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Myrmidon · Baron von Puttenham · Icrontian


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December 27, 1986
  • Re: I know a tiny bit about cryptocurrency and am willing to help others get into it AMA

    @primesuspect said:
    Thanks @Myrmidon. I didn't intend for this post to turn into a mining post because I know NOTHING about currency mining, but of course I am talking to a community of PC-building geeks so of course it will turn to that, and I'm very glad to defer to people who know what they're talking about on the mining aspect. I was talking more about BTC and cryptocurrency basics (101 level).

    I probably did emphasize the 'mining' part of what I do a little much. See? threadjacking. But to even it out... trading is really easy and much faster than stock market trading! 10/10 would recommend!

    @keto said:
    Just make sure you report your net profits to the Feds on your taxes, that's where it has the most potential to get ugly (other than making stupid decisions and losing your shorts trading), sounds like you are keeping excellent records which is either a really good or really bad idea :pimp:

    Wisdom. So far my records are in fact excellent, BUT I haven't cashed out for $, which means I am not liable for taxes... yet. My biggest concern is figuring out how to report the ~$40 I spent on steam games last year with bitcoin. This might be a good year to start looking into charitable donations to offset BTC gains...

    @CrazyJoe said:
    Why would you want to keep your currency on an exchange rather than in a wallet unless you were trading/selling?

    The time it takes to trade from your wallet to an exchange, then from an exchange to dollars can be the difference between jumping on a good sell price or not - not to mention having to be focused for that long. The difficulty in setting up a wallet is already a bit much for someone who doesn't already know crypto, and even if you DO, it's still extra steps to do a thing - yes, it's simple, but you know how the layman is with computers. We still have people reusing passwords. Additionally, EMT noted - every transaction takes a fee. Usually the fee is pretty small, though, since it's a fee based on amount of data transferred, not amount of money transferred. Look up 'dust transactions' for a really interesting look at this... there are transactions so small that the fee to transfer them in a reasonable amount of time would cost more than the transaction (and this problem should get fixed in time).

    @drasnor said:
    How do you spend your cryptocurrency on goods and services?

    There exists a third party payment processor called BitPay. Steam was using this processor for a while. After purchasing a game, Steam would redirect to BitPay, who would provide a temporary wallet address, and say 'I have to see a payment of 0.xxx BTC within 15 minutes.' If they saw the payment, they'd put the transaction 'in escrow' until the payment was fully confirmed on the network (once fully confirmed, the transaction was greenlit). If they didn't see the payment, the transaction was canceled.

    Without a payment processor, it's a little more like using something like Google Wallet or VenMo to pay someone. You tell the person over whatever medium to send you money, you provide the public key to your wallet (analogous to your gmail address for Google Wallet), and you wait for funds to show up. The 'buyer' can tell you where the funds are coming from if they like (by providing their own public key).

    @EMT said:
    It costs like a $1+ fee (lately) to move any BTC to a different address or wallet, or to pay for anything, right?

    Yeah, but the fee is set by the sender. It's actually one of the more clever parts of the technology - there's incentive to keep your miner going even once the blockchain is all mined out - your miner will continue validating these transactions, and get paid by that fee. Miners traditionally validate the higher-fee transactions first, so if you don't need to send IMMEDIATELY, you can save a couple bucks with a low fee. The more people use the network, the more 'high-fee' senders will show up, and the higher the fee will get... thus incentivizing more people to buy miners to get in on the easy money, thus increasing the throughput of the network, thus reducing the amount of transactions waiting on the network, thus reducing the fee. Although I'm not a HUGE free-market fan, this is basically free market for fees... fee market.

    ...I'll show myself out.

  • Re: I know a tiny bit about cryptocurrency and am willing to help others get into it AMA

    I'm going to hijack your thread a little bit, @primesuspect (although I prefer to think of it as augmentation):

    I purchased two of @Thrax 's vidja cards a while back to put into an ethereum miner that I built out of a milk carton and some plywood. It was a fairly difficult project (mostly just getting ubuntu to recognize the video cards), but I'm happy I did it. While I had previously purchased BTC for $, this was my first attempt at a crypto miner, and I learned a ton. Would definitely suggest. I find myself understanding a lot more about crypto and being far less scared to trade, plus, to me it's still all 'fun money.' I don't have the drive to 'make a good investment' that I had when originally purchasing BTC with $.

    The miner is now mining ZEC, which I then turn around and trade for BTC, ETH, and Siacoin. At this point, the miner has paid for itself and is pure profit - although that took a solid few months, more than I expected. I also have the added benefit of being allowed to run the miner at work, as we pay for power by the circuit as opposed to by the kWh.

    At the time, our landlord also was looking to get rid of some Antminer S7s, so I picked those up from him. Although they don't mine very quickly, I found myself making a couple hundred bucks every few weeks. Nothing to sneer at.

    Worth pausing to discuss our landlord - he runs a MASSIVE mining rig out of his side of the datacenter. It stands taller than a man, and is just a nightmare conglomerate of GPUs. I'm not sure what he mines, at the moment.

    About a month later, I managed to purchase an Antminer S9 straight from Bitmain. This constituted a fairly sizable investment for a pure hobbyist, so there was definitely a little unpleasant feeling that I had to get over. However, I consoled myself with the knowledge that the S9 was going through third party channels for three times the price I was paying, so while the worst case scenario was 'lose all your money,' the second worst case scenario was 'get the miner and sell it for three times the price you bought.' I figured I could take that risk.

    I have had the S9 running since... what, September? And even with the 'bitcoin crash' recently, I have made six times my money back. Again, though, remember that I am being granted free power, and this is liable to change at any time.

    Fairly recently (as alluded above), I began trading BTC, ETH, ZEC, and SC back and forth using Shapeshift. During this most recent 'crash,' I have managed to 'save' 3% - including all the fees of trading (which are infinitesimal compared to trading stocks). So, I'm no genius or anything... but I am struck with how EASY it is to get going. I keep a google spreadsheet of all my transactions, all the money I've lost to fees, all the money I've gained/sheltered (already counting the loss from fees), and how much each transaction netted/lost.

    My total investment was something approaching $2000 - the etherum miner was $600, and the Antminer S9 was ~$1200 or $1300 at the time, and I probably spent another $100 somewhere, because my stupid brain has a tendency to round down ($1297? that's practically $1200!).

    The only major concern I have is that I am treating BTC like a commodity instead of a currency. The pragmatic side of me knows that it CAN'T be a currency right now due to its volatility, and that I should go ahead and trade and gamble and play... but the idealistic side of me knows that the more we treat it like a commodity, the less chance it has of BECOMING a currency some day - and the more we think of it as a commodity, the more we're willing to accept government regulation on it (whereas we might not be so accepting of government regulating a currency that doesn't belong to them). Since an ideal crypto has a very good chance of taking financial control AWAY from the government, my idealistic (and partially conspiracy-theory) side gets worried whenever I play into what the government wants me to do... worried that I'm contributing to a long term plan to dismiss, devalue, and ultimately eliminate cryptocurrencies from the realm of stable, mature financial tools.

    Finally... one of the things I find when discussing crypto is that the EXTREMELY uninformed tend to come out of the woodwork and present themselves as experts. I've been dismissively told 'what's the big deal? I have paper that I can spend right here in my pocket' (the question being why do we need crypto, the bias being 'because I can't think of a reason, there mustn't be one'). I've been told 'bitcoin can't be stable because it's not directly attached to a commodity' (when examples of stable currency unattached to commodities exist and indeed thrive). I've been told that bitcoin is not fungible (maybe I just misunderstand the definition? It's not like each individual BTC has its own unique name...). I've been told that bitcoin has proven itself to be too unstable to use as a currency (implying that BTC is fully mature and done growing into its stability). I've been told that 'mining' is a silly concept in general because the total amount of currency could be released all at once for ease's sake (totally ignoring... well... there are a LOT of problems with that statement, too big for a parenthetical summary).

    So... this is a fantastic hobby. I have a lot of fun with it, and I don't need to be hands on all the time. It's mostly automated, and is available when I WANT to play with it... but - this post aside - I tend to stay fairly quiet about it, given how much people seem to already 'know' about it.

  • Re: What is Icrontic playing? March 2017

    A month and some ago I was investigating endless possibilities with @AgentSheep, but recently I've been in single player mode. I've decided that I'd like to work through all the Final Fantasy games I never got around to.

    Recently finished FFI. On to FFII. Gonna have to do III, IV, and V before I can skip on out to XIII.

    I might re-run XII.

    But THEN, friends... then is my glorious return to multiplayer in the form of FFXIV! I welcome all (and expect none) to join me in this momentous occasion some 6-12 months or whatever down the line.

  • Re: Want to replace older cell phones but keep same service plan if possible

    I thiiiiink you might be out of luck when it comes to replacing your phones and keeping your current service plan. Those phones do not have SIM cards, so the plan is kind of tied to the phone. Someone else might be more knowledgeable, but I think that option's kind of gone.

    Before I continue with a couple ideas, it's worth noting that if what you're trying to do is a bit out of the ordinary (and it is, data plans are pretty much the standard nowadays), you're probably going to have to come up with something a bit hacky, which probably means a bit of experimentation, or putting up with some quirks.

    1. It's been a long time since I did this (think Blackberry era), but I used to do the 'smartphone-with-no-data-plan' thing. My trick was just to get a plan - any plan - that simply didn't have data - so long as it had a SIM card, I could then buy a smartphone whose radio was compatible with the plan (finding this out just involves a bunch of googling, this helps), install the SIM card, and then away I went. This might not be feasible anymore, as 'no data' is going out of vogue.
    2. Since the problem is 'without increasing our costs,' you can try looking into a mobile virtual network operator. These are companies that, in a nutshell, sell you a plan but use a bigger carrier's network. Boom Mobile is an example of a virtual carrier that uses the Verizon network, and they have an individual plan that offers no data. Again, experimentation is required - they might suck. Furthermore, it would be wise to use your own phone instead of buying one through them... that way if they suck, it's easier to get away from them. However, using your own phone is costly.
    3. You COULD embrace data. No, not as in a 'suck it up and get with the times' way, but by using something similar to Project Fi. The idea here being that your phone number gets ported to Google Hangouts, so that all calls and texts are done over data. Now, I've heard some folks say they use unsupported phones (like a OnePlus device) on Fi and it WORKS, you just end up only using one half of the service (ie, the OnePlus One only has one radio, so it wouldn't be able to benefit from switching back and forth between networks). This is a pretty cheap alternative.
    4. In the same vein as number 3, it's possible to port your number to google voice (which, however, may be deprecated in the future) and make all your calls and texts via hangouts. In this situation, all you need is the smallest LTE data plan - no talk, no text (because all that goes through data). This is actually what I'm doing right now.

    Each of these idea has its own caveats - you risk running into devices that Simply Don't Work with what you're trying to do, or companies that won't grandfather you in sometime down the line... but experimentation and janky ideas is part of doing something nonstandard.

  • Re: Myrmidon's Mighty Mass of Merriment

    The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

    Finishing this game gave me 'first day of the rest of your life' syndrome.

    You know, that feeling you get when you finish a really good book series, or a really solid television series. The one you've been using to supplement your life, that you don't realize you were really enchanted with until it's gone. Long enough to feel like it'll never end, long enough to form a dependency, and then, suddenly... credits. That's it.

    The universe behind The Witcher is one I've been a really big fan of for quite a while. I read through all the books I could find - including one sort of Christmas special sort of short story - back after I finished the first game. I sought out fan translations of the books when the English versions gave up - at the time, the English versions quit after the first entry in the series (excluding the set of short stories)... which meant I got to deal with all SORTS of absurd translational issues.

    It was SO worth it. Makes that prolactin hug from finishing the story that much more bittersweet.

    I won't talk too much more about The Witcher's universe - I mentioned it in the previous posts, and reviews and explanations are all over the internet.

    The thing is... it's hard for me to talk much about The Witcher 3 as a game. I didn't really play it as a game. It felt more like reading a book, or watching a movie - I wasn't distracted by the controls, or by any bugs, or by any weird voice acting - I was just completely, 100% enthralled in the story, the world, the characters. Seeing Yennefer and (my favorite character FINALLY showing up in a game) Ciri come to life was everything I wanted. They matched exactly the picture I had in my head of them - okay, maybe Yennefer was a LITTLE less unpleasant.

    The combat was stellar. The game's come a VERY long way from its roots - the signs, potions, and combat moves all feel more viable; not a single trick in Geralt's arsenal feels gimmicky (okay... MAYBE the crossbow and the bombs, with their long wind-up and low effect, but requirement for certain fights). I will confess to being a LITTLE disappointed once I'd figured out that dodging/fast-attacking was a surefire way to survive every fight, but I made up for it by mixing decoctions and trying to fight in different styles.

    That's a big deal, right? Trying the different forms of combat for flavor's sake? The fact that each form of combat IS viable, even on the hardest difficulty setting (yup) and with low-level enemies upscaled (YUP) is a real triumph.

    The alchemy system was incredible. Are you the kind of person to collect EVERY DAMN HERB YOU WALK ACROSS? No problem, they all weigh nothing. Find yourself not using potions so you can hoard them, a la '99 elixirs in final fantasy and I've never used one once' style? No problem - you only need to craft a potion once, they automatically refresh while you rest. Go nuts! Mix and match! The quality of life was nothing to sneer at, either - flag a recipe and the ingredients are highlighted in shops, eliminating the need to swap back and forth between the shopkeeper and the crafting menu. And if you still need to swap? The alchemy menu is pre-loaded and is a SINGLE CLICK AWAY FROM THE SHOP. Super convenient!

    The crafting system was a little bit sillier - you very quickly discover Witcher gear, making the forty thousand crafting recipes obsolete before you find them. It's great that there are so many weapons, but I managed to play through the game while only upgrading my gear a handful of times.

    Oh, god, the in-game card game. Starts out stupid - too simple, too unintersting - and then it becomes a BLAST once you discover there are special cards. You start to think about the optimal way to play around the Scorch card, or consider trying out a spy-heavy deck... I'm super jazzed for the standalone Gwent game that's coming out.

    The voice acting was sublime. I heard some folks complaining about Ciri being too 'breathy' (not me, nothing is going to dull Ciri in my eyes) and my least favorite voice belongs to Triss (too monotone for my tastes), but otherwise I can't think of a single complaint I've thought or heard. Geralt is just the right amount of gruff and introverted and his actor's subtle vocal shifts serve to showcase the writing on a level rivaling (or exceeding!) femshep, the female version of Mass Effect's main character. This guy doesn't steal the stage, doesn't ham it up, doesn't telecast the dialogue before it's spoken - he just turns words into real, honest-to-god conversation, undertone, and emotion. It's impossible to even conceive of a human having that voice - this can't be a voice actor. It's just Geralt's voice. That's just his. That's it. Someone found Geralt in an alternate dimension and filmed him.

    It's that good.

    And he's not the only one.

    The Baron, Yennefer, Crach an Craite, Vernon Roche, fuckin' Zoltan - all of em. Phenomenal voice acting.

    Ohhhh maaaaan, and the directing - these guys must have worked their asses off. No matter what dialogue choice you make, you sound like you're having a conversation. Dialogue flows naturally, everything segues into the next bit, nobody is angrier or happier than the conversation should allow - and everyone remains in character the whole time. This goes a LONG WAY to creating a believable universe. It feels like the characters get angry because of what is going on around them, or what is being said to them - not just because they had the word 'angrily' in parentheses near the script. Very seldom do you do an about-face on a dialogue tree and think 'huh, that's funny, they were just screaming... but now they're being polite?'

    A lot of the segue-ability is by virtue of the phrase 'you mentioned x... what's that mean/he up to/that about?' Thing is, you don't notice that particular trick until about halfway through the game - and it's not even an irritant. It's only really used when it's called for - and, as Geralt is a monster hunter interviewing victims and witnesses, it's never out of place.

    The music is something else, too. Polish folk music might be my new favorite thing (okay, maybe not that badly-tuned flute). Here. Here's a song for staring at a hungry wolf as you circle one another, slowly; a song for sending your own mortality creeping up your spine in shivers. Listen to it.

    So good. That bassy bit in the background drifting around sets an atmosphere of slow things that drift and creep in the dark, juxtaposed against the anger and ferocity of frantically chanting voices - perfect for slow fights where you size an opponent up and wait to see who lunges first, or frantic dodging and swordplay.

    The level design is out-of-this-world. Architecture feels real, cities reflect squalor, bustle, or peaceful high-class living. Villages show their poverty and distrust, the sewers of Novigrad feel sufficiently maze-like. Great manors in the swamps feel secluded and far away, yet vulnerable to the denizens of the environment - like they exist but for the grace of those that simply aren't hungry yet.

    And... oh, that story. I can't describe it. I can't tell you a single thing about it - I would feel terrible spoiling even the minutest detail. This story deserves to be told in completion or not at all. Characters from the books come to life, or are referenced in tomes hidden about the world, or are mentioned in conversation. Geralt and Yennefer's story FINALLY comes to some sort of closure without that stupid 'well, what ACTUALLY happened to them?' complication from the end of the books, Ciri AT LAST has a place in the world that doesn't involve constantly outrunning what she is.

    The setting even does everything justice. This game happens in the middle of A WAR. But you know what? You never SEE the war. It's discussed a little in this piece: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-08-28-the-witcher-3-is-one-of-the-best-war-games-theres-ever-been

    It's there, like a future dinner companion, or a disease. War is just someone coming to visit you, or war is just something that is happening to someone else. You see war's effects - battlefields, wounded men, orphans, poverty - but you never really see the war. You barely know about Emhyr or Radovid on a political scale, their policies, their strategies - and it was true of the previous Witcher stories, too. Statements like 'who controls the Pontar controls the north' mean almost nothing to you - the Pontar is just a place, isn't it? Who cares that this duke should die? What consequences can your actions have on something to big and odd as WAR?

    It doesn't seem fair that any of this should end. It always, ALWAYS feels like there's more. What about Zerrikania? The battle of Sodden? I desperately want to give Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri a break, let their story end... but I also desperately want to see it continue. It's a strange feeling. A strange juxtaposition.

    11/10, would play again. Probably one of the best games I've ever played. I'll be coming back every couple years to revisit the series, for damn sure.


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