Unbubbled: Jamie King and Sarah Henry, with David Gerard and Emin Gün Sirer

I recorded an interview in early October with Jamie King and Sarah Henry for their new show on LBRY, Unbubbled.

The LBRY proposal is a censorship-resistant video platform that was funded by a presale of the platform’s payment token. There were a number of serious problems with it a year ago (read the Reddit AMA, it’s a hoot), which they say they’ve now fixed.

But viewers don’t care about the platform, they care about the content. So here we go! Jamie and Sarah discuss Bitcoin’s present and possible futures, seeing if they can change each other’s minds, interspersed with clips from the guests.



The guest experience:

The impression on the LBRY website is of a debate between me and Professor Sirer, though we didn’t interact, let alone debate — if we had, it would have been a completely different show. (Anyone want to do this one?) I had no idea that Sirer would be involved until right at the end of recording my bit.

There’s a bit much describing my words instead of actually using them, when they had the tape right there. I got the same impression of Sirer’s clips. The show becomes a commentary on video it doesn’t show you — it feels like you missed previous episodes or something.

Jamie complains a couple of times that I didn’t back my words, after he’s read the book in which I do at length, so he knows I could — there’s an entire chapter on the libertarian roots of Bitcoin and there’s at least a chapter’s worth on Bitcoin economics and the ways in which it really doesn’t work. The book cites the best numbers I could find on drugs versus ransomware, $140m/yr vs $1b/yr; that wasn’t just a personal opinion. At no point during the recording did he, e.g., say “can you expand on that” on the points he’s claiming I don’t back.

That said, my clips are representative of what I think and are in appropriate context. I’m very happy with having gone on the show, and you should feel fine about going on too.

This is just the pilot episode. For the future, give the guests a bit more room to run, use their words instead of describing them — your guests are your hooks, after all. The format has potential and I can see this working well.


The recording process involved taking a pile of potato-quality equipment (at both ends) and some gaffer tape and seeing what we could extract from it — junkyard computing. The resulting video came out surprisingly well, though bits of the experience were like a certain XKCD cartoon.

I originally thought Jamie would be recording sound with me over Skype. He emailed the night before asking what my home video setup was like. I went “what.”

I don’t have a video setup. My laptop is my work Lenovo X240, which is a marvellous terminal for sysadmin work, blogging and looking at cat pictures, but not so hot for encoding and decoding multiple streams of 1080p MP4 video simultaneously. Also, the sound recording is really appallingly terrible.

The loved one has previously done road crew, and if she’d had 48 hours’ notice we could have rivaled the BBC. As it was, we tried various methods of recording a video phone call. Skype ended up unfortunately pixelated. Google Hangout was 2004 camera phone quality and I’ll never use it for anything if I can avoid it.

(“Yeah, juryrigging reflectors for desklamps and light filters are trivial if I have more than 24 hours’ notice. New mic stand was on my mental wishlist anyway — again, more than 24 hours’ notice, I could probably have borrowed one I think. My microphone is actually the best you’re going to get for under £100 frankly. If this is going to be a ‘more than once every 6 months’ deal? Then you’re helping me to rearrange the livingroom so I can set up a second desk, I build an A/V desktop and sort out space for a foldaway backdrop” — Arkady.)

We eventually resorted to a couple of Android tablets (10″ Galaxy Tab A 2016) — Samsung phones and tablets tend to have very good and usable sound for voice. The video is less than ideal — a bit dim, even in a room lit with a 30W (equivalent 150W) 6400K daylight bulb, so very grainy — and tops out at 720p, but you can get away with mediocre video if your sound is good. The camera is off to one side and I eventually just gave up trying to look at it, so you’ll see my eyes are all over the place.

I did video on my tablet on the selfie app, while simultaneously Skyping to Jamie and Sarah on the loved one’s tablet. Both were precariously positioned and gaffer-taped onto her laptop stand at a funny angle. We only had a couple of hilariously catastrophic gaffer tape failures where everything collapsed in a slapstick moment while recording. (“YOU CAN EDIT!”) I sent them 5.5GB of two video files over Google Drive, which took a couple of days to upload.

Professor Sirer’s bits ended up being just sound with a photo. Apparently he had a worse time than me …

Next task: the loved one to direct me in purchase of various bits and bobs — standard lamps with 30W 6400K CFL bulbs; mic stands with arms; non-rubbish microphone — to turn my corner of the couch in the front room into a home pundit studio. Possible green screen. A PC with enough grunt to process all of this. (I’m setting up a Patreon for this blog, and may put together a shopping list of goals.) Train myself to be more animated on screen …

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