Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 17th, 2014

Video of the Hermel car explosion (Lebanon)
The large town of Hermel in north Bekaa Valley has mostly been neglected since Lebanon was handed its independence in 1943, and the last mandated French troops vacated Lebanon in 1946.
Hermel is on the border with Syria and the mighty Al Assy River take source from there and runs 600 km within Syria, passing through Homs and emptying north of Lattaquieh.
Most suicide car bombing receive lots of media attention and the scenes run in loops all day long: Except what happened in Hermel, very late coverage, waiting for the Live Coverage of the International Court first trial reading of the Rafik Hariri assassination.
Hermel was so neglected that the late Sabri Hamadi, from Hermel and Head of the Parliament for many decades, paved the roads of all the towns in the vicinity except the main road leading to Hermel.
A popular saying made the round at the time: “If Hermel roads were to be paved, Sabri’s tail would have done it” (Mind you that sabri means “my patience” and zabri means “my penis”, a saying working on the two meanings). “Lao sabri ma 3abada, zabri ken zaffata...”
I didn’t know about the explosion that took place around 9 am until noon: Someone in the private library that I patronize blurted out this “incident”.
I checked FB and didn’t read any news on that event and wrote: “Hey there. Anyone knows of the explosion in Hermel?”
Not till evening did I read a little about the car explosion on FB.
A mother lost her son who worked as street sweeper in front of the municipality. A girl recounted how the assassin blocked her road in order to park the stolen Jeep from the coastal town of Antilias in the Metn district last year.
The Lebanese channels were covering live the blatant  “accusation” of 4 people who were tracking the ware-about of Rafik Hariri on their cellular, days before his assassination. The car explosion targeting the convoy of Hariri was of  3,000 kilos of TNT on Feb. 14, 2005.
Couldn’t these “accused”, even before the formal trial starts, be assigned to protect Hariri from strong warnings of attempt at Hariri’s life?
Note 1: Two weeks later, another car explosion in Hermel by a kamikaze harvested three people and injured 10 bystanders in front of a gas station.
فيديو اول لحظات الانفجار

terrorist attack @ the peaceful Lebanese village Hermel by the FSA and al Nusra salafist rats and the suicide attack causes 4 deaths and 28 injured death of innocent civilians people

Bitcoin 2014? Any different from the previous years?

I decided to re-post this selected top posts in order to understand what is Bitcoin, the jargon associated with, and particularly that China is heavily engaged in that business.

With all the speculations about Bitcoin and the exciting 2013 behind us, I thought  (India Lightspeed Venture Partners) that a list of predictions for 2014 would be a good way to start this year.

These predictions are based on growth patterns of similar networks, the traction in various ecosystem activities last year and my conversations with various Bitcoin enthusiasts.

So here are my Top 10 predictions for Bitcoin 2014.

January 13, 2014

Bitcoin 2014 – Top 10 predictions

1. More than $100M of venture capital will flow into Bitcoin start-ups.

This pool of capital will be distributed across local/global exchange start-ups (e.g. BTC China*), merchant related services (e.g. Bitpay), wallet services (e.g. Coinbase) and a host of other innovative start-ups.

A large chuck of the capital is likely to flow into start-ups which have emerged winners in their respective segment with a majority of the market share. Building exchange liquidity and merchant network is tough.

These businesses are likely to command high valuations as well. There would be plenty of money available for start-ups trying to solve a plethora of other challenges (e.g. private insurance, security), that exist with Bitcoin growth and adoption today.

2. Mining ‘will not’ be dead (guess it is about mining data?)

A lot of press notes and individual viewpoints state that mining is dead as we are already in the petahash domain and are restricted by Moore’s law from a technological stand point.

I believed this until I heard Butterfly Labs and HighBitcoin talk about how enterprises can potential adopt mining.

With transactions and transaction fees rising, it would be highly profitable for large enterprises to have data centers with mining equipment to process daily transactions.

The medium enterprises, who cannot invest in capital expenditure, would resort to cloud based mining.

Finally, the small enterprises would have to pay the transaction fees, to the network. This fees would still be lower than in comparison to Visa and Mastercard. In conclusion, we can potentially witness investment from large and medium enterprises in mining farms as early as the end of 2014.

3. There will be less than 5 alt-coins (out of the 50+ in existence) that will survive 2014

The open source nature of the Bitcoin protocol led to the advent of over 50+ alt-coins, most of which are blatant rip-offs with a tweak or two here and there. These can be divided into three categories

  1. Coins which are Ponzi schemes, where the sole purpose of the inventor is to drive the price of the alt-coin up and them dump
  2. Coins which can be mined easily and can have potentially more liquidity than Bitcoin
  3. Coins, which are based on a fundamental innovation and can result in specific adoption or security led use cases.

In my opinion, only the category 3 ones would survive.

PPC coin, which has introduced a proof-of-stake system in addition to proof-of-work is one such coin. It is in my list of survivors. It is also important to note that presently, other than Bitcoin, no other alt-coin has shown the potential for a growth in its acceptance network among merchants or companies. This is likely to remain true for 2014 as well.

4. Bitcoin community will solve problems including that of ‘anonymity’

One of the key roadblocks for governments and financial institutions to start participating in Bitcoins is the anonymous nature of its transactions.

This has led regulators to believe that Bitcoin can potentially be used for money laundering, terrorist support etc.

The good news that we have a very active Bitcoin community globally, which is constantly evolving the protocol. Hence, my prediction that in an effort to make Bitcoin more accepted, this community will come out with a solution to ‘anonymity’ that regulators can live with.

One of the ways is it being done today is by forcing exchanges, wallet services and other Bitcoin companies to have KYC practices similar to those of financial institutions. As a side thought – Internet was and is still used for porn. That does not make it ‘not useful’!

5. US, China and other global forces will not be at the forefront of Bitcoin adoption

Fincen, PBOC and RBI’s reaction to Bitcoin in US, China and India points to one single conclusion – we are not going to let a ‘controlled’ and ‘vast’ financial system adopt a decentralized cyprto-currency, which can be anonymous and used for illegal activities…as yet.

Countries which have had a history of currency issues and have not had effective monetary policies are the ones who will be at the forefront of Bitcoin adoption.

With China out of the mix currently, one can look at Argentina, Cyprus and others to lead. These may be smaller as a % of the global base. However they are likely to have much more local penetration and most importantly more government support or less government intervention – whichever way you want to look at it.

Successful internet and mobile companies in the US/Europe are the ones, who are most likely to offer digital goods in Bitcoins. Zynga just announced their experiment. I would not be surprised if Spotify, Netflix etc are next.

6. Indian ecosystem will be slow to evolve; limited to speculators and mining pools

The Indian Bitcoin start-up ecosystem today is limited to less than 10 start-ups across exchanges such as Unocoin, wallet services such as Zuckup, mining pools such as Coinmonk and some other ideas – compared to 100s of them in each US and China.

There is little evidence today to ascertain whether any of these start-ups are going to create a home market or serve an international market. In fact on the contrary, the Indian market is likely to be served by global Bitcoin companies.

For instance, Itbit, a Singapore based exchange has already started targeting Indian consumers. Global services have demonstrated the capability to be credible, especially when it comes to convenience and security by solving complex algorithmic problems.

This also makes them more defensible in the long run (e.g. Coinbase’s splitting of private keys to prevent theft) and poses a big challenge for Indian Bitcoin start-ups. There is an active Bitcoin community in India (about 15-20 people), which is trying hard to create awareness among consumers and regulators. I sincerely hope to see at-least 1 world-class Bitcoin start-up to comes out of India.

7. The use of Bitcoin will evolve beyond ‘store of value’ or ‘transactions’

The underlying Bitcoin protocol makes itself applicable beyond the use cases of ‘store of value’ and ‘payments’. The Bitcoin foundation took a huge step in allowing meta data to be included in the blockchain.

This will unlock a lot of innovation and maybe even prompt regulators to acknowledge the potential of Bitcoin, making it all the more difficult for them to shut it down or suppress it.

As one can see from the current Bitcoin ecosystem map ( that there are almost no start-ups, which solely use the protocol without using the ‘coin’ or the ‘currency’ as a function. 2014 will be the first year to see some of these.

8. The ‘browser’ of Bitcoin will come this year

Netscape browser made Internet happen. ‘Something’ will make Bitcoin happen.

It is still very difficult for the average ‘Joe’ to understand, acquire, store and use Bitcoins. Though Coinbase and several others are working on innovative security algorithms and making it easy to store Bitcoins digitally, it is still not enough to make Bitcoin mainstream.

Hence, what a ‘browser’ did to the Internet, a product or technology innovation will do it to ‘Bitcoin’ in 2014. This will make the transition to Bitcoins frictionless. Kryptokit and Eric Voorhees’ Coinapult are promising start-ups in this direction. Encouragingly, all the building blocks for that to happen – like mobile penetration, cryptography algos etc are already in place.

9. The price of Bitcoin is likely to range between $4000-5000 by the end of 2014

Well, though some people will argue otherwise, price is not the most important thing about Bitcoin.

But given the interest and its volatility, it does deserve a place in this blog post. Speculators have predicted Bitcoin to go upto $100, 000; some say the maximum it can reach is $1300.

Though, I’m sure that there is some underlying basis for these predictions; here is the one for mine. Bitcoin’s price is a function of supply and demand. While the supply is predictive, the demand is less so.

However, the increase in the demand of Bitcoin can be compared to networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which have followed a ‘S’ curve of adoption.

All such networks typically take 6-8 years to plateau out with year 4-5 being the steepest. Though Bitcoin was invested 4 years ago, I would say that 2013 was its 2nd real year.

Given the nature of the ‘S’ curve, the price increase in 2014 is likely to be 3-4 times more than the one this year. Hence, the $4000-$5000 range, where the Bitcoin price is likely to settle down in 2014.

10. Last but not the least – Satoshi nakamoto will be Time’s Person of the Year 2014.

Please read about him here.

* Investments of Lightspeed Venture Partners

Is your novel worth the tree chopped for you? Part 1

A few quotes from the French book “Journal of a writer in pajama” by Dany Laferriere.

You have no idea the energy contained in a first novel. It would be beneficial to read many first novels and capture the catalytic drive in order to finish your first novel…

It is almost impossible to finish a novel until you start on the next one. Paradoxically, this closure is difficult since the discouragement on your new novel reverts you to the previous unfinished novel…

You cannot become a good writer if you persist on protecting your mother… (Good writers spread their wings after the passing away of their mothers?)

You always have this choice: Read a good book or write a bad one

When discouraged that all has been said, mind you that all has not been read, particularly you book in progress

A new theme becomes personal when obsessed with

An author suffering from “writer’s block” tends to define “writing”

Too much energy drives you to walk the streets. Too little energy and you won’t leave the bed. Mind to dose the level of energy needed to resume writing…

We are experiencing one war too many, and far lesser “war novels”

Are you in the mood of talking about death? Make one of your characters board the train heading to the war front.

The real literary material is the first person you meet in the street. Stop wasting your time to rediscover yourself

The narrator resembles you. It’s an error to believe that the author is talking about you.

Adding “He said” in a dialogue means that you failed to properly describe and blend the characteristics of the person in the dialogue

Keep writing till the fear disappear. A good author never cease fearing.

Mind you that “silence” is a language. Learn to include silence in your novel and convey it.

Note: Dany Laferriere was born in Haiti in 1953. He published many books, including “Vers le Sud, 2006″ (Southbound), “Enigme du retour, 2009)” (Enigma of the Return) and “Tout bouge autour de moi” (All move around me)




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