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Is this another cryptocurrency bubble?

No doubt most of you have been following the explosive increase in cryptocurrency valuations over the past month. The price of one ether has risen about 400% in the past 30 days. The value of Bitcoin has doubled over the same period, with a single coin trading at an all-time high of nearly $2,500. Litecoin has similarly more than doubled in value.

In short, it’s starting to feel like late 2013 again. For those of you that weren’t around the last time this happened, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen runaway valuations on cryptocurrency. In the span of 30 days between late October and November of 2013, Bitcoin saw its value increase roughly 500% to a then-high of over $1,000. Over that same one-month period in 2013, Litecoin saw a meteoric ~2500% (!) rise from about $2 to nearly $50.

If you were in the cryptocurrency game back then, you may remember that I urged caution to potential investors as digital currency prices continued to set new price records daily. Less than a month after I published my 2013 correction prediction, prices started to decline, and a few months later they were back to roughly pre-bubble levels. Lots of folks that bought BTC or LTC during the insane price run-up decided to panic sell on the way down, and some people lost a considerable amount of money.

I write this simply to remind everyone to stay sane when it comes to investing in cryptocurrency, especially if you’re thinking about committing money that you really can’t afford to lose. Price increases like the ones that we’re currently witnessing aren’t normal, and are mostly being driven by speculative greed—not new developments or adoption (and for evidence of this claim, look no further than the recent ~1000% price increase on Dogecoin, an essentially joke currency that’s been dormant for three years). When prices eventually reach a level that can’t be sustained (and admittedly, there might be quite a bit of additional increase before that!), expect a sell-off to follow.

Somewhat related: this is why I like mining. If I’m investing $1,500 today and use it to buy ETH directly, then I’ll be really disappointed if the price drops to zero tomorrow, as I’ve lost 100% of my investment. If I build a $1,500 mining rig with the expectation that I’m going to mine ETH and eventually turn a profit, then I’ll certainly be disappointed if the ETH price drops to zero tomorrow—but I’ll still have $1,500 worth of computer hardware that I can re-purpose or sell.

Apologies for the lack of updates

Just a quick note that I’ve been dealing with the death of somebody close to me over the past several weeks, and updates to the site have suffered as a result. I should be able to get back into a semi-regular schedule starting next week. If you’ve sent me a message at any point in the new year, chances are that I haven’t responded to you yet—I’ll do my best to start catching up on email as well.

I have a couple purpose-built custom mining cases here that I’m hoping to get reviews up of soon, for those of you that want something that’s more flexible (and aesthetically appealing!) than a plastic milk crate.

An update to my mining guide for the R9 series of GPUs is still on the horizon as well—I’m still having trouble getting my hands on the more desirable manufacturer brands at prices that don’t sicken me.

Finally, today I updated the cryptocurrency ticker that’s running on my site to pull the BTC quote from Coinbase, given the issues that Mt. Gox has been having. If you’re running a WordPress site and would like the utilize the ticker, you can grab it from the official repository. As of today the ticker also supports displaying quote prices in Euros, in case you’re from across the pond.

Edit: Thanks for the kind words, everyone—they’re much appreciated!

One million!

This little site had its millionth visitor today, and I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone for all of the kind words that I’ve received via comments and email over the past few months. Hearing from hundreds of people around the world that are passionate about cryptocurrency has made this a really enjoyable and rewarding experience for me!

I’m hopelessly behind on messages, so if you’ve sent me something and haven’t heard back, please be patient—I’m doing my best to catch up, but at this rate it’s probably going to be awhile. I really appreciate that a few regular readers have helped pick up the slack as far as responding to questions in the comment section of my guides—thanks guys!

And finally, a quick update on my rig sales: I don’t have an estimate on when I’ll be able to start taking orders again. Given the current AMD video card shortage, I’m unable to get my hands on suitable mining hardware at reasonable prices—so I’m stuck waiting for production to catch up to demand, just like many of you are. I’m going to take this opportunity to enjoy a house that isn’t packed to capacity with customers’ mining rigs for the first time in awhile, and clean out the sizable hoard of empty PC hardware boxes in my basement and garage!

My custom mining rigs are temporarily unavailable

Just a quick note that I’ve temporarily disabled the ordering process for my custom mining rigs. I’ve had quite a few orders come in lately and I need a few days to catch up. Once I clear out the backlog, I’ll re-open the ordering process, so check back in a few days. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you everyone for the tremendous interest!

Expect a correction on these runaway cryptocurrency valuations

It’s been exciting watching litecoin go from ~$10 to ~$30 over the past 48 hours, and seeing bitcoin punch through $1000 today. But I’d urge everyone to not make any rash decisions about dumping large amounts of cash into crypto, with the hopes of riding this crazy train to riches. The current growth is mostly being driven by rampant speculation, and it isn’t sustainable.

Litecoin 24 hour performance

Litecoin performance over the past 24 hours on btc-e.com

There will very likely be a correction at some point in the near future. Given the massive growth of litecoin, and bitcoin passing through the $1000 barrier, you can also expect a lot of mainstream media attention in the coming days—so we might actually see an even crazier price run-up before prices return to saner levels. But anyone that doesn’t expect a short-term correction is probably in denial.

In my opinion, before these kinds of valuations are justified, we need to see far more acceptance of cryptocurrency from merchants, and we need consumers that are willing to actually spend their coins on everyday purchases—instead of hoarding them in the hopes of a huge payday. In the case of altcoins, we also need better support from the major trustworthy payment processors and exchanges. Progress is being made on all fronts, but we have quite a ways to go. I believe we’ll get there, but it won’t happen overnight.

I’m absolutely not suggesting that you should exit your position in crypto immediately, and then re-buy after the inevitable correction occurs. Trying to time the market requires a lot of luck, and will likely result in regret for most of those that attempt it. I still absolutely believe in the $50+ prediction for Litecoin that I made 2 weeks ago (LTC was $4/coin then!), I just didn’t expect that we’d be more than halfway there before reaching the end of the month! If you agree that Litecoin has a potentially bright future, then the best move for most of you is to simply not panic when the inevitable correction happens.

Keep calm and continue mining. Try to not get caught up in the price hype, although I’ll be the first to admit that it’s certainly fascinating to watch.

Please be reachable if you purchase one of my custom mining rigs!

Just a quick note that I have been unable to reach a couple of the people that have purchased a custom mining rig from me over the past few days.

I need to be able to reach buyers so that I can gather mining pool worker credentials and some other information in order to set up each rig up properly—as well as give myself some peace of mind that the person on the other end of the transaction isn’t trying to scam me, which is unfortunately always a possibility with Paypal. If I’m unable to reach you after a few days of attempts, I’ll simply cancel your order and refund the purchase price of the rig to you.

If you’ve purchased a custom rig from me recently and we haven’t yet established a dialog, please contact me ASAP.

On a related note, it’s getting difficult for me to locate enough quality parts to build these things as fast as the orders are coming in, given the recent upward price explosion of cryptocurrency. If you’ve been putting off buying or building a mining rig, you may not want to wait too much longer.

On mining profitability

With the price of litecoin and bitcoin on the rise, I’ve received a tremendous amount of email over the past couple weeks from people wanting to know whether or not it’s “too late” to get into mining. Or how soon one can expect to break even on a new mining rig purchase. Or what my predictions are for the future value of cryptocurrency in general. I’ve responded to many of you already, but it probably makes more sense to post something here publicly.

Full disclosure: I don’t have a crystal ball. I have no idea what the future holds with regard to bitcoin or litecoin valuation. There are far to many variables and unanswered questions—especially on the regulation front—to make predictions with a high degree of confidence. However, I’d be happy to share some observations that I’ve made over the past few years, and offer my 2 cents in a general sense. Read on if you’re interested.

Reminder: upgrade your Bitcoin client before May 15

Bitcoin logoIf you’re running Bitcoin-qt or bitcoind, check to make sure that you have the latest version before May 15th. Running old versions after May 15th will cause you problems.

Bitcoin.org explains why this is necessary:

A bug caused a temporary block chain fork on 11 March, 2013. After investigating that bug, we determined that the bug can happen even if the entire network was still running old versions of Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind. Therefore, the only option is to require everybody to either upgrade or workaround the bug.

You can get the latest version at bitcoin.org.

WordPress bitcoin ticker plugin, anyone?

wordpress logoA few days ago, I decided that a blog about cryptocurrencies needed a bitcoin ticker. So I went looking for a WordPress bitcoin ticker plugin widget. To my great surprise, entering “bitcoin ticker” into the WordPress plugin repository search box returned zero results. Almost 25,000 plugins and nobody has released a simple bitcoin ticker yet?

So I wrote one myself. It’s been running for several days in the right sidebar without causing any issues, so I published it to the WordPress plugin repository this morning. You can download it here, if you’ve got a blog that could make use of such a thing (or simply install it via your WordPress installation’s plugin administration area by searching for “cryptocurrency ticker”).

It’s quick and dirty, but it does cache quotes for a time that you specify, and allow you to toggle each currency on or off—just in case you’re a litecoin hater =). If it looks like people are using it, I’ll go back at some point and re-write it to fetch quotes asynchronously on cache misses (and perhaps support some other altcoins, as well).

Update 2/13/2014: The ticker has been updated to version 1.1 and now supports displaying quote prices in Euros. In addition, BTC quotes are now fetched from Coinbase, due to the ongoing problems at Mt. Gox.