Thoughts from Riga

Was great to see a lot of old friends and new in Riga.

Best part of bitcoin is how easy it is to just go to a conference and talk to the bitcoin devs of all sorts working on the project. They were universally so open and nice and focused on substance in arguments. This was the most pleasant part.

The bug was fresh on everyones minds and in the first session Matt did offer to answer any questions in his morning session of the first day, but did not focus on it for his session. Other than that, the conference did not pay special attention to the bug as a topic or going deeper into it beyond another developer panel that briefly discussed it.

Funny note: in the first session with Matt, there was the wrong schedule displaying behind him (listing some other speaker for the session), so when he went on stage and people were looking at it funny, it probably looked like Matt was getting scowled at or something. But no, it was just a crowd of ppl confused by the wrong schedule behind him…I saw some people on reddit confusing this so just noting this.

Matt was particularly cool given that he had just patched the issue and had hustled with the disclosure post while coming to Riga. And after a long day we kind of ambushed him but he was cool enough to hear us out and respond and be open and honest. I will always respect him for this. In retrospect it was pretty uncool maybe how harsh I was, and he showed good character understanding I was probably a bit emotional.

Not going to mention anything that was privately discussed which has not been publicly mentioned already, but Matt and Wladimir both were very blunt and honest about the bug being a failure in following the process, which was refreshing. Everyone was unanimous that the community would come to a consensus to rollback the block if the bug was exploited and it would be solved within hours and ultimately be no big deal. This is true, but the reputational damage would have been extraordinary in a time when billions of dollars is incentivizing scammers to pay for the most brilliant mathematicians and cryptographers to work for their scam instead of using their brilliance to strengthen and advance bitcoin. We can not really afford to be second-rate in terms of security and stability at the protocol level.

Was annoyed by some (wont name names) who were even trying to say “well there was no incentive to exploit it “ — dont give me that shit. Jihan obviously would have a huge incentive to get it patched on BCH, then exploit it (covertly) on BTC to demonstrate dev incompetence and pump BCH. That is not a theoretical risk but a real fucking risk that is so obvious and the fact people play dumb about it and downplay the exploits severity is triggering.

Was overall irritated by the little attention being paid to the severity of the bug that was only just patched and a minority of nodes running unbugged software. One would think this would dominate the conference but it almost felt like it was a taboo to refer to it directly.

Giacco’s session on scams was great. His style is great for communicating a lot of these points. He articulated a lot of the feelings that I think bitcoiners have about the nonsense in the space. Funny how many people on the internet misunderstood him.

Trading panel was terrible. This Tone guy seems to say the right things on stuff like Proof of Work vs PoS and Ripple, but is wrong on a lot of other things. At one point he was suggesting traders use high leverage on BitMEX and use their liquidation price as the stop — and every smart trader knows that this steals your maintenance margin so you should instead at least try to get out before to salvage this (duh). The other guys were also kind of clueless. None of them promoted trading, just cautioned people against it. Very low energy.

Elizabeth was amazing as usual. So high energy, so pumped and passionate about LN. Absolutely phenomenal the work they have done. I am confused how Lightning Labs makes money, I assume they will run nodes or something. Hopefully no bug will happen that would be bad. I have $100 in my Eclair wallet but could not find a place in Riga that would accept Lightning, but there was one guy who had a restaurant accepting bitcoin.

Lightning in general was a big theme of the conference, everyone is really positive about it and there was objective progress in growth of the network. It really is easy to set up a spend-only Lightning wallet. You just send BTC to it, open a channel, and then you can scan invoices and pay instantly. If you know how to do a bitcoin transaction you can use it on mobile. Try it out, it really is so easy… Eclair or Zap. The problem is we need merchants and it is still pretty limited. Also, I am worried it is buggy and will cause lost funds in some bad way.

Jameson presentation was okay. A lot of emphasis on setting up entities to conceal public records trails. Unfortunately, UBO laws are enforced more and more, so even if you are holding property through entities this ultimate ownership is exposed. I am more interested in state actor not the nonstate actor.

One of the biggest events of the day was B Foundation being announced. Very skeptical of it. I will fund it, but I will assume it is a scam and just hope for the best (I’ve done it for ICOs so why not give it a wing on a decent group of people who I believe represent Bitcoin values). I think Bitcoin has a serious problem of nobody wanting to do the “boring” work of checking for bugs and thinking of odd edge cases that could fuck with the protocol. I want to incentivize that in an effective way, so I already have sent money to awemany for his help on the bug. I will figure out what the B Foundation offers to find some good devs to fill this roll and pay for a couple fulltime. I will also give all the money I recover from Gox to development, whenever it comes. One concern I guess is it would be hard to tell if the money goes to some dumb shit or if there is a guy really working to scrape around and really check for things.

Amir Taaki and Tur Demeester did not show up.

Tomahawk Steaks at the place in Old Town were amazing. Great fat marbled meat. Will definitely get this againt next time in Riga.

Latvian women just as beautiful as last year.