Written by 8:29 am Cryptocurrency

Tarred in U.S., cryptocurrency meets need elsewhere

After the FTX bankruptcy debacle, people lost faith in cryptocurrency. Even I did, though I bought a sweater with bitcoin in 2017.

It might be different if I lived in another country. Take Lebanon, for example. According to a report last month, people who try to get their cash out of a bank have to give up 85% of it. CNBC quoted an architect who said he now gets 90% of his payments in bitcoin there, which he swaps for a “stablecoin” called tether, which he exchanges for U.S. dollars.

“One of the big attractions of cryptocurrency is its independence from governments and traditional financial institutions,” said Joel Ewing, the president of the Bella Vista computer club. “But that is also one of its biggest weaknesses. Cryptocurrency exchanges are not subject to government oversight. There are minimal consequences for failure, and no insurance to protect investors.” The paradox, he says, is that tighter regulations would bring higher overhead costs, dampening enthusiasm for the coin.

Five years ago, I made money in Bitcoin but ended in the red by buying high, selling low. I would only get back in now if the financial situation changed dramatically.

Last year, the Biden administration directed government agencies to look into developing a digital dollar. According to the Brookings Institute, unless we adopt one, we can’t keep the global advantages we now enjoy. The dollar is part of 88% of global trade. More than 65 countries peg their currencies to our greenbacks. But 90 countries, representing 90% of global gross domestic product, are also exploring crypto. Nine countries already have one, but they’re small.

SMART TV, DUMB TV

What can be more maddening than a movie with loud special effects and inaudible dialog? For example, you might hear every crunch of the heroine’s foot on the gravel, but miss everything she’s saying. There’s a TV setting for that.

On my Sony, I clicked a little icon for a gear. Then I clicked “Display and Sound,”https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/”Sound,”https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/”Sound Customization,” and “Voice Boost.” Using a slider, I boosted Voice Boost to the maximum. Following CNET’s advice, I also turned off surround sound.

Your TV probably has something similar. According to CNET, many newer TVs have a setting called “clear voices.” For more info, see “Why are Smart TVs so Dumb When the Problem Is so Easy to Fix?”

BIG 3G SHUTDOWN

Even my least tech-y friends knew about the big 3G shutdown in time to go out and buy a new phone.

But there are other 3G devices that could cause problems. The list includes cars, home security systems, fall detectors, fire alarms, inventory trackers, smartwatches, GPS trackers (including for pets), and marine safety devices. If you have any of those items, call the manufacturer to see if you need an upgrade. For more info, see the newly-updated ZDnet article “Will my phone work after the 3G shutdown?”

NIP IT IN THE BUD

It’s hard to keep track of the hundreds of emails I get every day. I recommend a free extension for Google Chrome to nip it in the bud.

“Check Plus for Gmail” gives you a pop-up when an email comes in. A preview window lets you read just enough to decide whether you want to zap it before it clogs your inbox.

At first I thought my inbox hadn’t cleared, because I’d kept a Gmail tab open. But all I had to do was hit the refresh button or keep the Gmail tab closed. When I returned, I had a mean and lean inbox. You can find it in the Chrome Web Store at chrome.google.com.

PRINTING WOOD

Eighty-four million tons of sawdust winds up in landfills every year. But now there’s a 3D printing system that converts it back into wood products.

Using a $300,000 3D printer by Forust, HagenHinderdael of London makes hanging lamps for $2,160 each, according to ZDnet. The printer comes with pure, unfinished maple or oak sawdust. Of course, $300,000 is a lot of money for a small business. But you can send your design to them and they’ll print it for you. I’m hopeful this could lead to less wood waste.

NEW TO CHROME

In coming weeks, Google Chrome is getting a “Memory Saver” function, which could dramatically speed up your web browsing, especially if you’re a multitasker. Multitaskers like me surf the web with a lot of tabs open. As I’m writing this, I have 16 of them.

With the new Memory Saver feature, Chrome will put your unused tabs on hold, so they won’t clog the system. But each tab will spring back to life as soon as you click on it. Chrome is also getting a new “battery saver” feature.

WINDOWS 10 FOR FREE

If you don’t have Windows 10, you can still get it for free. Do a Google search on “Download Windows 10,” but make sure you click on the link from Microsoft.com.

GAME TIME

“TriviaVerse” is a new trivia game from Netflix for computer or TV. A cartoony version is “Trivia Quest.” Check out its trailer on YouTube.

INTERNUT

“This pilotless VTOL took its first hydrogen-fueled test drive.” Search on that phrase to see a drone that uses liquid hydrogen to go over 500 miles with just 55 pounds of hydrogen on board.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

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