How Blockchain Works

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Blockchain is a piece of software designed to create decentralized databases.

The system is entirely „open source“, meaning that anyone is able to view, edit and propose changes to its underlying code base.

Whilst it has become increasingly popular thanks to Bitcoin’s growth – it’s actually been around since 2008, making it around a decade old (ancient in computing terms).

The most important point about „blockchain“ is that it was designed to create applications that don’t require a central data processing service. This means that if you’re using a system build on top of it (namely Bitcoin) – your data will be stored on 1,000’s of „independent“ servers around the world (not owned by any central service).

The way the service works is by creating a „ledger“. This ledger allows users to create „transactions“ with each other – having the contents of those transactions stored in new „blocks“ of each „blockchain“ database.

Depending on the application creating the transactions, they should be encrypted with different algorithms. Because this encryption uses cryptography to „scramble“ the data stored in each new „block“, the term „crypto“ describes the process of cryptographically securing any new blockchain data that an application may create.

To fully understand how it works, you must appreciate that „blockchain“ is not new technology – it just uses technology in a slightly different way. The core of it is a data graph known as „merkle trees“. Merkle trees are essentially ways for computer systems to store chronologically ordered „versions“ of a data-set, allowing them to manage continual upgrades to that data.

The reason this is important is because current „data“ systems are what could be described as „2D“ – meaning they don’t have any way to track updates to the core dataset. The data is basically kept entirely as it is – with any updates applied directly to it. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, it does pose a problem in that it means that data either has to be updated manually, or his very difficult to update.

The solution that „blockchain“ provides is essentially the creation of „versions“ of the data. Each „block“ added to a „chain“ (a „chain“ being a database) gives a list of new transactions for that data. This means that if you’re able to tie this functionality into a system which facilitates the transaction of data between two or more users (messaging etc), you’ll be able to create an entirely independent system.

This is what we’ve seen with the likes of Bitcoin. Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin isn’t a „currency“ in itself; it’s a public ledger of financial transactions.

This public ledger is encrypted so that only the participants in the transactions are able to see/edit the data (hence the name „crypto“)… but more so, the fact that the data is stored-on, and processed-by 1,000’s of servers around the world means the service can operate independently of any banks (its main draw).

Obviously, problems with Bitcoin’s underlying idea etc aside, the underpin of the service is that it’s basically a system that works across a network of processing machines (called „miners“). These are all running the „blockchain“ software – and work to „compile“ new transactions into „blocks“ that keeps the Bitcoin database as up to date as possible.

Whilst many people have blindly pledged support for blockchain, it’s actually got a number of vulnerabilities – most notably that it relies almost entirely on the encryption algorithms employed by its various applications. If one of these algorithms fails, or users are compromised in any way, the entire „blockchain“ infrastructure could suffer as a result.

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Source by Richard Peck

Bitcoin – At the Crossroads of the Future

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The Predictions

As people all over the world increase their awareness about the crypto-currency revolution, investment experts are lining up to express their opinions. In recent weeks, the pro-crypto forecasters are predicting numbers that defy gravity. It's not uncommon to see a prognosticator on TV explaining why they believe Bitcoin is destined to hit anywhere between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 per coin within the next two years. At $ 500,000, the coin would have to increase more that 6000% of it's current levels. The numbers are mind-boggling.

On the other side of the fence, we find the naysayers. There are plenty of well-respected financial analyst who are not afraid to warn people about the investment bubble. Some even admit that crypto-journals may still have some play left in them, but sooner or later, the bubble is going to burst, and people are going to get hurt. To drive home their point, they only need to reflect on the IPO bubble of 2001.

The Technical Hurdles

The crypto-currency revolution is still in its infancy. As such, most coins, Bitcoin included, are trading without historical indicators to help investors. It is a free market in the purest form. Unfortunately, free market trading is susceptible to influence from all directions. Therein lies the rub for crypto-currency investors. With no history to fall back on, investors have to make decisions based on their gut.

The obstacles that complicate the decision-making process for Bitcoin investors are plenty. The coin is always susceptible to the technical aspects of trading. The exponential increase in price is being driven by high demand and scarce product. Still, investors get a little antsy when the price increases too much, too fast. Then we see the typical correction that comes when an investment becomes over bought. The problem is these corrections are proving to be harsh, which tests the mettle of investors who are not used to such high levels of volatility.

Setting technical analysis side, technology issues are also driving the market today. There's no denying that the crypto-currency market has had its issues. After claiming block-chain technology to be the surest approach to disseminating information, there are holes that are being exposed almost daily. The bugs will get worked out as this kind of technology seems destined for prime time. Unfortunately, Bitcoin has block-chain technology under a microscope right now.

No matter how secure any system may claim to be, hackers are sure to expose the weaknesses in a hurry. The crypto-currency industry has already been besieged by hackers, who have stolen billions of dollars in Bitcoin and other crypto-coins. Losing money to hackers tend to make investors a little jittery. It also makes for plenty of litigation from those harmed by technology that may not yet be a secure as promised.

The Fundamental Hurdles

There's an old adage: When school teachers and janitors start making millions from investing, prices are going to crash because we need school teachers and janitors. The truth is governments get nervous when its tenants start losing money or making lots of money without paying taxes. It's no coincidence that India and South Korea are among the most active countries on the crypto-currency exchanges, yet both governments are considering banning the trading of all cryptos. The US, potentially the world's largest bitcoin player, is working in Congress to decide how to regulate the crypto-currency market. They have already warned several changes for possible fraudulent activity. China is discussing an outright ban while Europe appears poised to follow America's lead.

If Bitcoin or any other crypto-currency aspirations to becoming an international currency for everyday payments, success would be predicated on the world's largest economies joining in the parcel. Unfortunately, the major players (mentioned above) seem to be moving in the other direction.

The largest concern seems to be Bitcoin's appeal to the criminal element. Proof has been presented that shows North Korea has been stealing Bitcoin to help finance its nuclear program. ISIS routinely moves money among its associates via Bitcoin, doing so undetected until it's too late. The drug trade is also enjoying the anonymity afforded them by block-chain technology. More and more Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are proving to be nothing more than common scams. These are all serious issues.
These are all fundamental issues that must be favorably resolved if crypto-contexts are to survive and someday thrive.

Looking or Solutions

For the most part, people are interested in all aspects of crypto-currency. Bitcoin has already shown the potential for easily resolving payment issues between customers and vendors. However, trust is a big issue going forward. If the anonymity feature is the driving force behind the crypto-currency revolution, it's going to be hard to get governments to climb aboard and approve crypto-trading.

Let's look at how South Korea decided to resolve the Bitcoin issue. The South Korean government recently passed a bill that gives six Korean banks authority to let its customer trade Bitcoin from their bank accounts. There's only one stipulation: the account has to be opened in the customer's real name. Poof! There goes the anonymity feature. However, South Koreans can still trade Bitcoin through a Bitcoin Wallet so long as tax evasion is not the reason they want to do so. It's a nice compromise, but its appeal may be limited.

Over the next few months, investors should start getting answers to a lot of questions. Until that time, the pricing of Bitcoin and other crypto-treaties will remain volatile. The price will increase because of demand but will drop every time a new issue becomes news. Until prices stabilize, people should focus on one rule of investing. Never invest more money that you can afford to lose. Indeed, Bitcoin is reaching its crossroads.

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Getting Started With Bitcoins

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Bitcoin is probably the most popular form of currency in the digital world. The fundamental thinking is that you may utilize it to pay for products with the absence of external intermediary, similar to a government or bank. Consider Bitcoin like a major record shared by every one of the clients: In the event that you pay or receive payment using Bitcoin, then the exchange will be documented on the record. The computers will then contend to affirm the exchange by using complex math procedure, and the champ is remunerated with greater amount of Bitcoins. The procedure is typically called online as "mining," however; do not get excessively fixated with it: only the real expert will be able to get theirs online currency using this process.

From numerous points of view, it functions similar to the real money with a few key contrasts. Albeit physical types of Bitcoins do exist, the cash's essential structure is computer data allowing you to exchange it on the web, P2P, utilizing wallet programming or an online administration. You may acquire Bitcoin's by changing other forms of cash, products, or administrations with individuals who possess Bitcoins or using the process outlined. Bitcoin "mining" includes running programming software that uses complex numerical comparisons for which you are remunerated a little fraction of Bitcoin.

Once you have a percentage of the online currency, you may now utilize it to buy anything that acknowledges it. Now and again, Bitcoin is the main type of installation, and you will need to procure it to successfully complete an online transaction. While this essential clarification may answer a large portion of some of your questions about Bitcoin, it creates more questions in your mind. Here are other things you may want to know about Bitcoins.

How to Have Bitcoin

Acquiring Bitcoin requires a heavy amount of work; although you have a couple of easier alternatives. Buying Bitcoin requires less exertion than the process of mining; although it clearly comes using your well-deserved money. Mining, then again, takes the processing power of the computer and most often than not it produces a mediocre result.

What is Wallet software?

As it was stated above, having Bitcoins will require you to have an online administration or a wallet programming. The wallet takes a reasonable amount memory in your drive, and you need to discover a Bitcoin vendor to secure a real currency. The wallet makes the whole process much less demanding.

To make wallet software, you need to sign up to an online administration such as Coinbase or My Wallet. For these guidelines, we are going to use Coinbase in light of the fact that they give a straightforward, incorporated purchase procedure with two-variable validation for enhanced security.

  1. Click the Linked Account on the lefthand of the menu and include your financial account. It may take a few days for the Coinbase to effectively connect to your financial account. So, on the off chance that you expect to buy Bitcoins youought to have an arrangement already.
  2. Once Coinbase successfully linked to your account, click the link of the Sell / Buy Bitcoin. The link will direct you to the buy area so simply enter the amount of Bitcoin that you need, tick on your bank account, and choose "buy Bitcoin". The exchange may take a couple of days to finish, however, you'll get a message once the Bitcoins have been securely sent to the wallet.

The purchasing does not require much exertion, but instead just includes a great deal of waiting. There is also a tendency for the exchange rate to change, to determine the amount of money that you need to spend in buying Bitcoin.

What is mining?

Mining process includes running a program on your PC that analyzes complex scientific, mathematical procedure. In the event that your PC solves one of these mathematical statements, you will receive a reward in Bitcoins. The problem, nonetheless, is that single PC is competing against exponential gatherings of computers that have a high probability of answering the equation before you do.

That shows your PC might wind up doing a group of work and it might take quite a while before you managed to receive a reward. The most practical thing for you to do is to join mining group. This way, it is highly possible that you will get payout, however, the reward should also be divided from the members of the group leaving you with a meager amount of share. In any case, without a homestead of supercomputers, it is likely that you will acquire more over the long haul by doing mining with your group.

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Source by Hector Hernandez

The Best Sexual Positions: The Top 5 Mistakes Most Guys Make

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One of the many challenges men have is to decide on what positions to use when getting booty. The biggest fears are that the woman will get bored with the "same old, same old" and as a result lose interest in sex. So the question becomes, what are the best sexual positions?

The best way to explain this is to talk about what NOT to do. With that in mind, I'll now talk about the top five mistakes guys make when it comes to sexual positions, so that way you will not continue making them.

Position Mistake 1: Imitating anything seen in a porn movie. This is probably the biggest reason that guys fail with sexual positions. Inexperienced guys think porn is a good model because they see studs banging beautiful broads, and … well, they just do not know any better. The problem is that sexual positions in those sections of movies are meant to display a good scene for viewers, not to maximize pleasure for the actors.

And in fact, one of the WORST positions for clitoral and vaginal stimulation is when the woman puts her ankles on your shoulders. With her pelvis bent back that far, she can feel pain in her cervix if you push in too far. Plus it's a position that puts pressure. (If you ever have a chance to go behind the scenes and watch the making of an adult movie, you'll see how quickly the mood gets killed when the actress keeps having to stop the scene to go to the bathroom!)

Position Mistake 2: Trying too hard to keep your weight off the woman, in any position. To a woman, sex is a way to get closer to her man. She loves it when he leans on the underside of her thighs. So here's a tip for you to try … Next time you're having sex with your woman (while you're engaged in actual intercourse, that is), get more of your weight on her. You see, during sex, almost every woman enjoys feeling her man's body hard against her.

So how much weight should you put on her? Make it enough so that after you come, and the sexual frenzy dissipates, your woman will tell you that she feels like she's being smooshed. Of course, do this within limits! If you're on top off her grinding her pubic bone for too long, it can feel painful for her.

But the bottom line is that many, many women like to be pressured by at least some of the man's weight. So save the gentlemanly sex for the royal family's women!

Position Mistake 3: Letting the woman do all the work when she's on top. For virtually every woman, sex is mostly a passive activity. So by being the motionless beta male, you destroy the whole purpose of sex for her, which is to open herself up to you penetrating into her body.

Position Mistake 4: Being a wimp. A lot of guys have read too many "Men are From Mars" -type books and think women like it if you ask permission for everything and let them take the lead. Be the alpha male instead and just "do it." Flip her over, move her here and there. Be aggressive and even toss her about like a rag doll when you want to change positions, and … she'll LOVE it! And do not worry about it. If something is going on that the woman does not like, she'll let you know.

Position Mistake 5: Thinking the trickier positions are better. You do not need to be upside down, hanging from a lamp, and doing something crazy. Just be normal. An old standby like the missionary (man on top, woman lying on her back) can be the best sexual position.

Tricky positions are just frustrating for everyone and often kill the mood because there's too much "where should I put my arm?" … and not enough "let's just have fun exploring."

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Source by John J. Alexander

Entertaining Talk Show Questions

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With the wide variety of talk shows on the air, it would be nice to have questions outside the box. Here are some possible questions that fit this category:

1. When was the last time you were at a party, and decided to really pig out on the dip?

2. If you could choose a super power, would you choose the ability to read minds, or pour water really fast without spilling a drop?

3. What is the record amount of time you have gone without a shower?

4. What type of phone solicitation messages are you likely to listen to completely?

5. What kind of free gifts do you most crave?

6. What are some of the favorite names you call fellow drivers in a traffic jam?

7. What is your most memorable experience with cheese?

8. If you had a dime for every time someone called you a wart hog, would you be poor or rich?

9. Can you describe the smell of a really hot barn?

10. If you accidentally dropped the lid of the aspirin bottle into the toilet, would you fish it out or flush it down?

11. Are you satisfied with the shape of your tongue?

12. What is the purpose of the battery in a blade razor?

13. What is your favorite type of dried meat?

14. When you take photographs, do you make your subjects look at the camera?

15. Have you ever learned how to whittle?

16. Do you look for abandoned change in vending machines and pay phones?

17. What is the biggest gum wad you have ever chewed?

18. Where were you the last time you ripped your pants?

19. How many tissues can you fit in your mouth?

20. What kind of lessons are you willing to pay for?

21. How much would you bid for a Rembrandt painting?

22. Can you describe your most frustrating experience with plastic wrap?

23. What are your favorite types of hardware items?

24. Do you have a lucky shirt, and why is it lucky?

25. Where do you put your spare change?

26. How many times per week do you find yourself trying to identify certain odors?

27. What is the strangest thing you have ever done with a spoon?

28. How long would wicker furniture last in your house?

29. What are your favorite things to do with your fingers?

30. Have you ever written any graffiti, and if so, what was your favorite?

31. If you smell body odor, do you check to see if it is you?

There are a lot more, but I guess that is enough for now.

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A Credit Card For People With Bad Credit – $10,000 Guaranteed Starting Credit Line

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The recent financial crunch has caused many would be credit issuers to tighten up on approvals for those consumer applicants with less than perfect credit. Even new credit seekers who do not have poor FICO scores, but also have not had the opportunity to establish a good credit profile as of yet are being turned away and treated as high risk applicants.

The problem for people who fall into either of these categories is that they have a legitimate need to either establish or re-establish their good credit profile and raise their FICO score, however without easy access to credit card approvals their ability to accomplish this necessary task is extremely difficult. Ironically, it’s these same card issuers who would like their applicants to have established solid credit histories who will not approve them in the beginning to help them prove that they are worthy of a new card approval. This vicious credit circle affects over half of the households in American today.

A few companies have recently stepped in to fill the credit needs of this growing consumer segment and offer instant online approval credit cards for people with bad credit or no credit history at all. These credit providers will typically issue new credit cards without a credit check and regardless of the applicants past or present credit history. Some of these cards are issued as major brand logo credit cards, prepaid debit cards, secured credit cards and online catalog shopping cards which allow the card holder to purchase household and gift items from the credit grantors web based store.

One such card offered with no credit check is a new Platinum Card that boasts a huge beginning limit of $10,000 for all of its approved applicants, even those with poor credit or no history at all. As long as the applicant is at least 18 years of age and has a valid U.S. checking or savings account, the applicant will be approved. The Platinum Card also features 0 % interest on any unpaid balance and there is no employment verification required for approval. The card does require a minimal initial membership fee, however once the new member is approved, the card issues each user a whopping $2,500 bonus to use towards unpaid balances in addition to the generous starting limit of $10,000.

For consumers who are having trouble getting approved for a traditional credit card with strict income and employment requirements, this particular card for people with bad credit may be a valuable option to acquire a high limit credit card with no credit checks or employment verification.

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Source by Christian T. Rogers

8 Things to Cover in Your Managed Services Agreements

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Outsourcing your IT processes to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a great idea. But to benefit the most from an MSP, it is essential that both the parties are on the same page regarding requirements and deliverables.

With an accurate Managed Services Agreement outlining the services provided by MSP, clients can build realistic expectations while covering the MSPs against liabilities.

While creating a Managed Services Agreement, there are certain things which you should not miss out; let's go through them in detail.

1. Services

The first and foremost thing to be included in your agreement is the kind of services you are going to provide to the client. Whether it is just management, cloud, support services or a package of all of them; everything should be clearly outlined. It is also important to mention which services are excluded to avoid future complications.

2. Response time

The agreement should clearly define the duration of which you will be responding to an issue brought up by your client. Make sure to specify your business hours and if you will be providing services in addition to those business hours. If yes, then whatever extra charges would be applicable for that or not.

3. Responsibilities

Your Managed Services Agreement should clearly account for all the things you will be responsible for during your association with the clients. It should state what responsibilities will be taken up by you in cases of system, hardware or network failures or glitches.

All such scenarios should be pointed out in detail so that the client does not form any misconception about your services.

4. Availability

Your client can build unrealistic expectations regarding the services they will be getting from you. To avoid this, it is very important that you define the realistic services which you will be able to provide them. For example, how fast will you be fixing any system failure or disasters? How often will backups be carried out? It will provide them with a real assurance of your services.

5. Client demands

To avoid getting called for unreasonable client claims, it is important for you to define your system requirements. What that means is, there must be some standards defined in the agreement on the basis of which the client will be able to avail your services. If these set standards are not met, you are not liable to offer your services.

6. Guarantee

Do not promise more than you can deliver. While confirming your alliance with any of your clients, be sure about your deliveries and abilities. It is best to avoid making false guarantees in order to acquire a prospective client.

7. Performance

Your agreement should document expectations relating system performance with clarity. It is especially helpful if you are dealing with services related to hardware, workstations and third-party systems.

8. Priorities

It is possible that your clients may trouble you with petty issues and make them seem as urgent. To avoid this scenario, you must define your priorities without any confusion. It gives your client a clear idea of ​​what problems can be stated as urgent and which of them can wait a little longer for solutions.

So the next time when you are getting that agreement ready, make sure to tick these points off your list for a smooth alliance.

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Bitcoin – Yes or No? Should You Invest in Bitcoin?

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Wondering if you should invest in Bitcoin? If you've been around any kid of financial news lately, you've no doubt heard about the meteoric rise in the world's most well-known cryptocurrency.

And if you're like a lot of people right about now, you're probably wondering, "Bitcoin – yes or no?"

Should you invest? Is it a good option? And what the heck is Bitcoin anyway?

Well here's a few things you should know about Bitcoin before you invest. Also note that this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as any kind of financial advice.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency or a digital currency. It's basically online money. Like any currency you can exchange it for other currencies (like say, buy bitcoins with US dollars or vice versa) and it fluctuates in relation to other currencies as well.

Unlike other treaties however it is decentralized, meaning there is not any one central bank, country or government in charge of it. And that means it's not as susceptible to government or central bank mismanagement.

Pros of Bitcoin

# 1 Easy To Send Money

Because it's decentralized, this also means that you can send a friend Bitcoin (money) on the other side of the world in seconds without having to go through a bank intermediary (and pay the banking fees).

This fact alone makes Bitcoin very popular. Instead of waiting for a wire transfer which can take days, you can send your payment in seconds or minutes.

# 2 Limited Supply

There are only 21 million Bitcoins that will ever be mined. This limits the amount of Bitcoin that can ever be produced. This is like saying a government can not print money because there is a limited supply of bills – and they will not print anymore.

When there is a set supply your purchasing power is preserved and the currency is immune to runaway inflation.

This limited supply has also helped to contribute to the rise in the price of Bitcoin. People do not want a currency that can be printed – or inflated – into infinity at the whim of a greedy government.

# 3 Private

Most people think that Bitcoin is completely anonymous. But actually it's not anonymous – it's more private. All Bitcoin transactions ever made can be seen on the Blockchain – the public Bitcoin ledger.

But your name and identifying details behind the transaction are not seen. Each transaction is linked to an address – a string of text and characters. So while people might see your address – there is no way to link that address to you.

A lot of people who do not like their banks spying on them (or telling them how much of their own money that they can or can not move), really like this privacy feature.

# 4 Cheaper to Transact

Many businesses have to take Visa or MasterCard these days to stay competitive. However these cards take some rather substantial fees out of each sales transaction.

But a merchant who accepts Bitcoin does not pay these hefty fees – so it puts more money in their pockets.

So those are some of the main pros of Bitcoins. What about the cons?

Cons of Bitcoin

# 1 Risky – Price Fluctuations

Bitcoin is famous for rising slowly over months – and then falling 20 – 50% over a couple of days.

Because it's being traded 24 hours a day 7 days a week, the price is always fluctuating. And all it takes it some bad news – like the news of the Mt Gox hack a few years ago – to send the price tumbling down.

So basically it's not stable – and there are a lot of unknowns out there that can affect the price. The rule here is this: do not put any money into Bitcoin that you can not afford to lose.

# 2 Slowing Transaction Sycles

Bitcoin is starting to run into problems with slower transaction speeds and higher transaction fees. Other cryptocurrencies have come along that are faster and cheaper.

The Bitcoin miners are working on the problem. However until these issues are resolved, you can expect the price to be extremely volatile.

# 3 Bitcoin Transactions Not Reversible

Unlike a credit card charge, Bitcoin transactions are not reversible. So if you send Bitcoin to the wrong address – you can not get it back.

Also, there are a lot of tales from people who have lost their Bitcoin wallet address (through hacking, phones being stolen, virus-infected computers, etc.) and they've completely lost their coins. There's no way to get them back.

For this reason, you really need to know what you're doing and take the time to research how to buy and store your coins properly if you want to invest in Bitcoins – or any other cryptocurrency.

So those are some of the things to consider before investing in Bitcoin. Basically while Bitcoin has a lot of great things going for it – and while it has the potential to change financial transactions as we know it – there is still a lot of risk. There are a lot of unknowns out there still.

If you do decide to buy, take your time and research your options. Do not buy from just any seller. Some of them are trustworthy and run a great business. But there are others that will overcharge you and may not even deliver your coins.

Be safe and do your research first. Find a trusted seller with a stellar reputation – there are quite a few of them out there. And remember the golden rule here – never invest more than you can afford to lose.

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Source by Eric Summers

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction

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Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies provides a comprehensive introduction to the revolutionary yet often misunderstood new technologies of digital currency. Whether you are a student, software developer, tech entrepreneur, or researcher in computer science, this authoritative and self-contained book tells you everything you need to know about the new global money for the Internet age.

How do Bitcoin and its block chain actually work? How secure are your bitcoins? How anonymous are their users? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? These are some of the many questions this book answers. It begins by tracing the history and development of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, and then gives the conceptual and practical foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network as well as to integrate ideas from Bitcoin into your own projects. Topics include decentralization, mining, the politics of Bitcoin, altcoins and the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the future of Bitcoin, and more.

  • An essential introduction to the new technologies of digital currency
  • Covers the history and mechanics of Bitcoin and the block chain, security, decentralization, anonymity, politics and regulation, altcoins, and much more
  • Features an accompanying website that includes instructional videos for each chapter, homework problems, programming assignments, and lecture slides
  • Also suitable for use with the authors‘ Coursera online course
  • Electronic solutions manual (available only to professors)

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What Is Bitcoin and Is It a Good Investment?

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Bitcoin (BTC) is a new kind of digital currency-with cryptographic keys-that is decentralized to a network of computers used by users and miners around the world and is not controlled by a single organization or government. It is the first digital cryptocurrency that has gained the public’s attention and is accepted by a growing number of merchants. Like other currencies, users can use the digital currency to buy goods and services online as well as in some physical stores that accept it as a form of payment. Currency traders can also trade Bitcoins in Bitcoin exchanges.

There are several major differences between Bitcoin and traditional currencies (e.g. U.S. dollar):

  1. Bitcoin does not have a centralized authority or clearing house (e.g. government, central bank, MasterCard or Visa network). The peer-to-peer payment network is managed by users and miners around the world. The currency is anonymously transferred directly between users through the internet without going through a clearing house. This means that transaction fees are much lower.
  2. Bitcoin is created through a process called „Bitcoin mining“. Miners around the world use mining software and computers to solve complex bitcoin algorithms and to approve Bitcoin transactions. They are awarded with transaction fees and new Bitcoins generated from solving Bitcoin algorithms.
  3. There is a limited amount of Bitcoins in circulation. According to Blockchain, there were about 12.1 million in circulation as of Dec. 20, 2013. The difficulty to mine Bitcoins (solve algorithms) becomes harder as more Bitcoins are generated, and the maximum amount in circulation is capped at 21 million. The limit will not be reached until approximately the year 2140. This makes Bitcoins more valuable as more people use them.
  4. A public ledger called ‚Blockchain‘ records all Bitcoin transactions and shows each Bitcoin owner’s respective holdings. Anyone can access the public ledger to verify transactions. This makes the digital currency more transparent and predictable. More importantly, the transparency prevents fraud and double spending of the same Bitcoins.
  5. The digital currency can be acquired through Bitcoin mining or Bitcoin exchanges.
  6. The digital currency is accepted by a limited number of merchants on the web and in some brick-and-mortar retailers.
  7. Bitcoin wallets (similar to PayPal accounts) are used for storing Bitcoins, private keys and public addresses as well as for anonymously transferring Bitcoins between users.
  8. Bitcoins are not insured and are not protected by government agencies. Hence, they cannot be recovered if the secret keys are stolen by a hacker or lost to a failed hard drive, or due to the closure of a Bitcoin exchange. If the secret keys are lost, the associated Bitcoins cannot be recovered and would be out of circulation. Visit this link for an FAQ on Bitcoins.

I believe that Bitcoin will gain more acceptance from the public because users can remain anonymous while buying goods and services online, transactions fees are much lower than credit card payment networks; the public ledger is accessible by anyone, which can be used to prevent fraud; the currency supply is capped at 21 million, and the payment network is operated by users and miners instead of a central authority.

However, I do not think that it is a great investment vehicle because it is extremely volatile and is not very stable. For example, the bitcoin price grew from around $14 to a peak of $1,200 USD this year before dropping to $632 per BTC at the time of writing.

Bitcoin surged this year because investors speculated that the currency would gain wider acceptance and that it would increase in price. The currency plunged 50% in December because BTC China (China’s largest Bitcoin operator) announced that it could no longer accept new deposits due to government regulations. And according to Bloomberg, the Chinese central bank barred financial institutions and payment companies from handling bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin will likely gain more public acceptance over time, but its price is extremely volatile and very sensitive to news-such as government regulations and restrictions-that could negatively impact the currency.

Therefore, I do not suggest investors to invest in Bitcoins unless they were purchased at a less than $10 USD per BTC because this would allow for a much larger margin of safety.

Otherwise, I believe that it is much better to invest in stocks that have strong fundamentals, as well as great business prospects and management teams because the underlying companies have intrinsic values and are more predictable.

Disclosure: Victor Liang has has no positions in Bitcoins and has no plans to change his position in the next 72 hours.

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Source by Victor Liang