Monday, January 15, 2018

Ledger Nano S Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Review

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Ledger Nano S is a Bitcoin, Ethereum and Altcoins hardware wallet, which makes it easy to secure your cryptocurrency in a way that makes it simple to access. In this post, we will review the product and determine whether it is suitable for storing your cryptocurrency.

Ledger Nano S Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Review


With the price of Bitcoin hitting a new all-time high of $19000 recently, I thought now would be a good time to purchase a hardware wallet to secure my bitcoin. After doing some research on various makes and models I decided to go for the Ledger Nano S and in this post, I will give it a review.

How the Ledger Nano S Works

The Ledger Nano S is powered via a USB cable. When plugging in for the first time you will be presented with an easy to follow configuration wizard, which is all done on the device via the built-in display. Since the device is fully configurable by the display and buttons on the device, it’s possible to do the initial configuration without connecting it to a PC.

The first thing you will be asked is to choose between restoring a previous configuration or starting a new configuration.

After selecting new configuration you will be asked to enter a PIN and then confirm it. This PIN will be required to access your funds and if it’s entered wrong 3 times the device will reset. This is a handy security feature that will make it difficult for the seed words on a lost or stolen Ledger to be retrieved from the device.

Once the PIN has been confirmed, the built it random number generator will generate a random list of seed words that you need to write down on a piece of paper. Once written down, you will be asked to confirm a couple of the seed words and then once verified the device is ready to use.

WARNING: don’t trust the verification mechanism of your seed words. In my experience, it easy to make a mistake writing down a word and the full restore will not work. Once you have written the seed words down do a full restore to test them. It will take a little longer but it’s worth it to make sure your funds are safe.

With the Ledger Nano S configured you can now send/receive funds by using a supported software wallet that communicates with the device. I’ve found the official app by Ledger is good as a basic wallet, however, you might want to use something like Electrum for more advanced features.

What’s Good About The Ledger Nano S

Some of the things I like about the Ledger Nano S are:
  • Plausible deniability feature.
  • Entering the PIN is done on the device.
  • Transactions must be confirmed from the device.
  • Multiple cryptocurrencies are supported like, Ethereum, Zcash and Bitcoin Cash etc.
  • Works with Electrum.
  • Fully configurable from the device.

A note on plausible deniability. This is an option that lets you assign an additional password that scrambles the initial seed words and is linked to a different PIN. This means you can have a hidden wallet that stores most of your funds, therefore should an attacker manage to extort your seed words they will only have access to a small balance. The other thing I like about this feature is it helps me sleep at night knowing that if the random number generator is not truly random only the funds with the initial seed words can be stolen because the custom passphrase adds some extra entropy.

What’s Not So Good About the Ledger Nano S

The only issue I’ve found with the Ledger is the seed words verification mechanism. I noticed that it only asks you to confirm 2 seed words that were written down and then it verifies ok. However, I wanted to make sure and did a full restore which failed. This is because I had written down one of the words incorrectly. It took me a few attempts to get it right.


So far I’m really happy with the Ledger Nano S.

At first, I was a little reluctant to rely on the built-in random number generator to generate a unique list of seed words because of some of the horror stories I’ve read with different wallet implementations not doing this correctly and people losing funds.

However, after doing a little research on the chip and algorithm used, I’m confident the implementation is generating unique seed words especially combining it with a custom passphrase.

Now I can sleep easy knowing my private keys are safe. If you have any questions or comments about the Ledger Nano S, leave them in the comments below.
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gold Or Bitcoin? Gold And Bitcoin!

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Plenty of investors are wondering whether they should park their money in gold, Bitcoin or other investments. There is a growing sense the world’s top banks are entering dangerous territory. More and more investors are giving strong consideration to alternatives rather than those seemingly tried and true traditional investments. If economic uncertainty increases, there will likely be a flood of money to so-called safe haven investments like gold and other precious metals. Some investment gurus think cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will fare quite well if the economy falters. The question is quickly becoming how much money to put in each of these investment vehicles rather than whether they are worth investing in. Here’s why.

Invest in Gold and Bitcoin

There is an emerging sentiment amongst seasoned investors that gold and Bitcoin complement one another quite well. This means that the positives and negatives of each counterbalance in a symmetrical manner, providing a relatively safe investment duo that can withstand considerable market fluctuations. Time just might prove that Bitcoin and gold are best bought in unison. Both could play an important part in economic events across the next years and decades.
About $7 trillion of gold exists in the world. Around $33 million of Bitcoin exists. Bitcoin is anti-establishment at its core as it is an alternate currency created through a complex network of computing power.

Gold is an indestructible asset that will always be valued. Bitcoin exists in a separate sphere compared to traditional investments and banking systems. If banking systems bust, Bitcoin and gold stand to benefit. Gold has an important advantage in that it can’t be traced like Bitcoin or another form of digital currency. You can transport gold and Bitcoin with ease. Consider the fact that a single gold bar can fit in your pocket and fetch $40,000. Such a gold bar can also be bartered for valuables worth a similar amount of money.

Gold has been valued for millennia.

There is no way this precious metal will suffer a massive decline in value or eventually become worthless. It has stood the test of time better than every other asset known to man. Furthermore, gold’s price is incredibly stable. It doesn’t fluctuate like most other contemporary investments. Such stability is responsible for gold’s use as a standard value for pricing and contracts.

Bitcoin and Gold for Transactional Purposes

Bitcoin is much easier to use for transactions than gold bars, coins and other items containing this beautiful metal. Bitcoin is especially effective for transactions with others across the country and the globe. There is no need to rely on Western Union or another money wiring service that charges considerable fees when one can send money by way of Bitcoin. This crypto-currency can be subdivided in a nearly infinite manner. This means it is more than sufficient for minor transactions than gold and other precious metals.

As an example, breaking down gold to the smallest tenth-ounce of around 3.1 grams yields a value of $120. That is a substantial amount of money. As a result, using Bitcoin for small transactions is quite advantageous compared to gold. Yet one of the few faults in Bitcoin is that it has a short history and a lack of stability. This cryptocurrency won’t be used as a basis for pricing or contracts for quite a while. A track record must be established in order to inspire faith and confidence that Bitcoin is a reliable standard of value. Invest in gold as well as Bitcoin and this shortcoming won’t be nearly as glaring.

A Vision for the Future of Gold and Bitcoin

It is certainly possible that people of the future will use Bitcoin in a manner somewhat similar to a checking account. Gold might be used in a manner similar to a savings account. A moderate Bitcoin balance would be in place for transactions. This cryptocurrency might eventually be sold for gold and other precious metals and vice versa. This way, one could add value to assets held for the long haul or his transaction account as necessary. Perhaps payments will be made in Bitcoin yet contracts and prices could be denominated in gold. This is already occurring for goods denominated in today’s dollars where Bitcoin is an acceptable form of payment.

The model proposed above is not egregiously different from arrangements in other nations. Areas of the world with a history of weak currencies sometimes use euro-denominated assets to represent a value store. Prices might also be denominated in euros. Yet the actual transactions can be executed with the local currency. This happened in Turkey with the euro and the local lira. China also has a lengthy history of using gold ingots for transactions of considerable magnitude. Time will tell if a consolidated system centred on gold with a Bitcoin option for small to medium-sized transactions eventually develops.

Diversify Your Portfolio with Long Positions in Gold, Bitcoin and Beyond

The bottom line is that the masses are quite interested in Bitcoin. This crypto currency will likely be around for quite some time. The same is undoubtedly true of gold. To some, the fact that central banks aren’t involved with Bitcoin is a major benefit. Add in the fact that gold’s strengths offset Bitcoin’s weaknesses and vice versa and it is easy to see why both are becoming increasingly coveted as time progresses. This is precisely why savvy investors are pouring their money into Bitcoin as well as gold.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ethereum breaks new record by reaching $1,000 for the first time

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Ethereum tokens (ethers) have reached $1,000 on multiple major exchanges for the first time ever. This is an all-time high and the result of a multiple-day rally. The total market capitalization of ethers currently available is now $100 billion.

And yet, ethers only represent around 13 percent of all cryptocurrencies out there. 2017 may have been a huge year for cryptocurrencies across the board, but one of the most important stories is that there are now many different tokens worth tens of billions of dollars when it comes to market capitalization.

One ether was worth between $700 and $800 for most of the second half of December. But over the past seven days, ethers have been trading up 40 percent.

Despite this incredible performance, Ripple is still the second biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Somehow, Ripple has been up over 1,300 percent over the last 30 days. Ethereum has been lagging behind Ripple because of this rally.

Bitcoin is becoming less and less dominant. It now represents 32.5 percent of the value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.
Ethereum breaks new record by reaching $1,000 for the first time
A version of this article was published on TechCrunch.
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FanDuel is giving away bitcoin to winners of a fantasy football tournament

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Daily fantasy sports platform FanDuel just announced The Bitcoin Bowl, a promotion that will last the length of the NFL playoffs and give winners a chance to win some bitcoin.

They’ll be two contests – one is a single-entry free contest where the winner wins 1 bitcoin, and one is a multi-entry $3 contest that has a tiered payout – 1st place will get 2 bitcoin, 2nd place will get .5 bitcoin, and 3rd and 4th place will get .25 bitcoin.

What’s interesting is that the value isn’t pegged to USD, meaning the winner will get the specified amount of bitcoin regardless of what happens to the cryptocurrency’s price in the next few weeks.

“FanDuel has always sought to deliver the most unique and rewarding experiences or prizes to our users,” said FanDuel CFO Andy Giancamilli in a statement.  “In awarding Bitcoin, we’re recognizing that most of our users are early adopters of technology and have a significant interest in cryptocurrency.”

To be clear FanDuel isn’t accepting entry fees in Bitcoin and for right now this is a one-time promotion – but it’s yet another sign that people outside of the tech world are starting to notice the cryptocurrency and are being drawn to anything that will give them a chance to get some of their own.

Oh, in case you were wondering – yes the Bitcoin Bowl should sound familiar. In 2014 BitPay sponsored the Bitcoin Bowl, which is the NCAA football college bowl game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Florida – and totally unrelated to FanDuel’s new promotion.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Is There a Future in Solar Bitcoin Mining?

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One of the main factors people look at when it comes to mining any form of cryptocurrency is the overall cost of electricity. There are many variables that go into the total cost of mining, but none of them are more important than the cost of powering the mining devices. Many people think that using a form of renewable energy, such as the Sun, is the way to cut mining costs, but is there really a future in mining bitcoins with solar power?

Past Solar Miners

The idea of mining bitcoins with solar power is an idea that has actually been around for quite some time. It didn’t take much computing power to mine bitcoins in the early days of the cryptocurrency, so mining bitcoins with a solar powered laptop actually made sense. There have been a few people who have setup mining operations that are powered by nothing but solar panels, but they usually end up running into the same issues. While it only took a few solar panels to create a practical mining operation in the past, the reality is that people are not filling entire warehouses with ASIC miners.

Do They Provide Enough Juice? 

At the end of the day, solar panels simply do not offer enough energy to power a modern mining facility. Solar panels are becoming more powerful with each passing year, but it’s also important to remember that the amount of hashing power needed to mine on the Bitcoin network is also growing at an exponential rate. It is technically possible to setup a USB ASIC miner and a Rasberry Pi with a solar panel, but the issue is that you aren’t going to be able to mine anything of actual value over the lifespan of that solar panel. There’s nothing wrong with choosing this kind of setup, but it should be viewed as nothing more than a novelty mining operation.

Cloud Mining Provides Efficiency

If you’re really looking for mining efficiency over anything else, then cloud mining is probably going to be your best option. These are specialized facilities that are setup to lower costs as much as possible, and you don’t even need to worry about buying your own mining rigs and setting them up in your own home if you’d like to enter the world of Bitcoin mining. In fact, you can actually trade shares of hashing power on the Ghash.IO mining pool through the CEX.IO trading platform. This allows you to enter and exit the Bitcoin mining network as quickly as possible, and it’s the easiest way to figure out whether or not Bitcoin mining is something you’ll want to get involved with over the long term. You can always trade in your GHS shares for actual mining hardware if you eventually decide to create your own mining setup.
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