BTC Robot 2.3 - The World's First Automated Bitcoin

Original project on hold, what now? (long)

First Post: (You are here.)
Part Two: Filesystems and Data Protection
Part Three: Networking and Security (Pending)
So, I've got my Pi (Model B, 512 RAM) sitting in my homemade LEGO case with detachable 5 watt fan. Power supply is a solid 2.1 amp outlet-to-USB adapter. My SD is a Sandisk micro SDHC in an adapter; 16 gigabytes. The NOOBS installer works fine. All of the ported distros work fine. I bought both codecs. I have a 32 GB USB stick, a WIFI adapter, and everything is working perfectly. Everything runs off the one 5 volt, 2 amp adapter in the wall. No powered hubs, no stack of boxes next to it, nothing. It's a clean and compact setup.
So what's the problem? Well...
The project that I had in mind when I bought the thing was a simple one. I wanted (and want) to use the Pi to make a modest podcast downloader and NAS/samba server. I've gotten both working. All is well. So, what's the problem if the project is already done? Storage space. I checked my main computer's drive, and discovered that I have well over 100 GB of nothing but podcasts. Music is another 40 or so. Television shows and movies are about 50 GB. Artwork is about 70 GB. Other documents and images aren't that much. Remember my 32 GB flash drive? Don't even ask me how big my entire Humble Bundle collection would be, or Steam games and backups. Yeah... that's not going to work.
So my options are to either get an external drive that (A) won't suck all the power and kill my Pi, (B) is reliable to both stay on 24/7 and keep my data safe for years, and (C) doesn't cost a billion dollars; -OR- I can find another project for my Raspberry Pi.
I've looked into USB SSDs, but they're very pricy, don't have much storage space, and all full size external drives seem to require more power than the Pi would put out. They make 128 gigabyte flash drives, but those tend to be very expensive and are generally reviewed as failing often. If anyone has experience running an external USB SSD on their Pi without a powered hub, let me know. I'll get a hub if I need one, but I really do not want to.
So below is an improvised list of the ideas I've had, and why I haven't done them. I'm hoping that if, at the very least I don't get any good suggestions from you fine folks, that you will get a few good ideas from me. If anyone wants me to re-write this list into an organized and more complete format, then just ask. Maybe we could make a giant list of project ideas.
Anyway, I tossed around some projects in my head: (edited for readability)
  • So I thought about an emulation station. But, no. I already have an ollllld PSP (phat 1001) that I can lay in bed with and play all my old games on.
  • I thought about a wireless speaker for my computer, or a random Internet radio box. Neither of those are very useful to me though. I have this thing called a MP3 player with FM radio, plus a slow Internet connection.
  • Then I thought I could make a media center with OpenELEC, but since I don't have any networked media storage, and can watch everything I want from my computer, that's not very useful either.
  • Next on the list could be an IRC server, but I've no one to chat with on my network, and random strangers getting past my router and firewall is less than comfortable to me.
  • How about a Minecraft server! Offload some of the work to my Pi and enjoy a slightly better framerate on my main machine! Plus it's always on, so it's like the world is real in a sense. But the FPS boost wouldn't be that great, the chunks would load slower, and I don't play much Minecraft anymore anyway.
  • An automatic backup server? Again, no large storage for the Pi.
  • A general downloader? So no room for my music, no podcasts, no games (all legal). What exactly would I be downloading? Say I'm on my main computer, go to gutenberg.org, see a book I want to read, copy the URL, SSH into my Pi and 'wget' it. Then I use samba to connect my main machine to my Pi so I can re-download the book that I downloaded? Even if it was all automatic, what's the point when I ultimately want the copy on my main machine, have no reason to share the books across my home network, and don't need tons of disk space to store it?
  • A dedicated firewall box? That's an interesting idea, but I'm afraid I don't know much about how that would work, am in another room as the modem, and I already have a DD-WRT router taking care of things.
  • A dedicated social media thingy? I don't use any social media. I suppose reddit might count, but no chat programs, no G+ or facebook, no Twitter or StumbleUpon.
  • A feed aggregator? Most of my RSS feeds are web comics that would be better suited to viewing on my main machine. Besides, it really doesn't take that long to update them.
  • An educational platform? Learn python perhaps? My geek cred would go through the roof, certainly, but if I may quote... "Ain't nobody got time for that!". Anyway, my computer would serve equally well, I'd think.
  • Home automation? I live in a small apartment and have no knowledge of wiring, much less of complex electronics and custom coding. This should be a fun, cheap, and a small project for me, not a DIY renovation 'just because'.
  • Build a robot? See above.
  • Groovy homemade alarm clock? Now that's a great 'Plan C' for me. Simple, fun, and unless the power goes out, reliable. One power outage and my Pi's clock gets reset; not a great alarm clock. I suppose I could set a script to sync the time via NTP, but that assumes the modem and wireless router are both working and connected to the Internet after the power cuts back on.
  • Security cam? Cool, but I don't need anything like that.
  • Boodler box? This could be really nice to fall asleep to. I hear that the Boodler software makes very good artificial ambient sounds. But that seems like a waste of a perfectly good Pi, to only use it for an hour each day, if that. I know it could do other things during the daytime, but what? Finding something useful for it is the whole point here.
  • A text-to-speech book reader? My Kindle does that quite nicely, and is easier to carry around.
  • Some sort of tricky pseudo-URL setup that redirects traffic for example.com to a server on the Pi? Another interesting idea, but I have no use for that sort of thing. Who am I going to practical joke on my network? Me? Now, I suppose there's an application for extreme security. You set the outgoing URLs and IP addresses that you will allow on your network, and everything else gets sent to a black hole. It would make it hard for malware on any device on your network to call home, or even for a hacker to get feedback from your machines. But it would be a pain in the ass for normal household Internet usage.
  • Similarly, a Tor router or personal email server? No need.
  • Anything mobile or battery powered? No mobile applications needed or wanted; no batteries required.
  • A SMS forwarder? My phone doesn't get decent Internet connections, or have an email application, or a sane data plan, so getting emails or chat logs via SMS would be cool. But again, I do no chatting, and emails over SMS would be painful come bill day.
  • A personal web server? Don't want one.
  • An OwnCloud equivalent of Firefox's sync? Basically I would copy my Firefox profile to the Pi, set it in a samba share, and have all of my machines softlink to it. A very cool idea, but kind of flawed. There wouldn't be any protection from multiple computers writing to the profile at the same time. Also, I only have one computer. Well, I have a laptop, but that's a separated thing.
  • Maybe an index? It wouldn't actually hold any files, but it could keep an automatic inventory of what music, movies, and games I have. Neat, but not very useful.
  • A key? I configure my main machine to check the local network for any computer named "raspi" or something, and make it automatically shut down if there isn't one? I'm not that tin-foily yet. It also assumes that wifi works on all devices involved. If a storm fries the router, then my main machine is locked down until I get a new router and set it up...without a computer.
  • A purely essentials backup? Nothing but my important documents, browser profiles, and the like? What, is my Pi reduced to a glorified USB stick now? Use it once every two months and have it gather dust the rest of the time?
  • A local network VOIP? Our phones have built-in intercom functions.
  • A Internet-connected VOIP system? Now that would be interesting. I have no one techie enough to be able to call me on it though.
  • Bitcoin miner? Surely you jest.
  • A Tripwire log storage thing? An intrusion detection module for the entire network? I'm not knowledgeable enough to set that up properly. Nor would I know what to do if I caught a malicious hacker. If I was and did, I still don't really have a need for it.
  • An entropy generator? Use things like a USB microphone, network traffic, the GPU traffic, etc., to make random numbers that are extremely hard to predict. Cool, but I don't need that sort of thing.
  • Voice automation. There's nothing I want to automate vocally. Plus, even commercial voice automation systems aren't that good. I certainly don't want to use Google's service for my always on, personal, home usage.
  • A virtual pet? No monitor and keyboard, just some sort of critter 'lives' on my Pi, and I talk to it with a USB microphone and stuff? That sounds like a fun idea, but it would probably get stale really quickly. Besides, I know of no software that would do that. I could see a market in the future where small devices run pet AIs that people can interact with. Maybe I could make that happen and be a gazillionare. Maybe you could make that happen and just send me a nice check for giving you the idea. Seriously though. That sounds like a cool concept, but I know even less of programing, electronics, and AI theory, than I of quantum horse breeding.
  • Wardriv... Um, Warsitting? Log things like wifi spots, encryption schemes used, signal strength and clarity, etc.. I could even sniff signals to figure out people's encryption keys. Why would I want to do any of that though?
  • Give CPU cycles to some project like protein folding research? The Pi wouldn't be very valuable for that, I don't think. Also, my slow Internet connection.
  • Learn electrical engineering and play with the GPIO? Make something with LEDs? That's something I would enjoy doing, but I don't have the money or time to mess with that right now. Call this "Plan H".
  • Have a sensitive information (bank, email, online shopping) machine that I don't need to worry about? Another very good idea. Boring, but good. I'd rather find something fun to work on first though.
  • A guest computer? That wouldn't be very fun for me. I'd set it up once, then store it away until someone comes over to play on the Internet? That's boring.
  • A seeding torrent box for Linux ISOs? Good, geeky, and kind of fun. The problem is that I have 30 KB (max) upload, and AT&T as my ISP.
  • Anything? A porn machine? While tempting, and probably a good idea for separating work and play... I'm fine, thanks. Besides: "Hey, neat little box. Is that a computer? What does it do?" Yeah...
So, as you can see, I'm having trouble coming up with a fun project to do. I'm not just getting a Pi without any idea and begging for an instruction book. I had a goal and even got it set up. I just kind of forgot to check how much storage I needed.
So, if anyone has any ideas of things to do with a single Raspberry Pi, please share. I'm at a loss. I'm just been goofing around and trying out different operating systems on it. I'd hate for this thing to go to waste.

UPDATE:

Well, I finally just bit the bullet and got an external HDD for my Pi. I figured that I needed to get one anyway, since I'm running out of room on my main machine. So I might as well put my hundreds of gigs of audio on the Pi's drive once it arrives. Then I'll be able to go with my original idea of a podcast/music/video/torrent downloader. (Again, all legal stuff.)
For those interested, I ordered a Western Digital 1 TB NAS drive and a StarTech.com drive enclosure with a built-in fan.
I already have one of those enclosures, and it works great. The fan helps keep the drive cool, and it comes with its own power adapter. Hopefully, that paired with a NAS drive designed for 24/7 operation should offer some reliable performance and a long drive life.
If anyone's interested, the enclosure I already have houses my Linux drive for my main computer. Linux being my main OS means that this drive is on for hours and hours at a time, and being written to and read from constantly. Besides a slight speed reduction due to my having USB 2 ports, I haven't had any problems running my main OS off an external HDD. That's why I ordered another one for my Pi. I just hope that the HDD I bought will work as well as the case does.
submitted by dementedsnake to raspberry_pi [link] [comments]

[Table] IAmA: Charles Stross, science fiction writer

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2012-07-02
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Link to my post
Questions Answers
Are you planning a kickstarter game like Neal Stephenson? If you did what would it be about? Reverse order: no, I'm not planning a kickstarter game. And I'm not really a game designer. (Writing novels takes up about 100% of my available working time.)
Fellow early adopter here. TI gave me a TIPC with a 1200 baud modem and sent me home. I tripped over the usenet and compuserve by accident. What happened to keep you off for 6 months?! Left university and got a job with a company who had no internet connection, back in the days when a 2400 baud UUCP dial-up cost £900 a year (or about a months' gross salary). Remedied this by changing jobs :)
Hallo Charles. I'm in the UK. I just wrote a book and (it looks like) a good publishing house are going to pick it up. It is sort of sci-fi. For starters, there's a long-standing (50 year old) flame war within the field over whether it's "sci-fi" or "SF".
My question: all agents I've spoken to think that while selling a book to publishers it's best to avoid using the term "sci-fi" if possible. Ideally they want to sneak sci-fi stuff in, "under the radar", so it can get the sort of backing that only a big publisher can provide. Secondly, all these labels boil down to is a bunch of marketing categories that tell bookshop staff where to file the product (which they don't know from a hole in the road) on the shelves where customers can find it. SF has traditionally been looked down on by the literary establishment because, to be honest, much early SF was execrably badly written -- but these days the significance of the pigeon hole is fading; we have serious mainstream authors writing stuff that is I-can't-believe-it's-not-SF, and SF authors breaking into the mainstream. If you view them as tags that point to shelves in bricks-and-mortar bookshops, how long are these genre categories going to survive in the age of the internet?
How do you feel about this? Cheers. Note: this skepticism breaks down in the face of, for example, the German publishing sector, where booksellers are a lot stuffier and more hidebound over what is or is not acceptable as literature.
Could you give an example or two of large British publishers that you think are doing a good job in this respect? Ignoring genre barriers, taking risks etc? AhahahaHA!!
Sorry, no I can't. But not for the reason you think. Thing is, my agent is based in New York. And due to a historic accident, my publishing track is primarily American -- I'm sold into the UK almost as a foreign import! So I'm quite out of touch with what's going on in UK publishing. (Even my Kindle is geared to the US store.)
Did you end up with an American agent because all the British agents passed on you? Or did you actually want to do things that way? A bit of both. I wanted an agent who would actually sell stuff. After two British agents failed comprehensively, I was reading Locus (the SF field's trade journal) and noticed a press release about an experienced editor leaving her job to join an agent in setting up a new agency. And I went "aha!" -- because what you need is an agent who knows the industry but who doesn't have a huge list of famous clients whose needs will inevitably be put ahead of you. So I emailed her, and ... well, 11 years later I am the client listed at the top of her masthead!
One last question (if you can be arsed). When you look at the publishing process (particularly the point at which agents have to sell books) what do you think needs to be fixed/tinkered with? Are editors too short-sighted? In your experience is their predilection for putting things in boxes limiting? Biggest message: find your customers and sell them what they want to buy. DRM is bad for business. Territorial rights restrictions are bad for business. Amazon are utterly hateful and evil -- they will kill you and establish a monopoly if they can -- but their one redeeming feature is that they're good to customers: so learn from them.
Basically if you could sit all the big editors down and briefly lecture them on doing their job what would you say? Thanks Charles. It's not the editors I'd lecture, but the senior executives who give the publishing CEOs their marching orders (editors are a level below that). All the editors I deal with are extremely smart, clueful folks who are often frustrated by corporate policies -- because the publishing houses are divisions within large media conglomerates, and they're small, low-profit subsidiaries at that (and so don't get much say in group-wide policy).
Have you considered selling books via Baen? They seem to have the right idea, and you're in the right genre. Link to www.baen.com. Not up to me, up to my publishers.
For someone who is unfamiliar with your work, what book would you suggest as a good starting point (if it's available for Kindle, I will get it as soon as I see your answer)? Any plans to follow in L. Ron's footsteps and start a religion? I'm an atheist (subtype: generally agree with Richard Dawkins but think he could be slightly more polite; special twist: I was raised in British reform Judaism, which is not like American reform Judaism, much less any other strain of organised religion). So: no cults here. Starting points: for a sampler, you could try my short story collection "Wireless". Which contains one novella that scooped a Locus award, and one that won a Hugo, and covers a range of different styles.
Thank you so much for releasing Accelerando as a freebie! I'd just picked up Stanza on my iPhone and was going through the free Sci Fi (or SF) books. That ebook got me hooked, so was a pretty savvy marketing move. Book depository is nothing new; there've been outlets selling books internationally via mail order for many decades -- the only change is that it's now easier to find and use such services.
So, is there an official term for "Polite Atheist"? Someone who doesn't believe, yet isn't offensive about it? I'm not sure. The trouble is, if you go too far towards being polite, the label that applies is "doormat".
Hi! Would you consider Halting State and Rule 34 Cyberpunk? I was heavily reminded of Neal Stephensons early books (the craziness of Snow Crash mixed with more current-day themes like Cryptonomicon). "Halting State" and "Rule 34" are cyberpunk only insofar as we are living in a 1980s cyberpunk dystopia, and these are very much novels of our time (plus 10-20 years). What I've learned during my life is that the near future is 90% identical to the present -- if you buy a new car today, it'll probably still be on the road in 2022. Another 9% is predictable from existing tech roadmaps: Intel's projected roadmap for where their processors are going, SpaceX's order book for satellite launches, and so on. And 1% is totally bugfuck crazy and impossible to predict. (Go back to 1982 and the idea that the USSR would have collapsed and been replaced by hyper-capitalist oligarchs would have earned you a straitjacket, never mind a book contract. Go back to 1992 and the idea that the USA and Iran would be fighting a proxy war on the internet would have ... well, ditto.)
While I love the Laundry books I consider A Colder War one of your best works, is there a chance that we will get another 'serious' story with Lovecraftian themes? Lovecraftian seriousness: well, book 5 or 6 of the Laundry series is due to get epically grim.
Case Nightmare Green? Yup.
It's always interesting to learn how different authors approach their craft. What's your "ritual" when writing? TL;DR: I don't have one.
Longer version ... (I want to apologize for keeping this short: I have carpal tunnel issues so I might have to switch to speech recognition soon) ...
I write exclusively using computers. Pens and typewriters can fsck right off -- I wrote my first half million words in my teens on a manual typewriter (had to trade it for a new one due to keys snapping from metal fatigue) so I am not a pen or typewriter fetishist.
I write almost entlirely on Macs, because: Windows gives me hives. (I first ran into Windows as of Win 2.11/386, back in the eighties. It did not leave a good taste. I then became a happy UNIX bunny. Mac OSX is the last UNIX workstation class OS standing. So I've learned to put up with its other foibles.)
I have no set writing routine other than: plant bum in chair in front of keyboard/on sofa under laptop, and start going. Oh, and I drink tea pretty much continuously at a rate of around 1 imperial pint/hour, which sort of enforces screen/keyboard breaks.
(I want to apologize for keeping this short: I have carpal tunnel issues so I might have to switch to speech recognition soon) I write exclusively using computers. Does this mean you use speech recognition while writing too? or have you been writing before the AMA and you're at your fatigue point? Speech recognition is utterly crap for writing fiction. If you try reading a novel aloud you'll soon figure out why -- written prose style is utterly unlike the spoken word.
Why Mac rather than Linux? (Esp. considering your background, e.g. Computer Shopper etc.) Excellent design values. ("Why drive a Porsche if you could drive a backhoe? The backhoe's got more torque and you can do cool things with it like digging holes in the road!" "Yes, but the backhoe isn't a Porsche ...")
It gets out of my way and lets me get stuff done. Seriously, Windows seems designed to make easy tasks hard and hard tasks impossible; Linux would be fine if it came pre-tuned to the hardware, but I've got a long term 30% failure rate getting any given laptop to run it properly with full device support -- I can do without the choice between badly designed, bulky, inconvenient machines that work with Linux, and taking pot luck that the latest well-designed sleek ultrabook will actually, um, boot.
TL:DR; I've reached an age at which I'd rather pay more for something that "just works" than roll up my sleeves, reach for a spanner, and make it work. Time is money, and the older we get the less of it we've got left ...
It's said that people have to write a million words of crap before they can rite good stuff. True, in your opinion? No. I wrote two million words of crap. Maybe I'm just a slow learner ...
Do you just put up with the carpal tunnel when writing? Up to a point. I don't want to permanently damage myself! On the other hand, a couple of days off the keyboard tends to make things somewhat better.
What are your views about people pirating your books? Back before the internet we had a name for people who bought a single copy of our books and lent them to all their friends without charging: we called them "librarians". Frankly, I couldn't care less about you loaning a copy of one of my books, on paper, to a friend. In fact, I think it's a good idea. Spreads the word, right? What I do have a problem with is people who sell my work for financial gain without paying me a cut of the proceeds. If money is passing hands, then the customer feels that they've paid for the right to read the work. But if they haven't paid me (or my publishers), then that's siphoning money out of my income stream. Today, we see some "file sharing" sites that rely on fans uploading cracked copies of ebooks, and which then make money off those books by charging for downloads (via cash subscriptions or advertising). Again: I take a dim view of this. They're making money off the back of my work without paying me.
2: Mr. Stross answered this question in far more detail while I was typing the above edit. Thank you! [Edit/afterthought] More often than not, piracy is a symptom of an under-provisioned market. People want to buy mp3s but can't? Piracy ensues. Then Apple strong-arms the music studios into the iTunes store and music piracy drops somewhat. The same, I believe, is also happening with ebooks.
Do you make a point of turning unpromising-sounding premises into something really extra-ordinary? Or are the back-of-book blurbs just over-simplifying? The back-of-book blurb is not written by the author (any more than the author paints the cover illustration). The sole job of the back-of-book blurb and the cover is to make a reader who is unfamiliar with the author or the book pick the product up in a store, because retail psychology studies show that consumers who handle the merchandise are more likely to buy it.
Hi Charlie! I've read much of what you've written, and I just have to say that you have a creativity rarely matched in SF - please keep it up. That said, what gadget do you think is going to have the greatest impact on the way we live in the next few coming years? Something like the Google glasses? Ultra-low power consumption ubiquitous embedded processors powered by ambient light or EM radiation are going to do insane things to our cities in the next 15-30 years -- far more significant than google glasses, which are just a slightly different UI (you can do much the same stuff already using a smartphone with motion/orientation/positioning sensors) ...
The radical transparency surveillance state that Brin predicted, open to all? Or data inequality leveraged by the HFT engines of the rich corporations to give them the edge to make a buck of it? Now add ambient genome sensing -- not human genomes, but the microbiome soup we live in (remember, sequencer costs are currently obeying Moore's Law) and start wondering where it's all going!
Been a fan for a long time. Got hooked via Accelerando (which I understand is something of an old shame at this point?), and stayed hooked via Halting State and the Laundry Files. Thanks for the AMA. :D. It's not an old shame, it's simply that I wrote it circa 1998-2004, and my views have changed somewhat over the intervening decade ...
Can you please expand on that? In what way did your views change? Accelerando is one of my all time favourites. Sure. See: Link to www.antipope.org
Link to www.amazon.com
Progress always get met with "but consider the ethics..". OK, let me ask you this: if you have a no-shit AI in a box, and it's running, when you switch it off/reboot it/reformat it/send it to the scrap heap, are you murdering a sentient being? Yes/No? Please justify your reasoning.
Now consider: your no-shit AI is the adversary in a computer game environment. What happens when you kill it (in-game)? What happens when you get tired of the game and delete it?
Hint: some fun background reading would be Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects".
Have you ever used unused (or used) ideas from your D&D days in your stories, or vice versa? No. My D&D days are 30 years gone; it'd be a rare idea to survive from that long ago.
If you could meet any dead science fiction author for a day, who would you meet and what would you do? Roger Zelazny. And probably a pub crawl then a curry.
How hard was it for you to break into the US market? If I'd known how easy it would be, I'd have done it earlier!
If you could choose between The Merchant Princes becoming a video game, a movie series, a TV series, and a limited HBO TV series, what format would you choose? Who would you pick for a director and some of the leads? Would you want to do the screenplay yourself? None of those are media formats I consume, so I have no opinion on the options. (Nor do I have any idea who the currently interesting directors or actors are.) If I wanted to be in movies, I'd have gone into scriptwriting: the fact that I write novels should be a big hint about what I prefer to do!
(Final Q: I dislike Dr Who and Star Trek, so I shan't comment further.)
"I dislike Dr. Who and Star Trek..." This is like finding out your dad really can't beat up everyone else's dad. They've achieved cult following through character development, but as SF they both have gigantic structural flaws at the plot and tech level; great gaping internal inconsistencies! (Although I'm kind of fond of the meta-theory that explains Star Trek as being propaganda intended for external consumption by the Federation, which is actually the Soviet Union in Space in the 24th century.)
Next you will tell me Nutella doesn't really taste good. Damn you Charles Stross! Damn you to hell! I will still read your books, but I will do so with a smug expression of annoyance ;) Nutella is okay, but Marmite rocks as a sandwich topping!
You must try Vegemite. I like vegemite too.
(Alas - this may be TMI - I have a mild yeast intolerance; if I consume too much wheat beer or marmite or vegemite and my next morning will be exceedingly interesting, in a most unpleasant way.)
I saw that you started writing at the age of 15, novels at that. I'm a younger person myself, and for me and the rest of novel-aspiring-youth, what do you have to tell? Tips, motivation, etc.? Write. Every day, if possible.
Finish stuff.
Send it out, and when it comes back, send it out again.
Step 3 may be a bit premature if you're thinking about professional publication, but at the very least: workshop with other writers, learn to critique their work, learn to understand and listen to their criticism of your work, then apply the skills you learned dissecting other folks' writing to your own stuff.
Do you ever read something someone else has written and think "damn, now I cant do that". Who do you read? (if you have time) Yes, I sometimes get the "Damn, too late, [X] got there first" idea. But seriously? I have time to write 1-2 novels per year, and get roughly novel-sized ideas every month. I have to perform triage on my own writing impulses. So it's usually quite easy to shrug and write something else instead.
What I read: while I'm writing, I tend to go off reading fiction for relaxation -- especially the challenging stuff. It's too much like the day job. When I do get to chow down on a book, I try to read ones that are nothing like what I'm writing. So, as I'm currently working on a space opera (of sorts) I'm mostly indulging in urban fantasy.
Wow, I didn't realise the ideas flew in so fast. Is it morbid to ask if you worry about getting it all written before you die? (Im thinking of Terry Pratchett here...) Yes, I worry about that. I'm 47. I reckon I can count on 30 more writing years, averaging a book a year (I can't keep up the 2-2.5 a year I used to do these days). And these days I've gotten round to wondering, for each new idea, "do I want to be remembered for this?" before I get to the point of spending a year on it.
Asimov or Clarke? Neither, although I'm marginally less averse to Clarke's style.
Out of curiosity, what about Heinlein? (As a writer, at least - let's leave politics aside for the moment.) I have written a Heinlein tribute novel.
In general, who in sci-fi/SF inspired you, and/or inspires you now? (Unfortunately, while most authors who do that -- Scalzi, Varley, Robinson, et al -- pick Heinlein juveniles, I went for a dirty old man Heinlein tribute novel. Hence "Saturn's Children" and a novel that hinges on the word spung!).
Have you ever been afraid to actually publish a book for fear of what your fans may think? And how do you deal with writers block, or just actually getting the damn thing started? And lastly, do you read books that aren't in your current genre? And if so, what's your favorite? Publishing is the final step in making a book; if I was afraid to publish one, I wouldn't write it in the first place. (But in general, a little controversy isn't harmful: if anything, it gets people interested. I don't think most of my opinions, political or social, are so far outside of the mainstream that they'd cause massive outrage on a scale liable to provoke death threats or referrals to prosecutors for outraging public decency, so why worry?)
Writers block: when I get it, it's because my subconscious spotted that I'd make a huge structural mistake in constructing a novel before my conscious mind became aware of it, and threw on the brakes. So I've learned not to sweat it: take two days off, then back up a chapter, read through, and try to work out why I'm suddenly uneasy about continuing.
While writing a novel I almost completely stop reading books in the same sub-genre for the duration.
Hi there, funnily enough i just finished the Atrocity Archives, which i bought because i bought the Laundry RPG a while back. Awesome book. Loved it. Can't wait to run the game. So do you play Call of Cthulhu or the Laundry at all? Or are you just into the writing side? Strictly writing side. I was heavily into AD&D in my teens (late 1970s-early 1980s) but fell off the RPG habit in the mid-80s and have never gone back to it; my lifestyle today isn't very compatible with having a regular gaming group (too much travel).
Which do you enjoy writing more; the Laundry series or harder scifi like Glasshouse and Accelerando? That's a very hard question.
If I write too much of anything for too long, I burn out on it. So it helps to vary my output from year to year. That's partly why the Laundry books are coming out at 2-5 year intervals rather than every 12 months.
As someone who grew up reading Ian Fleming and HP Lovecraft, I think they're well worth the wait! (Just pre-ordered the latest iteration) Also, do you find it difficult to write your more abstract stories like Accelerando? I tried to explain it to a friend once, but failed miserably. Accelerando was murder. It took me more than five years, in the shape of nine stories. One of which (#5) was so difficult that by way of finding an excuse to dodge having to work on it I accidentally barfed up the first two volumes of the Merchant Princes series.
I am a huge fan of yours. Three of my favorite short stories are Missile Gap, A Colder War, and Unwirer. Well, I guess I just really love the whole "Wireless" collection. What inspired you to cross Lovecraft with The Cold War? Fear of nuclear annihilation. I'm a child of the cold war: I didn't live more than 10 miles from a major WarPac nuclear target until the Berlin Wall came down and the CW ended. Knowing you can die horribly at any moment because of decisions made by alien intelligences thousands of miles away who don't even know you exist -- there's something Lovecraftian about that, isn't there?
At what age did you start writing novels? I began my first novel when I was 15. It went through three drafts, of around 40,000 words each. If I find it, I'll burn it. (If you read it, you'd thank me :)
Hahahha I'm 15 now. Every time when i have to do an assignment for school, i don't really know how to start, could you give me some advice, please? Nope. Because I'm nearly a third of a century older than you, and any advice I could give you about school assignments would be slightly out of date ...!
The modern solution is to just wikiwalk until inspired. Or tropeswalk! Actually, no, don't do that. You'll get sucked into TVTropes and suddenly notice that the sun's peeking through your window, you're knee-deep in villain archetypes, and the assignment's due in three hours. Your warning comes too late. Actually, I was semi-immunized to TVTropes by being sent a copy of the Turkey City Lexicon by Bruce Sterling at an impressionable age: Link to www.sfwa.org
What do you think of TV Tropes, in general? Like all good things, it's possible to overdose on it.
But for someone who is starting out on developing their critical skills, just being aware of its existence is great: it can make the difference between trying to write a story around a cliche or an original idea, and better still, studying it can eventually clue you in on how to breathe new life into tired tropes.
One of the things that I liked about Halting State and Rule 34 was that they are set in a plausible near future where technology has made individuals much more productive than people from 50+ years ago. Given that with technological assistance one worker can now supervise many machines working to produce goods do you think that there will be a resurgence of a leisure class in the first world? Do you think that we are getting to the point where instead of overpaying people to do manual factory work there is room for another model that still resembles modern life? I have no answer to this question. Keynes asked it more than fifty years ago; something has clearly gone wrong, given that the folks with jobs seem to work endless hours while many people can't get a job at all.
Nice to see a bit of social marketing, it will be interesting to hear how it compares to the publishers' marketdroid efforts in terms of sales (if you can tease out the stats). Now the important question, favourite beer? My regular session beer is Deuchars IPA (Link to www.caledonianbeer.com) It's not an American-style bitterness wars IPA; it's a light, Scottish ale with just enough hops to tell you what it is, and it's weak enough that you can keep drinking it continuously for hours without any risk of waking up in a puddle with KICK ME tattooed on your bum.
Any other writing aids? Link to www.antipope.org
What's your policy/opinion on adverbs? I ask because guys like Stephen King encourage writers to murder every adverb before it ever hits the page, whereas guys like William Gibson (my favorite author) use them liberally. I have no policy, for or against: only a personal style. (Which is to say, I use them when I think it's appropriate to; for example, an internal monologue by a locquacious and verbose narrator is more likely to be larded with adverbs than an exchange of instant messages between cops at a crime scene.)
I'm a new but big fan. The first book of yours that I read only a few months ago was Accelerando and it absolutely blew my mind! Not only that but it made me very excited for the near future, I see Google Glasses as being a very exciting tech that leads into your vision. Bitcoin: probably not, but it's intriguing enough to be at the root of an entire interstellar finance system in "Neptune's Brood" (due next July, 2013).
PS I'm really looking forward to seeing you when you come to Perth West Aus next year. Maybe I can buy you a beer! Perth, beer? Sure!
Bitcoins as... urrrrgh. Okay. I'll have to read that, then. Hope you got the failure conditions right! I hybridised it with Chaum's digicash. With the added twist that participants in exchanges had to be in different solar systems. It's called "slow money" for a reason ...
How do you make sure you aren't "inadvertently plagiarizing?" I think up ideas a lot but am sure they have already been done somewhere or that I am ripping something off I have read and cannot recall specifically. Original creativity seems difficult. First: plagiarism requires you to copy someone else's words. You can avoid this by, er, not copying! Writing your own story around the same ideas is not plagiarism; at worst, it's being unoriginal.
thanks for the books...I love science fiction and appreciate the work that goes into putting out novels to entertain us. Having said that, you're right: coming up with truly new ideas is hard. But I've got a method: I look for a couple of obvious ideas that have been done before (try: folks who can travel at will to parallel universes; in their home world they're the aristocracy, because: magic powers) and then look for the second-order side effects: stuff that other authors didn't dig into (for example: wrt. the previous idea, what are the consequences of these folks' ability for the ongoing economic and political development of their world? Can it have negative consequences? If so, what are they?)
How long did it take you to become comfortable writing in the second person? I finished reading Rule 34 and it was the first novel* i had read in this style. It took me about a hundred pages of "Halting State" to get the hang of it, and another hundred pages to feel comfortable. I also needed a reason to start doing it (2nd person is the natural voice of the text adventure game -- "you are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike").
A trilogy? Does this mean that a third book is on contract, or that you just have it kicking around in your head? EDIT: Nevermind, you answered this already. Looking forward to it! "The Lambda Functionary" is on contract for delivery on July 1st, 2013 and publication around July 3rd, 2014. And I haven't even begun writing it yet. Ulp.
Connected intelligence (as in, human intelligence augmented by online sources) seems to be on the perpetual 'five years out' list - do you think projects like Google Glass will finally make this a reality? What sort of timescale would you envisage for mass-adoption? (crosses fingures for a 'yes') Hmm ... what's wrong with a smartphone with always-on 3G or 4G data and google/wikipedia? Doesn't that qualify?
How much pre-planning would you say that you do before starting on a new book? Or do you subscribe more to the "Let's just start writing and see where it takes us" camp? Both :)
No two books come out the same way. Some I write by the seat of my pants; others are planned in minute detail.
The one thing that does happen, every time, though, is that I never get to write a book until I've already been thinking about it for a period of months to years. Unless it's "Glasshouse" (time from initial idea to starting writing: 9 days).
Rule 34 was one of my favorite reads last year, but I found the title to be a bit of a red herring since (without spoilers) neither memes nor porn ended being a big part of the story's resolution (other than the department Kavanaugh is in when she started). Was that intentional? What is ATHENA if not a meme with legs? (The relative lack of porn I'll grant you ...) Link to www.antipope.org
Hi Charles, I'm Chinese and I live in Asia and most of the sci fi actually comes from the west. Is this due to cultural reasons, literacy or how technology/future seems to resonate more if written from a western perspective? Also, how can one become a successful sci fi/fantasy writer outside of Europe/America? I have no idea, frankly ...
Last updated: 2012-07-09 03:39 UTC
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[Table] IAmA: Hey, Alex Winter of Bill & Ted here. Directing a new movie called "Deep Web: The Untold Story of Bitcoin and Silk Road." Ask me anything!

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Date: 2013-11-25
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As someone who creates content, do you think there's a solution for middle class content creators? It seems that they're the most hurt by piracy, yet free-culture proponents almost exclusively focus on large corporations. Kickstarter, Indie Go-Go, and their brethren aren't picking up that slack- tales of success seem to be the outliers, and many of the poster-children (Radiohead, Amanda Palmer, etc.) rely on past success and marketing dollars. So, will this pick up, and will there be a middle class of creators? Or are we now living in a world of (sometimes skilled, but still) amateurs? This is a smart question and demands a much longer answer than i can give here. but the short of it in my opinion is that it's a misunderstanding to assume it's harder for 'middle class artists' in this climate. it's always been very very hard. there have always been obstacles and gatekeepers. the digital landscape has opened many many doors and closed some doors. it's in many ways easier, but you still need that magic combo of talent, tenacity and luck.
Man I'm sorry but I've gotta ask...what happened to you man? Why did Keanu make it out and why did you disappear into obscurity? Haha. not an offensive question at all. I quit acting professionally in 94, after Freaked to focus on writing and directing. I'd been acting professionally since I was 10 years old and I wanted out of the public eye. It's really only been in the last couple of years that i've intentionally been slipping back in front of the camera. But I think it's important for child actors to spend time away from constant exposure. I tell a lot of kids this in that field.
Be honest…has Keanu admitted his immortality to you? I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you. And then he would drink your blood and live for another millenia...
Did you buy any Bitcoins before they blew up in value recently? Haha, I did not. The Winklevoss twins got them all :)
Since George Carlin has died, will there be some new character coming in to replace Rufus in helping the Wyld Stallyns? We've spent a lot of time and thought on making this work. all i can say right now :)
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that B&T 3 will be financed and actually get made? I'd say 10 but it's Hollywood... so 9.9?
Did you ever use the SR before it went down? I honestly did not. I am a dull family man and most of what i need to purchase online can be found in the toddler section of Amazon :)
Your stepmom is cute. Remember when she was a senior and you were a freshman? Do You get BnT references constantly and do they annoy you? No, thankfully I like the movies a lot. I have some friends who acted in movies that they can't shake that they hated. that is an existential nightmare from which one can never awaken!
Thanks for doing this AMA, and for being part of one of my all-time favorite films. You've been quoted as saying "[Bill and Ted] was a happy accident. No one thought it would ever see the light of day." Could you expand on that? Both BnT movies were made independently. The first one was really low budget and kind of under the radar when we made it. then it sat on a shelf for a year after being made, when the producing company went belly up. So we kind of gave up on it. Then it was bought up and released and was a big hit :)
What was it like working with Mr. T? Is his public persona accurate as to who he really is? It is! Exactly! He's a really great person, into community outreach and helping people. A wonderful guy.
When will we have a new Bill and Ted to watch any plot details You can share? What got You so interested in Bitcoin? Also, Thank You for being so Excellent! Party On! I first got interested in Bitcoin in '09, when it magically appeared out of the ether. Much like Napster appeared out of nowhere 10 years prior. I recognized that Bitcoin felt like the next big thing to come out of peer-to-peer.
What can I do to get into the Bitcoin World. I don't know much about it. Start at blockchain.info. that will lead the way.
Do you think the Tor network is forever tainted due to the Silk Road takedown, or does it still remain a viable method of obtaining true anonymity on the Internet? Absolutely not. SR accounts for a tiny fraction of TOR use and is not going to impact Bitcoin much either in the long run. As Wozniak so perfectly put it, you don't shut down the whole highway when one car is speeding.
What was the funnest thing about making The Lost Boys? Having dirt kicked into my eyes by the two Coreys in my death scene. Actually it wasn't funny at the time; i had full eye contacts in and my cornea got scratched. had to go the hospital. Loved those guys tho...
Any cool memorabilia you kept from Bill and Ted? I had my evil robot head from BnT 2, but it eventually rotted. I used it as a doorstep. My kids loved it :)
What motivated you to be one of the first films to educate those about the online blackmarket? why exactly do you need the funding from the kickstarter? Because, like the Napster story, there is a lot of noise but not a lot of context. I think we need some context and our film will be one form of providing that. We are using Kickstarter for some of the funding in order to begin to build our community for the film. We want people's input, the changes occurring through the Web are part of a global movement.
Are you actually going to provide any information we don't already know from all that's been written about this? Is this just a movie version of a bunch of news articles? Our doc is an expansive examination of a movement that began decades ago and is now hitting a peak of global impact. we are interviewing the core players in this story. It's not the kind of thing news articles do in any capacity. join our kickstarter, be part of the process and of the movie's community :)
How did you do research for the script? How did you get a script just a few weeks after SR was busted? It's a documentary :)
Alex, as someone who studied Napster so much for Downloaded, what would Bill & Ted have thought of it: Most Excellent or Non-Triumphant? They would have said 'huh???'
Is a melvin a synonym for wedgie, or a completely different maneuver executed from the front? You answered your own question :))
Is there any fond memory that stands out from making The Lost Boys? Honestly the most fun i ever had 'working'. Joel Schumacher knows how to create an amazing environment to work in. It's one of my fondest memories of my crazy youth! :)
On the kickstarter page, under the "Silk Road" header, the phrase "trading mostly in drugs and weapons" is used. Don't you feel that claiming that weapon sales were a large part of the silk road's operations is misleading? especially since weapon sales were specifically banned from the site shortly after its creation? Certainly the part about mostly trading in drugs is spot on, but also weapons? Come on, that's just untrue. Sorry if that seems misleading. As the Armory only lasted a year. But SR was built for that purpose wherever it ultimately landed.
I don't know if you remember me, but I went to school with your son in LA, me and my brother stayed at your house a few times. Kinda funny how I never got to thank you for being so excellent in Bill and Ted back then, so I figured I'd do it now! Hey Dante! Hope you guys are well!
I suppose I should ask a question, so what drew you to the idea of the deep web? What made you want to make this movie? The Deep Web lies at the heart of the digital revolution, that has impacted every corner of our lives. There are huge changes that have occurred in the last decade, and many more around the corner. Examining the Deep Web in detail allows us to closely examine this revolution and its implications.
Do you think that the high prices that bitcoins are experiencing right now is actually a bad sign, since it indicates instability? Where do you think the value of Bitcoins will ultimately fall once the bubble bursts? No one knows where it will settle. It's not unlike gold in this regard. But once it's been around a bit longer and more people are taking it, the value will increase within that framework but not in such a wild manner. this form of currency is here to stay, of that there is no question.
How did people find silk road online? That always boggled my mind, because I assume it wasn't as easy as googling it haha Did you have to like, "know" someone in the business to gain membership? It's not hard to find these sites, it's just dangerous. don't go hunting for scorpions unless you are prepared to get stung.
So Deep Web... Do you have a script already? Are you dealing with the actual events, or fictionalizing them? If the former, are you worried about having to pay folks for rights? If you have a script, how does it toe the line between being too simplified to please the target demo/actually tell the story and too esoteric for the mass market? It's a feature documentary. please join our kickstarter :)
I don't think the story is too esoteric at all, just as the details of the Napster story weren't. These are universal stories about global communities.
How much about the deep web did you investigate? I have done some looking into it recently and there is some pretty disgusting stuff out there. To be honest I kind of wish I never heard about it. Silk road is only the tip of the iceberg and to me doesnt seem like that big of a deal compared to some of the other stuff out there like the hitmen websites and human dolls for sale etc. What is your take on the rest of it outside of silk road? There is a lot of dark and horrible stuff in the Dark Web. The Deep Web is a much broader world, and in my view needs to be understood as separate from the much smaller Dark Web, and in need of protection.
When did you get into directing? I realize I could easily find this out on IMDB but it's just cooler to ask the source! Hah, thanks for asking! I actually went to NYU film school to study directing before I acted in all the movies. It's always been one of my passions. I started directing professionally in about 86. Shooting music videos and commercials and then our show on MTV, The Idiot Box.
So I'm guessing MTV/Viacom or somesuch own the DVD rights to The Idiot Box? There was a fair amount of comedy from that era of MTV that I'd love to be able to watch again… MTV owns it... why no DVD... yet...
What was it like working with a big star like Larry "bud" Melman? He was awesome of course. RIP.
Wait, does Satoshi = Stations??? Ahhh you cracked the code!!!
Excellent job on Downloaded! I enjoyed remembering a time in the not so distant past when 'regular people' could not envision a world in which their music lived on a computer. Today, regular people cannot envision a world in which their money lives on a computer. I was also surprised to learn about your early connection with the world of MP3s. Could you elaborate on what you think we can learn about Bitcoin based on your experiences with Napster and the MP3 scene in the late 90's? The world is responding to Bitcoin and a new awareness of the Deep Web much like they responded to Napster, with fear and demonizing. Our film aims to put these things in some context.
What made you want to do this documentary? I've been following the story myself and it's certainly one worth following but how did you yourself first get interested in the topic? I have been interested in global web-based communities and emerging technologies since the mid 80's. There is a revolution occurring in global culture at the moment, that will change everything. and it's only just beginning. what's not interesting about that?? :)
I don't have a question but Excellent Adventure made me who I am today. Thank you. Fuck it, uh. Do you agree that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is hands down the best cereal? My kids do. it's evil.
off, I want to thank you for posting my Rasta Eyeball with a machine gun tattoo on your blog. It made getting it completely worth it. I just want to know which of the characters from Freaked is your favourite? Stuey Gluck!!
And your tat is amazing!
Hello there, thanks for doing this! I just wanted to ask if by making a movie that sheds light on the dark web/bitcoins etc. It will shed more light on an area of the web that generally dislikes the attention. In other words could it create a misaprehension of the mission and possible positive effects the darkweb community tries to provide? I think the current media spin has that effect; in that it tends to paint the entire deep web and bitcoins and cryptography with a negative brush. this is both inaccurate and destructive. Our movie does not paint dark things in a positive light, it gives context to the entire arena.
Will the Silk Road be back? Also, can you say hi to my smokin hot babe Sherry? It is back.
Hey Alex, A quick glance at your wikipedia page has made me realise you directed Knock Me Down by RHCP! Did you have much contact with the band? How was it working with them? Thanks for the AMA; Looking forward to B&T3! I love the chili's and have known them for decades. they are still great, but in the mid 80's when I had the fortune of doing some work with them, it is hard to quantify how amazing they were. the best live act on the road, by far!!
So when are you planning to bless the world with Bill & Ted 3? Soon as we get it up and running!
If you could star in any movie from any time, what movie would it be and what role would you have and why? Buster Keaton in anything probably. No one in the movies ever had a better time.
So what is the "untold" story of Bitcoin/Silk road? Isn't most of it public knowledge by now? Or we'll we have to wait and see the movie? You don't have to wait if you join our Kickstarter and become part of the making of the movie! It is hardly public knowledge as no one has framed this story up yet in one film, and the story itself is unfolding every day. :)
What was the most surprising thing you found out about the Silk Road? That's in the movie :)
Hey Alex, What will Deep Web be like? Sort of a CNN special or does it have a bigger ambition, i.e. are you making it on a scale for wide distribution in movie theaters? If the latter, what documentaries would you compare it to in terms of style and storytelling? Our doc has a broader ambition than reportage. We are making a film about a technological revolution that has been brewing for decades.
Hm, don't know you but this does sound interesting. When can we expect this movie to come out? Anything interesting about these topics you learned? Every day I learn something new and fascinating. We hope to finish within the next year. Join our kickstarter and be part of our community :)
What ''good'' is there in the deep web? I only hear stories about horrific things like drugs, black market stuff, assassins, etc. Also, were you fortunate enough to had invested in bitcoin in it's early stages? The Deep Web is being demonized somewhat in the press, which is a misunderstanding of what it is. DW represents all content on the web that is not indexed. this doesn't mean people are doing bad things. it means they are unseen. the Dark Web is a term that has come to characterize people who use the web for illicit means. the dark web represents a fraction of the Deep Web.
On your Kickstarter campaign, you say, "Bitcoin has the potential to create a level of global disruption that will make Napster look like child's play." Can you expand on that? BitCoin is a peer to peer crypto-currency. Like any peer to peer technology it is decentralized and operated by a wide user base spread across the net. As such it is here to stay, and being an unregulated currency that exists outside the control of banks and governments, it is poised to have a massive impact on the world. That's what I mean :)
Why are you focusing on the darker side of the deep web instead of the good side? Its virtues clearly outweigh the illegal stuff. As someone who appreciates the privacy benefits of Bitcoin, TOR and the Deep Web, I am concerned about the public's disproportionate focus on its negative and illegal uses. Do you plan to address this bias at all? Question 1: I am absolutely not only focusing on the dark side of the Deep Web. In fact one of my key points is that the Deep Web is misrepresented, and inaccurately represented. It is mostly just a reference to all the content on the web that is not indexed. Most of which is not dark and a lot of which is frankly boring private data :)
Are you accepting Bitcoin for the financing of this film? If not, why not? Again, thanks for doing this, but I am concerned that your focus on the negative side of TOR will continue to twist the public's perception in the wrong direction. 2: We will absolutely be accepting BTC for the movie. But Kickstarter does not accept BTC so we are doing that separately. Stay tuned!
3: Yes the bias is a big problem and we will debunk the myths, just as I did with Downloaded. People like to hold onto their preconceptions tho, so I have no illusions about turning the world around :) A lot of people loved my Napster movie, but there were many in the mainstream press who were outraged that I didn't spend more time castigating the Napster architects for being thieves who created piracy software, when clearly that is not the truth, just the well-spun myth. but myths die hard.
How concerned are you with getting all the details right? You plan to talk about things happening in the more obscure and less legal parts of the Internet. The people who use those parts of the Internet are often pretty knowledgeable about the fine technical details, and are annoyed when people get them wrong. Even the term "Deep Web" has a whiff of "Information Superhighway" or "Series of Tubes" about it. Aside from just wanting to get the details right for the sake of having an informative and accurate documentary, are you concerned at all with upsetting the wrong kinds of people by doing this? After all, the guy behind Silk Road is rumoured to have tried(?) to have people killed. Our film isn't a Silk Road movie but an exploration of the history and evolution of the Deep Web, as told by its architects. That is the story that I believe matters most :)
Are you covering other crypto currencies? Also, I didn't think porn hid on the internet. I am yes. This movie is largely about the crypto-revolution.
What are your thoughts on the rather dubious "hired a hitman" charges against DPR (Ross Ulbricht)? Do you think law enforcement used parallel construction to identify the SR server or otherwise make the case against SDPR? Looking forward to this documentary, and I'm a huge fan of Bill and Ted! It's a really fascinating case that is unfolding and changing constantly. No one knows the full story at the moment outside of the Feds, and I'm sure they're chasing some crazy leads trying to iron it all out!
Hey Alex I was just wondering if you used Silk Road for movie research and what the movie is gonna be about? The site used to pride themselves on anonymity so is it a lot of speculation about what goes on behind the curtain or were you able to actually talk to and interview the people behind the scenes of the website? I didn't use SR for research but am in contact with many people close to the world and story.
Can I donate to the Deep Web movie via Bitcoin? I loved the Napster doc, and am super excited for this one, since judging by your prior work I think it will be very high quality. There was no bitcoin address listed on the kickstarter page! Yes Kickstarter does not allow BitCoin pledges. We will have a BitCoin option soon!
Bitcoin is seen as a "dirty" term by the media as it usually relates to illicit activities, what could make it a more clean and friendly method of payment to Joe Smith who runs a small florist in a mid size town in Washington? Time. people need to get used to crypto-currency. it's here to stay and perfectly legitimate unto itself.
I've always been a fan of Bill and Ted, however this question does not related to your career. You actually grew up next to my Dad (His name is Nick) in St. Louis/Clayton. He said your family loved television, and that he always joked your television might blow up one day. As ridiculous as that sounds apparently it actually happened to you guys one day. So did this actually happen? Is my father a liar? How much television does it take before it explodes? Wow that is some ancient history! Yes when I was five my brother and I got into a fight and someone hit the tv with their body, hard (such is the way of fraternal skirmishes, my bro and I have actually always been super close). We didn't know we had blown some of the electricals inside the TV and the next time it was turned on it exploded into flames (for real!) and burned the whole house down (totally true story!!)
What are your thoughts on other cryptocurrencies like Litecoin? I think it is early days for crypto-currency and eventually one will rule the roost. Whichever proves to be the most stable, trustworthy and provides the best ease of use.
I just hope that it's objective and that it doesn't needlessly throw BitCoin into dis-appeal. I mean, there have been other digital currencies which had been used for drugs, hitmen, child porn, whatever else. Sigh. Just don't slander it, k? <3 I totally agree with you, that's the movie :)
Are you worried about how Deep Web will portray bitcoin? Us bitcoin folks are already rather irritated about how much people make the point that bitcoin is used for illegal things, without pointing out that cash is used for the same thing. Oh we are making very very clear all the legitimate uses for Bitcoin.
Alex, do you think that Satoshi Nakamoto has any sort of link or relationship to Ross Ulbricht? Yes some people have been saying that. There are other people believed to have created Bitcoin that we are talking to.
What are your personal thoughts on the deep web and how it operates? Do you think the bit coin business model is the future of personal commerce? I do yes.
Don't you think it is a little early to start writing a story before the truth is completely released? I've been following the take down since day one and there are still so many things that haven't been answered. Absolutely. Our movie is about the Deep Web, it's not a Silk Road movie.
What do you think about Silk Road 2.0 being open? Inevitable.
Have you been able to get any key actors in Bitcoin, Silk Road etc to go on the record unanonymously? BTW...San Dimas HS football rules! Yes we have :)
I live in San Dimas. Do you know what you've done to me any time I meet people from out of town? Sorry. truly. We didn't shoot there, we shot it in Phoenix, so I never thought about San Dimas one way or the other. Until many years later I made the mistake of taking my kids to the water park there without thinking about it. Very very very VERY big mistake for "Bill" to waltz into a water park in San Dimas...
What do you think George Carlin would have said about Bitcoin and Silk Road? Link to www.youtube.com
Can you please make sure that bitcoin ends up not getting the image of "crack dollars"? I'd like if people didn't associate bitcoins with just silk road. Agree!!
Bill& Ted 3: elaborate please! We have the script and our producing team on board, in finance mode now... :)
What is socrates like in real life. A windbag.
New Idiot Box sketches on YouTube please. Burrowing Bishop, If I Had My Way, etc.etc. I think everything we shot has made its way up there :)
I have yet to ever have a question answered in an AMA, not a question but a simple acknowledgment of my existence would be fantastic. Love BnT BTW. You exist!!!
We demand a sequel to Freaked. That is all. Me too! One day... many many eons from now... it will happen...
Can you give me 3 words that will best describe the movie to me. Join our Kickstarter! :)
Last updated: 2013-11-29 19:11 UTC
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[Table] IAmA: We are the guys currently hosting Movie2K. Ask us anything.

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Date: 2013-06-03
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Questions Answers
I often wonder why major companies spend so much money trying to shut down sites like movie2k instead of embracing new technology and putting their movies and shows on their owns sites to be viewed in higher quality with commercials. I assume it isn't as profitable but do you have any further insight? When your business model is threatened a lot of companies tried to preserve it as long as possible. they pay millions and billions of dollars for political lobbying instead of fostering innovative ideas. business models like itunes or netflix show that it is possible to make money as a content delivery network, but many other companies tried to scare users away from filesharing and introduce DRM like steam or origin in order to retain their sales. that may have helped in short terms but we dont think those companies have a future.
As far as studies tell us, there is no harm or damage caused by filesharing.
European Union says filesharing helps artists
American Assembly - Copy Culture Report
many other papers
There is a website on copyright reforms with further information.
Today’s copyright legislation is out of balance, and out of tune with the times. It has turned an entire generation of young people into criminals in the eyes of the law, in a futile attempt at stopping technological development. Yet file sharing has continued to grow exponentially. Neither propaganda, fear tactics, nor ever harsher laws have been able to stop the development.
It is impossible to enforce the ban against non-commercial file sharing without infringing on fundamental human rights. As long as there are ways for citizens to communicate in private, they will be used to share copyrighted materials. The only way to even try to limit file sharing is to remove the right to private communication. In the last decade, this is the direction that copyright enforcement legislation has moved in, under pressure from big business lobbyists who see their monopolies under threat. We need to reverse this trend to safeguard fundamental rights.
Edit: formatting.
When did this happen? What was your first reaction realizing such a big site is a possible ad for your party?:) It happened last friday. We were notified by torrentfreak (see this post) and indeed there was much more DNS traffic than usual on our servers (especially since they gave negative responses that did not get cached). Oh, and various cops also called us and our providers, but this time, they at least didn't take our servers again.
Since there was a massive press shitstorm (probably fired up by the content mafia PR departments) going on against the site, we laid low for a short while, then finally deployed the site today.
The result was this and then it was like this.
I don't have much to ask about movie2k, but I was interested in your party a bit (well, I'm not German) - since you are a single issue party, do you find that your voter base is made up of a collection of different ideological positions? Does one reign supreme? First, we are NOT a single issue party, despite constantly being portrayed as such. We have a comprehensive manifesto covering most areas of politics. We don't just fight for civil rights and an agenda for openness in governments. We also have a lot of positions in regard to e.g. social/welfare policy etc. These are not as mutually exclusive as US politics may make people think - while a welfare state does limit "freedom" in the sense of making you pay taxes and preventing the rich from preying on the poor, it doesn't have anything to do with how much surveillance you have, if you have a free and uncensored internet, etc. We want to protect citizen's rights, both against corporate and government attacks, and make sure every citizen can have a decent, humane life - even if that means "limiting freedom" by making people pay taxes. We certainly have a few members who are more on the extremist end of the spectrum, in all directions. The majority agrees with what was described here, and the problems are limited since the extremists are a pretty small minority that usually quickly lose interest once they notice they cannot take us over to push their agenda. Not that they wouldn't try, but they don't have a lot of effect. We do not tolerate right-wing extremists at all, and if someone tries to spread hate in the name of the Pirate Party, they get thrown out pretty quickly.
For example, one would not find it unusual to see communist, socialist, liberal members, but are there also a 'hardcore' capitalist faction or people on the 'right' who are on board? In general, our politics can be described as "linksliberal", which literally translates to "left-liberal" but these words have different meanings in different countries. It would be the bottom-left quadrant of the political compass. It means we do support a welfare state ("socialist", as US republicans would certainly call us ;)), but we also strongly support personal liberties.
Thanks for the AMA. You answered it in one of questions, but I suppose it'd be nice to have some brief info/links (for the lazy) in your post on what you have done / aim to do as the Pirate Party in Germany. Your link is for the German webpage, do you have any info in English? Short version: openness (open government), copyright reform and civil rights (opposed to anti-terror legislations).
The section on copyright:
> The German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei) does not want to abolish copyright, but we do want to give it a massive overhaul. Private (file)sharing must be legal and must not be hindered by lawsuits or DRM. Protected works must not be withheld from the public domain for 70 years after the death of the author anymore.
> We also want to improve the situation for authors by strengthening their position against the RIAA/MPAA-style organizations (like the GEMA, which is responsible for blocking a significant part of Youtube videos for German viewers).
> You can read more about the copyright policy of the German Pirate Party in the copyright section of our election program (in German\) or the manifesto (english\).
> Note that while most Pirate Parties worldwide want copyright reform, the exact policy may vary. Find your local Pirate Party on Pirate Parties International - nearly every country has one.
> The common aims of the international Pirate Parties are copyright reform, privacy, transparency, and public participation. Find your local Pirate Party on Pirate Parties International - nearly every country has one - and inform yourself about their aims!
> Although the German Piratenpartei sticks up for the rights of Internet users, we are not just an "Internet party". We fight for privacy and civil liberties, both online and offline, be it a privacy for your e-mails or a strong right to assemble and protest. We fight for an unconditional basic income and a general minimum wage. For free access to education without open or hidden fees. For real equality. For a healthcare system for everyone. A drug policy that gives addicts the help they need instead of threathening weed smokers with prison.
> This is just a small excerpt from our comprehensive Manifesto (English translation here) and the even more detailed Election Program for the federal election. (Sadly, many people appear to be unable to read even the table of contents, since there are still people claiming we don't have any ideas what to do or are "just an internet party". Think freely and inform yourself!)
Big fan of copyright reform in general, I hope you guys have success. Would there be any way people in US could help, apart from raising the general awareness. You could support your local pirate party, despite the two-party system they can certainly raise awareness. Also, spread the word, fight crappy laws and treaties like ACTA, which we all killed together. Work with us and discuss our topics and positions.
Currently we try to push the US and Europe to suppport the Treaty for the Blind of the World Intellectual Property Organization which will be voted upon this month. We push for this treaty that would allow blind or visually impaired people to ensure full enjoyment of their basic human rights, the right to knowledge, the right to reading, the right to information. The treaty would promote accessibility instead of copyright restrictions (think of e-readers).
Why not promote decentralized and uncensored file-sharing? Link to www.google.com. In Germany (which is where movie2k was most popular), torrenting non-CC movies/music will get you cease-and-desist letters from lawyers that log IPs (often not very accurately), use some of the new anti-privacy-laws to get your address, and then make millions by sending form letters demanding you pay around 1000 EUR for their "work" and compensation for "unlimited distribution of the protected work" (aka uploading).
We don't need to mention that we think these lawyers should be sitting in prison for fraud instead of sending these letters, do we?
We do support decentralized file sharing and want to legalize it. We just can't recommend it to people who will get themselves hurt. You can use some VPNs, but that requires a level of technical skill that unfortunately many people do not possess. As a sidenote, do not use TOR for downloading stuff, it isn't made for so much traffic and you will make it slow for people who really need it (e.g. in China, Turkey, ...)
My main concern is to get rid of Angela Merkel. So would you recommand electing TPP anyways. And even if you make the 5% and my vote woudn't be lost (it wouldn't be lost anyways, you get money for it and it would represent an opinion), this might lead to a big coalition instead of a possible Red-Green coalition? Of course we recommend voting for the Piratenpartei, if we wouldn't fully support its aims we wouldn't be spending quite a few nights keeping the IT running. If we get into the parliament, we get a lot of useful tools even if we aren't part of the government coalition. For example, we may ask questions formally which the government has to answer ("Kleine Anfrage"), making it possible to uncover corruption and stop bad laws by public shaming. Next time the government tries to get a new anti-privacy law approved with like 5% of the members of parliament present at 2 o'clock in the morning, we can show full attendance and actually reject the law - or at least request a check for Beschlussfähigkeit (a certain number of members of parliament must be present in order to pass laws), stopping the law and drawing public attention.
If you are afraid of a CDU-led coalition (e.g. the "big" black-red or a black-green coalition), take into account we are the only party to strongly oppose a coalition with the CDU (due to their anti-freedom politics) besides the Left party (Linkspartei). However, the SPD said they won't do a "big" coalition source
How many hits does the page have? We get about 100 views a second (360.000 per hour)
Could you provide a link to the local pirate parties on the page? Links to our local pirate parties
5+ im Herbst! Ja, 5+ am 15. und 22. September in Bayern, Hessen und im Bund.
How do you only have 67 questions/comments? We're a bit surprised, too, I guess the former operators and owners of the site would get a lot more attention. While hosting a 200 MBit/s site and being a Pirate Party is interesting, it apparently isn't that interesting.
Wow I'm surprised I found this as it was happening. Is there anyone else we should notify of movie2k's current state? Is there a place to reach the owner and ask more about what's going on? Unfortunately, we don't know anything about the owners of movie2k or movie4k (we don't even know if they are the same person or group, though it seems probable), but there is this twitter account that seems to belong to movie4k so you may be able to reach someone there. Regarding your first question, Torrentfreak has already been told, but if you think your local Pirate Party may be interested (perhaps to get a press release out) or it may be considered a juicy story by your local press, that could be a good idea.
In your opinion, how can a company get it right? i.e. how can they provide a platform and environment where artists/musicians/producers actually earn money from their work and for viewers and customers to not feel "jailed" with DRM and content sharing regulations? After the takedown of "kino.to", one of the largest German streaming portals, some newspapers announced an income between 700,000 and 1.6 million € per year, only from the advertisements. Also, video-hosters like shockshare earn money, because users want an ad-free and fast video stream. So, there is already a working conecpt. A company could provide a platform where users could watch SD movies for free (ad-supported). For higer quality like HD and 3D you have to pay. But if the companies demand outrageous prices that are as high or even higher as the price of a physical copy of the movie, it will not work. Also, selling music as a download only really took of once two things happened: DRM was abolished so you could simply download a MP3 file, and prices were reasonable. Imagine a platform where you can buy your favorite TV series for 1 dollar per episode or 10 dollars per season in 480p or for 1,50 /15 dollars in HD or 3-5 dollars per movie, with a good choice and an easy interface. Once you buy it, you can either stream it (as in "whenever you want, forever", because you "own" a virtual copy of it) or download a DRM-free file of it. Sure people could pirate the DRM-free files. So what? People are already pirating DRM-free files, putting locks on your legitimate customer's copies isn't going to do anything except annoying your customers. Today, the only platforms that come close to such a service have names like "The Pirate Bay" or "PublicHD" various usenet providers and they don't earn the producers any money.
second question: What is your opinion on Bitcoins? To your second question: Bitcoin is an interesting system, but currently there is no official, democratically legitimated opinion on it within the German Pirate Party yet.
Do you know how the website was taken down, and how it could just disapear from the internet? We dont know if it was taken down or how it was shut down, but we expect them to be back. they still own the domains of movie2k and have the power to switch it back to their servers any time.
You were big when it was still some kind of sensation a few years back but now you seem to be permanently somewhere around 2%. I think it is quite possible to get 5% or significantly more in the Bundestagswahl, because months before the Berlin election we were expecting not to get the 5% and in the end, we ended up at 9%. The weeks before the election, when the campagin is fully running and we start getting back into the public mind, really make a lot of a difference.
Non-members have full access to our forums and mailing lists and we have exactly zero moderation on many of them. The federal level one ("Aktive") became so unbearable most active members simply abandoned it, so mostly only trolls are left over. The same happened to some of the state-level lists. Our real life meetings, especially the ones below federal level, are pretty good. I don't think other parties have less of these fights, we just refuse to hide them and actually make them very public. The transparency we practice and demand from each other and the quite low tolerance for anything perceived as "bad" is also what makes it less probable that we become a corrupt bag of corporate shills like some other parties.
Is there any way you can take off the ads that say "download"? It's very confusing and tricky. We are just hosting the info page available there now, not the movie catalogue that was available there and is still available on sites like movie4k, so we have nothing to do with the ads.
Personally, such ads are one of the reasons I use Adblock. If you do, please use it responsibly and add exceptions for sites you like. You may not think you will click the ads anyways, but often at least some of them will be interesting to you and you will click them, especially on reddit.
Besides that, shouldn't ads that say "download" on a site where you go to stream movies (AFAIK, downloading is almost always a premium option if it is available at all) be pretty non-confusing, since there is no reason to click such a button? (But yes, I saw "play" ads on some streaming sites too, not sure if it was the original movie2k.)
Is there anyway this is coming back? I heavily relied on this website for all my movies and TV show catch ups. We don't know, it may come back. In the meantime, there is movie4k.
Who do you think would win in a fight between you guys and a Somali pirate party? I think I'll take the horses instead. ;-)
Interestingly, Somalia is actually one of the countries that doesn't have a political Pirate Party.
Are there any plans to shut down movie4k.to that you know of? Not sure if this is where to ask. We're not involved with movie4k (see OP for details) so we really don't have a clue. Sorry.
Do you guys have any idea who is attacking 1channel/letmewatchthis? Nope, sry.
I hope this free advertisment will be put to good use :D. We hope that's what we're doing with the info page. It should educate people about the situation, and it's certainly getting a lot of hits. Some certainly from bots, but just the traffic from two ressources we originally embedded into the info page from the main site took the main site down temporarily. We'll check next week with the international Pirate Parties if the membership application rates went up.
Did you know there are Pirate Parties in about 70 countries? PPI (Pirate Parties International\) has a list. If you are using reddit, there is a good chance your country is one of them. Many of these desperately need your help!
I thought the PP were a innovative and cool alternative Party once. But then you got destroyed by all these egomaniacs. It's a real shame that you dropped Liquid Democracy from your agenda recently. Now the PP is just a shadow of revolutionary ideas once had... I (can't speak for everyone) agree that it is a shame we got all those egomaniacs, but I don't think the Pirate Party is "destroyed". We simply attracted a lot of cranks, trolls and idiots who we are dealing with now. Participative democracy is sometimes a massive pain in the ass, but we are not giving it up.
Also note that what is happening on the forums and mailing lists doesn't necessarily reflect the majority of the members and what is actually happening. Since many of us refuse any kind of moderation, trolls destroyed quite a few of them, so the productive members left and mostly idiots and trolls remain.
While we decided against using Liquid Democracy (which includes delegations) for official decisions, we did decide to introduce direct online and offline participation of members (without delegations). The decision against Liquid Democracy was a decision against delegations, not against online participation.
On the other hand we continue to operate our liquid democracy tool called 'liquid feedback' as an inofficial tool.
I love the site when will it be back there is no site like yours easy to use with great quality video. As stated above, we are not the ones who ran the original site, we are just hosting the replacement after the original owners redirected it to us. We do not know the original operators. Thus, we don't know if the site will be ever back up to original.
However, we have heared that there is a site called "Movie4k" that is quite similar.
I get so many fucking viruses from that website. I'm certain you aren't getting them from the one we are hosting now, but I can't speak for the streaming site it once was.
Still, if a web site is giving you viruses, you are doing it wrong. You should realize that you are visiting an "underground" web site, which will link you to a lot of different video hosts, some of which are quite shady (the non-shady ones tend not to have that many current movies). Thus, you should expect that at least some of these sites will show you ads from shady sources because they want to make money and don't have a reputation to lose, or get hacked and their sites infected.
I assume you are intelligent enough not to download any software like "flash updates", "codec packs", "players" etc. from these sites. You need to keep your software up to date by installing all updates from reliable sources. Disable Java completely in your browser, keep your browser updated, keep your PDF plugin updated (or disable it and use the built-in one), and most importantly, keep your friggin' flash plugin updated.
This is good advice and you should do it anyways, but if you decide to be careless and drive around in a car with no safety belt and spikes all over the dashboard, at least don't join a ralley with it (i.e. if you are too lazy to keep your system safe, don't go to shady sites).
This doesn't mean the web site has any right to put viruses up, and I find it really shitty they sometimes do, but it is reality, protect yourself.
Like with weed, legalizing filesharing will remove most of these unwanted side effects. Actually, given the damage botnets can cause, that's a good reason to legalize it ;-)
I miss this site so god damn much, fuck corporate. We can't, we're not the original admins. As mentioned multiple times here, there is this movie4k site...
It would be a tragedy if they are gone forever, the library they have is outstanding. I wonder why the redirect. Apparently they like us - the german version of their public announcement explicitly states "ps: Wählt Piratenpartei" ('vote for the Pirate Party') -> Link to www.movie4k.to
But we dont know why or for how long they will redirect this domain to us.
Thanks for the AMA... it seems that stream2k is down for now too (tried to watch Great Gatsby). Do you know anything about that? Nope, sorry.
When will Movie2K be returning? Also what are good alternatives? Edit: movie4k is the new site Answered here.
Could provide a link to your site? Uhm, Link to movie2k.to Although it is technically not "ours", it is just pointed to our servers. (If you are looking for the main web site of the German Pirate Party, that would be Link to www.piratenpartei.de)
Last updated: 2013-06-09 09:11 UTC
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