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Bitcoin Bug

Last Forking Warning For Bitcoin 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
ASDFnz writes "It has been just over two months since the bitcoin block chain was rocked by a near disastrous fork causing the bitcoin price to crash. The culprit of the crash was found to be a bug that prevented pre version 7.1 bitcoin clients accepting large blocks that could be generated by version 8 clients. A temporary fix was put into place by Bitcoin Project lead developer Gavin Andresen that forced version 8 clients to generate blocks that version 7.1 could understand. It is important to note though, the fix was a temporary one! In just under two days on the 15th of May the fix will expire and version 8 clients will once again be able to make large blocks that older clients will not be able to understand."
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Last Forking Warning For Bitcoin

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  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday May 13, 2013 @05:18AM (#43707969) Homepage Journal

    Oh shit, the sky is falling.

    Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

    This is a technical problem, I am pretty certain it will be addressed. Not that I care much about Bitcoin in itself, but I like the idea of competing currencies and this is definitely a revolutionary one, so it's interesting to observe. I don't think it's going away any time soon even with technical issues.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing.

      You can remember your currency collapsing during your lifetime?

      • by MadKeithV (102058) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:05AM (#43708113)
        There is a pretty long list [wikipedia.org] actually of places with serious inflation in recent times. It's not unlikely that there are slashdot posters from those areas, who have indeed experienced a currency collapse or at least runaway inflation in their lifetime.
      • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:17AM (#43708151) Homepage Journal

        I was born in the USSR, I lived through a number of currency collapses just in THAT country and then after the dissolution through collapse of new currencies created AFTER that country collapsed.

        Yeah, I remember.

        I also know enough history and geography that if you want, I can name close to 50 currencies of top of my head that collapsed. Oh, USA also had that, it was called the Continental. Today it's called the Federal.

      • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:21AM (#43708177) Journal

        Except that isn't even whats happening here. Its more like an issuing bank telling customers are retailers they are not going to do magnetic strip ATM cards any more and people need to replace their cards and equipment with the RIFD variety. Its a non-event except for people who were expecting to never have to upgrade software.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        The US dollar is still collapsing. and will continue to collapse fast for the next 5-10 years.

        When you have real double digit inflation and cost of living increases you have a collapsing dollar. And yes, it's real double digit, the Fed is downplaying it to avoid a panic.

        When you cant buy a week's of groceries (real food not ramen) for two people and stay under $80.00 you have a economic crash happening. Clothing, food, housing, gasoline. Cars are at disgustingly high prices... really an econoBox car is

        • by dbIII (701233)
          Funny thing is it just went up today.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

          I am actually surprised the poor are not starting to band together and start killing the rich and stealing their stuff.

          And that's why the rich banded together to cause the State to take money from the middle class and give it to the poor. Aka the "Progressive Era" (16th Amendment, Federal Reserve, etc.).

          But, yes, that system cannot keep up with a collapsing currency. When I tell people who area concerned about the poor that the 1964 minimum wage was just under an ounce of silver per hour (~$1.25) and that

          • by julesh (229690)

            When I tell people who area concerned about the poor that the 1964 minimum wage was just under an ounce of silver per hour (~$1.25) and that today's value would be around $25 per hour, their eyes glaze over in disbelief.

            Or maybe it's just that they've realised that what's happened is actually that the real-terms value of silver has increased substantially over the last 50 years and that you're therefore talking bullshit.

            • that the real-terms value of silver

              How do you define "real"? In terms of a paper currency? Certainly not in terms of any other commodity that's on the market, right?

              There's no great reason for silver to be more valuable this year than it was 1964. I'm interested to hear reasons if you think it should be.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @08:05AM (#43708611)

        I can, I live in one of the countries in Eastern Europe. We remember economical crash of nineties and the time when paper money become almost worthless - people were losing savings of entire life. There was once a popular form of saving for houses for your children, backed by goverment, paid when kid enters adulthood. In one month you could buy for these savings nice two room flat, in next month you could buy for them maybe TV set or personal computer.

    • by glwtta (532858) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:00AM (#43708103) Homepage
      Sure, sure... most real currencies don't go through that every two weeks, though.
    • by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Monday May 13, 2013 @07:03AM (#43708339) Homepage

      However, other currencies don't have this problem where the currency just "breaks" suddenly, and basically stops working.

      Imagine if bitcoin had been more popular, if everyone had bitcoin applications on their phone which take months to get updated, where half the world if running v7 and half v8. This would have (as I understand it, and I think I do) just fundamentally broken bitcoin, possibly beyond reasonable repair.

    • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Monday May 13, 2013 @07:18AM (#43708407)

      Total disaster, never happens in real world, not virtual one. Except for all the times when 'real world' currencies undergo devaluations, revaluations, forced exchanges, just plain old inflation, all the things that lead to currencies collapsing. I mean name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

      I agree that the dangers of bitcoin forking have been overstated, and are something of a manufactured drama - technical problems like this are not very difficult to surmount. The real problem with Bitcoin for me is that the system is not transparent, and nothing backs the currency (unlike those fiat ones you mention above).

      A currency is a token of trust (trust that others will value it the same amount), and that's a fragile thing.

      Bitcoin is currently a small curiosity, it's only just becoming big enough to attract the interest of the real sharks, and I'm not convinced the creators have the resources, motivation or interest to keep the currency fair and secure once serious money becomes involved. Many of the exchanges are still pitifully insecure (run on VPSs !), the infrastructure is not well managed (witness problem above), and the creators probably never expected it to take off or really thought through the implications. Once there is serious money involved, lots of people are going to want to change the rules. If Bitcoin becomes popular it will be easy to coopt, devalue, and tax until it is just another currency, probably tied to a particular corporation or government. There's absolutely nothing you can do about that as a user of bitcoin. If the developers decided to change the direction of the currency you have your life savings in, devalue it, create a new block chain, you don't even have a vote on the matter.

      Currently, if the government of your country or anyone else with the power to control the flow of bitcoins decide it should become valueless for you, or illegal, that can easily happen, if someone corners a significant supply of coins, they can manipulate the market (this is probably already happening as there are ZERO controls in place to stop it), if the public panics due to misinformation or rumour in such an illiquid market there is nothing to stop huge swings in value, and if a government decides to coopt the currency, shut down exchanges and change the rules by fiat, no-one is going to be able to trade in it and interest will evaporate. I see that as the largest problem with bitcoin by far - there are no backers putting up their own goods, no-one to trust, and no way to ensure that others continue to play by the same rules as they used to. It's certainly very appealing to utopian crypto-anarchists, but of limited interest to anyone who wants to store value or exchange it, given that it has the disadvantages of cash (anonymous, fungible) with none of the upsides (backed by a sovereign government, relatively stable, regulated to a greater or lesser extent, insurable etc), and a few downsides of its own (massively fluctuating value, built-in deflation, early-adopters privileged).

      Because it is untraceable, and not guaranteed by law, it's of no interest to the majority of people who use currencies to store and transfer value and receive payment. I *want* my transactions to be traceable, so that I can prove to gov. and counter-parties that I have fulfilled my part of a bargain, made a payment, and should receive goods or services in return. If I don't want a transaction to be traceable (very rare, but conceivable), I'd use barter or some kind, but a currency outwith the control of government holds little interest for me, *precisely because* it is outwith the control of all the rules of society I value. Those who've had their valuable bits stolen from some VPS have no come-back using bitcoin, and no way to find a thief or enforce punishment - I'd demand far better than that for any currency I put trust in.

      • by seizer (16950) on Monday May 13, 2013 @08:46AM (#43708849) Homepage

        I don't think you know enough about Bitcoin, and I encourage you to read more about it. While it is hugely volatile, and even more hugely risky - not to say stupid - to "invest" in, I think many of your criticisms are invalid.

        Bitcoin is absolutely traceable - it's far more traceable than cash. Read up about how the blockchain works (and see the Zerocoin proposal to see how it could be made untraceable, optionally, in the future). (The only non-traceable coins are those minted by miners with very paranoid security arrangements).

        Cornering a "significant supply of coins" would take a significant investment of "real world" cash to actually corner these coins - not a trivial thing to get your hands on. So I don't think this is a large risk for the current Bitcoin ecosystem.

        Also, you suggest that with regard to an entity trying to coopt or alter Bitcoin, "there's absolutely nothing you can do about that as a user of bitcoin". That's not true - simply running the reference software implementation makes you a node in the network, thus enforcing your (i.e. the default software's) set of rules on the transactions you do/do not relay. And additionally, the computing power deployed by today's miners would probably be impossible to exceed except by a very determined and well financed attacker. How much would a government spend to attack Bitcoin?

        And if the "creators" (by which I suppose you mean the current set of core devs) try to create a new blockchain, good luck to them - the blockchain is far more resilient and the network runs as a democracy. It wouldn't work unless a vast amount of users also followed.

        Your point about exchanges is key of course - they are extremely amateur operations right now. But that's easily changeable by hard work.

        Digital cash ought to excite any geek - whether Bitcoin is "it", or simply an alpha version of something better yet to arrive, who knows.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by murdocj (543661)

      the whole argument for going thru the pain of adopting a new currency is that it's immune to the problems of the existing currencies. If it's going to have the same sort of problems, what's the point? Does it really matter to you whether the result of your currency being devalued is due to government policy or a bug?

      • My government will always accept the current legal tender for payment of taxes
        Any one trading in my country has to by law accept the current legal tender in payment

        Some people will accept other currencies in exchange for the legal tender or in payment at whatever exchange rate they deem appropriate, but it is not required

        No-one *has* to accept bitcoin anywhere, and the exchange rate is therefore *only* subject to market confidence and nothing else - and could be zero tomorrow ....

    • Real world currency - A currency that has a value backed by either :

      Physical something of real value - Gold, Silver, etc that actually exists in a vault somewhere

      A Large entity who guarantee to pay, and are trusted enough to do so (Government/Bank/etc)

      And/Or - Fiat currency that will always (and sometimes will only) be accepted for the purposes of paying taxes and so will always have va

      • Real world currency - A currency that has a value backed by either :

        Physical something of real value - Gold, Silver, etc that actually exists in a vault somewhere

        But the value of the gold probably bears little relation to what its intrinsically worth. I.e. if gold weren't being used as a currency of sorts, it wouldn't be as valuable since its uses would be relatively minor (jewelery, electronics, etc). In this respect its very much like a fiat currency - it has an inflated value because people believe they can sell it on for a high price.

        A Large entity who guarantee to pay, and are trusted enough to do so (Government/Bank/etc)

        The "guarantee to pay" is a little bit meaningless here - I can't go to the government and tell them to exchange my bit of paper

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Legal tender just means a creditor has to accept it as payment of a debt by the debtor.

          Untrue. Legal tender means it is legal to OFFER payment in cash. However, nobody is required to ACCEPT your cash payment.

          • Untrue. Legal tender means it is legal to OFFER payment in cash. However, nobody is required to ACCEPT your cash payment.

            "Legal tender has a very narrow and technical meaning in the settlement of debts. It means that a debtor cannot successfully be sued for non-payment if he pays into court in legal tender."
            http://www.royalmint.com/aboutus/policies-and-guidelines/legal-tender-guidelines [royalmint.com]

            So ok, no one is required to accept the payment, but they are essentially required to write off the debt if you offer payment in cash, whether or not they actually accept it.

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              It is whatever the goverment says it is. In the UK is apparently 'required' that you accept it. It the US, it is not. [treasury.gov]

              "This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or n

              • by Yebyen (59663)

                AC sibling comment is right, but I think he's neglected to point out exactly what you've already mentioned that explains the difference between payments that must be accepted and payments that can be refused.

                Valid and legal offer for debts when tendered to a creditor -- in other words, you do not need to accept my money for goods or services, and provide them, in that order. If you are operating a restaurant for example, and you've provided the service (or goods) first, on honor as many restaurants do, in

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Measured in US dollars gold today takes about $1100 to $1200 to mine to get an ounce, so it's not as far away from it's current spot price as you may think. In fact there are many 'economists' who say that gold is in a bubble completely neglecting the cost of its production (which went up considerably in the last 10 years due to 'noneixsting' inflation, non-existing if you take gov't word for it). They are even saying that gold mining companies will go out of business in this 'gold bubble' because price of

      • by Kjella (173770)

        All real world currencies are usually legal tender - It is required that people have to accept legal tender as payment for good and services

        Generally no, only as payment for debts, products consumed or services already provided like eating at a restaurant and paying afterwards. Stores can refuse you for having too large money like $100 bills, too small money like tons of one cent coins or pretty much any reason they want. Having legal tender doesn't force anyone to do business with you.

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        "Legal tender" does NOT mean that 'people have to accept (it)'. Legal tender means it is legal to offer cash for payment, but nobody is required to ACCEPT your payment in cash.

    • Yes, but since most currencies are not generated by an encryption scheme, they're arguably not quite as subject to software bugs and upgrade incompatibilities. Not in the same way.
    • ...name me a paper currency that lasted longer than 80 years on this planet without a major restructuring, without collapsing?

      Does Canadian Tire money count?

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday May 13, 2013 @05:40AM (#43708027)

    Making the whole thing nothing more than an interesting academic exercise. Anyone who thinks bitcoin is the new gold or even frankly a replacement for ordinary money transactions is utterly deluded.

    • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Monday May 13, 2013 @05:57AM (#43708085)

      In the 2020s bitcoins will run out anyway

      What do you mean by that? I thought that the very idea of bitcoins is that at some time no more can be produced, thereby causing deflation.

    • Making the whole thing nothing more than an interesting academic exercise. Anyone who thinks bitcoin is the new gold or even frankly a replacement for ordinary money transactions is utterly deluded.

      Yes and no: By design, 'the' bitcoin block chain will ever only have a limited number(20-odd million, I think...) of bitcoins associated with it. However, there is nothing mathemagical about this one, rather than the zillions of other possible ones.

      If people were so inclined, any number of bitcoin-protocol chains could be run concurrently(subject only to computational constraints), each providing another chunk of the things. Of course, given how many of bitcoin's biggest fans are cyber-goldbug deflation ent

    • by pla (258480) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:52AM (#43708301) Journal
      Try 2140, not 2020. Your larger point may stand, but the specific urgency of it happening in the next decade - Or even without our lifetimes - does not.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday May 13, 2013 @05:45AM (#43708041)
    Those disastrous forks can be a real nuisance [city-data.com].
  • Damn (Score:5, Funny)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:02AM (#43708107)
    Damn, I thought this was going to be the last forking warning against posting Bitcoin stories on Slashdot.
    • by hodet (620484)
      I don't know, but if crypto currencies and everything surrounding their evolution is not "news for nerds" then I don't know what is. Beats the hell out of another Apple or Samsung story.
  • So upgrade the clients to version 8. Problem solved.

    Or are we worried about updating the bitcoin clients we've installed on our criminally trespassing/theft of services botnets?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:47AM (#43708279)

    As a digital coin collector, I am extremely excited by these rare, limited edition "forked" bitcoins that will soon no longer be tender. I am trying to gather up as many as I can.

  • ASDFnz writes "It has been just over two months since the bitcoin block chain was rocked by a near disastrous fork causing the bitcoin price to crash. ..."

    Right. Near fucking disastrous. You can see the effect right here [bitcoincharts.com], after clicking the "DRAW" button. At least, if you look very hard, and squint just right, you might just be able to pick up the crash that happened 2 months ago.

    Actually, I can't see a bloody thing. ASDFnz is a liar.

  • Or beanie babies? Anyone? Anyone?

  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Monday May 13, 2013 @07:32AM (#43708471) Homepage
    Basically, the long block chains are $2 bills, and the 7.1 client is Taco Bell. Is that about right?
    • by rjhubs (929158)
      Car analogy please.

      Long block chains are like double decker buses and the 7.1 client is like a taco bell drive throught with only 9ft of clearance?
  • Or you'll have me to forkin' answer to.
    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      Ah, so "fork" is the new "fsck" or "frak", and I was just getting used to those... it's like the language is forked.
  • 2 months ago (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @09:21AM (#43709087)

    The crash was not caused by a fork. The crash was caused by over-valuation coupled with the largest DDoS MtGox had ever experienced. The trading system slowed to the point that user's sell / buy trades weren't going through and it caused a panic. MtGox was taken down while they upgraded network infrastructure to deal with the shitty DDoS people. When they came back up, other exchange's had already begun the dive. It dove and corrected repeatedly, until it panned out and has been relatively stable since.

    The article is bullshit.

    • by tompaulco (629533)

      The crash was not caused by a fork. The crash was caused by over-valuation coupled with the largest DDoS MtGox had ever experienced. The trading system slowed to the point that user's sell / buy trades weren't going through and it caused a panic. MtGox was taken down while they upgraded network infrastructure to deal with the shitty DDoS people. When they came back up, other exchange's had already begun the dive. It dove and corrected repeatedly, until it panned out and has been relatively stable since.

      The article is bullshit.

      AC is correct. The fork was two months ago. When the fork happened, the price on the historical chart is not even perceptible. Heck it may have gone up that day from all I can tell. AFTER the fork, the price climbed to 4 TIMES the value of before the fork, and is currently trading at more than double that price. So the article is just an out and out lie and FUD. We should not consider any more submissions from this submitter.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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