Show of 10-30-2021

Tech Talk

October 30, 2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. Time for NFT’s Part II. Your previous discussion on NFT’s answered many questions, but just how does one register a NFT? If a culinary student at Stratford University developed a new, unique sauce, for example, and wanted to record it with a NFT token how would he or she record it with a NFT? Is there a unique URL? Would he/she have to be able to deal with Bitcoin? Just trying to understand procedure more. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: NFTs have become one of the hottest crypto trends of 2021, with overall sales up 55% already since 2020, from $250 million to $389 million.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique collectible crypto assets, have been around as early as 2012 when the concept of Bitcoin Colored Coins first emerged.
  • NFTs can be used to represent virtually any type of real or intangible item, including: artwork, virtual items in video games, music, collectibles, real estate, cars, racehorses, virtual land, and much more.
  • Creating your own NFT artwork is a relatively straightforward process and does not require extensive knowledge of the crypto industry. Before you start, you will need to decide on which blockchain you want to issue your NFTs. Ethereum is currently the leading blockchain service for NFT issuance. However, there is a range of other Blockchains that are becoming increasingly popular, but I prefer Ethereum at the current time.
  • Since Ethereum has the largest NFT ecosystem, here’s what you will need to mint your own NFT artwork, music or video on the Ethereum blockchain:
    • An Ethereum wallet that supports ERC-721 (the Ethereum-based NFT token standard), such as MetaMask, Trust Wallet or Coinbase Wallet.
    • Around $50-$100 in ether (ETH). If you are using Coinbase’s wallet you can buy from the platform with U.S. dollars.
  • Once you have these, there are a number of NFT-centric platforms that allow you to connect your wallet and upload your chosen image or file that you want to turn into an NFT. The main Ethereum NFT marketplaces include:
    • OpenSea
    • Rarible
    • Mintable
  • We will walk through creating an NFT with OpenSea. You will you to connect your Ethereum-based wallet. Once you have entered your wallet password when requested it will automatically connect your wallet with the marketplace.
  • The next step is to hover over “create” in the top right corner and select “my collections.” Click the blue “create” button as shown below. A window will appear that allows you to upload your artwork, add a name and include a description. This part is essentially just you creating a folder for your newly created NFTs to go in.
  • Once you have assigned an image for your collection, it will appear as shown below (blue). You will then need to add a banner image to the page by clicking on the pencil icon in the top right corner (red).
  • Now, you are ready to create your first NFT. Click on the “Add New Item” button (blue) and sign another message using your wallet. You will arrive at a new window where you can upload your NFT image, audio, GIF or 3D model. You will have the option to include special traits and attributes to increase the scarcity and uniqueness of your NFT.
  • Once you are finished, click “create” at the bottom and sign another message in your wallet to confirm the creation of the NFT. The artwork should then appear in your collection. While it costs nothing to make NFTs on OpenSea, some platforms charge a fee. With Ethereum-based platforms, this fee is known as “gas.” Ethereum gas is simply an amount of ether required to perform a certain function on the blockchain.
  • To sell your NFTs on a marketplace, you will need to locate them in your collection, click on them and find the “sell” button. Clicking this will take you to a pricing page where you can define the conditions of the sale including whether to run an auction or sell at a fixed price. Ether and other ERC-20 tokens are the most common cryptocurrencies you can sell your NFTs for. Listing NFTs on a marketplace sometimes requires a fee in order to complete the process. While it is not the case with every platform, it is something to be mindful of when creating NFTs.
  • Email from Lois in Erie: Dear Tech Talk. I have heard bad things about Facebook privacy. On the other hand, I have also heard how families from all over the world can connect and share as though they were still together. Is there a way to have the best of both worlds: share as a family, yet maintain privacy from evil lurkers? Love the show. Lois in Erie, Kansas
  • Tech Talk Responds: Facebook is a good way to stay in touch with family members. However, you may not want to share with everyone. One solution is to create a Facebook group comprised of only family members. It is quite easy to accomplish
    • Log in to your Facebook account and click the “Home” link on the toolbar.
    • Select “Create Group” from the options on the left side of the page.
    • Create a suitable name for your group, such as The Johnson Family.
    • Set your group’s privacy settings. Setting the group to “Closed” prevents nonmembers from seeing any postings. New members must be approved by a group administrator. Setting the group to “Secret” hides the group from everybody but its members.
    • Add at least one family member to your group by typing a Facebook username into the Members field. Note: you can only add Facebook friends.
    • Click the “Create” button.
    • Set up the basic appearance of the group page by clicking the gear icon at the top of the page and selecting “Edit Group” from the options.
    • Invite other family members to join the group.
  • That all there is to it. You now have a private family Facebook group.

 

Profiles in IT: Stewart Brand

  • Stewart Brand is an American writer best known as editor of the Whole Earth Catalog and co-founder of The WELL, the first virtual online virtual community.
  • Brand was born December 14, 1938, in Rockford, Illinois. From 1954 to 1956, he attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
  • In 1960, he graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Biology.
  • From 1960 to 1962, he was an active duty, U.S. Army officer. He took up skydiving, taught basic infantry training, and worked as photojournalist out of the Pentagon.
  • In 1962, he studied design at San Francisco Art Institute and photography at San Francisco State. He participated in legal LSD studies at International Foundation for Advanced Study, Menlo Park, California.
  • From 1963 to 1966, he researched, photographed, designed, and performed the multi-media event, America Needs Indians.
  • 1964-66, Hung out with Ken Kesey, Merry Pranksters, and early Acid Tests.
  • 1966, Designed and organized the “Trips Festival,” a 3-day rock-light watershed event at Longshoreman’s Hall, where the Grateful Dead first performed in SF
  • About 10,000 hippies attended and Haight-Ashbury soon emerged as a community.
  • Brand has lived in California since the 1960s. He and his second wife live on Mirene, a 64-foot (20 m)-long working tugboat, moored in Sausalito, California.
  • In 1966, while on an LSD trip on the roof of his house in North Beach, San Francisco, Brand became convinced that seeing an image of the whole Earth would change how we think about the planet and ourselves.
  • He campaigned to have NASA release a satellite image of the entire Earth. In 1967, a satellite, ATS-3, took the Earth photo and released it.
  • Brand thought the image of our planet would be a powerful symbol. It adorned the first edition of the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968.
  • In late 1968, Brand assisted Douglas Engelbart with The Mother of All Demos, a presentation of many revolutionary computer technologies (including hypertext, email, and the mouse) to the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco.
  • Brand surmised that given the necessary consciousness and information, human beings could make the world into environmentally and socially sustainable.
  • During the late 60s and early 70s, about 10M were involved in living communally. Brand and his wife Lois travelled to communes in a 1963 Dodge truck.
  • In 1968, using the most basic approaches to typesetting and page-layout, Brand and his colleagues created The Whole Earth Catalog, highlighting tools for the community, inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s idea that tools defined the society.
  • He wanted to give them (liberal arts majors) the tools needed to reinvent civilization.
  • That first oversize Catalog, and its successors in the 1970s and later, included things could serve as useful tools for communes along with reviews of the best items.
  • The influence of these Whole Earth Catalogs on the rural back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s was widespread. A 1972 edition sold 1.5 million copies.
  • To publish full-length articles on specific topics in the natural sciences and invention, Brand founded the CoEvolution Quarterly (CQ) during 1974 for educated laypersons.
  • He believed that man has still within him sufficient resources to alter the direction of modern civilization to reverse the impact of technological development.
  • In 1984, he founded the Whole Earth Software Review, a supplement to the Whole Earth Software Catalog. The Review merged with CoEvolution Quarterly in 1985.
  • In 1985, Brand and Larry Brilliant founded The WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link), a prototypical, wide-ranging online virtual community.
  • The ideas behind the WELL were inspired by Douglas Engelbart’s work at SRI.
  • In 2000, Brand helped to launch the All Species Foundation, which aimed to catalog all species of life on Earth until its closure in 2007.
  • During 1986, Brand was a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab.
  • In 1988, he became a co‑founder of the Global Business Network, which explores global futures and business strategies informed by values endorsed by Brand.
  • The GBN has become involved with the evolution and application of scenario thinking, planning, and complementary strategic tools.
  • The Whole Earth Catalog implied an ideal of human progress that depended on decentralized, personal, and liberating technological development.
  • During 2005, he criticized international environmental ideology, suggesting other that environmentalists embrace nuclear power and genetically modified organisms.
  • Brand later developed these ideas into a book and published the Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto in 2009.
  • Brand is co‑chair and President of the Board of Directors of the Long Now Foundation. Brand chairs the foundation’s Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT). This series focuses on the long-term thinking of our thought leaders.
  • His net worth in 2021 is estimated to be $13 million.

Observations from the Faculty Lounge

  • From The Well to Facebook, what went wrong?
  • Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link in 1985, starting with a dialog between the fiercely independent writers and readers of the Whole Earth Review.
  • It became the location where the online community movement was born, where Howard Rheingold first coined the term virtual community.
  • Here are his words: Finding the WELL was like discovering a cozy little world that had been flourishing without me……I soon discovered that I was audience, performer, and scriptwriter, along with my companions, in an ongoing improvisation…They invited me to help create something new…The WELL felt like an authentic community from the start because it was grounded in the everyday physical world
  • WELL members have made fast friends, created enduring traditions, gathered casually face-to-face in cities around the world, and provided mutual support.
  • They founded organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Craig’s List.
  • You did not need an invitation from a member in order to become part of The WELL. You did need to use your real name. The WELL’s goal is to facility dialogue, not to make money.
  • And then Facebook was born, a connecting platform designed to make money in the image of Mark Zuckerberg. His is short litany of Facebook’s miscalculations.
    • In 2003, one year before Facebook was founded, a website called Facemash began nonconsensually scraping pictures of students at Harvard from the school’s intranet and asking users to rate their hotness. It caused an outcry. Mark Zuckerberg quickly offered an apology.
    • In 2004, Zuckerberg cofounded Facebook, which rapidly spread from Harvard to other universities. In 2006, Facebook blindsided its users with the launch of News Feed without any privacy controls. Zuckerberg apologized.
    • Then in 2007, Facebook’s Beacon advertising system was launched without proper controls or consent. It ended up compromising user privacy by making purchases public. Zuckerberg an apologised, promising to improve.
    • In 2010, Facebook violated users’ privacy by making key types of information public without consent or warning, Zuckerberg again apologised.
    • Between 2008 and 2015, Facebook had allowed thousands of apps to scrape data from Facebook users (and their friends. One such app siphoned data on 87 million users forwarded it to Cambridge Analytica. Zukerberg apologized again, “I’m really sorry that this happened. This was certainly a breach of trust.”
  • Facebook is incorrigible with Zuckerberg at this helm, even with the new name Meta.
  • He is not altruistic like the founders of The WELL. He is a profit seeking without a moral compass. Facebook has been bad for the planet. Love live The WELL

Trivia of the Week: First MP3 Song

  • In the early 1980s, German electrical engineering doctoral candidate Karlheinz Brandenburg was working on his dissertation.
  • The focus of his research was digital audio encoding and perceptual measurement techniques—research that would go on to become the basis for the digital music revolution and the ubiquitous MP3 format.
  • To test the quality of the compression algorithms he was creating, he focused on human vocals. Instrumental music compresses fairly well, but the human ear is highly tuned to detect irregularities in the human voice.
  • Brandenburg was confident that any compression algorithm that could successfully compress the human voice without problems would handle everything else thrown at it just fine.
  • In order to test his algorithms, he selected the 1987 a cappella version of the hit Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega. He used her voice as a benchmark and refined the algorithms so that not only could they compress instrumental work, but preserve the warmth of human vocals too.
  • Because of Brandenburg’s extensive use of Tom’s Diner to test audio compression techniques, modern audio engineers informally refer to the song as “The Mother of the MP3”.
  • Vega called it Tom’s Diner, but she was inspired by the famous New York City restaurant Tom’s Restaurant, which was near where she grew up in NYC.
  • Link to Tom’s Diner song: https://youtu.be/DkYPge6ZKSQ