, as well as spikes on the wheel rims in order to puncture your opponent’s tires.

Good ol’ floppy disks

It was great fun at the time and really held a sense of excitement.

And now comes “Gas Guzzlers Extreme” – the 21st century virtual re-incarnation of the same game.

Graphics are slick, music is varied (from hillbilly tunes to german folk and metal), and the racing battles are ferocious as before, if not more so.

You start off with a certain amount of money that’s only gets you a basic clunker, but as you race, and if you win one of the first places, you make enough money to start to upgrade – first the car’s innards – engine, brakes, suspension, through weapon systems and such and even change the exterior using decals, color schemes and the like.

The game’s damage system is quite good, and damage shows on every part of the car. You cannot really “die” in the game, as even if your car gets totalled, you’ll just return to your garage – and hope you have enough money for repairs, or else you might need to scrap and start over.

The learning curve may be a bit steep. If you lose your place on the first 3 (and that may happen faster than you can anticipate, when guns and mines are involved), it may prove quite difficult to make your way up the chain, especially when you consider that all cars in a battle race hold the ability to look back, and shoot backwards.

The game allows six race modes:

Classic Race – Racing without weapons or power-ups (those items you may pick during your race for repairs and ammo as well as added arsenal items) – pure racing with no worries but getting there first

Power race – Another no weapons (but with power-ups) mode – gives a bit of a possible edge, still much less violence and explosions.

Battle race - This one allows you to use all weapons in your arsenal to thin out the weak. The rewards are higher than the other previous modes, as are the risks.

Knockout race – In this mode, the worst driver is eliminated from the race at the end of each lap, and the last remaining driver is the winner. The eliminated drivers get nothing but hurt pride.

DeathMatch – a game event where the player is required to score as many kills as possible. The match ends when the player reaches the max kills counter, or the time runs out. If you die you get to be respawned without weapons or power-ups but to continue the fight.

Last Man Standing – Similar to deathmatch, as you need to score as many kills and stay alive, but this time if you die you don’t get respawned and the last driver left is the winner.

You can spend hours on this addictive game. A word of warning: The developer has put an original protection scheme inside the game so that a pirated copy may begin to stutter in performance to the point where the game is close to unplayable – so try and support the game industry?

The game came out on October 2013, for PC.

I give it 8/10 for pure violent fun!

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Bitcoin Leaps ahead and breaks the 600 USD barrier

It’s only a number, but it took a while to get back to it

Good day to you all!

Bitcoin shows signs of picking up the last two days as it zooms past the 600 USD mark and pushes forward.

This is a result of a surge of new purchases of the digital currency from China especially – even in light (or maybe dark) of the recent government steps taken to diminish bitcoin transaction in this superpower.

But, it’s also driven by the rise of business investments and opportunities both from known companies (Amazon is showing definite signs of adopting bitcoin as payment method according to a new patent application, in spite of its public claim that it will not do so, and Paypal has been working on a multi-coin digital wallet that will support bitcoin), as well as statements from big-name investors and big-name financial experts. Some of them still doubt bitcoin viability for the long term, but none of them is as adamant as they were about it a year ago.

Next milestone will be the 1200 USD mark. It seems exaggerated, but not so much when you see that bitcoin achieved over 60% rise in the last month and a half. A value of 1200 USD will break the psychological barrier that many have been fighting against since it rose to that height just to touch it, and then quickly fall down again. Also, it seems that that rise was influenced by a massive buy move made by a robotic program inside the infamous MT. Gox bitcoin exchange. That program went on running and buying even when the exchange was closed for business for anybody else which strongly suggests it’s been running from inside the exchanges own servers.

It may also explain the drop in value and rut that went on for a while after MT. Gox closed for business. However, now (hopefully) there are no evil robots mixed in the fray, and this rise is all due to the renewed understanding of people that Bitcoin is a great alternative for state money.

Let me know what you think!

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