Travelling was my first love and remains one of my favourite ways to spend time.
Here’s one of my first ever travel writing commissions.
Currency as a concept is a headache in a box. A lot of economists are alcoholics and it’s no real wonder. To understand crypto-currency then, is to have the same headache and try treating it by swallowing two tabs of LSD.
This article is going to crack the smoke and blow away the mirrors surrounding Cryptocurrency and try to explain some of what it’s all about.
Altcoin – The best online Crypto-guide and also slang for all cryptocurrencies with the exception of Bitcoin.
Blockchain – A disruptive digital tech designed to act as a tamper-proof ledger. Blockchain technology underpins most cryptocurrencies.
Coin Age – Coin age is a term used to describe how long a trader has possessed their coins. Coin age equates to hours and is the number of coins multiplied by the time held.
Double Spend – Double spend is a term used to describe a dodgy deal. Traders attempt to sell the same coins in multiple transactions. To combat double spend deals, most coins have set protocols which require a set number of accepted transactions for inclusion in the blockchain.
Energy-Multiuse – Another branch of blockchain technology which allows a secondary activity as well as creating currencies. Primecoin is a good example of Energy-Multiuse
Faucet – An artificial dispenser of cryptocurrencies. The original concept was to drip feed free coins in a bid to increase the popularity of a currency. One infamous Bitcoin faucet gave away five free coins simply for registering. This amount today would be worth many thousands of dollars.
GridCoin – An active crypto coin linked to the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Grid coin is an open source project designed for philanthropic purposes.
Hardware Wallet – Also known as Bitcoin safes are stand-alone portable devices. They vary in shape and design but are all designed to protect your cryptocurrencies from hackers. They also make trading as portable as possible.
ICO – Initial Coin Offerings are in layman’s term a sort of crowd-funding campaign designed to facilitate the launch of a new currency. Ethereum was successfully launched via an ICO.
Jet coin – A cryptocurrency designed to promote sports and athletics.
Kimoto’s Gravity Well – This one’s a beauty. It’s a modified piece of code added to a Cryptocurrency algorithm to level the playing field if a coin has been the victim of aggressive mining.
Lightning Network – An after-market fix which was designed to solve the lag and power issues associated with Bitcoin and Litecoin’s increasingly power-hungry blockchains
Mining Pool – Individual mining is a thing of the past due to the complexity involved in finding blocks. Miners now work together, although there are a number of different ways to sort out the money.
Nodes – Nodes are essential parts of the blockchain. They are the core of how coins like Bitcoin operate, instead of a single ledger, Bitcoin’s ledger is spread throughout thousands of nodes each with a complete blockchain. This makes the system more secure and the more nodes there are, the less chance there will be of double spends.
Orphan block – An orphan block is a legitimate block that has not been accepted by the blockchain. These can occur when two miners each produce valid blocks within a very tight timescale.
Paper Wallet – Paper Wallet refers to the offline storage of Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies. They can take the form of paper, gift cards and even special coins. They involve the use of a printed code key.
QR CODES – Retailers who accept crypto-currencies as payment will often have scan-able QR codes to facilitate payment.
Ripple – One of the few cryptocurrencies not based on Bitcoin and the one with the largest market Cap.
Scrypt – Scrypt is the algorithm behind a number of cryptocurrencies, including Litecoin, Gridcoin and Dogecoin
Tangle – The tangle is a new system similar to Blockchain but without the need for miners. It is the core principle behind the next generation coin IOTA.
Unspent Transactions Outputs (or UTOX)– Any coins that have not been spent or traded are Unspent Transaction Output. This is one of the ways Bitcoin and other protocols keep track of coins.
Virgin Coins – When miners successfully create coins, these coins are known as virgin coins because they have never been traded or spent.
Wedge – Wedge is the name given to visual patterns on trading platforms. There are a number of different types and some traders try to use them to predict patterns so they can gain an advantage in the market.
X-coin – An active Scrypt based crypto-currency launched in 2017
Young Currencies – Cryptocurrencies are often referred to in the media as young currencies.
Zero Confirmation Transactions – As an industry in its infancy, Cryptocurrencies are not short of hazards. One of these is the considerable delay it can take to confirm a transaction. To combat this some exchanges are now promising Zero Confirmation Transactions to speed the process. Unfortunately, these transactions are an easy target for the double spenders (see above).
Today on my blog I am going to do something a bit different.
I write a lot of stuff, from blogs to pitches to comedy sketches and I work with a lot of fascinating people, one of my favourite clients is a guy called Alex Agricola the director of Black Raven Armoury and since I had some time to kill and we fancied a natter I thought I’d bend his ear a little.
Alex is an armourer. Yep, you read that right, he makes armour.
Oddly these days folks seem to know more about crypto-currency than they do about the art of leather craft and Alex is a brave bastion of time-honoured skills and hard-fought knowledge and also he makes some seriously beautiful things.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – So Alex, why did you become an armourer?
That’s a big question, but I suppose I’ve wanted to get involved in armour ever since I was a little boy. From the age of seven or eight I remember being fascinated with the history and the skills involved in making armour of all kinds. As a child, I went to drama school and my world was props, sets and costumes.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – Drama School eh? Tell us more… Anything we might have seen you in?
Alex – Well I could tell you but… No seriously, I attended the Italia Conti Stage School and my early years were spent in casting calls and popping up the background anywhere they needed some kids. Don’t tell everyone, but I’m in Ultravox’s Vienna Video and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, amongst other shall we say less cool appearances.
INTHEVENTOFIRE …and where does the name Black Raven Armoury come from?
Ah, that’s a good one and I think the answer is about the same age. It all goes back to a day trip to the Tower of London. My parents had decided to take their little history geek to see the treasures and the torture chambers and all the grisly stuff. But All I remember was the amazing swords and suits of armour… and the Ravens, of course. These huge black birds just sitting around liked they owned the place… which of course, they kind of do. So, years later when I had to choose a name for my company I knew there could only be one.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – Having worked with you I know how hard it is for you to talk about the film and TV stuff you’ve done… Non-disclosure agreements are a nightmare in your field. Without giving too much away, where might we have seen your work before?
Alex – The TV and Film world is the worst. It’s one of the hardest areas to break into and therefore one of the most coveted jobs. The companies who win these contracts have to do all they can to protect them. Which means although a show is likely to feature works by many makers, they’ll each have been forced into silence about what they made and for whom. Also when you supply something for a production company they don’t always tell you what show it was for. I always have a giggle when I see one of my pieces in a show I didn’t know it was in. I also do a lot of work with games designers and you’ll also have seen Black Raven design on book covers. The attention to detail in both of these fields has grown exponentially recently and they have transcended mere graphics.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – Can you elaborate?
Alex – Sure, my design were recently used in the Square Mega-hit Final Fantasy 14 and also in the Triple-A release Gods of War. The artists in the game first capture the designs and then digitally render them into the game world. They do the same with book covers. Fans of David Gemmel, for example, will be well acquainted with my work as it features on the covers of some of his books.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – A lot of what you do is obviously perfect for re-enactment, LARPing, cosplay and other similar events. Have you dabbled in these pursuits yourself?
Yes, being a drama brat, I had all those years of theatrical training and I lived for games. Naturally, when I found out there was a way I could do both… I said sign me up. I haven’t had time lately which is sad, but if I ever get a free weekend I’ll be back.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – we’ve seen a huge rise in Themed weddings and similar events is this something you’re involved in?
Alex – Absolutely, my order book is literally full of special commissions, many of which are for weddings and similar styled events. I think the rise of a show like Game Of Thrones and Vikings, in particular, has brought the art of the armourer into the public domain. At the moment I’m actually being forced to turn down a good deal of these commissions because I just don’t have the time.
Q5- INTHEVENTOFIRE Speaking of Game of Thrones are you a fan, or is watching it more of a busman’s holiday?
Oh I’m a huge fan. I love the fact that the costume team aren’t trying to be historically accurate. In the re-enactment world, and to a degree the LARP scene, there will always be those who hiss and fuss over every minute detail and I think that just detracts from everyone’s enjoyment.
Q 6 – INTHEVENTOFIRE – Have we seen of your armour on Game of Thrones?
Alex – I couldn’t possibly comment, but I will say that if you’ve watched anything with a historical or fantasy leaning over the last ten years there’s a good chance you’ll have seen something of mine somewhere on the screen.
Q7- INTHEVENTOFIRE – If you weren’t making armour what would you be doing?
Alex – That’s a good question, throughout my career I’ve always enjoyed the marketing aspect of the business too and I’ve built a solid social media following for Black Raven and all from scratch. Our posts generate huge engagement, thousands of likes, comments and shares. It’s really satisfying to know that there are people out there who are behind what we do. I suppose if they banned leather working tomorrow I’d become a Social Media Marketer and I do offer a consultancy service to other firms in the maker world. And of course I’m still an actor and I even still have an agent.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – When can I get my own Black raven Armour? And as a final question do you have a favourite piece you’ve made.
Alex – I don’t even have one of my own at the moment and I love all the pieces we make because there’s so much love in the process. From the countless blisters and nicks my hands have received, to the mad ideas like running one of the sets over in a Ford Fiesta to try and get a proper battle-worn finish on it. I suppose if pressed I’d say right now my favourite is the Bjorn set. I am proud of the way it’s turned out and I think it looks great.
INTHEVENTOFIRE – Thank you very much for speaking to us.
Thankfully that’s not the case with Lapstander. I wrote the web page, the crowdfunding campaign, the video script and I even had a hand in the name… (can’t say it aloud, but it was basically my idea)
Any hoo it’s going to launch imminently on Kickstarter so watch this space…
One of the projects I am proudest to be involved in is Universe.
Universe is a classic Golden Age style Super Hero story about a full powered African American super hero.
Our hero is Anthony Russell, an Ivy League student and young astronaut whose spaceship malfunctions during its maiden flight.
Back home he is presumed dead, but his craft drifts into a mysterious nebula where he is cocooned and bombarded by Dark Matter.
I can’t say more than that at the moment, but the project is nearly ready for launch and prior to that we’ve started building up the social media… So come and like us on Facebook…
You’d think, having taken almost two years to reclaim my website password from the guardians of the internet, that I’d have made more effort to update said website…
but who asked you anyway…
Still, here’s what you missed.
I helped this happen… I wrote the pitch, the script, did some editing, consulted, promoted and gave high fives all through the campaign…
I also helped these guys…
I wrote this… (and there’s a whole lot more to come…)
I also wrote a film script, loads of blogs, more content than you can count and all sorts of written sparkle… and some MEMES…
Speaking of blogs, here’s one I did earlier…
Oh and this…
I’ll write more soon… well, I might…
The internet has become the world’s most important resource for news. It has overtaken press groups and stock libraries to become the go-to destination for anyone wishing to know anything. Seconds after a world changing event, tweeted pictures and live streams bounce around the globe at the speed of fibre optic and nothing and no one is sacred.
Information Utopia at last? …if only
The problem with this sudden availability of info is that it doesn’t serve those who seek to control the flow of news and those who have this power have a hidden ace… namely us.
The media only needs to let us poison our well and the sudden powerful access we currently share will be worthless… in short, we need to stop sharing crap.
I am writing this article because of the sheer volume of spin, nonsense and disinformation I have come across on the internet recently and we really need to sort out how we are using our new super power.
So how do you spot a fake news story?
The answer is surprisingly simple and here are some tips to prevent the flow of crud.
2. Check the date – This year I’ve seen pictures from the 1960’s Woodstock festival masquerading as peaceful pipeline protests in Aug 2016 and four-year-old war reports from Syria pretending to be tales from the front line. Human beings have been around for a long time and if you look hard enough you can find an image or a headline to fit pretty much any idea.
3. The devil is in the details – Beware of sensational headlines with vague details. If atrocities occur at least allow the victims to be remembered. Don’t fall for ‘a man from a village was eaten by ISIS.’ People like Donald Trump need people to be scared of ISIS and by spreading these awful tales you are only helping him and others like him. When terrible things happen records will exist. Name, age and location or it probably didn’t happen.
4. Check the source – This can be tricky for a number of reasons. For one it’s very easy for anyone to own a domain name and put up a slick looking news site and secondly, the state of the UK press means they are capable of just about anything. As a rule, crossreference the story. It’s unlikely that everyone bought it, so even if the BBC was daft enough to share it, Channel four or Reuters might have had some reservation.
5. Use your commonsense – We all have a built in bulls*it detector. If something is worrying you about a story, go with your gut and apply tips 1-4 until you discover the truth.
That’s it, go tell the world… the truth
*pic above creative commons