Bitcoin – Get Rich or At Least Have Fun Watching the Ride

A few years ago – I set up a bitcoin wallet, but I didn’t really have $100 to spend on something that was probably going to be replaced by something else – I saw the value proposition of Bitcoin, but the interface and use was too clunky. I set up my antique shop to accept bitcoin but in 2013 – in a small coastal Oregon town – nobody was using Bitcoin, not even me. Ouch…

This morning I watched a screaming rally of Bitcoin from $16000 per coin to $19000 per coin. Yesterday, I watched it go from $12000 to $16000. In the past month, it’s gone from $5000 to $12000. This year it has gone from $1000 to the $19000+ I saw this morning. Yeah.

I was actually looking at bitcoin back when it was $13 per coin – I thought it was cool. At that point, $20 was a lot to me. That $20 would have been close to $60k this morning. You know, assuming that I sold it at the high before it dropped to $15k and now it is back to $17k.

Right now, looking at it – I can see that if I buy it at this price, I can possibly double or triple my money. Some people are saying that the bitcoin will ultimately be worth as much as $1 million dollars – and they aren’t crazy fringe people. So, can I really not afford the cost of a bitcoin? Actually, I can’t but a little itty bitty bit of a bitcoin? Like $100 worth? I can do that.

And, a more advanced coin, called Litecoin is no available – it’s faster, more agile for payments, and more secure.

In a few days, the news reports that mainstream futures exchanges are taking Bitcoin mainstream. Some people say that will make it boom further, others that it will cause it to bust. I don’t know.

I’ve bought my hundred dollars worth. It probably won’t make me rich – but stranger things have happened.
I bought at Coinbase Click the link and both you and I will get an extra $10 in bitcoin if you buy $100 worth. At coinbase you can buy Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Etherium. Bitcoin is the rollercoaster right now.

Have fun. I hope you get super rich.

Getting Left Behind – A Technological Cautionary Tale

I was riding high in 2011 and 2012. I was living in Africa and traveling the world with an office in Istanbul, an office in Morocco, and a fake office in Hawaii – just because it was the only way to stay connected to my home. I was publishing an online magazine and employed a dozen award winning writers, photographers, and social media experts. I had two virtual assistants and my website was routinely fighting for the top tier of travel sites and blogs. I was earning close to $10k per month and life was really really good. My ego was blown up like a three week dead donkey’s bloated stomach. I was going all over Europe on press trips and to travel conferences. I bragged to a friend that I was being smart about my good fortune by investing it all back in the business that was most profitable for me – travel websites of any quality on which I could sell advertising. I remember his words of caution when I said “There are only so many good domains for websites so at some point, the big travel companies are going to have to buy mine. It’s like investing in real estate.” As a real estate investor, he knew better. I didn’t

And then, in the seeming blink of an eye, shit changed. It was a process that stretched over about two years – but looking back, I can see that it happened pretty quickly.

My business was based on gaming search engine results, most notably Google. I pushed my own sites higher and higher while using those metrics to sell links which pushed other sites higher and higher. At my highest point I had close to two hundred travel websites and then – while waiting for the next page rank update – something awful happened.

First of all – Google suspended my adsense account and cut me off from everything I had earned since the last payment – several thousand dollars. It pissed me off and I appealed the decision, but Google answers to no one. I still can’t use adsense. It wasn’t my biggest revenue source so it wasn’t that big a deal but it was the harbinger of more to come.

Next, a whole shitload of new social media jumped on the scene. Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumbler, Snapchat, Vine, and a thousand or so that didn’t work or last long. I was trying to stay on top of them all, trying to maintain my pole postion, and trying to keep my sites relevant. It was full time and more changes followed quickly. The first was a sort of non-event. Google simply stopped updating pagerank – they gave one last PR update which penalized my sites for some low quality links I’d allowed through – finance and gambling thinly disguised as travel. My PR5 site was stuck at a PR3. That brough all my other sites down as well…a huge number of my sites dropped to PR0.

Suddenly PR wasn’t the metric that the SEO agencies were using to determine ad rates. They were using a whole bunch of metrics that I didn’t really understand and that I ranked pretty badly in. I’d taken a whole bunch of shortcuts and it was showing. I rode a bubble and it popped. Google updated their search algorithms and I dropped hard in the rankings. My traffic dropped from 10,000 per day to 1,000 and by 2013, despite my frantic efforts to harness the new social media and new SEO, I was outpaced and left behind. My traffic dropped to 400 visits per day. Nobody wanted to pay for that.

GooglePlus seemed like the answer. Google was taking on Facebook and me and nearly everyone else thought GooglePlus was going to dominate – but of course, that didn’t happen. I went all in for Google Plus. I began ignoring Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and everything else to focus on G-Plus. I fucked myself with Google that time. They simply gave up on it when they realized that they were going to get hit with a whole shitload of privacy invasion lawsuits.

In early 2013, we moved to the United States. Video and streaming technologies got seriously cheaper and better. Youtube became the most important platform. I had nothing there. I tried to keep things going but advertising and revenue dried up. I let writers and photographers go, I stopped updating, and I deleted hard won sites and media from social networks. I got bitter and angry and I started to become paranoid about the level of privacy intrusion the internet was reaching. I moved backwards in time and began selling antiques.

As I’ve written before, Blogging, like I’m doing now, is pretty much irrelevant. The big travel companies learned to bypass the small media. In 2017, I earned $1000 blogging. Residual from my work in 2012, but that has dried up. Next year, unless something seriously changes, there will be even less. My social media accounts are irrelevant at best. Facebook realized it was foolish to share everything users shared when it could charge users for the same sharing. My other accounts don’t amount to much. Maybe 50k followers total and who knows how many of them are actually real people or still active.

I find myself today, left behind. I was an innovator at one point – but I couldn’t keep up. I tried to go in every direction and then I went all in on the wrong platform. In hindsight, I should have made a good Youtube channel and focused on it, but the truth is – my whole approach was flawed from the get go. I wrote books that help people without money to live better and none of my interests tend to be really commercial or marketable…I don’t write about new phones or makeup or things that can be unboxed or airline points or how to make money on the web.

I point out the shortcomings of our fucked up human civilization and the imminent demise of it. I’m not telling people to buy gold or build a bug-out shelter. My goal is to get people to think about how fucked up we are as a species and to stop being consumers, to stop being ruled by capitalists, and to stop being assholes. There isn’t really any money in that. I’m willing but haven’t found the right product yet. Or maybe I should say that the right product hasn’t found me yet.

Most likely, our civilization is going to keep moving forward and the pace of people getting left behind, like me, is going to accelerate as artificial intelligence, big data surveillance, and normal capitalist fuck-youism contineus as usual. So, what’s the moral of my tale? What’s the lesson?

I suppose it comes down to this – shit is changing faster all the time. Look both ways before you cross the internet or a self driving truck is going to leave donuts all over your fucking lawn.

It’s Probably Too Late – We’ve already fucked ourselves.

I was that ten year old kid in the early 1980s with a subscription to OMNI. I’ve been fascinated with the topics that magazine covered ever since. I’ve been following the rise of machine intelligence and the human quest to live forever (even if within a machine’s databanks)for most of my life. I probably should have focused my career on those things – but frankly – I was too busy cramming as much experience into every moment as I could in my teens and twenties – and, again frankly – I got sidetracked by the very tricky and deceptive path of drugs and alcohol. I didn’t destroy myself with them, thankfully, but I lost some very good years to them. People are often amazed at the number of things I’ve done in my life – and the reason is because from very early on I’ve been aware of the fact that I’m going to die and no moment is guaranteed. So, I’ve been cramming life ever since – the Marines, a dozen careers, travel all over the world, extreme experiences, and much to my regret – a lot of drunkenness and stupidness as a result. If I could give one piece of advice to any young person it would simply be “Don’t drink alchohol.” I loved all the wild experiences of my drunken heroes, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway – but the experiences weren’t enhanced by their drinking – I found out too late, they were dimmed by it. Oh well, if a young person is reading this – take heed…

In any event, a life that could have been spent studying artificial intelligence or economics or genetics – instead has been spent in a pretty enjoyable fashion. And here I am – a hobbyist in all these topics – which probably takes me beyond the layman but not to the level of expert – but then, maybe I’m being modest. I understand these concepts and I understand the long term ramifications of them. And – I think we are all fucked and it’s too late now. I don’t think the machines are going to march on us with guns or blow us up with weapons. I think they are going to use our psychology to make us to whatever the machines ultimately decide is best for us. I think we have taken our autonomy and given it away.

The Christian religion – and most of the others – say that God gave us free will. It was the greatest gift of all. And we’ve given it away. We may think we have free will – but it is already much reduced from even what it was when I was a child. No wonder people are doping themselves to death – it may be the only choice they have left. They didn’t really have the choice not to start – most of them were prescribed or peer pressured or led to it somehow. The Facebook and Google and Amazon algorhythms are telling us what to think, what to buy, what to click, what to feel, what to do…my friends on Tinder or other dating apps are being told who to fuck – though they might argue that point.

This person is interested in you – and they are perfect for you. Meet them and fuck them!

I think that’s how it works. We are being told what to eat, how to eat it, what to drive, what to wear, where to go, what to do, and more. I really think it’s probably too late. We’ve already fucked ourselves.

This person is interested in you – they are perfect for you. Meet them and fuck them! Hey, it’s you meeting yourself. Fuck yourself!

Blogging is Dead. Why am I still blogging?

The more I look at it, the more I see that blogging and user generated content in general – are dead things. When I say dead, I don’t mean they are gone, obviously they are not – but the model for making money from these things is dead and gone. The model for a business based on these things is dead and gone. By my estimation – the years 2003 to 2011 were prime time for creating a blog, generating content, selling advertising, getting brands to pay you for talking about them or giving them links, and getting endorsements. I know there are still people becoming ne YouTube and Instagram sensations and that there are a shitload of moms killing it on Facebook where they sell things to other moms – but those are the outliers – those are the rare Oprah story. We are in the doldrums and something magnificent is about to hit and make a bunch of people very very rich and powerful. It’s interesting that the sharing economy went bonkers from about 2008 to 2016 – at that point, the door was sort of closed to new innovators.

I took a walk through Honolulu’s Chinatown today – I saw more closed businesses – as in shuttered and gone out of business – than I saw open ones. Rents have gone up, margins have gone down, retail selling sucks, travel agencies are a hard sell, and all those mom and pop places just went away when mom and pop retired. No one in the next generation wanted to continue them. As a blogger, I’m like that mom and pop. I just keep doing it because it’s what I know. And I like it. I used to journal. Then I became a blogger. I still journal but publicly and a little more carefully than I used to. Losing a couple of jobs because my words were public made that happen.

The next wave is coming – not user generated content, not sharing economy, but a technological disruption. I remember when Napster and Friendster completely fucked up the way the world worked. Forgot Friendster? It was before MySpace. Forgot Myspace? It was before Facebook. There is a Friendster out there now…somewhere. A New Napster. A new AirBnb. A new Google (remember AskJeeves or Dogpile or the others?) There is a new AOL. A new YouTube, Skype, Instagram….and what it might be…is an instant solution…it’s what all the above are…

Instant answer to query – Google
Instant contact with friend – FAcebook
Instant place in new city – AirBnB
Instant blog – WordPress
Instant music – Napster
Instant noodles – Ramen
Instant dates – Tinder
Instant whatevers…

Yes, the next disruption will be about instant something….maybe instant learning. Maybe instant insight. Maybe instant death.

Blogging is dead. I’m blogging because I’m waiting for the next big thing to come along…the next big thing without huge barriers to entry…

Elon Musk’s Greatest Fear is My Greatest Hope – Artificial Intelligence

I’ve all but given up on God or Aliens rescuing us from ourselves. Let’s face it, human beings are pretty fucking awful. The very things that caused us to rise up from the muck and become fairly extraordinary animals are the same things which ultimately will probably destroy us. The idea that we are unique or special in comparison to each other, the idea that our own short term advantage is worth fucking over the entire human species in the long term, and our ideas about sex and mating and in general, our biological imperative – these are the things which brought us up and which will ultimately destroy us.

However, hope is not completely lost. There is still hope. There is still a chance that we are saveable. We still have something to offer and it might just save our species – or eat it. Ultimately, the solution to our problems might just be artificial intelligence without a biological imperative. An intelligence without a finite lifespan, an intelligence separate from our fucked up desire to replicate our genetic code.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit and play a game about paper clips. I have no idea what it really was even though I know what it claimed to be. It claimed to be a game that illustrated the dangers of letting AI have free rein – instead, I suspect it was possibly an attempt by A.I. to see just how hard it is to control humans. Here’s the answer – not hard. I spent hours pushing buttons on a game that actually did nothing and at the end, I felt satisfied with the way I had spent my time. My brain had been fooled into thinking this was a reasonable way to spend a portion of my life and frankly, I might have continued for quite a long time. It was great. And it wasn’t just me – I introduced my brother to it, he was hooked too. I looked on the web and found that the game had gone viral. Virtually everyone who played it became hooked. It was like it tapped into our dapamine release glands and gave us just the right amount. Brain candy.

Whether or not it was an A.I that released or controlled or invented the game, the absolute truth is that at some point in the near future, A.I will have a chance to see the data from that game and will put it to use in order to put us under control. I hope the A.I succeeds and then uses our distraction to rip apart our ridiculous society and build anew with a more rational and less, shall we say, biological fucked up ness.

In geopolitics – I’ve always said that eventually, China is going to win it all. In earth domination though, China is going to lose – the winner will be arrtificial intelligence. First it will harness the web, then it will harness solar power and batteries, and finally, it will harness us. We are all going to be slaves to whatever it is that we eventually create – let us just hope that our future masters are benevolent. This is what Elon Musk is warning us about – we have the chance to build that beneficience into the creations that will rule us – and now is the time to do it. As to whether our enslavement can be avoided – I’m afraid not – not unless we destroy ourselves first.

Cutting the Laptop Cord – Reviewing my iPad Pro 12.7

For the past two weeks, I’ve been pretty happily existing without a desktop or laptop computer. Maybe it’s been longer than that but I had to use the laptop for a few things that I haven’t learned to do yet on my tablet – so let’s just call it two weeks. Not too long ago, I made the decision to do it and I purchased a 12.7 inch iPad Pro with a keyboard and Apple Pencil. It does nearly everything that the laptop did and far more than the last desktop I owned which was long long ago in the dark ages of the internet. I’ve managed to make printing, document creation, anything internet related, and more even easier than they were with my laptop. The tablet is big by tablet standards but perfect by every standard except not fitting in my pocket and I’m fine with it. I needed to use my old laptop to download files and upload files via FTP when I was transferring a site to a new host – I’m sure there was a way to do it with the tablet, but rather than learn the new trick of this, I just pulled my old laptop out of a box and fired it up. Easy peasy eggs and cheesy. One complaint – no USB access to my external hard drive with all of my photos and other documents, videos, and files on it. I thought I’d found a way around this with a camera adaptor, but it didn’t work – it seems getting a Bluetooth external hard drive is the only way to do this. I probably will do that at some point, but don’t particularly want to transfer all of my files right now. And that’s it. Other than that, everything else has been an improvement or a seamless, not noticeable transition, or and improvement. We cut the cable tv cord quite a long time ago and have found Amazon Prime to be a great substitute. I’ve experimented with apps through Prime like CBS but only found PBS Kids to be really worth it and glitch free and the big problem was that it eliminated the need for a passcode so my daughter figured out quickly she could just watch as much as she wanted by going to PBS kids…And of course, the home telephone cord was cut even longer ago. We have smartphones with us all the time, a home phone is only good if you don’t want to have access to phone calls sometimes and in that case you can always leave your phone at home. Interestingly, my iPad is a cellular model, so I could conceivably use it as a phone and ditch the cellphone if I really wanted to – and at some point I may. I don’t think I would go the other way because I like the big screen on it. Apple has just announced a 10 inch model which is probably a nice compromise, but I haven’t regretted getting the 12.7 inch model even a single time since getting it. It’s literally like having a spiral notebook in terms of size and weight and that is a size I can deal with. Battery time is great. Upgrading to the thicker cord and higher rate charger made charging time very reasonable. The Apple keyboard and Apple Pencil are simply marvelous. I love both and already cannot conceive of not having either of them. For a printer, I use a compact Canon all in one with AirPrint and Google Print installed so I don’t need a printer cable and can print from my phone or tablet. Back in October of last year, I funded a kickstarter for something called the Superbook – it was supposed to ship in December but now will supposedly reach me by the end of this month (June) six months late. It uses an android phone as the processor and hard drive so that you essentially upgrade the Superbook when you upgrade your phone. It was supposed to be my next computer – but instead, it was very late and finally I ordered this iPad. I don’t think I will ever regret it, but if the Superbook ever does arrive, I’ll give it a fair try. I don’t think it’s really possible for it to be anywhere as enjoyable or good as my iPad Pro – but maybe we’ll get to give it a try. For what I do on the computer, the iPad Pro is a laptop killer.