How I Learn to Code

I would like to address learning how to code in a cursory manner and more from my experience. I am learning to code off of the internet on my own. In this article, I will go over what has worked for me and what has not and slowed me down. I have a few things that really threw me for a couple months and hopefully, I can save you from that.

I used to be a construction worker and made a great career out of it. I started in my teens and made it until my late 40’s which is when I hurt my neck and lower back to a point where I can’t work anymore. I was used to waking up at 5am and working 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. During my recovery from the surgeries due to the accident, I ended up with a lot of downtime. In my late teens and early twenties, I was striving to be a Photographer using my artistic abilities. I decided to take pictures again and learn Photoshop. Right at this time, Adobe decided to start their subscription model and it allowed me to jump in for ten bucks a month. I started to learn Photoshop and get really interested in how the web works. I needed a place to show off my photos and I saw these adds saying I could make my own site and learn how to code in ten minutes! I had a few minutes to kill so I was all in. Here is the biggest lie you will see on the internet. You or anyone else cannot legitimately learn to code in 10, 20 or even 30 minutes I don’t care how gifted you are!

You will see this everywhere about how easy it is to learn to code and how quickly you can do so. Have a long hard look at the people telling you this lie. They are people who stand to make a great living off of idiots like you and especially me. Sure, we can do a hello world example in a few minutes when someone holds our hand doing but is that coding? They say it is but what can you do with that? Absolutely nothing. It doesn’t even help you to learn how to code. All it may do is give you the confidence to continue.

I think this is the thing that hurt me the most because of all these people stating how easy it is and how fast you can learn but I couldn’t. I, still to this day, get really down on myself and it has stunted my learning. I even gave it up a few times because I thought I just didn’t have the smarts to continue. I thought it just wasn’t my thing even though I have always been interested in new technology and building things. That is the explanation of a developer if you ask me. A developer, to me, is one who never stops learning and loves to build things. Someone who loves to learn on their days off and decides to learn something else for a hobby. I always had a hobby and a job. I always try to learn everything I can about what I am doing and give it 110%. I am an all in kinda guy. My wife says I have ADHD, and maybe I do. I think if I do that it is a major benefit because this allows me to hyper-focused on what I am trying to do and not allow outside influences hinder me. I can be so honed in that people will be talking to me and I will answer but never remember that they were even there.

After all that has been said what have I done to actually learn? I have mentioned starting with Photoshop which exposed me to Muse, Dreamweaver, and Bootstrap. I wanted to have my own page to show off my pics and found out for 50 a month I can get every program that Adobe makes for developers and artists. By doing so I found Muse which is a drag and drop program for making sites. You also get a free site when you subscribe to Creative Cloud and you get a portfolio page. So I had a place for my images and a playground to learn how to make a website.

Around this time I got hooked up with an old friend of my sisters who is a designer and who was trying to transition into building his own website business. We gave each other inspiration but it didn’t go much farther. What it did do was show me that I could learn and that I was doing pretty good. I also met a friend who gave me their credentials to Lynda.com and I started devouring the tutorials on that site. It is pretty much dead now but it was very good at that time. It made me realize that I could learn anything that I wanted to from my bed. I could be laid up and watch tutorials on how to code.

This went on for a while and I wanted more than the drag and drop editor Muse. I found Dreamweaver and Bootstrap. I started to make a site for woodworking, which is my hobby. I had an idea where we could have one site to hold all the plans on the web in one place instead of on ten million sites. I am still working on it, lol. But I did realize that I could really code and not just drop a few lines in here and there. To me, Bootstrap and Dreamweaver are a great match. I see it as an evolutionary step allowing one to get into intermediate coding. Dreamweaver helps a lot giving you visual drop downs and any panel you need to produce a site. Bootstrap allows you to get a lot for nothing so with the two you can put out a great looking site that is not performing so badly.

After this phase I thought I was good enough to move on to Mobile Apps and since I am a Mac guy I started to learn Swift, IOS’s proprietary language. It is a very new language and, to me seems a lot like JavaScript. By trying to do so I realized right then and there that I wasn’t a full-fledged programmer and it will take much longer than 15 minutes! I tried for a few months but things were just above me and I realized that I should go back and learn the basics better. I stopped Swift and went back to HTML and CSS. About this time I realized that I had not built a strong enough foundation and that my nomenclature or just basic understanding of how the web works is not up to par so I have been focusing on that. I read blog posts, buy Udemy courses and join forums.

While doing these things I found Foundation for Sites by Zurb and realized how much better it is than Bootstrap. BS is so opinionated whereas Foundation isn’t. It has forced me to really understand what I am building. Although very easy and quick to mock-up or build a site you get the best results but only if you have a good foundation in HTML and CSS.Good luck to you and just know that you ain’t stupid it just is a lot to learn and many others are in the same boat as us. As always, I may be dumb but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folk’s!

Advertisements

BitMania

There is a hysteria around Bitcoin

Hey, everyone, I am going to write about the hysteria surrounding Bitcoin as I see it today. I am still working on Soapbox Satoshi series and going over the Whitepaper but I have to do more research before I write about the 4th section. As I was researching a thought had occurred to me and has thrown me for a loop. I have posted in the usual places about this thinking and have gotten no remarks that actually debate or debunk my thinking, only ridicule, and smart retorts. Sure I have gotten some replies that try but have drunk the Koolaide and give nothing substantial. Let me explain how this rant has come about.  First, in case you would like to know the usual places I am speaking of they are Twitter, Reddit, YouTube and the BitcoinPub. I love the BitcoinPub but there is no real critique going on just “Fiat is failing” and “To the Moon!” This gets old really quick. I would really like to see some site that supports both sides and that has some real in-depth understanding of how things can go well but also how things could go wrong. I would also like to see how we as adults think it will actually happen.

It is not enough to tell me that Bitcoin will take down the establishment because it is groundbreaking technology or a totally disruptive protocol. I am sorry but there have been so many disruptive things that have come and gone in our lifetimes that I can’t count them on my fingers and toes. Just because we want it to doesn’t make it happen. Just because we think it is right for society as a whole doesn’t make it happen either and as a matter of fact, that makes it even harder to accomplish. We need some real data and some real common sense. I can see that in the last year during the ICO rush that people made some of the moon money but I would bet that most made some of the gutter money. It was just, and still is to some extent, wide open and very new that people were scamming left and right. Inside of those scams, some money was to be made off of the less wise. We still see some of this but now it’s pretty much over. There are still a bunch of people late to the game or held over that don’t want it to be finished and are still pushing that narrative. If I so much as post anything to question this thinking I am slain and lately, just ignored.

So what is my narrative? It really is simple supply and demand. We are saying that Bitcoin is finite or scarce, the term most often used. How is it scarce? There are to be only 21 million mined and it is said it can not be manipulated or added to ever because of the code. I have never seen a good example showing this just statements saying this is so. It does not mean this isn’t true just every time I have asked I get slammed or just told it can not be done, no examples. Let us say that we cannot add any more coins to Bitcoin and those that wish this so are correct.  Every time Bitcoin is forked or some new cryptocurrency is developed we have more Bitcoin. Just because it isn’t named Bitcoin doesn’t mean that it isn’t fighting the same pool of people for the same market. In reality, if there is no Fiat, it will be. It isn’t true as of this moment because Bitcoin isn’t a good currency but someday it may be. Another point is if we can manipulate Bitcoin core to generate transactions faster by increasing block size or side chains or some other thing we haven’t thought of yet then how can we say definitively that we can not create more than 21 million coins?

Bitcoin today makes it hard to tell that by creating other coins it becomes the same thing as inflation. Crypto doesn’t have enough market share just yet to make this apparent. If we do somehow get rid of Fiat and Bitcoin is the currency, like so many want to believe, then every coin created will be fighting for the same pool of available wealth. If Venezuela develops their own cryptocurrency and Bitcoin becomes a world currency all those people would be taken away from the pool or those coins would be added to the existing pool diluting Bitcoin. When the USA prints more money this is exactly what happens so we really can leave Bitcoin at 21 million and still have inflation without any Bank or Government manipulation. I think this situation is worse because anyone can cause this to happen without any consideration to the Economic health of the World or citizens.

At this moment Bitcoin is a good investment but, only if you day trade. I would not go in for the long haul unless you think you can see the crash coming before everyone else does. You will have to be abreast of the world economies and the crypto economy. You will have to have as much data as you can muster and I do not think that most can keep this together. I would bet nobody can keep that close an eye on all of it.

A few scenarios are Bitcoin takes over and fiat falls or that it pretty much stays the same as it is now. What we have now is a gold digger mentality which allows you to make money if you get the timing right. I think this will remain for the next little while until people realize how hard it will be for Fiat to actually fall. I find it so mystifying that people actually believe Fiat will fail so quickly. Sure there have been a few countries but they were not a superpower like we are here in the states. I see this talked about so frequently which reinforces how many in this space have no idea of what they are actually doing. This is the new Gold Rush, happy digging. As always, I may be a DumDumdev but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folks.

How Long Will We Work?

Will we get a universal basic income?

I have seen more and more articles on the future of employment. We place a lot of stock in employment rates. So much so that it moves the markets quite a bit when those statistics come out. It has taken down presidents for re-election. I think shortly it will take down parties of the Government. I believe if we do not address this soon we will see a massive uprising. I know we have adjusted to the new technologies in the past, but I think never before have we seen such a significant front on the actual jobs that we do. Lately, all the work that has been created are mostly in the service industry because this is where we saw technology failing at doing what we do. Now that time is over, and we see that AI can do these jobs **better** than we can. Houston we have a problem! In history when we have seen significant shifts it has taken quite a long time to transition, but this time that timeline is drastically sped up. We as humans need more time to react and retrain. We are not machines, and our evolution does not happen that quickly.

If this does take over faster than we can adapt, we will be in big trouble. As the middle class is being waged war upon and reduced in size, we do not have the capital to weather the storm and increase our education for the future. We do not have enough time, and that will be crucial. I do see a bright spot in all this, and it is the fact that the old guard is on its way out and the generation that has accepted and grown up in the internet age is about to step into the limelight is encouraging. With these transitions of power comes new thinking which we desperately need. We have a new tech that stands to solve some of these problems. The new tech is Blockchain, and our new currency is data. It is the only thing left that we have they want. We generate the data that they need to operate. With Blockchain we can take hold of that data and manage it to our benefit. We can sell it because they desperately need it. Without our data, their model of pushing their wares falls apart and becomes archaic. The Blockchain will allow us to mine that field and thus become self-sufficient again. This next age will be a creatives wonderland. The last vestige of what computers can not do and will be hard-pressed to do anytime soon. I do believe they computers will be able to be creative in the future, but I think more focus is on making actual physical things and figuring out the best and easiest ways to do so.
I am still bullish on our future especially since we have concrete examples. The old guard is teaching us what not to do, and it is so apparent. They have no clue as to what is coming, and yes I know every generation says this but, this is especially true now versus before. There is no real comparison to the amount of change we see now versus any other generation. It is just so hard to know if you are doing very well right now. One doesn’t want to change everything especially if they are ready to retire. There is no need to see.
If we listen to the leaders and forward thinkers in business, we will hear that considerable change is coming, and we better get ready. They are telling us that we need to adapt because it is to their benefit if we do. Big business is being pushed to change by shareholders, and they have to listen or die right now. In their minds they see hardships coming if we do not adjust to them. Right now businesses see record profits, but if they decimate all the jobs, anyone with half a brain knows no one will be able to afford to buy their products over the long run.

I wish us luck and as always I may be a DumDumdev but I ain’t stupid. Keep your code Open and Dry folks.

Apple AirPods Review 3 or 2 Stars

Apple Earpods just 2 stars!

I am an Apple fanboy if you didn’t know. I have been using their products for 18 years and have been very satisfied. I have had my eye on the Apple Airpods ever since they came out and have tried to get them from the physical store for some time. They have always been sold out so when I went to get my phone screen fixed and they had two pairs I saw that as a sign and bought them. I bought two because I couldn’t go home with just a pair for myself and not my wife or  I would have been in the proverbial doghouse.

My first impression is that the Airpods are just ok. They are just ok because the sound is not what I was expecting or what they say it is. It’s on par with the wired buds they sell but I was expecting better. I wanted better and increased levels but you do not get that only just an OK sound quality. If I were to give these a star ratio I would go with three stars here.
The reasons are because of the sound quality, which is just Ok. There is a deep quality but certainly not what I was expecting I really think they could have better mids. We also have the Siri debacle and although it does pick up your voice rather well she still doesn’t understand shit. Siri has been a loser ever since they came out with it. Alexa and Cortana, in my opinion, do such a better job that it blows my mind Apple cannot compete here. If I ask Siri ten things she only understands one. She can not even open a webpage on the first try. When I had an Android phone over 5 years ago it worked better than Siri does now! Another issue for me is that they fit rather poorly and although they do not fall out easily they feel as if the will. I think if they had some way of adjusting the fit that would be wise. Like adding a small sticker to one side to adjust the actual thickness?
Where does this bring us? This drops us on the positives. I really like the fact that you can put them in your ears and they turn on. The double tap thing is goofy but I understand the necessity. They work well for phone calls but as I stated you have to use Siri which rarely understands thus you have to pull out your phone. I like the case they come in and they do last for a good long time. At the price point of $159.00, the fact that you have to buy an extra case to wirelessly charge is totally unacceptable. The one thing they could do is put the charging light on the outside of the case, not the inside. It is wasteful to have the light only where you have to open the case to see.
After writing this review I am thinking of changing my rating to two stars but the fact that they are wireless and work with all my devices is a plus and set up is a snap. Just put them in and hit connect. The part that they connect automatically is true only until you introduce a second device. Once you do that they do not connect automatically you have to turn them on. Once paired if you are using them frequently they will automatically connect to that device but once you let them idle for a while and have your iPad and phone on you there is an issue and you have to pick in the software which one is going to use them. I also would like to see more integration with third-party apps. They have an issue turning back on when playing a YouTube video. They pause ok but then you have to pull your phone out to restart.
I actually am going to reduce the rating to two stars these just do not sound good enough to rate them over that with all the issues. If they didn’t have so many flaws I think even with the just ok sound I would have given them more stars. Sorry if you wanted them as bad as I did but hopefully I will save you over a hundred and a half dollars because they just are not worth it. Come back for my next post you may want to hear me talking about if I am going to stay with Apple after these recent failures!
As always, I may be a DumDumDev but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folks.

Satoshi Soapbox – Timestamp Server

Soapbox Satoshi – Timestamp Server

Today in the Soapbox we are going to discuss the third section of the Bitcoin Whitepaper called Timestamp Server. It is a brief paragraph, and such this will be a concise post.

I am trying to write every day trying to get better at this whole blogging thing in general. I want to write better, but I also want to garner more attention to my blog. By writing better, I would think that more people will come back and see what else I have to say. There is always the possibility that no one wants to hear what I have to say but I think that is highly unlikely. I am not so unique that I have a different view from everybody else. As I have stated in previous posts on the Soapbox, this is my second read through the Bitcoin Whitepaper and my first attempt to explain it on paper. I think this process will help me tremendously. By writing my thoughts down, I have to think more, and by trying to explain it to you, I get a more in-depth understanding myself. So in my view, that’s a win-win solution all around! Screenshot 2018-02-10 20.06.10
>A timestamp server works by taking a hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash, such as in a newspaper or Usenet post. The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time, obviously, in order to get into the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp in its hash, forming a chain, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it.
This sounds confusing at first read especially if you have no context as to what these terms in here mean. The first is a hash. A hash is an algorithm that turns a large amount of data into a fixed length of numbers. So really this is the key. The block of items most likely in this scenario are the transactions of bitcoin. These are marked with the time they are put into the ledger. The ledger is just the blocks. You can think of these like receipts. This proves it was put into the block. In a nutshell what happens is you make a transaction and a block, or receipt, is generated with a stamp, and that includes the time in its ID or hash. In that block is the hash from the previous block so if you are trying to hack this block you would have to change not only the block or receipt you are hacking but the previous one which would, in turn, change the one before that ad infinitum. This is really not possible with the computing power that we have today. Something called the 51% attack, which means that over half of all the computers on the network would have to get together and swarm the network to start a new chain. If this is confusing to you, look up 51% attack on Bitcoin. I will go over this in a future post.
To wrap up this is an essential part of bitcoin on how no one can hack it. The hash that’s used is the SHA-256 hash algorithm and generates verifiably “random” numbers in a way that requires a predictable amount of CPU effort.
I hope this helps in some way and if I made you more confused, then please let me know how and I will try to help in any way that I can. As always I may be a DumDumDev but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folks!

 

What is an ICO?

As the title states I would like to write a quick post on what an ICO is. The acronym stands for Initial Coin Offering. Most relate this to an IPO which means Initial Public Offering. The difference here are the regulations and how one can become an investor in an emerging company. If we look at an IPO it is more regulated and isn’t beneficial for that company to allow just anybody to invest. An ICO on the other hand has few regulations and depending on country possibly no regulations which allows anyone to invest. Sounds great doesn’t it? Hold on for a second you might want to read on because there are some rather large risks involved here. I have stated previously there are few regulations for ICO’s which attracts a lot of seedy characters into the space. Actually let’s call them what they are, downright thieves and scammers. People that have no problem with taking all your money and moving on to the next guy and then taking all his money. You will see, if you haven’t already, sites like Bitconnect where they are promising rather nice or downright huge returns on your investment. This particular instance was a pyramid scheme and has been shut down just recently.

With that out of the way let’s get back to what these ICO’s are all about. These are used by startups to bypass the strictly regulated capital raising process attracting venture capitalists or banks. Mostly, a Campaign will happen and they will offer early backers of the particular project a percentage in their crypto or legal tender. Sometimes even other crypto currencies. This is done to raise money for said project. They usually create a Whitepaper stating what they are trying to build and what the project is all about. The Whitepaper will go into all the details such as how many tokens will be offered, how much they need to get things rolling and how long the campaign will go on for. There is usually a roadmap involved to show the investors what the timeline is to fulfill there ideas. Such as when certain parts of the business model will be instantiated. Whitepapers do differ and I have not mentioned all the things that some of the papers include but I think you get the point. I will say that I think there is to much importance put into these papers by investors as they are really just the vision of the creator or team and not usually what they end up doing.

Really we are just talking about a new way to crowdfund. Early backers are jumping in because these startups put their tokens up for sale in increments and give bonus tokens the earlier you buy in the release cycle. These early investors are getting in to hopefully be able to maximize their profits. I think there are two ways that people look at this or at least I am looking at it. The first are the ones who buy because they believe in the project and want it to do well. Just like you would in a Kickstarter program. You like the product and think it serves a purpose. You think it is a great idea that will do well in the general market place. The others that get in early are doing so not only for the extra tokens but also for when the project goes mainstream. Usually , if they get this far, they are entered into an exchange and their coins or tokens can be traded by anyone so usually this means the price will go up considerably Which allows you to leverage that position for a large payday or major increase in your equity.

I will preface this next statement by saying there have been some legitimate ICO’s although I can not think of any off the top of my head. Most, in my opinion, are downright scams and are not going anywhere. They were created for the only reason of pumping and dumping. In other words to get the price of each coin to rise in price and then for the owners to dump all the coins they have hoarded which brings in a ton of money if they have run their scam properly. I myself have never invested in one of these but not because I am smart but because I have just been lucky.

Lately I have been reading up on day trading and will most likely end up trading into some of these situations but hopefully I will not be the one left holding the bag. I have been doing my paper trades for a few months and in another few weeks I hope to be ready for live trading. Is paper trading a future article you would like to read?  I find it a very useful tool but difficult to get started on Trading View and I think it would be a useful to go over the actual process.

One final note I have for you is to be very careful in what you decide to buy into. Look in as deep as you possibly can. Read the Whitepaper but do not put to much worth into it. This is just that particular startups vision for their project not what will eventually happen. Take a deep look at the team and see who they are also trying to find out if they Actually have the credentials they say they have. If they are really even connected to that project. we have seen where people just grab a pic off the internet and make up shit. Look at there project on Github and see if they are regularly pushing code. Does their site suck? To me if they can’t even put a good site together the how are they going to build a Blockchain project. What does this say about their professionalism? Do they have videos you can watch of interviews by them in this project or previous ones? What are people on Twitter saying? With the last one be very careful of who is saying what and you are not being scammed by imposters or pump a dumpers. In other words this is what they mean by DO Your Ow n Research!

As always I may be a DumDumDev but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folks!

SoapBox Satoshi – Transactions

In this installment of SoapBox Satoshi we are talking about the second section of the Whitepaper. Transactions are the focus.
> We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers the coin to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.

First we need to know what Hash is in terms of Bitcoin. Hashes are large numbers, and are usually written as hexadecimal. BitCoin uses the SHA-256 hash algorithm to generate verifiably “random” numbers in a way that requires a predictable amount of CPU effort. What this allows is for there to be no third-party to have to be trusted. It takes care of the Double Spend problem as well. What is the Double Spend problem you may ask well I will tell you. A double spend is an attack where the given set of coins is spent in more than one transaction. There are a couple main ways to perform a double spend: Send two conflicting transactions in rapid succession into the Bitcoin network and this is called a real attack. Then we have Pre-mine one transaction into a block and spend the same coins before releasing the block to invalidate that transaction. This is called a Finney attack. We also have the 51% problem by owning 51+% of the total computing power of the Bitcoin network to reverse any transaction you feel like, as well as have total control of which transactions appear in blocks. This is called a 51% attack.
We need to know this to really understand at what the power behind using this method allows for Bitcoin. This is the true power and the first time someone had put digital money together in such a fashion. All these ideas were floating around and similarly tried by the Cypherpunks but not ever put together in such a way. In other words all the solutions were out there in the ether but no one had thought of doing things in this exact way and it all made so much sense. All great ideas are like that. They usually do not just formulate all at once but in incremental steps until the truth is revealed to that forward thinking someone who has the vision to just put it all together or take it that small step forward.
So the transaction get put into a Ledger. Although that term is not used yet we are shown an example of it in this section.
Satoshi states that the only way to confirm the absence of a transaction is to be aware of all transactions. This is prescient because Satoshi realized before anybody else that as long as we could all see every transaction we did not need to trust a third-party and could then trust the other party in our transaction without ever knowing or meeting them.
Transparency has been a word we have been throwing around a lot lately and it plays a huge part in Cryptocurrencies. I think that over the past few years this word has migrated through our culture and has become synonymous with trust. Funny how Satoshi saw this a few years before this became popular. This is what really makes me excited about the continuation and thinking that Bitcoin can and will survive. We as a society have finally realized that in the way we live now that need transparency more than ever and we are ready to make that happen.
Satoshi wrote that
> To accomplish this without a trusted party, transactions must be publicly announced.
Even five years ago people would think this was crazy and a privacy issue but now as Bitcoin emerges from the shadows people are starting to understand that this is exactly what we need.
As always I may be a DumDumDev but I ain’t stupid. Keep the code Open and Dry folks!