PDF scanning nightmare

This is a memo to my future self – when you want to scan documents, use Not Another PDF Scanner 2.

Until this moment using my scanner was always a nightmare. I’ve mostly used the native Windows scanner software … which can only output images, not PDFs. When I finally decided that I want a proper scanning solution, I tried another software and found that it forced me to manually initiate the scan of every page and didn’t properly support scanning a multiple page document, and after this annoying process it produced a 30mb file from an 8 page scan on the default settings. Ugh.

Luckily I found NAPS2, which just works. It has very simple scanning profiles, produces light documents, doesn’t annoy and is open source to boot.

Regardless, I also decided to spring for a new printer-scanner that has wifi and email support and doesn’t need to be connected to a computer to work. The beauty is that you just email to the printer to print, and can get it to email you when you scan (which you can send directly to your Evernote email).

I picked HP LaserJet Pro 200 MFP, but I’m sure there are a ton of good printers/scanners these days.

Someone build that decentralized internet already

Reddit, the home of free speech. It contains “sub-reddits” on every topic imaginable, including some stuff that most people will very offensive.
And that’s ok, because we deserve free speech – a place where every community can gather, discuss and share to their heart’s contents.

Over the past weekend, reddit has become ground zero for the leaked celebrity photos.
Subs like /r/TheFappening contained all the leaked images, color-enhanced, with proofs and verification techniques that distinguished the real images from the fakes. All was well in the realm of free speech.

Then, this happened. Yishan, Reddit’s CEO, wrote a post that I interperted as “Reddit is not going to cencor /r/TheFappening” … but they appear to have done it. As one redditor puts it, so “subs like /r/cutefemalecorpses or /r/deadkids are ok, but naked celebreties should be banned?” It’s not about morality, it’s about who has the bigger (legal) guns.

We need a decentralized internet now, a place where censorship just can’t happen, by design, and there’s nobody to sue. We need “the Bitcoin of forums”. Luckily, teams like MaidSafe, Storj, Ethereum and Xennet are working tirelessly to provide us with exactly that. Like my good friend David Johnston says, “Everything that can be decentralized, will be decentralized.”

Here’s to the revolution of decentralization and free speech.

Update: The creator of /r/TheFappening is doing an AMA.

ban-free-speech-protester-540x444[1]

My Bitcoin Story

Recently I gave a talk in our Bitcoin meetup group (Hebrew).

Nothing unusual here, I gave plenty of talks in the last years … except this is the first time the topic of a talk I gave, was … myself. It was the second talk in the series “Bitcoin People”, that covers the key people in Israel’s Bitcoin community. If you’re interested and know Hebrew, feel free to check it out.

Grammati – easily improve your English grammar

I’d like to recommend a service I’ve been using for a while, that helps me improve my English grammar.

For an Israeli, I have rather good English … but it’s of course still not perfect and I make mistakes that a native speaker would not. Grammati helps by giving me learning where my mistakes are, and quizzing me on the parts of grammar that are hard for me.

It sends you an email each day with just five easy questions, where you need to choose between 2-3 different answers. Grammati then learns from each answer and zooms in on what’s difficult for you personally.

Here is my progress report after 39 completed forms (which took me a lot more than 39 days to fill as I got lazy and didn’t do the quiz every single day).

 

New businesses accepting Bitcoin is never a bad thing

An opinion I’ve heard recently from several angles is this:

As more and more business adopt Bitcoin (Dish.com, Newegg, Overstock etc.), the value of Bitcoin today “should have been higher” than the current $480. One theory behind the fact that Bitcoin hasn’t increased nine month and is still down from its all-time high of $1200, is that new businesses adopting Bitcoin is actually bad for the price. It goes something like this:

New businesses accept Bitcoin, but convert everything to cash. The added sell pressure when these businesses sell their coins decreases the price of bitcoins.

I call bullshit.

I agree that most businesses that adopt Bitcoin sell 90-100% of their coins.

However, in my opinion that does not translate into any downward pressure whatsoever. To understand why, you need to look at the motivation of people who are using their coins.

If the only way people could cash out of Bitcoin was to dump them on stores in exchange for products and services, I would agree with this theory – people would have been waiting for any chance to sell, and now that there are more and more chances to cash out, they do it. However, that’s not the reality.

In most countries there have exited for years now multiple legitimate ways of cashing out bitcoins to fiat, ranging from OTC/Local Bitcoins to exchanges to dealers. If there are liquidity issues in some countries, it’s for cashing out large sums of money … for small sums you can always find a local trader to do a cash deal.  Any ‘new liquidation venue’ effect that can possibly be from a new store that starts accepting Bitcoin is far less than the positive effects of both the P.R, and the actual added utility given to all Bitcoin users by each new store.

A model I like to think about Bitcoin’s network effect is a three-fold one. Very crudely, you can think of this network effect as a multiple of three factors, U x B x G – for Users, Businesses, and Governments. Bitcoin emerged in 2009 a a purely user currency … it took until 2010 for the first pseudo-retail transaction to happen, and until 2011 for the first brick-and-mortar business to accept Bitcoin. Each new Bitcoin user adds incentive for businesses and governments to support it. Each new business attracts users and regulatory attention. New regulation, if it’s done right, makes it easier and safer for users and businesses.

So, every new business increases B, which has a huge effect today on adoption since U is pretty big (in the millions+) and G is progressing nice and steady. This positive effect of business adoption certainly outweighs any possible sale/liquidation pressure.

Do-overs

I just work up from another dream.

I’m in a very tough place.
I don’t remember the details, but me and other people are all being picked on, monitored, punished for every mistake, real or imagined. Constantly. Severly. This has always been the situation.

Then, at some point, we discover the power of the do-over.
We find in ourselves an ability to go back in time, and Choose Again.
We start doing-over small things.
Gradually, we build up the power to do-over larger and larger tracks of time.

We take back our life, our freedom, our happiness. We reach the state of always being able to choose our absolutely optimal, happiest reality. It’s wonderful.

Cut to the next scene. I’m with family, about to do something cautious, “just in case”.
And then I get it.
With the power of do-over, I never ever have to be cautious again.

Being cautious is what’s holding me back, even after I found the do-over power.

With this power, I never ever have to be cautious again.
I can do what I want, when I want it … and if something really bad happens … I can always do-over, even do-over years or decades of my life if need be.

I wake up, and realize … this may apply to real life.

In this life, it feels like I don’t have any do-over power.
I certainly don’t _feel_ like I have the power to rewind time even one millisecond.

However, what may be happening, is that since I always do have this power, completely and fully, I am choosing to never use it right now, but rather explore each situation to its fullest. I can always “do-over all the way back” if I reach a fork I don’t like. Even dying – isn’t that the ultimate do-over?

Imagine the quantum multiverse, the one with every chance ever taken, with ever coin landing in a super-position of heads and tails … the multiverse with an infinite number of collapsed universes as parts of it.

Imagine a single timeline along this multiverse, cropping from it out a single four-dimensional universe.

Imagine a being, a soul, traversing this single timeline.

The soul remembers the infinite nature of the multiverse. The soul knows that everything happens at once, all possible outcomes materializing in different branches of the multiverse. The soul can only see one timeline at a time, it cannot be everywhere at once.

The soul has the power to rewind arbitrary short or long tracks of time. However, as long as she remembers she has this power, she keeps using and abusing it, only exploring “the most perfect reality”. By always staying on this one specific “perfect branch of the multiverse” and never accepting any setback, any downside, no matter how minor, the soul is missing out big time. It can never explore the true depth of the multiverse, because she is afraid of the “not perfect”. Perhaps it is even bound to a local maximum - it is on a “hill of goodness”, but because it doesn’t dare venture off this hill, it can’t reach the huge mountain awaiting it across the valley.

So in order to truly utilize her amazing powers, the soul makes a conscious choice. She vows to never use this rewind power until “the end”, until she really really needs to … until things get too shitty to stay. To make it so, she sets it up so that we forget we have this power. The soul remembers, but the mind doesn’t know … and so we continue on believing that we only have one life, that there may be such a thing as a “wrong choice”, where in fact all choices are equally beautiful and valid in a multiverse where you are free to do unlimited do-overs.

Imagine the power you would have if you remembered this simple fact.

And the kicker is – there are indeed infinite do-overs!

Read about Quantum Immortality.
You can never experience the “sensation of dying”.
Your consciousnesses is created from this physical reality.

All physical realities happen simultaneously in parallel universes. The many-worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is the one requiring the fewest philosophical assumptions. It is the best way I found to understand the concrete data we have about how the world actually works (if you’re not convinced that Quantum Mechanics is how the world works, please stop using your computer, because it depends on QM to function).

If I’m not mistaken, I just made a breakthrough, connecting there core parts of my worldview.

  • I believe in the idea of “the multiverse”, the many-worlds interpretation of QM. That is the interpretation of QM that I adhere to.
  • I also believe in the idea of Quantum Immortality – essentially the idea that there exist infinite versions of you, and you can never experience dying, then you are immortal and will literally live forever – we all are.
  • Finally, on a personal note, I also believe in Zen Buddhism … my best yet very crude explanation of Zen would be “nothing really matters, just live your life and don’t worry too much”. It is the “religious” or spiritual attitude that has best served me personally over the years.

However, until now I haven’t made the connection between these three major parts of my belief. I haven’t realized that the reason nothing matters is because everything happens everywhere on some branch of the multiverse, and that “we” always get a do-over … because of the very way we define “we”, as something that is generated out of a physical reality.

There could be something more core to the definition of “we” or “I”, that isn’t derived from this physical reality … a soul, if you will … or perhaps it’s bullocks and everything is strictly physical. I don’t know if we will ever have the means of creating an experiment to separate a soul-less, completely physical universe, from a universe with “souls” … I think it’s more of a philosophical exercise.

In fact, there another “interpretation” that can be defined here … just like the many-worlds interpretation is by now one of the standard interpretations of QM, we can define a “soul interpretation” of the phenomenon of consciousness … and every person is then left to decide whether they identify with this interpretation or not … there can never be any physical experiment to distinguish between the “soul-less reality” and the “soul-full reality”, so it would be up to each person to make up their philosophical mind about the matter.

And so, the Soul Interpretation of Consciousness, combined with the many-world interpretation of QM, may lead to the conclusion at the core of this dream and that lies in the core of Conversations with God – you are all-powerful, you can do anything you want, you can check out multiple realities and do-over whenever you want … you just temporarily forgot how to do it.

Meeting God in a dream

Here is the content of a dream I just had (it’ 3:20 AM and I just woke up from my dream, had to write this down).

We’re having a gathering (friends? professional?). I am also due to participate in some sort of quiz tonight.
I am going to the airport to pick up someone and get them to that gathering (Anton? Antony?).
I pick them up, reach the gathering, take the quiz.

Then, I live through a SECOND VERSION of these exact events, while still remembering the first version of events.

I arrive at the airport three minutes sooner. I talk to my friend about this experience, mention that this is the second time these events are happening for me. We talk about it. I tell him that I remember already taking the quiz tonight, even though in this reality I haven’t yet taken the quiz.
I tell him I expect the general flow of events to be pretty similar to the first version, although there might be slight changes. I don’t remember all the details of the quiz, but heck, just being in a different mental state when doing it may mean my results in the quiz this time will be different.

We reach the gathering, and are about to get started with the business of the day.
Then one of the participants, Pasha, talks to me and asked me how the pickup from the airport went.
I tell him about the two versions of events I experienced.

He asks me how are things with my life.
I tell him the truth – the last year has been a challenge.
In fact, I admit, the last several years, I have been restless, never finding my center, switching from occupation to occupation. My personal life has also known its share of turmoil.

We talk about my next planned phase in life – having children with my wife.
He asks – “Is it possible that you are getting near?”
“Near what?”, I ask. I already know in my heart the answer is yes, even if I’m not sure what is being asked.

When you have children, are you ready to have a loving relationship with them?
To love them?
To be loved by them?
Or will you see them as a burdon, something to hinder and restrain your life? Just another thing to “manage”?

(My wife and I have been contemplating having children for a while. I can’t deny having fears that children will be a weight on my freedom, although I want to believe I can feel and focus on the love and not on the weight).

In my dream, I know all the answers.
I am ready to know how to live, how to love, what to do with my life.
I have no doubts.

Perhaps even I am ready to have a lingering state of precognition – to know multiple realities and choose the ‘best’ one, to learn lessons from ‘potential timelines’ and apply them in my real timeline.
In my dream, I have no questions, I am confident, content and strong.

… and then I woke up. The sensation of the dream was so strong, I just had to write the above text before it faded away.

A few times in the last year I’ve had waking ephiphanies like that.
A sensation that All Is Well, I’ve Found My Place, There is Nothing to Fear.
It’s a feeling I can only describe as Connection with GOD.
And then, after a while, the feeling goes away.
And it’s so hard, dealing with the fact that this feeling is temporary. Not feeling like this, after feeling like this, is hard for me.

I’ve never been religious in my life, always the atheist, the realist … but after experiencing this feeling multiple times, I find myself longing for this feeling. For me, it’s been about six months since I last felt that. This is the first time I remember having this feeling while dreaming (the other times I was awake).

I usually don’t write my dreams, but I knew I had to write this dream down before it faded away.
It reminds me of the contents of the book Conversation with God (a book which I highly recommend and identify with!)
The next logical step after writing the above text was publishing it in my blog.
I’m also going to get in touch with the friends I remember from my dream, and check whether they have some sort of message for me.

Have you ever had such feelings in your life? A feeling you have found your place, know all the answers, are in a complete state of Flow, have no fear, on doubt, are Connected?
Do you know the feeling I talk about?

I’ve lived for 32 years without ever experiencing that … and in my 33th year had multiple separate experiences like that … it’s perfectly ok if you haven’t. If you did happen to experience something like what I’ve described, please do share it with me, either in the comment section or in a private message.

Chat with a skype sexbot

[21:51:09] firm xori: are you online?
[21:51:13] *** Ron Gross has shared contact details with firm xori. ***
[21:51:15] Ron Gross: yeah
[21:51:34] firm xori: I’m 23/F looking for someone to talk too…
[21:52:03] Ron Gross: ?
[21:52:29] firm xori: My real name is Amanda and from Cali, can i ask u something?
[21:52:35] Ron Gross: please do
[21:53:04] firm xori: Do you like big booty girls with big tits? lol seriously cuz thats what i have. Is that too much for you to handle?
[21:53:31] Ron Gross: I’ll answer this if you answer me how much is 7 times 6… can you do that for me?
[21:53:42] Ron Gross: (I assume you know what a CAPTCHA is)
[21:53:54] Ron Gross: (If not, you should Google it)
[21:54:05] firm xori: ok this is really turning me on, i wanna show you what i’m wearing right now.. is that ok?
[21:54:21] Ron Gross: Hmm, I guess you’re a bot then. I am so shocked and surprised by this.
[21:54:38] Ron Gross: You’re sexy for a bot.
[21:54:54] firm xori: :) (heart) you make me smile a lot :) (heart) i want you to hold on really hard ;) i’m going to setup my camera for you.
[21:54:59] Ron Gross: Do you find math sexy? I do!
[21:55:20] Ron Gross: (man, these sexbots needs to improve a lot!)
[21:55:29] firm xori: Ok this is super easy just like goto http://H1m0W1Z9.disrespectmybody.com and accept the invitation on that website.
[21:55:38] Ron Gross: Oh no I don’t.
[21:55:51] Ron Gross: That smells like a phishing attempt… no thank you, just text for me!
[21:56:20] Ron Gross: BTW, if you want to know what a sexbot is – go read this: http://community.skype.com/t5/Security-Privacy-Trust-and/Sexual-Harrassment-by-individuals-using-multiple-accounts/m-p/2130715
[21:59:25] Ron Gross: What, that’s it? You gave up on me?
[21:59:36] Ron Gross: Show me some virtual tits!
[21:59:57] firm xori: fill out your cc info baby for Age verification ONLY, your card will not be charged. ok i’m ready for u now
[22:00:36] Ron Gross: Do you accept Bitcoin?
[22:00:45] Ron Gross: I prefer that over credit cards.
[22:00:52] Ron Gross: I’m actually willing to pay!
[22:01:00] Ron Gross: Shut up and take my money!
[22:01:04] firm xori: I want you to talk to me dirty baby. i really like that. What color Panties do you think i should wear?
[22:01:15] Ron Gross: Panties is lowercase p…
[22:01:47] firm xori: I’ll do anything you want me to do. I know how to make u happy, I can show you what fits in my mouth…
[22:03:37] Ron Gross: Can you fit a watermelon into your mouth?
[22:04:03] Ron Gross: Anyway, since you don’t accept Bitcoin, I don’t have any way to pay you… I’m certainly not giving my credit card info to some random chatbot.
[22:04:07] firm xori: I’m So Horny right now! Do Whatever You have to, to get in! i’ll spank my ass and tits until they are red for u!!!
[22:04:12] Ron Gross: Your loss … bye bye!