System Searcher My First Potentially Useful Tool

My latest contribution to the Google Chrome Store I think is the most broadly useful tool I’ve developed. It allows you to execute searches on multiple websites at the same time. This can be useful if you frequently search sites like Amazon, Walmart and Target for the same thing such as “Tables”.  With this extension you just punch in what you want, and it launches searches on the websites you setup.

You can download from Google store at: http://bit.ly/systemsearcher

Doom Best Coin On Test Network

I have launched a currency called “Doom Best Coin” using the Ethereum#ERC20 standard (on the Rinkeby test network). Currently it doesn’t do anything meaningful besides demonstrate that ANYONE can start their own currency.

This is a GOOD thing and one of the primary reasons I was enthusiastic for Ethereum long before its existence. Private currencies are a great step forward for decentralization. There are almost 500 ERC20 coins now in use on the main network, several with interesting concepts. By next year I bet we see over 2 thousand.

Now the question for the world is… which currency do you trust?? Here’s a hint: currencies that say “In God We Trust” or are named “Doom Best Coin” probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list.

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!

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Of Course Equifax Got Hacked!

Why is anyone shocked that another data breach results in millions of people’s information falling into the hands of criminals? Stated differently, if Ashley Madison, LinkedIn, and the NSA can’t keep their data secure, what makes people think a credit score entity is going to perform any better

I don’t know the specifics of this Equifax hack and I don’t really care. If I had to guess, I’d say probably inside job. For people that think their data is secure because they trust sites like “Google” they are looking at it the wrong way. A better question is, “do you trust every single employee at Google who has access to your data?” The answer is the same as what the NSA would say if asked if they trusted all of their employees (even before Mr. Snowden left the country), of course not!

The only thing that really matters in this situation is will the public recognize the need for blockchain technology and zero-knowledge services? Steller examples include LastPass, SpiderOak, and Signal all can face data breaches with a much stronger level of confidence because even if someone gets every bit of information on their servers, it is highly unlikely anything useful could be leveraged from it.

We live in the digital age. Signatures made with pens that my 6-year-old could mimic effectively is not security. Entrusting your data to corporations that have human employees, and have human errors will ultimately have data leaked. Hopefully, today’s painful lesson will beef up the requirements to take security more seriously. It’s really pretty easy, trust no one.

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!

 

New Uber App — Still Missing A Key Feature It Desperately Needs

I tinkered around with the new Uber App. Overall it seems pretty similar to its predecessor. I personally don’t like the fact that it tries to guess where you’re going on the initial screen. To me, I’m always initially interested in how soon someone can get to me, which I now have to hunt for. I do like having people as a destination. That eliminates the constant texting of “where are you?”

However, my biggest complaint is what is NOT in the app. I’ve complained directly to Uber and Lyft on this particular subject before. They need to have a deposit commitment available for passengers. This is for the benefit of the driver and the passenger.

Example is if I’m 30 miles out in the desert, if a driver gets alerted that I need a ride, he may pass me up for a closer option. This is a rational decision on their part because there’s no guarantee that the ride I will need isn’t going to be a pathetic 2 mile drive, costing the driver time and money.

Easy way to make this better. Give passengers the option to post a guarantee of how much their ride will be. Stranded in the desert, I have no way to communicate to a driver that, “I need a ride all the way back to the other end of the city! It’s 50 miles for sure! It will be a $50 trip, guaranteed!”

Alternatively, if I’m really in a desperate situation, I might be eager to commit to a high amount to get me out of a dire situation. Maybe I do only need to go three miles, but the heat is unbearable, I am out of water, and would be happy to offer “$50 guarantee to pick me up!!”

This method ensures that I get a ride that I need, and the driver doesn’t get shortchanged on compensation.

So far there’s been no sign of this becoming a feature, but maybe in the next release they’ll have the PG CodeRider Passenger Rate Guarantee Feature! Or maybe not. But I’ve traveled well over 3,000 miles as a ride sharing passenger, and on many occasions I’ve felt this was a feature they desperately needed.

Google Chrome Short-Cuts and Hacks

This is just a dump zone for me to drop Google Chrome notes that I don’t want to search for again.

CTL “L” = Shortcut to Omnibar (Address bar)

 

Setting up a search Engine Shortcut:

To add a search engine to Google Chrome (note from the Omini Bar you can execute searches from various search engines).

To find the search query for that website, run a query, and then substitute the result of your query with %s

Example is to setup Reason.com as a search, go to Reason.com. Run a search such as “ABCDEFG”

The URL will return: https://reason.com/search?q=ABCDEFG

Change to: https://reason.com/search?q=%s and add as a search engine to Chrome.

Couple other common ones for me:

  • http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=%s
  • http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%s
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search=%s