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Google Works on New Blockchain Dissecting Tool

Google Works on New Blockchain Dissecting Tool

Google has announced that it is currently working on a new tool to enable users to search transaction information through more efficient searches of blockchains for specified data.

However, the tool is seen by some as a double-bladed sword, for example revealing that Bitcoin Cash is not as well distributed as thought nor is it used for its heralded suitability for everyday transactions to the degree that advertising might imply. The tool is already being considered by governments for its ability to reveal private information or data that individuals would like to keep to themselves.

The tool is called Blockchain ETL (extract, transform, load) a technology built on Google’s big-data analytics platform, BigQuery. Its developer Allen Day focuses on the less intrusive elements of ETLs, suggesting that if cryptocurrencies fall into mainstream use, then “it will require having some trust in knowing about who it is you’re actually interacting with”, requiring a search technology capable of harnessing the huge store of blockchain data.

The tech is in current use analyzing data on cryptocurrencies and establishing which of these may be legitimate for making everyday purchases, also which exchanges might be creating fake volume as an advertising ploy. ETL and BigQuery currently analyze Bitcoin and Ethereum but plan to add Dash, Litecoin, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic and Dogecoin in the future.

An example of how the tech works is explained by Leon White of Dash Core using the cryptocurrency Dash as an example. He says that while the cryptocurrency encourages the separation of large balances into wallets of 1,000 Dash each, it still has a relatively low Gini coefficient; ETL reveals that:

“Gini coefficient of Dash is excellent compared to other cryptos, even considering masternodes. A low Gini coefficient indicates a more equal distribution of wealth in the data set. So it provides some evidence (but not definitive evidence) that Dash is more fairly distributed than other major cryptocurrencies.”

 

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Google Ads Allegedly Blacklists Ethereum Keyword

Google Ads Allegedly Blacklists Ethereum Keyword

It has been reported that Google is now blacklisting keywords mentioning Ethereum on its Google Ads advertising platform. The first indication of this would-be policy buster by the internet search giant appeared in a Tweet by smart contract auditing startup Decenter before the weekend.

We are seeing a hard stop on Google Ads containing “Ethereum” as the keyword in the last two days. Is anyone else noticing the same change? Where there any new policy changes introduced @GoogleAds? #ethereum pic.twitter.com/P5XMGphdiV

— Decenter (@DecenterTeam) January 10, 2019

The current situation following Google’s initial ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertising last June was revised and updated in September 2018, allowing some businesses to advertise on its platform providing that any ads for cryptocurrency exchanges must be limited to targeting the US and Japan.

Google’s response to Decenter’s Tweet was that clearly, the ad must have been targeting countries other than the US and Japan, thereby resulting in the rejection of the Ethereum Google Ads keywords. When the startup pointed out that they were simply doing smart contract security audits and seeing errors when keying in “Ethereum development services” and “Ethereum security audits”, Google responded:

“Although we wouldn’t be able to preemptively confirm if your keyword is eligible to trigger ads, we’d recommend that you refer to the ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section of our policy on Financial products and services.”

Decenter’s Reddit post explained that the team had tested keywords such as “ethereum smart contract audits” and “eos smart contract audits” and only the EOS keyword yielded advertising as a result of the keyword search.

Reddit’s Ethereum community team came back with their response: “Any of the keywords that contain “ethereum” in our campaigns are no longer showing ads as of January 9th…”.

A Reddit user put his own case, clearly bemused by Google’s double standards: “Google has various political and economic agendas, and they are quite willing to use their various services to promote their preferences. AdSense and Youtube are notorious for this, but there have been some incidents regarding the play store as well.”

 

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Google Forces Samourai Wallet to Remove Key Security Features

Google Forces Samourai Wallet to Remove Key Security Features

Internet search giant Google has forced Samourai, the privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet, to remove key security features from its app.

Google claims that Samourai risked breaching its so-called unofficial “walled garden” policy which is designed to prevent app manufacturers and designers creating closed systems where the service provider controls all operations in the system including applications, content, and media.

The new app has had to remove three key features in order to continue using Google’s distribution service, Google Play. Stealth mode, SIM switch defense, and remote SMS commands have all been taken down from the app in line with Google’s request. Samourai commented that:

“Users of Samourai might have noticed that they are no longer getting notifications on when they receive Bitcoin. That’s because if you want to use notification services you have to route everything through Google services.”

Despite the enforced changes, Samourai maintains that users are still getting “maximum amounts of privacy” unsurpassed by other Bitcoin wallet apps. However, the company says that it hopes that the decision may be reversed by Google or find a compromise. Developers have promised to re-implement all disabled features.

3/ Features disallowed by Google will be re-implemented as soon as possible, either as workarounds or by other means.

— TDevD aka “Crud”, [No BC.i][No KYC] (@SamouraiDev) January 9, 2019

The removal of “stealth mode” can be an issue as it masks the presence of a Bitcoin wallet on a users mobile device and is, therefore, a security issue. Another missing feature under Google’s instructions, the remote SMS commands, normally ensures that a stolen phone can be wiped via on SMS, thereby protecting user information.

 

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Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin’s Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin's Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple’s recent hit in valuation due to the recent slowdown in China’s juggernaut economy illustrated to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency followers just how far the industry needs to develop to become a household name itself.

Falling revenues at the company are unprecedented in recent times with shares trading at their lowest since July 2017, and the hit it took last week was one of the worst since January 2013.

Given that Apple is just one company, albeit, one with total global recognition, it was nonetheless able to wipe $65 billion of its evaluation last week, roughly Bitcoin’s total market cap, and continue in business. At the time of writing Bitcoin’s market cap stands at $66,903,300,377 with its value at USD3,830.48 according to CoinMarketCap.

The cryptocurrency environment is still attempting to recover from its hammering of December 2017, with 2018 showing a $700 billion loss from its market cap and cryptocurrencies shedding 85% of their worth. However, tech giants appear to be having their own unique problems too as the world’s 5 household names in tech, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, may have lost over $1 trillion from their all-time high.

Market Analyst, eToro guru Mati Greenspan comments that this slump could well be in Bitcoin’s favor suggesting that “A correlation of <0.1 is considered weak. If the stocks keep sliding and bitcoin rising, that grey line could plummet. Then Bitcoin might be seen as a safe haven.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook suggested that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan account for almost 20 percent of the company’s revenue, so that any slump in those regions is sure to impact company profits as a whole, adding, “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”

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Pentagon Tops Crypto on “Worst Password Offenders” List

Pentagon Tops Crypto on

Password management site Dashlane has posted the results of its Worst Password Offenders list just in time for Christmas and cryptocurrency users don’t fare well, appearing third highest on the table.

Dashlane is a fairly strong position to make these judgments with its promise, “Discover how much better life is when you never forget another password”. The company publishes the annual rating in part to raise the public’s awareness of what constitutes good and bad passwording, with accesses to numerous users.

Quickly passing top runner Kanye West by, perhaps wondering why anyone would want his password, anyone involved in defending the United States would be a little concerned to see the Pentagon in second place on the list, followed by their employers at the White House, worryingly at number 6.

Those thinking that they were in safe hands with their private files in the possession of lawyers, forget it. UK law firms featured halfway down the list at number 5. Google, the UN, and prestigious UK university Cambridge all featured at the bottom of this top ten list with some of the worst password profiles according to Dashlane’s festive bout of finger-pointing.

Emmanuel Schalit, the company’s CEO, claims the average internet user has over 200 digital accounts with private passwords. What’s more, over a period of five years, this number may even double. So how does one look after 400 passwords apart from churning out the same one? An ill-advised move and recommended by virtually no one. She adds:

“Passwords are the first line of defense against cyber attacks. Weak passwords, reused passwords, and poor organizational password management can easily put sensitive information at risk.”

This is something known to all, nothing new here, so what is the solution? So just to recap, and hopefully the Pentagon staff are paying attention, as well as those White House employees, so they don’t make 2019’s list of worst password offenders. Here are the basics, again:

  • Passwords should not contain names or proper nouns that might connect to the user, ie., “Smith63” for Fred Smith’s private account.
  • Avoid weak number sequences also involving user details like date of birth, house address etc.
  • Alphanumeric sequences work best, mix those numbers and letters.
  • And for those 400 accounts… protect each one with a unique password (not helpful). There are numerous easy-to-use password managers, which help you to manage your multiple passwords securely.

…and here’s the honor roll for 2018’s worst password offenders:

Kanye West, the Pentagon, cryptocurrency owners, Nutella, UK law firms, Texas White House Staff, Google, UN, Cambridge University.

 

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Bitcoin Mining Latest in Paraguayan Mega Dams’ Checkered History

A remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is developing its own crypto mining sub- culture thanks to the world’s largest dam.

Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14GW. Its guarded by armed patrols and situated on the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan border town which has become a hotbed for smuggling, cartels and drugs. The town of 300,000 has gained a reputation as being part of Paraguay’s lawless wild west.

However, it has a new community and it is growing rapidly. The CPUs have come to town.

Where there’s a dam, there’s sure to be power and a growing group of crypto miners isn’t wasting the opportunity. In an industry which has virtually sprung up overnight, an estimated 20,000 units are now generating Bitcoin and Ether.

Neighboring Brazil sells its energy at five times the price of its poorer cousin, which makes Paraguay an attractive proposition for would-be miners. A fact that hasn’t been wasted on many, according to Gregorio Bareiro, who has seen his air conditioning business rocket since the CPUs came to town. “Some people have become multimillionaires,” he says.

Bariero now provides miners with cooling systems and rents out 750 computers of his own, mainly to Brazilians, Europeans and North Americans. He now hires a dozen staff and has his own plans for installing mines in portable trailers. He sees the potential in Ciudad del Este for lifting the struggling economy, if it were approached on a grand scale. “Paraguay today is the only place where there’s abundant energy,” he pointed out. “We can become the center of global Bitcoin mining.”

The newly-established entrepreneur-cum-air-conditioning-salesman feels that if Itaipú’s power were used to reduce energy prices, the Chinese owners of the 150,000 units might be lured to Paraguay. “In ten years, it would generate enough money to pay Paraguay’s external debt,” he suggested. “With our resources, we ought to have electric helicopters, drones for transporting goods…”

Cristine Folch of Duke University sees data centers powered by clean energy enticing the likes of like Google, Apple and Facebook putting “Paraguay on the edge of the technological frontier”.

The dam certainly has the potential to change lives for the better, one that has already been missed due to politics and corruption. Miguel Carter, a Paraguayan development expert explains that by negotiating a fairer price for its energy, Paraguay could fund its hospitals, schools and railways – all in dire need of upgrading.

Carter saw the potential for a better world lost when Brazil beat Paraguay to the signing of the 1973 Itaipú treaty which lost Paraguay a potential USD 57.7 billion in income. Also in October of this year, it was confirmed that Brazil’s military regime murdered its ambassador to Paraguay in 1979 to prevent the revelation of billions of dollars in kickbacks during the construction of the dam.

“When I saw the numbers I burst into tears,” Carter said. “I know of so many stories of Paraguayans going to hospital and losing their loved ones… there would have been lives saved, kids with a decent education. You could have had a different country.”

Similarly, another study group is calling for energy created from the dam currently sold overseas to be redirected back into the Paraguayan economy with the potential to create 2 million jobs, quadrupling GDP.

It appears that the new spate of crypto mining is the latest in Itapúa’s colorful history. It remains to be seen in whose hands this wealth of resources finally ends and if it contributes to simply creating more wealthy individuals or a wealthy national economy.

 

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Google CEO’s 11-Year-Old Mines Ether at Home

It seems like Google’s boss has a son with secret designs on the crypto world after telling his dad that he was mining Ether at home.

It appears that Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai’s 11-year-old son has his father’s entrepreneurial gene. Speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference last week he let slip that his son used the family computer to mine crypto. He commented:

“Last week I was at dinner with my son, and I was talking about something about Bitcoin, and my son clarified what I was talking about was Ethereum, which is slightly different,” Pichai said. “He’s 11 years old. And he told me he’s mining it.”

It seems that Google top brass have the mining bug after company co-founder Sergey Brin’s admission earlier this year that he was also mining Ethereum with his son at home. It seems that the kids are pretty up to date on the latest cryptocurrency tech details too, as Pichai admitted he had been corrected by his son when they were chatting about Bitcoin recently. Brin revealed:

“A year or two ago, my son insisted that we needed to get a gaming PC…I told him, ‘OK, if we get a gaming PC, we have to mine cryptocurrency.’ So we set up an Ethereum miner on there, and we’ve made a few pennies, a few dollars since.”

The Google boss was discussing his views on screen time for children in relation to a recent New York Times article about Silicon Valley technicians’ families and tech addiction among children. It appears that the computer his son was mining on was actually built by his dad.

“I’m like every other parent I guess,” Pichai said. “I do test a lot of gadgets at home, so I have vulnerabilities in terms of how my kids get access to stuff.”

Pichai said that he had to teach his son some important details about how the financial system worked, “I realized he understood Ethereum better than how paper money works …I had to talk to him about the banking system, the importance of it. It was a good conversation.”

The interview came on the same day that thousands of Google employees around the globe protested against Google’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct against female employees with a simultaneous walk out. Pichai admitted ‘We didn’t always get it right.’

 

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Blockchain Google Searches Overtake Cryptocurrency

Following trends of recent hype in the technology, the word blockchain has surpassed the number of Google searches than cryptocurrency since September this year.

While Google Trends show that Bitcoin is still around ten times a more popular search term than either of the above, blockchain interest has overtaken the generic term of cryptocurrency for the second time since 2017, the first instance being in July this year.

What this means

A study from Yale University earlier this year found that “investor attention” was one of the two most significant indicators for the future price of Bitcoin. An increase in Google search results particularly was found to be a strong predictor for the cryptocurrency’s future price in the following weeks. Ripple and Ethereum showed similar trends in line with Google searches, although with different timelines.

Extrapolating these results onto blockchain, this spike in searches may indicate an increase in investor or developer interest.

However, Google Trends does not offer an exact figure for the number of times the word is looked up, it only shows the relative popularity. Even if it did, simply being Googled a number of times cannot provide any steadfast data regarding its popularity, but it can show us what most people are being drawn to at a particular time.

Crypto Google trends

Between August 2017 and August 2018, the number of times Bitcoin was Googled surpassed both pop icon Taylor Swift and even the stock market.

In December 2017, Bitcoin’s value reached nearly USD 20,000 and the term was searched for up to 25% more times than US President Donald Trump. As Bitcoin News reported, during times of a stock market slump, the number of times it is Googled increases, whereas Bitcoin sees an increase when there is a bull market.

 

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Leaving Silicon Valley for Blockchain

In a recent duo of interviews conducted by Forbes, two ex-Silicon Valley engineers shared why they left their ‘dream jobs’ to pursue a future in blockchain as a growing number of workers do the same.

Startups are eager to hook employees from the big-name Silicon Valley tech companies to boost their industry standing and tempt investors. This, combined with a growing amount of interest in the blockchain space since the 2017 Bitcoin boom, will only increase the trend towards blockchain companies.

Maximilian Wang, an ex-Facebook engineer turned blockchain CEO

It was in 2017 when Wang first heard about blockchain. As an engineer with Facebook Inc., he tried telling his colleagues about the technology but most of them apparently dismissed it as a scam. It became a passion for him to studiously examine blockchain whitepapers in his own time. He learned whatever he could teach himself, so when the right project came along, he would be prepared for it.

”The hardest part was not when you saw an opportunity to make money and you needed to figure out how to get that opportunity… What made it hard was that after seeing everything happened in the world outside, at the end of the day, you still had to come back to reality and try your best to focus on your work [at Facebook],” Wang told Forbes.

Eventually, the right project did come along for him: Bgogo, a digital asset exchange that claims to be the first of its kind with a supernode listing authority. Wang wants to take it right to the top, with ambitions to make it the JPMorgan Chase of the blockchain world.

Qi Zhou left Facebook and Google to develop his own blockchain

Zhou was inspired by Google’s own Bigtable data storage system and saw a way that the underlying technology of sharding could also be done with blockchain.

”When I see an opportunity there, why can’t I go after it,” he told Forbes. Zhou’s project QuarkChain is a  high-capacity peer-to-peer transactional system.

Will blockchain meet Silicon Valley?

As blockchain becomes more far-reaching, it becomes inevitable that its share of the space in the valley will increase. However, it is likely that Google and Facebook will continue to lose engineers such as Zhou and Wang because the foundations of their corporations are so far opposed to the decentralized ideology behind blockchain.

 

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New Google Ad Takes Dig at Power-Hungry Crypto

Google hardly improved its relationship with the crypto community after its earlier ban on advertising this year, despite a recent partial climbdown but now, the media giant seems to have shown its true colors in advertising of its own.

The initial June ban was introduced according to Google to “protect” customers, including advertising for ICO, crypto wallets, exchanges, and cryptocurrency trading advice. At the time of the ban, a Google spokesman commented that:

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”

Google has clearly got a problem with crypto, as its latest piece of advertising clearly telegraphs. An ad for its new Call Screen phone service, designed to allow people to interact with callers before picking up, has one character asking another if he’s “going to live that (crypto) lie?”.

The ad refers to one character’s overblown electricity bill with the provider suggesting “cryptocurrency mining [takes] a lot of energy,” a clear reference to an ongoing argument that claims that the crypto industry is draining energy due to its high power requirement; an argument which is equally disputed by some experts.

This week Google also put another spanner in the works with Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett, JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga all being listed on the site as “CEOs of bitcoin”. It’s a well-known fact in the crypto community, that far from being connected with crypto, the three have all spoken out against Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in the past and rarely express positive views about the industry as a whole. Google’s response to the error came quickly:

“Entities in the Knowledge Graph and associations between them are automatically generated based on available information on the web… It’s not always perfect, and when we’re made aware of incorrect associations, we work to fix the error.”

 

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