Blockchain to solve growing privacy challenges
Most online activity is now public. Businesses collect, store, and use our personal data to improve sales and services.
In 2014, Uber executives and employees were accused of spying on customers using tools like maps. Another incident raised concerns about the use of ‘FaceApp'. The app was created by a small Russian company, and the photos can be used in unexpected ways. The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed serious privacy issues. The whole incident raised questions about how governments and businesses should handle data. Modern technologies and practices also make it easier to link data to people.
As a result, governments and regulators have taken steps to protect user data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced by the EU to address data privacy issues. The law governs how businesses collect and process user data. The Data Protection Bill in India and the General Data Protection Law in Brazil are similar.
Despite the impact these regulations have made on data practices, a lot of distance is yet to cover.
Blockchain may be able to address growing data privacy concerns. The technology protects our personal data by providing security and anonymity. The blockchain uses random strings of numbers called public and private keys to maintain privacy. These keys allow a person to be identified without revealing their identity. Blockchain may be able to ensure data privacy and security in this way. Let's dig deeper.
Online payments require third-party services like PayPal or Google Pay. Using blockchain can eliminate the need to trust third parties. Users can send payments between peers using their public and private keys without providing personal information to a third-party application. Blockchain will also secure financial data.
Blockchain technology can give patients more control over their data. There are benefits to doing so. Once the data is recorded on the ledger, patients can keep it secure and only allow authorized access. They can also only give the healthcare provider part of the information needed.
The major challenge
We tried to figure out how blockchain could help solve the growing data privacy issues. However, using blockchain to address privacy concerns has significant drawbacks. Blockchain is not designed for data privacy. A ‘distributed' ledger will be used to store the data. Another issue is the immutability of blockchain. Data entered into the ledger cannot be changed or deleted. It will be impossible to remove personal data from the ledger even if desired.
MIT's Enigma Project aims to solve this. Enigma's ‘Secret Network' allows nodes to process data without seeing it. Decentralized applications can use Secret Network to use encrypted data without revealing it.
Another startup, Oasis Labs, uses blockchain to address data privacy issues. They are working on a system that will allow businesses to protect their customers' data.
Blockchain technology is already being used. Several governments use blockchain to eliminate centralized servers and improve data security. In this information age, it is vital to safeguard our data. How blockchain can help us in this matter is still unknown as the world explores the technology.
More on Web3 & Crypto
6 months ago
Is Web3 nonsense?
Crypto and blockchain have rebranded as web3. They probably thought it sounded better and didn't want the baggage of scam ICOs, STOs, and skirted securities laws.
It was like Facebook becoming Meta. Crypto's biggest players wanted to change public (and regulator) perception away from pump-and-dump schemes.
After the 2018 ICO gold rush, it's understandable. Every project that raised millions (or billions) never shipped a meaningful product.
Like many crazes, charlatans took the money and ran.
Despite its grifter past, web3 is THE hot topic today as more founders, venture firms, and larger institutions look to build the future decentralized internet.
How often have you heard: This will change the world, fix the internet, and give people power?
Why are most of web3's biggest proponents (and beneficiaries) the same rich, powerful players who built and invested in the modern internet? It's like they want to remake and own the internet.
Something seems off about that.
Why are insiders getting preferential presale terms before the public, allowing early investors and proponents to flip dirt cheap tokens and advisors shares almost immediately after the public sale?
It's a good gig with guaranteed markups, no risk or progress.
If it sounds like insider trading, it is, at least practically. This is clear when people talk about blockchain/web3 launches and tokens.
Fast money, quick flips, and guaranteed markups/returns are common.
Incentives-wise, it's hard to blame them. Who can blame someone for following the rules to win? Is it their fault or regulators' for not leveling the playing field?
It's similar to oil companies polluting for profit, Instagram depressing you into buying a new dress, or pharma pushing an unnecessary pill.
All of that is fair game, at least until we change the playbook, because people (and corporations) change for pain or love. Who doesn't love money?
belief based on money gain
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Bitcoin, blockchain, and web3 analogies?
Most blockchain and web3 proponents are true believers, not cynical capitalists. They believe blockchain's inherent transparency and permissionless trust allow humanity to evolve beyond our reptilian ways and build a better decentralized and democratic world.
They highlight issues with the modern internet and monopoly players like Google, Facebook, and Apple. Decentralization fixes everything
If we could give power back to the people and get governments/corporations/individuals out of the way, we'd fix everything.
Blockchain solves supply chain and child labor issues in China.
To meet Paris climate goals, reduce emissions. Create a carbon token.
Fixing online hatred and polarization Web3 Twitter and Facebook replacement.
Web3 must just be the answer for everything… your “perfect” silver bullet.
Nothing fits everyone. Blockchain has pros and cons like everything else.
Blockchain's viral, ponzi-like nature has an MLM (mid level marketing) feel. If you bought Taylor Swift's NFT, your investment is tied to her popularity.
Probably makes you promote Swift more. Play music loudly.
Here's another example:
Imagine if Jehovah’s Witnesses (or evangelical preachers…) got paid for every single person they converted to their cause.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as their faith and wealth grow.
Which breeds extremism? Ultra-Orthodox Jews are an example. maximalists
Bitcoin and blockchain are causes, religions. It's a money-making movement and ideal.
We're good at convincing ourselves of things we want to believe, hence filter bubbles.
I ignore anything that doesn't fit my worldview and seek out like-minded people, which algorithms amplify.
Is web3 merely a new scam?
Blockchain has many crucial uses.
Sending money home/abroad without bank fees;
Like fleeing a war-torn country and converting savings to Bitcoin;
Like preventing Twitter from silencing dissidents.
Permissionless, trustless databases could benefit society and humanity. There are, however, many limitations.
What if you're cheated?
What if Trump/Putin/your favorite dictator incites a coup d'état?
What-ifs abound. Decentralization's openness brings good and bad.
No gatekeepers or firefighters to rescue you.
ISIS's fundraising is also frictionless.
Community-owned apps with bad interfaces and service.
So what compromises does web3 make?
What are your trade-offs? Decentralization has many strengths and flaws. Like Bitcoin's wasteful proof-of-work or Ethereum's political/wealth-based proof-of-stake.
To ensure the survival and veracity of the network/blockchain and to safeguard its nodes, extreme measures have been designed/put in place to prevent hostile takeovers aimed at altering the blockchain, i.e., adding money to your own wallet (account), etc.
These protective measures require significant resources and pose challenges. Reduced speed and throughput, high gas fees (cost to submit/write a transaction to the blockchain), and delayed development times, not to mention forked blockchain chains oops, web3 projects.
Protecting dissidents or rogue regimes makes sense. You need safety, privacy, and calm.
What if you assumed EVERYONE you saw was out to rob/attack you? You'd never travel, trust anyone, accomplish much, or live fully. The economy would collapse.
It's like an ant colony where half the ants do nothing but wait to be attacked.
Waste of time and money.
11% of the US budget goes to the military. Imagine what we could do with the $766B+ we spend on what-ifs annually.
Is so much hypothetical security needed?
Blockchain and web3 are similar.
Does your app need permissionless decentralization? Does your scooter-sharing company really need a proof-of-stake system and 1000s of nodes to avoid Russian hackers? Why?
Worst-case scenario? It's not life or death, unless you overstate the what-ifs. Web3 proponents find improbable scenarios to justify decentralization and tokenization.
Do I need a token to prove ownership of my painting? Unless I'm a master thief, I probably bought it.
despite losing the receipt.
I do, however, love Web 3.
Enough Web3 bashing for now. Understand? Decentralization isn't perfect, but it has huge potential when applied to the right problems.
I see many of the right problems as disrupting big tech's ruthless monopolies. I wrote several years ago about how tokenized blockchains could be used to break big tech's stranglehold on platforms, marketplaces, and social media.
Tokenomics schemes can be used for good and are powerful. Here’s how.
Before the ICO boom, I made a series of predictions about blockchain/crypto's future. It's still true.
Here's where I was then and where I see web3 going:
My 11 Big & Bold Predictions for Blockchain
In the near future, people may wear crypto cash rings or bracelets.
While some governments repress cryptocurrency, others will start to embrace it.
Blockchain will fundamentally alter voting and governance, resulting in a more open election process.
Money freedom will lead to a more geographically open world where people will be more able to leave when there is unrest.
Blockchain will make record keeping significantly easier, eliminating the need for a significant portion of government workers whose sole responsibility is paperwork.
Overrated are smart contracts.
6. Tokens will replace company stocks.
7. Blockchain increases real estate's liquidity, value, and volatility.
8. Healthcare may be most affected.
9. Crypto could end privacy and lead to Minority Report.
10. New companies with network effects will displace incumbents.
11. Soon, people will wear rings or bracelets with crypto cash.
Some have already happened, while others are still possible.
Time will tell if they happen.
What will web3 be?
Who will be in charge?
Hope you enjoyed this web3 dive. There's much more to say, but that's for another day.
We're writing history as we go.
Tech regulation, mergers, Bitcoin surge How will history remember us?
What about web3 and blockchain?
Is this a revolution or a tulip craze?
Remember, actions speak louder than words (share them in the comments).
6 months ago
Developed an automated cryptocurrency trading tool for nearly a year before unveiling it this month.
I'm happy to provide this important update. We've worked on this for a year and a half, so I'm glad to finally write it. We named the application AESIR because we’ve love Norse Mythology. AESIR automates and runs trading strategies.
Volatility, technical analysis, oscillators, and other signals are currently supported by AESIR.
Additionally, we enhanced AESIR's ability to create distinctive bespoke signals by allowing it to analyze many indicators and produce a single signal.
AESIR has a significant social component that allows you to copy the best-performing public setups and use them right away.
Enter your email here to be notified when AEISR launches.
Views on algorithmic trading
First, let me clarify. Anyone who claims algorithmic trading platforms are money-printing plug-and-play devices is a liar. Algorithmic trading platforms are a collection of tools.
A trading algorithm won't make you a competent trader if you lack a trading strategy and yolo your funds without testing. It may hurt your trade. Test and alter your plans to account for market swings, but comprehend market signals and trends.
Throughout closed beta testing, we've communicated closely with users to design a platform they want to use.
To celebrate, we're giving you free Aesir Viking NFTs and we cover gas fees.
Why use a trading Algorithm?
Automating a successful manual approach
experimenting with and developing solutions that are impossible to execute manually
One AESIR strategy lets you buy any cryptocurrency that rose by more than x% in y seconds.
AESIR can scan an exchange for coins that have gained more than 3% in 5 minutes. It's impossible to manually analyze over 1000 trading pairings every 5 minutes. Auto buy dips or DCA around a Dip
Here's the Leaderboard, where you can clone the best public settings.
As a tiny, self-funded team, we're excited to unveil our product. It's a beta release, so there's still more to accomplish, but we know where we stand.
If this sounds like a project that you might want to learn more about, you can sign up to our newsletter and be notified when AESIR launches.
Join the Discord | Join our subreddit | Newsletter | Mint Free NFT
9 months ago
Nomad.xyz got exploited for $190M
Another hack. This time was different. This is a doozy.
Why? Nomad got exploited for $190m. It was crypto's 5th-biggest hack. Ouch.
It wasn't hackers, but random folks. What happened:
A Nomad smart contract flaw was discovered. They couldn't drain the funds at once, so they tried numerous transactions. Rookie!
People noticed and copied the attack.
They just needed to discover a working transaction, substitute the other person's address with theirs, and run it.
In a two-and-a-half-hour attack, $190M was siphoned from Nomad Bridge.
Nomad is a novel approach to blockchain interoperability that leverages an optimistic mechanism to increase the security of cross-chain communication. — nomad.xyz
This hack was permissionless, therefore anyone could participate.
After the fatal blow, people fought over the scraps.
Cross-chain bridges remain a DeFi weakness and exploit target. When they collapse, it's typically total.
Unbacked assets are hurting Nomad-dependent chains. Moonbeam, EVMOS, and Milkomeda's TVLs dropped.
This incident is every-man-for-himself, although numerous whitehats exploited the issue...
But what triggered the feeding frenzy?
How did so many pick the bones?
After a normal upgrade in June, the bridge's Replica contract was initialized with a severe security issue. The 0x00 address was a trusted root, therefore all messages were valid by default.
After a botched first attempt (costing $350k in gas), the original attacker's exploit tx called process() without first 'proving' its validity.
The process() function executes all cross-chain messages and checks the merkle root of all messages (line 185).
The upgrade caused transactions with a'messages' value of 0 (invalid, according to old logic) to be read by default as 0x00, a trusted root, passing validation as 'proven'
Any process() calls were valid. In reality, a more sophisticated exploiter may have designed a contract to drain the whole bridge.
Copycat attackers simply copied/pasted the same process() function call using Etherscan, substituting their address.
The incident was a wild combination of crowdhacking, whitehat activities, and MEV-bot (Maximal Extractable Value) mayhem.
For example, 🍉🍉🍉. eth stole $4M from the bridge, but claims to be whitehat.
Others stood out for the wrong reasons. Repeat criminal Rari Capital (Artibrum) exploited over $3M in stablecoins, which moved to Tornado Cash.
The top three exploiters (with 95M between them) are:
Here's a list of all the exploiters:
The project conducted a Quantstamp audit in June; QSP-19 foreshadowed a similar problem.
The auditor's comments that "We feel the Nomad team misinterpreted the issue" speak to a troubling attitude towards security that the project's "Long-Term Security" plan appears to confirm:
Concerns were raised about the team's response time to a live, public exploit; the team's official acknowledgement came three hours later.
"Removing the Replica contract as owner" stopped the exploit, but it was too late to preserve the cash.
Closed blockchain systems are only as strong as their weakest link.
The Harmony network is in turmoil after its bridge was attacked and lost $100M in late June.
What's next for Nomad's ecosystems?
Moonbeam's TVL is now $135M, EVMOS's is $3M, and Milkomeda's is $20M.
Loss of confidence may do more damage than $190M.
Cross-chain infrastructure is difficult to secure in a new, experimental sector. Bridge attacks can pollute an entire ecosystem or more.
Nomadic liquidity has no permanent home, so consumers will always migrate in pursuit of the "next big thing" and get stung when attentiveness wanes.
DeFi still has easy prey...
Sources: rekt.news & The Milk Road.
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Tech With Dom
6 months ago
6 Awesome Desk Accessories You Must Have!
I'm gadget-obsessed. So I shared my top 6 desk gadgets.
These gadgets improve my workflow and are handy for working from home.
Without further ado...
Computer light bar Xiaomi Mi
I've previously recommended the Xiaomi Mi Light Bar, and I still do. It's stylish and convenient.
The Mi bar is a monitor-mounted desk lamp. The lamp's hue and brightness can be changed with a stylish wireless remote.
Changeable hue and brightness make it ideal for late-night work.
Desk Mat 2.
I wasn't planning to include a desk surface in this article, but I find it improves computer use.
The mouse feels smoother and is a better palm rest than wood or glass.
I'm currently using the overkill Razer Goliathus Extended Chroma RGB Gaming Surface, but I like RGB.
Using a desk surface or mat makes computer use more comfortable, and it's not expensive.
Third, the Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
The Logitech MX Master 3 or any from the MX Master series is my favorite mouse.
The side scroll wheel on these mice is a feature I've never seen on another mouse.
Side scroll wheels are great for spreadsheets and video editing. It would be hard for me to switch from my Logitech MX Master 3 to another mouse. Only gaming is off-limits.
Google Nest 4.
Without a smart assistant, my desk is useless. I'm currently using the second-generation Google Nest Hub, but I've also used the Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Apple HomePod Mini.
As a Pixel 6 Pro user, the Nest Hub works best with my phone.
My Nest Hub plays news, music, and calendar events. It also lets me control lights and switches with my smartphone. It plays YouTube videos.
Google Pixel Stand, No. 5
A wireless charger on my desk is convenient for charging my phone and other devices while I work. My desk has two wireless chargers. I have a Satechi aluminum fast charger and a second-generation Google Pixel Stand.
If I need to charge my phone and earbuds simultaneously, I use two wireless chargers. Satechi chargers are well-made and fast. Micro-USB is my only complaint.
The Pixel Stand converts compatible devices into a smart display for adjusting charging speeds and controlling other smart devices. My Pixel 6 Pro charges quickly. Here's my video review.
6. Anker Power Bank
Anker's 65W charger is my final recommendation. This online find was a must-have. This can charge my laptop and several non-wireless devices, perfect for any techie!
The charger has two USB-A ports and two USB-C ports, one with 45W and the other with 20W, so it can charge my iPad Pro and Pixel 6 Pro simultaneously.
These are some of my favorite office gadgets. My kit page has an updated list.
Links to the products mentioned in this article are in the appropriate sections. These are affiliate links.
You're up! Share the one desk gadget you can't live without and why.
3 months ago
Why personal ambition and poor leadership caused Google layoffs
Google announced 6% layoffs recently (or 12,000 people). This aligns it with most tech companies. A publicly contrite CEO explained that they had overhired during the COVID-19 pandemic boom and had to address it, but they were sorry and took full responsibility. I thought this was "bullshit" too. Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and others must feel similarly. I spent 10 years at Google, and these things don't reflect well on the company's leaders.
All publicly listed companies have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders. Dodge vs. Ford Motor Company established this (1919). Henry Ford wanted to reduce shareholder payments to offer cheaper cars and better wages. Ford stated.
My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business.
The Dodge brothers, who owned 10% of Ford, opposed this and sued Ford for the payments to start their own company. They won, preventing Ford from raising prices or salaries. If you have a vocal group of shareholders with the resources to sue you, you must prove you are acting in their best interests. Companies prioritize shareholders. Giving activist investors a stick to threaten you almost enshrines short-term profit over long-term thinking.
This underpins Google's current issues. Institutional investors who can sue Google see it as a wasteful company they can exploit. That doesn't mean you have to maximize profits (thanks to those who pointed out my ignorance of US corporate law in the comments and on HN), but it allows pressure. I feel for those navigating this. This is about unrestrained capitalism.
When Google went public, Larry Page and Sergey Brin knew the risks and worked hard to keep control. In their Founders' Letter to investors, they tried to set expectations for the company's operations.
Our long-term focus as a private company has paid off. Public companies do the same. We believe outside pressures lead companies to sacrifice long-term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations.
The company has transformed since that letter. The company has nearly 200,000 full-time employees and a trillion-dollar market cap. Large investors have bought company stock because it has been a good long-term bet. Why are they restless now?
Other big tech companies emerged and fought for top talent. This has caused rising compensation packages. Google has also grown rapidly (roughly 22,000 people hired to the end of 2022). At $300,000 median compensation, those 22,000 people added $6.6 billion in salary overheads in 2022. Exorbitant. If the company still makes $16 billion every quarter, maybe not. Investors wonder if this value has returned.
Investors are right. Google uses people wastefully. However, by bluntly reducing headcount, they're not addressing the root causes and hurting themselves. No studies show that downsizing this way boosts productivity. There is plenty of evidence that they'll lose out because people will be risk-averse and distrust their leadership.
The company's approach also stinks. Finding out that you no longer have a job because you can’t log in anymore (sometimes in cases where someone is on call for protecting your production systems) is no way to fire anyone. Being with a narcissistic sociopath is like being abused. First, you receive praise and fancy perks for making the cut. You're fired by text and ghosted. You're told to appreciate the generous severance package. This firing will devastate managers and teams. This type of firing will take years to recover self-esteem. Senior management contributed to this. They chose the expedient answer, possibly by convincing themselves they were managing risk and taking the Macbeth approach of “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly”.
Recap. Google's leadership did a stupid thing—mass firing—in a stupid way. How do we get rid of enough people to make investors happier? and "have 6% less people." Empathetic leaders should not emulate Elon Musk. There is no humane way to fire 12,000 people, but there are better ways. Why is Google so wasteful?
Ambition answers this. There aren't enough VP positions for a group of highly motivated, ambitious, and (increasingly) ruthless people. I’ve loitered around the edges of this world and a large part of my value was to insulate my teams from ever having to experience it. It’s like Game of Thrones played out through email and calendar and over video call.
Your company must look a certain way to be promoted to director or higher. You need the right people at the right levels under you. Long-term, growing your people will naturally happen if you're working on important things. This takes time, and you're never more than 6–18 months from a reorg that could start you over. Ambitious people also tend to be impatient. So, what do you do?
Hiring and vanity projects. To shape your company, you hire at the right levels. You value vanity metrics like active users over product utility. Your promo candidates get through by subverting the promotion process. In your quest for growth, you avoid performance managing people out. You avoid confronting toxic peers because you need their support for promotion. Your cargo cult gets you there.
Its ease makes Google wasteful. Since they don't face market forces, the employees don't see it as a business. Why would you do when the ads business is so profitable? Complacency causes senior leaders to prioritize their own interests. Empires collapse. Personal ambition often trumped doing the right thing for users, the business, or employees. Leadership's ambition over business is the root cause. Vanity metrics, mass hiring, and vague promises have promoted people to VP. Google goes above and beyond to protect senior leaders.
The decision-makers and beneficiaries are not the layoffees. Stock price increase beneficiaries. The people who will post on LinkedIn how it is about misjudging the market and how they’re so sorry and take full responsibility. While accumulating wealth, the dark room dwellers decide who stays and who goes. The billionaire investors. Google should start by addressing its bloated senior management, but — as they say — turkeys don't vote for Christmas. It should examine its wastefulness and make tough choices to fix it. A 6% cut is a blunt tool that admits you're not running your business properly. why aren’t the people running the business the ones shortly to be entering the job market?
This won't fix Google's wastefulness. The executives may never regain trust after their approach. Suppressed creativity. Business won't improve. Google will have lost its founding vision and us all. Large investors know they can force Google's CEO to yield. The rich will get richer and rationalize leaving 12,000 people behind. Cycles repeat.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2013, Nintendo's CEO said he wouldn't fire anyone for shareholders. Switch debuted in 2017. Nintendo's stock has increased by nearly five times, or 19% a year (including the drop most of the stock market experienced last year). Google wasted 12,000 talented people. To please rich people.
4 months ago
The direction of the economy is as follows.
What quarterly bank earnings reveal
Big banks know the economy best. Unless we’re talking about a housing crisis in 2007…
Banks are crucial to the U.S. economy. The Fed, communities, and investments exchange money.
An economy depends on money flow. Banks' views on the economy can affect their decision-making.
Most large banks released quarterly earnings and forward guidance last week. Others were pessimistic about the future.
What Makes Banks Confident
Bank of America's profit decreased 30% year-over-year, but they're optimistic about the economy. Comparatively, they're bullish.
Who banks serve affects what they see. Bank of America supports customers.
They think consumers' future is bright. They believe this for many reasons.
The average customer has decent credit, unless the system is flawed. Bank of America's new credit card and mortgage borrowers averaged 771. New-car loan and home equity borrower averages were 791 and 797.
2008's housing crisis affected people with scores below 620.
Bank of America and the economy benefit from a robust consumer. Major problems can be avoided if individuals maintain spending.
Reasons Other Banks Are Less Confident
Spending requires income. Many companies, mostly in the computer industry, have announced they will slow or freeze hiring. Layoffs are frequently an indication of poor times ahead.
BOA is positive, but investment banks are bearish.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, outlined various difficulties our economy could confront.
But geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road.
That's more headwinds than tailwinds.
JPMorgan, which helps with mergers and IPOs, is less enthusiastic due to these concerns. Incoming headwinds signal drying liquidity, they say. Less business will be done.
I don't think we're done. Yes, stocks are up 10% from a month ago. It's a long way from old highs.
I don't think the stock market is a strong economic indicator.
Many executives foresee a 2023 recession. According to the traditional definition, we may be in a recession when Q2 GDP statistics are released next week.
Regardless of criteria, I predict the economy will have a terrible year.
Weekly layoffs are announced. Inflation persists. Will prices return to 2020 levels if inflation cools? Perhaps. Still expensive energy. Ukraine's war has global repercussions.
I predict BOA's next quarter earnings won't be as bullish about the consumer's strength.