Ethereum’s Augur Project One Step Closer to Reality

One of the most exciting components with Ethereum is the Augur project, or as I call it, “The Bet on ANYTHING” market!”

Yesterday the project released an updated White Paper found here.  The technical details are not for most people, but what is exciting is being one step closer to the possibility of two strangers on the internet being able to place trustless bets on almost anything!

The word “betting” has a negative emotion attached to it in American culture, but being able to assign personal stake in prediction models is incredibly valuable. Indeed it is perhaps a much-needed component in our political system.

As I type this, one of the most hated presidents in American history is addressing the nation in a Statue of the Union. The internet is filled back and forth rage about who is “right” and “wrong”. As the fury between two groups grows, perhaps the ultimate test for the truth can be found if the two opponents can form an agreement of what their disagreement is, and bet on it.

Consider how this could be used in economic debates in uncovering the truth. Politicians (particularly in my home state of California) are incredibly dishonest at presenting understated costs of projects to voters around elections. Augur presents an option to expose what politicians truly believe:

“Do you really think that this project is going to be under what the budget states? Let’s bet on it!”

Do you want to bet if this is going to truly be a temporary tax?”

Additionally, consider how this tool could be used to hold a politician at their word. During a campaign, candidates could leverage this tool to offer promises to voters: “I’m Joe Nobody running for US Congress and I will not vote in favor of any budget that is not balanced, and I’ve placed a $100,000 bet to assure this in the Augur network!” Such a statement would be much more meaningful than the standard “I promise, I’m a good person!” assurance we get from current candidates.

Hopefully, this goes live soon. Here’s an older video showing its possibilities from 2015:

Monero’s Web Mining Option

Cryptocurrency Monero has made some noise recently with its ability to mine on websites, sometimes without user consent. While this probably sounds unethical (which it is), the opportunity to leverage user CPU power as an incentive to visit a website instead of advertisements is an interesting concept.

While I’m still kicking this idea around in my head, does this make Monero potentially the most stable currency option? Measure users’ CPU usage as a function of time?

While you think about this, please see the below is an example of mining using your consent. Please click “start mining” this and leave it running for the rest of your life.

If you’re interested in seeing a less ethical example, checkout this fake page I made that looks like it’s giving VBA advice, when in reality it’s hogging your CPU. Be on the lookout for stuff like this if you’re browsing. If your laptop starts to takeoff, because the fan is going so fast… you may be on a Monero mining website!



Ripple in 2018 Seems Potentially Profitable

I do not like what cryptocurrency Ripple represents, but I do see it as potentially a middle ground, that delays central Bank’s march towards irrelevance. In 2018 as their proof of concept gets rolled out, I can’t imagine that XRP price (currently at about $1.25) doesn’t grow considerably. I’m still a Solidity Coder and Ethereum warrior, but I’m throwing a little in Ripple just because it seems inevitable to grow in value, particularly against the doomed dollar. Always be careful when buying crypto and there are no sure things… yada yada.

Best Method for LastRow/LastColumn In Excel

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve just started messing around with PasteBin and so I’ll post something I put there.

I think the most common beginner VBA question is “how do I find the last row of a sheet?” There are dozens of answers out there, but there are better ways to accomplish this. In my opinion, the best way is below using the below VBA script which I’ve turned into a formula you can paste into your file and get your answer. My post includes text stating why I believe it’s better. Other methods are vulnerable to uneven columns, usedrange being out of sync, or filtered rows. Using the FIND method avoids a lot of confusion.

This particular formula has some if statements so if a user selects an entire column or columns, it will return the lowest row in that range.

Excel should have this function!


Fooled By Randomness A Great Read For Recognizing True Insight

I read Fooled By Randomness before the financial crash of 2008. I remember reading this while the real estate market was senselessly high and wondering… “maybe I should be shorting that market”?

Frustrating that I didn’t, but at least I didn’t buy into it. This is a great book that talks about people seeking patterns when there may be none.

Perhaps the best example is the Warren Buffet argument. Is Warren Buffet a truly skilled investor or was he just lucky on a couple key investments that put him tremendously ahead?

If you have 50 million people guessing a game of heads or tales over the course of 1,000 trials, chances are someone is going to do very well, most certainly better than the majority. Are they more skilled than the rest of the field?Do they have some amazing insight to be emulated? Probably not but too often we evaluate people’s methods based on their success.

Target Red Card is Better Than You Think

Everyone knows Target as a reliable source for reasonable prices, without going to the ultra-cheap Walmart status.

Most people are also reasonably familiar with Target’s Red Card. A quick recap from their site lists the benefits of:

  • 5% off everything.
  • Free delivery of most items.
  • Extended return times.

To me, this alone was convincing enough to signup. Target served as a good one-stop shop for a lot of family stuff, plus the delivery was enticing. I also use Amazon, but Target’s return policy is favorable of having to repack and ship something back to a vendor in hopes of getting a refund.

However, another advantage emerged, that I strangely discovered while researching tips for taking my kids to Disneyland.  The 5% also applies to… Gift Cards. This really shocked me, as I’ve used gift cards before as a vehicle to wrack up points or cash in on rebates, and it seems like these are always guarded by the store manager as cash only sales, and no discounts, or anything. Yet Target seems quite comfortable giving you a 5% gift cards, no limits.

The gift cards vary by store and there are quite a few, but in addition to Disney the ones that interest me are: Southwest, Chipotle, Subway, Ebay, Starbucks, Flemings and Netflix.

I fly Southwest pretty frequently so that savings is most rewarding. Southwest does have a pretty decent return on their Chase Credit card, but by my calculation it’s about 3.4% when booking travel with them. That’s not bad, but compare that to immediate cash savings, and I’d prefer the gift cards.

The only Red Card limitation is that the 5% can’t be applied towards a Visa or credit card prepaid card, nor can it be applied to a Target Gift card. Additionally, if you try to outmaneuver Target by paying for part of it with your credit card (hoping to get points), and part red card, the discount only applies to the Red Card amount (I only tested this out of technical curiosity as it was a hassle to actually execute).

So keep that in mind if you’re considering taking a Southwest flight Disneyland, with eating plans including Subway, Chipotle, Starbucks and Olive Garden…