How To Invest in Bitcoin - Getting Started Guide (2020)
How To Invest in Bitcoin - Getting Started Guide (2020)
FAQ - Bitcoin
How to Get Started with Bitcoin → 2020 [Step-By-Step
Running A Full Node - Bitcoin
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So, last wipe, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. I struggled until I got to about level 35ish, but eventually I got my bitcoin farm going (not full 50 GPU) and my booze generator going, and I was making some decent rubles. I could buy decent gear, the scopes I wanted, the ammo I liked (which was rarely m995,7n37, or m61, btw). And then I could go in raid, do my quests, find items, kill players, take their stuff and leave. Or, I could die and lose all my gear, and it would sting, but not break me. But when I did raids, I almost ALWAYS stayed until <10 minutes remaining, sometimes even getting out with spare seconds left. Yes, by about level 45, I eventually started making more money than I could spend, but ONLY after 50 GPU's in the BC farm and booze generator combined. Now this wipe, instead of enjoying the raids, I'm getting frustrated trying to find progression halting items. Then, when I do find them, I'm STRONGLY encouraged to turtle up, hide until the coast is clear behind counters or in bushes, then extract at 10:01. I'm also having to buy expensive weapons like SVD's to finish quests, which I had to do last wipe too, but my rouble flow was much much higher. I can kill a 3 man squad, and make 200k, because their armor was zero'd out and too high cost to repair and their guns with all their fancy attachments are worth 75k. Or, I can die and lose about that much. There is no real risk/reward any more. Then, when I'm having a particularly bad day dying, I can't even lean back on looting stuff like factory keys and fuel conditioners now, AND WHAT LITTLE BIT OF FIR I SELL HAS ATROCIOUS FEES. I sold 3 packs of bolts for 14k ea and the fee was 12k. It's like BSG isn't even trying to micro adjust the game to dial back the ruble flow. Instead it's full on scorched earth. Only the people with the absolute best combat skills or the most time to rat around have the ability to make any decent money. On top of that, I'm level 33 and JUST got my last FIR flash drive. I have crashed against the rocks to the tune of MILLIONS trying to get a LEDX and 3 FIR graphics cards from Interchange, thanks to RNG. I can't even start Shooter Born In Heaven, and I would be 3/4 done with it by now if I had it 10 levels ago. I'm sure* 3/4 of the subreddit will come by to tell me to quit crying, git gud, it's hardcore, roubles are easy to make, its a BETA, etc.. Well here's my Beta feedback. The game isn't fun when I lose every ruble I scrape up trying to do quests with specific gun/armor requirements and finding FIR items in hotspots, and hiding to avoid losing those items, all while BSG -heavily- deflates the economy and punishes rule obeying players in the name of stamping out RMT. *Left out a word. Edit: let me just say, I don’t mean this as a personal attack towards Nikita or the other devs. It’s simply just my experience, and my thoughts. I don’t have answers on how to make the perfect balances and compromises, or fixes on RMT etc. I just wish it had been publicized ahead of time, something like “Okay guys, next wipe we’re gonna experiment with making it real hard.” Also I’ve gotten a lot of responses saying “you’re not supposed to run the best gear every raid.” And my reply is, my standard kit is a Vepr KM, 6B23 armor, a Ratnik helmet, and comtacs, with self made BP ammo from the hideout. I’ve just recently started adding TV10 armor rigs into the mix. I’m not a META player who has to have iglonik or M995 every raid. I’m not trying to say I want to do that either. For one CONSTRUCTIVE bit, I feel like items should have two different FIR tags. One for flea/resell, one for quests, and the quest one staying if you died with it. That would make life better to me and to a very large population of power players. Also, between FIR changes, reduced loot spawns, increased flea fees, reduced trader sell prices, any 1-2 of those are survivable but all of them together, with more to come I'm sure, are crushing. That's all I'm saying. EDIT Again : I just saw what Jaegers giving for guns. THAT is nice. That makes up a little bit for the stuff like fuel conditioners.
What started with a unique cryptocurrency named Bitcoin which rose from a virtual nil to above $3000 in value, taking the world in surprise and awe, making a statement about the future of cryptocurrency.
You may be in quarantine, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t! For those who don’t know, every month this subreddit makes a millionaire out of one comment, and donates. With danger out and about, take some time and comment to enter! [Drawing Thread #52]
I thought this year would be a lot more normal.
Introduction: Welcome to anyone and everyone coming from /popular. To be honest, I probably should've expected this, given that most of us are staying home. For those who aren't familiar: every month, we ask for comments for entry, and we pick one who represents our winner. This process is completely random and verifiable, using the Bitcoin blockchain as a sophisticated die. Following this, people then donate to the winner using a variety of mediums, and the winner would go on to be a "millionaire" (arguably, our definition of that term is pretty loose). So once again, thank you for your support. The post lasts for 24 hours before getting locked, so make sure you place your comment before 7 PM ET. In addition, I may make a [Part 2] if we reach the limit. If that happens, I will sticky a comment on this post temporarily. Let's make a millionaire! In Case You Missed It:
REQUIRED: Leave only one (1) top level comment in reply to this thread! (Replying to other comments will not qualify. You must be thirty days old or older to comment.)
A random user who commented will be chosen, and everyone donates a dollar to make a millionaire.
February 19 at 7:00 PM ET (epoch timestamp: 1582153200 (a bit tricky taking DST into consideration, it’s been updated)) is the cutoff for accounts. If you have created your account after this point, you are not eligible to enter and your submission will be disqualified automatically.
March 22 at 12:00 PM ET (epoch timestamp: 1584892800) will begin the process of selecting the winner. At this time, the [Draw] post will be online and start the process of waiting for the blockchain, in order to select the winner randomly and verifiably.
Mini Survey: NOTE: A Google account is required to respond to hinder tampering, but you are not obligated to answer. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while: people are not having pleasant experiences with PayPal. If the account isn’t blocked, then there are issues with fees, fear of the seizure of funds, and the risk of revealing personally identifiable information. However, it is the largest platform used by /MillionaireMakers, and is the provider of most donations on this subreddit. This survey is purely to see how people feel about this. Unless if the winner chooses to not accept PayPal, we will continue to offer this service for tonight’s thread. My questions are: 1) How would you feel about a ban on the PayPal service here on /MillionaireMakers? 2) Would removing PayPal as a service affect your ability to donate? 3) Should /MillionaireMakers remove PayPal? I will periodically post results here. If you are interested in responding, please answer here, answers will not be accepted at the time the [Draw] is posted: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSffkP3SKdTi9lLPbtO8taG4_-cdctYlAf8SvohvzoJvTOYdhw/viewform?usp=sf_link Drawing Process Mini-Update: This is as short as they come, leroy627 has made a commit to the repository that adds backwards-compatibility up to Python 3.5. Procedure will be run with the following conditions: the first comment of duplicates are kept for the month of March, and any ineligible comments will be removed. If you are interested in more information, see [Drawing Thread #51]: https://reddit.com/millionairemakers/comments/f7jdxz/alright_were_getting_back_into_the_flow_happy/
Sunday at 12 PM ET (16 UTC), we will be picking our winner, and you won’t want to miss it. The post will be labeled [Draw], and one comment will be selected out of the many made here to make a winner! Remember, this is about generosity, making an impact, and uniting to make someone's life better. It takes three minutes to donate a bit to the winner, whether you're well off and want to donate a couple bucks, or going through tough times and can only donate a few coins. Every cent makes cents, and counts! If a lone $1 can get you a mask for obvious reasons, then imagine the possibilities with $1,000,000. You can get a full-body suit, new doors, and someone to love you! Admittedly, for the wrong reasons, but the option is there. A million dollars can make someone’s suffering less sufferable. Spread the word: have your friends and family comment, post the link to your friendly-neighborhood social media network, and share it to anyone interested.
Let’s make a millionaire!
Why, kind Haiku? Why? Am I to atone in home? Perhaps. I’ll get by.
I am familiar with bitcoin but not namecoin. Interesting only in establishing some domains as censorship insurance not speculating or trading namecoins. I could run a miner on an extra computer. Is that best way to start to buy a domain name?
Taproot! Everybody wants to have it, somebody wants to make it, nobody knows how to get it! (If you are asking why everybody wants it, see: Technical: Taproot: Why Activate?) (Pedants: I mostly elide over lockin times) Briefly, Taproot is that neat new thing that gets us:
Multisignatures (n-of-n, k-of-n) that are just 1 signature (1-of-1) in length!! (MuSig/Schnorr)
Better privacy!! If all contract participants can agree, just use a multisignature. If there is a dispute, show the contract publicly and have the Bitcoin network resolve it (Taproot/MAST).
Activation lets devs work get back to work on the even newer stuff like!!!
Cross-input signature aggregation!! (transaction with multiple inputs can have a single signature for all inputs) --- needs Schnorr, but some more work needed to ensure that the interactions with SCRIPT are okay.
Block validation - Schnorr signatures for all taproot spends in a block can be validated in a single operation instead of for each transaction!! Speed up validation and maybe we can actually afford to increase block sizes (maybe)!!
SIGHASH_ANYPREVOUT - you know, for Decker-Russell-Osuntokun ("eltoo") magic!!!
OP_CHECKTEMPLATEVERIFY - vaulty vaults without requiring storing signatures, just transaction details!!
So yes, let's activate taproot!
The SegWit Wars
The biggest problem with activating Taproot is PTSD from the previous softfork, SegWit. Pieter Wuille, one of the authors of the current Taproot proposal, has consistently held the position that he will not discuss activation, and will accept whatever activation process is imposed on Taproot. Other developers have expressed similar opinions. So what happened with SegWit activation that was so traumatic? SegWit used the BIP9 activation method. Let's dive into BIP9!
bit - A field in the block header, the nVersion, has a number of bits. By setting a particular bit, the miner making the block indicates that it has upgraded its software to support a particular soft fork. The bit parameter for a BIP9 activation is which bit in this nVersion is used to indicate that the miner has upgraded software for a particular soft fork.
timeout - a time limit, expressed as an end date. If this timeout is reached without sufficient number of miners signaling that they upgraded, then the activation fails and Bitcoin Core goes back to the drawing board.
Now there are other parameters (name, starttime) but they are not anywhere near as important as the above two. A number that is not a parameter, is 95%. Basically, activation of a BIP9 softfork is considered as actually succeeding if at least 95% of blocks in the last 2 weeks had the specified bit in the nVersion set. If less than 95% had this bit set before the timeout, then the upgrade fails and never goes into the network. This is not a parameter: it is a constant defined by BIP9, and developers using BIP9 activation cannot change this. So, first some simple questions and their answers:
Why not just set a day when everyone starts imposing the new rules of the softfork?
This was done classically (in the days when Satoshi was still among us). But this might argued to put too much power to developers, since there would be no way to reject an upgrade without possible bad consequences. For example, developers might package an upgrade that the users do not want, together with vital security bugfixes. Either you live without vital security bugfixes and hire some other developers to fix it for you (which can be difficult, presumably the best developers are already the ones working on the codebase) or you get the vital security bugfixes and implicitly support the upgrade you might not want.
Sure, you could fork the code yourself (the ultimate threat in the FOSS world) and hire another set of developers who aren't assholes to do the dreary maintenance work of fixing security bugs, but Bitcoin needs strong bug-for-bug compatibility so everyone should really congregate around a single codebase.
Basically: even the devs do not want this power, because they fear being coerced into putting "upgrades" that are detrimental to users. Satoshi got a pass because nobody knew who he was and how to coerce him.
Suppose the threshold were lower, like 51%. If so, after activation, somebody can disrupt the Bitcoin network by creating a transaction that is valid under the pre-softfork rules, but are invalid under the post-softfork rules. Upgraded nodes would reject it, but 49% of miners would accept it and include it in a block (which makes the block invalid) And then the same 49% would accept the invalid block and build on top of that, possibly creating a short chain of doomed invalid blocks that confirm an invalid spend. This can confuse SPV wallets, who might see multiple confirmations of a transaction and accept the funds, but later find that in fact it is invalid under the now-activated softfork rules.
Thus, a very high threshold was imposed. 95% is considered safe. 50% is definitely not safe. Due to variance in the mining process, 80% could also be potentially unsafe (i.e. 80% of blocks signaling might have a good chance of coming from only 60% of miners), so a threshold of 95% was considered "safe enough for Bitcoin work".
Why have a timeout that disables the upgrade?
Before BIP9, what was used was either flag day or BIP34. BIP34 had no flag day of activation or a bit, instead, it was just a 95% threshold to signal an nVersion value greater than a specific value. Actually, it was two thresholds: at 75%, blocks with the new nVersion would have the new softfork rules imposed, but at 95% blocks with the old nVersion would be rejected (and only the new blocks, with the new softfork rules, were accepted). For one, between 75% and 95%, there was a situation where the softfork was only "partially imposed", only blocks signaling the new rules would actually have those rules, but blocks with the old rules were still valid. This was fine for BIP34, which only added rules for miners with negligible use for non-miners.
The reasons miners signalled support was because they felt they were being pressured to signal support. So they signalled support, with plans to actually upgrade later, but because of the widespread signalling, the new BIP66 version locked in before upgrade plans were finished. Thus, the timeout that disables the upgrade was added in BIP9 to allow miners an escape hatch.
The Great Battles of the SegWit Wars
SegWit not only fixed transaction malleability, it also created a practical softforkable blocksize increase that also rebalanced weights so that the cost of spending a UTXO is about the same as the cost of creating UTXOs (and spending UTXOs is "better" since it limits the size of the UTXO set that every fullnode has to maintain). So SegWit was written, the activation was decided to be BIP9, and then.... miner signalling stalled at below 75%. Thus were the Great SegWit Wars started.
BIP9 Feature Hostage
If you are a miner with at least 5% global hashpower, you can hold a BIP9-activated softfork hostage. You might even secretly want the softfork to actually push through. But you might want to extract concession from the users and the developers. Like removing the halvening. Or raising or even removing the block size caps (which helps larger miners more than smaller miners, making it easier to become a bigger fish that eats all the smaller fishes). Or whatever. With BIP9, you can hold the softfork hostage. You just hold out and refuse to signal. You tell everyone you will signal, if and only if certain concessions are given to you. This ability by miners to hold a feature hostage was enabled because of the miner-exit allowed by the timeout on BIP9. Prior to that, miners were considered little more than expendable security guards, paid for the risk they take to secure the network, but not special in the grand scheme of Bitcoin.
ASICBoost was a novel way of optimizing SHA256 mining, by taking advantage of the structure of the 80-byte header that is hashed in order to perform proof-of-work. The details of ASICBoost are out-of-scope here but you can read about it elsewhere Here is a short summary of the two types of ASICBoost, relevant to the activation discussion.
Overt ASICBoost - Manipulates the unused bits in nVersion to reduce power consumption in mining.
Covert ASICBoost - Manipulates the order of transactions in the block to reduce power consumption in mining.
Now, "overt" means "obvious", while "covert" means hidden. Overt ASICBoost is obvious because nVersion bits that are not currently in use for BIP9 activations are usually 0 by default, so setting those bits to 1 makes it obvious that you are doing something weird (namely, Overt ASICBoost). Covert ASICBoost is non-obvious because the order of transactions in a block are up to the miner anyway, so the miner rearranging the transactions in order to get lower power consumption is not going to be detected. Unfortunately, while Overt ASICBoost was compatible with SegWit, Covert ASICBoost was not. This is because, pre-SegWit, only the block header Merkle tree committed to the transaction ordering. However, with SegWit, another Merkle tree exists, which commits to transaction ordering as well. Covert ASICBoost would require more computation to manipulate two Merkle trees, obviating the power benefits of Covert ASICBoost anyway. Now, miners want to use ASICBoost (indeed, about 60->70% of current miners probably use the Overt ASICBoost nowadays; if you have a Bitcoin fullnode running you will see the logs with lots of "60 of last 100 blocks had unexpected versions" which is exactly what you would see with the nVersion manipulation that Overt ASICBoost does). But remember: ASICBoost was, at around the time, a novel improvement. Not all miners had ASICBoost hardware. Those who did, did not want it known that they had ASICBoost hardware, and wanted to do Covert ASICBoost! But Covert ASICBoost is incompatible with SegWit, because SegWit actually has two Merkle trees of transaction data, and Covert ASICBoost works by fudging around with transaction ordering in a block, and recomputing two Merkle Trees is more expensive than recomputing just one (and loses the ASICBoost advantage). Of course, those miners that wanted Covert ASICBoost did not want to openly admit that they had ASICBoost hardware, they wanted to keep their advantage secret because miners are strongly competitive in a very tight market. And doing ASICBoost Covertly was just the ticket, but they could not work post-SegWit. Fortunately, due to the BIP9 activation process, they could hold SegWit hostage while covertly taking advantage of Covert ASICBoost!
UASF: BIP148 and BIP8
When the incompatibility between Covert ASICBoost and SegWit was realized, still, activation of SegWit stalled, and miners were still not openly claiming that ASICBoost was related to non-activation of SegWit. Eventually, a new proposal was created: BIP148. With this rule, 3 months before the end of the SegWit timeout, nodes would reject blocks that did not signal SegWit. Thus, 3 months before SegWit timeout, BIP148 would force activation of SegWit. This proposal was not accepted by Bitcoin Core, due to the shortening of the timeout (it effectively times out 3 months before the initial SegWit timeout). Instead, a fork of Bitcoin Core was created which added the patch to comply with BIP148. This was claimed as a User Activated Soft Fork, UASF, since users could freely download the alternate fork rather than sticking with the developers of Bitcoin Core. Now, BIP148 effectively is just a BIP9 activation, except at its (earlier) timeout, the new rules would be activated anyway (instead of the BIP9-mandated behavior that the upgrade is cancelled at the end of the timeout). BIP148 was actually inspired by the BIP8 proposal (the link here is a historical version; BIP8 has been updated recently, precisely in preparation for Taproot activation). BIP8 is basically BIP9, but at the end of timeout, the softfork is activated anyway rather than cancelled. This removed the ability of miners to hold the softfork hostage. At best, they can delay the activation, but not stop it entirely by holding out as in BIP9. Of course, this implies risk that not all miners have upgraded before activation, leading to possible losses for SPV users, as well as again re-pressuring miners to signal activation, possibly without the miners actually upgrading their software to properly impose the new softfork rules.
BIP91, SegWit2X, and The Aftermath
BIP148 inspired countermeasures, possibly from the Covert ASiCBoost miners, possibly from concerned users who wanted to offer concessions to miners. To this day, the common name for BIP148 - UASF - remains an emotionally-charged rallying cry for parts of the Bitcoin community. One of these was SegWit2X. This was brokered in a deal between some Bitcoin personalities at a conference in New York, and thus part of the so-called "New York Agreement" or NYA, another emotionally-charged acronym. The text of the NYA was basically:
Set up a new activation threshold at 80% signalled at bit 4 (vs bit 1 for SegWit).
When this 80% signalling was reached, miners would require that bit 1 for SegWit be signalled to achive the 95% activation needed for SegWit.
If the bit 4 signalling reached 80%, increase the block weight limit from the SegWit 4000000 to the SegWit2X 8000000, 6 months after bit 1 activation.
The first item above was coded in BIP91. Unfortunately, if you read the BIP91, independently of NYA, you might come to the conclusion that BIP91 was only about lowering the threshold to 80%. In particular, BIP91 never mentions anything about the second point above, it never mentions that bit 4 80% threshold would also signal for a later hardfork increase in weight limit. Because of this, even though there are claims that NYA (SegWit2X) reached 80% dominance, a close reading of BIP91 shows that the 80% dominance was only for SegWit activation, without necessarily a later 2x capacity hardfork (SegWit2X). This ambiguity of bit 4 (NYA says it includes a 2x capacity hardfork, BIP91 says it does not) has continued to be a thorn in blocksize debates later. Economically speaking, Bitcoin futures between SegWit and SegWit2X showed strong economic dominance in favor of SegWit (SegWit2X futures were traded at a fraction in value of SegWit futures: I personally made a tidy but small amount of money betting against SegWit2X in the futures market), so suggesting that NYA achieved 80% dominance even in mining is laughable, but the NYA text that ties bit 4 to SegWit2X still exists. Historically, BIP91 triggered which caused SegWit to activate before the BIP148 shorter timeout. BIP148 proponents continue to hold this day that it was the BIP148 shorter timeout and no-compromises-activate-on-August-1 that made miners flock to BIP91 as a face-saving tactic that actually removed the second clause of NYA. NYA supporters keep pointing to the bit 4 text in the NYA and the historical activation of BIP91 as a failed promise by Bitcoin developers.
We have discussed BIP8: roughly, it has bit and timeout, if 95% of miners signal bit it activates, at the end of timeout it activates. (EDIT: BIP8 has had recent updates: at the end of timeout it can now activate or fail. For the most part, in the below text "BIP8", means BIP8-and-activate-at-timeout, and "BIP9" means BIP8-and-fail-at-timeout) So let's take a look at Modern Softfork Activation!
Modern Softfork Activation
This is a more complex activation method, composed of BIP9 and BIP8 as supcomponents.
First have a 12-month BIP9 (fail at timeout).
If the above fails to activate, have a 6-month discussion period during which users and developers and miners discuss whether to continue to step 3.
Have a 24-month BIP8 (activate at timeout).
The total above is 42 months, if you are counting: 3.5 years worst-case activation. The logic here is that if there are no problems, BIP9 will work just fine anyway. And if there are problems, the 6-month period should weed it out. Finally, miners cannot hold the feature hostage since the 24-month BIP8 period will exist anyway.
PSA: Being Resilient to Upgrades
Software is very birttle. Anyone who has been using software for a long time has experienced something like this:
You hear a new version of your favorite software has a nice new feature.
Excited, you install the new version.
You find that the new version has subtle incompatibilities with your current workflow.
You are sad and downgrade to the older version.
You find out that the new version has changed your files in incompatible ways that the old version cannot work with anymore.
You tearfully reinstall the newer version and figure out how to get your lost productivity now that you have to adapt to a new workflow
If you are a technically-competent user, you might codify your workflow into a bunch of programs. And then you upgrade one of the external pieces of software you are using, and find that it has a subtle incompatibility with your current workflow which is based on a bunch of simple programs you wrote yourself. And if those simple programs are used as the basis of some important production system, you hve just screwed up because you upgraded software on an important production system. And well, one of the issues with new softfork activation is that if not enough people (users and miners) upgrade to the newest Bitcoin software, the security of the new softfork rules are at risk. Upgrading software of any kind is always a risk, and the more software you build on top of the software-being-upgraded, the greater you risk your tower of software collapsing while you change its foundations. So if you have some complex Bitcoin-manipulating system with Bitcoin somewhere at the foundations, consider running two Bitcoin nodes:
One is a "stable-version" Bitcoin node. Once it has synced, set it up to connect=x.x.x.x to the second node below (so that your ISP bandwidth is only spent on the second node). Use this node to run all your software: it's a stable version that you don't change for long periods of time. Enable txiindex, disable pruning, whatever your software needs.
The other is an "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin Node. Keep its stoarge down with pruning (initially sync it off the "stable-version" node). You can't use blocksonly if your "stable-version" node needs to send transactions, but otherwise this "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node can be kept as a low-resource node, so you can run both nodes in the same machine.
When a new Bitcoin version comes up, you just upgrade the "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node. This protects you if a future softfork activates, you will only receive valid Bitcoin blocks and transactions. Since this node has nothing running on top of it, it is just a special peer of the "stable-version" node, any software incompatibilities with your system software do not exist. Your "stable-version" Bitcoin node remains the same version until you are ready to actually upgrade this node and are prepared to rewrite most of the software you have running on top of it due to version compatibility problems. When upgrading the "always-up-to-date", you can bring it down safely and then start it later. Your "stable-version" wil keep running, disconnected from the network, but otherwise still available for whatever queries. You do need some system to stop the "always-up-to-date" node if for any reason the "stable-version" goes down (otherwisee if the "always-up-to-date" advances its pruning window past what your "stable-version" has, the "stable-version" cannot sync afterwards), but if you are technically competent enough that you need to do this, you are technically competent enough to write such a trivial monitor program (EDIT: gmax notes you can adjust the pruning window by RPC commands to help with this as well). This recommendation is from gmaxwell on IRC, by the way.
What is the best way to move funds from one address to another in a somewhat untrackable way? I know there used to be "mixer" services, but I haven't really been keeping up with it. I have a vanity address that starts with my full name, but I want to stop using it. /r/Bitcoin
Someone posted on here a few days ago asking about forex and forex trading in Kenya, I have gone through the responses and clearly, most people don’t have an idea. It is 3am in the morning and am in a good mood so let me make this post. This will be a comprehensive and lengthy post so grab a pen and paper and sit down. We’ll be here a while. FIRST OF ALL, who am I..? I am a forex trader, in Nairobi, Kenya..i have been actively involved in forex since I found out about it in Feb 2016 when I somehow ended up in a wealth creation seminar (lol) in pride inn Westlands, the one close to Mpaka Rd. Luckily for me, it was not one of those AIM global meetings or I’d be on Facebook selling God knows what those guys sell. I did not take it seriously till August of the same year and I have been active ever since. I don’t teach, mentor or sell a course or signals, I trade my own money. I am also posting from a throwaway account because I don’t want KRA on my ass. What the fuck is forex and forex trading. In simple plain English, forex is like the stock market but for currencies. Stock Market = Shares, forex = currencies. If you want more in-depth explanation, google is your friend. These currencies are pegged on specific countries, united states- dollar, UK- pound, euro zone- euro, Switzerland- Swiss franc, Kenya- Kenya shilling.. you get the point. Now, there are specific events and happenings between these economies that affect the movement and values of the currencies, driving their value (purchasing power up and down). Forex trading exploits these movements to make money. When the value is going up, we buy and vice versa (down –sell) Is forex trading illegal in Kenya? Is it a scam? Illegal, no. scam, no. All the banks in the world do it (KCB made about 4 billion from trading forex in 2019) Have there been scams involving forex in Kenya? Yes. Here is one that happened recently. This one is the most infamous one yet. Best believe that this is not the end of these type of scams because the stupidity, greed and gullibility of human beings is unfathomable. However, by the end of this post, I hope you won’t fall for such silliness. What next how do I make it work..? Am glad you asked. Generally, there are two ways to go about it. One, you teach yourself. This is the equivalent of stealing our dad’s car and hoping that the pedal you hit is the brake and not the accelerator. It is the route I took, it is the most rewarding and a huge ego boost when you finally make it on your own. Typically, this involves scouring the internet for hours upon hours going down rabbit holes, thinking you have made it telling all your friends how you will be a millionaire then losing all your money. Some people do not have the stomach for that. The second route is more practical, structured and smarter. First Learn the basics. There is a free online forex course at www.babypips.com/learn/forex this is merely an introductory course. Basically it is learning the parts of a car before they let you inside the car. Second, start building your strategy. By the time you are done with the babypips, you will have a feel of what the forex market is, what interests you, etc. Tip..Babypips has a lot of garbage. It is good for introductory purposes but not good for much else, pick whatever stick to you or jumps at you the first time. Nonsense like indicators should be ignored. The next step is now the most important. Developing the skill and building your strategy. As a beginner, you want to exhaust your naivety before jumping into the more advanced stuff. Eg can you identify a trend, what is a pair, what is position sizing, what is metatrader 4 and how to operate it, what news is good for a currency, when can I trade, what are the different trading sessions, what is technical analysis, what is market sentiment, what are bullish conditions what is emotion management, how does my psychology affect my trading (more on this later) an I a swing, scalper or day trader etc Mentors and forex courses.. you have probably seen people advertising how they can teach and mentor you on how to trade forex and charging so much money for it. Somehow it seems that these people are focused on the teaching than the trading. Weird, right..? Truth is trading is hard, teaching not quite. A common saying in the industry is “Those who can’t trade, teach” you want to avoid all these gurus on Facebook and Instagram, some are legit but most are not. Sifting the wheat from the chaff is hard but I did that for you. The info is available online on YouTube, telegram channels etc. am not saying not to spend money on a course, if you find a mentor whose style resonates with you and the course is reasonably priced, please, go ahead and buy..it will cut your learning curve in half. People are different. What worked for me might not work for you. Here are some nice YouTube channels to watch. These guys are legit..
After a short period of time, you will be able to sniff out bs teachers with relative ease. You will also discover some of your own and expand the list. Two tips, start with the oldest videos first and whichever of these resonates with you, stick with till the wheels fall off. How long will it take until things start making sense Give yourself time to grow and learn. This is all new to you and you are allowed to make mistakes, to fail and discover yourself. Realistically, depending on the effort you put in, you will not start seeing results until after 6 months. Could take longeshorter so there is no guarantee. Social media, Mentality, Psychology and Books Online, forex trading might not have the best reputation online because it takes hard work and scammers and gurus give it a bad name. However, try to not get sucked into the Instagram trader lifestyle as it is nowhere close to what the reality is. You will not make millions tomorrow or the day after, you might never even make it in this market. But that is the reality of life. Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed. Your mentality, beliefs and ego will be challenged in this market. You will learn things that will make you blood boil, you will ask yourself daily, how is this possible, why don’t they teach this in school..bla bla bla..it will be hard but growth is painful, if it wasn’t we’d all be billionaires. Take a break, take a walk, drink a glass of whatever you like or roll one..detox. Chill with your girl (or man) Gradually you will develop mental toughness that will set you up for life. Personally, I sorta ditched religion and picked up stoicism. Whatever works for you. Psychology, this is unfortunately one of the most neglected aspects of your personal development in this journey. Do you believe in yourself? Can you stand by your convictions when everyone is against you? Can you get up every day uncertain of the future? There will be moments where you will question yourself, am I even doing the right thing? the right way? It is normal and essential for your growth. People who played competitive sports have a natural advantage here. Remember the game is first won in your head then on the pitch. Books: ironically, books that helped me the most were the mindset books, Think and grow rich, trading for a living, 4 hour work week, the monk who sold his Ferrari..just google mindset and psychology books, most trading books are garbage. Watch and listen to people who have made it in the investing business. Ray Dalio, warren, Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn. This is turning out to be lengthier than I anticipated so I’ll try to be brief for the remaining parts. Brokers You will need to open up an account with a broker. Get a broker who is regulated. Australian ones (IC Market and Pepperstone) are both legit, reliable and regulated. Do your research. I’d avoid local ones because I’ve heard stories of wide spreads and liquidity problems. International brokers have never failed me. There are plenty brokers, there is no one size fits all recommendation. If it ain’t broke..don’t fix it. Money transfer. All brokers accept wire transfers, you might need to call your bank to authorize that, avoid Equity bank. Stanchart and Stanbic are alright. Large withdrawals $10k+ you will have to call them prior. Get Skrill and Neteller if you don’t like banks like me, set up a Bitcoin wallet for faster withdrawals, (Payoneer and Paypal are accepted by some brokers, just check with them.) How much money can I make..? I hate this question because people have perceived ceilings of income in their minds, eg 1 million ksh is too much to make per month or 10,000ksh is too little. Instead, work backwards. What % return did I make this month/ on this trade. Safaricom made 19.5% last year, if you make 20% you have outperformed them. If you reach of consistency where you can make x% per month on whatever money you have, then there are no limits to how much you can make. How much money do I need to start with..? Zero. You have all the resources above, go forth. There are brokers who provide free bonuses and withdraw-able profits. However, to make a fulltime income you will need some serious cash. Generally, 50,000 kes. You can start lower or higher but if you need say 20k to live comfortably and that is a 10% return per month, then you can do the math on how big your account should be. Of course things like compound interest come into play but that is dependent on your skill level. I have seen people do spectacular things with very little funds. Taxes..? Talk to a lawyer or an accountant. I am neither. Family? Friends? Unfortunately, people will not understand why you spend hundreds of hours watching strangers on the internet so it is best to keep it from them. Eventually you will make it work and they will come to your corner talking about how they always knew you’d make it. The journey will be lonely, make some trading buddies along the way. You’d be surprised at how easy it is when people are united by their circumstances (and stupidity) I have guys who are my bros from South Africa and Lebanon who I have never met but we came up together and are now homies. Join forums, ask questions and grow. That is the only way to learn. Ideally, a group of 5-10 friends committed to learning and growth is the best model. Pushing each other to grow and discovering together. Forex is real and you can do amazing things with it. It is not a get rich quick scheme. If you want a quick guaranteed income, get a job. And now it is 5am, fuck. This is oversimplified and leaves out many many aspects. Happy to answer any questions.
Bitcoin mentioned around Reddit: Requesting /r/bitcoinclassic, we started a new project with the name and the current mod is just using the (prior unused) reddit to work against it (just check the description he made). /r/redditrequest
This is a follow-up on https://old.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/hqzp14/technical_the_path_to_taproot_activation/ Taproot! Everybody wants it!! But... you might ask yourself: sure, everybody else wants it, but why would I, sovereign Bitcoin HODLer, want it? Surely I can be better than everybody else because I swapped XXX fiat for Bitcoin unlike all those nocoiners? And it is important for you to know the reasons why you, o sovereign Bitcoiner, would want Taproot activated. After all, your nodes (or the nodes your wallets use, which if you are SPV, you hopefully can pester to your wallet vendoimplementor about) need to be upgraded in order for Taproot activation to actually succeed instead of becoming a hot sticky mess. First, let's consider some principles of Bitcoin.
You the HODLer should be the one who controls where your money goes. Your keys, your coins.
You the HODLer should be able to coordinate and make contracts with other people regarding your funds.
You the HODLer should be able to do the above without anyone watching over your shoulder and judging you.
I'm sure most of us here would agree that the above are very important principles of Bitcoin and that these are principles we would not be willing to remove. If anything, we would want those principles strengthened (especially the last one, financial privacy, which current Bitcoin is only sporadically strong with: you can get privacy, it just requires effort to do so). So, how does Taproot affect those principles?
Taproot and Your /Coins
Most HODLers probably HODL their coins in singlesig addresses. Sadly, switching to Taproot would do very little for you (it gives a mild discount at spend time, at the cost of a mild increase in fee at receive time (paid by whoever sends to you, so if it's a self-send from a P2PKH or bech32 address, you pay for this); mostly a wash). (technical details: a Taproot output is 1 version byte + 32 byte public key, while a P2WPKH (bech32 singlesig) output is 1 version byte + 20 byte public key hash, so the Taproot output spends 12 bytes more; spending from a P2WPKH requires revealing a 32-byte public key later, which is not needed with Taproot, and Taproot signatures are about 9 bytes smaller than P2WPKH signatures, but the 32 bytes plus 9 bytes is divided by 4 because of the witness discount, so it saves about 11 bytes; mostly a wash, it increases blockweight by about 1 virtual byte, 4 weight for each Taproot-output-input, compared to P2WPKH-output-input). However, as your HODLings grow in value, you might start wondering if multisignature k-of-n setups might be better for the security of your savings. And it is in multisignature that Taproot starts to give benefits! Taproot switches to using Schnorr signing scheme. Schnorr makes key aggregation -- constructing a single public key from multiple public keys -- almost as trivial as adding numbers together. "Almost" because it involves some fairly advanced math instead of simple boring number adding, but hey when was the last time you added up your grocery list prices by hand huh? With current P2SH and P2WSH multisignature schemes, if you have a 2-of-3 setup, then to spend, you need to provide two different signatures from two different public keys. With Taproot, you can create, using special moon math, a single public key that represents your 2-of-3 setup. Then you just put two of your devices together, have them communicate to each other (this can be done airgapped, in theory, by sending QR codes: the software to do this is not even being built yet, but that's because Taproot hasn't activated yet!), and they will make a single signature to authorize any spend from your 2-of-3 address. That's 73 witness bytes -- 18.25 virtual bytes -- of signatures you save! And if you decide that your current setup with 1-of-1 P2PKH / P2WPKH addresses is just fine as-is: well, that's the whole point of a softfork: backwards-compatibility; you can receive from Taproot users just fine, and once your wallet is updated for Taproot-sending support, you can send to Taproot users just fine as well! (P2WPKH and P2WSH -- SegWit v0 -- addresses start with bc1q; Taproot -- SegWit v1 --- addresses start with bc1p, in case you wanted to know the difference; in bech32 q is 0, p is 1) Now how about HODLers who keep all, or some, of their coins on custodial services? Well, any custodial service worth its salt would be doing at least 2-of-3, or probably something even bigger, like 11-of-15. So your custodial service, if it switched to using Taproot internally, could save a lot more (imagine an 11-of-15 getting reduced from 11 signatures to just 1!), which --- we can only hope! --- should translate to lower fees and better customer service from your custodial service! So I think we can say, very accurately, that the Bitcoin principle --- that YOU are in control of your money --- can only be helped by Taproot (if you are doing multisignature), and, because P2PKH and P2WPKH remain validly-usable addresses in a Taproot future, will not be harmed by Taproot. Its benefit to this principle might be small (it mostly only benefits multisignature users) but since it has no drawbacks with this (i.e. singlesig users can continue to use P2WPKH and P2PKH still) this is still a nice, tidy win! (even singlesig users get a minor benefit, in that multisig users will now reduce their blockchain space footprint, so that fees can be kept low for everybody; so for example even if you have your single set of private keys engraved on titanium plates sealed in an airtight box stored in a safe buried in a desert protected by angry nomads riding giant sandworms because you're the frickin' Kwisatz Haderach, you still gain some benefit from Taproot) And here's the important part: if P2PKH/P2WPKH is working perfectly fine with you and you decide to never use Taproot yourself, Taproot will not affect you detrimentally. First do no harm!
Taproot and Your Contracts
No one is an island, no one lives alone. Give and you shall receive. You know: by trading with other people, you can gain expertise in some obscure little necessity of the world (and greatly increase your productivity in that little field), and then trade the products of your expertise for necessities other people have created, all of you thereby gaining gains from trade. So, contracts, which are basically enforceable agreements that facilitate trading with people who you do not personally know and therefore might not trust. Let's start with a simple example. You want to buy some gewgaws from somebody. But you don't know them personally. The seller wants the money, you want their gewgaws, but because of the lack of trust (you don't know them!! what if they're scammers??) neither of you can benefit from gains from trade. However, suppose both of you know of some entity that both of you trust. That entity can act as a trusted escrow. The entity provides you security: this enables the trade, allowing both of you to get gains from trade. In Bitcoin-land, this can be implemented as a 2-of-3 multisignature. The three signatories in the multisgnature would be you, the gewgaw seller, and the escrow. You put the payment for the gewgaws into this 2-of-3 multisignature address. Now, suppose it turns out neither of you are scammers (whaaaat!). You receive the gewgaws just fine and you're willing to pay up for them. Then you and the gewgaw seller just sign a transaction --- you and the gewgaw seller are 2, sufficient to trigger the 2-of-3 --- that spends from the 2-of-3 address to a singlesig the gewgaw seller wants (or whatever address the gewgaw seller wants). But suppose some problem arises. The seller gave you gawgews instead of gewgaws. Or you decided to keep the gewgaws but not sign the transaction to release the funds to the seller. In either case, the escrow is notified, and if it can sign with you to refund the funds back to you (if the seller was a scammer) or it can sign with the seller to forward the funds to the seller (if you were a scammer). Taproot helps with this: like mentioned above, it allows multisignature setups to produce only one signature, reducing blockchain space usage, and thus making contracts --- which require multiple people, by definition, you don't make contracts with yourself --- is made cheaper (which we hope enables more of these setups to happen for more gains from trade for everyone, also, moon and lambos). (technology-wise, it's easier to make an n-of-n than a k-of-n, making a k-of-n would require a complex setup involving a long ritual with many communication rounds between the n participants, but an n-of-n can be done trivially with some moon math. You can, however, make what is effectively a 2-of-3 by using a three-branch SCRIPT: either 2-of-2 of you and seller, OR 2-of-2 of you and escrow, OR 2-of-2 of escrow and seller. Fortunately, Taproot adds a facility to embed a SCRIPT inside a public key, so you can have a 2-of-2 Taprooted address (between you and seller) with a SCRIPT branch that can instead be spent with 2-of-2 (you + escrow) OR 2-of-2 (seller + escrow), which implements the three-branched SCRIPT above. If neither of you are scammers (hopefully the common case) then you both sign using your keys and never have to contact the escrow, since you are just using the escrow public key without coordinating with them (because n-of-n is trivial but k-of-n requires setup with communication rounds), so in the "best case" where both of you are honest traders, you also get a privacy boost, in that the escrow never learns you have been trading on gewgaws, I mean ewww, gawgews are much better than gewgaws and therefore I now judge you for being a gewgaw enthusiast, you filthy gewgawer).
Taproot and Your Contracts, Part 2: Cryptographic Boogaloo
Now suppose you want to buy some data instead of things. For example, maybe you have some closed-source software in trial mode installed, and want to pay the developer for the full version. You want to pay for an activation code. This can be done, today, by using an HTLC. The developer tells you the hash of the activation code. You pay to an HTLC, paying out to the developer if it reveals the preimage (the activation code), or refunding the money back to you after a pre-agreed timeout. If the developer claims the funds, it has to reveal the preimage, which is the activation code, and you can now activate your software. If the developer does not claim the funds by the timeout, you get refunded. And you can do that, with HTLCs, today. Of course, HTLCs do have problems:
Privacy. Everyone scraping the Bitcoin blockchain can see any HTLCs, and preimages used to claim them.
This can be mitigated by using offchain techniques so HTLCs are never published onchain in the happy case. Lightning would probably in practice be the easiest way to do this offchain. Of course, there are practical limits to what you can pay on Lightning. If you are buying something expensive, then Lightning might not be practical. For example, the "software" you are activating is really the firmware of a car, and what you are buying is not the software really but the car itself (with the activation of the car firmware being equivalent to getting the car keys).
Even offchain techniques need an onchain escape hatch in case of unresponsiveness! This means that, if something bad happens during payment, the HTLC might end up being published onchain anyway, revealing the fact that some special contract occurred.
And an HTLC that is claimed with a preimage onchain will also publicly reveal the preimage onchain. If that preimage is really the activation key of a software than it can now be pirated. If that preimage is really the activation key for your newly-bought cryptographic car --- well, not your keys, not your car!
Trust requirement. You are trusting the developer that it gives you the hash of an actual valid activation key, without any way to validate that the activation key hidden by the hash is actually valid.
Fortunately, with Schnorr (which is enabled by Taproot), we can now use the Scriptless Script constuction by Andrew Poelstra. This Scriptless Script allows a new construction, the PTLC or Pointlocked Timelocked Contract. Instead of hashes and preimages, just replace "hash" with "point" and "preimage" with "scalar". Or as you might know them: "point" is really "public key" and "scalar" is really a "private key". What a PTLC does is that, given a particular public key, the pointlocked branch can be spent only if the spender reveals the private key of the given private key to you. Another nice thing with PTLCs is that they are deniable. What appears onchain is just a single 2-of-2 signature between you and the developemanufacturer. It's like a magic trick. This signature has no special watermarks, it's a perfectly normal signature (the pledge). However, from this signature, plus some datta given to you by the developemanufacturer (known as the adaptor signature) you can derive the private key of a particular public key you both agree on (the turn). Anyone scraping the blockchain will just see signatures that look just like every other signature, and as long as nobody manages to hack you and get a copy of the adaptor signature or the private key, they cannot get the private key behind the public key (point) that the pointlocked branch needs (the prestige). (Just to be clear, the public key you are getting the private key from, is distinct from the public key that the developemanufacturer will use for its funds. The activation key is different from the developer's onchain Bitcoin key, and it is the activation key whose private key you will be learning, not the developer's/manufacturer's onchain Bitcoin key). So:
Privacy: PTLCs are private even if done onchain. Nobody else can learn what the private key behind the public key is, except you who knows the adaptor signature that when combined with the complete onchain signature lets you know what the private key of the activation key is. Somebody scraping the blockchain will not learn the same information even if all PTLCs are done onchain!
Lightning is still useful for reducing onchain use, and will also get PTLCs soon after Taproot is activated, but even if something bad happens and a PTLC has to go onchain, it doesn't reveal anything!
Trust issues can be proven more easily with a public-private keypair than with a hash-preimage pair.
For example, the developer of the software you are buying could provide a signature signing a message saying "unlock access to the full version for 1 day". You can check if feeding this message and signature to the program will indeed unlock full-version access for 1 day. Then you can check if the signature is valid for the purported pubkey whose private key you will pay for. If so, you can now believe that getting the private key (by paying for it in a PTLC) would let you generate any number of "unlock access to the full version for 1 day" message+signatures, which is equivalent to getting full access to the software indefinitely.
For the car, the manufacturer can show that signing a message "start the engine" and feeding the signature to the car's fimrware will indeed start the engine, and maybe even let you have a small test drive. You can then check if the signature is valid for the purported pubkey whose privkey you will pay for. If so, you can now believe that gaining knowledge of the privkey will let you start the car engine at any time you want.
(pedantry: the signatures need to be unique else they could be replayed, this can be done with a challenge-response sequence for the car, where the car gathers entropy somehow (it's a car, it probably has a bunch of sensors nowadays so it can get entropy for free) and uses the gathered entropy to challenge you to sign a random number and only start if you are able to sign the random number; for the software, it could record previous signatures somewhere in the developer's cloud server and refuse to run if you try to replay a previously-seen signature.)
Taproot lets PTLCs exist onchain because they enable Schnorr, which is a requirement of PTLCs / Scriptless Script. (technology-wise, take note that Scriptless Script works only for the "pointlocked" branch of the contract; you need normal Script, or a pre-signed nLockTimed transaction, for the "timelocked" branch. Since Taproot can embed a script, you can have the Taproot pubkey be a 2-of-2 to implement the Scriptless Script "pointlocked" branch, then have a hidden script that lets you recover the funds with an OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY after the timeout if the seller does not claim the funds.)
Now if you were really paying attention, you might have noticed this parenthetical:
(technical details: a Taproot output is 1 version byte + 32 byte public key, while a P2WPKH (bech32 singlesig) output is 1 version byte + 20 byte public key hash...)
So wait, Taproot uses raw 32-byte public keys, and not public key hashes? Isn't that more quantum-vulnerable?? Well, in theory yes. In practice, they probably are not. It's not that hashes can be broken by quantum computes --- they're still not. Instead, you have to look at how you spend from a P2WPKH/P2PKH pay-to-public-key-hash. When you spend from a P2PKH / P2WPKH, you have to reveal the public key. Then Bitcoin hashes it and checks if this matches with the public-key-hash, and only then actually validates the signature for that public key. So an unconfirmed transaction, floating in the mempools of nodes globally, will show, in plain sight for everyone to see, your public key. (public keys should be public, that's why they're called public keys, LOL) And if quantum computers are fast enough to be of concern, then they are probably fast enough that, in the several minutes to several hours from broadcast to confirmation, they have already cracked the public key that is openly broadcast with your transaction. The owner of the quantum computer can now replace your unconfirmed transaction with one that pays the funds to itself. Even if you did not opt-in RBF, miners are still incentivized to support RBF on RBF-disabled transactions. So the extra hash is not as significant a protection against quantum computers as you might think. Instead, the extra hash-and-compare needed is just extra validation effort. Further, if you have ever, in the past, spent from the address, then there exists already a transaction indelibly stored on the blockchain, openly displaying the public key from which quantum computers can derive the private key. So those are still vulnerable to quantum computers. For the most part, the cryptographers behind Taproot (and Bitcoin Core) are of the opinion that quantum computers capable of cracking Bitcoin pubkeys are unlikely to appear within a decade or two.
Current quantum computers can barely crack prime factorization problem for primes of 5 bits.
The 256-bit elliptic curve use by Bitcoin is, by my (possibly wrong) understanding, equivalent to 4096-bit primes, so you can see a pretty big gap between now (5 bit primes) and what is needed (4096 bit primes).
A lot of financial non-Bitcoin systems use the equivalent of 3072-bit primes or less, and are probably easier targets to crack than the equivalent-to-4096-bit-primes Bitcoin.
Quantum computers capable of cracking Bitcoin are still far off.
Pay-to-public-key-hash is not as protective as you might think.
We will probably see banks get cracked before Bitcoin, so the banking system is a useful canary-in-a-coal-mine to see whether we should panic about being quantum vulnerable.
For now, the homomorphic and linear properties of elliptic curve cryptography provide a lot of benefits --- particularly the linearity property is what enables Scriptless Script and simple multisignature (i.e. multisignatures that are just 1 signature onchain). So it might be a good idea to take advantage of them now while we are still fairly safe against quantum computers. It seems likely that quantum-safe signature schemes are nonlinear (thus losing these advantages).
If you are a singlesig HODL-only Bitcoin user, Taproot will not affect you positively or negatively. Importantly: Taproot does no harm!
If you use or intend to use multisig, Taproot will be a positive for you.
If you transact onchain regularly using typical P2PKH/P2WPKH addresses, you get a minor reduction in feerates since multisig users will likely switch to Taproot to get smaller tx sizes, freeing up blockspace for yours.
If you are using multiparticipant setups for special systems of trade, Taproot will be a positive for you.
Remember: Lightning channels are multipartiicpiant setups for special systems of lightning-fast offchain trades!
I Wanna Be The Taprooter!
So, do you want to help activate Taproot? Here's what you, mister sovereign Bitcoin HODLer, can do!
If you have developer experience especially in C, C++, or related languages
Review the Taproot code! There is one pull request in Bitcoin Core, and one in libsecp256k1. I deliberately am not putting links here, to avoid brigades of nontechnical but enthusiastic people leaving pointless reviews, but if you are qualified you know how to find them!
But I am not a cryptographeBitcoin Core contributomathematician/someone as awesome as Pieter Wuille
That's perfectly fine! The cryptographers have been over the code already and agree the math is right and the implementation is right. What is wanted is the dreary dreary dreary software engineering: are the comments comprehensive and understandable? no misspellings in the comments? variable names understandable? reasonable function naming convention? misleading coding style? off-by-one errors in loops? conditions not covered by tests? accidental mixups of variables with the same types? missing frees? read-before-init? better test coverage of suspicious-looking code? missing or mismatching header guards? portability issues? consistent coding style? you know, stuff any coder with a few years of experience in coding anything might be able to catch. With enough eyes all bugs are shallow!
If you are running a mining pool/mining operation/exchange/custodial service/SPV server
Be prepared to upgrade!
One of the typical issues with upgrading software is that subtle incompatibilities with your current custom programs tend to arise, disrupting operations and potentially losing income due to downtime. If so, consider moving to the two-node setup suggested by gmax, which is in the last section of my previous post. With this, you have an up-to-date "public" node and a fixed-version "private" node, with the public node protecting the private node from any invalid chainsplits or invalid transactions. Moving to this setup from a typical one-node setup should be smooth and should not disrupt operations (too much).
If you are running your own fullnode for fun or for your own wallet
Be prepared to upgrade! The more nodes validating the new rules (even if you are a non-mining node!), the safer every softfork will be!
If you are using an SPV wallet or custodial wallet/service (including hardware wallets using the software of the wallet provider)
Contact your wallet provider / SPV server and ask for a statement on whether they support Taproot, and whether they are prepared to upgrade for Taproot! Make it known to them that Taproot is something you want!
But I Hate Taproot!!
Raise your objections to Taproot now, or forever hold your peace! Maybe you can raise them here and some of the devs (probably nullc, he goes everywhere, even in rbtc!) might be able to see your objections! Or if your objections are very technical, head over to the appropriate pull request and object away!
Maybe you simply misunderstand something, and we can clarify it here!
Or maybe you do have a good objection, and we can make Taproot better by finding a solution for it!
To be fair, more like it blew right passed. If you haven't noticed, Ethereum is killing it right now. I think we (as a community) should take notice and see what they're doing "right" and what we can mimic (read. what makes sense for BCH). Imo, the most "obvious" thing are the DeFi platforms that are absolutely exploding! It's '17 ICOs all over again (and might I add, we're ALL heading into a bull-market by years-end) As the introduction of AnyHedge has shown us, Bitcoin Cash can do DeFi very well .. they were the first ones out-the-gate and got the ball rolling for us .. but where are ALL the other BUIDLers?? General Protocols can't be the ONLY team working on creating "value"-adding services on top of Bitcoin Cash. For comparison, Consensys currently has over 1,000+ BUILDers, one single organization.. How does BCH get 10s to 100s of BUILDers?? Funding, yeah, I get it!! Do we NOT need talk about this more seriously?!? Gas fees on Ethereum are at ATHs .. Until ETH 2.0 is released there is a DEFINITELY an opportunity to grab some significant DeFi market share. Which I'd like to point out means onboarding folks that wield fuck-loads of cash .. but will that happen?? NOT without TEAMS of developers working on projects.. Oh well, maybe Avalanche will solve the user adoption issues, lol j/k .. but not really I will continue to keep bringing attention (read. annoying y'all to death) to the fact that WE NEED MANY, MANY MORE "VALUE"-ADDING SERVICES (for users, merchants, investors, etc etc), NOT just better infrastructure (as sooo many seem to be hyped up on) to properly grow this community and start making the name Bitcoin synonymous with CASH again..
The Twitter bitcoin hacking fiasco was designed to keep the Nick Cannon topic from continuing to explode
A couple of pretty crazy things are happening on Twitter right now for those out of the loop. First of all, a whole bunch of high profile people's accounts were hacked, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc. saying to send them cryptocurrency and that they would send back double what was given to them because they were feeling generous. This happened around 4-5pm EST. It was a way for the hackers to dupe people into sending them bitcoin. Meanwhile, something much more crazy was going on, but I need to give some background info. Nick Cannon recently made very racist remarks about non-blacks. Here are just some of the things he said. Do yourself a favor and actually read these things. All of them. "They had to be savages," Cannon said before noting that he was referring to "Jewish people, white people, and Europeans." "So, therefore, the only way that they can act is evil. They have to rob, steal, rape, kill in order to survive," Cannon continued. "So then, these people that didn’t have what we have -- and when I say we, I speak of the melanated people -- they had to be savages … They’re acting as animals so they’re the ones that are actually closer to animals. They’re the ones that are actually the true savages." “The people that don’t have [melanin] are a little less,” Cannon said, claiming “when they were sent to the mountains of Caucasus. ...The sun then started to deteriorate them, so then they’re acting out of fear, they’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of a deficiency." He also went on to say even more ridiculous things, such as how blacks were the true Hebrews, the people of God, and that the Jews were imposters. First of all, imagine if a high profile white person said these things... Anyways, ViacomCBS, who employs him, asked him to apologize (crazy they even gave him a chance to keep his job...), but he refused, so they fired him If you go to twitter and search by trending, "Nick Cannon" used to be there and had >700k mentions the last time I checked, which is a very large number. Other trending topics will commonly have thousands or tens of thousands. We all know it's rigged and they hide stuff. I was going through the top tweets and was pretty shocked at what I saw. There were tons of tweets from the black community supporting Nick Cannon, including other high profile individuals from the black community, such as NBA and NFL athletes, celebrities, and so on. A lot of regular users were going on about how they need to start rioting and looting some more and get rid of white people once and for all, and very many stated that they agree with Nick Cannon. Go look for yourselves. Search his name and go through the tweets. A few prominent members of the black community, such as 50cent, stood up to Nick Cannon, and people were going crazy on his twitter calling him a traitor and so his profile is locked and protected now: https://twitter.com/50cent Although the comments by Nick Cannon and his firing were covered by the news, this insanity that was exploding on twitter throughout the day largely wasn't. I would say it was reaching a new peak around the time the high-profile accounts were 'hacked'. My only guess is this was used as a measure to divert attention away from the other topic, which goes against the narrative being pushed on us day after day after day. You know the one.
Maybe it's time to discuss bitcoin's history again. Credit to u/singularity87 for the original post over 3 years ago. People should get the full story of bitcoin because it is probably one of the strangest of all reddit subs. bitcoin, the main sub for the bitcoin community is held and run by a person who goes by the pseudonym u/theymos. Theymos not only controls bitcoin, but also bitcoin.org and bitcointalk.com. These are top three communication channels for the bitcoin community, all controlled by just one person. For most of bitcoin's history this did not create a problem (at least not an obvious one anyway) until around mid 2015. This happened to be around the time a new player appeared on the scene, a for-profit company called Blockstream. Blockstream was made up of/hired many (but not all) of the main bitcoin developers. (To be clear, Blockstream was founded before mid 2015 but did not become publicly active until then). A lot of people, including myself, tried to point out there we're some very serious potential conflicts of interest that could arise when one single company controls most of the main developers for the biggest decentralised and distributed cryptocurrency. There were a lot of unknowns but people seemed to give them the benefit of the doubt because they were apparently about to release some new software called "sidechains" that could offer some benefits to the network. Not long after Blockstream came on the scene the issue of bitcoin's scalability once again came to forefront of the community. This issue came within the community a number of times since bitcoins inception. Bitcoin, as dictated in the code, cannot handle any more than around 3 transactions per second at the moment. To put that in perspective Paypal handles around 15 transactions per second on average and VISA handles something like 2000 transactions per second. The discussion in the community has been around how best to allow bitcoin to scale to allow a higher number of transactions in a given amount of time. I suggest that if anyone is interested in learning more about this problem from a technical angle, they go to btc and do a search. It's a complex issue but for many who have followed bitcoin for many years, the possible solutions seem relatively obvious. Essentially, currently the limit is put in place in just a few lines of code. This was not originally present when bitcoin was first released. It was in fact put in place afterwards as a measure to stop a bloating attack on the network. Because all bitcoin transactions have to be stored forever on the bitcoin network, someone could theoretically simply transmit a large number of transactions which would have to be stored by the entire network forever. When bitcoin was released, transactions were actually for free as the only people running the network were enthusiasts. In fact a single bitcoin did not even have any specific value so it would be impossible set a fee value. This meant that a malicious person could make the size of the bitcoin ledger grow very rapidly without much/any cost which would stop people from wanting to join the network due to the resource requirements needed to store it, which at the time would have been for very little gain. Towards the end of the summer last year, this bitcoin scaling debate surfaced again as it was becoming clear that the transaction limit for bitcoin was semi regularly being reached and that it would not be long until it would be regularly hit and the network would become congested. This was a very serious issue for a currency. Bitcoin had made progress over the years to the point of retailers starting to offer it as a payment option. Bitcoin companies like, Microsoft, Paypal, Steam and many more had began to adopt it. If the transaction limit would be constantly maxed out, the network would become unreliable and slow for users. Users and businesses would not be able to make a reliable estimate when their transaction would be confirmed by the network. Users, developers and businesses (which at the time was pretty much the only real bitcoin subreddit) started to discuss how we should solve the problem bitcoin. There was significant support from the users and businesses behind a simple solution put forward by the developer Gavin Andreesen. Gavin was the lead developer after Satoshi Nakamoto left bitcoin and he left it in his hands. Gavin initially proposed a very simple solution of increasing the limit which was to change the few lines of code to increase the maximum number of transactions that are allowed. For most of bitcoin's history the transaction limit had been set far far higher than the number of transactions that could potentially happen on the network. The concept of increasing the limit one time was based on the fact that history had proven that no issue had been cause by this in the past. A certain group of bitcoin developers decided that increasing the limit by this amount was too much and that it was dangerous. They said that the increased use of resources that the network would use would create centralisation pressures which could destroy the network. The theory was that a miner of the network with more resources could publish many more transactions than a competing small miner could handle and therefore the network would tend towards few large miners rather than many small miners. The group of developers who supported this theory were all developers who worked for the company Blockstream. The argument from people in support of increasing the transaction capacity by this amount was that there are always inherent centralisation pressure with bitcoin mining. For example miners who can access the cheapest electricity will tend to succeed and that bigger miners will be able to find this cheaper electricity easier. Miners who have access to the most efficient computer chips will tend to succeed and that larger miners are more likely to be able to afford the development of them. The argument from Gavin and other who supported increasing the transaction capacity by this method are essentially there are economies of scale in mining and that these economies have far bigger centralisation pressures than increased resource cost for a larger number of transactions (up to the new limit proposed). For example, at the time the total size of the blockchain was around 50GB. Even for the cost of a 500GB SSD is only $150 and would last a number of years. This is in-comparison to the $100,000's in revenue per day a miner would be making. Various developers put forth various other proposals, including Gavin Andresen who put forth a more conservative increase that would then continue to increase over time inline with technological improvements. Some of the employees of blockstream also put forth some proposals, but all were so conservative, it would take bitcoin many decades before it could reach a scale of VISA. Even though there was significant support from the community behind Gavin's simple proposal of increasing the limit it was becoming clear certain members of the bitcoin community who were part of Blockstream were starting to become increasingly vitriolic and divisive. Gavin then teamed up with one of the other main bitcoin developers Mike Hearn and released a coded (i.e. working) version of the bitcoin software that would only activate if it was supported by a significant majority of the network. What happened next was where things really started to get weird. After this free and open source software was released, Theymos, the person who controls all the main communication channels for the bitcoin community implemented a new moderation policy that disallowed any discussion of this new software. Specifically, if people were to discuss this software, their comments would be deleted and ultimately they would be banned temporarily or permanently. This caused chaos within the community as there was very clear support for this software at the time and it seemed our best hope for finally solving the problem and moving on. Instead a censorship campaign was started. At first it 'all' they were doing was banning and removing discussions but after a while it turned into actively manipulating the discussion. For example, if a thread was created where there was positive sentiment for increasing the transaction capacity or being negative about the moderation policies or negative about the actions of certain bitcoin developers, the mods of bitcoin would selectively change the sorting order of threads to 'controversial' so that the most support opinions would be sorted to the bottom of the thread and the most vitriolic would be sorted to the top of the thread. This was initially very transparent as it was possible to see that the most downvoted comments were at the top and some of the most upvoted were at the bottom. So they then implemented hiding the voting scores next to the users name. This made impossible to work out the sentiment of the community and when combined with selectively setting the sorting order to controversial it was possible control what information users were seeing. Also, due to the very very large number of removed comments and users it was becoming obvious the scale of censorship going on. To hide this they implemented code in their CSS for the sub that completely hid comments that they had removed so that the censorship itself was hidden. Anyone in support of scaling bitcoin were removed from the main communication channels. Theymos even proudly announced that he didn't care if he had to remove 90% of the users. He also later acknowledged that he knew he had the ability to block support of this software using the control he had over the communication channels. While this was all going on, Blockstream and it's employees started lobbying the community by paying for conferences about scaling bitcoin, but with the very very strange rule that no decisions could be made and no complete solutions could be proposed. These conferences were likely strategically (and successfully) created to stunt support for the scaling software Gavin and Mike had released by forcing the community to take a "lets wait and see what comes from the conferences" kind of approach. Since no final solutions were allowed at these conferences, they only served to hinder and splinter the communities efforts to find a solution. As the software Gavin and Mike released called BitcoinXT gained support it started to be attacked. Users of the software were attack by DDOS. Employees of Blockstream were recommending attacks against the software, such as faking support for it, to only then drop support at the last moment to put the network in disarray. Blockstream employees were also publicly talking about suing Gavin and Mike from various different angles simply for releasing this open source software that no one was forced to run. In the end Mike Hearn decided to leave due to the way many members of the bitcoin community had treated him. This was due to the massive disinformation campaign against him on bitcoin. One of the many tactics that are used against anyone who does not support Blockstream and the bitcoin developers who work for them is that you will be targeted in a smear campaign. This has happened to a number of individuals and companies who showed support for scaling bitcoin. Theymos has threatened companies that he will ban any discussion of them on the communication channels he controls (i.e. all the main ones) for simply running software that he disagrees with (i.e. any software that scales bitcoin). As time passed, more and more proposals were offered, all against the backdrop of ever increasing censorship in the main bitcoin communication channels. It finally come down the smallest and most conservative solution. This solution was much smaller than even the employees of Blockstream had proposed months earlier. As usual there was enormous attacks from all sides and the most vocal opponents were the employees of Blockstream. These attacks still are ongoing today. As this software started to gain support, Blockstream organised more meetings, especially with the biggest bitcoin miners and made a pact with them. They promised that they would release code that would offer an on-chain scaling solution hardfork within about 4 months, but if the miners wanted this they would have to commit to running their software and only their software. The miners agreed and the ended up not running the most conservative proposal possible. This was in February last year. There is no hardfork proposal in sight from the people who agreed to this pact and bitcoin is still stuck with the exact same transaction limit it has had since the limit was put in place about 6 years ago. Gavin has also been publicly smeared by the developers at Blockstream and a plot was made against him to have him removed from the development team. Gavin has now been, for all intents an purposes, expelled from bitcoin development. This has meant that all control of bitcoin development is in the hands of the developers working at Blockstream. There is a new proposal that offers a market based approach to scaling bitcoin. This essentially lets the market decide. Of course, as usual there has been attacks against it, and verbal attacks from the employees of Blockstream. This has the biggest chance of gaining wide support and solving the problem for good. To give you an idea of Blockstream; It has hired most of the main and active bitcoin developers and is now synonymous with the "Core" bitcoin development team. They AFAIK no products at all. They have received around $75m in funding. Every single thing they do is supported by theymos. They have started implementing an entirely new economic system for bitcoin against the will of it's users and have blocked any and all attempts to scaling the network in line with the original vision. Although this comment is ridiculously long, it really only covers the tip of the iceberg. You could write a book on the last two years of bitcoin. The things that have been going on have been mind blowing. One last thing that I think is worth talking about is the u/bashco's claim of vote manipulation. The users that the video talks about have very very large numbers of downvotes mostly due to them having a very very high chance of being astroturfers. Around about the same time last year when Blockstream came active on the scene every single bitcoin troll disappeared, and I mean literally every single one. In the years before that there were a large number of active anti-bitcoin trolls. They even have an active sub buttcoin. Up until last year you could go down to the bottom of pretty much any thread in bitcoin and see many of the usual trolls who were heavily downvoted for saying something along the lines of "bitcoin is shit", "You guys and your tulips" etc. But suddenly last year they all disappeared. Instead a new type of bitcoin user appeared. Someone who said they were fully in support of bitcoin but they just so happened to support every single thing Blockstream and its employees said and did. They had the exact same tone as the trolls who had disappeared. Their way to talking to people was aggressive, they'd call people names, they had a relatively poor understanding of how bitcoin fundamentally worked. They were extremely argumentative. These users are the majority of the list of that video. When the 10's of thousands of users were censored and expelled from bitcoin they ended up congregating in btc. The strange thing was that the users listed in that video also moved over to btc and spend all day everyday posting troll-like comments and misinformation. Naturally they get heavily downvoted by the real users in btc. They spend their time constantly causing as much drama as possible. At every opportunity they scream about "censorship" in btc while they are happy about the censorship in bitcoin. These people are astroturfers. What someone somewhere worked out, is that all you have to do to take down a community is say that you are on their side. It is an astoundingly effective form of psychological attack.
[Winner's Thread #53] All good things come to those who wait! Stay safe everyone!
First of all, I would like to thank millionairemakers for opportunity to participate in this drawings and I would like everyone to give me few minutes to read my story. Im really grateful for all of this. Yesterday I was at my phone and suddenly got plenty of notifications on Reddit, when I oppened app I coudnt believe it. I was shocked, of course I never expected to win such a thing,but it happened,to me, in right time. My name is Tin. Im student of Kinesiology (after this year I should get Bachelor's Degree) in Croatia. This year started really rought for me. Two months passed since I found out that my girlfriend of almost 7 years cheated on me, I writed a post and few comments on other subreddits, so if someone is intrested in my situation and wants to help, feel free to check. Since then, Im not the same. I lost self-confidence, I was suicidal, coudn't sleep or eat and maybe worst of all I didn't have someone to talk to. After that, the world was hit by a COVID-19 and like everyone else, I must stay at home with my thoughts without even going to college or walk outside with friend. But, enough about me, I wish you all to stay safe, take care of your family and help those who need it,we are all in this together! When I found out that I won, I started shaking, maybe this is one of many good things that from now my life will get me. I'm not gonna lie, tears in my eyes started to come. I'm really humble person, I dont need much in life,I will probably use some money to invest in me(to feel better in my own skin,some clothes maybe to get that self confidence I lost ☹ ) and rest of it will go to help others. To be honest I don't know how much people get from this, but everything will help. I have saved some money and I always wanted to suprise my family with some car, maybe this is opportunity to dream come true. Also, since my mum and me sometimes volunteer at our local dogs shelter I want to suprise them with some food,toys, blankets,etc. Please take care of your loved ones, talk with them and show some love. Thank you all so much. This is great community and I'm looking foward to next winners in future months.Also big thanks for all help and instructions given by mod of this community u/lilfruini *** Everything listed should result in direct lines of payment to Ultima98. We ask all users to donate at least $1 USD. The Drawing is also listed for users who want to see the results and confirm the validity of the winner. Drawing: https://www.reddit.com/millionairemakers/comments/g404jh/draw_53/ Revolut: (@)tini5ibx PayPal: paypal.me/Meskeee Bitcoin: 17aoGjWdGqbwfcDRmaAmFSF9A2HrLCQd1c Bitcoin Cash: qrvgr7vjds5tx0c0p7zv9mhv6z402d8c7qdjgmp49a Ethereum: 0x6Fcb454836e1c4Ac68e39326924D1A7F84dB6535 Litecoin: LU6u2sysJgRe6EMEAwg1pbREa1NZ69oRdE Dogecoin: DCFkwpJJnZaWhUJtA8dfU7jyqGy4pWzZNx Nano: nano_15f9tq46ogy1tck4ox4x4md9nj6sm79ib7qei4ya7iozdpx6mr35j49g3ji6 EDIT 1:Its been 1 hour and this is blowing up,thank you all for help! Im shaking.Thank you u/shanecorry for biggest donation of 50$ for now. I dont know what other to say then I love you all <3 EDIT 2: Good morning everyone! Thank you for all tips, I will now try to answer all great messages I got from you. I still cant believe this is real. You are all great! EDIT 3: I think I answered to all comments,thank you so much for doing this, this is great start.I wanna send special thank you for General-Clue for biggest tip for now, my brother send 100$!!!Thank you for that, you are really one in million person, wish you luck with everything in life. For now I got almost 2000$ THANK YOU ALL FOR HELP EDIT 4 22/4/2020. 11AMFor now, total of tips around all crypto and paypal is about 2100$ Everything I get from now on, I will donate to "Dogs shelter" and if I get enough I will like to donate toSuicide prevention organization, because of my situation this year, I would really like to help, so if someone want to drop some tip, I want you to know that its going into right hands. Take care everyone and Im glad that I can be part of this great community, Love you all! EDIT 5 and 6 23/4/2020- 24/4/2020.
Raised about 200$ more for donation! Thank you all once again!
Raised about x<100$ more,total is about 2300$-2400$, Thank you once again, you are all awesome
EDIT 7 25/4/2020. I just wanna thank community of nanocurrency for allowing me to post question on their site and for allowing me to be new part of their community. Mods/admins are really fast and detailed in their responds. I posted another update about my story there, so if everyone is intrested,go check it out. Thank you XRBeast for listening to me, you are really brother :) EDIT 8 16/5/2020. Wooooow. My phone again is about to blow up because of all donations again! Thank you so much for all! I got about 500$ more, so total for now is 3000$. I wanna say thank you for each and every one of you for kind messages and being awesome people. Im so glad I can be part of this community. Wish you all luck in next drawing. <3
The year was 2012, and we were all supposed to die in December. It was my freshman year of college. I was settling in quite well. I made friends with a bunch of people in our residence hall, we hit it off immediately. We started going out on the weekends, starting with thirsty Thursday, which turns out is actually a thing. I had more than one room mate. We lived in a four person suite with two bedrooms. I had a full ride to my University, so I had a lot of extra money to spend on my living arrangements and meal plan. Oh yeah, I was also a huge pothead. I made friends with the dealer on my floor and started buying him extra meals in exchange for weed. That's when one of my room mates came to me with a proposition. He asked me if I knew what bitcoins were. I did not. He explained the virtual currency and how it worked. Then he really laid it all out. He told me that he had quite a lot of bitcoins and that he wants to get into selling weed. It all sounded great, but I wasn't sure what he needed me for. He then told me that he doesn't really talk to anyone and that he always sees me with people and going to parties every weekend. Okay, this makes sense. He told me how the operation would work, and it sounded swell. For the record, I was eighteen and very stupid. Anyway, he would purchase the drugs from the Silk Road, a dark website where you can buy literally fucking anything. Our friend Noah would then get the goods delivered to his apartment, which had a mailroom with hundreds of mailboxes. This was good because it would be just a little bit less suspicious, also his apartment was not on our campus. Then we'd package everything there and move it to our dorm, which had it's own security. We lived in North Philadelphia, so the security and police were always looking out for the students. After we safely had the products, I would find the buyers. Our first shipment went well. We ordered a half pound of weed, a gram of hash, ten hits of LSD, a small bag of opium (for us), and 1000mg of Alprazolam extract for my room mate's personal anxiety treatment. We got into this business to become weed salesmen. That weed took forever to sell. Everyone who sold weed already had good connections from their hometowns. The LSD though, that sold in five fucking minutes to one buyer who was interested in buying much more than ten hits. He asked us if we could sell him a couple hundred tabs. He said he'd pay $350 for each sheet of 100. We looked at the price per sheet on the Silk Road. It would cost us only $80 each. Yes sir, we can absolutely sell you a couple sheets. We told him we'd call him when it arrived. Later that night we brewed some opium tea and celebrated entering the LSD business. We bought the sheets for him, and we also bought two extras in case anyone else wanted some. The next shipment came with no problems. Our friend came over and bought the sheets we had promised him. We made nearly $800 on that deal. We thought that was a lot, so we celebrated. Later that same day, while smoking a blunt in our courtyard, I made friends with some art students. They invited me to their dorm on the third floor. I agreed, went with them, and we listened to music and painted the walls of the dorm room which was super against the rules. They started talking about how they had taken magic mushrooms two weeks before and how it was life changing. I told them I had two-hundred hits of acid in my room. I've never seen people get so excited in my entire life. They bought all of it. They paid $400 for each sheet. Seemingly out of nowhere we made $600. Again, we thought this was a lot. My room mate was really happy with my networking abilities. Dude, I was just getting high with some hipster art students. I didn't really possess the "networking skills" that everyone thought I had. We went online and purchased another five sheets. We started getting a bit more confident in our ability to sell this magic money making paper. That week I was in one of my classes and had to do a group project with a kid named Eddy. We went to his apartment to work on the project after class. Eddy had an apartment off campus because he was an upperclassman. On the way he asked if I smoked weed. Of course. He said he had something to show me. When we got there he showed me a small weed plant he was growing. It was an adorable little plant in a flower pot by the window. I asked if he needed any weed and he said that he did not. We smoked a bit and then her offered me a Xanax. I had never taken Xanax, so I googled the pill he offered me. Alprazolam. Huh, that's funny. I told him I had 1000mg of alprazolam in my room. This excited him. I asked my room mate if he was willing to sell some of his private stash. Eddy only wanted to buy around 100 milligrams. He agreed and I brought Eddy to my dorm. We gave it to him for the cool price of $150, a slick markdown from what he was paying. After all we hadn't even planned on selling that stuff. He asked how we got it so cheap and if we could get anything else. We told him that we sell LSD. He said he loves hallucinogens and would love to purchase a sheet, so he did. Four sheets left. If we sell them, we can get a new and faster computer. The weekend came and I was hanging out with two of my friends from our residence hall. Joe, who was really chill and loved smoking weed as much as I did. And Bianca, who was so cool that it frightened me. She was really intimidating. I had a huge crush on her, but she was "talking" to a kid that lived in Johnson and Hardwick hall. Bianca was the type of person you see in movies about cool kids doing cool things. A character who has a lot of depth, but it takes nearly the whole movie to slowly peel back the layers, and by that time you're in love. I told her if we sold the rest of our acid I'd buy her a new tattoo. She was covered in them. That night Joe was going to take us to his friend Jamie's house. We were going to try cocaine for the first time. I was terrified. Not only was I terrified about trying cocaine, but I was scared of doing it with Bianca. I just didn't know how I would act, and I didn't want to do something stupid. We arrived at Jamie's house. Jamie was also intimidating. His house was what your typical trap house looked like at the time, with a bunch of really expensive music equipment. Everybody wanted to be a rapper or a D.J. that year. He introduced all his friends and offered us lines of coke. Here we go. Joe went first, he'd already done some before. Bianca went next without hesitation. Now it was my turn. I remember my hand shaking with the rolled up bill between my fingers. I chose the smallest line and sniffed. It did not taste anything like I expected. Five minutes went by. Oh, this is what cocaine is like. It was so underwhelming. It was also some thoroughly stepped on shit. I know that now because since then I've done some foreign blow that literally almost made my heart stop. Anyway, Jamie and I got to talking, mostly about his "music career". Jamie told me if I ever wanted to buy cocaine in bulk to hit him up. I laughed and told him if he ever wanted to buy LSD in bulk to hit me up. I was half joking. He looked at me with the straightest face and asked if I was serious. Honestly, this Jamie guy really scared the shit out of me. He was a good ten inches taller than me and the whole scene was really starting to freak me out. I told him I was serious though. He told me to come with him. He brought me into his room and closed the door. In the room it was quiet. The walls were sound proofed. I looked around and the room was full of money, cocaine, and guns. Okay, he's probably not going to kill me. I hope. He then asked about my LSD connection. I told him I could get sheets for $350. He said he wanted books. Books? This guy wants books? I didn't know this at the time, but a book is a thousand hits of LSD. I told him I had to talk to some people and I would let him know the price, but that I could definitely make it happen. We went back into the party and he gave me line after line of cocaine. Joe offered him money for the lines, but Jamie told him not to pay. He said your friend here bought you guys as much coke as you want for the night. Honestly, that made me feel really cool. After the party I talked to my room mate and told him what happened. We looked up the price of a book on the Silk Road. $300. Not only could we have saved a lot of money if we had just bought a book from the start, but we were going to make a lot more money selling by the book. The days of getting excited over $800 were about to come to an abrupt end. I talked to Jamie and asked how much he would be willing to pay for each book. He said he would pay no more than $3000 for each book. We decided we would sell him the books for $2,800 each. He agreed and asked how many we had. I said we can start with five books. He agreed. This was perfect. Not only were we about to make more money than we had ever expected, but acid was incredibly easy to ship. They were basically sheets of paper. Our supplier used to send it to us in between the pages of large children's coloring books. The books, or prints, as our supplier called them, blended with the kid's books very well. Our prints consisted of a large picture of Bart Simpson, The Grateful Dead bears, and a double rainbow portrait. If you didn't know what acid was, you wouldn't know these were drugs. We made nearly $14,000 from that first deal. Over the course of a few months we would sell close to thirty-thousand hits of LSD. We had $75,000 in cash sitting in an empty bedroom at Noah's apartment. I stopped going to class. My room mate had filled his entire room with computer parts and instruments. Noah, well we didn't really see him much, but he was always present when we needed a shipment. We broke our cardinal rule of not getting high on our own supply. We took a lot of acid that semester. It was an extremely enlightening period for us. Things in my world began to take on entirely new meaning. I had a newfound appreciation for things I had never noticed. The connections with my friends became very strong and we talked about a lot of stuff that was just too deep for my other peers to even scratch the surface of. It was nice. By my birthday in February we had over $200,000 in cash. We didn't die in December, not that I thought we would, but some people were legitimately surprised. They were mostly art students. Things started getting a little crazy. My room mate and I were taking a lot of Xanax by this time and a lot of nights celebrating were never logged as memories. We always told ourselves we would only sell LSD. We had sparked a huge psychedelic scene in and around Philadelphia. There were literally parties where everyone was tripping acid. Many groups of people began taking acid and doing really creative stuff that I admired so much. So much good music and art was around during that period. I felt like I was living in San Fransisco in the middle 60's. It felt like we were part of this incredible scene that nobody outside of the city knew about. Of course every wave has to break and roll back. It was getting close to the summer. I hadn't been to class in months. We hadn't seen Noah since the previous shipment about a month prior. It was a regular weekday, but I wasn't going to class, so I took two hits of acid. I spent most of that evening and night writing and yapping into my tape recorder. I was on the subject of togetherness and how there are so many things that are so incredible that we never notice even though they're right in front of us. Acid talk. I was looking at a glass of water, thinking about its importance, and how so many of us take it for granted. That's when my room mate came home. This was my room mate though. Remember, we had a two bedroom, four person suite. My room mate, who was never involved in our operation. He was obliterated, and not from alcohol. This was something else. He limped into the room and collapsed on the bed. I immediately got the rest of my room mates together. That's when Christian told me what transpired earlier while I was locked in the bedroom tripping acid. He told me that my room mate had broken up with his girlfriend, took an entire bottle of lorazepam, and tried to cut his leg open with my biology scalpel. What the fuck. I examined his leg and he did not try to cut it open, he succeeded. He had a gigantic cut all the way down his lower leg that was fixed up by his father who is a surgeon. His father then brought him back to the dorm. The condition he was in was terrifying. He was breathing, but not well. His heart rate was also very low and we had to monitor him for the remainder of the night, taking shifts to make sure he didn't stop breathing. I couldn't believe his father had brought him back in the condition he was in. The next morning I was exhausted. My room mate and I, the one with the bitcoins, left and went to Noah's apartment to relax for an hour. While we were gone Bianca was to watch over him with her room mate. When we got to Noah's we had a new problem. Noah hadn't gotten out of bed for what looked like weeks. He had ran out of his antidepressants and was in bad shape. At this point I checked out. I walked into the living room and opened a bottle of champagne. I poured a glass, popped a Xanax, and sat on the sofa. I was still a little foggy from my acid trip and I hadn't slept all night. That's when my phone rang. It was Bianca. I answered the phone and her first words were: "Your room is full of police.". Well, it's been a good run. On my desk were a couple thousand hits of LSD and a handgun. In the other bedroom were numerous unopened box's of expensive computer parts, scales and drug paraphernalia galore, and a large pile of white powdered alprazolam. That room also smelled heavily of weed because there was a half pound out in the open. We had gotten very sloppy. I asked her if my room mate was okay. She said that's why the police are there. She said his mom was trying to reach him and he wasn't answering her, so she called the police for a wellness check. Bianca then started talking to someone and hung up the phone. We pondered whether or not to flee the country and become outlaws. We did after all have all the cash here at Noah's. Close to a million dollars. Maybe more. Because we were getting sloppy, we had also started selling hash, Xanax, LSD, 25i-NBOMe, 2c-b, 2c-i, 2c-E, Mescaline, cocaine, MDMA, MDA, LSA, clonazepam, ativan, and other various designer drugs. We were going down for a long time. I started thinking about my life. It literally was flashing before my eyes. I thought about my high school crush, and how I should have been more upfront with her about how much I liked her. I loved her. I thought about the time we slept in the same bed and I couldn't fall asleep because I couldn't believe she was really laying next to me. I remembered how I never wanted to wake up next to anyone else. I thought about my trivial crush on Bianca and how shallow it really was. I thought about my parents and how they'd raised me better. How they did so much for me so that I could go away to college and have a better life than they had. I thought about sitting on the beach last summer without a care in the world. The "problems" in my life that seemed hilarious now. Will I go to prom? Is my car cool enough? My k/d ratio in Call of Duty. How could so much happen in less than a year? That's when Bianca called me again. I was terrified to pick up that phone. We looked outside to see if police were surrounding the apartment complex. They were not. I answered the phone. She said the police were gone. She had put my gun and LSD in my desk drawer. The police never entered the other bedroom. It was just a wellness check. An ambulance came and took my room mate. He was going to be okay. I hugged my partner in crime and we cried. I wish I could tell you we cleaned up our lives after that. My room mate with the bitcoins developed a really dangerous drug habit after that. He spent most of his money on drugs over the next few years. I went back to class after that summer, but stopped going again because I wanted to party instead and start a career as a writer. I failed out of college. Throughout the years I went on numerous adventures all around the world. I have hundreds of stories, I just have to write them. Oh and I have to learn how to write properly. I don't use a lot of drugs today, and I don't encourage people to use drugs. I have unfortunately lost many friends during the opiate epidemic. Weed is cool though, I like weed. I wouldn't tell people to smoke it, but I'll never shame someone for enjoying some cannabis. Actually, I don't really shame people for anything, it's just not my place to judge anyone. Feel free to judge me though, about how my dorm became a drug superhighway. \*Thanks for reading, more stories available on my blog. There's a link on my profile.* Edit: This story is based around actual events that I have experienced.
Attention incoming interns! Here's a list of TIPS I WISH I KNEW starting my intern year, some things you can start working on now and some less commonly discussed but very important parts of your job
It’s that time of year and yet again I’ve seen plenty of incoming interns asking what they can do to prepare. I wrote this post to share some tips for all of the not-exactly-medical stuff I wish I knew before I started intern year and to share a few things that interns can do before they start to feel like they’re well prepared for the long white coat. As a quick background, I was a surgery intern in the first half of the 2010s and much of this is informed by my notes and memories from that time in addition to everything I’ve learned since, particularly about professionalism both in medicine and in the business world with work I’ve done in the healthcare startup arena. I’m also not perfect and very much a work in progress myself and, outside the intern-specific items here, I try to do most of these things myself—sometimes more successfully than others. So take what you think are good ideas here, leave what you don’t think would be useful, and if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to chime in. TL;DR: Intern year is hard. Here are some not-so-commonly-disucussed tips that may help.
1. Being an effective intern is, at its core, about being responsible, effective and reliable.
Your day to day responsibilities are nearly always dominated by the need to get things done and to do so in a manner that lets your other team members focus on their own roles and responsibilities. What about learning clinical medicine? You'll learn plenty and fast. Don't worry. When reading through these tips below, view them from an angle of “would this help me develop an effective system for making sure everything gets done and nothing falls through the cracks?”
2. For your in-the-hospital life as well as your outside-the-hospital life, remember this one thing: you will forget.
You will be busy and have responsibilities in a way you likely have never experienced before. This will naturally make the day-to-day things in life more difficult than you’re used to so developing ways to outsmart your forgetful brain will pay off.
3. You are a professional now. This is your career. You’re in it.
It’s easy to view your life as a trainee as a sort of advanced student or something in between a student and a “real doctor”. But that’s not true. View yourself as a professional building your career. Your intern year is just the first step of that career. You’re a real doctor as much as any other now.
4. One of the hardest things about being an intern or resident is dealing with feelings of isolation. It will take work to actively manage and overcome those feelings.
Imposter syndrome, feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you don’t belong, feeling like you’re not the person you used to be, that you don’t have time to do all the “normal” things that other people do, thinking your co-residents or attendings think you’re dumb, feeling that you don’t have time for friends/family/hobbies, ruminating on “what if I screw this up and hurt a patient?”, or “this doesn’t matter -- the patient is going to XX or YY anyway” etc are all common feelings and they all share the same undercurrent of feeling isolated in one way or another. You need to actively work to find ways to confront and overcome these feelings or else they will control you. When they control you, you’re burned out. It may not seem like it at first, but nearly every single tip below is geared towards avoiding feelings of isolation. Feeling like you’re not in control of your finances will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re losing a handle on your relationships will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re behind on your email and haven’t done all the little things in life you need to do will make you feel isolated. Read these tips through that lens.
What you can do before you start
1. Organize and update your contacts. Seriously.
Here are some ways it can help you maintain and grow your relationships.
Use the ‘Notes’ feature in your contacts for everyone important in your life and all the new people meet.
You will forget your friends’ kids names and ages. Every time you get a birth announcement or see a post on social media, go to your friend’s contact, edit the notes and put in the info. Then, when you reach out to your friends, ask about their kids...by name.
You will forget your friends’ boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/partner’s name, especially if you’ve never met them or haven’t seen them for a long time. Put their name in your friends’ card with a note like “Started seeing Sam in June 2020, he/she’s a software engineer”. Someone you know gets married? Add their wedding date to their card.
You will forget how you knew people in your contacts. Met at a conference? Was a medical student on your heme onc service? Friend-of-a-friend you met at a wedding? Someone shares an interest you have? Make a note in their contact card. Tip: these notes are for you, not them. So if someone reminds you of an actor, or didn’t stop talking about bitcoin, make a note. It will help because you will forget.
Tag your contacts or add them to lists and use those tags/lists to your advantage.
Make lists or tags for your family, your medical school friends, your undergrad friends, your coresidents, your attendings, your medical students, the hospitals you’ll be working at, etc. Put those lists or tags to use like this:
You will forget to stay in touch with people important to you. Set reminders in your phone for every week / two weeks / month, etc to pull up a list (family, medical school friends, etc), pick someone on that list you haven’t chatted with in a while and text them and ask them how they’re doing. Aim to start a conversation, ask about what’s happening in their life. Texts are more personal and meaningful than liking a post on social media or sharing a meme. Initiating conversations with your friends and family will help you feel connected and will increase the likelihood they reach out to you.
Don’t label your medical students like “MS3 Laura” or “Sub-I Juan”, etc. Label them with their full name and treat them like the colleagues they are. Put them on a list, clear it out next year if you want, but don’t treat them as “MS3 XXX“ or “MS4 YYY”. I’m sure you remember feeling like a nameless/faceless medical student at times in school and I’m sure you didn’t love it. So don’t repeat that behavior. Add a note or two about them while you’re at it. Take enough interest in your medical students to treat them well. You never know when or how you’ll cross paths with them again.
If you rotate through different hospitals, you will forget which “ED” or “PACU” or “nursing station 3rd floor” numbers are which. Tag them or put them on a list. It’ll make finding them when you need them much easier.
2. Use a good note taking app and a good task manager app to help with both your in-hospital life and your outside-of-the-hospital life.
Here are some ways to use a notes app.
Make a note for each rotation you’re on. Add in any unstructured tips as they come up, like “Send all of Dr. X’s patients home with Y”, “Use the call room in the basement outside of the locker room, passcode 1234”, “Park in the X lot on the weekends”, “Dr. A likes to manage Z with Y”, “The case manager, NAME, usually sits at the computer behind the 2nd floor nurses station”, etc. Don't overthink them, just write them down when they come up. Review those notes the next time you rotate through because you will forget all those little things and they will help you in the future.
Create a master grocery list of all things you typically get at the grocery store. Share it with a roommate/partner so they can keep it updated too. That way if you ever stop to pick something up, you can review the list to make sure there’s nothing you’ll forget.
Make master lists for other things in your life too like “packing for a conference”, “packing for a family trip”, “Target/Wal-Mart household master list” so you can quickly review anytime something comes up so you minimize the chance of forgetting something
Make notes for all of the other stuff you have to manage in your life like your car, your apartment/house, your loans, etc and update them every time you work on that thing. Change your loan repayment? Add it to the note. Have to get your brakes fixed? Add to the note where you got it done, how much it cost, etc. Talk to your landlord about fixing the shower? Add it to the note. Have to call the medical board to sort something out with a license? Add it to the note.
I like two note apps on iOS: Bear for personal notes since it’s fast and has great tagging and Apple’s Notes app for shared notes
Pick a good task manager app and use it for all the things in your life that aren’t your day-to-day work
Cousin getting married and you can go to the wedding? Make tasks to ensure your time off, book your travel, buy a gift, rent a hotel room, etc. Then put all the relevant info into your note because...you will forget.
Pandemic is over and you get to present a poster at a conference? Make tasks to review your draft with your coauthors, print your poster, book your travel, submit your reimbursement, etc. Then put all the relevant info into a note. Otherwise, you’ll forget.
I like Things and have also liked OmniFocus. There is a ton of content on how to set one of these things up for productivity so review it and use it YouTube search
3. Take charge of your finances
When I was an intern, I figured all I had to do was pay my loans and not go into more debt. I wish I had done the following instead:
Read these two books: The White Coat Investor and I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Both are very good and have different strengths. The WCI is directly applicable to you and will help educate you in ways medical school didn’t about your financial future. IWTYTBR is much more of a “millennial” book but it’s very good for explaining big concepts and for providing a system to set yourself up for success. They’re both easy and relatively quick reads and don’t require any financial background. WCI is fine as an e-book but IWTY has a bunch of dialog boxes that make the e-book a poor experience, get a physical new or used copy.
Set up a budget. I use and swear by You Need A Budget. It’s the best money I spend every year. Their system is easy and straightforward and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
4. Update your CV now and keep it updated regularly
You will no doubt have to share your CV with someone at some point whether it’s for fellowship or a research project or any number of things. The time to work on it is not when someone says “can you share your CV?” -- that’s a recipe for omissions, typos and mistakes. The only thing you should be doing every time you share your CV is giving it a quick once-over to make sure you don’t spot any mistakes and to make sure it’s up to date There are plenty of templates online and your training institution may even have a preferred format somewhere on their website. Your ERAS application will give you a good head start but most of your medical school CV lines will either be condensed or removed all together unless something was particularly notable. You can almost always find example CVs online from senior people in your department or institution with a quick web search -- use a few as a guide Set a reminder / task to update your CV at regular intervals. Quarterly is good, yearly at least. Save new versions of it each time so you can refer to the old ones if you need to and name them in a way to let you know you’re always sharing the most recent version, e.g., LASTNAME_FIRST NAME_CV_2020-06. You will forget if the one marked “CV” only is the right one you want to share.
5. Subscribe to a couple of newsletters to stay up to date with the world outside of your hospital
For general news, your preferred newspaper probably has a daily email briefing. Otherwise, Axios AM/PM and Politico’s Playbook are both very good quick reads to stay up to date with current events.
Keep up with healthcare news so you know what’s going on in the healthcare system broadly
Politico’s Pulse and Morning eHealth are both very good and have quick facts at the beginning if you just want to skim
Rock Health’s Rock Weekly is a decent summary of each week in the healthcare startup and technology world
Pick a few of these and aim to get through them each day. If you can’t get through them, unsubscribe to the ones you think are least relevant to you so you never feel “behind” in staying up with the news. You can breeze through the few you pick in a few minutes here and there throughout the day -- don’t make it any harder than that to feel like you’re “up to date” on the news.
General tips for maintaining relationships
For any romantic relationship, do these things if you don’t already:
1. Make a rule: no phones at the table. * Don’t put your phone on the table face-up. Don’t put your phone on the table face-down. Keep your phone off the table and set to silent. * Focus on the person in front of you and show them you care about them by paying attention to them. We all know what it feels like to be with someone more interested in their screen than in interacting with you. If you’re on call, say “sorry, I’m on call, I may have to check something here and there”, apologize if you do check it and then put your phone away. 2. Make another rule: no phones in bed * Same principle as at the table. Want to feel like two strangers just passing through life who just so happen to share the same bed? Wake up, reach for your phone and scroll through your feeds like a zombie before getting out of bed. Same idea before bed. Your phone can wait. 3. If you’re at the point where you share finances, set a regular meeting to review how you’re doing. * Ideally, this is a “red, yellow or green” meeting and should only take a few minutes. Money can be a big conflict issue for relationships and avoiding talking about money is a surefire way to eventually turn to conflict. If you have a budget and shared goals, this should be quick. * A monthly check-in is good. Create a recurring calendar event, attach the shared notes or spreadsheet document you use, add your goals for the meeting and honor the meeting when it comes around.
Eat with people who are important to you, if you can.
There’s something about sharing a meal that’s special in human nature. Friends who are important to you? Partners? Mentors you’re looking to get to know better after you’ve had a few chats? Try to eat with them when you can. And keep your phone off the table.
The same idea works with your coresidents and teams in the hospital. Eat with them if you can. Eating with others builds, strengthens and maintains relationships. Keep your phone off the table if you can.
Think about it this way: who would you consider a better mentor, the person you’ve met with a few times in their office where they sit behind their desk and you in front of them while they glance at their computer screen every time it pings or the person who’s invited you to get coffee or food and they kept their phone away the whole time? Now turn that around and realize the power of the message you can send to people you care about by trying to eat with them and show them they have your full attention.
1. Learn to think about tasks as a continuum from start to finish instead of as a binary 'done/not done'.
Let’s say you have to order a CT for a patient of yours.
Instead of marking the task as complete the second you place the order for the CT, recognize that the whole task is not just placing the order, but also knowing when your patient is going down to the scanner, when they’re back, when the CT is up in the system, when the report is up and also that you’ve looked at the CT yourself and have read the report.
When your senior or attending asks you, “Did patient X get their CT?”, a not-so-great answer is “Yes” or “No”. A better answer is “they’re down at the scanner now” or “the scan’s done but it hasn’t been read yet. Want to look at it?” or “Yes, it’s negative for XXX but did show YYY”.
Whatever system you eventually adopt for your day-to-day task management in the hospital, whether it’s a list or index cards or a printed signout sheet, make sure you’re tracking both when orders go in, when they’re complete, when they’re cancelled, etc. Just marking things as complete once you place the order isn’t enough.
2. Signout is taken, not given.
What I mean by this is that when you take signout, that means you’re accepting responsibility for those patients. They might be your patients, you might be cross-covering, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that when those patients are your responsibility, it’s your responsibility to get what you need to know to take care of them. Is someone signing out to you in a hurry and not giving you what you need? Ask them for that relevant past medical history, those exam findings, and so on. It’s not enough for the person handing off to say “we’re worried about x or y”, you’ve got to follow that up with “in case of x or y, is there a plan for what the team wants me to do?”. Get the answers you need. A lot of covering patients on call is playing defense whereas the primary team generally plays offense. But that doesn’t mean you can play defense in isolation. The last thing you want is for the primary team to feel surprised by your choices.
* Here’s two ways for the above example to go when turning the patients you were covering back over the next day or whatever: 1. You: “For patient so-and-so, you said you were worried about x or y. Y happened.” Them: “What did you do?”. You: “Z”. Them: “Shit, my attending’s not gonna like that”. 2. You “Y happened so I did A like you said, it went fine and here’s the current status”. Them: “Great, thanks” * See the difference?
Along the lines of taking responsibility for those patients, that means that if you couldn’t get the information you needed at signout then you have to go and see those patients and get the information you need yourself.
You’ll hear this idea said a bunch of different ways like “trust but verify”, “trust no one” and your comfort level will change over the year as you become more confident and comfortable. But always error on the side of going to see the patient and getting your own information at the start.
3. If you will be miserable without something when you’re in the hospital, bring it with you. You won’t reliably be able to find it at the hospital every time you need it.
Need coffee otherwise you turn into a demon? Bring it with you. You never know when you’ll get caught doing something and won’t be able to run to the cafeteria for your fix.
On call overnight and know you need food so you don’t go insane? Bring it with you. Here’s a hospital food rule: never rely on the hospital's ability to feed you. The hospital will let you down sooner or later, I guarantee it.
Know you always get cold on call? The day you forget your jacket/sweatshirt is the day you won’t be able to find a spare blanket in the hospital to save your life. Put a backup in your locker (if your hospital respects you enough to give you one).
Miscellaneous productivity, professionalism and lifestyle tips
1. Aim to “touch” everything only once
Example: your physical mail. You know, the stuff made of dead trees that accumulates in that box you check every once in a while. For every piece of mail you get, you should either trash it, file it, or act on it. Don’t touch it until you’re ready to do one of those things.
Example: your email. Either delete it, archive it, reply to it or do the thing it’s telling you to do right away. Don’t fall into the trap of using your inbox as a to-do list -- that’s a recipe to get burned. Use a task manager for your to-do list and aim to keep your inbox at zero. Realize that email’s true power is communication and use it as a communication tool and nothing else.
I’ll use the example of going to a wedding again as something to “touch once”. Aim to accomplish all the tasks at once or at least create tasks and reminders to complete those tasks all in one go. Respond to the RSVP, create the calendar invite with all the information from the invitation, share the calendar event with your date, book your travel, book your hotel, book your rental car, buy your gift from the registry and set a reminder to get your suit/dress cleaned a few weeks ahead, etc.
2. Lean to use your calendar as a tool
Professionals in the “real world” tend to live and die by their calendars. Some people, especially many senior people in medicine, don’t manage their own calendars. But you manage yours. With it you can:
Make sure all events—even small ones like dates or errands you want to run—have locations so all you have to do is click the location for directions
Send invites to friends / family / coworkers for anything you talk about doing that has the relevant info
Make reminders for yourself to prepare for upcoming events, i.e.., don’t count on seeing your parents’/spouses’/whomever’s birthday “coming up” to remind you to get a gift or send a card. Create an event two weeks before their birthday that says “Buy Mom a birthday card”, set it to repeat yearly and buy a card when it comes up, send it a few days later and don’t worry that it won’t get there in time.
3. Learn to use email well
Ever get an email from someone and feel their tone was terse, condescending or rude? Don’t be that person. Error on the side being polite and professional and writing in complete sentences without textspeak. It’s not hard — you type fast, even with your thumbs, I’m sure of it.
Learn to communicate effectively. Keep it short but not terse. State why you’re writing to someone, be clear if you’re asking a question, and think about it this way: “How am I making it as easy as possible for this person to understand why I’m emailing them and do what I’m asking them to do?
Don’t use a canned salutation like “Best, NAME” or even worse: “Best, INITIALS”. Use your salutation to continue to communicate your message and remember that politeness and professionalism extend through your signature.
I don’t know why “Best,” is so common in medicine but it’s meaningless, unthoughtful, inherently passive aggressive and I seriously read it as if the person writing it were signing off by saying “Go f*ck yourself,”. Same thing for “Regards,” and its ilk, any abbreviation like “vr,” or any form of cutesy quote.
Write your salutation fresh each time. Did you ask someone for something? Say “Thank you for your help”. Are you writing someone senior to you and want to sound somewhat formal? “Sincerely,” never goes out of style. Are you sharing information and essentially writing a memo? Use “Please let me know if you have any questions”. Your salutation is communication, treat it that way.
Sign with your name, not your initials. Signing with initials is a common way senior people will try to remind you they’re senior to you. If you do it, it’s like you’re trying to prove you’re a Cool Guy Big Shot too. It never comes across well -- even for those senior people. Initials are terse. Lowercase initials are even terser. Although they may look different at first glance, all initial signatures functionally come across as ‘FU’. Write your name.
If it’s a few rounds back and forth of email, it’s normal drop salutations and signatures and treat email more like texting. Keep using complete sentences without textspeak, though. I promise you’ll come across better that way.
Use the ‘signature’ feature of your email client to share your professional details and contact information
Your institution (not department) will hopefully have a format for this that’s standardized and includes minimal or no graphics. If it doesn't, then I feel sorry for all the inevitable IT headaches you will eventually endure at your institution since they clearly underfund and undervalue contemporary IT and professional services. It’s the wild west out there so find some good examples of clean, professional signature formats and make one for yourself.
Note: this signature lives below your salutation and sign off. It’s essentially the letterhead for your email that lets your recipient fill in the details you may not otherwise provide like your department, mailing address or fax number. It’s not a replacement for signing off of your communication professionally.
Never use bold, italics, underlines or different font sizes in your emails. They only make emails harder to read and jumble your message.
If you want to highlight something, put it in a numbered or bulleted list.
If you can’t communicate what you want with 2-3 bulleted points, then email is not the right medium to use. Do you like reading long emails? Of course you don’t. Write a memo, attach it as a PDF or shared doc and use the email to tell your recipients to review the attachment.
You will eventually, in some way or another, ask someone to introduce you to one of their contacts and or refer you for something. Learn how to write a good forwardable email that utilizes the double opt-in concept and how to make it easy on the person doing you the favor. Read more here, here and here.
While you’re at it, understand the power of using CC and BCC to communicate effectively.
Aim to answer all emails written directly to you within 24 hours.
If you can’t respond fully right away, respond briefly saying you got the note and that you’ll work on it and get back to them. Set a reminder or create a task to do or review the thing and get back to them once you’ve done it.
Do you hate being left on read in text? You do it in email every time you don’t respond to someone in a timely fashion. It’s better to share a quick, “I got it and I’m working on it message” then not replying until days or weeks later.
4. Don’t let someone else’s negative energy and/or anxiety transfer to you
You will frequently experience things like this in the hospital:
A co-resident disagrees with a management decision made at rounds and mentions that so-and-so is an idiot. So-and-so probably isn’t an idiot. Your co-resident probably isn’t an idiot either. Form your own opinions from your own experiences.
A nurse pages you with a tone that says “THIS IS REALLY BAD”. It might be, go and see. And on your way, stay calm and go over the steps in your head of what you’d do if it is, in fact, REALLY BAD. But don’t freak yourself out before you even get to the room. You won’t be able to make decisions with a clear head if you’re already worked up.
You’re a surgery intern and all your patients are normally on the med-surg floor. Every once in a while, one goes somewhere like heme-onc if the med-surg floor is full. Someone on your team says something like “great, now they’re going to screw up our patient”. Recognize that that floor isn’t full of terrible nurses and may just have less experiences with lines and drains and that the best thing you can do is go down there, talk to the nurse and say “here’s what we want to be called about” and “this thing may look bad but it usually isn’t and we don’t need to be called, here’s why”, and so on. Doing things like this will mean you get fewer calls. Fewer calls are good.
Your attending is having a bad day and you’re not enjoying your interactions with them. Don’t let that make you have a bad day too. Medicine is hard enough as it is, stick to your own bad days instead adopting other people’s. Then pull up your friend list, text a buddy and feel better.
5. Don’t neglect your physical health. Trying to eat well and stay active are even more important when you’re insanely busy.
The #1 thing you can do to help your waistline is cook your own food and pack your own meals. It doesn’t matter what you cook or how good of a cook you are, as long as you’re aiming to pack meals that an adult would eat, it will be healthier than takeout and cafeteria food. It’s better for portion control, you control all the ingredients and you get a sense of satisfaction for being on the ball. It’s better in every way. I know it’s not realistic to always prep and pack your own food on the busiest of services but you should try to hit at least a percentage like 25% or 50% of your meals. There are no lost causes in your own health. It will be hard to exercise and work out. You should still try to do it anyway. You will go long stretches without exercising at times. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Every day is a chance to do the thing you want to do so get back out there.
6. If your social profiles are private, consider doing some housekeeping and making them public.
Instead of thinking about them as a liability to be that needs to be hidden, think about them as a narrative you can control. Nothing is private on the internet. Even your private profile. You never know who knows someone you know or what may get screenshotted and shared down the line. It’s natural to run a web search on anyone you’re meeting for a date, interviewing with for a job, or researching in general. When you search your own name, what comes up? What do you think when you’re searching for someone and they have a private page? Do you ever click on a few links to see professional stuff from LinkedIn, and then some social pages to see what else you learn? So does everyone else. Use your social pages to put forward a version of you that shows who you are, shows some interests true to yourself, makes you seem like a totally normal and reliable person (which is exactly what any potential date, partner, fellowship director or hiring manager is asking themselves about you) and doesn’t share enough information to let a patient show up at your door. Medicine lags behind other industries with people still commonly hiding behind private pages. In the tech world, it’s more strange to not have a public page. A private page says more about you that you might want to hide red flags whereas a public page says “go ahead and look, you won’t find any red flags”. One is much more powerful than the other.
Closing and something to read
When you view your professional life, it’s natural to view your professional relationships as being a binary one between patient and physician. That’s certainly essential and certainly important, but as a professional you now have relationships to consider with so many more types of people: co-residents, faculty in your department, faculty in other departments, administrators, support staff, medical students, and so on. Just as you had to learn how to work with patients, you will have to learn to work with all of the other people in your professional life. Truly effective professionals will treat all interactions importantly and give thought and consideration to each one. All these interactions and relationships will all affect your day-to-day experience, your well-being and, ultimately, your professional experience. You will find yourself being not just responsible for your patients, but also for yourself, your career and your relationships. It takes effort to succeed in all of those areas. And even with effort, sometimes you’ll be winning in an area and losing in others. And in a few months it will be different -- that’s just life. I want you to consider looking outside of books and resources written specifically for physicians when you’re trying to tackle these issues inside the hospital and out. Medicine is a much-smaller-than-you-realize bubble with a long history of personality-driven examples of “that’s just the way we do it” or “that’s how we’ve always done it”. There are good books about medicine out there, to be sure, but you’ll benefit more professionally by learning from the wide world outside of hospitals since there are quite simply many more successful and accomplished people who’ve written great resources for all aspects of professional life that medicine tends to ignore. I’d recommend you start with this book: Andy Grove’s High Output Management (a review by another Valley titan here). Andy escaped communist Hungary, taught himself English and rose to be CEO of Intel and went on to be a sage of Silicon Valley before he passed. This book is a how-to guide for how to be an effective professional in an organization (hint: you're now a professional in an organization) and if you’ve enjoyed this post at all, you’ll love this book. You may think that this book applies to ‘managers’ and ‘business’ and not medicine but you couldn’t be more wrong. Although it was probably written around the time you were born, nearly everything in this book is a lesson that directly applies to your professional life in medicine and when you start seeing it, you’ll feel like you’re in The Matrix. Congratulations! You've worked hard to get here. Be proud of yourself, your degree, your long white coat and be the best doctor you can be.
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Little Known Questions About Bitcoin for BeginnersThe Ultimate Guide to Cryptocurrency.
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