Why You Should Create Your Own Currency, according to meTokens creator Chris Robison

* 1. Introduction
* 2. Personal currencies – plausible?
* 3. Examples
* 3.1. Dance Teacher
* 3.2. Photographer
* 3.3. Software developer
* 3.4. Models
* 3.5. Doctors
* 3.6. Journalists/historians
* 3.7. Film directors
* 4. Final Thoughts

1. Introduction

In this pilot installment of Chiwbaka’s Chainterviews, Chris Robison, the founder of meTokens, discusses a truly out-there concept – making your own personal currency. He also gives several examples of how dancers, teachers, musicians, film directors and artists of all kinds can benefit from this strange new invention.

Fittingly he now has his own token, $CBOB! Each CBOB is worth 0.0038EUR as of the time of publication. I wonder what this means…

Continue reading Why You Should Create Your Own Currency, according to meTokens creator Chris Robison

The New Economy of Trust Networks – an overview


Think of your friends and how you have tit for tat with one another. There is an unspoken agreement to keep track of such favours implicitly, and if you have a friend who really keeps track of every cent he spent when doing favours for another, you’d all think he was a miser and keep your distance in some fashion.

Meanwhile, to exchange favours with the rest of the world, you use an abstraction of value called money. Over there, business is strictly business.

Now imagine if the tit for tat network could be expanded to not just include your close friends, but people who know about and presumably like you. Like your fans, or merely acquaintances who think you’re cool because they don’t yet know you eat boogers in the bathroom. Tit for tats could also be exchanged through a mutual acquaintance, enabling the exchange of favours with a total stranger.

Of course you’d need to keep track of all this explicitly, with currencies.

Could such a network reduce the importance of money in our lives/make transactions more personal, and abolish the desperate need to get rich at all costs?

the projects I know of in this space

Roll lets you create ERC20 personal tokens.

MeTokens seems to be the same thing, but adds a bonding curve, making your tokens more expensive as demand for them increases.

Trustlines an IOU exchanging network just like Lightning (Bitcoin), but mostly for fiat currencies and the integrated “Beer” currency.

Circles UBI an IOU exchanging network, except that these are personal tokens, which are replenished daily (it is a UBI).


Although this won’t replace money altogether, this form of explicit tit for tat could become a way of socially signaling you are closer together. Great way for famous people to make you pay more to feel more included, artists to rally their highest paying patrons etc.

Hippies will love this, and it’ll become even easier for them to live without money now. They might even think of this as money and start a movement to abolish this…

Value perception remains as important as ever. For your personal tokens to have value, you must make people see the value in you. This is not easy. And you must back up your tokens when called upon.

Recovering From COVID19

On the first week of March, I got the coronavirus. This is my experience at accelerating my recovery from it. The government was of no help, as usual.

It was just a cold

After going to Paris for EthCC, I got a cold. It was manageable at first, until the day I had to fly back to Berlin, because I thought hey, my flight is so early in the morning, might as well save money by sleeping over at the airport instead of a hostel!

Except that I didn’t even get to the airport in time to sleep, because I was having too much fun dancing zouk. In the end it was 4am, I couldn’t sleep on the bus because I was cold and afraid I might miss the stop at the airport, and when I had finally walked to the boarding gate, there wasn’t enough time to get proper sleep anyway.

There the cold really stopped being a sniffle and I had to blow my nose every now and then.

An aside about the Paris airport: incredibly, you will see homeless people sleeping in the airport. I don’t blame them, but when they piss on a wall indoors, when they could have just walked to a restroom, they really should be kicked out. I have no idea who said Paris was the city of romance.

Once I returned to Berlin, I slept with a hot water bottle. My cold improved immediately, and my mucus became green. So much for the cold.

But a day later, while walking back home, I felt the beginnings of a fever.

Continue reading Recovering From COVID19

Lifesim and Girlsim, answering the big questions of life

A few days ago I discovered cadCAD while researching token engineering, and in a fit of sudden creativity, I coded up two simulations to life’s questions that had been subtly bothering me.

I know I’ll get a lot of flak from people about the dating simulator, even from dating coaches I took advice from, where making a simulation is “thinking too much” to them. But being able to put hard numbers on my expectations is the biggest thing I never knew I was missing.

What is it?

It’s a framework to make testing simulations of complex systems easier.

Or more specifically: you write your actors and strategies and environmental conditions. cadCAD turns this into a pandas.DataFrame and runs the simulation a number of times for you, letting you switch easily between simulation strategies.


Lifesim 2 – a job search situation simulator

Your bank account balance over 3 years, assuming you keep living expenses at 1800EUR and you look for 3 jobs per month between jobs

Suppose the following:
* You’re looking for a job.
* Your monthly expenses are 1800EUR.
* You have a 20% chance of getting a job once you’ve applied for it (IRL this means personal contact, not sending your resume somewhere)
* Most jobs pay around 3000EUR +- 2000EUR.
* Each month, a job has a 10% chance of firing you.
* You can afford to make 2-3 personal connections per month that lead to jobs.
* Your minimum criteria: job must pay at least your monthly living expenses.

What will your bank account look like in 3 years?

To play with the numbers, set up Jupyter notebook and the Python virtual environment with requirements.txt.


To guarantee that your balance will be positive in 3 years, you must look for jobs which pay 2 * monthly living expenses, and you must meet 2-3 people who can provide such jobs per month.


Suppose you’re a 5. How many girls should you ask out per day, and how choosy can you be, to have a satisfactory dating life?

Girlsim – how choosy can you afford to be?

No, there won't be a picture of a hot girl here
If you’re an ‘8’ who only dates ‘7s and up’, here’s your dating history over 30 lifetimes, assuming you’ve asked out 1000 girls (each colour is a different lifetime)

Critical assumptions

  • By definition, most girls are 5 in hotness. Sorry if I burst any princess bubbles.
  • Women of hotness x prefer hotness x+1 (some prefer less actually, but that’s another discussion).
  • Even if you move to a city where you find most girls hot, after a few months you will grow accustomed.
  • You meet an 8 just about as frequently as other people meet their 8s. That is, it doesn’t matter what an 8 actually looks like.
  • Chemistry is modeled by secret Chemistry numbers. If they match up (around 5-10% chance, or 1-2/20), you have chemistry.

Defining Success

Personally, “the feeling of sexual abundance” is important, i.e. you’re not desperate to cling on to her because she’s the only girl who’ll like you back in a long long time.

There are 2 ways of defining this. Pick one.

  1. 1000 girls is 1 year of asking out 3 girls a day. At least 1 girl a month is a reasonable expectation.

  2. The hotness distribution of girls who accepted you must look like a normal distribution, not discrete.


  1. Don’t be choosy. If you’re a 5 who only dates 7s, you’ll spend most of your time being desperate/insecure in a relationship, or lonely.
  2. Even if you do end up becoming a ‘9’ through hard work and upgrading your wardrobe, you’ll still mostly date 5s and 6s. Why? simple, there are more of them around.
  3. Improving your looks really makes a big difference, but it is no guarantee that you will end up with a hot girl. But it’s okay. There are many dimensions to women other than ‘hotness’.

Life Lessons from Dancing

There’s a big gulf between knowing and doing.
I spent a lot of time thinking of how to think so that I could generate moves. That helped to a certain extent, but I just kept thinking fruitlessly instead of just going out there and making mistakes.

Mistakes are great improvisation opportunities – and they make it more fun to dance with beginners (as long as they follow the basics). You can always alter the tension in the embrace/grip, and this changes the character of the dance and makes new things possible.

It’s not good enough to be good.
You need to be socially connected.
Going to a milonga, salsa party or any kind of partner dance social? The good dancers are usually too busy talking and dancing with other people for you to muscle into the situation in a smooth way.

Same with dating and (probably) making money too. Cold approach is not something you should use all the time, but an additional skill in your pocket that you pull out when the time is right (or if you have no other choice).

What do women want? Probably not what you think they want.
It’s easy to think that women want to see your fancy moves, your cars, your riches. No doubt this catches attention – but catching someone’s attention is just getting your foot in the door.

Many women also mistake attention for attraction, the classic example? Women who wear stockings in winter. Have they got our attention? Yes. Are we attracted? Maybe… but she’s obviously got issues. Similarly, if a leader looks great when dancing, but actually isn’t fun to dance with, or leads moves roughly for the follower, she won’t speak well of him afterwards.

Think of your fancy moves, clothing, watches, cars as the candy wrapper. In the end, the chocolate still needs to taste at least as good as the others, if not better.

What’s the chocolate in dance? It’s the feeling of understanding someone at a level where no words are needed. See Cory Henry and Yoran Vroom at 3:53. Telepathic understanding. Emotional sync.

Maybe that’s why women use so many words and emojis with each other, and obsess over how every part of their behaviour comes across. It’s all about establishing emotional harmony (this implies fitting in).

Appearance and reality, just like attention and attraction, are quite disconnected.
Germany is a strange country – a restaurant’s decor correlates directly with its food quality, whereas in Asia, you purposely go to shabby looking stalls by the side of the road to get great chicken rice that’s just as good as fancy restaurants.

For Germans, eating out is a social occasion, and the food is just one part of it. The atmosphere of course contributes to the occasion, and any restaurateur who neglects that is probably similarly sloppy in other aspects.

This is a classic correlation != causation example that only happened because of a particular mindset towards eating.

Apparently, I appear confident and know what I’m doing.
Or rather, women get insecure about their own abilities too and you have to constantly reassure them that yes, I did intend to lead that move.

I heard some women are like that with their looks.

Again, appearance and reality are two very different things. Sometimes they are connected. Beware this mental shortcut.

As you decide for a particular style, you will alienate people.
Dress normal and everybody will think nothing of you.
Dress preppy and some people will think you’re posing.
Dress goth and most people will think you’re “weird”.
Dress outdoorsy and you won’t stand out to the preppy people.

Don’t Think Too Much

There was a time when I never consciously thought about what I was doing. I made no progress and that wasn’t good.

Then I started thinking. I saw results, I made progress and that was good.

So I started thinking even more, because I wanted to succeed faster. I built thought frameworks (general rules to guide my thinking) as I learned about new fields. It took me a long time to realize that my rate of progress hadn’t changed at all, and I was burning more energy for nothing.

Why do I say that?

There were others who hadn’t built a clear framework of how to think. But it didn’t matter. Because of their social position, because they took action, they got the hot girl or were rich. Thinking the right way can lead you to success, but is only one component.

“A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points” – Alan Kay

What’s the easiest way to get another perspective? Ask someone else. Sure, it is possible to imagine another perspective, but asking is just easier, plus you get to strengthen a social connection.

Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know – and this can overturn your thought framework overnight. Exploration is the answer here, and this can be time consuming.

Lastly, after having built many thought frameworks, I noticed most of them resulted in sound common sense. I didn’t have to spend so much energy building them in the first place!
Caveat: some bad life advice masquerades as common sense. It can really help to think through “common sense” advice to see if it really is “common sense” or some misguided line that an unfortunate, misinformed, unfortunately loud individual is spewing on social media.

The value of thinking

Thinking is simply bringing your subconscious thoughts up into the consciousness, where we can think about it faster using reason instead of emotion, overcome biases installed by society, overcome bad habits and misleading values in our subconscious, gain a clear vision of where we want to go etc. Words are the handles by which we grab and manipulate our thoughts from the sea of our subconscious. Word choice is very, very important.

But the consciousness is simply a tool, and one shouldn’t depend on one tool exclusively.

When I think too much

I go through life in a daze, not noticing the beauty in my surroundings, forgetting upcoming chores/appointments which are important but not urgent, and as a result I have to construct routines to get my life back on track, which makes me rigid and (ugh) German.

To improve one’s skills, there is no limit to the conscious complexity one can construct. But actually the most fun way is to improvise, boosting efficiency with honest communication and a very short iteration cycle.

When is a good time to think

When learning a new topic, a framework to guide your thoughts, a chosen set of values to strive towards from the very beginning, will help you achieve your goal quickly. (source: dancing experience)

When you have a gut feeling, but you just can’t put it into words. Not bringing it up to your subconscious could waste months, years of your time. Open a blank document and just start typing whatever comes to your mind, dumping your stream of consciousness into words (very effective, source: The Ultimate Commonplace System).

When building new processes to streamline your life. Within moderation: do not make a whole new routine and force yourself to commit to that. Instead, see what trhythm you naturally fall into and make slight tweaks to that. This is a good balance between enjoying life and improvement. Discipline is a finite resource after all.

Turn your brain off

I used to meditate to turn my brain off. Now I’ve rediscovered a better way from my childhood: video games, anime, tinkering with long lost hobbies. Wall Street Playboys would deride it as a waste of time, but one must waste a bit of anything once in a while.

The trick is to stop playing once you aren’t thinking about the original subject anymore, but your brain isn’t yet totally hooked on the game either. Video games can make your brain noisy and distracted too.

Am I thinking too much?

If you’re asking this question, you most certainly are. Remember a time when you weren’t under pressure to deliver, like your childhood. Then, in this quiet space that you’ve finally allowed yourself, listen to your gut.

You already know what to do.

My adventures in fixing a YLOD PS3

When Naked_Snake1995 posted a way of reviving YLOD PS3s on PSX-Place, I knew I had to try it out.

Note: standard sized tantalum capacitors (7.3×4.3×3.8 mm) are taller than the Proadlizers and will push against the motherboard’s aluminum shield on the bottom side (the top side where the chips are has more clearance, because other components right next to it are larger). But it will still fit together.

Removing the NEC/Tokin Proadlizer Capacitors

The hardest part by far. I’ve tried, and my advice is don’t use a hot air station. Most of the heat will go towards melting the plastic instead of heating up the solder underneath. By the time you’ve heated up the pads (takes several minutes if you’re lucky), the board is hot in one place but cold in others, which is obviously very bad for it. Not to mention, many electronic components are meant to endure only a few seconds of heat while reflow soldering.

Just use a sharp paper cutter like this Pakistani – he takes it off in a minute. The sharper it is, the less force you have to use, which means less chances of you knocking something off or scratching the board.

The trick is to not be afraid to dig the blade deep underneath the NEC’s pads. If you can get the blade mostly horizontal, it won’t dig into the board.

This is how mine looked like in the end. I chose a thick gauge wire to connect the + terminals of the capacitors because I assume a lot of current will be flowing through. Make sure it is not too long so it doesn’t obstruct the heatsink screw. Also, it is best to put it on the back side of the motherboard, not the front, so that it stays away from the RAM traces and other hot components.
Front of COK-002
Back of COK-002

Unfortunately, that still didn’t work. The YLOD timing is now different – the fan does spin up, but after a few more seconds, and I get 1 group of 3 beeps, not 2 groups of 3 beeps. Still no idea what that means.

I sent the mainboard off for a RSX reballing, but had no luck.

Troubleshooting using syscon

With the recent release of syscon’s firmware encryption key, one can now talk to the syscon over UART and hopefully figure out what the exact error is. Unfortunately it looks like the syscon only reports errors in codenames, but darknesmonk has shorted a few pins on the RSX to simulate hardware errors and reported what the syscon says.

Playstation 2 disc drive explanation

Before we answer any questions, you need to know the basics of how an optical disc drive works.

A CD spins on the spindle, and the laser reads, moving outwards from the middle of the disc. Think of the data on the disc as a spiral, just like vinyl records, from the inside to the outside. The laser shoots out of the lens, is reflected by the disc, then goes back into the lens and is redirected to a photodiode that responds to some light (CD: infrared light, DVD: red light).

Data is recorded as “pit”s (actual potholes in the media) and “land”s (no depression). The depth of the pit on the CD <0.2 micrometers, so that the light reflected from a pit will cancel the light reflected from a land, so that the difference is very obvious to the photodiode (source).

Now, since you can’t even see the spiral track with your bare eyes, it’s unrealistic to expect that the simple worm gear (coloured arrow) is precise enough to position the laser exactly where it needs to be. That’s why the lens can move sideways (coloured arrow) as well – this is called the “tracking”.

We’re talking about light here so of course we also have to deal with focusing the laser. And since you can’t expect every disc to be perfectly flat or not wobble while spinning, the lens also has to be able to move up and down to always keep the disc in focus as it spins. And of course there is the electronic circuitry to ensure all this happens automatically.

When you insert a CD/DVD into the drive, the lens will light up and try to find a disc, and try to focus. The lens assembly has two laser diodes built in: CDs use infrared, so you can’t see it, but DVDs are a deep red. The lens has a maximum range of movement, and if it goes too far upwards and it couldn’t find focus, it will go to the very bottom and try again.

This Youtube video (really long) explains it very well.

Now, we can answer questions like:

  1. My PS2 is making a clicking sound
    The laser couldn’t find a focus, and once it went as far up as it physically could, it slammed down to the bottom to try and find a focus there, just like the autofocus on a camera.

  2. My PS2 is making a rattling sound
    My fat PS2 made a rattling sound when the worm gear couldn’t move the laser head and the gear teeth were chattering against each other. But to be sure, open it up and see for yourself.

  3. My PS2 won’t detect CDs/DVDs
    If your laser is old and can’t shoot out enough light, then the photodiode can’t tell the difference between “in focus” and “out of focus”. Makes sense right?

  4. My PS2 can read CDs but can’t read DVDs?
    As mentioned before, there are two laser diodes, one for CD and one for DVD. If the DVD one is more worn out…

  5. Why won’t it read my CD-R/DVD-R – or reads it slowly
    Recordable CDs/DVDs are a totally different animal from official pressed discs. They reflect less, and if you burnt the CD at high speeds, the pits won’t be as deep, so the laser has to shine brighter to find something – and if it shines too brightly, the photodiode might not be able to tell the difference between a 0 and a 1. And if it isn’t sure, it will try reading the same part again…

Some SCPH-5000x PS2s (with a V9/V10 motherboard) had a problem where if the laser couldn’t find anything, the PS2 could drive too much power to the laser, burning it out prematurely. Keep that in mind.

What a healthy drive looks like

If all else fails, disassemble the PS2 and open the drive to see what’s going on. Here’s what a working mechanism should look like for a SCPH-50000

Replacing the laser

Aliexpress or eBay. PS2 Slim lasers are easier to find than PS2 Fat lasers, which probably means that PS2 Slim lasers aren’t going to be around forever either.
Fat: KHS-400B/C
Slim: PVR-802W

Why you need a knowledge management system

What’s a knowledge management system? It’s basically your notes, organized. It can be a Google doc, paper, Evernote, or in my case, emacs and org-mode.

It started when I was trading crypto. I’d open a position, and several days later it’d seem like a bad idea, and I couldn’t remember why i had entered that position in the first place. So I started to log my thoughts. This helped me watch my thought process and actually improve.

Plus, it just pisses me off when I have to re-Google something I already learnt a long time ago. This happens a lot when wrestling with Linux for example.

But hopefully, dear reader, I don’t need to convince you why this is a good idea (although I lived without such a system for many years).

What I do want to discuss in this post, though, is using such systems to shape your mindset.


I learn so many things in dance class that I can’t remember all of them. So once I get home, I write them down in a text file.

Actually revising the notes is something I haven’t systematized. It already takes a few weeks to internalize a Zouk movement so even then, many ideas in the notes go to waste because you can’t remember them on the dance floor.


It is so easy to wonder: “how much does (thing I want to buy) cost again?” And waste an hour being distracted on eBay.

Or “how do I do that in Linux again?” And waste time Googling that site you knew you went to ages ago.

My computer notes are just about factual information but it is no understatement to say they have improved my productivity 5x at least by preventing me from being distracted.

The only problem is if I have so many notes in this category that I forget that I already made a note for something.


To remember what a specific book said, I summarize it so that it won’t take me much brain power to understand the important parts in the future.

This might not imprint its insights into my brain that deeply, but it does dig up the associated thoughts I had when reading that passage again, without having to actually spend time re-reading the passage. Repeat this over time and it becomes internalized.

Spaced Repetition with Anki

Using Anki to remember facts is straightforward enough. I can even use it to get me to see things in a new light, using carefully written questions and making sure that I don’t just answer the question correctly, I actually hold that thought in my head for a few minutes before finally answering.

However I haven’t figured out how to use Anki to totally change my mindset. Perhaps that only comes naturally after having seen enough subtopics in a new light.

Repeated visualization of a certain situation, and rehearsing how I should think vs. how I would think in that situation helps a lot more.

A simple guide to Winternitz OTS signatures

WOTS is a way of generating a public/private keypair, and using it for signing messages. In other words, it’s a signature scheme. Importantly, it only depends on having a good hash function, which makes it ‘quantum resistant’ because Shor’s algorithm can make cracking elliptic curves easier on quantum computers (????). XMSS uses a tweaked version called WOTS+, which improves some cryptographical aspects which I don’t quite understand. A lot of what I learnt came from this page at Cryptography Services.

Suppose we have a message ‘1234’. Let’s sign it with WOTS to prove that we created/sent this message.

1. Generate a Secret Key

Since our message is 4 characters long, we need to generate 4 random collections of bits (let’s call them words, because calling them bytes would imply they’re 8 bits long, which doesn’t have to be the case). So let’s say these words should be 6 bits long.

secretkey = ['011001', '010110', '100001', '001000']

2. Calculate the Public Key from the Secret Key

There are many hash functions out there, like SHA-1, SHA-2, SHA-3, Whirlpool, and the one everybody knows from Bittorrent, MD5.

The idea is you hash each word in the secretkey /n/ times, so let’s say /n=8/.

publickey = [sha2(sha2(sha2(sha2...('011001')))), sha2(sha2(sha2(sha2...('010110')))) ... ]

It is now quite impossible to calculate the secret key from the public key. It’s impossible for 1 iteration of SHA2, let alone 8.

3. Signing the message

The signature of '1' is sha2('011001')
The signature of '2' is sha2(sha2('010110'))
The signature of '3' is sha2(sha2(sha2('100001')))
The signature of '4' is sha2(sha2(sha2(sha2('001000'))))

Once you release your public key, everyone can see that if you hash sha2(‘011001′) 7 more times, and sha2(sha2(‘010110′)) 6 more times etc., they will have calculated your public key, and thus you have proved that you were the one who actually signed the message ‘1234′.

Obviously, don’t use this method to sign ‘2345′! Or any other message. It’s called a OTS because it’s a One Time Signature. Generate a new secret key each time you want to sign something.


The secret key now includes a random XOR bitmask for each word.

secretkey = [('011001', '111111'), ('010110', '001001'), ('100001', '000000'), ('001000', '101010')]

When calculating the public key/signature, after calculating the sha2(word), you XOR the result with the word’s secret bitmask. This is supposed to make signature sizes smaller/harder to crack (don’t ask me).