Hawks investigating multi-million rand Bitcoin scam in ...

[Table] IAmA dark web expert, investigative journalist and true crime author. I’ve met dark web kingpins in far flung prisons and delved the murky depths of child predator forums. I’ve written six books and over a dozen Casefile podcast episodes. AMA (part 1/2)

Source | Guestbook
Note: Some answers were repetitive, but were not edited out.
Questions Answers
Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..." Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself? I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.
As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.
I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)
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Why did homeland security want to talk to you? They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else
Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work. Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible? I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.
One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy
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But how does everyone participate in those illegal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illegal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught? they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.
I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there
Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc. As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be. Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing? I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.
I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there
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Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course). I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail. Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks. It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.
Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withhold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children
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So daisy's destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.
The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.
However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.
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Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative! I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.
An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled
How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks! I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.
I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quickly change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!
How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort? There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.
The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead
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By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies. FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia. Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead
What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that AREN'T all shady and nefarious? We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.
Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.
Other than that, there are just forums, where you don't have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something
After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point? Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide? I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts. I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not fazed by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.
I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.
For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.
One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)
I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldn't imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point. I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.
When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)
What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you? By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.
It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.
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Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!
are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible... The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!
There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death
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The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually... I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere
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Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity? A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog
Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing! I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics? I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.
As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through
Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive? I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.
I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)
Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all. DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)
Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ? So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.
One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.
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Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins? His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial
The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows
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Book/movie clubs on the silk road? Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time
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Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question? They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night
You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done. lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy
What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online? I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.
Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer
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[deleted] You're doing the Good Work my man. I'd give you one of those awards if i knew how
What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe? It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.
If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernames and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.
If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.
Has Covid affected the Dark Web in any real way? Also I just read through all of the post comments, what incredible story’s. I would totally buy a book about the Silk Road or Yaru! re covid on the dark web, here's some notes I made for an interview I did recently:
* when Trump first hyped hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19, drug dealers on the dark web seized on the claim.
* Listings quickly popped up on the most popular darknet markets
* A vendor on Whitehouse Market sells 100 Pills for $90, calling it a “Miracle Drug For Coronavirus” and suggesting buyers purchase in bulk to sell at a mark-up locally.
* Another makes the dubious claim “This drug will help people to beat Corona Virus” There are 11 listings on Empire Market currently, although more than half are from the one seller, who is a well-known and trusted vendor on the site.
* There were also people claiming to be selling infected blood or plasma of recovered COVID victims
* The infected blood stuff is just bullshit IMO Just because something is listed doesn’t mean it is genuinely for sale
* There's been some claims to be selling vaccines
* At the beginning there were also loads of listings for PPE
* some just used it as a marketing tactic - “fight off the virus with edible cannabis” or “relax with Xanax” and others as an excuse to raise their prices
* However, sales are low compared to sales of other drugs on the site, so it is difficult to say whether it’s something that will really catch on
* It didn’t take long for complaints to come in and market owners to clamp down on anything claiming to be a miracle cure or vaccine
* users were discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic and requested markets provide health and safety information
* All the major markets forbid anything being sold as a cure for COVID. They flagged keywords and vendors would be told to take any listings down. They also put out PSAs telling people not to buy
* Monopoly: threatened to ban and.. “You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet - under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle already questionable goods”
* It was a business decision. They don’t want anything that will attract attention or that might cause desperate people who wouldn’t normally use the DNMs to find their way there
* The idea behind DNMs generally is educated and responsible drug use. They really don’t want people dying - bad publicity and no repeat custom
* However the dark web is rife with scammers and people willing to prey on the desperate so there are still scams out there
* The only way I could ever see it becoming a thing is if there is a well-known potential cure/vaccine that is not being made widely available and could plausibly find its way onto the black market
Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you. I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey
Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back? i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly
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To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios? Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.
I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there
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Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits? Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.
As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.
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Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt. Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)
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More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there? It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D
Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt? I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you." No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining
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I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"? It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.
The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)
I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite? After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive
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Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him. Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.
And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong
Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage
As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author? I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.
I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.
I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget
is it true that most of the internet is in the "dark web"? if so about how much percent is it? By far the biggest myth is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.
The statement that 90% (or thereabouts) of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.
The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.
The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.
Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist. Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web? There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.
(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web
What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away. did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program? what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke. are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76 1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place
2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him
3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots in hell
4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!
the below is a reply to the above
Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama. Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop. Yes, I wrote about them in The Darkest Web
I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)
This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc? If yes, what was the most memorable bit? There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts
submitted by 500scnds to tabled [link] [comments]

The Lemonade Stand: A (Head-canon) story of LibUnity

The Lemonade Stand: a LibUnity story
Allies:
Miles Clarence Pinnacle II: Sixteen-year-old heir to Pinnacle Products™, dashing, incredibly driven, lazier than a sack of bricks at anything NOT having to do with $$$, not Jewish, skipped a grade and won’t let anyone forget, dirty™ capitalist™ pig™, somehow likes every genre of music at the same time???, American™ dream, SO. FREAKIN. EXTRA., genuinely wants you to follow your dreams and be happy by spending your entire life acquiring wealth, somehow hasn’t gotten punched yet, “patron of the arts” because Salvator Mundi just sold for $450 mil, “buh-buh-buh-buh-BITCOIN!”, wants to be Elon Musk but unironically, raised by 4chan, “God says no, market sells yes”, duality of man, slacks, button-up shirt, vest, Rollie™, sunglasses, the most pretentious shoes you’ve ever seen
Leslie (couldn’t afford a middle name mate) Jones: “it’s shite being” British-American, one ethnically crooked tooth, can’t find a consistent ideology, Sex Pistols, petty theft, titty pills, anarchism, fan of the Sex Pistols, sailor mouth Victorian taste, likes incorrectly using British slang, listens to the Sex Pistols, “too nice :)”, makes a really good hummus because it’s not her native food, as “free range kid on free range food,” Oi!, 17 “but I’m not like those other wankers,” the same Sex Pistols shirt everyday even though it has a massive hole in the right arm-pit, always wears union jack bandana, two bits over a meter and a half “tall”, messy brown hair, flower skirt, did she mention she likes the Sex Pistols?, light brown eyes, worn-out chucks, bollocks
Mr. Miles Clarence Pinnacle I: America! capitalism, America! sport/s, America! my beautiful family, America! Pinnacle Products™, America!
Mrs. Julie Winter Pinnacle: “Sweety have you tried my homemade casserole? All the girls at Bible study loved it! Do you go to Bible study dear? Oh, you should join us next Sunday! Barbara does such a good job at leading discussion about ʰᵒʷ ᴶᵉˢᵘˢ ᵈᵒᵉˢⁿ'ᵗ ᵃᶜᵗᵘᵃˡˡʸ ᵐᵉᵃⁿ ᵃˡˡ ᵗʰᵉ ʳᵃᵈᶦᶜᵃˡ ᵗʰᶦⁿᵍˢ ʰᵉ ˢᵃʸˢ…
Belligerents:
l e m o n s, first quarter, moral ambiguity, U.S. housing market
Scene 1: Sunny American day in a sunny American neighborhood. Fourteen-year-old Miles Clarence Pinnacle II sets up a shabby lemonade stand (seriously Miles, a lemonade stand? Aren’t you a little too old for this?) (“Money’s money baby 😉”) across the street from a construction site, hawking his newest Pinnacle™ Product™ (or as I like to call it, his newest get-rich-quick scheme) (“Hate the man, not the hustle baby 😉”).
Whatever, let’s just see how the market reacts to his newest… hustle.
Miles: shouting with comical gesticulation Lemonade! Get your lemonade here! Nothing better after a hard day’s work than a nice, tall, refreshing glass of ice cold… ooo, hear those ice cubes tinkling it’s like straight out of a commercial people… and it’s so uh… refreshing, you wouldn’t believe me unless you tried it yourself! And just think gentlemen, this beverage, this… Pinnacle™ of refreshment can be yours, and only yours, for two small payments of $.50. Truly, this miracle of capitalism could only happen in a land as beautiful and free as the U. S. of A. Now, which one of you lucky gentlemen will be the first to try…
Construction worker: gathered around an Igloo™ water cooler Go home Miles, your lemonade sucks.
Miles: indignant Hey! My lemonade does not suck! It’s a Pinnacle™ Product™!
Construction worker: It’s watered down slop is what it is. I’d rather pay five bucks for water than a dollar for your crap.
Miles: dumps out half the glass Care to put your money where your mouth is?
Construction worker: raises his third cup of water Nah I’m good Miles. Got all the water I need for free.
Miles: grumbling Commie cheapskate.
Construction worker: laughs and returns to work
Miles: looking down the street for another other suckers customers. Notices a young “girl??” nonchalantly approaching and gestures they/them over Hey, hey, hey, you, kid!
“Girl” (maybe?): removes quem’s headphones Who, me?
Miles: Well I don’t see any other strapping young men…
Leslie: … women…
Miles: women this side of the sidewalk, do I?
Girl: looks around I… guess not?
Miles: puts his arm around her shoulder cause what’s personal space, right? You’re absolutely right! What’s your name kid?
Leslie: visibly uncomfortable, but Miles hasn’t gotten the customer satisfaction report yet Leslie.
Miles: Well my gender-ambiguous friend, you’ve just walked into the opportunity of a lifetime.
Leslie: playing along I have?
Miles: with dollar signs in his eyes Absolutely! You have the exclusive hono, of having the first glass of my patented™ home m… assembled! glass of Pinnacle Lemonade!™ A once in a lifetime opportunity that can be yours, and only yours, for one small payment of…
Leslie: curtly I’ll try it if you shut up.
Miles: silently steps aside and hands her a glass
Leslie: s i p p
Miles: impatiently Well? How is it? You love it? You love it don’t you? You love it so much you’re speechless.
Leslie: grimacing It tastes like, like…
Miles: the greatest thing you’ve ever…
Leslie: Shite.
Miles: the five stages of grief But, but… it’s a Pinnacle Product™…
Leslie: tosses it out Tastes like watered-down minute-maid mate.
Miles: tries it himself and promptly spits it out. Crashes like the housing market onto the stool, sighing dejectedly Huh…, maybe that’s why I haven’t made first quarter.
Leslie:
Miles: exploiting™ it I won’t be able to make my first bitcoin investment, and this venture capital failure will haunt my portfolio till the end of my days. My credit will take, I’ll be denied a car loan, potentially rendered homeless…
Leslie: rolls eyes anarchically
Miles: applying for an Oscar Well, thanks for the feedback. I guess I’ll go back to putting the depression in Depression, broke, friendless, hopeless…
Leslie: giving into ancap™ tears™ You know, I have a lemon tree in my backyard, I could bring you some fresh lemons to…
Miles: rebounding harder than post-WWII American economy Corner the organic market! Leslie you’re a genius! puts arm around her shoulder again Leslie, Leslie, Leslie, I’m so glad the invisible hand of the market that brought us here together today.
Leslie: economically confused It did?
Miles: As sure as Adam Smith’s law of supply and demand!
Leslie: Who’s Adam Smith?
Miles: … >:(
Leslie: backing away I’ll just, go get those lemons yea?
Miles: frozen like the national unemployment rate ha-ha economic memes so funny She doesn’t know who Adam Smith is. She’s as British as overpriced tea but doesn’t know who Adam Smith is. She probably doesn’t know anything about economics. reflects in smuggling and tax evasion No wonder we revolted.
Leslie: returns laden with lemons (try saying that three times fast) Ok! I’ve got them!
Miles: Now that’s what I call fast food!
Leslie: giggles, dropping all the l e m o n s Oh, sorry sorry!
Miles: scurrying to collect future profit No, that one’s on me, I’m a capital pun maker. I inherited it from my dad.
Leslie: collecting the lemons for common use It’s alright, at least it was funny.
Miles: getting kinda lost in your hazel eyes Leslie, ngl So, uh, wanna come inside and get these squeezed? I mean lemons, squeeze the lemons… you know what I mean.
Leslie: Do I?
Miles: leading her across the street Let’s hope not. C’mon, I’ll introduce you to the folks.
Scene 2: Basically, a Bed, Bath and Beyond kitchen catalog, complete with tiled floor, “Live Laugh Love” signs, and several wine bottles. It’s even got a Golden Retriever named Biscuit. But he’s a good boy yesh you are, yesh you are! Oh yea, and Mr. and Mrs. Pinnacle are here. They’re actually really cool people, if a little American.
Miles: barging through the front door with Leslie in tow Mom! Dad! I’m home!
Dad: putting down the Wall Street Journal Hey-hey-hey sport, how’s the lemonade stand going?”
Miles: with all the false confidence of a failing business We’re venturing into new markets!
Mom: wipes off hands on a dish rag Oh, and you brought a friend over! Would you care to introduce us Miles?
Miles: Oh yea, Mom, Dad this is Leslie, Leslie uh…
Leslie: extending her hand Jones, Leslie Jones. It’s nice to meet you sir, thanks for having me.
Dad: shakes her hand. Notices the Union Jack bandana around her neck and decides to get cultural Don’t mention it mate! We’re happy to have you, just don’t tax our tea am I right? laughs in protectionist economic policies.
Mom: Miles are you and the queen staying for lunch? Or tea, rather? winking at Leslie
Leslie: realizes that Americans have even less subtlety than she expected
Dad: Untaxed of course. laughs in Marshall Plan
Miles: Sorry mom, my partner and I gotta make first quarter.
Dad: First quarter, or the first quarter?
Leslie: chuckles
Dad: finger guns the one person who laughed at his dad joke
Miles: A-ha-ha-ha very funny dad. Just wait until ur next batch of Pinnacle Lemonade™ hits the market. Because you know what’s gonna happen? It’s gonna break the market. And you know why? Because it’s gonna be the best one yet. And you know why?
Dad: Because you attached more quality than name to a product?
Miles: gesturing between himself and Leslie because it was all his idea obviously, We’ve… got a secret ingredient.
Dad: Foreign labor?
Miles: No. I’m talking about the best marketing ploy since $.99, “organic.” Show ‘em your lemons Leslie.
Leslie: blushingly reveals “her” lemons
Dad: Wow, those look fresh, and more importantly, free. “Organic” could work, as long as you’re not false advertising our minute-maid again. Do you have a consistent supply?
Miles: We sure do, right partner?
Leslie: Uh… yea, we sure do.
Dad: getting those proud dad gears turnin’ Well then what’re you waiting for son, time is money!
Mom: Feel free to use the juicer Miles.
Miles: grabs the juicer then opens the back-door Thanks mom! Let’s go out back Leslie and get lemons juiced! (ok I’ll stop)
Mom: gushing as any mother of a friendless child would Oh! It was wonderful to meet you Leslie. You’re so striking I’m surprised I haven’t seen you in the neighborhood before. Do you live nearby?
Leslie: Uh yea I live around here yea.
Mom: Splendid! Then you simply must come to church with us this Sunday! The neighbors are coming over my signature homemade casserole™ and they have two boys you and Miles’ age that...
Leslie: briskly Sorry, my mom and I aren’t big on church.
Mom: without missing a beat That’s fine dear, you don’t have to be a believer to go. Why don’t you meet us here at 8 tomorrow, and we can take you with us?
Leslie: I don’t think…
Mom: places her arm around her shoulder, what’s with Americans and physical contact Splendid! Miles dear, you’ll be sure to introduce Leslie to Hans and Alexy tomorrow, won’t you?
Miles: It’s Oliksey mom, and no they’re weirdos.
Dad: We’re all Americans son.
Miles: Fine. But I don’t think they’re Leslie’s crowd, you know? They’re too… foreign.
Leslie: indignantly I can judge their character myself, thank you very much.
Dad: See that, everybody’s happy except you Miles. Now, don’t you have money to make?
Miles: sweeping her out the door C’mon Leslie let’s goooooo.
Leslie: flustered at Miles’ hand position You’d better watch those mitts chav!
Scene 3: The suburban boonies, an un-mowed backyard. Leslie’s lost count of how many trials and ERRORS Miles has put her through while trying to find the perfect cocktail. She wouldn’t be as pissed if there was actual alcohol in it, but they’re 14 and Miles wants to get into Yale, so he only drinks Old Fashioneds (as if).
Miles: handing Leslie a crystal glass new concoction… whaddya think?
Leslie: pushes the headphones further into her ears Christ, Miles. Do I have to try another one?
Miles: Oh, c’mon please! This one’s the money I’m tellin’ ya.
Leslie: That’s what you said about the last three piss jugs you had me drink.
Miles: All part of the capitalist process my dear. Now, if you please?
Leslie: takes the suspiciously presentable liquid Oh… bollocks.
Leslie: s i p p Hm. Hmm! This is really good! Doesn’t taste like shite this time, what happened?
Miles: Four-parts water, two-parts lemon-juice (not his), half part ice, half part sugar, half part mint, and a pinch, a PINCH of ginger. My dear Leslie I present to you, the first ever Pinnacle Beverages Lmt. Product, “The Mile High. Is what happened. 😊
Leslie: genuinely impressed This is really good Miles, and I’m not taking the piss I’d pay good money for this, and that means a lot coming from me.
Miles: dollars signs for pupils That’s all I needed to hear, which is why… kneels before her
Leslie: blushing like a Victorian aristocrat W-What’re you doing you nuttah!
Miles: takes her hand Leslie, I’m prepared to offer you 15, no, 20% stock in Pinnacle Beverages Lmt.™. We’ll make millions Leslie, millions with your organic stock and my technical know-how.
Mr. Pinnacle (inside): sees his son proposing to the punk queen Looks like he’s making more than a friend out there honey.
Leslie: looks away bashfully Oh yea um,… about that.
Miles: We’ll be on billboards across the country! Commercials on prime-time television! We’ll give Coca-Cola a run for their money, we’ll…!
Leslie: hesitantly Miles…
Miles: checking himself, but not for the right things No, no, you’re right. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. You were an integral part of this operation and I shouldn’t undercut your contribution, which is why I’m preparing to offer you… retches excuse me, 25% of my company from this day forward. All for the small price of an endless supply of fresh lemons. extends his hand Well friend, what do you say?
Leslie: looks at his outstretched hand in guilt I… I can’t.
Miles: about to cry Please, please don’t make me say 30%, it’ll break my heart.
Leslie: I don’t care about your money, Miles.
Miles: Great! 5% then!
Leslie: shouting I stole the lemons Miles!
Mr. Pinnacle (inside): turning back to his coffee I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.
Miles: incredulous Y-you’re right. This deal’s so good it’s basically stealing.
Leslie: NO Miles. I stole those lemons from a house down the street. My flat won’t let us grow stuff in our place, so I come here to… you know, bridge the gap.
Miles: pridefully You should’ve told me Leslie. Stealing violates the NAP, but lying violates our friendship.
Leslie: prejudicely Pfft. Morality comes easy to toffs living in a two-story house in the when you live in a two-story house in the burbs.
Miles: sincerely We weren’t born into money Leslie. My dad started as a door to door salesman before opening his own company with my mom. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps with wit, determination, and a modest business loan.
Leslie: rolls eyes impoverishly
Miles: I don’t know who you are, where you come from, your religion, your political ideology or any of that, and I don’t care. I wanna be your friend, and that should be enough.
Leslie: lowering her guard You’d be friends with a two-bit thief like me?
Miles: with reassuring confidence With a resourceful, unscrupulous marketing queen like you? As sure as Rothbard’s critique of central banking I would!
Leslie: Still don’t know what you’re on about but, spits into hand I swear by Sid Vicious’ guitar strings I’ll be your mate if you’ll be mine.
Miles: spits into his hand as well Deal. On one condition.
Leslie: What’s that?
Miles: No more stealing. Not when you’re with me. We’re a team now, and we help each other out right?
Leslie: Fine. Guess now that I’ve got stock in a major beverage company I can only go up from here.
Miles: Only pure profit from here partner!
Leslie: Then let’s shake on it.
Miles/Leslie (simultaneously): shaking hands At 20%, 30%.
Miles/Leslie: 15%, 25%.
Leslie: grips his hand You’re supposed to meet me halfway you greedy pig!
Miles: grips hers back You’re supposed to negotiate better you snotty welcher!
Leslie: grips him harder than the Federal Reserve Halfway Miles, before I unionize.
Miles: surrenders to worker’s rights Fiiiiiine, 20%, final offer.
Leslie: pops his knuckles
Miles: takes his hand back yelping ow ow ow ow ok ok, 25% 25%.
Leslie: smirks like the cocky Brit she is Pleasure doing business with you Miles.
Miles: nursing his credit card hand The pleasures all mine.
Leslie: Wait, if I can’t steal, how’re we gonna get more lemons?
Miles: Well, if we factor in the increased cost of production and labor, we have no choice but to double the price of lemonade then use the excess earnings to re-invest...
Leslie: gathering the remaining batches Yea, yea, yea I get it whatever let’s go.
Miles: watching her with non-economic curiosity Right behind you, friend.
Epilogue
Allies:
Ernst Hansel Gorbach: German-“Bavarian, but there’s only one Germany”-American, son of retired U.S. general and stay-at-home mother, “By the Kaiser!”, the most hardcore Lutheran you’ll ever meet, Aryan poster-boy, bit of a killjoy, surprisingly good singer, “Hitler was a cuck,” would simp for Wagner, slacks and tucked-in button-up shirt, 6’ 2”, “no hand-holding till marriage >:(,” 18, virgin (obviously), rugby, race-realist, HOI4, “wish I was home uniting the German tribes rn”
Belligerents:
Teenage insecurity
Scene 1: Back on the cruel streets of American suburbia.
Leslie: packing up the stand I can’t believe it.
Miles: flipping through the modest stack of money That capitalism works?
Leslie: No, that people bought lemonade for two quid.
Miles: Exactly!
Leslie: scoffs Selfish cock-up.
Miles: shrugs It’s not selfish if people buy it. Speaking of which, here’s your cut.
Leslie: counts it multiple times in disbelief (and poor math skills) Blimey, is this all for me?
Miles: It’s eighteen dollars, Leslie.
Leslie: That’s more than I’ve made all my life! I’m rightly chuffed I am, wait till my mum hears about this!
Miles: smiling I’m glad Leslie, thanks for doing this with me.
Leslie: returning the smile Happy to help Miles! Let me know if you ever wanna do… this… again.
Ernst Hansel Gorbach enters stage right.
Leslie: turns away bashfully after being rendered breathless by Aryan Prime
Ernst “Hans”el Gorbach: stops his bike in front of Miles Picking up the pieces of another failed venture, eh Miles?
Miles: Ackchyualy my dear Hanso, you just missed the opportunity of a lifetime. My newest creation was a tremendous success.
Hans: looking at the shabby remains of a shabby lemonade stand before finally noticing the weird flat-chest I’m sure it was Miles. Who’s your newest sucker partner?
Miles: Oh, this is Leslie, my business partner. Say hello, Leslie!
Leslie: turns around slowly, avoiding his gaze while robotically extending her hand H-hi.
Hans: gives her the once-over before gingerly shaking her dirty hand How do you do.
Leslie: turns away as her cheeks turn into a bed of roses
Miles: oblivious Hanso, I’m telling ya’ man. This stuff we made, perfection man, perfection.
Hans: authoritative snort Is that true, Leslie? Was the stuff actually good this time?
Leslie: Uh, y-yea. It was.
Hans: race realist eyebrow raise I see. Well, I guess I’ll have to try it some time.
Miles: You can try it after church tomorrow. You coming?
Hans: Yea, I’ll be there. Is your friend going too?
Miles: Nah, I don’t think…
Leslie: blurting I’ll be there!
Miles: socially confused But I thought you said…
Leslie: turns around That I wouldn’t miss it for the world? You bet your arse I did!
Hans: momentarily meets her eyes before casually turning away Right. Guess I’ll see you both there.
Miles: Yea, I guess you will. Coming for casserole afterwards?
Hans: getting back on his bike Sure.
Leslie: hot mess I’ll see you there too!
Hans: slow nod Cool. Catch you later Miles. It was good meeting you… uh?
Leslie: Leslie.
Hans: quietly Leslie. See you tomorrow.
submitted by thezeroinGod to Jreg [link] [comments]

Buying in China and selling in USA. The New American Dream | My Story

Hi entrepreneur I've followed this sub for quite a while, I enjoy the (rare) good posts, and I'd like to tell my story and hope you takeaway some useful knowledge. I was a 2009 college graduate, so I didn't even have a chance to join the workforce in any meaningful way. Entrepreneurship is just natural to me and I hope I can sustain it over a lifetime
My entrepreneur journey began selling football tickets during college at U of Florida. Imagine an 18-year old white kid standing next to the veteran scalpers and hawking tickets. It was the best experience I could imagine. I think of it as rejection therapy Learning to not be afraid of a 'no' is a very important part of being an entrepreneur. After college, I started buying and selling tickets online using TicketMaster and Stubhub. Selling tickets could be its own thread, it's such an interesting space. There are fortunes being made buying tickets to in-demand events online. It's just rather tedious (imagine entering 50,000 captcha phrases a year) Also, scalping tickets online doesn't provide 'value' to anyone. I read the domain parking thread today and it makes me proud to be making money by delivering value, not withholding it for profit.
I grew tired of tickets and decided to visit a friend in China. I stayed for 6 weeks and bought some watches to bring back for gifts. One watch was especially cool and people asked about it everywhere I went. I got back in touch with my friend in China (who was just teaching English at the time) and he traced it back to a supplier. I thought I needed an investopartner so I contacted the only rich guy I knew and he gave me $4,000 to be my 50/50 partner. I ordered 800 watches for $3 each, and paid some guy $3,000 to make me a website.
Lesson 1 DON'T SPEND MORE THAN $300 ON YOUR FIRST WEB PRESENCE
I scrapped that site in less than a month and built my own on Shopify. If you can operate your facebook page, you can setup a Shopify account, it's stupid easy. I set the price at $65.
Lesson 2 PRICE HIGH
It gives you so many advantages. Better customers, less returns, room for wholesale/distributors, and a higher perceived value. Anyway, I created a fun brand around this. We did fun photoshoots, ran contests in the community (facebook ads were really cheap back then), and we really gained some customers. In a stroke of good luck, I got in touch with a Groupon rep and they agreed to run a deal for my watches. I was one of the first products to run on Groupon. (Remember, Groupon was mainly for services like spas and meals at the time) This went well initially, and they slated me for a Black Friday national deal. They sold 7,000 of my 'deals' in 3 days. Turns out my supplier back in China was just a trade company, and he couldn't pull off a deal of my size on his 'credit' He almost completely screwed up the whole deal, and it was literally one of the lowest points of my life. In the end, I fulfilled about 70% of the orders successfully, and the other 30% basically told me I ruined their Christmas and got refunds. Funny thing was, Groupon still paid me out the entire amount even though there were almost 2,000 really upset customers (an omen that Groupon did not have their house in order and had their own crash coming) This company was called TIKKR by the way. The site is still up but I'm not really in business anymore. I might try to revive it someday. But I could see the writing on the wall. There were at least 50 companies I knew of that sold the exact same watch, including Walgreens which sold it without a brand name for $4.99. I dropped my price and got what I could out of it, but I needed a new idea. Also I had returns and warranties like mad and it cost me a ton of cash, the watches were just cheap...
I honestly don't remember how it came about, but I became aware of bamboo sunglasses being a thing. I was approached by my China friends to start something together. We were hanging out in Chicago that summer (2012 I think) which happened to be Groupon headquarters. I had a friend who worked there, and he got me access to their sales floor so I just kind of hung around and bothered people until I found the girl who sold fashion accessories.
Lesson 3 To get that big break, sometimes you just have to hang around until something happens to you. Not sure if that really qualifies as a legit 'lesson' but whatever.
I got her to agree to run us on a national scale. She told us to prepare 10,000 units for sale. I don't know how, but we got $180,000 together between 3 partners . The China guys, the Groupon insider, and me. (Actually I do know how, I used my TIKKR money with a big boost from Bank of Mom. Hi mom!) The China guys handled production, I handled branding, marketing, and everything else and the Groupon guy was the Groupon guy. I came up with Woodies (and I even bought Woodies.com for $4,000 from some Canadian dude who was selling hockey stick chairs) The idea came from the old Woodie station wagons where the frame was made from wood. I rented a few cars for the photoshoots I was obsessed with Ashley Sky at the time and I had the crazy idea to hire her for a photoshoot. I contacted her people and to my amazement, she was only like $600 for a day and she had 100k instagram followers! I figured we would make that money back with one post from her. The Groupon sale went live and we sold like 4,000 instead of 10,000.
Lesson 4 Be optimistic in general, but be realistic when it comes to forecasts.
I can't remember how many times I had a deal setup where I was like, yea I'm going to pay off all my student loans with this deal. It was usually mildly successful, but after all the bills were paid off, I wasn't as far ahead as I thought I would be. It reminds me of the Old Man and the Sea. You land this HUGE deal, but by the time you drag it to shore, a bunch of little things have brought it back to size. Overhead, customer service time, returns/warranties, new orders, customs fees, shipping really add up. So with that 'poor' sales showing, the China guys ran into their own cash-flow problems. Groupon guy and I were forced to buy them out basically. But we had a real business with real customers and we were rolling. We now had $140,000 capital base after paying off the China guys, not enough for a big order, so I noticed Kickstarter was really blowing up, and thought I could bridge our cash-flow with a blockbuster kickstarter campaign. This is where things get pretty interesting. I got it in my head I wanted to hire Kendall Jenner for this campaign. Somehow I tracked down her modeling agency and eventually her direct manager. They quoted me $100,000 for the day. I created a Pinterest board and sent it to her and asked if she would do it for $25,000 plus a bunch of incentives and they said YES! I was completely thrown off and not sure what to do. I ran some projections and thought that I could make up most of that money if we raised a lot of kickstarter money. I hired Ashley Sky, Damaris Aguiar, Kendall Jenner, Aygemang Clay, Lyall Aston photographed it, Sagette Van Embden videoed it, Lina Palacios styled it, Mary Guthrie was hair and makeup. It was a giant production. I couldn't believe it. I flew everyone out to Malibu, CA using Southwest Airlines buddy passes! Imagine Ashley Sky and Damaris Aguiar (so hot) standing at the Southwest ticket counter like wtf is standby? I'm over here sweating bullets hoping we don't get stuck in New Orleans and I look like a fraud. Actually I fought those type of feelings a lot during this period.
Lesson 5 Don't ever put yourself down.
Entrepreneurship is a crazy, improvisational dance. Sometimes I would look around at my competition and think they had it figured out, they were following a plan, they were 'professionals' and I was just doing my best to pretend. That's BS, we're ALL making it up as we go! Don't put this process on a pedestal, fake it til you make it! Anywho, I rent out a Malibu HQ using Airbnb and rented a van for the day. I still can't help but laughing when I remember this scene: I'm driving a large van with Kendall Jenner, Ashley Sky, Damaris Aguiar, and some bros, in the mountains of Malibu, I'm driving kind of fast around the curves because we're late for the call time I set for us. I'm wearing a captain's hat because that was my thing during that time. and Kendall's manager scolded me for taking the turns too fast. Fun times
Here is how the campaign turned out
So, I got Kendall to agree to Instagram/tweet/facebook the kickstarter campaign, but what I didn't realize is kickstarter is not mainstream and it just didn't convert. I raised like $30,000 in revenue against a cost of like $70,000. I can't say whether I would do it again given hindsight. It has led to great brand recognition because Kendall has kind of blew up and become a mega celebrity. AND her management let me write that contract so I have rights to those photos forever. One tweet by her got me close to 20,000 email subscribers which has been a stream of income ever since. (Shoutout Mailchimp!) *Monkeyrewards fyi Since then, I've been trying to come up with new designs, build on the brand, and leverage the list that came from Kendall Jenner's gravity to make sales. It's pretty seasonal, coming mostly during the summer and Christmas season. I have some big plans for 2015, but I have to keep them quiet for the time being, maybe there will be a follow-up post this next year
All that was a year ago and Woodies has had some good times and some slow times. I got into wood watches which have been really good sellers. I started selling on Amazon *affiliate, which has been a great boost to the bottom line.
Keep in mind that during this whole time I barely took a paycheck, and moved back in with mom in Tulsa, OK during a dry spell. I don't spend a lot of money, I have zero savings (except for a few Bitcoins) I actually travel most of the year, I'm in Thailand right now writing this to you. So to summarize, I've been an entrepreneur for a long time, and my success is best characterized by a few BIG wins, and mostly small, gradual losses. In between, my life has been great, I get to travel, work remotely, perform autonomous, creative work, do photoshoots with hot models, and learn a lot about myself and the world around me. I wouldn't trade it back and I'm optimistic about he future
Tech that makes all this possible:
Shipwire & Amazon FBA (Amazon FBA > Shipwire if you're wondering)
All Google Products: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Forms, Analytics
Xero for accounting
Shopify for e-commerce
[Fiverr](Fiverr.com) to boost online reviews
Alibaba for finding suppliers. Once you find them, visit them, and invest in a relationship with them
Mailchimp for Email marketing (the best thing going in my opinion)
Flexport for freight forwarding, definitely changing the game
Other takeaways:
Wholesale business and international shipping are both great if you like to waste huge amounts of time chasing small amounts of money. Stick to domestic until you're really big-time.
Never commit to big upfront costs. Always start small and test
Have a solid accounting system and data management system. It'll come in handy when you need it
I've got to shout out my friend and one-time employee Joanna (she just started OnceBitten ) I was rarely as productive as when I had someone else keeping me accountable and adding great ideas and hard work to the process. I guess the lesson is if you're going to hire somebody, make sure they're really, really good and pay them well
Things I haven't quite solved yet:
Customer Service management (I hate answering emails for real)
Taxes
CRM like Salesforce or something (is this necessary guys?)
I could go on, but I think this is enough. If you're still reading this, I'll answer questions if anyone wants to ask about business in China, solo-travel, branding, ecommerce, etc I'm not an expert in many things, but I know a little bit about a lot
See you at the Beach!
Cory Stout, Owner Woodies
A couple shout-outs: My other entrepreneur homies doing big things! RevelryDresses(group orders of sorority dresses)
OtisandEleanor(bluetooth speakers from bamboo)
OriginalGrain(wood watches, prob better than mine :) )
edit: Just want to say I'm enjoying hearing from you all. I'm doing solo travel right now, so it's nice to connect with other entrepreneurs out there
submitted by sigmaschmooz to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

Bitcoin-NG: A Scalable Blockchain Protocol

arXiv:1510.02037
Date: 2015-11-11
Author(s): Ittay Eyal, Adem Efe Gencer, Emin Gun Sirer, Robbert van Renesse

Link to Paper


Abstract
Cryptocurrencies, based on and led by Bitcoin, have shown promise as infrastructure for pseudonymous online payments, cheap remittance, trustless digital asset exchange, and smart contracts. However, Bitcoin-derived blockchain protocols have inherent scalability limits that trade-off between throughput and latency and withhold the realization of this potential.This paper presents Bitcoin-NG, a new blockchain protocol designed to scale. Based on Bitcoin's blockchain protocol, Bitcoin-NG is Byzantine fault tolerant, is robust to extreme churn, and shares the same trust model obviating qualitative changes to the ecosystem.In addition to Bitcoin-NG, we introduce several novel metrics of interest in quantifying the security and efficiency of Bitcoin-like blockchain protocols. We implement Bitcoin-NG and perform large-scale experiments at 15% the size of the operational Bitcoin system, using unchanged clients of both protocols. These experiments demonstrate that Bitcoin-NG scales optimally, with bandwidth limited only by the capacity of the individual nodes and latency limited only by the propagation time of the network.

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submitted by dj-gutz to myrXiv [link] [comments]

btc and major landmarks toward singularity

Boosters of online cryptocurrencies often operate on the presumption that money is the only thing that exists; every single thing in this universe is a transaction and that the future of humanity lies in uploading our personalities to the cloud and saving our minds as entries in the blockchain,
Its been said before that the technological singularity is coming and we are possibly approaching the end of human history. Increases in processing power are exponential and currently the most powerful electronic processing is contained in graphics processing units (GPUs). the same GPUs used to mine bitcoins and maintain the blockchain. Mining with these graphics cards cuts out the middleman and allows us to transmute power directly into money.
The ability to basically create money out of thin air (out of electricity) using GPU technology drives huge increases in the resources directed to developing that technology. To make more bitcoins, faster.
GPUs are also the staple of Deep Machine Learning.
The exponential increases in the processing power of humanity can be seen on this chart and, you will notice, those nVida GPUs are currently at the peak of human achievement in this field. They represent the highest level of computational achievement in the history of man, and likewise are exponentially more advanced than the next processor on the curve. This trend will continue.
Bitcoin is artificially capped at 21 million coins. By current estimates, this means that the last bitcoin will be mined in 2145. In reality, 99 percent of possible coin will be mined by 2036 and accounting for the drastic increases in processing power, bitcoin mining could become non-economically viable by the mid 2020s.
In a recent talk the high priest of technologists, Elon Musk, predicted that all new cars will be self driving in the next 5 to 10 years. All human jobs could be obsolete in 20 years. In the same talk he warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence and technological singularity. Musk is not alone in his fear of some sort of robot uprising. A quick google search says that Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are in the same camp.
Bitcoin is the last milemarker on the road to technological singularity. History is full of examples of man's pursuit of financial reward over his own well being. Bitcoin, and its associated thirst for hertz, drives development in technology that will one day make us its slaves. If it doesn't decide to murder us all. (which it will)
Nothing drives humanity towards total annihilation faster than greed.
submitted by jamjug to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Buying in China. Selling in US: The New American Dream | My story (x-post from r/entrepreneur

Hi entrepreneur I've followed this sub for quite a while, I enjoy the (rare) good posts, and I'd like to tell my story and hope you takeaway some useful knowledge. I was a 2009 college graduate, so I didn't even have a chance to join the workforce in any meaningful way. Entrepreneurship is just natural to me and I hope I can sustain it over a lifetime
My entrepreneur journey began selling football tickets during college at U of Florida. Imagine an 18-year old white kid standing next to the veteran scalpers and hawking tickets. It was the best experience I could imagine. I think of it as rejection therapy Learning to not be afraid of a 'no' is a very important part of being an entrepreneur. After college, I started buying and selling tickets online using TicketMaster and Stubhub. Selling tickets could be its own thread, it's such an interesting space. There are fortunes being made buying tickets to in-demand events online. It's just rather tedious (imagine entering 50,000 captcha phrases a year)
I grew tired of tickets and decided to visit a friend in China. I stayed for 6 weeks and bought some watches to bring back for gifts. One watch was especially cool and people asked about it everywhere I went. I got back in touch with my friend in China (who was just teaching English at the time) and he traced it back to a supplier. I thought I needed an investopartner so I contacted the only rich guy I knew and he gave me $4,000 to be my 50/50 partner. I ordered 800 watches for $3 each, and paid some guy $3,000 to make me a website. Lesson 1 DON'T SPEND MORE THAN $300 ON YOUR FIRST WEB PRESENCE I scrapped that site in less than a month and built my own on Shopify. If you can operate your facebook page, you can setup a Shopify account, it's stupid easy. I set the price at $65. Lesson 2 PRICE HIGH It gives you so many advantages. Better customers, less returns, room for wholesale/distributors, and a higher perceived value. Anyway, I created a fun brand around this. We did fun photoshoots, ran contests in the community (facebook ads were really cheap back then), and we really gained some customers. In a stroke of good luck, I got in touch with a Groupon rep and they agreed to run a deal for my watches. I was one of the first products to run on Groupon. (Remember, Groupon was mainly for services like spas and meals at the time) This went well initially, and they slated me for a Black Friday national deal. They sold 7,000 of my 'deals' in 3 days. Turns out my supplier back in China was just a trade company, and he couldn't pull off a deal of my size on his 'credit' He almost completely screwed up the whole deal, and it was literally one of the lowest points of my life. In the end, I fulfilled about 70% of the orders successfully, and the other 30% basically told me I ruined their Christmas and got refunds. Funny thing was, Groupon still paid me out the entire amount even though there were almost 2,000 really upset customers (an omen that Groupon did not have their house in order and had their own crash coming) This company was called TIKKR by the way. The site is still up but I'm not really in business anymore. I might try to revive it someday. But I could see the writing on the wall. There were at least 50 companies I knew of that sold the exact same watch, including Walgreens which sold it without a brand name for $4.99. I dropped my price and got what I could out of it, but I needed a new idea. Also I had returns and warranties like mad and it cost me a ton of cash, the watches were just cheap...
I honestly don't remember how it came about, but I became aware of bamboo sunglasses being a thing. I was approached by my China friends to start something together. We were hanging out in Chicago that summer (2012 I think) which happened to be Groupon headquarters. I had a friend who worked there, and he got me access to their sales floor so I just kind of hung around and bothered people until I found the girl who sold fashion accessories. Lesson 3 To get that big break, sometimes you just have to hang around until something happens to you. Not sure if that really qualifies as a legit 'lesson' but whatever. I got her to agree to run us on a national scale. She told us to prepare 10,000 units for sale. I don't know how, but we got $180,000 together between 3 partners . The China guys, the Groupon insider, and me. (Actually I do know how, I used my TIKKR money with a big boost from Bank of Mom. Hi mom!) The China guys handled production, I handled branding, marketing, and everything else and the Groupon guy was the Groupon guy. I came up with Woodies (and I even bought Woodies.com for $4,000 from some Canadian dude who was selling hockey stick chairs) The idea came from the old Woodie station wagons where the frame was made from wood. I rented a few cars for the photoshoots I was obsessed with Ashley Sky at the time and I had the crazy idea to hire her for a photoshoot. I contacted her people and to my amazement, she was only like $600 for a day and she had 100k instagram followers! I figured we would make that money back with one post from her. The Groupon sale went live and we sold like 4,000 instead of 10,000. Lesson 4 Be optimistic in general, but be realistic when it comes to forecasts. I can't remember how many times I had a deal setup where I was like, yea I'm going to pay off all my student loans with this deal. It was usually mildly successful, but after all the bills were paid off, I wasn't as far ahead as I thought I would be. It reminds me of the Old Man and the Sea. You land this HUGE deal, but by the time you drag it to shore, a bunch of little things have brought it back to size. Overhead, customer service time, returns/warranties, new orders, customs fees, shipping really add up. So with that 'poor' sales showing, the China guys ran into their own cash-flow problems. Groupon guy and I were forced to buy them out basically. But we had a real business with real customers and we were rolling. We now had $140,000 capital base after paying off the China guys, not enough for a big order, so I noticed Kickstarter was really blowing up, and thought I could bridge our cash-flow with a blockbuster kickstarter campaign. This is where things get pretty interesting. I got it in my head I wanted to hire Kendall Jenner for this campaign. Somehow I tracked down her modeling agency and eventually her direct manager. They quoted me $100,000 for the day. I created a Pinterest board and sent it to her and asked if she would do it for $25,000 plus a bunch of incentives and they said YES! I was completely thrown off and not sure what to do. I ran some projections and thought that I could make up most of that money if we raised a lot of kickstarter money. I hired Ashley Sky, Damaris Aguiar, Kendall Jenner, Aygemang Clay, Lyall Aston photographed it, Sagette Van Embden videoed it, Lina Palacios styled it, Mary Guthrie was hair and makeup. It was a giant production. I couldn't believe it. I flew everyone out to Malibu, CA using Southwest Airlines buddy passes! Imagine Ashley Sky and Damaris Aguiar (so hot) standing at the Southwest ticket counter like wtf is standby? I'm over here sweating bullets hoping we don't get stuck in New Orleans and I look like a fraud. Actually I fought those type of feelings a lot during this period. Lesson 5 Don't ever put yourself down. Entrepreneurship is a crazy, improvisational dance. Sometimes I would look around at my competition and think they had it figured out, they were following a plan, they were 'professionals' and I was just doing my best to pretend. That's BS, we're ALL making it up as we go! Don't put this process on a pedestal, fake it til you make it! Anywho, I rent out a Malibu HQ using Airbnb and rented a van for the day. I still can't help but laughing when I remember this scene: I'm driving a large van with Kendall Jenner, Ashley Sky, Damaris Aguiar, and some bros, in the mountains of Malibu, I'm driving kind of fast around the curves because we're late for the call time I set for us. I'm wearing a captain's hat because that was my thing during that time. and Kendall's manager scolded me for taking the turns too fast. Fun times
Here is how the campaign turned out
So, I got Kendall to agree to Instagram/tweet/facebook the kickstarter campaign, but what I didn't realize is kickstarter is not mainstream and it just didn't convert. I raised like $30,000 in revenue against a cost of like $70,000. I can't say whether I would do it again given hindsight. It has led to great brand recognition because Kendall has kind of blew up and become a mega celebrity. AND her management let me write that contract so I have rights to those photos forever. One tweet by her got me close to 20,000 email subscribers which has been a stream of income ever since. (Shoutout Mailchimp!) *Monkeyrewards fyi Since then, I've been trying to come up with new designs, build on the brand, and leverage the list that came from Kendall Jenner's gravity to make sales. It's pretty seasonal, coming mostly during the summer and Christmas season. I have some big plans for 2015, but I have to keep them quiet for the time being, maybe there will be a follow-up post this next year
All that was a year ago and Woodies has had some good times and some slow times. I got into wood watches which have been really good sellers. I started selling on Amazon *affiliate, which has been a great boost to the bottom line.
Keep in mind that during this whole time I barely took a paycheck, and moved back in with mom in Tulsa, OK during a dry spell. I don't spend a lot of money, I have zero savings (except for a few Bitcoins) I actually travel most of the year, I'm in Thailand right now writing this to you. So to summarize, I've been an entrepreneur for a long time, and my success is best characterized by a few BIG wins, and mostly small, gradual losses. In between, my life has been great, I get to travel, work remotely, perform autonomous, creative work, do photoshoots with hot models, and learn a lot about myself and the world around me. I wouldn't trade it back and I'm optimistic about he future
Tech that makes all this possible:
Shipwire & Amazon FBA (Amazon FBA > Shipwire if you're wondering)
All Google Products: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Forms, Analytics
Xero for accounting
Shopify for e-commerce
[Fiverr](Fiverr.com) to boost online reviews
Alibaba for finding suppliers. Once you find them, visit them, and invest in a relationship with them
Mailchimp for Email marketing (the best thing going in my opinion)
Flexport for freight forwarding, definitely changing the game
Other takeaways:
Wholesale business and international shipping are both great if you like to waste huge amounts of time chasing small amounts of money. Stick to domestic until you're really big-time.
Never commit to big upfront costs. Always start small and test
Have a solid accounting system and data management system. It'll come in handy when you need it
I've got to shout out my friend and one-time employee Joanna (she just started OnceBitten ) I was rarely as productive as when I had someone else keeping me accountable and adding great ideas and hard work to the process. I guess the lesson is if you're going to hire somebody, make sure they're really, really good and pay them well
Things I haven't quite solved yet:
Customer Service management (I hate answering emails for real)
Taxes
CRM like Salesforce or something (is this necessary guys?)
I could go on, but I think this is enough. If you're still reading this, I'll answer questions if anyone wants to ask about business in China, solo-travel, branding, ecommerce, etc I'm not an expert in many things, but I know a little bit about a lot
See you at the Beach!
Cory Stout, Owner Woodies
A couple shout-outs: My other entrepreneur homies doing big things! RevelryDresses(group orders of sorority dresses) OtisandEleanor(bluetooth speakers from bamboo) OriginalGrain(wood watches, prob better than mine :) )
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