What is Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency Explained the Easy Way
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Explaining bitcoin for dummies.
The Exhaustive EOS FAQ
The Exhaustive EOS FAQ
With the large number of new readers coming to this sub we need to make information easy to access so those readers can make informed decisions. We all know there is an unusually large amount of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) surrounding EOS. Frankly, when clear evidence is provided it’s not that difficult to see EOS for the extremely valuable project it is. This post hopes to begin to put an end to all the misinformation by doing the following:
Giving a clear and concise answer to the most frequently asked questions in regards to EOS.
Giving a more in-depth answer for those who want to read more.
Allowing readers to make informed decisions by making credible information easy to access.
As EOS climbs the ranks we need to recognise there are going to be a lot of skeptical readers coming over and posting their questions. Sometimes they will be irrational, hostile and often just looking for a reaction. We should make it our responsibility to welcome everyone and refrain from responding emotionally to provocative posts, instead providing factual and rational answers. I will add to this post as and when I can, if you have any ideas or spot any mistakes let me know and I'll get them fixed ASAP. Im planning to add a bit on the team, centralisation and DPOS, governance and EOS VC shortly but please let me hear your suggestions!
1. How do you registeclaim your EOS tokens before June 2018?
Select Metamask, MyEtherWallet, or Ethereum Wallet
Follow the guide.
Remember that the reason you need to register your Ethereum ERC-20 address is to include your EOS tokens in order for the balance of your EOS Tokens to be included in the Snapshot if a Snapshot is created, you must register your Ethereum address with an EOS public key. The EOS snapshot will take place prior to the 1 June 2018. After this point your ERC-20 EOS tokens will be frozen. And you will be issued EOS tokens on the EOS blockchain.
So PLEASE REGISTER your Ethereum address NOW, don't forget about it, or plan on doing it some time in the near future.
There are a lot of submissions about this in /eos, so rather than making a new one please reply to this thread with any questions you may have. Don't forget to join the EOS mailing list: https://eos.io/#subscribe and join the EOS community on your platform(s) of choice: Telegram, Discord and/or Facebook. And remember, if anyone instructs you to transfer ETH to an EOS contract address that doesn't match the address found on https://eos.io you are being scammed.
2. How will the token the ERC-20 EOS tokens be transferred to the native blockchain?
There isn't one! Read the long answer then read it again, registering your Ethereum wallet is mandatory!
Within 23 hours after the end of the final period on June 1, 2018 at 22:59:59 UTC, all EOS Tokens will become fixed (ie. frozen) and will become non-transferrable on the Ethereum blockchain. In order to ensure your tokens are transferred over to the native blockchain you must register your Ethereum address with an EOS public key, if you do not you will lose all your tokens! I am not going to link any tutorials as there are many that can be found by searching Google and YouTube. block.one is helping with the development of snapshot software that can be used to capture the EOS token balance and registered EOS public key of wallets on the Ethereum blockchain. It is then down to the community to create the snapshot. This snapshot can be used when generating a genesis block for a blockchain implementing eos.io software. block.one will not be launching EOS blockchains or operating any of their nodes.
Exchange Support Some exchanges have announced that they will support the token swap. Although using this method will undoubtedly be much simpler than registering the tokens yourself it also comes with its pitfalls.
It is highly likely there are going to be multiple networks running on the eos.io software that use the snapshot. It is highly unlikely that exchanges will support them all.
It is highly likely that exchanges will not support airdrops that use the snapshot.
Exchanges that have announced support for the token swap include:
EOS.IO software is aiming to provide a decentralized operating system which can support thousands of industrial scale DApps by enabling vertical and horizontal scaling.
EOS.IO is software that introduces a blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications. This is achieved through an operating system-like construct upon which applications can be built. The software provides accounts, authentication, databases, asynchronous communication and the scheduling of applications across multiple CPU cores and/or clusters. The resulting technology is a blockchain architecture that has the potential to scale to millions of transactions per second, eliminates user fees and allows for quick and easy deployment of decentralized applications.
CEO Brendan Blumer - Founder of ii5 (1group) and okay.com. He has been in the blockchain industry since 2014 and started selling virtual assets at the age of 15. Brenden can be found on the Forbes Cypto Rich List. Brendan can be found on Twitter.
CTO Dan Larimer - Dan's the visionary industry leader who built BitShares, Graphene and Steemit as well as the increasingly popular Proof of Stake Governance and Decentralised Autonomous Organization Concept. He states his mission in life is “to find free market solutions to secure life, liberty, and property for all.”. Dan can also be found on the Forbes Cypto Rich List. Dan can be found on Twitter and Medium.
Partner Ian Grigg - Financial cryptographer who's been building cryptographic ledger platforms for 2+ decades. Inventor of the Ricardian Contract and Triple-Entry Accounting.
6. Which consensus mechanism does EOS use and what are Block Producers?
Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS) with Byzantine Fault Tolerance. Block Producers (BPs) produce the blocks of the blockchain and are elected by token holders that vote for them. BPs will earn block rewards for their service, these block rewards come in the form of EOS tokens produced by token inflation.
“EOS.IO software utilizes the only known decentralized consensus algorithm proven capable of meeting the performance requirements of applications on the blockchain, Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS). Under this algorithm, those who hold tokens on a blockchain adopting the EOS.IO software may select block producers through a continuous approval voting system. Anyone may choose to participate in block production and will be given an opportunity to produce blocks, provided they can persuade token holders to vote for them. The EOS.IO software enables blocks to be produced exactly every 0.5 second and exactly one producer is authorized to produce a block at any given point in time. If the block is not produced at the scheduled time, then the block for that time slot is skipped. When one or more blocks are skipped, there is a 0.5 or more second gap in the blockchain. Using the EOS.IO software, blocks are produced in rounds of 126 (6 blocks each, times 21 producers). At the start of each round 21 unique block producers are chosen by preference of votes cast by token holders. The selected producers are scheduled in an order agreed upon by 15 or more producers. Byzantine Fault Tolerance is added to traditional DPOS by allowing all producers to sign all blocks so long as no producer signs two blocks with the same timestamp or the same block height. Once 15 producers have signed a block the block is deemed irreversible. Any byzantine producer would have to generate cryptographic evidence of their treason by signing two blocks with the same timestamp or blockheight. Under this model a irreversible consensus should be reachable within 1 second."
7. How does the voting process work?
The voting process will begin once the Block Producer community releases a joint statement ensuring that it is safe to import private keys and vote. Broadly speaking there will be two methods of voting:
Command Line Interface (CLI) tools
EOS Canada has created eosc, a CLI tool that supports Block Producer voting. Other Block Producer candidates such as LibertyBlock are a releasing web portal that will be ready for main net launch. There will be many more options over the coming weeks, please make sure you are always using a service from a trusted entity. Remember: Do not import your private key until you have seen a joint statement released from at least five Block Producers that you trust which states when it is safe to do so. Ignoring this warning could result in tokens lost.
8. What makes EOS a good investment?
Team - EOS is spearheaded by the visionary that brought us the hugely successful Bitshares and Steem - arguably with two projects already under his belt there is no one more accomplished in the space.
Funding - EOS is one of the best funded projects in the space. The block.one team has committed $1B to investing in funds that grow the EOS echo system. EOS VC funds are managed by venture leaders distributed around the world to insure founders in all markets have the ability to work directly with local investors. Incentives such as the EOS hackathon are also in place with $1,500,000 USD in Prizes Across 4 Events.
Community Focus - The team is aware that the a projects success depends almost entirely on its adoption. For this reason there has been a huge push to develop a strong world wide community. There is already a surplus number of block producers that have registered their interest and started to ready themselves for the launch and incentives the EOS hackathon are being used to grow the community. A index of projects using EOS can be found at https://eosindex.io/posts.
Technical Advantages - See point 9!
9. What are the unique selling points of EOS?
Potential to scale to millions of transactions per second
This depends entirely on your definition of working product. If a fully featured developer release meets your definition then yes!. Otherwise the public release will be June 2018.
EOS differs from other projects in that it aims to deliver a fully featured version of the software on launch. The Dawn 3.0 RC1 feature complete pre-release became available on April 5th. This version has all the features of the final release that is due June 2018. Further development will involve preparing the final system contract which implements all of the staking, voting, and governance mechanics. The common notion that there is no viewable code published is wrong and the initial Dawn 1.0 release has been available from September 14th 2017.
11. EOS is an ERC-20 token, how can it possibly be a competitor to other platforms?
The ERC-20 token is used only for raising funds during the token distribution; all tokens will be transferred to the native blockchain once launched.
EOS team has clearly stated their reason for choosing the Ethereum network when they described the rationale behind the ICO model. Specifically, the ICO should be a fair and auditable process, with as little trust required as possible. If you believe that an ICO should be fair, auditable, and trustless, you have no choice but to use a decentralized smart contract blockchain to run the ICO, the largest, and by-far most popular of which is Ethereum. Since EOS is intended to be a major competitor for Ethereum, some have seen this as a hypocritical choice. - Stolen from trogdor on Steam (I couldn’t word it any better myself).
12. Why do the eos.io T&C’s say the ERC-20 token has no value?
The EOS T&C’s famously state:
"The EOS Tokens do not have any rights, uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features, express or implied, including, without limitation, any uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features on the EOS Platform."
This is legal wording to avoid all the legal complications in this emerging space, block.one do not want to find themselves in a lawsuit as we are seeing with an increasing amount of other ICOs. Most notably Tezos (links below).
This all comes down to legal issues. Anyone who’s been into crypto for 5 minuets knows that government bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are now paying attention to crypto in a big way. This legal wording is to avoid all the legal complications in this emerging space, block.one do not want to find themselves in a lawsuit as we are seeing with an increasing amount of other ICOs. Many token creators that launched ICOs are now in deep water for selling unregistered securities.
A filing from the Tezos lawsuit:
"In sum, Defendants capitalized on the recent enthusiasm for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to raise funds through the ICO, illegally sold unqualified and unregistered securities, used a Swiss-based entity in an unsuccessful attempt to evade U.S. securities laws, and are now admittedly engaged in the conversion, selling, and possible dissipation of the proceeds that they collected from the Class through their unregistered offering."
To ensure EOS tokens are not classed as a unregistered security block.one has made it clear that they are creating the EOS software only and won’t launching a public blockchain themselves. This task is left down to the community, or more precisely, the Block Producers (BPs). The following disclaimer is seen after posts from block.one:
"block.one is a software company and is producing the EOS.IO software as free, open source software. This software may enable those who deploy it to launch a blockchain or decentralized applications with the features described above. block.one will not be launching a public blockchain based on the EOS.IO software. It will be the sole responsibility of third parties and the community and those who wish to become block producers to implement the features and/or provide the services described above as they see fit. block.one does not guarantee that anyone will implement such features or provide such services or that the EOS.IO software will be adopted and deployed in any way.”
It is expected that many blockchains using eos.io software will emerge. To ensure DAPPs are created on an ecosystem that aligns with the interests of block.one a $1bn fund will be has been created to incentivise projects to use this blockchain.
“A lot of token distributions only allow a small amount of people to participate. The EOS Token distribution structure was created to provide a sufficient period of time for people to participate if they so choose, as well as give people the opportunity to see the development of the EOS.IO Software prior to making a decision to purchase EOS Tokens.”
It is also worth noting that block.one had no knowledge how much the the token distribution would raise as it is determined by the free market and the length of the token distribution is coded into the Ethereum smart contract, which cannot be changed.
14. Where is the money going from the token distribution?
Funding for the project was raised before EOS was announced, the additional money raised from the token distribution is largely going to fund projects on EOS.
A large portion of the money raised is getting put back into the community to incentivise projects using eos.io software. block.one raised all the money they needed to develop the software before the ERC-20 tokens went on sale. There are some conspiracies that block.one are pumping the price of EOS using the funds raised. The good thing about blockchain is you can trace all the transactions, which show nothing of the sort. Not only this but the EOS team are going to have an independent audit after the funding is complete for piece of mind.
From eos.io FAQ:
“block.one intends to engage an independent third party auditor who will release an independent audit report providing further assurances that block.one has not purchased EOS Tokens during the EOS Token distribution period or traded EOS Tokens (including using proceeds from the EOS Token distribution for these purposes). This report will be made available to the public on the eos.io website.”
A more complete list of EOS projects can be found at eosindex.io.
16. Dan left his previous projects, will he leave EOS?
When EOS has been created Dan will move onto creating projects for EOS with block.one.
When a blockchain project has gained momentum and a strong community has formed the project takes on a life of its own and the communities often have ideas that differ from the creators. As we have seen with the Bitcoin and Ethereum hark forks you cant pivot a community too much in a different direction, especially if its changing the fundamentals of the blockchain. Instead of acting like a tyrant Dan has let the communities do what they want and gone a different way. Both the Bitshares and Steem were left in a great position and with Dans help turned out to be two of the most successful blockchain projects to date. Some would argue the most successful projects that are actually useable and have a real use case. What Dan does best is build the architecture and show whats possible. Anyone can then go on to do the upgrades. He is creating EOS to build his future projects upon it. He has stated he loves working at block.one with Brendan and the team and there is far too much momentum behind EOS for him to possibly leave.
No one could have better knowledge on this subject than our Block Producer candidates, I have chosen to look to EOS New York for this answer:
"DDoS'ing a block producing is not as simple as knowing their IP address and hitting "go". We have distributed systems engineers in each of our candidate groups that have worked to defend DDoS systems in their careers. Infrastructure can be built in a way to minimize the exposure of the Block Producing node itself and to prevent a DDoS attack. We haven't published our full architecture yet but let's take a look at fellow candidate EOSphere to see what we mean. As for the launch of the network, we are assuming there will be attacks on the network as we launch. It is being built into the network launch plans. I will reach out to our engineers to get a more detailed answer for you. What also must be considered is that there will be 121 total producing and non-producing nodes on the network. To DDoS all 121 which are located all around the world with different security configurations at the exact same time would be a monumental achievement."
18. If block producers can alter code how do we know they will not do so maliciously?
Block producers are voted in by stake holders.
Changes to the protocol, constitution or other updates are proposed to the community by block producers.
Changes takes 2 to 3 months due to the fact block producers must maintain 15/21 approval for a set amount of time while for changes to be processed.
To ensure bad actors can be identified and expelled the block.one backed community will not back an open-entry system built around anonymous participation.
For this question we must understand the following.
Governance and why it is used.
The process of upgrading the protocol, constitution & other updates.
Dan’s view on open-entry systems built around anonymous participation.
Governance Cryptography can only be used to prove logical consistency. It cannot be used to make subjective judgment calls, determine right or wrong, or even identify truth or falsehood (outside of consistency). We need humans to perform these tasks and therefore we need governance! Governance is the process by which people in a community:
Reach consensus on subjective matters of collective action that cannot be captured entirely by software algorithms;
Carry out the decisions they reach; and
Alter the governance rules themselves via Constitutional amendments.
Embedded into the EOS.IO software is the election of block producers. Before any change can be made to the blockchain these block producers must approve it. If the block producers refuse to make changes desired by the token holders then they can be voted out. If the block producers make changes without permission of the token holders then all other non-producing full-node validators (exchanges, etc) will reject the change.
Upgrade process The EOS.IO software defines the following process by which the protocol, as defined by the canonical source code and its constitution, can be updated:
Block producers propose a change to the constitution and obtains 15/21 approval.
Block producers maintain 15/21 approval of the new constitution for 30 consecutive days.
All users are required to indicate acceptance of the new constitution as a condition of future transactions being processed.
Block producers adopt changes to the source code to reflect the change in the constitution and propose it to the blockchain using the hash of the new constitution.
Block producers maintain 15/21 approval of the new code for 30 consecutive days.
Changes to the code take effect 7 days later, giving all non-producing full nodes 1 week to upgrade after ratification of the source code.
All nodes that do not upgrade to the new code shut down automatically.
By default, configuration of the EOS.IO software, the process of updating the blockchain to add new features takes 2 to 3 months, while updates to fix non-critical bugs that do not require changes to the constitution can take 1 to 2 months.
Open-entry systems built around anonymous participation To ensure bad actors can be identified and expelled the block.one backed community will not back an open-entry system built around anonymous participation. Dan's quote:
"The only way to maintain the integrity of a community is for the community to have control over its own composition. This means that open-entry systems built around anonymous participation will have no means expelling bad actors and will eventually succumb to profit-driven corruption. You cannot use stake as a proxy for goodness whether that stake is held in a bond or a shareholder’s vote. Goodness is subjective and it is up to each community to define what values they hold as good and to actively expel people they hold has bad. The community I want to participate in will expel the rent-seeking vote-buyers and reward those who use their elected broadcasting power for the benefit of all community members rather than special interest groups (such as vote-buyers). I have faith that such a community will be far more competitive in a market competition for mindshare than one that elects vote buyers."
19. What is the most secure way to generate EOS key pairs?
Block producer candidates EOS Cafe and EOS New York have come forward to help the community with this topic. The block producer candidate eosnewyork has kindly posted a tutorial on steemit detailing the steps that need to be taken to generate key pairs using the official code on the EOS.IO Github. The block producer candidate eoscafe has gone a step further and released an Offline EOS Key Generator application complete with GUI for Windows, Linux & Mac. Not only can this application generate key pairs but it can also validate key pairs and resolve public keys from private keys. This application has also been vouched for by EOS New York
A Beginners Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
As cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology become more abundant throughout our society, it’s important to understand the inner workings of this technology, especially if you plan to use cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle. If you’re new to the crypto-sphere, learning about Bitcoin makes it much easier to understand other cryptocurrencies as many other altcoins' technologies are borrowed directly from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is one of those things that you look into only to discover you have more questions than answers, and right as you’re starting to wrap your head around the technology; you discover the fact that Bitcoin has six other variants (forks), the amount of politics at hand, or that there are over a thousand different cryptocurrencies just as complex if not even more complex than Bitcoin. We are currently in the infancy of blockchain technology and the effects of this technology will be as profound as the internet. This isn’t something that’s just going to fade away into history as you may have been led to believe. I believe this is something that will become an integral part of our society, eventually embedded within our technology. If you’re a crypto-newbie, be glad that you're relatively early to the industry. I hope this post will put you on the fast-track to understanding Bitcoin, blockchain, and how a large percentage of cryptocurrencies work.
Altcoin: Short for alternative coin. There are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. You’re probably most familiar with Bitcoin. Anything that isn’t Bitcoin is generally referred to as an altcoin. HODL: Misspelling of hold. Dank meme accidentally started by this dude. Hodlers are much more interested in long term gains rather than playing the risky game of trying to time the market. TO THE MOON: When a cryptocurrency’s price rapidly increases. A major price spike of over 1,000% can look like it’s blasting off to the moon. Just be sure you’re wearing your seatbelt when it comes crashing down. FUD: Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. FOMO: Fear of missing out. Bull Run: Financial term used to describe a rising market. Bear Run: Financial term used to describe a falling market.
What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency that uses cryptography to secure and ensure validity of transactions within the network. Hence the term crypto-currency. Decentralization is a key aspect of Bitcoin. There is no CEO of Bitcoin or central authoritative government in control of the currency. The currency is ran and operated by the people, for the people. One of the main development teams behind Bitcoin is blockstream. Bitcoin is a product of blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows for the security and decentralization of Bitcoin. To understand Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you must understand to some degree, blockchain. This can get extremely technical the further down the rabbit hole you go, and because this is technically a beginners guide, I’m going to try and simplify to the best of my ability and provide resources for further technical reading.
A Brief History
Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of Nakamoto is unknown. The idea of Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 when Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Later, in January 2009, Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin software and the Bitcoin network officially began. I should also mention that the smallest unit of a Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. 1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshis. When purchasing Bitcoin, you don’t actually need to purchase an entire coin. Bitcoin is divisible, so you can purchase any amount greater than 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 BTC).
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger, a distributed collection of accounts. What is being accounted for depends on the use-case of the blockchain itself. In the case of Bitcoin, what is being accounted for is financial transactions. The first block in a blockchain is referred to as the genesis block. A block is an aggregate of data. Blocks are also discovered through a process known as mining (more on this later). Each block is cryptographically signed by the previous block in the chain and visualizing this would look something akin to a chain of blocks, hence the term, blockchain. For more information regarding blockchain I’ve provided more resouces below:
Bitcoin mining is one solution to the double spend problem. Bitcoin mining is how transactions are placed into blocks and added onto the blockchain. This is done to ensure proof of work, where computational power is staked in order to solve what is essentially a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle correctly, you are rewarded Bitcoin in the form of transaction fees, and the predetermined block reward. The Bitcoin given during a block reward is also the only way new Bitcoin can be introduced into the economy. With a halving event occurring roughly every 4 years, it is estimated that the last Bitcoin block will be mined in the year 2,140. (See What is Block Reward below for more info). Mining is one of those aspects of Bitcoin that can get extremely technical and more complicated the further down the rabbit hole you go. An entire website could be created (and many have) dedicated solely to information regarding Bitcoin mining. The small paragraph above is meant to briefly expose you to the function of mining and the role it plays within the ecosystem. It doesn’t even scratch the surface regarding the topic.
How do you Purchase Bitcoin?
The most popular way to purchase Bitcoin through is through an online exchange where you trade fiat (your national currency) for Bitcoin. Popular exchanges include:
There’s tons of different exchanges. Just make sure you find one that supports your national currency.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are EXTREMELY volatile. Swings of 30% or more within a few days is not unheard of. Understand that there is always inherent risks with any investment. Cryptocurrencies especially. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.
Transaction & Network Fees
Transacting on the Bitcoin network is not free. Every purchase or transfer of Bitcoin will cost X amount of BTC depending on how congested the network is. These fees are given to miners as apart of the block reward. Late 2017 when Bitcoin got up to $20,000USD, the average network fee was ~$50. Currently, at the time of writing this, the average network fee is $1.46. This data is available in real-time on BitInfoCharts.
In this new era of money, there is no central bank or government you can go to in need of assistance. This means the responsibility of your money falls 100% into your hands. That being said, the security regarding your cryptocurrency should be impeccable. The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies alone makes you a valuable target to hackers and scammers. Below I’ve detailed out best practices regarding securing your cryptocurrency.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is a second way of authenticating your identity upon signing in to an account. Most cryptocurrency related software/websites will offer or require some form of 2FA. Upon creation of any crypto-related account find the Security section and enable 2FA.
The most basic form of 2FA which you are probably most familiar with. This form of authentication sends a text message to your smartphone with a special code that will allow access to your account upon entry. Note that this is not the safest form of 2FA as you may still be vulnerable to what is known as a SIM swap attack. SIM swapping is a social engineering method in which an attacker will call up your phone carrier, impersonating you, in attempt to re-activate your SIM card on his/her device. Once the attacker has access to your SIM card he/she now has access to your text messages which can then be used to access your online accounts. You can prevent this by using an authenticator such as Google Authenticator.
The use of an authenticator is the safest form of 2FA. An authenticator is installed on a seperate device and enabling it requires you input an ever changing six digit code in order to access your account. I recommend using Google Authenticator. If a website has the option to enable an authenticator, it will give you a QR code and secret key. Use Google Authenticator to scan the QR code. The secret key consists of a random string of numbers and letters. Write this down on a seperate sheet of paper and do not store it on a digital device. Once Google Authenticator has been enabled, every time you sign into your account, you will have to input a six-digit code that looks similar to this. If you happen to lose or damage the device you have Google Authenticator installed on, you will be locked out of your account UNLESS you have access to the secret key (which you should have written down).
A wallet is what you store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on. I’ll provide resources on the different type of wallets later but I want to emphasize the use of a hardware wallet (aka cold storage). Hardware wallets are the safest way of storing cryptocurrency because it allows for your crypto to be kept offline in a physical device. After purchasing crypto via an exchange, I recommend transferring it to cold storage. The most popular hardware wallets include the Ledger Nano S, and Trezor. Hardware wallets come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key as well as any other sensitive information in a safety deposit box. I know this all may seem a bit manic, but it is important you take the necessary security precautions in order to ensure the safety & longevity of your cryptocurrency.
Technical Aspects of Bitcoin
Address: What you send Bitcoin to.
Wallet: Where you store your Bitcoin
Max Supply: 21 million
Block Time: ~10 minutes
Block Size: 1-2 MB
Block Reward: BTC reward received from mining.
What is a Bitcoin Address?
A Bitcoin address is what you send Bitcoin to. If you want to receive Bitcoin you’d give someone your Bitcoin address. Think of a Bitcoin address as an email address for money.
What is a Bitcoin Wallet?
As the title implies, a Bitcoin wallet is anything that can store Bitcoin. There are many different types of wallets including paper wallets, software wallets and hardware wallets. It is generally advised NOT to keep cryptocurrency on an exchange, as exchanges are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack). My preferred method of storing cryptocurrency is using a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. These allow you to keep your crypto offline in physical form and as a result, much more safe from hacks. Paper wallets also allow for this but have less functionality in my opinion. After I make crypto purchases, I transfer it to my Ledger Nano S and keep that in a safe at home. Hardware wallets also come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key in a safety deposit box.
What is Bitcoins Max Supply?
The max supply of Bitcoin is 21 million. The only way new Bitcoins can be introduced into the economy are through block rewards which are given after successfully mining a block (more on this later).
What is Bitcoins Block Time?
The average time in which blocks are created is called block time. For Bitcoin, the block time is ~10 minutes, meaning, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time it will take for a Bitcoin transaction to be processed. Note that transactions on the Bitcoin network can take much longer depending on how congested the network is. Having to wait a few hours or even a few days in some instances for a transaction to clear is not unheard of. Other cryptocurrencies will have different block times. For example, Ethereum has a block time of ~15 seconds. For more information on how block time works, Prabath Siriwardena has a good block post on this subject which can be found here.
What is Bitcoins Block Size?
There is a limit to how large blocks can be. In the early days of Bitcoin, the block size was 36MB, but in 2010 this was reduced to 1 MB in order to prevent distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), spam, and other malicious use on the blockchain. Nowadays, blocks are routinely in excess of 1MB, with the largest to date being somewhere around 2.1 MB. There is much debate amongst the community on whether or not to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit to account for ever-increasing network demand. A larger block size would allow for more transactions to be processed. The con argument to this is that decentralization would be at risk as mining would become more centralized. As a result of this debate, on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin underwent a hard-fork and Bitcoin Cash was created which has a block size limit of 8 MB. Note that these are two completely different blockchains and sending Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash wallet (or vice versa) will result in a failed transaction. Update: As of May 15th, 2018 Bitcoin Cash underwent another hard fork and the block size has increased to 32 MB. On the topic of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash and which cryptocurrency is better, I’ll let you do your own research and make that decision for yourself. It is good to know that this is a debated topic within the community and example of the politics that manifest within the space. Now if you see community members arguing about this topic, you’ll at least have a bit of background to the issue.
What is Block Reward?
Block reward is the BTC you receive after discovering a block. Blocks are discovered through a process called mining. The only way new BTC can be added to the economy is through block rewards and the block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every 4 years). Halving events are done to limit the supply of Bitcoin. At the inception of Bitcoin, the block reward was 50BTC. At the time of writing this, the block reward is 12.5BTC. Halving events will continue to occur until the amount of new Bitcoin introduced into the economy becomes less than 1 Satoshi. This is expected to happen around the year 2,140. All 21 million Bitcoins will have been mined. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, the block reward will only consist of transaction fees.
Any computer that connects to the Bitcoin network is called a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of Bitcoin are called full nodes.
In other words, full nodes are what verify the Bitcoin blockchain and they play a crucial role in maintaining the decentralized network. Full nodes store the entirety of the blockchain and validate transactions. Anyone can participate in the Bitcoin network and run a full node. Bitcoin.org has information on how to set up a full node. Running a full node also gives you wallet capabilities and the ability to query the blockchain. For more information on Bitcoin nodes, see Andreas Antonopoulos’s Q&A on the role of nodes.
What is a Fork?
A fork is a divergence in a blockchain. Since Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, there’s an overall set of rules (protocol) in which participants within the network must abide by. These rules are put in place to form network consensus. Forks occur when implementations must be made to the blockchain or if there is disagreement amongst the network on how consensus should be achieved.
Soft Fork vs Hard Fork
The difference between soft and hard forks lies in compatibility. Soft forks are backwards compatible, hard forks are not. Think of soft forks as software upgrades to the blockchain, whereas hard forks are a software upgrade that warrant a completely new blockchain. During a soft fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules. Nodes that do not upgrade will still accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin soft forks include:
A hard fork can be thought of as the creation of a new blockchain that X percentage of the community decides to migrate too. During a hard fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules, Nodes that do not upgrade are invalid and cannot accept the new blockchain. Examples of Bitcoin hard forks include:
Note that these are completely different blockchains and independent from the Bitcoin blockchain. If you try to send Bitcoin to one of these blockchains, the transaction will fail.
A Case For Bitcoin in a World of Centralization
Our current financial system is centralized, which means the ledger(s) that operate within this centralized system are subjugated to control, manipulation, fraud, and many other negative aspects that come with this system. There are also pros that come with a centralized system, such as the ability to swiftly make decisions. However, at some point, the cons outweigh the pros, and change is needed. What makes Bitcoin so special as opposed to our current financial system is that Bitcoin allows for the decentralized transfer of money. Not one person owns the Bitcoin network, everybody does. Not one person controls Bitcoin, everybody does. A decentralized system in theory removes much of the baggage that comes with a centralized system. Not to say the Bitcoin network doesn’t have its problems (wink wink it does), and there’s much debate amongst the community as to how to go about solving these issues. But even tiny steps are significant steps in the world of blockchain, and I believe Bitcoin will ultimately help to democratize our financial system, whether or not you believe it is here to stay for good.
Well that was a lot of words… Anyways I hope this guide was beneficial, especially to you crypto newbies out there. You may have come into this realm not expecting there to be an abundance of information to learn about. I know I didn’t. Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg, but now that you have a fundamental understanding of Bitcoin, learning about other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, and Ethereum will come more naturally. Feel free to ask questions below! I’m sure either the community or myself would be happy to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!
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