CNET: Bitcoin is the future of money

BitcoinCNET posted an opinion piece on Bitcoin today that delivers a positive outlook on the future of cryptocurrency. While there are a couple minor misconceptions in the article, it’s always nice to see good press on digital currency in mainstream news. A snippet:

Crypto-currency is a certifiable Pretty Big Deal. The Facebook antagonists otherwise known as the Winklevoss twins have amassed huge sums of Bitcoin; it’s minting its own millionaires (in real dollars); and an increasing number of global citizens consider Bitcoin a better investment than Wall Street these days.

Somebody should probably tell the author that the US dollars in her pocket haven’t been backed by gold in over 40 years, though.

Nearly half of Bitcoin exchanges fail

A recent Wired UK study concluded that a whopping 45% of Bitcoin exchanges have failed, usually resulting in the loss of users’ deposits. Exchanges that manage to stick around are typically under constant attack from hackers looking to commit virtual heists. From the article:

Exchanges handling 275 Bitcoins’ worth of transactions each day have a 20 percent chance of being breached, compared to a 70 percent chance for exchanges processing daily transactions worth 5570 Bitcoins. [The researchers] estimate that the median lifespan of any Bitcoin exchange is 381 days, with a 29.9 percent chance that a new exchange will close within a year of opening.

Let this be a warning to anyone holding non-trivial amounts of digital currency: don’t treat exchanges like banks! Keep the majority of your bitcoins (and other altcoins) in local encrypted wallet files, preferably stored offline in multiple locations (USB sticks are great for this).

MSI 7950 GPU back in stock at Amazon!

Just a quick note that the MSI 7950 GPU is back in stock at Amazon after more than a week of unavailability, although it looks like they only have 19 of them. This is my top choice for mining, and the one that is featured in my guides.

I know some of you have been waiting for them to come back into stock, so grab them while you can!

Edit 4/28: … and they’re gone. Amazon expects more availability on May 1.

Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 5: Mining FAQ

In this fifth and final installment of our litecoin mining rig guide, I’ll answer some common questions about building your own rig, profit expectations, and mining in general. If you’ve read the rest of the guide and still have some lingering questions, you might find the answers you’re looking for here.

Hit the “read more” button for the FAQ!

Mt. Gox adding support for Litecoin “soon”

Mt. Gox logoMt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, released a statement today regarding their handling of the recent DDoS attack that caused their site to be unavailable for several hours.

Buried in the “Recent Frequently Asked Questions” portion of the release is this interesting tidbit: “When will you be adding Litecoin (LTC) to Mt. Gox?” :

Soon. We were planning on doing so two weeks ago, but events derailed that plan. Right
now we are focused on overall stability of the exchange, and will launch LTC when we are
ready. Otherwise we could be further complicating things.

Rumors and informal talk about litecoin support at Mt. Gox have been circulating for weeks, but this is the first time I’ve seen them put out an official statement confirming it. It’ll be interesting to watch the litecoin price over the next few days.

PayPal president “kinda thinking about” supporting Bitcoin

David Marcus, president of PayPal, says that he is considering the possibility of supporting Bitcoin as a PayPal funding instrument in the future:

(skip to 2:50 in the video for the Bitcoin comments)

A transcript of Marcus’s response:

So I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at [Bitcoin], and it’s truly fascinating actually: the way that the currency’s been designed, and the way that inflation is built in to pay for miners, and all that is truly fascinating. I think that for us at PayPal, it’s just a question whether Bitcoin will make its way to PayPal’s funding instrument or not. We’re kinda thinking about it.

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.

Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 4: Optimization

cgminer with optimized settings

One of my optimized rigs, using the hardware from part 1 of this guide, getting over 1.9 Mh/sec in cgminer while using about 680 watts of power.

This fourth installment of our litecoin mining guide will focus on getting the most out of your hardware—finding the sweet spot between maximum performance and acceptable power usage (and noise/heat generation!).

The tweaks that I outline in this article are applicable whether you’re using Linux or Windows. If you’re using the hardware that was recommended in the first part of this guide (or very similar hardware), you should expect to see a performance increase of 10% or more in your litecoin mining hashrate, compared to the baseline cgminer settings that were given in our Linux and Windows setup guides.

In addition to increasing your mining speed, I’ll also show you how to set up a backup mining pool to automatically failover to in case your primary pool becomes unavailable. There is nothing worse than having your mining rig(s) sit idle because your pool went down!

Click “read more” for our mining performance optimization guide!

Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 3: Windows Setup

Litecoin mining setup guide for WindowsBy now you’ve probably seen our Linux Litecoin mining setup guide (and hopefully the hardware guide that preceded it). Perhaps you’ve decided that Linux just doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. If Windows is more your thing, you’re in luck—this guide is for you.

Let me just reiterate that for most people, Linux is likely the better choice. With Linux, you can use a $5 USB stick instead of a $50 harddrive, and you save yourself the cost of a Windows license as well. The actual mining performance will be the same on either platform, so the cost savings of Linux would seem to make it a no-brainer as long as you’re comfortable with the slightly more complex setup (although our guide makes it simple!).

However, if you have GPUs that aren’t voltage-locked (such as the MSI 7950s that we recommend in our hardware guide), and you plan to take advantage of that feature to undervolt your cards (we’ll show you how), Windows might become the better long-term option for you, depending on how much electricity costs in your area (edit 10/2013: easy undervolting in linux is now possible, too).

So with that in mind, if Windows sounds like it’s the right choice for you, read on for our setup guide!

Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 2: Linux Setup

Linux Litecoin Mining Setup Guide
In the second installment of our DIY litecoin mining guide, we’ll look at how to install and configure Linux to properly mine with your GPUs at optimal settings. Don’t be dissuaded if you’ve never used Linux before—our step-by-step guide makes it easy.

Linux has a few advantages over Windows, including the ability to install to a USB stick (which means you don’t need a harddrive), lesser hardware requirements (you can get by just fine with less than 4GB of RAM), and simpler remote administration capabilities. Best of all, Linux is free! However, be aware that if you’d like to undervolt your GPUs to save power, Windows might be a better choice for you (update 10/2013: no longer true!).

If you missed the hardware portion of our guide, make sure to check it out first. Otherwise, read on.