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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Encryption
The internet has become a staple of modern life. We use it to shop for what we need and want, talk to friends and family, run businesses, meet new people, watch movies and TV, and pretty much everything else you can think of. In short, it has given birth to a new age in human history.
The last example of this type of widespread change was the industrial revolution. But unlike the digital revolution, which took place over less than a half a century, the transition to industrialized societies took hundreds of years. However, this rapid change is just further proof of how much the internet is reshaping the way we live.
The internet started in the 1950s as a small, government-funded project. But have you ever wondered how these humble beginnings led to worldwide connectivity?
If you have, read on for a detailed summary of the history of the internet.

Internet Statistics in 2019




Timeline of the Internet

The invention of the internet took nearly 50 years and the hard work of countless individuals. Here’s a snapshot of how we got to where we are today:




Part 1: The Early Years of the Internet

When most of us think of the early years of the internet, we tend to think of the 1990s. But this period was when the internet went mainstream, not when it was invented. In reality, the internet had been in development since the 1950s, although its early form was a mere shell of what it would eventually become.

Wide Area Networking and ARPA (1950s and 1960s)


For the internet to become popular, we first needed computers, and while the first computers date back to the 17th and even the 16th century, the first digital, programmable computers broke onto the scene in the 1940s. Throughout the 1950s, computer scientists began connecting computers in the same building, giving birth to Local Area Networks (LANs.), and instilling people with the idea that would later morph into the internet.

In 1958, the United States Department of Defense Secretary Neil McElroy signed Department of Defense Directive 5105.15 to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which, due to the tensions produced during the Cold War, was tasked with creating a system of long-distance communications that did not rely on telephone lines and wires, which were susceptible to attack.

However, it wasn’t until 1962 that J.C.R. Licklidler, an MIT scientist and ARPA employee, and Welden Clark published their paper “On-line man-computer communication.” This paper, which was really a series of memos, introduced the “Galactic Network” concept, which was the idea that there could be a network of connected computers that would allow people to access information from anywhere at anytime. Eventually, the idea of a “galactic network” became known as a Wide Area Network, and the race to create this network became the race to create the internet.

Because of how closely this idea resembles the internet today, some have chosen to name Licklidler as the “father of the internet,” although the actual creation and implementation of this network resulted from the hard work of many hundreds if not thousands of people.

The First Networks and Packet Switching (1960s)

To build the internet, researchers were working on ways to connect computers and also make them communicate with one another, and in 1965, MIT researcher Lawrence Roberts and Thomas Merrill connected a computer in Massachusetts to one in California using a low-speed dial-up telephone line. This connection is credited as being the first-ever Wide Area Network (WAN). However, while the two men were able to make the computers talk to one another, it was immediately obvious that the telephone system used at the time was not capable of reliably handling communications between two computers, confirming the need to develop a technology known as packet switching to facilitate a faster and more reliable transmission of data.

In 1966, Roberts was hired by Robert Taylor, the new head of ARPA (which had been renamed DARPA), to realize Licklider’s vision of creating a “galactic network.” By 1969, the early framework of the network, named ARPAnet, had been built, and researchers were able to link one computer in Stanford and one in UCLA and communicate using packet switching, although messaging was primitive. Shortly thereafter, also in 1969, computers at the University of Utah and the University of California, Santa Barbara were added to the network. Over time, the ARPAnet would grow, and it served as the foundation for the internet we have today.

However, there were other versions, such as the Merit Network from the University of Michigan and the Robert CYCLADES network, which was developed in France. Also, Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury of the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) in the United Kingdom were developing a similar network based on packet switching, and there were countless other versions of the internet in development in various research labs around the world. In the end, the combined work of these researchers helped produce the first versions of the internet.

Internet Protocol Suite (1970s)

Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the early 1970s, different academic communities and research disciplines, desiring to have better communication amongst their members, developed their own computer networks. This meant the internet was not only growing, but that there were also countless versions of the internet that existed independently of one another.

Seeing the potential of having so many different computers connected over one network, researchers, specifically Robert Kahn from DARPA and Vinton Cerf from Stanford University, began to look at a way to connect the various networks, and what they came up with is the Internet Protocol Suite, which is made up of the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol, also known as TCP/IP. The introduction of this concept was the first time the word “internet” was used. It was shorthand for the word “internetworking,” which reflects the internet’s initial purpose: to connect multiple computer networks.

The main function TCP/IP was to shift the responsibility of reliability away from the network and towards the host by using a common protocol. This means that any machine could communicate with any other machine regardless of which network it belonged to. This made it possible for many more machines to connect with one another, allowing for the growth of networks which much more closely resemble the internet we have today. By 1983, TCP/IP became the standard protocol for the ARPAnet, entrenching this technology into the way the internet works. However, from that point on the ARPAnet became less and less significant until it was officially decommissioned in 1990.

Part 2: The Internet Goes Mainstream

By the middle of the 1980s, the growth of the internet combined with the introduction of TCP/IP meant the technology was on the brink of going mainstream. However, for this to happen, massive coordination was needed to ensure the many different parties working to develop the internet were on the same page and working towards the same goal.

The first step in this process was to turn the responsibility of managing the development of the internet over to a different government agency. In the U.S., NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) all took on important roles in the development of the internet. By 1986, the NSF created NSFNET, which served as the backbone for a TCP/IP based computer network.

This backbone was designed to connect the various supercomputers across the United States and to support the internet needs of the higher education community. Furthermore, the internet was spreading around the world, with networks using TCP/IP across Europe, Australia, and Asia. However, at this point, the internet was only available to a small community of users, mainly those in the government and academic research community. But the value of the internet was too great, and this exclusivity was set to change.

Internet Service Providers – ISPs (Late 1980s)

By the late 1980s, several private computer networks had emerged for commercial purposes that mainly provided electronic mail services, which, at the time, were the primary appeal of the internet. The first commercial ISP in the United States was The World, which launched in 1989.

Then, in 1992, U.S. Congress passed expanding access to the NSFNET, making it significantly easier for commercial networks to connect with those already in use by the government and academic community. This caused the NSFNET to be replaced as the primary backbone of the internet. Instead, commercial access points and exchanges became the key components of the now near-global internet infrastructure.




The World Wide Web and Browsers (Late 1980s-early 1990s)

The internet took a big step towards mainstream adoption in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) invented the World Wide Web, also known as “www,” or, “the web.” In the World Wide Web, documents are stored on web servers and identified by URLs, which are connected by hypertext links, and accessed via a web browser. Berners-Lee also invented the first Web Browser, called WorldWideWeb, and many others emerged shortly thereafter, the most famous being Mosaic, which launched in 1993 and later became Netscape.

The release of the Mosaic browser in 1993 caused a major spike in the number of internet users, largely because it allowed people to access the internet from their normal home or office computers, which were also becoming mainstream around this time. In 1994, the founder of Mosaic launched Netscape Navigator, which, along with Microsoft Internet Explorer, was the first truly mainstream web browser.

The subsequent Browser Wars, which resulted in the failure of Netscape and the triumph of Microsoft, made Netscape one of the many early internet players to rise quickly and fall just as fast. Many use this story to demonstrate the ruthlessness of Bill Gates’ business practices, but no matter what you think of the guy, this “war” between Netscape and Microsoft helped shape the early days of the internet.

Apart from making it easier for anyone to access the internet from any machine, another reason browsers and the World Wide Web were so important to the growth of the internet was that they allowed for the transfer of not only text but also images. This increased the appeal of the internet to the average person, leading to its rapid growth.

Part 3: The Internet Takes Over

By the middle of the 1990s, the Internet Age had officially begun, and since then, the internet has grown both in terms of the number of users but also in the way it affects society. However, the internet as we know it today is still radically different than the internet that first went mainstream in the years leading up to the turn of the millennium.

Growth of the Internet and the Digital Divide



All restrictions to commercial use of the internet were lifted in 1995, and this led to a rapid growth in the number of users worldwide. More specifically, in 1995, there were some 16 million people connected to the internet. By 2000, there were around 300 million, and by 2005, there were more than a billion. Today, there are some 3.4 billion users across the world.

However, most of this growth has taken place in North America, Europe, and East Asia. The internet has yet to reach large portions of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, largely due to economic and infrastructure challenges. This has left many with the fear that the internet will exacerbate inequalities around the world as opportunities provided to some are denied to others based on access to the web.

But the other side of the coin is that these regions are poised to experience rapid growth. East Asia had relatively few internet users in 2000, but that region now represents the majority of internet users in the world, although much of this is due to the rapid industrialization of China and the growth of its middle class.

The Internet Gets Faster

In its early years, computers required connection to a phone line to access the internet. This connection type was slow and it also created problems, the most famous being that it limited the number of people who could access the internet from a particular connection (Who doesn’t remember getting kicked off the internet when their mom or dad signed on or picked up the phone?)

As a result, shortly after the internet went mainstream, the public began demanding faster internet connections capable of transmitting more data. The response was broadband internet, which made use of cable and Direct Service Line (DSL) connections, and it rapidly became the norm. By 2004, half the world’s internet users had access to a high-speed connection. Today, the vast majority of internet users have a broadband internet connection, although some 3 percent of American’s still use a dial-up internet connection.

Web 2.0

Another big driver of the growth of the web was the introduction of the concept known as “Web 2.0.” This describes a version of the web in which individuals play a more active role in the creation and distribution of web content, something we now refer to as social media.

However, there is some debate as to whether or not Web 2.0 is truly different from the original concept of the web. After all, social media grew up alongside the internet – the first social media site, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997. But no matter which side of the debate you fall on, there’s no doubt that the rise of social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook helped turn the internet into the cultural pillar that it has become.

The Mobile Internet

Perhaps the biggest reason the internet has become what it is today is the growth of mobile technology. Early cell phones allowed people to access the internet, but it was slow and modified. The Apple iPhone, which was released in 2007, gave people the first mobile browsing experience that resembled that which they got on a computer, and 3G wireless networks were fast enough to allow for email and web browsing.

Furthermore, WiFi technology, which was invented in 1997, steadily improved throughout the 2000s, making it easier for more and more devices to connect to the internet without needing to plug in a cable, helping make the internet even more mainstream.

WiFi can now be found almost anywhere, and 4G wireless networks connect people to the mobile internet with speeds that rival those of traditional internet connections, making it possible for people to access the internet whenever and wherever they want. Soon, we will be using 5G networks, which allow for even faster speeds and lower latency. But perhaps more importantly, 5G will make it possible for more devices to connect to the network, meaning more smart devices and a much broader understanding of the internet.

Part 4: The Future of the Internet

While the concept of the internet dates back to the 1950s, it didn’t become mainstream until the 1990s. But since then, it has become an integral part of our lives and has rewritten the course of human history. So, after all this rapid growth, what’s next?

Continued Growth

For many, the next chapter of the history of the internet will be defined by global growth. As economies around the world continue to expand, it’s expected that internet use will as well. This should cause the total number of internet users around the world to continue to grow, limited only by the development of infrastructure, as well as government policy.

Net Neutrality

One such government policy that could dramatically impact the role of the internet in our lives is that of net neutrality. Designed to keep the internet a fair place where information is freely exchanged, net neutrality prohibits ISPs from offering preferred access to sites who choose to pay for it. The argument against net neutrality is that some sites, such as YouTube and Netflix, use considerably more bandwidth than others, and ISPs believe they should have the right to charge for this increased use.

However, proponents of net neutrality argue this type of structure would allow large companies and organizations to pay their way to the top, reducing the equality of the internet. In the United States, net neutrality was established by the FCC in 2015, under the Obama administration, but in 2018, this policy was repealed. At the moment, nothing significant has changed, but only time will tell how this shift in policy will affect the internet.

Censorship

Another issue that could possibly affect the internet moving forward is the issue of censorship. Internet use around the world is often restricted, most famously in China, as a means of restricting the information available to people. In other parts of the world, specifically in the U.S, and Europe, these policies have not been enacted. However, in the era of fake news and social media, some companies, most notably Facebook, are taking action to slightly limit what people can say on the internet. In general, this is an attempt to limit the spread of hate speech and other harmful communications, but this is a gray area that has defined free speech debates for most of history and that will continue to be at the center of debates about the internet for years to come.

Conclusion

The internet has helped usher in a new age in human history, and we are just now beginning to understand how it will impact the way we live our lives. The fact that this tremendous cultural revolution has taken place in less than half a century speaks to the rapid nature of change in our modern world, and it serves as a reminder that change will continue to accelerate as we move into the future. You can read the full article on broadbandsearch.net.

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Blockchain, Blockchain technology

What Is SALT Lending?

SALT lending is a platform that provides Blockchain-Backed Loans. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Platform) enables you to put up your crypto as collateral in exchange for a cash loan. This strategy is ideal if you need to pay-off an unexpected expense or want to make a big purchase without having to sell-off your blockchain assets.
 
 
In this SALT lending guide, we’re going to outline:

How Does SALT Lending Work?

SALT revolves around the company’s trademarked Blockchain-Backed Loans. Blockchain-Backed Loans are simply loans in which you hand over a blockchain asset, like Bitcoin, as collateral in exchange for traditional currencies. Unlike traditional auto or home loans, you can use these loans for any personal or business expense.

Membership (UPDATED)

Originally, to use the SALT lending platform, you first needed to pay to become a member. There were three tiers of membership:
  1. Base (1 SALT/year)
  2. Premier (10 SALT/year)
  3. Enterprise (100 SALT/year)
Higher membership tiers enabled you to borrow more money across additional currencies and gave you more flexible loan terms. Higher tiers also enjoyed a range of other perks such as early access to new products, portfolio management, and credit/debit cards.
SALT lending memberships

Original SALT Lending Tier System

UPDATE: As of this writing, the company is reorganizing their memberships, so you’re unable to sign up for one. However, you’re still able to take out a loan. And, you no longer need SALT to do so. If you stake SALT for your loan, though, you’ll receive a better rate and/or terms. You need to provide several pieces of personal information to create an account and become a member. This information includes your first namelast namevalid email address, and country. You’re also subject to Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) restrictions, so be prepared to upload an ID.

Lenders

On the other side of SALT are the lenders. Lenders have previously avoided dealing with cryptocurrencies because of the oftentimes complicated nature of the assets. SALT provides lenders with the infrastructure, compliance, and security they need to accept crypto collateral without adding additional costs to their current processes. In exchange for these services, lenders must also pay for a SALT membership.

Loan Process

Once again differing from traditional finance, SALT never inquires your credit score. Instead, the platform only uses the value of your crypto collateral to determine the terms of your loan. Lenders kick-off the loan process by posting the terms in which they’re willing to lend. As a borrower, you can look through the various terms and choose the one that’s best suited for you.
SALT lending process

SALT Lending Process

Once you pick a loan, the loaners commit the cash funds while you provide collateral to a smart contract. The cash funds are sent directly to your bank account. You then pay monthly installments based on the loan terms, and when your loan is paid-off, SALT releases your collateral from the smart contract and returns it back to you.

SALT Oracle

The SALT Oracle creates the smart contracts for each loan and triggers the events of the loan. To lower the risk of default, the Oracle also records loan payments and monitors the changing value of the crypto collateral. Every loan starts with a loan-to-value ratio that’s calculated from the terms of the loan. This ratio is effectively the amount of the loan divided by the amount of collateral. For example, a $100,000 loan secured by $125,000 worth of Ethereum would have an original loan-to-value ratio of: $100,000 / $125,000 = 80.0% As you pay off the loan, this ratio decreases because the amount of the outstanding loan decreases. However, if the value of your collateral decreases due to a decline in the market price, this ratio will increase. If the ratio ever increases beyond the initial loan-to-value ratio, you’ll be required to either:
  1. provide more collateral, or
  2. pay-off an additional amount of the loan
until the ratio returns to the original level. The Oracle autonomously tracks the loan-to-value ratios and notifies the borrowers when it becomes too high. The amount of time a borrower has to correct the ratio differs based on the velocity of the price decline
 

SALT Lending Team & Progress

The SALT team is over 15 members strong and was led by Shawn Owen as CEO. Owen is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in hospitality operations. In July 2018, Owen left the company leaving CTO Bill Sinclair to take his place. The most notable member of the SALT team is one of their advisors, Erik Voorhees. Voorhees is the founder and CEO of ShapeShift – one of the most popular crypto-to-crypto exchanges. SALT reached a big milestone in January 2018 by officially beginning to provide loans for top-tier members. The platform already has over 70,000 loans and has funded over $50,000,000 in those loans. Plans for 2018 included launching credit cards, creating loan funds, and expanding collateralization to other alternative coins as well. The team only hit some of those milestones. The company expanded support, adding Litecoin and Dogecoin loans. But, it looks as if credit cards and developer tools are still some time out.
SALT milestones

2018 Roadmap

Competition

SALT is the current leader in blockchain-based loans; however, there are a few other competitors popping up in the space. ETHLend and Elix are two younger competitors that provide decentralized lending on the Ethereum blockchain. SALT differentiates itself by focusing on institutional cash loans that are backed by cryptocurrency while the other two projects appear to have taken a peer-to-peer approach. Both use-cases should have a solid place in the market. Additionally, SALT is competing with more traditional platforms that provide crypto-backed loans but aren’t using a specific token.

SALT Token

SALT tokens, also known as membership tokens, are ERC20 tokens that you spend to become a member of the SALT lending platform. Furthermore, you can redeem these tokens to pay down loan interestreceive better rates on loans, and purchase items from SALT’s online store. At one point, these tokens held a different value on the lending platform than what they were trading for in the market. They used to be worth exactly $27.50 on the lending platform while trading at a value below that price. You could also previously pay-down the capital of your loans with SALT tokens. So, this created an interesting arbitrage opportunity. If you had the bankroll, you could technically get an Enterprise membership for $1200 and take out a $1M loan backed by $1.25M of Bitcoin. You could then turn around and buy $1M worth of SALT tokens from the market (~83,333 SALT). Because the SALT tokens were worth $27.50 on the platform you would only need to spend ~45,455 SALT tokens to pay back your loan. This would leave you with a little under 40,000 SALT tokens plus the original Bitcoin you put up as collateral – about a 40% return. The SALT team must have caught on to this scheme because they’ve since removed the opportunity.

Trading

SALT held their ICO in Q3 2017 in which you could purchase a membership token for $3.00 – $7.00 depending on the time that you bought it. There are a total of 120M SALT tokens, and just over 80M are currently circulating in the market. The SALT price briefly experienced the common “post-ICO” dip before spiking back up to a little over $7 in October 2017. Shortly after, the price fell to the $2-$4 (0.0003-0.0005 BTC) range and stayed there until December 2017.  
 
 
Starting in December 2017, the price steadily rose and jumped to an all-time high of over $17 with the announcement that lending on the platform had finally begun. Since that high at the very end of 2017, the price has fallen drastically. Throughout 2018, the coin has lost over 98 percent of its value. It’s currently worth about $0.25. Because SALT isn’t required to use the lending platform, there’s not much that will cause the price to rise again. A healthy cryptocurrency market should help. And juicy enough membership incentives may also provide some positive demand-side pressure. Other than that, it’s tough to see this coin rising from the dead.

Where to Buy SALT

The most popular exchanges to purchase SALT are Binance and Bittrex. To trade for SALT on one of these exchanges you need to first have Bitcoin or Ethereum. If you don’t have either, you can purchase them with traditional currency on an exchange like Gemini and then transfer them over. For a full list of exchanges where you can buy SALT, check out CoinMarketCap.

Where to Store SALT

Because SALT is an ERC20 token, you have a few different options on where to store it. A popular online option is MyEtherWallet. The SALT website recommends that you use the Jaxx wallet and even provides instructions here. Jaxx is available on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux, and as a Chrome extension. The most secure way to store your tokens is by using a hardware wallet like Trezor or the Ledger Nano S. Using hardware wallets keeps your funds offline and out of the reach of hackers and ill-intended software.

Conclusion

The SALT lending platform is a great option if you want/need to make some real-world expenses and don’t want to lose the potential gains from your crypto holdings. Beyond that, the project works to solve a major problem of blockchain assets – illiquidity. By opening up an entirely new form of loans, the project brings more liquidity to the cryptocurrency market. The team has a solid foundation of blockchain experience and is advised by a leader in the industry. With a working platform in the market already, SALT is ahead of many other blockchain projects. That being said, there’s no requirement to use SALT tokens on the platform. So, it should make you wonder why the company has a specific token in the first place. Hopefully, the new membership tiers will make this more obvious. Editor’s Note: This article was updated by Steven Buchko on 12.04.2018 to reflect the recent changes of the project. This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
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Blockchain, Cryptocurrency

TRON CRYPTOCURRENCY is a digital currency created by controversial figure Justin Sun that aims to expand the area of decentralized applications (DApps) by making the tools for their creation and management more accessible to users.

Despite the fact that over 1000 DApps currently exist (mostly on the Ethereum blockchain), creating them is still a huge challenge for developers. This in turn limits blockchain adoption since the technology is best used in applications that normal people interact with.

One main challenge faced by developers is the complex protocols associated with blockchain technology. Since the technology is fairly new, developers have a problem figuring out how to fit their applications into the system.

This is where TRON comes in. It eases the transition, allowing developers to turn otherwise centralized applications into decentralized ones and create new DApps from scratch. TRON does this by simplifying the distribution of data without restrictions. Users can easily upload and store data in various content formats, including videos and audio files through content-enabled channels.

The TRON platform also rewards users with its asset known as TRX for uploading digital content. Usually, the user receives rewards proportional to the number of uploads they’ve done on the network. This sustains the platform by incentivizing users to upload even more files in the DApp creation process.

The most important value that TRON presents is its unflinching focus on people rather than enterprise. Using TRON cryptocurrency, users now have a cheap, secure and efficient way to keep their digital footprints intact. This way, it will be more difficult for them to fall prey to phishing ads on the internet.

The TRON transaction system also bears a huge advantage for users. They are all carried out on a public ledger, allowing anyone to trace transactions even without giving up user data. This system, known as the TRONix transaction system, uses a model UTXO, which unlocks preset amounts of TRON that users send using a defined set of rules.

HOW IS TRON DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCIES?

A major difference between TRX coin and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is that it cannot be mined.

Apart from the fact that it cannot be mined, TRON bears even more differences to its peers. One of them is that it is mostly entertainment-focused. While the platform retains its decentralized use of blockchain, it is aimed at the global content and entertainment sector through its foundation.

The entertainment industry is rife with agents and other middlemen that make it difficult for creators to make and keep enough of their profits. TRON cuts out these middlemen, allowing digital content creators to receive money directly from their customers.

Traffic dependency on larger platforms like Twitter and Facebook are also greatly reduced since the process becomes more streamlined for creators. They are able to reach customers directly on the TRON platform, without the problem of filtering out a niche-specific target audience.

Other applications of TRON that set it apart from other cryptocurrencies include:

Providing a solution to the issue of data privacy and centralization, which limits content creators by streamlining them into a few companies.  Such companies collect data from the general population to be implemented in their own operations. All monetary support for the TRON foundation is derived from the TRONix system.

Using a UTXO model to monetize content to allow its creators to reap the benefits of their hard work.

Guaranteeing privacy by eliminating the need for social ads so that the bigger social platforms have less access to user data.

undefined HOW DOES IT WORK?

TRON is capitalizing on the peer-based systems in existence to ensure that creators aren’t cheated out of their work. The platform is achieving this by creating a bridge between them and their consumers. Like any other content-focused system, for the TRON ecosystem to work, several things must happen:

  • Creators have to create content which they want to distribute and be rewarded for.
  • Consumers have purchased this content, allowing the revenue to go directly to its creators.
  • DApps are built on the same principles that govern the entire system.
  • Code on the network is executed, and with time, determines the value of TRX cryptocurrency.
  • Another way that TRON is achieving better content distribution is by pushing decentralization, as opposed to the use of centralized servers.

HOW TO GET TRON:

Getting TRON is quite easy as long as users follow these steps:

Set up a TRON wallet which supports TRX tokens. Since TRX initially used the Ethereum ERC20 standard, it was compatible with Ether wallets. However, ever since its huge move to its main net in May 2018, there are dedicated wallets that are compatible with TRX now. Some of these wallets include TRON wallet (mobile & web), TRONscan wallet (web), Cobo wallet (mobile), Altcoin.io wallet (desktop client & web) and Ledger Nano wallet (hardware). These wallets are available for iOS, Android, Windows, and chrome.

As soon as the wallet is downloaded, users can now be issued public and private keys. The public key acts as a wallet address to be given to those who would like to send money to it. The private key, on the other hand, acts as a password and must never be disclosed to other parties.

TRX can be bought on exchanges like Binance, OKEXx, and HitBTC. This means that a user must buy another cryptocurrency such as Ethereum on an exchange like Coinbase first. After, the ETH can be exchanged for TRX.

MARKET PERFORMANCE & PROMINENT FIGURES WHO ARE BACKING TRON:

Comparing the price of TRX now ($0.0138) to what it was in June 2018, it is easy to see that the currency is currently underperforming in a pattern shared with other major digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

Initially, there was some speculation on whether or not TRX would be able to hit $1 before the end of 2018. While that currently seems unlikely, the cryptocurrency markets have continuously shown that a few days can make a huge difference. This is especially evident in the case of Bitcoin, which began December 2017 at a price point of $10,839 and reached its peak of more than $20,000 less than nine days later.

TRX was not left out of the bullish December with a 750% price increase at the end of December 2017 and a 12255% increase in January 2018.

Apart from the influential Justin Sun, TRON is supported by BITMAIN Co-founder, Jihan Wu, who has shown eagerness to purchase it in the past.  Although Wu is a controversial figure in the industry, his endorsement has been a huge defining factor for the platform, which raised about $70,000,000 in its crowdfunding efforts.

Another big name backing TRON is Dai Wei, one of the most successful transport executives and TRON investors, as well as the founder of Ofo. BTCC.com founder Yang Linke and popular business magnate Yin Mingshan are also backing the project

FINAL THOUGHTS

TRON is working to solve one of the biggest problems that accompanied global acceptance of the internet: fair content distribution. The decentralization of the entire process reduces the overall cost incurred and ensures the longevity of the distribution system.

TRON is moving closer to its grand vision every day, along with TRX, its digital asset. Maybe eventually, the centralized model of content delivery will be eradicated completely, giving rise to a fairer, decentralized ecosystem.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

To understand cryptocurrency, you first need to understand the history of the virtual coin. Virtual coin, or digital currency, differs from traditional fiat currency in that there is no physical representation to accompany each unit of value. Long before the crypto craze of 2017, there were the pioneers of electronic cash.

These early financial freethinkers shaped the market and prepared the world for the digitization of the economy. Fast forward to today’s crypto market, and thanks to the efficiency of blockchain technology, you now see digital money experiencing increased adoption globally.

Virtual Coin Before Bitcoin

Over the last twenty years, virtual currency payment systems have flourished. These systems existed long before the advanced blockchain technology of today made virtual coins, such as Bitcoin, a household name.

Virtual currencies are not considered a legal tender in most countries for many reasons. Governments do not issue these coins. Instead, virtual currencies are issued by the platform’s developers. Today, there are many ways in which companies release virtual coins. Before cryptocurrencies, bonuses were the most popular form of issuing digital currency.

 

 

Problems with Early Virtual Coin

The problem with these early virtual coins was that they were too susceptible to attack from hackers or scammers. Additionally, the lack of any form of material confirmation left many businesses skeptical of the true value behind these concepts. Remember, this was 20 years prior to the emergence of blockchain technology. Many people didn’t even own a computer at this time.

Netherlands, 1980s

One of the first examples of an attempt to create a digital cash comes from the Netherlands in the late 1980s. Gas station owners were fed up with their businesses being robbed. The problem got so bad that someone decided it would be safer to find a way to place money onto smart cards. Trucking company owners could load these cards and give them to their drivers. The drivers would then use the cards at the participating gas stations.

Flooz.com

Another example of virtual coin usage before cryptocurrency is the internet currency Flooz. Flooz.com issued these virtual coins in 1998 as part of a marketing campaign. Each Flooz equaled one dollar in value.

Users would receive Flooz coin for purchases made on the Flooz.com website. Users could then spend their Flooz on more products on the site, or they could take their bonus earnings and shop at numerous other participating vendors.

The concept was well before its time, and despite a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, Flooz never achieved the level of adoption required to sustain the project. The platform also took heavy losses after a combination of Russian and Filipino hackers made purchases using stolen credit cards. The company is now defunct, but the inspiration of their project lives on in the digital currencies of today.

Blinded Cash

In 1981, an American cryptographer by the name of David Chaum released his now famous paper titled Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms. Chaum described an anonymous digital currency system. In 1989, Chaum developed his protocol into a working virtual coin known as DigiCash.

David Chaum via Quartz

David Chaum via Quartz

The protocol was revolutionary and introduced the world to the concept of blind signatures. Blind signatures disguise the content of a message and utilize a combination of a public and private password to verify the validity of the participants. Today, this concept is used in major cryptocurrencies in the form of public keys.

B-Money

A decade after DigiCash entered the market, a developer by the name of Wei Dai made waves in the cryptographic community after publishing a paper called B-Money Anonymous, Distributed Electronic Cash System. This virtual coin concept utilized a decentralized network, which included private sending capabilities and auto-enforceable contracts. While the technical aspects of this virtual coin were far from blockchain technology, and the project never gained enough momentum to take flight, the concept greatly influenced the future cryptocurrency market.

Bit Gold

Longtime virtual coin advocate, Nick Szabo, pioneered the proof-of-work system used today by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin with his Bit Gold protocol. Bit Gold helped to cement the concept of a decentralized network and the elimination of third-party verification systems. Satoshi borrowed many of Bit Gold’s concepts. So much so, that many people believed Satoshi Nakamoto to be Nick Szabo. It took a public denial by Szabo to finally convince people otherwise.

HashCash

Many crypto enthusiasts consider HashCash to be the direct inspiration for Bitcoin. HashCash was introduced in 1997 by cryptographer Adam Beck. Beck incorporated a proof-of-work protocol to verify the validity of a transaction. HashCash’s proof-of-work protocol previously saw use as a spam reduction technique before being adapted for virtual coins. The concept impacted Nakamoto to the point that he cites Beck in the Bitcoin white paper. However, HashCash lost relevance after suffering scalability issues due to increased network congestion.

Enter Bitcoin and the Wonders of Blockchain

Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, labels the world’s most successful cryptocurrency as “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system.” Unlike the virtual coins before Bitcoin, Satoshi had the backing of powerful new technology, blockchain.

Blockchain technology stores information in duplicate over a vast network of computers. Prior to any changes to the blockchain, fifty-one percent of the nodes must agree on the validity of the chain. This validation process references the previous blocks. The longest verifiable chain of transactions remains the valid chain. In this manner, blockchain technology eliminates the need for third-party verification systems such as banks.

Advantages of Virtual Coins

The advent of blockchain technology increased the benefits of virtual coins significantly. Users can transfer cryptocurrency in near instant time, and at a much cheaper rate than the traditional methods of global money transfer. Cryptocurrencies eliminate the need for verification systems, which saves you big time.

To put the level of savings experienced by crypto users into perspective, look at the traditional international money transfer methods. Today, your funds require verification from potentially thirty-six different third-party organizations when sent globally. And, each organization tacks on a fee for their services.

Virtual Coins Are Here to Stay

Now, the world has multiple legitimate virtual currency options to consider. These digital currencies continue to shape the economics of the future. Today, virtual coins are more common than ever, and for the first time in history, digital money receives recognition from traditional financial firms.

 
 
  This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Post Oak Motor Cars, the luxury automobile retailer which stocks Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Bugatti vehicles has announced plans to accept Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash payments at its dealership. The retailer is reportedly the first one in the U.S. to embrace the use of popular cryptocurrencies for retail payments.

The auto retailer will operate its crypto payment service via Bitpay, a popular payment service provider. According to Tilman Fertitta, renowned American businessman, and owner of Post Oak Motor Cars, the company is moving forward with this new plan to enhance the buying experience for its customers who are cryptocurrency holders or wish to use digital currencies for their own reasons. He also stated that crypto purchases will make it easier and faster for people to buy cars from the dealership.

The statement by Fertitta reads:

“Being a premier luxury car dealer, I always want to offer my customers the very best buying experience and this partnership will allow anyone around the world to purchase our vehicles faster and easier.”

In 2017, Fertitta opened up to reporters concerning his thoughts on Bitcoin, stating that people will most likely not buy it since it is not exactly insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, Bitcoin adoption has grown considerably since that statement was made and various corporations have risen to the task of catering to the ever-growing population of crypto investors. Currently, Post Oak Motor Cars is no exception.

According to the press release, Bitpay is embracing the dealership’s plan due to its reputation and the popularity of the luxury automobiles it stocks.

The statement by Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of BitPay, reads:

“We’ve noticed people prefer to make larger purchases with bitcoin since it is a simple way to make payments. This partnership is timely with the increasing popularity of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti vehicles. Post Oak Motors has a great reputation for selling the finest cars, and we are thrilled to be partnering with Tilman.”

THE POST OAK MOTOR CARS LUXURY EXPERIENCE

Like other Tilman Fertitta companies, Post Oak offers a luxury experience to its customers, that seeks to integrate them into its ecosystem, making them return several times. At its prestigious uptown/galleria area of Houston, the dealership welcomes customers looking to purchase Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Bugatti vehicles.

The world of cryptocurrency is often characterized by the presence of millionaires, flashy cars and real estate. This is why it makes sense that Post Oaks sees an emerging class of cryptocurrency owners among its clients. By allowing this group of customers pay with their digital currency, the firm is retaining customers and opening its doors to even more customers within the field.

The firm aims to create the best possible automotive experience and in the past, this has meant post-delivery services, including major repairs, oil changes, brake repairs, and tire replacements. Now, however, this includes catering to its crypto crowd and ensuring that people are not restricted when paying for luxury items. This is especially convenient for investors since it is not easy to convert cryptocurrency back to fiat currency without any hassle.

Cryptocurrency acceptance is still minimal, seeing as there is still much development going on, in terms of stability, security, and regulation. This means that businesses accepting cryptocurrency are few. There are currently over 20 million active Bitcoin wallets and about 5% of Americans use cryptocurrency, so this presents a unique opportunity, just waiting for brands to snatch it up.

WHO IS TILMAN FERTITTA?

Tilman Joseph Fertitta is an American entrepreneur as well as the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and owner of Landry’s, Inc. With over $3.5 billion in assets, the company operates more than 500 restaurants, hotels, and casinos across various international locations, generating $3.4 billion in revenue annually.

Fertitta is also a TV personality, Chief Executive Officer at The Oceanaire, Inc., and Co-Chairman as well as Chief Executive Officer of Landcadia Holdings, Inc. He currently serves as Chairman at Houston Police Foundation, Houston Children’s Charity, Golden Nugget, Inc. and University of Houston System Board of Regents. He is worth an estimated $3 billion and is regarded as the richest restaurateur in the world.

Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1957, Fertitta spent part of his childhood learning the ropes at his father’s seafood restaurant. According to many reports, Tilman Fertitta began investing in stock as early as high school and successfully established his first business in his twenties. After graduating from high school he got into Texas Tech University and later transferred to the University of Houston, where he studied business administration and hospitality management.

By 23, a young Fertitta, still in college, took a loan of $6,000 to start a seaside hotel in Galveston. This was his first business. Soon, he was able to build a restaurant empire which he has continued to expand till date.

In September 2017, he signed an agreement to purchase popular NBA team, the Houston Rockets, for $2.2 billion. He is also credited as one of the original investors who helped shape the future of the Houston Texans as an NFL team although he eventually sold his franchise. He served as the director of NBA team, the Houston Rockets for a long time.

Tilman Fertitta was the star of the reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer” which aired on CNBC from 2016 and featured the businessman traveling across the country to test innovative hospitality products to be used in Landry’s, Inc.’s hotels and casinos. In 2004, Tilman Fertitta became the second-youngest Texan to be inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

WHAT ARE OTHER CAR BRANDS DOING WITHIN THE CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY?

Luxury Car,  Bitcoin

As cryptocurrency users continue to increase, the auto industry is making moves to promote adoption and incorporate blockchain technology into their operations. One example is Daimler AG, the Germany based automobile giant responsible for a range of luxury cars including Mercedes-Benz.

The firm recently created MobiCoin, its own digital currency, as a way to reward drivers for maintaining eco-friendly driving practices like low-speed driving. The vehicles will transmit data directly to Daimler AG which will allocate MobiCoins based on this data, all carried out via a mobile app.

Other examples are BMW, Renault, Ford, and General Motors, which are among 30 companies in the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), including IBM and Bosch. These companies hope to accelerate blockchain adoption and promote new use cases in areas like ride-sharing.

Recently, Ford also filed a patent for a vehicle-to-vehicle communication system, involving the exchange of cryptocurrency tokens as a way to facilitate traffic flow.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Brands continue to push for cryptocurrency adoption due to the rising demand and secure ways to purchase items with these currencies. For several reasons including anonymity, and transaction speed, many people find it easier to spend cryptocurrency. This is why it is important for companies to map out ways to cater to this portion of their customer base.

Post Oak Motor Cars is no amateur when it comes to the convenience of its customers. Under the leadership of Tilman Fertitta, the company is showing that it is more than willing to go to great lengths to improve the buying experience for them.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Unlike the period in which Bitcoin first emerged, it is a lot easier to buy cryptocurrency today. The major upside of this is that users do not have to break their necks searching for a way to buy their favorite coin.

There are numerous ways to go about it, including exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs, as opposed to attending crypto meetups and hanging around chatrooms in the hopes of meeting people who are willing to sell their tokens. However, most exchanges have not completely figured out how to make it easy for users to buy Bitcoin using fiat currency. In fact, this is a major drawback since people mostly have fiat currency as their starting point for acquiring cryptocurrency.

Normally, fiat purchases can be carried out through third-party applications like Paypal. However, users have found it nearly impossible to do something as simple as buying some Bitcoin straight from their Paypal accounts. With the Paypal active user base falling to 250 million, this is a far-reaching problem.

Currently, attempting to buy cryptocurrency through Paypal is difficult and expensive, mostly due to the potential for users to take advantage of chargebacks. For example, a user could buy some Bitcoins on an exchange, directly from their Paypal account and use its support system to charge it back so that they receive a refund. This can be problematic for exchanges since they can’t request refunds from the Bitcoin wallets they’ve credited.

WAYS IN WHICH BITCOIN CAN BE PURCHASED WITH A PAYPAL ACCOUNT

Although they are few, there are still some other ways in which users can purchase Bitcoin directly from their Paypal accounts, including direct trade, Bitcoin loans, and centralized exchanges and Specialized payment apps.

1. P2P DIRECT TRADE

Since most exchanges do not accept Paypal payments in exchange for BTC, direct trade is the most efficient way forward for those bent on using the payment app.

This involves sites that facilitate peer-to-peer agreements to sell and purchase Bitcoin using Paypal. Essentially, one user connects with another, either in person or through the use of a decentralized exchange like Localbitcoins, Paxful or Cancoin. After connecting, both users can agree on Paypal as a method of payment for their mutual benefit.

LOCALBITCOINS

Localbitcoins is easily the most popular way to buy BTC from a Paypal account. It is a peer-to-peer marketplace that aims to connect buyers and sellers who want to carry out their transactions using Paypal.

The platform method has continuously proven to be an effective way to achieve this. However, users must be careful when choosing sellers to avoid any fraudulent issues. Traders can be filtered by looking at their trade volume and feedback.

PAXFUL

This is another popular marketplace which links buyers and sellers as well as provides escrow services. The fees on Paxful are higher than the market rate but may prove to be worth it. Its user interface bears some slight similarities to Localbitcoins. Apart from Paypal, the platform also conducts transactions via Skrill, Payoneer and gift cards. The site will only accept verified U.S. Paypal accounts.

CANCOIN

Cancoin is a relatively new, decentralized peer-to-peer exchange for Bitcoin traders. It facilitates transactions between users and allows them to carry out these transactions using Paypal. Cancoin greatly emphasizes its security and range of tools to make the user experience more convenient.

Some features include multiple escrow orders, multi-signature transactions, custom alerts via email, SMS, desktop or browser and Interactive price history graphs. Creating an account on the platform is free but sellers pay a 1% fee on each transaction apart from the normal Bitcoin transaction fees. Buyers on the other hand, do not pay fees.

2. P2P BITCOIN “LOANS”

Bitcoin lending is becoming increasingly popular and since a large number of users receive money through Paypal, several bitcoin lending platforms accept it as a payment method. In these systems, users who hold Bitcoin can decide to lend their tokens to other users in hopes of generating profits from interest.

Since Bitcoin lending is still a growing concept, there are not many lending platforms. As a result, the chances of finding one that accepts Paypal as a payment method are slim. xCoins has managed to stand out in this regard.

XCOINS

xCoins is a cryptocurrency exchange, which also serves as a peer-to-peer marketplace, offering additional services including Bitcoin lending. It primarily exists to act as a bridge between Bitcoin lenders and borrowers.

When users fund their xCoins account, they can decide on what interest rates they would like to charge their borrowers, with a starting point of 15%.

Borrowers on the platform are matched with loans, according to the needs they specify.

xCoins guarantees a high level of security through its internal rating system. This way, the credibility of users can be verified easily.

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3. CENTRALIZED CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES

A handful of centralized exchanges have also developed their own systems for ensuring security while accepting Paypal as a payment method. They include Virwox and eToro.

VIRWOX

VirWoX, an acronym for Virtual World Exchange, is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange which accepts Paypal payments. It was launched in 2007 as a digital currency exchange even though it precedes Bitcoin.

Currently, the platform has over 1 million registered users and uses an automatic order system to match them. Like almost any other exchange, a user must create an account to use the platform.

After this step, funds can be deposited in a virtual wallet using Paypal, credit cards, and a host of other options. Subsequently, buy-sell pairs, market limits or order limits can be created on the exchange page and submitted.

ETORO

eToro is a popular social trading and online forex platform where users can invest in several digital assets. The platform offers a wide array of cryptocurrencies and ensures that all user assets are managed in a single place.

It also eliminates the need for a digital wallet and claims to use high-quality encryption technology to secure investors’ funds. Unfortunately, fees on the Etoro platform are relatively high.

4. SPECIALIZED PAYMENT APPS

Some payment apps act as intermediaries to allow Paypal users access cryptocurrency from their accounts. One example is WirexApp which is not an exchange, yet facilitates the purchase of digital currency.

WIREXAPP

WirexApp allows users to set up consistent Paypal cryptocurrency payments. Unfortunately, a user’s first transaction takes about 1-2 days but all transactions after that are carried out instantly.

It is available in several countries including Bahamas, Bahrain, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates among others.

To get started, users must create and verify a WirexApp account. This gets them a free virtual visa card which they have to deposit about $3 into. The card can be added to Paypal and used to pay for cryptocurrency transactions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Buying cryptocurrency from a Paypal account has many upsides. But fraud, its major drawback seems to trump them all. Until major exchanges find a way around chargebacks, users may be stuck jumping through hoops just to buy cryptocurrency conveniently.

At the same time, platforms that currently offer this service are few and as a result, there is more profit to go around in the form of transaction fees. While this is great for these exchanges it does not do users any favors– since the scarcity of a Paypal payment option on cryptocurrency exchange will only drive up the existing transaction fees on the few platforms that offer this option. Hopefully, exchanges will become fiat-friendly in the next future and allow users to pay for cryptocurrency more conveniently.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing: the synergistic boardroom buzzword that you still pretend know about.

Luckily, it’s a pretty simple idea, technically demanding, but simple none-the-less. On paper, cloud computing is just another way for humans to share resources and increase production.

When you use cloud computing you are essentially outsourcing a computer-related task the same way a company may choose to outsource a task like accounting, manufacturing, customer support, or human resources to name a few.

Cloud computing instead outsources tasks such as data storage, web server hosting, Bitcoin mining (warning), and software management among others.

What’s All the Fuss About?
In order to really understand the perks of cloud computing let’s paint a picture of two similar e-commerce businesses. Both businesses are selling a product and using a website as their primary sales portal. Both are also new businesses with a small customer base but can reasonably expect to increase traffic to their e-commerce store in the future.

The first business, let’s call it Tod’s Toys, is running their website on locally installed servers and hosts all their own data. Not to worry though, Tod’s Toys has an excellent CTO running the operation and has the current hardware/software stack purring along.

The second business, this one named Gupta’s Guitars, is a little more bespoke and decided to instead opt for hosting their website on a cloud server. Gupta’s Guitars also has a capable CTO monitoring the online store’s health.

In their beginning stages, Tod’s Toys and Gupta’s Guitars are seeing similar traffic rate to their stores. However, Tod’s Toys is noticing a higher operating cost coming from their web servers; they have more than they currently need. The toy store doesn’t mind though, as they expect traffic to increase into the server capacity they have.

Gupta’s Guitars, on the other hand, paid for their server use much more ad hoc. Their server access scales with traffic, so the guitar store hasn’t noticed any waste. In fact, while their traffic volume was low so was their cost for using the cloud servers. Naturally, they threw a guitar-fueled pizza party with their savings!

As predicted, both online stores begin to see a precipitous uptick in volume and sales. Gupta’s Guitars rejoices and probably throws another pizza party. Tod’s Toys, on the other hand, doesn’t have as long to celebrate.

The online toy store quickly pivots to scaling their server hardware as demand on their self-hosted platform outpaces their capacity. Potential customers are served 404 error messages instead of the spectacular toys that Tod’s offers. *Sad face*

You can see, cloud computing let Gupta’s Guitars outsource their server needs and as a result, focus on other aspects of their business.

A ridiculously oversimplified example but the key point is there.

The Basics of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing for businesses, as in the above example, is typically referred to as enterprise cloud computing. This differs from other cloud computing services that may be more consumer-facing like Google Drive or MegaUpload (R.I.P.).

In either case, cloud computing is actually a stack of three generalized cloud provided services. At the base of the stack is the infrastructure cloud services also known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The middle layer is the developer’s layer known as platform as a service (PaaS). The top and the most visible layer is the software as a service (SaaS) layer also known as the application layer.

IaaS (infrastructure as a service) is the foundational layer made up of all the necessary hardware that makes the digital cloud tick. Despite the reference to watery vapor above us, cloud computing is made of some serious hardware, real, tangible, and often loud. IaaS is all of the physical hardware that stores and moves our zeros and ones.

Examples of IaaS providers: CloudSigma, Digital Ocean, Linode, Cisco Cloud Infrastructure Services, Microsoft Azure, Citrix Workspace Cloud

PaaS (platform as a service) is the next layer up, where the developers and programmers get involved. In this middle layer, IaaS providers lease chunks of cloud hardware to developers and programmers pre-installed with developer tools like Apache or MySQL. This middle layer is where IaaS providers and software developers overlap.

Examples of PaaS providers: Oracle Cloud, Salesforce Platform, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services

SaaS (software as a service) is the topmost and more familiar layer of the cloud stack. This is where applications and software are, and we see some familiar names like Spotify, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Play Store, Storj, and Dropbox to name a few. The SaaS layer is essentially where cloud services become user-friendly for consumers and businesses alike.

Examples of SaaS providers: Slack, WordPress, Trello, Mailchimp, InVision, Zoom, Buffer, Contently, Netflix

Cloud Computing Stack
The basic cloud computing stack

Each layer of the cloud service stack enables the one before it. In short, you can think of the three layers like this: first, you need hardware. Second, you need a platform to build from. Third, you need applications so people can use the hardware.

The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing
While each use case will have much more granular pros and cons, the following are a few general benefits and drawbacks of cloud computing.

The Upside to Cloud Computing
A Lower Barrier to Access
Cloud computing has a fraction of the initial costs compared to building and managing your own hardware, platform, or applications. Far Less Waste
Cloud computing scales to the user whether big or small. If you only need ten terabytes of storage then only pay for ten, and when your needs shift, so can the storage.
Take Risks and Break Things
With faster scaling, faster iterations, faster hardware builds, faster developer environments, creators can be wrong more often and for cheaper, lowering the cost of success.

Downsides of Cloud Computing
A Security Catch 22
On one hand, a cloud service may be able to provide better security management than you could on your own. On the other hand, centralizing your data to a cloud service creates new incentives for security breaches.
Performance Lags
Sharing infrastructure with other users can affect its consistency. Demand on the infrastructure can impact the share you are receiving. There are mitigating factors, but this is something to be aware of.
Internet Connection
Not surprising, but cloud computing requires an internet connection in most cases. There are many variables for how much data you need to transfer and how often, but the understanding is that you will definitely be affected by internet downtime if present.

The Future of the Cloud May Be the Blockchain
The next evolution to the cloud service stack should be one that can support a distributed infrastructure layer. By fragmenting smaller pieces of a sizable cloud infrastructure, we might be able to shift the centralization of hardware and alleviate that security vector.

If only there were a system of organization that could incentivize hardware providers to come together in a distributed method in order to provide cloud-like services to platform and software developers. If only.

This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

What is Bitcoin Gold?

Only a few months after the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, the Bitcoin blockchain experienced another community-driven hard fork known as Bitcoin Gold (BTG).

Bitcoin Gold hopes to change the paradigm around mining on the Bitcoin blockchain. According to the founders, the Bitcoin blockchain has become too centralized. Large companies with huge banks of mining computers now mine the vast majority of Bitcoin. For the founders of Bitcoin Gold, having large companies control the Bitcoin network defeats the purpose of a decentralized ledger and peer-to-peer currencies.

In response, they’ve initialized the Bitcoin Gold project. It’s an alternate fork of the Bitcoin blockchain that implements changes that make mining more equitable. The goal of Bitcoin Gold is to create a network where anyone can become a miner with only basic hardware. As a result, Bitcoin Gold mining would be spread among many miners, instead of a few large companies.

In this guide, we cover all things Bitcoin Gold such as:


Decentralizing the Bitcoin Blockchain

In the very early days of Bitcoin, ordinary computers verified and completed the proof of work needed to power the Bitcoin blockchain. However, the past several years have seen rapid development in the hardware used to mine Bitcoin.

What started as normal computers on the original Bitcoin network soon graduated to specialized rigs with graphics processing units (GPUs) installed to hash the proof of work faster.

Today, the hardware has advanced even further. Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) now perform nearly all of the mining on the Bitcoin blockchain. These are devices built specifically for Bitcoin mining that are 1,000,000 times better at mining than your home computer. Buying, installing, and running ASICs has a high startup cost, making it difficult for the average user to get involved.

[Editor’s note: The more expensive mining becomes, the fewer people can actually do it. This means that the mining network becomes that much more centralized. The argument Bitcoin Gold wants to make is to make mining Bitcoin something everyone can do, therefore keeping the mining as decentralized as possible.]

In addition, most successful Bitcoin mining operations today involve entire rooms or warehouses full of ASICs running 24/7. Small time miners simply can’t compete.

Mining Farm

Mining farm. Photo by Marco Krohn – Creative Commons

Bitcoin Gold’s motto, “Make Bitcoin Decentralized Again,” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Donald Trump’s election campaign slogan. However, it also references Satoshi’s original vision for Bitcoin of a peer-to-peer network where anyone could take part in the mining process. In order to change Bitcoin mining into something more equitable, Bitcoin Gold proposes changing the blockchain to eliminate ASIC mining.

SHA-256 vs Equihash

The fundamental change in Bitcoin Gold is choosing a different hashing algorithm that makes proof of work more difficult for ASICs. This is accomplished when a hashing algorithm requires more memory (RAM) to complete. Since ASICs are about pure processing power, requiring more memory bottlenecks their processing ability. This makes small-time mining on GPUs competitive once again.

The current, ASIC-driven Bitcoin blockchain uses a hashing algorithm known as SHA-256 for its proof of work. The founders of Bitcoin Gold instead use another algorithm known as Equihash. Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich developed Equihash as an ASIC-resistant algorithm, and it has already seen success powering other cryptocurrencies, the most famous of which is Zcash.

Ultimately, changing to Equihash would make Bitcoin mining more distributed, and that’s really the only change that Bitcoin Gold proposes for the network. While mining centralization is an issue on the Bitcoin blockchain, with miners blacklisting some users or giving preference to certain transactions, there’s a limit to how much power these central miners can wield. It’s not clear that mining centralization has had an overly negative impact on Bitcoin.

If it ever did, the Bitcoin core developers could implement Equihash themselves, essentially firing all the current ASIC miners on the Bitcoin blockchain. The prospect of losing the hundreds of thousands of dollars they invested in their mining hardware with an algorithm change is enough to keep most miners on the network honest.


Who Received Bitcoin Gold?

Since Bitcoin Gold is a fork of the original Bitcoin blockchain, everyone who owned BTC before the fork received the same amount of BTG, at a 1:1 ratio. You didn’t need to do anything special to receive the BTG, but claiming it may have gotten tricky depending on how you had your wallet set up.

You’re able to trade BTG on nearly 20 exchanges. The most popular options are HitBTC, OKEx, Bitfinex, and Binance.

How to Mine Bitcoin Gold

If you’re interested in how to mine Bitcoin Gold, we’ve got good news. The set-up process is relatively simple, and you mine with just a GPU – no ASICs required.

First, you need to join a mining pool. You’ve got over ten to choose from with pool.gold as one of the most popular options. Next, download the mining software from the pool that you joined. Pool.gold has mining software available for NVIDIA and Radeon.

If you don’t have a BTG wallet, set one up. Your options include BTGWallet.online, the Bitcoin Gold Core Wallet, or any exchange that supports BTG.

Continuing with pool.gold as the example, you have separate instructions based on your GPU:

  • NVIDIA: Edit the start.bat file to include your Bitcoin Gold wallet address followed by the worker name.
  • Radeon: Edit the config.txt file to include your Bitcoin Gold wallet address followed by the worker name.

Finally, double-click “start.bat” and begin mining.


When Did It Go Live?

The Bitcoin Gold hard fork occurred on October 24, 2017, with block 491,407 on the Bitcoin blockchain.When that happened, Bitcoin Gold took a snapshot of all the balances and transactions on Bitcoin up to that point. The new blockchain began from there.

Is Bitcoin Gold a Competitor to Bitcoin?

Although Bitcoin Gold is a hard fork of the original Bitcoin blockchain, it’s not really a competitor to Bitcoin. While other hard forks, like Bitcoin Cash, cannibalized some miners from the Bitcoin network to work on the new blockchain, Bitcoin Gold’s anti-ASIC algorithm means virtually none of Bitcoin’s current miners will want to switch to mining BTG.

Instead, Bitcoin Gold competes with other anti-ASIC cryptocurrencies like Ethereum for mining power. Mining on such networks comes in the form of smaller-scale GPU mining. The problem for Bitcoin Gold is those other anti-ASIC cryptocurrencies have a longer history and are more predictable for miners. It’s not clear why a miner would want to switch to BTG, unless the price per BTG surges.

The one advantage that Bitcoin Gold has is wide dispersal. Everyone on the Bitcoin network received will receive BTG, so there’s potential for widespread adoption.

Bitcoin Gold vs Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, & SegWit2x

With so many forks on the Bitcoin blockchain in such quick succession, it can be confusing to keep track of the differences. Here’s a table to help you out:
 BitcoinBitcoin GoldBitcoin CashSegWit2x (cancelled)
PoW TypeASICASIC-resistant (GPU)ASICASIC
Block Time~10 mins~10 mins~10 mins~10 mins
Difficulty adjustment~2 weeksEach block~2 weeks~2 weeks
SegWitYesYesNoYes
Replay ProtectionYesYesNo
Total Coin Supply21 million21 million21 million21 million
Bitcoin Gold is the only Bitcoin fork to date to implement a new ASIC-resistant proof of work algorithm. Along with that new hashing algorithm, Bitcoin Gold implements a new difficulty adjustment with every block, gradually increasing the difficulty based on past block times. Finally, Bitcoin Gold is one of the only Bitcoin forks to support both Segregated Witness (SegWit) technology and replay protection. SegWit increases the number of transactions possible per block and replay protection prevents fraudulent parallel transactions on two forks.

Replay Protection After a Fork

hard fork

A hard fork.

Replay protection is critical when implementing a fork of an existing blockchain. The shared code and wallet addresses between BTC and BTG make it possible to implement a replay attack. Basically, if you want to conduct a transaction on both BTC and BTG at the same time, you’re fine. However, if you want to pay someone in BTC and keep your BTG, you’re open to an attack. An attacker could send a false signal between the forks that causes you to lose both currencies when you only meant to send one.

Bitcoin Gold offers full replay protection on BTG to prevent such attacks. The solution involves a SIGHASH_FORK_ID mechanism that rehashes transactions, meaning they can’t be transferred across from BTC to BTG.

What People are Saying About Bitcoin Gold

Most new cryptocurrencies involve ASIC-resistant hashing algorithms, and it’s becoming something of an industry standard to promote decentralization. In that respect, Bitcoin Gold holds a lot to be excited about. At its core, it’s about transitioning the Bitcoin network to more decentralized mining.

However, as we saw above, there’s not much evidence that the current Bitcoin mining system is broken. There have been some small complaints, and it’s not ideal that the network is so centralized. Nevertheless, miners on Bitcoin have a lot to lose if they wield their power too aggressively. There are also new entrantsto the Bitcoin mining community that are decentralizing control from a few key ASIC farms.

The general consensus from Bitcoin experts is there’s not enough new in Bitcoin Gold to warrant an independent investment. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to hold onto your free BTG that you receive as a result of the fork (if you owned Bitcoin before Oct 24), wait until the dust settles before deciding whether to buy more.

  This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
 
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin was all the rave last year, with its high-profit margins and an influx of new investors. However, it is safe to say that over the span of one year, it has matured considerably. Like Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin told CNBC, Bitcoin may never have as much hype as it did in 2017 because so many people are now aware of cryptocurrency and how it works.

A lot of things have changed in the cryptocurrency sector since over-the-top forecasts were made in 2017, including a $160,000 price estimation for Bitcoin. One of such changes is the introduction of Bitcoin Futures which control the price of BTC by allowing large investors to exert pressure on it.

This means that predictions of large price values like the one above are unlikely to be met in the near future. Another change is the start of Bitcoin institutional investing. For example, both the Bakkt and the Nasdaq platforms claim to be open to offering cryptocurrency investing to institutions.

While stakeholders struggle to keep the BTC price at bay, one daunting question still looms: Will Bitcoin crash again in 2019 or will it peak and stabilize at a better price point than it currently has?

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

The last major cryptocurrency crash which followed the December 2017 peak brought about a need for an evolution in Bitcoin investment. Where Ethereum had ICOs as a new way to pour funds into the cryptocurrency industry, Bitcoin lacked one.

Soon, industry experts like the Winklevoss twins started looking towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to create long-term sustenance of Bitcoin as an investment vehicle. Unfortunately, these ETFs cannot function without approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, so the industry is at a crossroads: evolve and survive, or continue at the same pace and end in a bubble burst.

 

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AN EMPHASIS ON NON-PHYSICAL BITCOIN ETFS

An exchange-traded fund is a security that tracks underlying real-world assets like gold, equities, oil, bonds, commodities or cryptocurrency. It allows investors to buy into it and earn dividends from their investment. Such shares are easy to trade like stocks and can get rid of any barriers faced by investors when trying to purchase those underlying assets themselves.

The submitted ETFs proposals describe funds that are primarily derivatives. They can be shorted or coordinated with a Bitcoin future. Only physical Bitcoin ETFs are currently a good fit for the Bitcoin market since derivatives bring about the unfavorable market to another state.

Bitcoin exchange-traded funds have been in the headlines lately, mostly for their rejections. Just recently, theWinklevoss twins faced a rejection of their own. This has not deterred other parties who are bent on seeing this new form of investment come to life.

Unfortunately, the SEC is building up quite a track record of rejections with a toll of up to 15 rejected Bitcoin ETFproposals since 2013.

BITCOIN PRICE FORECAST VS. BITCOIN USAGE     

One major factor to consider when looking at the possibility of another crash is the adoption rate of Bitcoin. Currently, ownership is still quite low, only a few points higher than last year. This implies stagnation and also that investors have found other coins which they deem more competitive. The younger generation is generally more bullish on Bitcoin usage since they consider it a product of their age, but the older generation remains skeptical.

However, this brief stagnation does not prove that Bitcoin will crash. If anything, the introduction of Futures and the demand for ETFs make up for it and shows that Bitcoin is here to stay.

It also shows that users are serious about integrating it into their daily transactions, which may eventually save the pioneer digital currency.

The introduction of stable coins like tether and application-tolerant platforms like Ethereum and EOS have given Bitcoin a serious run for its money. The high price point, which has been Bitcoin’s most attractive feature in the past has also turned out to be its Achilles’ heel.

Percentage increases in profit are simply not as good as those in cryptocurrencies with lower prices. For example, a user who buys $2000 worth of XRP at $0.3 can afford to purchase 6666 tokens while the same amount will only purchase about 0.3 BTC at $6000 per unit. While XRP can easily rise by 100% to $0.6, it will take a lot more for BTC to hit $12,000. This makes it more profitable to buy into smaller cryptocurrencies.

But what about the earlier forecasts of Bitcoin? How do they tie in with this new usage information? Simple, they do not. Several forecasts were made with assumptions of an ideal situation in which adoption would progress quickly and at a steady rate. Some of these forecasts have been revisited, with extended timelines that seem more realistic in light of Bitcoin’s recent performance.

WHAT ARE THE BITCOIN PRICE PREDICTIONS FOR 2019 AND 2020?

The recent issues faced by Bitcoin have not stopped industry figures from making future predictions about its price. Industry predictions generally fall between $25,000-$29,000 as a realistic price point for Bitcoin.

This is especially because it has been trending in its transition band, in which it will trade most of the time, since May 2018. This signifies an imminent major bull run in the cryptocurrency industry.

Some other significant Bitcoin price predictions for 2019 include:

  • $28,000 by the end of 2019, according to Ronnie Moas, crypto bull and founder of Standpoint Research, in a report published by Cointelegraph.
  • $36,000 by the end of 2019, according to Sam Doctor, Quantamental Strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors, who based his prediction on the historical average 1.8x P/BE multiple.
  • $25,000 according to Thomas Lee, Co-Founder and Head of Research at Fundstrat Global Advisors
  • $1 million, according to John McAfee, Founder of McAfee Associates, who earlier predicted a $500,000 price point before modifying it. McAfee claims that he used the same model which was used to predict $5000 at the end of 2017.
  • $10,000-$100,000 in the next 5 years, according to Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital.
  • $10,000 by the end of 2020 according to Fred Schebesta, Co-Founder and CEO of Finder.
  • $61,900 by the end of 2020 according to Bobby Ullery, CTO of Waysay who also predicted a shared market capitalization of $4.5 trillion between Ethereum and Bitcoin.
  • $30,000 by the end of 2020, according to Matias Dorta, Founder of ICO Informer, who also sees several countries adopting Bitcoin as a reserve currency by 2030.
  • $30,000 by the end of 2020, according to Craig Russo, Co-founder of sludgefeed.com
  • $75,000 by the end of 2020 and a market capitalization of $1.3 trillion, according to Brandon Quittem, a cryptocurrency analyst & writer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Due to all the factors discussed above, including pending ETF proposals, stagnation, the introduction of Bitcoin futures and the competition among cryptocurrencies, it is difficult to say whether Bitcoin will indeed crash again in 2019. Considering its current performance, the leading cryptocurrency is at a point where it could either crash again or blossom into a widely accepted medium of exchange and investment.

As with almost everything else in this relatively new industry, the future of Bitcoin is shrouded in unpredictability and falls heavily in the hands of investors and regulators. However, there is no denying that Bitcoin is evolving every day as more people become exposed to it, including those who are not direct users.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Have you ever thought about how blockchain could affect the diamond industry? Probably not, right? But now diamond blockchain technology could improve how we track diamonds, from the mine to the jewelry store.

But there’s an issue with diamonds. As with any popular industry, the diamond market isn’t exactly squeaky clean. Some diamonds, known as conflict diamonds, are illegally traded to fund wars abroad. You may not know this due to the high demand for diamonds. Almost 50 percent of the demand for diamonds come from the US — and it isn’t a surprise. After all, it is the go-to jewel of engagements and weddings. And because of its hardiness, diamond is ideal for industrial use.

That said, mining for diamonds can be a violent affair. The 2006 hit Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, introduced the travesties related to diamond mining in Africa to the world’s stage.

Regardless, stakeholders in the diamond industry rightfully want to stop the trade of conflict diamonds, and blockchain might be the solution.

What Is a Conflict Diamond?

For those who don’t know, a conflict diamond is an uncut diamond that is mined in an armed conflict zone. The diamond is then traded, and the funds are used to finance the fighting. These blood diamonds are usually associated with conflicts in central and western Africa.

According to CNN, about 4 percent of the world’s diamond population came from Sierra Leone during its civil war (1991-2002). And that’s from just one country! In an article by CBS, experts suggested that blood diamonds could make up 15 percent of the diamond trade.

Despite these statistics, there are measures in place that attempt to smother the illegal industry. The primary actor is the Kimberley Process. This certification scheme connects local governments and international organizations to solve the problem. Their solution: Ensure every shipment of diamonds from these areas has certification.

Does It Work?

The Kimberly Process says it does and claims a 99.8 percent success rate.

But with so many intermediaries, and so many steps between mining and selling the diamonds, fraud is still highly probable. Many believe the process could be more effective, including the diamond giant De Beers.

The Diamond Blockchain

The De Beers Group, which owns over 30 percent of the diamond market, has recently announced its intent to pursue blockchain tech. That’s right. One of the industry leaders wants to utilize the blockchain to curb conflict diamonds.

From what we knew about blockchain, it should work. Cataloging diamonds on the blockchain will create transparency. Only a select few will have access to the ledger, in order to ensure that each individual in the process does their job correctly. You no longer need to trust governments, the mines, the shipment team. If the diamond is certified on the blockchain, it’s legit.

De Beers plans to track the diamonds from initial mining to final sale. That way, you can trace every move of the diamond on the digital ledger.

Their blockchain venture, Tracr, launched in January 2018. Despite being founded by De Beers, the company stresses that it has no access to the data unless it’s shared by the data owner. Using the Kimberly Process as a guide, they’ve invested with diamond offices, producers, graders, retailers, and other stakeholders to make the project a reality.

Diamond Blockchain: A screenshot from the Tracr website, listing the problems of supply chain

A screenshot from Tracr’s homepage. These supply chain vulnerabilities are exploited by the trade of conflict diamonds.

But they aren’t the only ones using blockchain to kill conflict diamonds.

In 2015, Everledger was used to securely track diamonds. It came back in 2017 with a new Diamond Time-Lapse plan (DDLP). This new initiative tracks the whole process, from mining to certification, in real time.

But Everledger isn’t completely unrelated to De Beers, either. This tech was built by Dharmanandan Diamonds, a trust of the DDPL and a sight holder of De Beers. In other words, the creators of Everledger are authorized purchasers of rough diamonds by De Beers.

Is De Beers the Solution?

IBM joined the diamond-tracking trade in April of 2018, partnering with various jewelry firms, and they weren’t alone. In fact, a Canadian NGO, Impact, left the Kimberly Process altogether, citing that the De Beers solution was unsatisfactory.

If this is true, there could be more room for blockchain tech development in the diamond industry.

Summary

Saying conflict diamonds are an issue is an understatement. The funds from these illicitly traded gems are funding violence and terror. Blockchain offers a stunning solution.

So far, we’ve seen industry leaders accept the new tech with open arms, but there’s still room for the technology to grow, and the process can still evolve.

But one thing is certain: These initiatives are making us think about how we can prevent the trade of blood diamonds and pave the way to peace.

 This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
 
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