A Change In Direction

There are a lot of great and exciting things happening in the world of Microsoft. I am nearly overwhelmed with the evolution of Data Science technologies, my specialty. And yet I’ve not found an opportunity within my current career to dive in and work on solving interesting problems utilizing these new technologies. Instead I find myself becoming more passionate about the developments in Cryptocurrencies.

There is a lot of introductory information available on this topic. I will include some links at the end for further reading. But to summarize and explain it in my characteristic easy straightforward manner: A Cryptocurrency is a digital asset. That is: A Cryptocurrency is something of value that exists as 1s and 0s. Simple, right? Let’s try an analogy, most of you have played some kind of mobile or PC game that involved earning money or points that can be traded in for improvements to your ability to play. In a lot of cases there are means to spend USD, GBP, or Euros to purchase in game Cryptocurrencies. From here on out I will refer to USD, GBP, Euros, other government managed currencies as fiat.

These concepts are directly transferable to Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, LiteCoin, Dash, Ethereum, Stratis, ZCash, so many more. They exist within digital systems (computers). They can be traded between fiat currencies. They are not carried around as physical paper or metal. In most cases, they can be acquired through a repetitive process.

Enough about game money, let’s focus on Cryptocurrencies that actually have some financial ramifications. Bitcoin was the first. The brain child of a mysterious personality,  Satoshi Nakamoto, took form first as a white paper (technical article). A short time later the concepts in the article were built as software and the first chuck of Bitcoin was created, some of it going to early supporters of the project.

Since that time several imitators have been created. Currently, any Cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin is called an Altcoin (Alternative Coin). Nearly all of them have some value people are willing to trade fiat to acquire, anywhere from fractions of $0.01 to Bitcoin itself which is hovering over $1100 at the time of writing this blog. The reasons for development of these other coins vary as much as their value. In some cases, there are central challenges with the Bitcoin infrastructure they claim to solve. In other cases, the Altcoin is trying to stabilize the fiat trade value by limiting the supply. And there are those currencies created specifically for the creators to gin up hype, trade a lot of the initial supply for fiat, and then disappear.

Upcoming posts will break out some topics introduced in this blog and cover other concepts in detail.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

 

Blockchain Rewards

The most invasive misunderstanding related to Cryptocurrencies, is about mining rewards and the generation of coins. I sometimes wonder if seemingly intelligent and learned people willingly mislead the less informed to affect the trading price of a Cryptocurrency.

I am going to take this opportunity to explain, in the context of Bitcoin, how mining rewards work and how the network was designed to first have a stable increase in the supply of currency and second to cap the amount of currency that a would be created.

I have mentioned in earlier posts (Mining Cryptocurrencies, Mining Bitcoin with ASIC) that Bitcoin has a built in throttling system called “Difficulty” that increases or decreases the amount of computing power needed to perform the work required to find blocks on the Blockchain and earning the reward for doing so. The Difficulty is a number, a factor applied to the SHA-256 cryptographic calculation that makes it harder to do the math. Here is a chart showing the network Hash Rate and he changes in difficulty over time. The Hash Rate is the amount of work being done by miners all over the world, hunting for Blocks to earn the reward. Bitcoin was designed to issue a block reward (because a new block was found) every 10 minutes. Throttling the Difficulty is how this Block generation rate is maintained despite the rise or fall of the Network has rate. You might also notice, from the chart, that after each raise in difficulty there is a raise in Hash Rate. In addition to more users mining Bitcoin, existing miners will purchase more or upgrade their existing equipment to keep their reward rate constant.

You’re saying, “Ok so the network has built in throttling to keep the block generation time around ten minutes. But will it ever stop? How long will miners earn coins? How many coins will be minted?” One of the problems Bitcoin wanted to address, that fiat currency does not, is inflation. The controllers of any given fiat currency, while limited by laws, are left to their own to decide how much of their fiat is in circulation. Before the rise of Nazi Germany, the German government had printed so much money to pay debts, that people would need a wheel barrel to carry enough currency to purchase a loaf of bread. That’s inflation, when goods require more and more currency for their purchase. If the Bitcoin miners were awarded an unlimited number of coins forever, their value would decrease, inflation. Another attribute of the Bitcoin network is the gradual reduction of Block rewards. At the start, the Blockchain block reward was 50 bitcoins, then it was halved to 25, again to 12.5, and then finally 6.25 until Block rewards stop altogether, sometime in 2024. A total of around 21 million coins will be generated when the rewards cease. Equate that to $USD. Warren Buffet keeps that much $USD in his wallet.

I have read panicked blog posts around each halving time worded to either drive up or drive down the fiat trading price of Bitcoin. These posts usually imply a halving of the supply, not the reward. If you have any understanding of the topics discussed on the blog is should be obvious that the supply of Bitcoin CANNOT be split or reverse split like corporate stocks. It is impossible. Every transaction in the Blockchain would have to be adjusted and every block’s GUID would have to be changed and every node on the network would have to be ready to accept these changes…

Only miners are affected by the halving of the reward, not users of the supply. Miners will need to double their hash power to retain their reward rate after each halving. And then should every miner double their Has Rate, the difficulty would raise to regulate the average Block generation time to 10 minutes…. Thus, lessening the effects of the increased Hash Rate.

You might be wondering why would anyone invest heavily in mining when the reward stops in 2024. Well, right now all miners are in a race to find blocks and earn the reward. Miners who make a high level of investment in hardware and electricity earn coins as a high rate with the anticipation the investment will be profitable. But after the cessation of rewards in 2024 miners will still be able to reap the rewards of mining through transaction fees.

Network nodes validate and pass on transactions in the Blockchain. But miners are responsible for generating the blocks that contain those new transactions, so they are a vital part of the Network, or Cryptocurrency ecosystem. Rather than generating new coins, miners will acquire coins from the transaction fees attracted to the movement of currency. For instance, A transfer from address A to address B for 1.5 BTC would have an additional 0.05 BTC attached that goes to the miner that generated the block containing the transfer. Address A sends 1.55 BTC and Address B shows 1.5 BTC credited and 0.05 goes to the miner. The total supply does not raise above 21 Million, the distribution of the 21 Million coins just flows between the wallet addresses.

One of the differentiators between Bitcoin and its various Altcoin competitors is the supply to be generated. Most Altcoins have adjusted the amount of their currency to be generated and the duration of said generation of coins. Additionally, different networks have varied on the frequency of block rewards. Through altering the Cryptographic calculation and difficulty, some Blockchains generate a new block every few seconds and some much longer than 10 minutes. Generation a limit of the Altcoin’s supply is one of the factors you should research when I say “Research the Product” in, Trading Bitcoin.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/

 

 

 

 

 

A Personal Rant on Trading Bitcoin

I would say the summary of my trading practices thus far can be summed up into, “I’m an idiot.”

It’s up. it’s down. Oh, my gosh I could have made $10k. Oh, no I’ve lost $300. Ack! What does everyone else think?… Just an average day in a Cryptocurrency trader’s life. But not for the above average trader’s life. Much of the same advice you’d get from a financial planner is applies to Bitcoin and other currencies.

Research the Company

Who are the developers of the Currency you’re thinking about buying? Who are their investors? Have they successfully launched a currency before? Have previous projects they worked on failed in a spectacular fashion?

There are a lot of motivations for attempting to create a new Altcoin. Notoriety, solving social or economic problems, or greed are some of the most popular themes of Cryptocurrency. Following the successes or failures of a development team will guide you in figuring out what motivates them. Don’t get stuck into thinking greed is bad motive. Several self-interested projects made a lot of money for the development team and early investors who knew when to sell.

Research the Product

The development teams are going to market their Cryptocurrency to garner investment interest, adoption, and higher trading prices. That makes it easy to find information like what problems are they trying to solve or new Blockchain technology are they trying to introduce? Are they trying to bring a solution to Apple products or Mobile devices where others aren’t?

Invest for the Long Term

If you’re full time job is staring at charts and day trading, you can still do that with cryptocurrencies. You just need to adjust to the increased volatility. By Volatility I mean 40% up or down in a day… 30 minutes even. But if your trading on the intraday bumps you might find a higher portion of your profits going to fees and splits. So, I say invest for the long term. If I had followed the advice in these sections, I’d have a lot more disposable income.

Personal Stories

I met a guy while working at Dell that told me a story of the $300,000 240 MB Hard drive he bought. Yes, MB. Well he cashed in some of his employee purchase plan stock for a new hard drive when the stock wasn’t worth all that much. At the time of telling me the story the Hard Drive was worthless and the amount of stock he sold for it was worth $300,000. Oh, how we laughed. And now I’ll relate for you the story of the guy who bought a pizza with Bitcoin when it was worth pennies and now that Bitcoin would be worth Millions. You’d think I’d learn from others, but I too have purchased a $700 tablet for $4,000 worth of Bitcoin at today’s prices.

But I think more disappointing are opportunities I missed due to fear.

Stratis is an Altcoin someone pointed out to me in December of 2016. The price was under $0.05. I thought well let’s wait and see what happens. The interesting thing about Stratis is the development team’s partnership with Microsoft and building their platform on the .NET framework. This means that the products a developer would write to interact with their Blockchain technology can run natively on Windows Operating Systems without a lot of additional translation code or “wrapper” code. The price went up to something over $0.07 and I said, “Ok I’ll buy some.” And invested $300. I woke up one morning a few weeks later and the price is over $0.30, and has been hovering between $0.40 and $0.50 the last two weeks. The currency had a lot of earmarks of something I thought was a good investment, and I kick myself for not putting in $1500 or more at the $0.07 price.

DASH, which was launched as Dark Coin, I used to mine. The name Dark Coin certainly sounded cool to the kids and it was marketed as the first truly anonymous currency because the network had the function called mixing where your bitcoin cold be split up and mixed with fractions from other Dark Coin on the network without additional entries in the blockchain thus removing the traceability of the transactions. When fintech investing in Blockchain technologies started becoming serious business they grew up and changed the name to DASH. I had mined 8 DARK when I had a hard drive failure and said well I won’t both with that currency any more. At that time, Dash was only worth around $1.00, so I was out maybe $10. At the same time Stratis had its big jump DASH goes to $100 and has stated above $50. Now why didn’t I keep mining when the difficulty was low and amass a vast fortune? I was able to restore my Dark Wallet from a backup and retrieve my 8+ DASH, but I could have had 100 over the course of that year.

Check out the stellar raise of PIVX. I looked at it when it was less than $0.03. It’s trading at $1.38 today… $1,500.00 would be worth over $100,000, and it happened extremely fast.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/

 

 

 

 

 

​Surprise! Bitcoin is not the only Cryptocurrency.

Surprise! Bitcoin is not the only Cryptocurrency available, and that’s a good thing.

Within two years of users joining the Bitcoin network and mining coins with their CPUs competing currencies appeared developed by other teams by augmenting the open source code provided by the Bitcoin developers. Namecoin was the first and used the same protocol, SHA-256. In fact the two networks are so closely related that miners can submit the same work for both currencies. Litecoin came next and introduced the Scypt protocol.

Since then the number of Altcoins has grown to over 700, and there are over 10 different protocols. Several Cryptocurrencies never gained any popularity and because users did not maintain nodes, mining, or trade these currencies their projects have been abandoned.

Bitcoin can be thought of as the base currency. That same sort of role the US dollar plays now as an internationally accepted currency that many other currencies are traded against. Bitcoin was first, most widely accepted and most widely traded. But there are some inherent issues with Bitcoins design. In “The Bitcoin Network and You” I mentioned how the size of the Blockchain is over 110 GB. This is limits the type of hardware one can maintain a Node on. Not everyone agrees with the number of Bitcoins that will be mined before finding blocks will cease to generate a reward, some argue for less and others think it should be unlimited. These arguments usually playout in the creation of a new Altcoin.

The concept and implementation of a “Blockchain” itself has a lot of applications beyond making coins. Within each transaction is the ability to create messages. Some developers have taken this to the complex level of creating contracts, like Ethereum. Contracts between two addresses are forever part of the Blockchain once verified by enough nodes. In my work, I’ve considered Blockchain technology the logical choice for IoT applications. The distributed network allows for sensor recordings and commands to become part of the system without relying on a central server to manage the communications. That way allowing for remote devices that only need to communicate with 3 or for devices near by and not have full internet access. As long at the remote devices eventually daisy chain to all other node on the network, some other server can explore the Blockchain for the various messages to facilitate reporting and management.

The Altcoin phenomenon has motivated the team of developers of Bitcoin to consider making various improvements to the Bitcoin network to address some of the issues. These proposed changes involve a large amount of discussion and campaigning and ironically usually fail to be implemented. Bitcoin was designed without a central controlling authority. Changes to the Blockchain or the network are approved or denied by miner votes. Conflicting proposals and the option to not change are voted on by placing a vote message in the work submitted by the miners. When a clear majority opt for a decision, that change will become part of the code that makes up the currency and its network. Implementation of new code in the Network is called a Fork, and all nodes need to implement the new visions of the Node code in order or operate on the Forked code (continue to mine and trade).

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/

 

 

 

The Bitcoin Network and You

I have mentioned a few times previously the term “Network” while writing about Cryptocurrencies. All Cryptocurrencies require some sort of communication between many different participants/users/ the official term is “Nodes”, which process and verify transactions. The health of a Cryptocurrency depends on there being many Nodes connected Globally. Having more Nodes increases the the speed at which a transaction is accepted, and decreases the likelihood of bad transactions propagating either through an error or malicious act.

Participating in the Network

Participating in the network is easy! Just setup a Wallet. If you go with a local wallet they come with the Node software, leave it up and running on your computer with access to the internet! The Node clients let you create multiple Wallets. So you can have a Wallet for send/receive to a dedicated Exchange, or one Wallet for collecting your Mining rewards.

Simple,well sort of, in the case for Bitcoin specifically, because of the age and popular adoption, the size of the Blockchain is over 110 GB. The standard Bitcoin wallet needs a copy the Blockchain so you need to have enough hard disk space to handle that and future growth. Each Cryptocurrency has a unique network and therefore Wallet client software. There are several created for Bitcoin and Ethereum, for other currencies links to their Wallet software will be found on their webpages. It’s time for a little explanation of the Blockchain.

The Blockchain is a detailed ledger book of every transaction that’s happened on the network. So every movement (Mining reward, trade, etc.) of every fraction of a Cryptocurrency from one address to another is recorded on the Blockchain. A Wallet appears as an address, and so the balance of a wallet is the total of all transactions of sent or received fractions of Cryptocurrency. A wallet’s balance CANNOT be negative. When Cryptocurrency is sent from one address to another through the wallet software, the wallet adds that transaction to the chain. Network Nodes verify the transaction by hashing it. It usually takes one Block (for Bitcoin 10 minutes) for the transaction be be accepted by the network and the transaction to show in the recipient’s Wallet. The balance will show as unconfirmed until a certain number (for Bitcoin 6 is recommended) have hashed and verified the transaction. The number of verifications is configurable. Some institutions or Wallets require more than others.

To hash a transaction means to encrypt or de-crypt (do some complicated math on) the transaction using a network password and the wallet’s password. These two passwords usually called “keys” ensure that the transaction is valid for the network and the came from the address specified in the transaction. Wallet’s have a unique password assigned to their network addresses to sign transaction in the network.

There is lots of great advice on backing up your wallets and creating cold backups etc. The Wallet itself is an encrypted file on your hard drive (in the case of a local desktop Wallet). This file is not large and can be zipped up and saved to your favorite backup location. If your computer dies, you can install the wallet software to new hardware and copy over the old Wallet file. The Wallet client will rebuild your balance by scanning the entire 110 GB Blockchain for transactions to and from your Wallet address.

Quick admin note, my blog will continue to discuss Cryptocurrencies in a general sense and pointing out what items are specific to Bitcoin vs. an Altocoin. But for the sake of the search engines I must litter my articles with “Bitcoin” more.

Up next Altcoins.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/

 

 

 

Cryptocurrency Mining Software and Pools

In “Mining Cryptocurrencies” I wrote briefly about CPU, GPU and ASIC mining. All of these mining methods require software to get work (the complicated math problem) from the Cryptocurrency’s network and send it to the hardware to calculate.

Also, note there are several different kinds of math problems currencies use related to their protocol. I won’t go into a lot of detail, first because I’m not a math wiz, second because I could devote several posts to one protocol and there are several, but most importantly because that’s not the approach I’m taking in my blog. I’m here to help someone who doesn’t need to know every last tiny nuance of every Cryptocurrency to get started.

I will however list some Currency and Protocol pairs. Bitcoin uses SHA-256, Litecoin and DNote use scrypt, Dash (which used to be Dark Coin) uses X11, Ethereum uses Ethash, and ZCash uses Equihash. If you’ve taken my advice in previous posts you’ve checked out http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency and know you know what some of the items on that page are.

Going back to mining software… As I stated above, the hardware performs the math, but software is required to gather the math and send it to the hardware. That means a device is required to communicate with the hardware. In the case of CPUs, GPUs this usually means a computer with a hard disk to install the software. The first versions of ASIC miners were USB devices for computers and the software would detect them to send work to them. Standalone ASIC devices still have a CPU,  network interface and software, but these software is flashed to a chip or written to an SD card plugged into an integrated computer like a Raspberry Pi.

Nearly all mining software is available for free from Github.com. Start by either going to a mining pool or the coin’s community page to find links and instructions. Standalone ASIC miners have their own software. Upgrades are usually available from the manufacturer.

In most cases the software only provides mining for one protocol. That’s not always the case, some developers have created software that can receive a command from a pool that mines multiple pools to switch which currency the software is mining.

Mining software is almost exclusively written in C++. Which doesn’t mean a lot to many people. But it allows for two main advantages. First the software can be easily put together for multiple OS, Linux and Windows being the most popular. Secondly the software is modular, or it can be broken up into pieces.  Developers can take a miner currently available on Github for one currency and replace the parts they need for another currency and thus all the existing support for GPUs and OS come along for the ride. Likewise, if a new family of video cards is released it’s easy to add a new piece of code to support those cards. When you’re looking for mining software make to you download the right package for your operating system and your video card family (Windows/Nvidia or Linux/AMD etc.) Some software packages have both video card families available in each OS package, but you’ll find from reading through reviews that one software might work better with your hardware than another.

There is scant little mining software for Apple products. Mostly because Apple sucks. Yeah I said it. But also, because you can’t add and upgrade the Video cards for GPU mining and Apple locks down what software is made available to their systems. I guess the company is scared mining software might over heat the CPU.

As a funny side note, my son was actually trying to mine Litecoin on some of our old Android phones. He had to place them under box fans to keep them from over heating and in the end he never made enough to = $0.01, but the price of Litecoin is on the rise again so who knows.

Solo vs. Pool

I introduced a new term “pool” above, so now is a good time to talk about solo vs. pool mining. Solo mining means you use your hardware to mine blocks directly on the block chain. This can be profitable for the first 10 minutes a new currency network is up. Once the currency becomes popular and there is always a handful of miners who seem to have invested $1 billion in hardware to have the best Hash Rate, it’s time to find a pool.

Pool mining means miners pool their Hash Rates, or combine their work. The Pool itself gets the block reward and divides it among its member miners per the amount of work each contributed to finding the block. There are several different methods of determining how much each miner gets of the reward, but in general the miner who does the most work get the highest percentage. One of the bits of information you’ll get from Coinwarz.com is how much currency you should generate a day. Keep in mind that with Solo mining you only receive a reward when you find the block, but then you get the whole reward. You may not actually get that reward for several weeks… months? in the case of Bitcoin, unless you have spent $1 billion in your mining farm you will not see a reward ever. However, with pool mining, because you earn some of the reward every time a block is found, you should see your balance growing at the rate Coinwarz.com has calculated for you.

In the early days when most Bitcoin enthusiasts were altruistic and rebels against the world, all the software was open source and the pools were free. That’s not 100% the case anymore. Some of the best mining software for Altcoins has a DevFee built-in. For some part of your mining day the software will disconnect from your pool and connect to the developer’s pool and account and mine for them to reimburse them for the time they spent developing the awesome software you’re using. Likewise, mining pools almost universally charge a fee, 1 or 2% of your earnings to pay for the upkeep, fees and maintenance of the servers you’re using.

Up next a look at networks and wallets.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/

 

 

 

Steve Jobs Used to Wear a Suit and Tie

This is one of my favorite articles. I thought I’d report it.

Let’s talk about your appearance.

I’m sure it’s been said before that the only person who could dress like Steve Jobs was Steve Jobs. Conversely, you’re not Steve Jobs so don’t try to dress like him. In fact, for those of you who have no memories of the 80’s Steve Jobs used to wear a suit and tie.

http://thenextweb.com/apple/2011/08/25/a-front-row-seat-to-steve-jobs-career-by-robert-scoble/

http://technology.ezinemark.com/steve-jobs-death-2011-most-famous-quotes-in-his-life-77371348ffa5.html

Your place of employment has a relaxed dress code, congratulations! Keep in mind “Relaxed Dress Code” means different things to different companies and people who work at the company. As an employer you have to strike an appropriate balance between the comforts of your employees, the image you wish to leave with visiting customers, and what kind of salary benefits are you willing to pay to attract staff that may be averse to wearing more costly attire. However, having an ambiguous or un-enforced dress code will only lead to easily avoidable challenges. Additionally, in larger organizations the enforcement of an ambiguous dress code becomes more tenuous. Leaving each manager or supervisor to his/her own interpretation of how to dress for the office will lead to great variances in what you as the owner or CEO thought should have been a uniform standard.

If the company that employs you has more than 20 employees there is most likely an official description available of acceptable attire for the workplace. You can safely assume you will not receive a reprimand for dressing in accordance to this document. So, do you want to be a face in the crowd, wearing what everyone else wears? Do you want to stand out by pushing the envelope of your company’s policies? Your attitude in these matters gives impressions of how you are going to approach your career while working for an organization. Impressions like “conforms to the rules” can be a positive or a negative depending on management and the industry you work in. “Shows creativity and energy” has the same challenges.

How do your customer’s dress when they visit your office? Nothing makes me feel more awkward than when a group of professionally dressed clients walks into a beautifully designed and maintained reception area only to be visibly accosted by an employee walking by in sweats and flip-flops.

Flip-Flops! I do not care how much you paid, nor how many plastic ornaments adorn them. If your footwear makes that annoying sound of heal slapping shoe, you are wearing Flip-Flops. You should not assume that everyone you meet has some desire to see your feet either. The only profession where Flip-Flops are acceptable is lifeguard.

Remember that first impressions are based mostly on sensory perceptions. You want the person who may decide where you go in a company to have a favorable first impression of you even if it’s just what they see while looking across a room at a crowed company function.

Consider where you are in the organization and where you hope to one day be. If you are a Jr. Software Developer and you wish to someday climb to VP of Software Development, how does the person currently holding that position dress? How do the successful salespeople dress?  I didn’t always think this way, but I found later in my career it was better to dress for the position you want and not the position that you have.  It may be an easier sell to promote you if you look somewhat like the person who currently holds that position. Decision makers may wonder if you have the wardrobe to start a new position if they’ve never seen you in the appropriate attire for it.

There are cultural differences to consider as well. You may be a fan of various European entertainments and wish to emulate their dress. Just because that overweight gentleman is wearing a bright yellow, skin tight polo with the collar turned up seems to pull it off doesn’t mean that you can. First, understand that outfit probably cost him $1,000.00 or more and you’re not going to be able reproduce it with the fare available at Wal-Mart. Second, you must realize that look is only barely acceptable in the more progressive metropolitan areas of the United States. I find nothing more entertaining than watching someone from NYC pushing the trendy envelope in a meeting of professionals in Atlanta.

If you have aspirations to be the next Steve Jobs, I’d suggest you follow his example in all stages of his career as you grow in yours. Until you’ve created the largest most profitable company on the planet, don’t abandon conservative professional attire for stubble, jeans and a black shirt.

Adventures in Mining Bitcoin with ASIC Hardware

In “Mining Cryptocurrencies” I wrote briefly about ASIC Mining. I have purchased some of these units, so I have more than just a cursory understanding of the technology and the considerations to make in such an investment.

In my previous post, when I wrote, “Cryptocurrency ASIC manufacturers are largely new companies without any reputation or large amounts of R&D funds, and in many cases, no support whatsoever.” there are some implications I alluded to. I will go through those now.

Here are some basic concepts. Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are still relative young technologies. Your typical lending institutions, like Banks, aren’t interested in making big investments in something that still hasn’t been proven to work as a replacement for fiat. Companies developing these technologies or technology that is related to blockchain tech are also young.

In established industries startups, can usually find traditional sources for income. Cryptocurrency focused companies must find alternative means of financing. If they’re lucky they might catch the eye of venture capitalists. In the case of ASIC manufacturers, most turned to pre-orders. These companies would publish specifications (Hash Rates and power consumption) on proposed devices that had only been designed or perhaps prototyped, hoping eager miners would pre-order enough units to actually pay for the manufacturing and testing ahead of beginning production. I think the potential for abuse or lost investment is obvious here. Equally great, was the potential for acquiring new mining systems that would for some time put early purchasers ahead of the rest of the miners and earning more of the rewards.

Both scenarios played out. Some companies took the money and ran. Some tried very hard to deliver on their promises but due to component suppliers or unexpected costs could not. Refunds were given, companies were sued… And in some cases, ingenious devices were delivered, extras were sold out immediately, and the company could not produce fast enough. The success of the first generation of these devices funded additional generations and the advances kept coming. Surprisingly, at least to those of us who reside in the US, many of the failures were domestic while one of the greatest successes came from China. I invite you to review the various threads on consumers of these products experiences https://bitcointalk.org/index.php.

I never pre-ordered any hardware. I just didn’t feel like I had enough money to gamble. In my desire to be safe I waited for other people to receive their orders and write about the experiences at the forum above. How’d that turn out? I was never disappointed with the products I did purchase, however I had a dickens of a time purchasing them. With my approach, I was left either completing with other purchasing left over pre-order stock, or waiting until someone decided to list theirs used (usually at a significant markup) on eBay. My hesitation also lead to shorter profitability for my devices. I have touched on the fact that the more miners on the network, the more difficult the math must become, to keep the coin generation stable. When a batch of ASIC hardware was delivered the network Hash Rate would jump, and so would the “Difficulty”. So I was always increasing my personal Hash Rate after the early adopters had drove up the “Difficulty”, thus reducing my rate of generating rewards.

Another aspect to consider is the conversion price of a given Cryptocurrency. At the time I was running my Bitcoin mining farm at its peak, I was using around $500 of electricity every month. When the “Difficulty” was low and the Price was high, I was making a nice profit, basically double my electric bill every month. The price of Bitcoin didn’t stay high. Eventually, my mining was no longer covering my electric bill, or I was only making $30 profit. That’s why this site I’ve linked several times is so important http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency. This site allows you to plug in your Hash Rate, the amount of power it takes to support that rate, the price of your power, and the price of currencies to determine which one is the most profitable for you to mine. At the time of writing this, Bitcoin is over $1100 and I could make a little over $1.00 a day mining it. $30 a month, not worth the amount of heat the devices give off I’d have to offset with running the A/C.

All my hardware investments paid for themselves, it was a great experience learning about this new technology, and sparked a lot of interest for my oldest son. I hope that some very smart people out there come up with some other purpose for these devices that I could again make money from running them or selling them.

I have not investigated any new advancements in ASIC hardware, I know there are some now available for Atlcoins. It could very well be that even more advancements have been made and there is a new ASIC bitcoin miner that is profitable.

Up next a detailed guide into mining software.

Stay tuned!

Wikipedia – Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Forum – The most popular place to discuss all Cryptocurrencies

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php

Cryptocurrency Trading Charts

https://coinmarketcap.com/

Most Profitable Mining Calculations

http://www.coinwarz.com/cryptocurrency

Some Exchanges

https://poloniex.com/

https://btc-e.com/

https://www.gdax.com/

https://www.bittrex.com/