Miehe still runs his original mine, a half-megawatt operation not far from the carwash. But his main job these days is managing hosting sites for other miners and connecting outsiders with insiders—and he’s OK with that. He sold off some of his bitcoin stack, just after Christmas. He’s still bullish on crypto, and on the basin’s long-term prospects. But he no longer has any appetite for the race for scale. Gone are the glory days when commercial miners could self-finance with their own stacks. Today, you need outside financing—debt—which, for Miehe, who now has two young children, would mean an unacceptable level of stress. “I’ve already done it,” he says. “My entire data center was built with bitcoin, from nothing. I’ve already won enough for what I was looking for out of mining.” He pauses. “The risk and reward is getting pretty great,” he says. “And I’m not sure I want to be on the front line of that battle.”
As with other cryptocurrencies, the validity of each ether is provided by a blockchain, which is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. By design, the blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum operates using accounts and balances in a manner called state transitions. This does not rely upon unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). State denotes the current balances of all accounts and extra data. State is not stored on the blockchain, it is stored in a separate Merkle Patricia tree. A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private "keys" or "addresses" which can be used to receive or spend Ether. These can be generated through BIP 39 style mnemonics for a BIP 32 "HD Wallet". In Ethereum, this is unnecessary as it does not operate in a UTXO scheme. With the private key, it is possible to write in the blockchain, effectively making an ether transaction. To send ether to an account, you need the public key of that account. Ether accounts are pseudonymous in that they are not linked to individual persons, but rather to one or more specific addresses. Owners can store these addresses in software, on paper and possibly in memory ("brain wallet").
Let's say you had one legit $20 and one really good photocopy of that same $20. If someone were to try to spend both the real bill and the fake one, someone who took the trouble of looking at both of the bills' serial numbers would see that they were the same number, and thus one of them had to be false. What a Bitcoin miner does is analogous to that--they check transactions to make sure that users have not illegitimately tried to spend the same Bitcoin twice. This isn't a perfect analogy--we'll explain in more detail below.
Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Cryptocurrency–After months of relative price stability for cryptocurrency, a period which saw Bitcoin volatility drop below both tech stocks and the S&P 500, it appears the crypto markets are ready to resume their downward trend which has come to characterize 2018. On Nov. 14, investors watched as Bitcoin plummeted over 8 percent in value to below $6000, a figure that marks the lowest for the year and a far cry from December 2017’s last all-time high of close to $20,000.
You'd have to get a fast mining rig or, more realistically, join a mining pool--a group of miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin. Mining pools are comparable to those Powerball clubs whose members buy lottery tickets en masse and agree to share any winnings. A disproportionately large number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners.
While there will be significant volatility in the price and valuation of bitcoin over the coming years, I strongly believe it and the entire asset class of cryptocurrencies will become a core part of the financial system within 3 years or less. There is enormous risk in trading these assets—more so than gold, REITS and other commodities—but the global market capitalization of cryptocurrencies ($148 billion today) I expect to pass $1 trillion by 2019.
The Bitcoin's meteoric rise in value and the relatively low risk of being caught stealing it have also combined to make the currency a huge target for cyber criminals. Smaller online exchanges that have skimped on security systems can be hacked. The Sheep Marketplace, for example, had 96,000 Bitcoins (worth $220 million) stolen earlier this year, as did GBL and Tradefortress. Criminals also routinely target internet-connected computers that store individual Bitcoin wallets, attacking them with everything from malware and phishing tactics to old-fashioned social engineering. And as recently as last November, thieves stole nearly a million dollars worth of Bitcoin from Bitcoin Internet Payment System (BIPS), a Denmark-based Bitcoin payment processor.
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