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The Clock Is Ticking on Bitcoin’s Future

Bitcoin’s key players have until January to agree on a path for the currency, or there will be potential for mayhem

5 min read
Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images
Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

By and large, Bitcoiners are no strangers to adversity. In fact, they rather seem to welcome it. The community is a battery of contrarianism that lives off the loathing of every institution it seeks to usurp—banks, governments, payment processors. Like the psychic slime inGhostbusters II, the community gets stronger with every hateful blow.

But what happens when dissent bubbles up from within Bitcoin? This is what we are now witnessing. In September, a pair of Bitcoin programmers, Mike Hearn and Gavin Andresen, splintered off from the central group of developers and released a competing version of the Bitcoin software, called BitcoinXT. It includes a controversial rule change that the pair argue will alleviate Bitcoin’s snowballing scaling problem: At up to 1 megabyte apiece, the size of the components, or blocks, that make up the complete record of Bitcoin transactions (the blockchain) is widely agreed to be too small for the currency’s future. But others warn that BitcoinXT’s solution will place the currency on a path toward centralized control.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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