May 01, 2015

Proof of Work is now being put to work - toasters!

FtAlpahville's has just revealed what revealing that 21Inc (formerly 21e6) are doing exactly that.

Its core business plan it turns out will be embedding ASIC bitcoin mining chips into everyday devices like USB battery chargers, routers, printers, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and -- the piece de resistance -- chipsets to be used by internet of things devices.

21 Inc wants to put your toaster to work, forging our cryptocurrency future.

Interesting, because 21Inc currently holds the record for the biggest funding round - 116 million dollars! Here although the link will not last long.

It seems like the notion of heating ones house with residual heat from Bitcoin mining has been around for a long term, see slashdot from 2011.12.21, Gavin Andresen from 2013.04.09:

I can imagine bitcoin-mining electric hot water heaters installed in homes all across the world, installed by thousands of private companies that split the profits with homeowners.

More: FTAlphaville from 2014.09.05 which calls it "the latest fad." Vitalik Buterin also spotted the security argument in 2012.02.28:

"If miners figure out that they can dual-use their mining electricity by making their computers heat their homes during the winter, that would be a very positive change since it would decentralize mining to something every home or business does rather than a task done by centralized, specialized supercomputers and it would increase the network's hash power and thus security but it would not ultimately reduce the mining cost."

This all by the way of linking to some musings I wrote back in 2014, late to the game it seems, and maybe calling a fad was accurate. What seems clear is that the world is not happy about the efficiency of Bitcoin, and until this is addressed more comprehensively, the bitcoin core will stand at odds with the world. E.g. This might be the wrong moment in history to tell the mass market that our solution to the banking crisis is to gratuitously waste energy.

Posted by iang at May 1, 2015 08:26 AM

Your certificates are bad. MD5(!) collision-heaven root and unpinned sub cert for subject instead of financialcryptography.

Might want to look in to that. Throws errors in all the major browsers. Tested on 3 systems on 3 different connections, so it's unlikely to be mitm.

Please moderate this comment and fix your certs, don't publish it. I don't want any credit or attribution. Just do away with that MD5-shit and bad subject name so I can use TLS with confidence on your site.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 7, 2015 04:30 PM

Moderate this comment too:

I used the comment form because ten minutes of searching gave me no "contact us" or any other way to easily contact the maintainers of the blog or domain. Maybe you should add one, unobtrusively, right below banner "This site is secured (WITH MD5 SIGS!!!) by"!

Posted by: Anonymous at May 7, 2015 04:32 PM

Hey, you're right, there is an MD5 collision-heaven root in the cert.

If you can explain how to do an MITM on the root, I'd be grateful ;-)

The main issue here is that browsers want to expunge MD5 completely from their software suite. Which is a good thing. CAcert hasn't caught up :(

The business about the is that the cert is a SNA or SubjectAltName cert, which means it lists a whole bunch of shared sites in one cert. This normally goes away when the browser accepts the root. TLS/SNI would be better, I know.

Posted by: Iang at May 8, 2015 11:47 AM
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