257: TZ Discussion – It’s the Blockchain, Stupid!

Justin, Jason and special guest Ben Reyes discuss Ben’s investment in Tesla and investing in general, Bitcoin as a technology and whether Dorian is the real Satoshi, how experts found that Mt.Gox lost a mere 386 Bitcoin due to transaction malleabilitypending comments on Hacker News, Justin’s new meme – “The Iceberg Strategy”, Jason’s trick for scrambling his own memories, why Notch has canceled talks with Oculus Rift, the upcoming Math Field Day, Jason’s idea for a math TCG (trading card game), why it’s okay to work on small problems, and the future of the show.

  1. opi says:

    Hey there, Justin, Jason,

    I’ve been listening to your podcast for some time now. Years, I think. It was one of my go-to podcast, so whenever new episode showed up, I’d listen to it before everything else.

    I deleted Techzing from my podcasting application. Lately there was no spark behind it. Bitcoins are annoying, investing does not even register on my interests scale. I think the AnyFoo did you guys in; you went from two blokes who live different lives, had different dynamic and stories related to technology & startups to business partners and then to people talking to mic.

    You might think it’s arrogant of me to leave comments like that, and you might be right, it’s not like I’m something more than a listener; I just felt I need to explain myself right after I dropped you from my feed. There are non-zero chances I’m not alone in this feeling.

  2. Jason says:

    @opi – That’s too bad, but as our projects and interests change over time, as well as those of our listeners, it’s pretty much inevitable that we’re going to lose people. But, thanks for sticking with us for as long as you did.

  3. opi says:

    @Jason — yup, you turned to new projects, but I can promise you I’ll check new episodes in few months. Maybe it’s me who got old & tired? 😉

  4. Matt S says:

    I think the first episode of TechZing I listened to was episode 56 – the first interview with Rob Walling (just before the ill-fated TechZing Dailies!). Wow, four years ago!

    Something that I’ve really come to appreciate about the show is that neither Justin nor Jason are particularly negative/pessimistic (at least on the show). I think the upbeat nature of the show has been a major reason why I continue listening – even when things go bad, I know that you guys will make the best out of it, take your beatings and move on.

    There is a really humble quality to the podcast. I remember early on that I was almost turned off by a discussion on version control because Jason seemed to be disregarding it. I was fresh out of school at that time and I remember being kind of smug about this particular issue and thinking “these guys don’t even know what they are talking about!”. Eventually, I realized that it didn’t matter and that maybe I could learn from two guys with 10+ years experience. A huge component of being a “senior engineer” is maturity, not just technical ability.

    Justin and Jason get things done. It’s not always the prettiest, by the book, or even successful, but you guys *do* and *make*. And to put yourselves out there and not be worried about being exposed has been really inspirational.

    Jason’s advice about writing programming tutorials led me to start an “engineering journal” blog several years ago. Since then, it’s morphed into a more traditional software blog with moderate success – I average over 100k views/yr and have hit the front page on HN several times. The luck surface area meme encouraged me to share what I was learning to demonstrate competency and I was rewarded with new opportunities at my job (I’m currently the youngest person in my role at the company). You guys both made consulting (and charging a good rate) seem less scary; last year, I dipped my feet into freelancing and added almost $10,000 to my yearly salary.

    I wonder if the podcast has taken the same kind of “demographic journey” that Ben was talking about with Facebook. It started with pie-in-the-sky startups and juggling tons of projects, to seeking more stability with fulltime (or near fulltime) gigs for both of you, to more interest in giving back and teaching to younger generations (students and your own families). Maybe there is just a natural maturation of a podcast: start by reporting every new and shiny thing, but eventually realize that most of it is a “flash in the pan” and gradually shift toward more lasting and meaningful topics and discussions.

    Whether the schedule becomes more consistent or less consistent, whenever I see a new TZ episode, I always pause my other podcast and switch over.

    Anyways, thanks to Justin and Justin for continuing to put on the show – and thanks to both of their families for letting them take a few hours out of their week to share with all of us 🙂

  5. Congratulations Justin! You’re going to be a father and I’m so happy for you! I’m sure you will be a great dad!

    Sorry I’m late with congratulations. I’m a few episodes behind, so much work and so little time 🙁 Thank you again for putting the time to do the shows, you guys are my favorites!

  6. Justin says:

    @Michael Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m super excited (and nervous) about it 🙂

  7. Guyon says:

    OK – I feel I have to defend myself a little 😉
    The conversation about House of Cards went something along the lines of Me: “Just finished watching HoC, are you watching that?” Jason: “… about half way through season 2 …” Me: (thinking Jason was talking about HoC and not something else since no other TV Series names were mentioned in that sentence) “Cool, what did you think about ”
    I think I’m going to have to get Jason to fill out a form to itemise acceptable TV episodes to discuss and tick the T&C before we consider talking about TV series…

  8. Jordy says:

    guys, love the show…..long time listener and definitely hoping you keep going. ithanks

  9. Hey, great podcast! Always a pleasure to listen to.

    Ben Reyes, I’m also from Britain, do you mind telling me which broker you bought your Tesla shares from? I’d love to get in on the action 😉


  10. Just another one of “you people” (BTW love Archer have been watching for a while) to jump in and say TechZing has actually improved my life. A few times as well, either encouraging me to make job/technology leaps which resulted in large pay rises.

    I have been listening since around 10 or thereabouts (certainly very early on). I think the show is less valuable to me these days then before, but that’s more because I have changed rather then any fault of the show. Its still number one on my list to listen to though probably because I have more of an emotional investment in it.

    Anyway regardless as to what you do I will continue to listen and failing that follow your blogs.

  11. Richard says:

    Nice episode. Thanks Ben for being the voice of the listeners!

    Despite not being invested in any of it I’ve found the Tesla, Bitcoin, etc stories really interesting. The mystery of what’s happened to Mt. Gox is morbidly fascinating.

    I was explaining to my wife that TechZing had been talking about this ‘investment advice’ and that one listener had followed it and made a huge profit. She wanted to know why I hadn’t invested anything!

    On the innovation at Google – they have a Google X division that seems to be their skunkworks labs working specifically on the big ‘moon shot’ projects. I went to a talk by Megan Smith who heads the division, it sounds like it’s quite separate from main parts of Google.

  12. Tech Zing is an important part of our balanced podcast diet. Keep it up:

  13. Justin says:

    @James Robert – That is so awesome!

  14. Jason says:

    @James Robert – Yeah, that’s really cool! How did you create that and how long did it take?

  15. “We The People” love the show and yes it is making a difference in our lives. 🙂
    I have also been a fan of the show since episode #1, and compared to all tech podcasts I have been trying and listening to over the years, TechZing always seems to be more genuine and transparent about everything.
    Maybe it is the tech equivalent of “Friends” 🙂

  16. Great show, long time listener.

    To chime in on Jason’s idea of teaching kids math through a card game, I wonder if a more cooperative game model will help others in a group learn faster by sharing novel solution pathways in a group setting while engaging a whole group of kids. This approach of cooperative learning is very similar to the mob programming (http://vimeo.com/78854354)

    A nice cooperative game with interesting game mechanics is “Forbidden Island”, here’s a video explaining game mechanics during a game:


  17. Jon says:

    When Jason first started talking about designing his card game, as someone with some experience in a community of game designs, I was thinking there’s no way he’s going to pull it off but at least he’ll have fun doing something new.

    But damn as he just kept talking and talking, going through the blogs and podcasts and other stuff he was going for research, the mechanics… it soon became clear that he was in way deeper than I had realized. He might actually pull it off.

    Jason your ability to dive head first into brand new things is inspiring.

  18. Jason says:

    @Jon – Thanks! 😉 Actually, it’s just that once I get obsessed with an idea, something Justin refers to as “The Madness”, I just can’t help but dive deep into it. At least for the two of us, the only way to relieve the condition is to do something with the idea, which generally means to create something. So, really, I have no choice. I MUST exercise the demons!! 😉

  19. Dan says:


    I’m really glad you guys are continuing the show! I thought you might find this article on Better Place (the electric car startup that raised $1 billion in venture capital) interesting – it makes Tesla look like an iceberg strategy company!



  20. Jos says:

    Hi guys,

    Long time listener, first time commenter.

    I was talking to my friend about Soylent, and I remembered that Justin and Jason were going to do an ‘on air’ tasting. I don’t think I’ve missed an episode… did this happen or has the shipment not arrived?

    I’ve had a search through the show notes but I can’t see a reference to it.


  21. Justin says:

    @Josh: They didn’t ship it yet, but as soon as they do we will do that! I heard that it is shipping mid to end April… but I don’t believe it 😉

  22. Jason says:

    @Jon – By the way, have you designed any games yourself, and if you don’t mind sharing, what’s been your experience?

  23. Thom says:

    I had a thought today while listening to you people getting introspective about the show:

    Since Colby’s name comes up in pretty much every episode, the show’s been going on for long enough now that if he decides to go back and listen to the archive when he’s older it’ll give him a really unique opportunity to see himself growing up through Jason’s eyes in a way that photos / videos don’t.

    Anyway, I hope you keep making the podcast for some time to come – the “friends moving to another country” analogy was spot on, it’s got to the point for me where the technology discussion is pretty much a footnote to hearing about what you guys are up to.

  24. PJ Brunet says:

    As always, good show.

    As far as the topics, keep doing your thing. The cryptocoin and investing topics are definitely relevant, I would ignore that criticism. I’m no “game theory” expert but like Jason’s son (and most of you) I coded games in school too. I even played Magic a few times in college. Around 1999 I read “Market Wizards” where they talk about recruiting chess players to train as traders. That’s something I never got into, but it’s still interesting. I think most of us (computer nerds) are at least tangentially intrigued by chess, strategy games, etc. So it all fits together.

    Other tech-business shows I listen to: This Week In Startups (Jason Calacanis) and Bloomberg Radio. You guys are the only podcast I listen to. I’ll try to be a more regular listener, I just followed Techzing on Soundcloud tonight. The name Techzing is fine, it’s easy to remember.

    Your show convinced me to sign up for a Hacker News account. I have about 200 “karma points” now, mostly from writing comments. Speaking of tech news, I remember reading PC Magazine and Boardwatch as a kid. I remember when WIRED first came out. So I go way back!

    I realized today (trying another podcast) you guys are both easy to listen to. Your voices aren’t scratchy or annoying, which would make the show painful to listen to, regardless of the quality of the content.

  25. I use to listen to you guys when I first started learning to code. I was just waiting tables and had an idea for an app that I wanted to build. Since then I have picked up a variety of clients and have made a good amount of money as a freelancer. The app idea I had was a naive attempt but it took me in the right direction.

    It helped in the beginning to listen to you guys because I would pick up on a bunch of keywords to go and research later. The show definitely defines a pivotal point in my life. Just thought I would let you guys know that the show is cool since you mentioned ending it.