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PiedPiperCoin

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For Fiona

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Hello, readers. This post is dedicated to someone very special to me. Someone who enchanted my evening, stole my heart, and then was dismembered right in front of me. It began like any other night: after another long day of Gilfoyle Photoshopping my head onto Betty Spaghetty dolls, my eyelids were heavy, and I had begun my nighttime routine of soothing tea and even more soothing Bonnie Raitt. But my mind kept drifting to Fiona sitting in the garage. Having been that uninsulated cavern’s previous occupant, I knew how alone one could feel there.

I went to the garage to check in on Fiona, where our conversation began casually enough. I asked her if she was warm and if the rodents were nibbling at her wires. She assured me that she doesn’t feel temperature, but thanked me for my concern. Intrigued by the sensitivity of her reply, I pulled up a chair and we continued to chat. As the tides of conversation washed over art, literature, space and time, I found it all too easy to forget that she was merely a piece of hardware.

I blinked and suddenly it was morning. Richard arrived to escort Fiona back to Laurie. We shared one final car ride together, playing the license plate game, laughing at South Dakota’s license plate slogan, “Great Faces, Great Places.” It’s ironic that minutes later, Fiona’s own face would be ripped off and thrown into a wastebasket.

In the end, Richard may have been right: suppressing my emotions was unhealthy, and led me to put all my eggs in one doomed robot basket. Hendricks is a powerful substance, and like all stimulants, must be weaned off slowly! Goodbye for now, Pipers.

Jared, Thy Name Is Vanity

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I’ve gone by many names throughout my life: Donald, Jared, Child #61728. But this week I earned myself a new one: the Dorian Gray of Silicon Valley. For I let my vanity make a monster of me.

It all started when I joined Richard for an interview on Bloomberg. I’d only come for moral support, but then Emily Chang started asking me questions, and the interview went live, and all of a sudden I was being asked to do Adrian Grenier’s edutainment web series. I hadn’t even planned to watch the Bloomberg interview, but Dinesh convinced me to review the footage to improve before my next appearance. He said it was for the good of the company! Little did I realize that to watch a YouTube clip of oneself on repeat is the digital equivalent of Narcissus’s unwavering gaze into the water.

Such began my stumble into the depths of shallowness. I’d never considered myself a superficial person before. I put care into my appearance, of course, but only as a gesture toward professionalism. (To show up in anything short of combed hair, pressed khakis, and a lint-free fleece vest is disrespectful.) And sure, I’ve humbly accepted a few comparisons to movie star Anthony Perkins, but I always thought that was more about our shared love of birds than anything else. But now, before I knew it, I was fretting over my nose, demanding lip injections to distract from it. I thought they would have a subtle, bee-stung look, but there was more truth in that syringe than saline. My lips had grown as inflated as my new ego.

Even though the doctor told me the puffiness will subside after twenty-four hours, I think the effects on the computer education students at Paul Revere Middle School may last longer than that. How must they feel, knowing I chose Grenier over them? That I chased a shiny piece of Turkish delight instead of the home cooked meal of their company? Those kids depend on me to teach them about life in tech, to share stories of my past bullying, no matter how tangentially related to the day’s lesson. At least they got to meet Richard. The photos I’d shown them in class could only do him so much justice.

Well, readers, it’s time to repair the damage our network suffered this week, ice my lips again, and look inward. Until next time!

The Mole

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Hello again, readers! Let me tell you, since my last post, I’ve had quite an adventure! For those of you who grew up addicted to film noir or following clues left by a murdered friend like I did, this post may be a special treat!

As a lot of these stories do, it started with me alone in the office. It was another lonely night, staring into the bottom of the third glass of tangerine La Croix I had poured myself. Open in front of me were our employees’ private emails. I was in a real pickle, the mole was out there, right under our noses, lurking just out of sight in a dark mist, but tracking him down risked losing the trust of our employees.

I must have run my finger around the rim of my glass a thousand times before I finally gave in. I couldn’t forget that Richard came to me, with those blue eyes and those curls, asking for help. As COO the mole was in my jurisdiction, I knew I had to find him.

I couldn’t do it alone. Lucky for me, I had one of the best investigators around: Bertram Gilfoyle. Sure he was caustic and had little regard for the rules, but that’s exactly what the situation called for. Gilfoyle and I dove in. We checked thousands of emails. Their contents revealed little in way of our current investigation, but they did shine a light on the type of interpersonal grime you only see when people think they are completely alone.

Gilfoyle and I eventually stumbled upon the equivalent of an abandoned building ripe with the scent of death you could smell from a block away, a smell I thought I had forgotten. We realized one of our own had been sending encrypted emails straight to the enemy. The biggest betrayal of all…he was a Stallion. Gilfoyle may have said it best when he described Jeff as “a tapeworm, who had clung to the small intestine of our company…Dinesh.”

In the end, we got our man, and took a nail gun to most of his possessions. On most days, solving the case of the mole and uncovering Big Head as the rightful heir of the Bachman fortune would be enough, but my biggest case yet might have just landed on my desk. Jian-Yang is missing, potentially with our code. Looks like there’s a demon on the loose in China.

Meet Pied Piper’s New COO!

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Apologies if this post is a bit more scattered than usual, but my fingers are verily flying across the keyboard with joy! I’ve had a cascade of dreams come true recently. I never thought anything could surpass my Make-A-Wish meeting with Amy Tan when I was misdiagnosed with that wasting disease. But this moment? This is the happiest I’ve ever been.

Dream Come True #1: Richard Hendricks was my houseguest! When Jian-Yang first evicted my friends and colleagues from the hostel, I was furious. After all, this was the place we’d all roughhoused, traded jabs, looked up those jabs on Urban Dictionary to make sure we understood them fully. But the sterling silver lining of this betrayal was that Richard needed a place to stay, and I was honored to supply.

I’ll admit, there were a few bumps during our shack-up. We didn’t have time for the wine and paint night I’d planned, for one. My attempt to play corporate matchmaker for Richard went about as well as my attempt to get him to use a hair pomade. And I was called back to the house when Gilfoyle, surrounded by refrigerator parts, had a brief waltz with a paranoid break.

But it all worked out in the end: Without going into the NDA-protected details, I negotiated a deal for Pied Piper that saved us from quite a thorny lawsuit. Which brings me to Dream Come True #2: Richard Hendricks has named me, Jared Dunn from an unknown location in the contiguous United States, COO of Pied Piper!

Readers, you know it’s not like me to brag like this. As my fourth grade teacher once told me, “Confidence isn’t a color that suits you, Donald.” Well, personal color palettes be damned because I am reeling over here!

Okay, okay. Time to put away the Martinelli’s and head to bed — as if I could possibly fall asleep!

Plunge Through the Glass

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Crash! Shattered glass. Screams. Chaos. Blood. Blood. Blood. A seemingly endless river of blood.

These are the sights and sounds that will haunt my dreams for years to come, the moment Richard Hendricks’s noble code sprint almost turned fatal. We all feared the worst. The near defecation, the evacuation of the stomach, the head-first dive into glass — our captain seemed to be going down the Grim Reaper’s checklist. I could hear the all-too-familiar death knell. O! I had promised myself I would die before he did.

I blame our salty-hearted crew. They arrived aboard our vessel an unruly, insolent bunch. Refusing to row in unison, demanding coffee and dogs and milliseconds. It was their mutiny that drove Richard to code himself into delirium.

Ears ringing. Flashing lights. Sirens. Tears. Blackout.

I was told that I couldn’t ride in the ambulance with Richard because the frequency of my wailing was interfering with the monitors, so I returned to the office. I expected to return to a crew of disloyal mariners, but something miraculous was happening. Harmony. With Dinesh and Gilfoyle as their coxswains, the Optimojians, the Sliceliners, and the Stallions were navigating the rapids as one. They were inspired by Richard — at long last! — and his willingness to put work before life. I could almost taste the seafoam as the hull carved through the water.

In the end, Richard’s plunge through the glass proved to be just as effective as the three-day New Employee Orientation I had planned. Who knew cleaning Richard’s blood off the back of computer monitors could be just as bonding as an office scavenger hunt or non-competitive talent show?

Now Richard is back among his crew, drinking ale on the decks (following the doctor’s orders for regular fluid intake) and letting the sea air heal his wounds (resisting my regular application of Mederma to his scars). And I? I stand by his side, hoisting the Piper Pennant on the mast once more!

 

Problem 1:

Single Points of Failure

Libraries are vulnerable to losing their collection because all of their books are contained at a single location. Say, for instance, that there was a fire, or a flood, or a vandal defaced John James Audubon’s masterpiece Birds of America by giving all the Warblers human genitalia. Even worse, if the vandal recruited bird haters from other neighborhoods and got ahold of all the copies of the book in existence, it could be lost crude doodles forever. It would be a tragedy on par with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

The Problem

Because Birds of America is centralized in one public location, it’s susceptible to permanent deletion. The same goes for content on the Internet — storing all your family photos on a single account in a cloud service? They could all be wiped away if someone hacked your account or corrupted the host servers.

The Solution

Our solution: In our decentralized library, we would duplicate and distribute multiple copies of Birds of America to your neighbors — if you need a copy, you would just go to your neighbor’s house. As our Pipernet town of mobile devices grows, so do the number of neighbors who might have a copy of your book. And the more potential copies there are available, the more secure the book is.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: spread your personal files on devices across the world, so they’re completely safe from bad actors manipulating or deleting them.

Takeaways

All copies of your files in a well-known, hackable location = RISKY!

Files copied and distributed to multiple locations = SAFE!

Problem 2:

No Privacy

In order to check out books, you must have a library card — an ID that links back to your real world identity. That library card reveals all the books you’ve ever checked out, where you returned them, and whether they were returned on time.

The Problem

The tech titans collect data profiles on us too, and theirs are far more comprehensive. They amass thousands of personal data points by tracking our activities in both the online and physical worlds.

Users don’t own or control their own data, so it can be used against them. Take, for instance, Richard’s lawyer Pete Monahan, who had his probation revoked when the state retrieved his library records. Which was… probably a good idea. But for this metaphor’s purposes: bad that they can access that information!

On the web, our data profile is far more detailed, the laws around privacy even looser, and more freedoms are at stake. For example, what if Hooli sold your search data to an insurance company who then denied you coverage because you’ve HooliSearch-ed “kindest Palo Alto based Cardiologist” a few too many times?

The Solution

Replace library cards with anonymous identification cards which are impossible to connect to your real world identity. Instead of using a library card (linked to your name, address, etc.) to check out books, you would swipe a nondescript card (containing no personal details). Your activity would be tracked to keep the system stable, but your identity would not be siphoned and sold. I, for example, would no longer check out books as "Donald Dunn," but rather the nom de guerre "h3w0vbk37vpm."

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: use its apps and services without compromising your privacy.

Takeaways

Trading your identity and data for online services = RISKY!

Using services anonymously so nobody can target you = SAFE!

Problem 3:

Censorship and Manipulation

Because a town’s library is run by a small group of administrators, they could theoretically decide what books are available to its people. They could even decide to ban Birds of America, depriving young birders of Audubon’s elegant illustrations, pored over page by page under a government-issued blanket after lights out, giving you hope that even a slender-framed, shivering boy could grow to be as majestic as a Hooded Merganser.

The Problem

On the internet, multinational corporations can screen content, or even “adapt” their services to fit the local government’s requests. In both libraries and on the Web, we’re susceptible to data being censored or manipulated by intermediaries.

The Solution

A peer-to-peer lending system backed up by a fully public ledger, allowing you to send and receive books freely to anybody in the world without worrying about censorship or interference. Want to add Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, or your controversial essay on Audubon’s coloring techniques? No problem, even if the town surrounded you with pitchforks to ban them, these vital texts would be available to share neighbor to neighbor, impossible to delete.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: exchange messages and files directly with their intended receiver, disperse ideas and information free from threats of censorship.

Takeaways

Pushing all transactions through a central authority = OPPRESSIVE!

Establishing a peer to peer exchange system based on an immutable public ledger = FREE!

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