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November 29, 2017

Cryptocurrencies - The Battle Between PoW, PoS and Other Beasts

When you think about Bitcoin (BTC), probably the first thing that comes to mind is mining. It’s probably the most spectacular transformation of a word in result of technological progress. From “a person who digs for gold in tunnels” it transformed into “a person who uses a computer to discover blocks, which will bring rewards most of the times more valuable than gold”.
But what exactly is mining? Is it the only way to generate coins?
Let’s try to understand this together.

Every Blockchain Needs Proofs

Mining came to the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain as a necessity. In order to avoid double spending and to maintain atomic transactions, a certain form of governance was needed.
So, the nodes that were validating transactions needed to “prove themselves” to justify their credibility. The “asset” they used for that was computational power. By providing computational power – in the form of “hashing”, or solving a problem with a variable difficulty – they “guaranteed” their good intentions and the transactions they were inscribing. For each successful round, they were also rewarded with a few tokens to keep them incentivized (it’s a bit more complex than that, but for now that suffices).
Although still the most popular form of “mining” coins, mining is not the most resistant form of governance. If at any point someone gains 51% control of the computational power, the blockchain safety may be compromised because that actor could inscribe whatever transaction he wants in the blockchain when he wants. It’s still impossible to achieve this because the mining market is very granular, but it’s not that far fetched.
Another drawback of mining came from environmentalists, who argued that the “empty” calculations miners were doing were harming the environment. From a certain point of view, this is true, but if you have concerns about that, you can also join other coins, like Gridcoin, which borrows computing power from scientific projects like Asteroids@home and Einstein@home from Berkeley.
Now, since this algorithm proved a bit shaky, it wasn’t long until other form of blockchain governance were used.

Blow are the most popular.

Proof of Stake (PoS)

In a PoS (Proof of Stake) blockchain, validators need to have some coins before becoming validators. They will use these coins by blocking them as a form of trust. If other validators are proving them wrong or they get caught cheating, then they get slashed or they lose what they had “at stake”.
There are few PoS (Proof of Stake) algorithms, the most interesting being DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) about which we’ll talk in a second, but before that, be aware that the world’s second largest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap, Ethereum, is moving towards a PoS (Proof of Stake) blockchain codenamed “Casper”.
Proof of Stake (PoS) is significantly faster than mining. Since a node doesn’t need to perform complicated calculations to solve mathematical problems, transactions get validated way faster. PoS (Proof of Stake) blockchains can often boast TpS (Transactions per Second) in the thousands as opposed to PoW (Proof of Work) which are inherently limited to hundreds.
DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) is similar with PoS (Proof of Stake), with the small difference that validators can collude, or aggregate their stake with the stake of other people, in a process called “delegation”. An actor in the blockchain agrees to “vote” some representative to validate blocks on their behalf. In DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake), a validator is called “witness” because he “witnesses” blocks, not mines them. Some of the most popular DpoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) blockchains are BitShares (BTS), Steem (STEEM) and PeerPlays (PPY).

Proof of Capacity (PoC) (also Proof of Storage, Proof of Replication)

Following the steps of PoS (Proof of Stake), some clever people decided to dive into the massive amount of unused file storage that sits around virtually on any computer in the world.
Proof of Capacity (PoC) (and its flavors, Proof of Storage, Proof of Replication) works by offering to the network some storage capacity, in exchange of the “hashes”, or chances to discover a new block. So, basically, all you need to do is to rent your unused hard drive space.
Significant players in this area are Filecoin (FIL) (a spin-off of the Internet Protocol File System), SiaCoin (SIA), Storj (STORJ) and BurstCoin (BURST).

Proof of Burn (PoB)

Probably one of the most counter-intuitive ways of mining tokens in a blockchain, but nonetheless really exciting, is Proof of Burn, or PoB.
In a Proof of Burn (PoB) blockchain, you get chances to validate / discover a new block by actually spending the coins you already have. You send them to a specific address, where they are destroyed. In exchange, you get a chance to receive some future hashes. In a way, it’s similar with saving, only you don’t get your own money back, and you don’t have a guaranteed ROI, but you are sure to get all the coins you “burned” at some point in the future. The rationale between the 1:1 ratio is that by keeping this stable, the value of the coin will improve in the future. So if you burn 10 coins now, which are worth $1, you will get the same 10 coins back in 6 months, a time in which their value will – probably – increase to $2, or $3.
One could argue that in a PoB (Proof of Burn) governance structure you need to have some coins before you can burn them. That is correct, that’s why the only PoB (Proof of Burn) coin that I know of, Slimcoin, offers not one, or two, but three minting algorithms: PoW (Proof of Work) (you can mine with an ASIC-resistant algorithm for some coins), PoS (Proof of Stake) (you can stake some of the coins you mined or bought) and, obviously, PoB (Proof of Burn) (you “burn” some of your coins and you will get the hashing chances in the future).

The Exotic One – Proof of Run (PoR)

Nowadays it seems people will create blockchains with everything that can be proved. One of these exotic coins is called Runcoin and it uses a Proof of Run (PoR) to reward people.
In this context, a new concept had to be created, namely the Trustable Third Party Provider, or TTPP. As you can imagine, a Proof of Work (PoW) can be easily faked by individuals. Whereas in large communities, like Strava, Garmin or Runkeeper, this is less likely to happen. Runcoin uses TTPP to validate transactions, so you won’t get coins if you post a run by yourself, it has to come from one of the trusted validators (which, in the future, may include even running competitions, like Boston marathon or Spartathlon). Runcoin is an UIA (User Issued Asset) on the BitShares blockchain.

November 13, 2017

Sex and cardiac arrest

Men did not have a gender advantage according to a recent study. It found the odds of suffering cardiac arrest during or soon after sex are very low, but higher for men than women.

Previous studies have looked at sex and heart attacks, but those are caused by a clot suddenly restricting blood flow, and people usually have time to get to a hospital and be treated, said  cardiologists . Researchers wanted to know how sex affected the odds of cardiac arrest, a different problem that's more often fatal.

They studied records on more than 4,500 cardiac arrests over 13 years in the Portland area, Oregon. Only 34 were during or within an hour of having sex, and 32 of those were in men. Most already were on medicines for heart conditions, so their risk was elevated to start with.

"It's a very awkward situation, and a very horrifying situation to be one of the two people who survives," but more would survive if CPR rates were higher, doctors comment.

November 11, 2017

Spying sex toys , is it real?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic
Smart sex toys may be the craze currently, but the fact that these devices are connected to the Internet can endanger users’ privacy. This was evidenced by the most recent case of a sex toy which was caught recording users because of what the company reportedly called a "bug" in the software.
An app used to control a vibrator made by Hong Kong-based sex toy company, Lovense, was found recording sounds made by a consumer while using it. The user later found a six-minute audio file stored in the app’s local folder. Many users later reported similar issues with the device.

This is not the first instance of a sex toy being caught recording users. Canadian sex toy manufacturer We-Vibe was accused in 2016 of failure to protect consumers' privacy. In that instance, the sex toys made by the company were also collecting “highly intimate and sensitive data" while promising a secure connection between the smartphone and the sex toy. The class action lawsuit was settled for money later.

To understand the issues behind smart sex toys, one needs to know about the technology involved in making one. Smart sex toys use technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi which makes them vulnerable to hacking — your privacy is still at stake, even if the manufacturer doesn’t have a vested interest in collecting your data.

Svakom Siime Eye, a Wi-Fi enabled vibrator with a built in camera designed for private live streaming, was found to be easily hackable earlier this year.

Looks like it is not bad idea after all to stick to the old fashioned "dumb" toys.

November 03, 2017

Okrambi for Cystic Fibrosis

Orkambi is a combination therapy (ivacaftor/Kalydeco and lumacaftor) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF). The oral drug helps in correcting the mutated genes in patients with cystic fibrosis — a novel therapeutic approach designed to treat the root cause of cystic fibrosis instead of just the severity of symptoms.
Developed by the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company Vertex, Orkambi is approved for use in cystic fibrosis patients age 12 and older with two copies of the F508del mutation in their CFTR gene. The mutation is the leading cause of CF. FDA approval for the therapy was announced on July 2, 2015. CF affects around 30,000 people in the U.S. — well below the Food and Drug Administration's 200,000-patient-or-less benchmark that determines whether or not a disease is considered rare. Orkambi is a mixture of Vertex's other marketed product, Kalydeco, and lumacaftor, a drug that helps correct the misfolded proteins that are characteristic of CF.
The wholesale acquisition cost for the cystic fibrosis (CF) treatment now clocks in at $20,919 for four, 28-tablet boxes, according to an investor note from Cowen & Co. analyst Phil Nadeau. Patients ages 12 and up are supposed to take Orkambi twice daily, giving it an annual bill of $251,000 before rebates.

September 27, 2017

See How Much the "Perfect" Female Body Has Changed in 100 Years

From the Gibson Girl of the early 1900s to the Bootylicious Beyonce of today - via Heroin chic Kate Moss - just how much the most desired shape of the day has changed over the years may surprise you. That silhouette of the “ideal woman” has been put through a series of fun house mirrors (fashion, movies, pop music, politics). It also changes year over year, so the physical qualities we embrace today are often at odds with those from previous generations. See the full article here :

New cervical cancer screening guideline says start Pap tests later, screen less often

New cervical cancer screening guideline says start Pap tests later, screen less often
A girl is vaccinated against HPV in a file photo. Women who have been
vaccinated with the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine also need to be screened because 
the shots do not protect against all forms of the virus.Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA – Doctors should stop ordering yearly Pap tests for most women, and routine screening for cervical cancer in younger women should be abandoned altogether, a federal task force is recommending.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has released an updated guideline for cervical cancer screening that recommends starting screening when women are older, and screening them less often in order to avoid the harms of excessive testing.
Published  in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a guideline recommends that women aged 25 to 69 without symptoms of cervical cancer who are, or who have ever been, sexually active, be screened once every three years with a Pap test, which detects abnormal cells in the cervix.
The 1994 guideline recommended screening every three years, but only after two consecutive negative Pap test results.
The old guideline also recommended Pap smears for women once they turn 18 or become sexually active.But the task force says it could find no benefit to outweigh the potential harms of screening women under 25.
Nearly half (42%) of women aged 18 to 19 have reported being screened at least once within the previous three years, the authors write in the CMAJ. But the incidence of cervical cancer in women less than 20 is low (0.2 cases per 100,000) and no deaths from cervical cancer were reported among Canadian women under 20 between 2002 and 2006.
Neither could the task force find any data to support the argument that screening younger women helps prevent deaths from cervical cancer when they’re older. The risk of cervical cancer increases after age 25, and peaks in a woman’s 50s.
Younger women are more likely to have abnormal Pap results. A substantial proportion will have “false positive” results, leading to unnecessary and invasive treatments for abnormalities that would never progress to cancer — procedures that can cause pain, bleeding and irreversible damage to the cervix that can jeopardize a woman’s chances of carrying a future  pregnancy.
Over the past 50 years, deaths due to cervical cancer have fallen dramatically, the panel writes. Today, a woman’s risk of dying from the disease is 0.2%.
“It is likely that much of the change seen in the incidence of cervical cancer in Canada is due to screening, but early and frequent (often annual) cervical screening is unnecessary: other countries have achieved similar outcomes with less frequent testing and starting screening at older ages,” the panel reports.
“The American have said very specifically, no woman should have annual Pap testing,” said Dr. James Dickinson, a member of the task force and chair of the guideline-working group.
Cervical cancer was, and still is a horrible disease to get. It spreads right through the whole of a woman’s pelvis and causes horrible problems with bowel and bladder. It can be a truly horrible disease,” said Dickinson, a professor of family medicine and community health sciences at the University of Calgary.
Without Pap testing, the disease would affect 1.5% of women. “This is the most successful screening test that we have available,” Dickinson said. “It really can reduce the disease by more than 80%-90%, and that’s fantastic.”
Expert advisory bodies have for several years been recommending doctors do away with annual Pap testing and instead screen every three years. “It’s just that (doctors) and women have got into this habit of annual Pap smears, and we’d like to get them out of that habit,” he said.
“The evidence says that three years is enough to get the benefits.”
Some women do need more frequent screening, including those who have HIV or are immune suppressed.
Overall, for younger women, “We said look, this disease is almost non-existent in women under the age of 20, so we really should not do it for women under 20,” Dickinson said. “Even for women between 20 and 25, it’s extremely rare.”
“The test doesn’t work very well for the sorts of cancers that seem to develop between the age of 20 and 24,” he added.
“On balance, we say that under (the age of) 25, it’s not worth doing.”
For women aged 25 to 29, the panel recommends screening every three years. But they’ve assigned it a “weak” recommendation, because of their concerns about the rate of false-positives and the harms of over-treatment. “Although most women would want to follow the recommended course of action, many would not.” Women in this age group should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their doctor, they said.
Over the age of 30, the risks of cervical cancer are substantially higher, Dickinson said. “Between 30 and 69, we strongly advise screening” every three years, he said.
Screening can stop in women at age 70 and older after three successive negative Pap test results in the last 10 years, according to the new guideline.
The Canadian Cancer Society currently recommends women have regular Pap tests starting by age 21 if they’re sexually active.
The whole article here:

September 21, 2017

Cyanide in Bitter Apricot Kernels

Apricot kernels are the seeds found inside the pits (stones) of fresh apricots. There are two types of apricot kernels, bitter and sweet. Bitter apricot kernels naturally contain a compound called amygdalin, which has the potential to release cyanide when ingested by humans. Small amounts of cyanide are detoxified by the human body but high doses can be lethal. Alternatively, sweet apricot kernels and the fruit (flesh) of apricots do not pose a risk of adverse health effects from cyanide exposure because they contain lower levels of amygdalin. Some people use ground or whole bitter apricot kernels to flavor foods, as a health food, or for medicinal purposes. Apricot kernels may be promoted in some health foods as a medicinal ingredient. Apricot kernels with unapproved medicinal claims may be offered for sale. These products may recommend very high quantities of apricot kernels be consumed, which would result in exposure to amygdalin doses higher than those considered to be safe by health authorities and other international jurisdictions. Together with the related synthetic compound laetrile, amygdalin has been marketed as an alternative cancer treatment. However, studies have found the compounds to be ineffective in the treatment of cancer, as well as potentially toxic or lethal when taken by mouth, due to cyanide poisoning.

September 20, 2017 vs LinkedIn Learning

For the end user there is no difference. The courses that are available on Lynda are also available on LinkedIn Learning. So from a pure content perspective, they are exactly the same.
The main difference is the platform that the courses are delivered on — LinkedIn Learning is built on the LinkedIn platform, which provides the learner with additional value in the form of recommendations that are personalized for you based on your profile, your professional network, the company you work for, etc.
There is also better integration on the platform with the content itself so when you learn new skills from taking a course, you have the option to easily add those skills to your profile. LinkedIn offers acount linking i.e. If you're a current paid individual subscriber and would like to try LinkedIn Learning, you can do so without purchasing an additional subscription. LinkedIn offers complimentary access to LinkedIn Learning for paid individual subscribers according to their web site.

June 13, 2017

3GP vs MP4

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at
Your new smart phone will record video in either 3GP or MP4 file format. 3GP (3GPP file format) is a multimedia container format defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It is used on 3G mobile phones but can also be played on some 2G and 4G phones.
 MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Like most modern container formats, it allows streaming over the Internet.
 The 3GP files store video streams as MPEG-4 part 2 or MPEG-4 part 10 (h. 264) or h. 263, and also audio streams. 3GP is a simplified version of the MP4 format and was designed to make file sizes smaller so mobile phones could support it. 3GP is able to store and transmit important priority of bytes. 
 3GP encoding profile is commonly used for digital video, telecommunications specialists engineered it especially for performance on 3G network mobile phones. Conversely, MP4 is a generic format for any digital video that was published with MPEG-4 compression. The formats are so highly similar, some 3GP files can be opened if their extension is changed to MP4.
 When evaluating the MP4 and 3GP formats, the question is not which one stores superior digital video, but rather, which one is best suited to the task at hand. While both contain multiple tracks of media and have similar encoding methods, their differences are most pronounced when it comes to use on portable devices. Despite this wide compatibility, MP4 files are not optimized for playback on 3G network mobile phones as 3GP files are.
 While 3GP files are specialized for 3G network mobile phones, they can also be opened in certain media players. These applications include QuickTime, VLC and RealPlayer. However, since MP4 files are widely shared and more generalized, support for the format is practically standard in media software. In addition to QuickTime, VLC and RealPlayer, MP4 files can be streamed in iTunes and Windows Media Player. MP4 files can also be uploaded to the Apple iPod, Apple iPhone and Sony PSP.
 When it comes to streaming video on your computer desktop or portable media player, MP4 is the better format because it can support higher resolution video. However, the 3GP should be used exclusively on 3G network phones since it is specifically formulated for the device.

March 21, 2017

Smooth at price

Image courtesy of photostock at
Consider this before your next kini wax: A study at the University of California at San Francisco found that those who groom their pubic hair in any way could be up to four times more likely to contract a cutaneous
(skin-based) STI than those who don’t. Microtears—which result from waxing or shaving—could make us
more susceptible, says dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, M.D. If you’re going for a wax, Mariwalla says to find a studio that uses hard wax, which doesn’t require muslin cloths.This method grips hairs better; plus, you won’t worry that strips are being reused. When shaving, use a designated bikini razor, separate from the one for legs and underarms, to avoid spreading bacteria, and replace it often. Lastly, wait a day after grooming—the time it takes for the tears to heal—before having sex.

Seven advantages of drinking water in the morning

1     - Purifies colon making it easier to absorb nutrients.
2     - Increases the production of new blood and muscle cells.Water acts a lubricant around your muscle and joints which helps prevent against cramping, allowing you to work out harder and longer.
3     - Helps with weight loss. Drinking at least 16 ounces of chilled water   can  boost your metabolism by 24% in the morning. Research has shown that an increase in water consumption leads to an increase in the rate in which people burn calories as opposed to storing them as fat.
4     - Glowing skin. Water helps to purge toxins from the blood thru improved blood circulation which help keeps your skin  glowing and  clear.  It also increases water in your skin cells which helps to get rid of wrinkles and helps you look younger.
5     - Balances your lymph system. These glands help you perform your daily functions
6     - Balance your body fluids, and fight infection. Dehydration leads to fatigue because it impacts the flow of oxygen to the brain and causes your heart to work harder to pump oxygen to all your bodily organs, making you more tired and less alert.
7     - Water reduces stress. Studies have shown that dehydration leads to higher cortisol levels—the stress hormone—making it harder to deal with everyday issues. By staying hydrated you will be better equipped to deal everyday problems.

February 02, 2017

7 great reasons you should concider eating avocado daily

Image courtesy of anat_tikker at
You have probably heard about avocado being a superfood and how good it is for your health. This is true, avocados are very healthy. The next time you are ordering that burrito, don’t forget to add some extra guacamole. Here are seven reasons why you should consider eating this fruit every day.

1. Avocado Is Superfood

Avocados are extremely nutritious, this particular fruit is a very concentrated food, more like a nut than a fruit. Although avocados are high in calories, they are very high in most of the B vitamins except B12, being particularly good in folic acid. They also have some vitamin C, good amounts of vitamin A, and vitamin E. As you already know, avocados are rich in potassium. In addition, they have good amount of other minerals, including magnesium, iron, and manganese. For vegetarians who do not eat a lot of fatty foods, avocados may be a good source of needed oils.

2. Reduced Risk of Cancer

Avocados give our body numerous phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer. The fruit contains elements that have been known to decrease rates of oral cancer. Some research show that there is a potential that avocados can reduce risk of both breast and prostate cancers. Although, there is some research available on cancer preventive qualities of the fruit, future research is required to obtain more conclusive results.

3. Reduced Risk of Heart Diseases
As a matter of fact, heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States. Heart disease is often linked to poor diet and lifestyle. Therefore, making right food choices is essential.
Avocados contain low level of saturated fat and high level of unsaturated fat, which has positive effect on our cardiovascular system. Unsaturated fat in your diet also may help to lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), maintain HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
Furthermore, eating avocado can improve your insulin sensitivity. In addition to good fats, avocados also contain a great variety of nutrients, including antioxidants. This fruit may help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress in the blood vessels while improving blood flow.

4. Weight Loss Helper

Would you ever think that eating fat will help to lose fat? Recent studies show that avocados help to maintain healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Avocado in meals helps to extend the feeling of fullness and reduce desire to overeat. Each fruit contains about 14g of fiber, which helps to reduce your waistline.

5. Skin and Eyes Protection

There are some nutrients (carotenoids and lutein) in avocados that can help to slow age-related ocular decline and prevent vision dysfunction. In addition, the same nutrients protect our skin from UV damage, making it smooth and healthy.

6. Blood Pressure Regulator

Since avocados are an excellent source of potassium (actually even better than bananas), they can be helpful in lowering high blood pressure. Potassium is important in the human body, along with sodium, it regulates the water balance and acid-balance in the blood and tissues. Thus, for most individuals with high blood pressure, increasing potassium intake is a much more reliable way to lower blood pressure than decreasing intake of sodium. Potassium is also important for normal growth and for building muscles.

7. Avocados Are Delicious And Very Versatile

Besides being so healthy and nutritious, avocados are also delicious and go well with different foods. They are commonly used in salads, dips such as guacamole, in sandwiches, stuffed with seafood, as spreads on your morning toast, or simply plain on its own. When choosing an avocado, aim for a heavy fruit with unbroken skin. The fruit should yield to gentle pressure without denting. If it dents, it is overripe. Leave unripe avocados on the kitchen counter for a few days and they will be ready to eat! Ripe avocados will keep for four-five days in the fridge. Unripe avocados will never ripen if you put them in the refrigerator. The flesh is the part eaten, the seed and skin should be discarded. Once cut, you can sprinkle the flesh with lime or lemon juice to prevent from turning dark. Enjoy!

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