Amazon and Google are showing us why net neutrality is important

Ever since it was first released, Amazon has refused to carry the Google Chromecast or add cast support to their apps. Instead, Amazon has focused on their Fire TV and Fire tablets to work within their very tight ecosystem of services, apps, movies, and books. This policy of not carrying a competitors product is fine as long as you don’t expect your competitor to be able to fight back.

Earlier this year Amazon released the Echo Show, a voice assistant with a small screen that allowed it to respond to voice with video. One of the primary sources of video responses was YouTube, the Google owned platform used all over the world to upload and watch videos. A few weeks after the initial launch of the Echo Show, Google cut the devices access to YouTube. Google has also threatened to remove access to YouTube by other Fire devices soon.

If two of the most trusted internet giants can have an open fight over who gets what at the expense of their customers then just imagine what your ISP will do to keep you from learning about competing products and services if the title 2 protections that give us net neutrality are dissolved.

Coinhive – Monero JavaScript Mining

Source: Coinhive – Monero JavaScript Mining

Coin hive is an innovative platform for monetizing websites. Instead of relying on ad revenue, a webmaster can implement a java script cryptocurrency miner into the page so that visitors provide computing power toward supporting the site.

How mining works:

To put it simply, mining is a process of converting electricity into virtual currencies that can be exchanged for real currency. When mining, your computer solves cryptographic hash functions over and over, trying to find a solution that fits the rules of the currency that is being mined. When a hash that fits the rules is found, new currency is generated and given to the miner who found the hash. A mining pool consists of lots of miners calculating hashes and submitting them to the pool as fast as they can, eventually a valid hash is found and the pool receives the new coins and shares them with the miners who contributed based on how much they contributed.

Coin hive has created a miner written in java script that connects to a mining pool. A pool is a place where miners work together to try to find more blocks of currency and share the earnings between everyone who provided computing power.

Why this works:

With the Coin hive miner, every visitor to your website will provide some level of computing power toward a mining pool and Coin hive then shares the earnings with the webmasters who have implemented the miner into their websites. Using this method, a webmaster can abandon ad based revenue streams in favor of a crypto currency based revenue stream.

There is already some heated discussion about websites using this method as a revenue stream because most of the users are adding it to their site and leaving ads in place, creating an additional revenue stream that effects every visitor. Sites like mine have removed ads and will rely on the miner as a sole source of revenue while still giving the visitor an option to stop the miner and not support the site.

My implementation of the coin-hive miner is very low impact and you may not have noticed it running at all unless you are not watching your CPU usage or if you are using a very old computer. In fact, a lot of newer computers would not be impacted if the support level in the widget were at 5 stars.

Isn’t this really invasive?

A lot of people do consider it invasive for a website to use a crypto miner on the visitors computer without any sort of notification. I think that is invasive as well. However, I do not think that it is nearly as invasive as the tracking that ad providers use to profile website visitors. I think that it is pretty invasive to have little to no say on which ads are shown on my website when people visit.

Some websites, the ones who are adding this technology without removing ads or providing the visitor with any notification that they are contributing in this manner are ruining it for the rest of us. The uBlock Origin extension that I recommend to everyone has already silently blocked crypto miners due to the automatic opt-in procedure that visitors are subjected to.

Is it effective?

Absolutely! When you run advertisements on a website you get paid per click or per million views. Some ad clicks are worth more than others and it is up to the ad provider to decide which sites get the high impact ads and which get the low impact ads. The goal of ad providers is to display the right ad to the people who will most likely click on it but there is a lot of other stuff that goes on in the background. A site like this one, that barely gets 20 views per day, takes a looooooong time to reach a payout from just about any ad provider.

This crypto miner lets the site capitalize on content. If I get one reader who is genuinely interested in the rubbish that I post then he will contribute more mining time to coin hive and a well written article will earn more from a single visitor than any ad would.


This is a killer app for cryptocurrencies. It provides the block chain with needed resources, it provides webmasters with a good way to monetize their website (despite some of them being assholes about it). The impact to the visitor can be low enough to be unnoticed.

The downsides are that as this gains traction it will become less and less profitable due to the nature of block chains. The more people mining on a block chain, the more difficult it becomes to find that magic hash. Mining is not a very green technology, it uses up electricity by making your CPU work harder so the more this is done the more energy will be used across the world which will be a net loss for humanity.

All in all, I think it is a great way to monetize a website for now and it is really building exposure for cryptocurrencies, even though most of it is bad. Hopefully the miner on this site can provide a good example for other people to use and hopefully you decide to give it a few more stars and let it sit for a while 🙂

Boosting my self esteem by quitting social media

It has been almost a year since I decided to pull the trigger and delete every social media account that I had. The question people ask me when it come up is “how do you keep in touch with people?” and the simple answer is this: I call them, text them, or just go to their house and ring the doorbell. Since I got rid of those accounts I have been happier, I have gotten out of the house more, and my relationships with friends have improved.

The final catalyst for this self imposed exile was the election season in 2016. I suddenly realized that people I have been friends with since childhood were posting things that I don’t agree with and I was judging them entirely on that and it was making me angry with people who I normally get along great with. My oldest friend was kind of in the forefront of this conflict and I found myself making up excuses not to hang out or go places with him even though we have done these things for 20 years and have both enjoyed everything else about each others company.

The world has only had these social media platforms for a handful of years and in that time they have managed to dominate our culture and become our primary source for interacting with other people and feeling like we have been social that day. I noticed that all around my social circle people were becoming more and more embedded in one or more of these networks and i was no different. I spent hours every day on Facebook, scrolling through friends updates and looking at pictures on my phone.

Everyone looks like the ideal version of themselves on Facebook and I found that most of the time I went out and did something, it wasn’t for me anymore, it was for the networks. I only really went out and did new things so that I could post pictures that my friends would see. Everywhere I went, I would look for something to do that would look good on social media.

I don’t want to be the commodity. I don’t want my every move and thought posted sent through the data grinder and fed to the advertising monster. For a project at an old job I researched exactly how much we are tracked and sold online. What these companies know about you is horrifying, you can learn things about yourself that even you didn’t know by looking a the metadata that Google keeps on you. This may sound a little bit crazy but I went a little overboard with preventing myself from being tracked online. I use Blur and uBlock on my browser to block cookies and ads, my home network is behind a Pi-Hole that also blocks ads from over 100,000 domains.

So I decided to stop. I no longer hate my friends because of the bullshit that they post, I like them for the people they are when we are together. I no longer try to take pictures of everything I do, I do things for the enjoyment of doing them. I have things to talk to people about again, I don’t see my friends posting every thought that comes across their mind so when I meet up with them we actually need to catch up and have a conversation.

In the past year my depression has gotten a lot better. I feel like I have actually accomplished things for a change. My friendships have improved because I actually talk to people and we have things to talk about.

Cosmic Ray (Muon) 81 (9×9) Pixel Hodoscope |

Source: Cosmic Ray (Muon) 81 (9×9) Pixel Hodoscope |

The music in this video is generated by creating a grid of Geiger counter tubes and setting them up to detect cosmic radiation. The grid is converted into midi notes and LED flashes or as parameters for computer generated art work.

Looks like an awesome but fairly expensive project. The tubes alone will run around $200 to $300 on eBay. They are old Russian military units and the international shipping adds a lot to the price. The rest of the parts would be under $50 if you forego the fancy metal enclosure and printed PCB.

The link has all of the information but the device uses 18 Geiger counter tubes arranged in an X,Y formation. The PCB cards change the varied output of the tubes to sharp peaks that can be fed into the arduino’s input. An arduino mega was used in order to handle the 18 inputs from the tubes but a standard arduino could be used if you feel like building an I/O expander. A raspberry pi would also be a great candidate for use in this project, I can imagine saving sequences over a certain density and being able to play them back or adding a web interface with charts and graphs.

This does use a 9×9 LED panel for the lights but a larger panel like the 32×32 or 64×64 panels used in LED billboards. I think it would be interesting to use an RGB panel and map the color to the frequency of hits that the detector receives.

How To Find, Buy, And Renovate A Titan II Missile Silo


Source: How To Find, Buy, And Renovate A Titan II Missile Silo

I started watching this video series about finding, buying, and renovating a missile silo. Each video was another nail in the coffin of my childhood dream of doing exactly what these videos show. What I didn’t know is that part of the decommissioning of these structures is filling them with concrete, rocks, gravel, dirt, and whatever else is laying around. After they are filled they are left to rot and slowly fill with water and nasty gases. I will say that the dream is not dead but it is not going to be possible without some great influx of unexpected cash.