Got my first Steemit.com payments today!

Got my first Steemit.com payments today!
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last week, I announced I had signed up with the new social media platform, Steemit. Today, seven days later, I got my first payments for the posts I made: about $30. This is really quite remarkable, because after several years of maintaining this blog, I have barely made $50 from Google AdSense and affiliate marketing. I have deliberately avoiding loading the blog with ads, because I find ad-heavy websites really annoying, especially as some advertisers use some very aggressive tricks to hijack readers’ attention away from your content. Steemit has given “liking” a post — “upvoting” in Steemit terms — a monetary reward. The minimum reward is 1 cent, but upvotes from longtime users of the platform have more weight, and pay higher rewards. Rewards are paid out every seven days. Here are my very first payments. The Steemit economy is a bit arcane. There are two kinds of rewards: Steem Power and Steem Dollars. The first gives your upvotes and reposts (resteems) weight; more Steem Power translates into more influence and into payment for curating others’ posts. The second is a kind of cryptocurrency, which can be saved in your wallet or traded for other currencies ...

I am now on Steemit!

I am now on Steemit!
JISHOU, HUNAN — In my ever continuing pursuit to leave no blogstone unturned on the Intertubes, I have just signed up with Steemit.com, the hot new blogging platform. Steemit is unique in that it rides on top of a blockchain and allows bloggers to earn money (Steem Power and Steem Dollars) based on that blockchain. Steem tokens can be exchanged for US dollars, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or left to accumulate on Steemit to earn interest or to loan out. A blockchain is a distributed ledger — pioneered by Bitcoin — upon which developers can build a variety of online services. As I am still learning the ropes there, I’m going to let this video below do the explaining of how it all works. My username at Steemit.com is @wheatdogg (naturally). For now, I will probably cross-post my WordPress blogs there, but some content I write for each venue will be specific to that venue. In other words, you’ll have to follow me at both places. The video:

Loose change found in a sticky note on a wall

Loose change found in a sticky note on a wall
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last month I reported I had found “loose change” in a hard drive backup, but regretted losing the password to free some of it from captivity. I found the password today, and in the nick of time, too. What I had found in a backup were the wallet files for two cryptocurrencies I had bought in 2014, then eventually forgot about. One of the files held about $2.50 of Namecoin, while the other (at the time) held about $8 of PeerCoin. Trouble was, the PeerCoin wallet was encrypted with a passphrase I had long since forgotten. After wracking my brain for a few days and trying different possible passphrases, I gave up on the project, assuming those $8 would be forever out of my reach. Then today I learned PeerCoin’s value had shot up from 80 cents to $2, making my tiny holding worth $20. Once again, I attempted to guess the long lost passphrase, to no avail. Just before I had classes this afternoon, I went over to my desk to fetch something and noticed one of the sticky notes on the wall behind my computer screen had curled up enough to hide the note written ...

Epilogue to my Bitcoin dilemma: I got my money back

Epilogue to my Bitcoin dilemma: I got my money back
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, after three telephone calls and four chat sessions on Huobi’s customer service chat window, I finally got my 500 yuan ($73) deposit back two weeks after I sent it. All is well now. I won’t bother you with all the details, but bank-to-bank transfers in China are persnickety affairs. The sender has to specify the exact bank branch at which the recipient opened his or her account. And my branch at the university is a sub-branch of another branch, so the system was not allowing the transfer to go through. Or something. Anyway, I got my money back. I am still unable to bind my bank card at Huobi without a national ID number, so obtaining Bitcoin using Huobi or BTCChina, despite my previous relationships with them, is impossible for the foreseeable future. In education news, I am spending this weekend recreating my lesson plans and syllabi for courses I taught in 2014-15 to submit to the college. Why, you ask? Well, the college needs to get accreditation (if that’s what it’s called here) from the provincial education bureau. To get it, each instructor has to provide detailed lesson plans and syllabi for courses taught in ...

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I got a reply from BTCChina today to my inquiry about continued use of their services. You can guess what it was. But here it is from the horse’s mouth. Good day! Our sincere apologies for this matter. BTCChina will no longer allow foreigners to use our services. You cannot use BTCChina from now on. Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to let us know anytime. Thank you very much and have a nice day! Best Regards, Customer Service 1011 This reply has two explanations. Given that both Huobi and BTCChina had no problem before with my using their exchanges with a foreign passport as ID, this new policy confirms that the government is trying to restrict the flow of Chinese yuan out of the country, other than by official channels, and that government regulators want the Chinese Bitcoin exchanges to only deal with Chinese citizens, who would be easier to control legally (or extra-legally) than foreign residents. While I have not heard back from Huobi about my bank card + passport issue, I can now assume that they will tell me the same thing as BTCChina — that Huobi can no longer ...

Living your dream sometimes has unforeseen consequences

Living your dream sometimes has unforeseen consequences
JISHOU, HUNAN — Here’s a bittersweet anecdote from the world of teaching. Last week, I was looking for a TED talk about careers to show my students and found one by a dynamic guy named Scott Dinsmore, who founded an organization called Live Your Legend. Since TED speakers talk a mile a minute, courtesy of the 18-minute time limit, I included the English subtitles to help with their comprehension. The freshmen liked it, so this morning I shared it with the sophomores. During the break, I decided to visit Dinsmore’s website to check it out. Since China blocks YouTube and Vimeo, we couldn’t see the video on the main page in class. When I watched it after coming back to my flat, I got an unpleasant surprise. Scott Dinsmore was killed in a rockslide on Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2015. Everyone else in the climbing party, including his wife, survived. He was 33. Now, if TED had bothered to note Dinsmore had died, I might have chosen a different video. As it is, I should tell my students that living your dream sometimes has unfortunate consequences, but that they should never hesitate to take risks. His message, which is ...

Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace

Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace
HONG KONG — Even before Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) won the election, I had planned to visit Hiroshima during my Japan tour. Now that he’s president, visiting this city is especially poignant. During the campaign, both Trump and his rival for the nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke casually of using nuclear weapons on ISIS and our other enemies, as if dropping them would solve all our problems. [See notes below for details.] Their comments made me cringe, as neither man seems to comprehend the horrors of nuclear weapons. If they did, they would never suggest using them in such an off-the-cuff manner. I wanted to visit Hiroshima to see how the city has rebounded from its utter destruction in 1945. Now, you would hardly know the city was once a pile of rubble. Ground zero is now occupied by a peace park, which is surrounded by high rise buildings. Hiroshima is a vibrant testimony to the strength of the human spirit. Rather than be depressed by my brief visit, I was uplifted. Hiroshima has moved on, choosing to stand for peace and reconciliation, not hate and retribution, despite the horrors the A-bomb brought on.. Everyone should read John Hersey’s Hiroshima. ...

A teacher grades Donald Trump’s remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F

A teacher grades Donald Trump's remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN — Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) made some remarks Wednesday about Black History Month and (the bust of) Martin Luther King Jr. that have left many puzzled. For one thing, Trump appeared to believe Frederick Douglass (at left) was still alive, though he died 122 years ago. Less puzzling was the extent to which Trump took the opportunity to talk about himself and his campaign. In a speech of less than 800 words, he managed to address the topic of Black History Month and notable African-Americans less than half the time. To demonstrate what I mean, I’ve highlighted in red anything pertinent to the subject of Black History Month and struck out anything relating to Trump and his campaign and election. If this had been a homework assignment for a class of mine, I would have failed it, and required the student to rewrite it. It barely addresses the topic at hand, and the general tone is so casual and flip that it would lead one to believe the speaker not only knows very little about black history but that he doesn’t even care to. In my professional judgment, Trump barely spent five minutes preparing this talk. “Just a few ...

America safe for Chinese visitors now? I had no convincing answer 2

America safe for Chinese visitors now? I had no convincing answer
JISHOU, HUNAN — Yesterday we had English Corner, a regular event to give students a chance to practice their spoken English. During a lull in the activities, one student came over to ask me questions about the election of Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) as president. I’ll start with the last one, which floored me. “You know, I would like to study in the United States after I graduate. Will I as a Chinese be safe there?” Before Tuesday, I could answer this fairly confidently, “Yes, of course.” For the most part, students asking that question were not worried about prejudice against Asians, but about Americans toting guns everywhere. This time, though, the reason for the question was different, and not easy to address. Since Trump won, there have been scores of reports from across the USA about whites deliberately attacking African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, immigrants — anyone not obviously a white “American” — and telling them to die or leave. The worst incidents end up on the news, and that news finds it way around the world. Once perceived as a country of tolerance which welcomed people from all over the world, the United States now is perceived as a dangerous ...

The romantic and exciting life of an actor

I like following actors’ Instagram feeds, because they provide a glimpse into the ever romantic and exciting lives of the stars. For example, here is Emilia Clarke, who plays the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. Rain?! One is not amused…. now where are ones waterproof dragons when one needs them. #thiswigneedsalilmorecrownsandalillesswaterproofplasticheadgear #goodthingthiskweenknowshowtoposeintheraineh? 😎🙆👍 A photo posted by @emilia_clarke on Oct 7, 2016 at 10:29am PDT When we last left Daenerys, she, her dragons and a huge fleet were sailing to Westeros. They must have run into some bad weather.

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy
JISHOU, HUNAN — It seems every few months or so the Internet is in turmoil about some silly “controversy” or another. The latest is the “Marty and Luis” pizza question. An image of the question, supposedly marked in green by a teacher, ended up on reddit two months ago, apparently as a criticism of American education, or teachers, or math. Who knows? Well, I’m a skeptic, so I went digging around the Internet trying to find the origin of the question and the image. The source of the question was easy to find: Pearson Education’s EnVision math series for 3rd Grade Common Core. The source of the image was a different matter. Using TinEye.com, I used the image as a search parameter. It’s earliest appearance was, oddly enough, on a German image collection site, www.lachshon.de, and it was posted there in March 2015! The account of the original poster, gelöscht-20111221-112645, has since been locked, and his new account, gelöscht-20120516-162657, is not visible to the public, though the images are searchable. Go figure. After this mysterious German appearance, the same image ended up on imgur.com about a week later, where it began to attract the usual assortment of comments, ranging from ...

Queen calls Chinese delegation to UK ‘rude,’ comments blocked in China

Queen calls Chinese delegation to UK 'rude,' comments blocked in China
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made some blunt comments about the behavior of a Chinese diplomatic delegation to the United Kingdom, which has apparently hurt Chinese feelings. In a conversation with the London police commander in charge of the delegation’s security, Queen Elizabeth was overheard saying the Chinese diplomats were “rude” to the British ambassador. China has bleeped BBC TV and radio reports about the comments, but has not blocked the BBC wholesale. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UK in October to bolster trade between the two countries. Security was handled by Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who met the Queen at a Buckingham Palace garden party Tuesday. Their conversation was caught on camera. As reported by the BBC, it went like this: The Queen’s remarks were caught on tape as she was introduced to Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who the monarch is told had overseen security during President Xi’s visit to the UK in October. She is heard to respond: “Oh, bad luck.” An official went on to tell the Queen that Commander D’Orsi had been “seriously, seriously undermined by the Chinese, but she managed to hold her own and remain in command”. Commander D’Orsi told the ...
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