Gems is a new and exciting mobile messaging application for iOS and Android that brings cryptocurrencies to the masses, with no need for knowledge about Bitcoin, cryptography or encryption.
This is the kind of exciting innovation I have waited for. The Gems app puts the power of cryptocurrency in the hands of the users, without the usual complications that surround cryptocurrency technology today. Gems is a social-messenger app that comes integrated with next-generation bitcoin technology. Gems offers a WhatsApp-style mobile experience, but with fully encrypted private messaging and a built-in wallet.
The application is both a messenger and a wallet. Every Gems user automatically receives a wallet, protected by a passphrase chosen at registration. A chosen Gems username also acts as alias to a linked Counterwallet address, making it simple and easy for users to send and receive either gems or bitcoins (and later other assets).
The Gems app looks flashy and is easy to use. The user simply downloads the app, sets up an account, and then can immediately start sharing messages with friends and, by being active in the network, earning gems. Introducing new users to Gems is just one example of a way that a user can be rewarded with gems, the value of which is directly tied to the value of the network, since there will always be a fixed and limited supply of gems.
While many point to the option of Gliph for a new crypto-messaging platform, Gliph’s interface is not as attractive or as user-friendly as Gems. Gliph currently lacks the features that many mainstream messenger users would like to see for a daily messaging application.
The promotional video gives a simple overview of how Gems works:
We sat down with Daniel Peled from the Gems team to talk about Gems.
Mike: Why would users switch from regular messaging apps to Gems?
Daniel: Due to recent incidents where private information was leaked, technology users have become much more concerned about the security of their data. WhatsApp, for example, stores and does not encrypt its users’ communications, messages, pictures or videos. In comparison, user data is not stored by Gems, which has no way to access messages, and therefore messages and data are truly private.
Gems has other key features that differentiate it from other messaging apps, including the way it approaches its users. WhatsApp was recently bought by Facebook for $19 billion. Thanks primarily to its users, it has become an extremely valuable company. WhatsApp charges users $1 per year to use the app. Gems, on the other hand, is free—and even more, it actually pays users.
This works thanks to our unique in-app currency-reward model. Those who wish to advertise on the Gems network must purchase gems tokens in order to do so. Gems pays the tokens directly to the users to whom they advertise. If users do not want to receive advertisements, they can easily opt out. This creates a market where users can profit directly from their gems. We are the first to bring this brand new sharing-economy model to the market.
Mike: Can you tell us a bit more about the encryption used by Gems?
Daniel: The Gems app assumes zero trust and even protects user data from Gems’s own cloud servers. Every secure outgoing message is encrypted with a key that is unknown to the server, making the message recipient the only one who can decrypt it. This privacy model prevents any possibility of eavesdropping by third parties, including government agencies and corporations.
Gems offers a mixture of RSA 2048 and AES with 256-bit keys. Encryption is performed client to client, making secure messages indecipherable by the Gems infrastructure. This is the only real way to achieve 100% privacy because it does not entrust any third parties.
Mike: From a technical standpoint, it is our understanding that Gems usernames are essentially aliases of addresses on the Counterparty system. Will we be able to have lots of different currencies in our Gems wallets?
Daniel: Our goal is to develop a really easy and simple user experience; therefore, even though it possible to have lots of different currencies in the Gems wallet, we believe it is better to launch the app initially with support for Gems and Bitcoin only.
It is important to note that since this is the first time users will control the core value of the social network, it is too early to predict what other novel ideas will come into existence. We will take Gems holders’ input into consideration for future features.
Mike: How anonymous can I be on this application?
Daniel: Most social networks do not encourage or support true anonymity of their users. Consider WhatsApp: every account must be tied to a working phone number, enforced by a requirement to send an SMS during registration. You cannot open a WhatsApp account without identifying yourself. The same goes for Facebook, which by definition contains your real name, rather than an anonymous alias.
Gems, unlike other networks, allows you, the user, to choose the level of anonymity and privacy with which you feel comfortable. Your data is never shared with third parties, unless you consent. By default, a Gems account only contains an anonymous alias—your chosen username. This username does not have to reflect your real identity in any way.
Users who feel comfortable sharing their real phone number may choose to connect a phone number to their Gems account. Users will be able to find each other more easily if they do not have to know a username and they can instead rely on a phone number they may already know. The phone number is always kept confidential, however, and only those chosen by a user will have access to it. It is always possible to maintain complete anonymity, if desired. Gems does not require any real-world identification in order to operate.
The same level of anonymity applies to your gems wallet. Since every Gems account is also a gems wallet, your wallet address will be as anonymous as your account.
Mike: Right now you’ve got an iOS application and Android application in the pipe. Any plans on doing a web-based messenger, OS X application, Windows Phone app, and other varieties? We’ve seen that Telegram has been working on expanding to several other spaces quickly. Do you intend on doing the same?
Daniel: We have other platform versions planned on our long-term roadmap; however, at this initial stage we are focusing only on mobile Android and iOS, since they account for a majority percentage of our target market.
Mike: What elements of Gems will be open source, if any?
Daniel: During the beta development phases, the source code will not be available to the public. The client-side application will be open source once we have performed the necessary quality assurance and security analysis to ensure the process will not put our users at risk.
This will enable third-party developers to audit and improve upon the functionality of the Gems application. We see much value in the participation of the open-source community. It is important to emphasize that all currency-related transactions in Gems are currently based on open-source code (Counterparty), and that the core of our IM technology is based on open-source software as well (SignalR).
Further information about Gems can be found on the Gems website, Bitcoin Talk thread, or via @getgemsorg Twitter account.
hangletonweblogs will stay abreast of the latest developments with Gems and will be sure to share them with our readers!
Images courtesy of Gems.
We recently profiled BIT-FM and have covered Chain Radio since before it launched and now another player to the space will be launching October 1st.
CryptRadio is going to be going live after a series of successful soft launches and tests and we sat down with Lee the founder of the station to speak about what the future holds for CryptRadio.
Mike: With Chain Radio and BIT-FM what is it that makes CryptRadio unique from what others are doing in this radio space?
Lee: To understand how we view our service I need to give you some background on myself Lee (founder and on air personality). I come from an extensive sales background working for 14 years in high level sales/marketing I worked with re-sellers to find ways of growing their businesses. The industry I come from is very devoid of forward thinking and risk, it was/is my job to help my clients overcome this in order for them to realize their goals, the second part to my background is I use to be a DJ and have a love for anything music.
So here is where the these two backgrounds come together to differentiate what we aim to do. CryptRadio.ca wants to Proactively pull the outside world IN.
Our shows and content while always keeping a crypto overtone will also have a very familiar feel to the radio people listen to daily.
Our Talk segments wont just focus on the technical aspects of crypto, we will try to discuss real world use of crypto, and the biggest difference is we will invite our listeners to call in LIVE and share their thought on the topics we pose, and even allow the callers to move the discussion in directions they feel are relevant.
Mike: Tell us a bit more about the programming that you are running on your station. What about the future? What are some of your plans on providing content for your listeners?
Lee: So at the moment we have done 3 soft launches, mostly to test systems, production, and live show recording. Those that tuned in likely heard a kind of mix of talk show/music. We even had one of the I/O coin team dev’s agree to join us live and talk about their new HTML5 wallet which was released the following day.
We want to be able to have something for everyone. Our music will range anywhere from Country to hip-hop to rock, we even have a day for amateur singers, bands, DJ’s to submit their work to be played on our Open Mic shows.
The future depends on how well we are received.
Like many this project is something myself and the two other members of my team embarking on to first help spread the word on Crypto and of course we hope that one day we can make it our full-time jobs, so our evolution will depend on how much demand we get from listeners, and how much support we get from potential advertisers and sponsors.
Our content will be driven from a number of sources, of course popular music and music trends, community news and the ability to turn that news into discussion our listeners will want to take part in, if the chance arises we would love to work with people around the world attending Crypto gatherings to become sort of on the ground reporters for live events.
Mike: What about music licensing? We know that Bit-FM is working to secure licenses to run an Internet radio station and that Chain Radio acquired a license at a significant cost. What does the situation look like for CryptRadio?
Lee: Great Question!
This is a challenging area because it is very much a chicken or the egg situation. to acquire a license can be a significant cost, however we have worked with some services which offer collective licenses, and the rates to be part of this collective is based on how many hours of air time you produce, as well as revenue you generate, the license covers North America and Canada which we feel will cover our needs.
Getting this kind of license is relatively easy but may require some changes to our streaming provider again a relatively simple switch to make.
So for now we are working on and expect we should have that sorted before Oct 1st.
Mike: What kind of plans are in place to keep the station sustainable? We’ve seen Chain Radio struggling with this as the cost of streaming, licenses, and constant DDOS attacks have beaten them down on a fairly regular basis.
Lee: I think as in the case of any project their road ahead is largely the unknown, but we do have a plan which we hope will generate the funds we need for licenses, website production, and all the traditional things like hydro, hardware, rent etc.
So at first if you saw our webpage it was basic and one part much like Chain Radio we were asking for donations, while there were a few which helped donations/community advertising funds was clear would not be our main source for funds.
So I am going to be drawing on my main skills as a sales professional and actively ask for small to med size business to advertise with us, BUT they must be willing to accept Crypto. What this will do is bring users of Crypto more places to spend their coin, teach new business about the community, but also generate what we feel will be 60%- 80% of the fund we need, the balance would come from sponsors, and we will eventually explore donations again, but the community at the moment as we see it is not really a “giving” one by and large at least not until you can bring value, so we feel it is not our place to ask for free money of the hop.
So the good news is we do have some business who have agreed to let us show them how easy it is to accept Bitcoin and would be on board to advertise their goods and services.
Mike: The station is launching on October 1st? What sort of things do you have going on for that day?
So Oct 1st is the date we have slated to launch, again pending technical or licensing that could be pushed back but I can say things are on track for Oct 1st.
Our goal for Oct 1st will be to bring as much interaction opportunities as possible, we have 3 I/O coin give away’s which will largely based on social media interaction LIVE. SO example first tweet on a question to the audience will win, of course we will have some great music played, being a launch we will likely play a bit of everything in segments to give people a feel for what to expect, we even have some open Mic original music by some great local talent.
We will have advertisers and sponsor commercials, and Laura our resident newbie will introduce her segment “the newbie zone” which will be focused on new or curious people to Crypto, of course we have more planned which is evolving daily.
Mike: What made you interested in doing an online radio station for cryptocurrency?
Well I have always had a love for music, and recently a major love of crypto. I also believe there is a big future for crypto or at least the idea of doing business using it. I wanted to find a way to accelerate the process of acceptance by the main stream business community of crypto.
Seeing the work of services like Bitpay and other similar companies who are making accepting bitcoin easier, and practical, I was inspired and felt an almost call to action. Radio was something that combines my love of music, and Crypto to that call to action. Radio is a great medium that reaches millions, so what better way to make a run at moving Crypto into a more accepted way of doing business.
Mike: What most excites you and your team about cryptocurrency?
So the real excitement comes from the possibilities and how much easier doing everything could be using this form of payment. as a sales person one thing I always struggle with is clients who have had challenges finding low-cost ways to accept payments.
For example in order for a business to be set up as a payee with major Canadian banks to do online banking the documents and legal red tape is mind-blowing.
So Crypto to the rescue….. set up a wallet to accept the Crypto of choice and your set up with “online banking” so to speak. No red tape, to banking fees. So in short what excites us most is how Crypto can, and we believe WILL change the way business is conducted, and how this kind of decentralized currency lets smaller to medium size business grow. Our excitement is really in the real world application we see possible.
We’ve seen some interesting ideas and concepts based on blockchain technologies over the past several months and plenty of people have been talking about video games and blockchain technologies.
This week Mark Kern who was a key founding member at Red5 Studios and was one of the original lead developers on World of Warcraft announced his latest gaming venture MEK-Entertainment and an Oculus VR game that will integrate blockchain technologies.
The indie game developer has worked in secret on a new gaming universe that will be powered by the modding community, built for the Oculus Rift from the ground up, and integrated with blockchain technology similar to Bitcoin to power its player driven economy.
The game features a retro 8-bit and SNES inspired art style powered by MEK Entertainment’s new ray-tracing, voxel graphics engine. The game’s multiverse will contain vast procedural landscapes and user scriptable servers.
Kern is joined by several other game industry professionals, including former key developers from Oculus Rift, ID Software, Red 5 Studios, Activision-Blizzard and Chucklefish, as well as experts from the emerging crypto-currency industry.
hangletonweblogs was able to pin down Mark from heavy development to speak with him about the new game and what the future holds for blockchain technologies with games.
Mike: The game concepts look really cool. What prompted you to create an 8bit game for such a powerful platform?
Mark: Well, 8-bit is more of a marketing phrases to conjure the feeling of retro gameplay that we wanted to get across to gamers. The engine is actually a very powerful “micro-voxel” ray-traced engine that runs at very fast frame rates which are essential for the VR illusion. We can display 4096 micro-voxels for every traditional sized voxel in a game such as Minecraft.
But to answer you question, we did a retro graphics approach for a few reasons. The first was that we love retro gaming, and the SNES days. The book that inspired this game, “Ready, Player One” by Ernest Cline is chock full of retro 80’s and 90’s gaming references. We wanted to capture that feeling. Second is that we are a small indie studio, and we wanted other small studios to be able to create MMO experiences in our game. SNES style graphics are about 30-40x easier and faster to make than next-gen models. That really opens the doors for small modder teams of 1-3 people.
Mike: We’ve heard word that you are looking at how blockchains can integrate with games? Can you give us any more specifics for our readers on what that looks like with your game?
Mark: We’re very excited about the providing an in-game currency for player to player trades. This isn’t gold drops in the game, btw, its more like a currency dedicated to transporting value between players. Since we have this universe of game servers with different games, we wanted a universal currency that could work “between worlds” so to speak and even, possibly, outside the game. The public and decentralized nature of blockchain technology fit perfectly with our goals.
But there are other applications. We have the concept of land ownership in our game, for example. This is a great virtual asset that can be tracked on top of blockchains. Bitcoin colored coins and NXT’s asset marketplace are great ways to do this. There is also the idea of a decentralized auction house. Most games have an internal auction house, but some blockchains out there already support decentralized marketplaces for virtual and even real goods. Exploring the blockchain tech to allow us to say, have an auction house that trades between games is a very interesting possibility.
Mike: What sort of time frame are you looking at for having the game come out?
Mark: We believe in rapid development and quick release cycles. We also will be building out in phases, so while I don’t have a release date yet, you will be seeing playable public builds from us next year.
Mike: What are some other cool concepts you can see with games and blockchain technologies?
Mark: I mentioned some of them already, but I’m also interested in seeing if we can use the blockchain for things such as secure player to player in-game e-mail and cross game communications. If you sense a theme here, it’s the “cross game” part. We think blockchains offer an exciting way to finally transfer information and assets between games, even entirely different types of games.
Why is this exciting? Well, from a player’s point of view, you put hundreds of hours into a game to earn rewards and advance your character. Isn’t it a shame there is no way to take your hard work with you to another game? Wouldn’t it be great if you could convert your gear on the market to a universal, decentralized currency, and use that to buy stuff in a completely different game? That way, your efforts and time as a player are never wasted or locked into a single game.
Mike: Can you see games where the currencies earned in games are traded on markets along with other currencies such as bitcoin?
Mark: Definitely. Look, Bitcoin is around a6B market cap, but games have at least14B in market cap for virtual goods alone. Everyone says crypto currency isn’t backed by anything…well, they would be in games. Virtual currencies in games are already well understood and accepted by gamers. Virtual gold is bought and sold for value determined by the players time and effort toobtain gold and items in-game. We can bring that value to the blockchain, potentially making crypto currencies more valuable as they have a “yardstick” of value based on these virtual items.
While the developers of the game are being fairly tight-lipped about what is coming they are going to be releasing more details and information in the near future and are encouraging others who are interested in the game and platform to signup on the website at http://MEK-Entertainment.com/ because those signing up earliest will receive extra perks and prizes in the game as a special thanks from the team.
Liberté Mining has announced the launch of a new cloud mining service powered entirely by 100% renewable hydropower built on the Counterparty protocol.
The Canadian company is operated by a team of experienced miners who use the P2Pool mining network to help mitigate the chance of a 51% attack on the Bitcoin network. Now, they are bringing the ability for anyone to purchase cloud mining assets via Counterparty’s truly decentralized and transparent system.
By issuing assets via the Counterparty protocol, they allow those assets to be traded freely on Couterparty’s real time decentralized exchange. Counterparty is an innovative platform for peer-to-peer markets and financial instruments. Unlike Wall Street and other centralized financial institutions, Counterparty provides open, secure financial tools and markets that do not require a trusted third party or middleman to use.
The platform is built on top of Bitcoin, and extends the functionality of the Bitcoin network in new and unprecedented ways. With Counterparty, anyone with an Internet connection gains access to financial instruments that were previously cost prohibitive or not available at all.
The cloud mining service assets can be traded, but unlike competing services it is done instantly via a decentralized exchange that is operated by the Counterparty network itself. The unique nature of this resource makes it unlike any other available at this time.
Liberté Mining could potentially become the industry leader in “green” mining. While competitors have touted operations that are clean and energy efficient, Liberté Mining is the first operation to use 100% hydropower. Their data center is powered using nearly all completely renewable, emission free, clean energy sources for the mining operations.
“A leading mining pool consumed 159,519,788KW/H of power in the first year of operations. Imagine if that power had been clean, renewable energy such as that being used by Liberté Mining. Hydropower offers the distinct advantage that it emits no greenhouse gases. We use fully renewable water instead of limited fossil fuels which allows for lower energy costs for the Liberté Mining operation.”
-Ryan Scott, CEO, Liberté Mining
Liberté Mining is one of the most transparent mining pools in existence. The use of Counterparty shows all of the assets sold and traded allowing anyone to verify operator integrity. With P2Pool showing the mining operation statistics and the clearly published contact information, purchasers can be confident in their investment. I found this idea of a fully end-to-end transparency to be a refreshing change from what we’ve seen recently with other cloud mining operations.
P2Pool is a decentralized Bitcoin mining pool that works by creating a peer-to-peer network of miner nodes.
P2Pool shares form a “sharechain” with each share referencing the previous share’s hash. Each share contains a standard Bitcoin block header, some P2Pool-specific data that is used to compute the generation transaction (total subsidy, payout script of this share, a nonce, the previous share’s hash, and the current target for shares), and a Merkle branch linking that generation transaction to the block header’s Merkle hash.
The chain continuously regulates its target to keep generation around one share every thirty seconds, just as Bitcoin regulates it to generate one block every ten minutes. This means that finding shares becomes more difficult (resulting in higher variance) the more people mine on P2Pool, though large miners have the option to raise their difficulty, and so reduce the impact of their mining on P2Pool’s minimum difficulty.
Unlike Bitcoin, nodes do not know the entire chain – instead they only hold the last 8640 shares (the last 3 day’s worth). In order to prevent an attacker from working on a chain in secret and then releasing it, overriding the existing chain, chains are judged by how much work they have since a point in the past. To ascertain that the work has been done since that point, nodes look at the Bitcoin blocks that the shares reference, establishing a provable timestamp.
Decentralized payout pooling solves the problem of centralized mining pools degrading the decentralization of Bitcoin and avoids the risk of hard to detect theft by pool operators. It is due to this setup that those purchasing in to Liberté Mining can FULLY know that the mining hardware is actually running and see the results and know that the company is not skimming off the top as has been alleged with other operations.
Ryan and his partners, Leo and Nick, are all well-known and respected bitcoin community members. As active and lifetime members of the Bitcoin Foundation and Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, the team share their passion for giving back to the community in many ways. All three are also involved in facilitating local bitcoin meetups. Leo and Nick also operate their own bitcoin ATM companies known as BitSent and BitTeller. Ryan also operates an online jewellery company called Crypto Jeweler.
The company announced today they would be planting a tree for every asset sold to help offset the carbon emissions generated through other mining operations.
Liberté Mining has tapped upon the vast resources of The Carbon Farmer to help them with the tree planting in Canada to help offset the emissions. The Carbon Farmer is a unique organization planting trees on behalf of individuals, organizations, and businesses looking to help fight carbon emissions around the world.
Liberté Mining does all mining in a fee free P2Pool which also results in higher profits for the holders of the Liberté Mining assets.
I sat down with Ryan from Liberté Mining to pick his brain a bit more regarding the company and cloud mining in general.
Leo: You guys are experienced miners that seem to be operating some successful operations currently so why are you launching a new offering?
Ryan: We are launching our new mining company to address a few concerns we see emerging in the crypto mining space. First off is centralization of the network with the emergence of pools controlling substantial hashing power. We see this as a grave threat to the legitimacy of Bitcoin and something that has to be avoided at all costs. A 51 percent attack or even the possibility it could happen at any time has the potential to do damage to the reputation of Bitcoin. For growth in adoption and investment, trust is an crucial component. Continued threat of an attack has the capacity to severely stunt Bitcoins growth. We plan to mitigate centralization as much as possible with the open and transparent use of P2Pool.
Another aspect that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify is the environmental impact that Bitcoin has created with its mining practices. The impact of the network is seen more clearly when put into real world figures.
Currently with the network sitting around 200 PH the environmental impact of the power needed is in the order of magnitude of about 192,000 gasoline cars and its growing every day. This needs to be reduced, for what is the sense of building a new digital economy on the archaic and self destructive foundation of the past.
We know this is not going to be changed over night but we have to give the average miner the chance to mine in a way that is ecologically responsible even though they may not have access to renewable clean energy. We are also taking this a step further by partnering with a Canadian carbon offset company called Carbon Farmer.
We will be planting a tree for every TeraHash sold through Liberté Mining. Not only are we offering miners the opportunity to do their part by mining in a environmentally responsible way but we are giving them the chance to help offset the damage being done to the planet by miners using electricity that is created using fossil fuels.
Leo: What prompted you to use Counterparty to issue assets for Liberte?
Ryan: We have always been intrigued by decentralized technologies. I had been following the development of a number of projects allowing you to issue assets or user defined tokens. We felt Counterparty offered to most efficient way to issue a Bitcoin mining asset, allowing us to make mining payouts directly to the asset owners Counterparty wallet address. It also gives us access to a secure trading platform for clients to trading their asset in the open markets. Asset ownership utilizes the Bitcoin network itself, allowing anyone to verify our asset listing against our mining operation stats on P2Pool. Counterparty helps protects our clients from the threat of an attack, stealing their funds/assets through a centralized server we control. This gives total asset control and ownership to the client.
Leo: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in setting up operations for Liberte?
Ryan: Our biggest challenge has always been total power capacity. Things are changing fast in the Bitcoin mining space and hardware is now reaching power densities never seen before in a standard data centre. Finding a low cost hosting solution with high power density per server rack was not an easy task. As we quickly discovered the current data centers are not designed with Bitcoin in mind. This was why we decided to build our own facility that we controlled.
Leo: Do you ever have plans of building your own devices?
Ryan: We will do what is best for our clients. We have had some experience purchasing chips for fabrication purposes, I commend anyone in the manufacturing sector as its not any easy task.
We will continue to build strong relationships with our current suppliers as we focus on our strengths. Things can change quickly in the Bitcoin space and we are always open to the idea as we grow. I would prefer to invest into R&D for renewable free energy sources as this would provide a larger benefit to the world as a whole.
I think open sourcing the design would be the first step to making sure it reached the masses and wasn’t shutdown like so many in the past. Taking a page out of Bitcoins books here.
Leo: Are you deploying a range of different devices from different ASIC companies?
Ryan: Yes, we are deploying multiple types of hardware from reputable manufactures.
This allows our business model to stay as flexible as possible. We have met a lot of great people in the hardware manufacturing sector and those relationships are ones we hold dear and like to foster. Ultimately it comes down to the math. Our main responsibility is to the miners by trying as hard as possible to increase efficiency and keep costs low.
Leo: What is going to set you apart from very large venture backed operations?
Ryan: We believe strongly that our operation stands out as the most environmentally friendly Bitcoin mining operation to date. Our hope is to build a better future for everyone and that starts by fixing the mistakes of the past. We also offer the confidence to investors that we are a registered Canadian business.
Leo: Are you ever going to seek venture funding to expand your operations?
Ryan: Our team is always looking for investors that have similar values as our own. We are currently in the process of seeking venture funding from two separate sources. If anyone is interested in getting involved we are always open to discussions.
Leo: KNC Miner and others are starting to get in the cloud mining space. How do you feel about this?
Ryan: We welcome all competition into the space because at heart we are the average miner looking for the best setup for mining.
We believe that in a more competitive space there will be less room for individuals looking to deploy scam scenarios to take miners hard earned Bitcoin. One of our founding principals is to be as open and transparent as possible. We publish videos of our mine to show people that we are a tangible company with a facility and actual hardware, not just another fly by night set up that is going to run off with your coin.
Our company strives to do the things we wish we had seen in other operations when we started mining. The feeling of “This can be done better” is the reason we started Liberté Mining and the reason we feel that we will stay relevant in this industry for some time to come.
Leo: We’ve seen a lot of scams recently including Lunamine that was really well executed and even Gavin Andresen questioning mining operations. How hard is it going to be to differentiate your operations from those of the bad players?
Ryan: I think that’s were tangibility and customer engagement come in. In this world of trust-less crypto currency ironically there still needs to be a level of trust. We want to engage the community and show them that we are miners just like them and if they have an issue they can give us a call.
If they want to see our site we do have videos and we plan on making more. We want people to be as excited about mining as we are while remaining environmentally friendly. We also find it rather fishy when other operations say “no” to videos and never come out and say who they are. It makes people wonder and rightfully so, miners have a right to see the facility and know the operations are legitimate. We think it’s time that miners stand up and force company’s to play by the rules.
What public gold mining company tells their customers they can’t even see a photo of their operation? If that doesn’t make you feel freaked out I don’t know what will.
People say this is the wild west of Bitcoin but we believe the only wilderness we want to see in Bitcoin is one that isn’t effected by the burning of fossil fuels to support the network.
Liberté Mining is one of the more compelling concepts to enter the cloud mining space to date with such a strong focus on transparent, decentralized, and energy conscious efforts.
Having personally seen the videos of equipment, spoken with the founders and been excited myself about the idea of using Counterparty for the mining assets this is one of the first cloud mining operations that I’ve been excited about in a while.
Bitcoin Megaphone is an interesting idea that we’ve been watching grow over the last several weeks. The site concept is simple and is described as letting your money talk for you, Bitcoin Megaphone lets anyone post any content while paying per character. Short posts cost pennies, but the longer your post, the more you pay.
When you post, you also automatically create a secure virtual “tip jar” that anyone can donate to, and only you can collect the money. You can also manually enter your own public bitcoin address for tips.
We spoke with creator Mike Solomon about Bitcoin Megaphone to learn more about the site, his future plans, and what makes him tick.
hangletonweblogs: Thanks Mike for taking some time out of your development schedule to share with our readers. How long have you been in Bitcoin?
Mike: I’m a relative newcomer to the world of Bitocin. I’d heard some mentions of it in the press, but didn’t do the “deep dive” until March 2014. That’s when I learned about public / private keys, wallets, and the basics of securing your bitcoins. And of course that’s when I spent a few bucks to play around with. I told myself I wouldn’t stop learning about Bitcoin until I could figure out just what the hell was going on at blockchain.info. (Clicking around that site as a Bitcoin outsider is so confusing it’s actually hilarious.)
hangletonweblogs: What got you excited about Bitcoin?
Mike: For me, the most exciting aspect of Bitcoin is micropayments. With digital money you can do all sorts of things that are impossible (or just impractical) with existing payment systems. I think people would pay a lot more for little things if it were frictionless. Take the highway for example. I’d gladly pay a fraction of a penny to everyone who lets me pass them. Or with dieting; if my scale would automatically pay the KKK $1 for every day I don’t lose weight, I might be a bit skinnier right now. (That last example is obviously a joke, but it is technically possible…)
Everyone talks about how it’s so cool that Bitcoin lets you send a million dollars around the globe for practically nothing. But I think it’s important to consider the other end of the spectrum. With Bitcoin you can buy something that costs a fraction of a penny. How cool is that?
hangletonweblogs: What prompted you to build this project?
Mike: I wanted to build something that could only be possible with Bitcoin. True, you could have built something similar to Bitcoin Megaphone before Bitcoin, but it would have been painfully complex for users, involving user accounts, passwords, credit cards…yuck. Nobody would have posted a thing.
But with Bitcoin, all the barriers to posting content just fade away. People can visit the site, see what it’s about, and in seconds create a post that will be seen around the world and potentially start earning them tips.
We’ve never before seen a dynamic where you can say anything you want, anonymously, and make money from it.
hangletonweblogs: What are your goals with Bitcoin Megaphone?
I’d love to prove that micropayments have a future in publishing. At this point it’s just a big experiment to see how many people are paying and tipping, but if Bitcoin adoption continues to take off I hope that publishers will see the site as a proving ground for new revenue streams.
It’s funny because during my day job, I create the very online advertisements that I hope will one day be replaced or supplanted by the revenue generated directly from Bitcoin. Right now the prevailing wisdom is that “users won’t pay for content”, and while I agree, we haven’t yet seen what users will or won’t do with Bitcoin. It’s an exciting time to see this technology’s adoption grow.
hangletonweblogs: What have been the biggest challenges so far with it?
The site can be intimidating for people who aren’t curious or know very little about Bitcoin. There’s nothing else like it on the web, so it’s hard to immediately convey the concept to new visitors.
hangletonweblogs: What has been the biggest successes with it?
I love seeing new posts come on to the site and I love seeing people get tipped. I’d say my proudest moment was on launch day when someone cleverly posted the “To the moon” guy, and someone else tipped him within a few minutes. After tirelessly building the site it was such vindication to see it immediately start to gain traction.
hangletonweblogs: What are your future plans for Bitcoin Megaphone?
Mike: I think the biggest avenue for growth is in self-publishing. I’m talking with a few authors who are interested in publishing their work directly on Bitcoin Megaphone. Anyone who’s tried to self-publish can tell you how difficult it is to make any money. So Bitcoin Megaphone is attractive to poets and authors because it gives them the potential to instantly monetize. Making inroads to the creative community is a huge priority for me.
Also if there’s enough demand I’d love to set up an API so the content can be remixed around web. One way I can see the site growing is to become something of a Craigslist for marketing messages. So having access to that data could be useful to lots of folks.
Whatever shape the site takes, it’s fascinating to see the new and creative ways people are making posts. I’m seeing ASCII art, Base64 encoded images, walls of repeating characters to attract attention; it’s very inspiring. Of course there’s also a little bit of spam and porn. I guess that’s all part of the fun. :-p
We’ve been hearing a lot about the The North American Bitcoin Car Giveaway Tour and wanted to check in on the status of the tour, the car and how things are going.
For those of you who aren’t aware the Tour is a joint task of several names in Bitcoin including Bitcoin Trader, Bit Pages, Kryptoz Media and several more.
We’ve been closely watching the tour as it crisscrosses across North America and spoke with Robbie the CEO at BitPages.co about how things have been going on the tour.
hangletonweblogs: So Robbie, how has the tour been going thus far?
Robbie: It’s been great. A lot of excitement and curiosity. We will be in Minneapolis tonight at Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits for a big party bringing more awareness about Bitcoin and our sponsors.
hangletonweblogs: What is something interesting that has happened thus far on the tour?
Robbie: When we did the event for the launch of Calgary’s first Bitcoin ATM Machine this guy drove by on his motorcycle, quickly did a u turn and pulled up at our display table. He asked a few question and got more excited as time went on. He ran to the new Bitcoin ATM Machine by BitAccess with operators Bitcoin Brains and CaVirtex bought a bunch of bitcoin turned around and bought a coffee with it and hit the road. This was the very first time hearing about Bitcoin but as he drove off he said I’m telling everyone about this!
hangletonweblogs: Who is someone interesting you’ve met on the tour? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Robbie: Meeting Joseph David president of CaVirtex was great. He’s a very genuine and honest guy and appreciated his appreciation for what Kryptoz Media stands for and we plan to work on many exciting promotions and campaigns in the future.
hangletonweblogs: Chicago is quickly approaching. How pumped are you about that?
Robbie: I’m super pumped we have a full display booth set up and look forward to learning and networking at this great event. Moe has done an outstanding job planning for this.
hangletonweblogs: Run in to any crazy or inclement weather yet?
Robbie: Nothing yet. Some wind gusts but we have already prepared for that. With over 60 cities left on the tour I’m sure we’ll run into some bad weather just hope no acts of God occur.
With all of the drama that has been unfolding as of late about Bitcoin sites and payola one question that has come up repeatedly from many on all sides of the issue is how can we pay writers for content online.
Many of the sites in question went on the record of saying they would not stop the practice of accepting payola articles, many users on Twitter also said they were okay with the payola practice because authors have to eat as well and they didn’t know of a better solution.
Could Syndicoin be a potential solution for this issue and for helping to fund sites that are producing content?
Syndicoin is an interesting concept created by developer Julian Haight that according to the Syndicoin website:
As you browse the web, Syndicoin keeps a private account of payment requests from participating sites.
When you are ready, visit Syndicoin to review and pay for the content you like. Remove items you dislike, then click pay. Review the payment in your bitcoin wallet before broadcasting it to the network.
By paying for content, you reward publishers and encourage them to rely on direct funding instead of ads.
The concept certainly sounds pretty amazing. As a reader of sites you don’t have to prefund a wallet, you don’t have to signup for any service. You simply browse the Internet as you normally do and allow sites to send suggested tips for content.
hangletonweblogs recently implemented the Syndicoin API and when you visit if you really like what you are reading you have the option to help fund this sort of journalism. Since so few publishers support Syndicoin directly Julian has created a Chrome Extension to help bridge the gap – it collects bitcoin donation addresses from sites that provide them, even if they do not support Syndicoin directly.
While visiting hangletonweblogs you may have noticed the small box up in the top right hand corner on page load. That is Syndicoin in action!
From the end user standpoint things couldn’t be much easier. Julian shows us what it looks like from the other end of things and how sending your donation is simple with Syndicoin. An invoice is generated and allows you to pay for what you want. If you don’t want to pay for a certain page you can simply delete it from the invoice and it will go away.
hangletonweblogs sat down with Julian to have him tell us more about Syndicoin.
hangletonweblogs: Thanks for taking some time to speak with us. What prompted you to create Syndicoin?
Julian: Of course first of all, I’m a bitcoin enthusiast. I believe in it as a store of value and transaction system. At the same time, my day job is webmaster for a content producer, parentmap.com. That job has me thinking about the content producer’s business model. I wanted to give content creators another option to monetize their work.
hangletonweblogs: What sort of challenges have you faced working on Syndicoin?
Julian: Obviously, the main challenge is adoption and critical mass.
The other challenge so far is in working with the two main wallets (bitcoin qt and bitcoin-wallet on android), making sure my system is compatible with both.
The technology syndicoin uses (bip70 – https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0070.mediawiki) is new and the wallets don’t yet fully & consistently support it. I fixed one issue with bitcoin-qt which was giving me headaches and developed a work-around for bitcoin-wallet on android.
Another challenge came when producing a QR code. Originally, I had hoped to keep all transaction data on the client. I had to abandon that goal in order to produce a QR code (transaction data is often larger than a QR code can store).
hangletonweblogs: What are your future plans for Syndicoin?
Julian: I don’t have any big plans for enhancements. Responding to feedback I receive, supporting as many use-cases as I can. I want to keep the system
simple and streamlined — in line with the original concept.
My main goal now is promotion. I’ll beautify the site – add a logo & some more color.
hangletonweblogs: Bitcoin solves a lot of the micropayment issues that have been brought up in the past. What do you think it will take to make content makers offer tipping via Bitcoin at scale?
Julian: I think content producers will adopt it gradually. First the bitcoin community, but gradually more mainstream sites – if we can prove that users will pay voluntarily. That’s still the big question. I hope syndicoin and bitcoin will make it easy enough that we can show people will pay.
It will be interesting to see how bitcoin deals with the transaction volume issue. Gavin has said bitcoin isn’t really appropriate for micropayments.
He’s talking about payments less than a penny and I’m handling payments more in the $.25-$1 range. So maybe these aren’t “micropayments” in the sense he’s using. I hope greater minds than mine will solve the problem, making bitcoin able to handle more transactions more cheaply.
Syndicoin is attempting to address the issue by combining multiple transactions that aren’t time-sensitive into one. But that only goes so far. Bitcoin will need a better answer ultimately, even if it’s as basic as increasing the block size or block frequency.
It’ll be fun to see what happens. It’s an exciting time for bitcoin and I feel I’m getting started with syndicoin at just the right moment. I hope and trust we can find solutions and keep bitcoin running smoothly as it grows .. to the moon!
So I’ve been seeing a lot of social media activity from the site BetMoose recently. BetMoose is the world’s first social, feature-rich, distributed P2P betting exchange and prediction market. BetMoose allows anyone to place or create bets about ANYTHING. If you are a sports fan, you can find a bet about your favourite team, sport, or playoff season and place bets with others on the same bet.
Anyone can create their own futures contract or “bet” under their own proposed terms. During the ‘Betting Period’, anonymous and registered users place their bets on whichever option they predict will come out to be true. At the ‘Bet Deadline’, the betting stops, and a waiting period begins until the outcome time is reached. At the outcome time, the host sets the correct outcome. At this point, bettors have up to 24 hours to report the bet if the host chose an incorrect outcome.
BetMoose seemed like a really interesting idea to me so I decided to sit down with the BetMoose team and speak with them about the product, Bitcoin and more. After seeing them posting on Bitcoin Talk, Reddit and other places I reached out with a message to try and get a bit of time from them while they are busy working away on the product.
Adam the CEO at BetMoose was glad to oblige and talk with me even further about BetMoose.
Adam, why did you start BetMoose?
When I first learned about bitcoin last year, I went into a research spree (as I’m sure most do when they first get excited about bitcoin) on everything from the back-end technology, to the use cases that came from it. It was all very new to me but I definitely saw a future in it, so I bought some to test out the process first-hand. As I learned more about the community and everyone’s projects, I ended up coming across BetsofBitco.in (now defunct) and was inspired by the potential of an anonymous ‘real life bets on anything’ platform. I was also frustrated though – it seemed like a very low-key operation, operated by probably 1 guy somewhere from a home server, with no features, and massive scalability design flaws. That’s when I decided that I wanted to improve on that model. After consulting with my close friend who was working for another start-up at the time, we got to the drawing board.
So you’ve been building a team and really an entire startup around this idea. That is awesome, you had mentioned that you wanted to build something scalable, can you tell me more about your scaling and if you’ve taken any sort of outside investment to grow your team?
We have a team of 6, though we try to keep our model as lean and sustainable as possible. This comes from how our model works – also our key feature. In the past, intrade (the famous fiat prediction market) did 24 billion within contracts (‘bets placed’ on their site)), though they still had to use some of that money (and thus also operate a fractional reserve) to keep afloat, and thus failed. This is partly due to the fact they had to write, fund, and resolve their own contracts.
We are instead focused on building a P2P system for others to do that themselves, hence why our hosts make a cut from the payout This means that in theory, if we stopped development and marketing, we could run with minimal overhead expenses as a distributed platform.
That said, we do have some other connections that help out, including a private investor which we have worked with in the past and have plans to in the future on unrelated projects as well.
Sounds like you have the team and the want to build something awesome here. Can you tell us about some of the future features you and your team are working on?
Short-term, our goal is to continue to build out our platform (security, social interactions, UX, etc) and get out of beta.
Medium-term our goal is to introduce automated proof-of-solvency reports and tools for our users to feel comfortable with us not running (both for trust and technical reasons) with coins, nor running a fractional reserve for whatever reason.
Long-term we have one of two goals; 1. Become a DAC or
2. Move into fiat.
Notice the ‘or’ instead of ‘and’. This is intentional. We do not currently believe there’s a way to do what we’re doing with accepting fiat AND operating as a DAC. Accepting fiat will bring significant volume, whereas operating as a DAC brings in significant(ly more) trust, reduces costs, but may also reduce volume as the current available means make it much more user-unfriendly.
We post constant updates in 2 of our threads on reddit.com/r/betmoose – one is the changelog with what the site has been updated with, and the other is ‘What we’re working on right now’ which gives a glimpse of what we’re building/testing as we speak. Likewise, we keep our bitcointalk.org thread up to date. I could tell you more about awesome new stuff we’re working on, but by the time this gets published/read, I have a feeling we’ll be working on more awesome new stuff so the best bet is to check those 2 sources. Roughly though, we’re working on more social interactivity (like an ‘activity center’), minigames for the chat box, and a referral program.
Wow, becoming a DAC?!? Can you tell us your thoughts as to why you would do that and maybe an explanation for our readers as to what a DAC is?
DACs are quite a complex concept to discuss in detail in a single paragraph but basically, it’s a corporation with no centralized group of directors. Instead, it is either automated based on a set of pre-established rules and guidelines, and/or decisions are made through decentralized leadership (by multiple people) anonymously.
It’s worth noting that DACs are highly abstract, theoretical organizational constructs, ones that haven’t been tested really in practice. BetMoose COULD be a DAC in theory. We wouldn’t meet all the technical definitions but decentralized ownership (through investment or another path) may make it possible. This is because the core activities by site admins long-term can be automated in a decentralized way. Activities such as deciding to remove flagged content, and resolving unresolved and disputed bets being the primary tasks.
The funds could then be held in multi-signature wallets controlled by the host, the user and one where the key is found through consensus of these ‘master’ oracles. This will turn BetMoose into a decentralized contract exchange. The tricky part is finding hundreds if not thousands (would probably be a fraction of the total site userbase) of these trusted oracles, which will mediate disputed bets (as an example), without introducing attack vectors like Sybil attacks (aka 1 physical person acting as 100 oracles and thus swinging the vote).
Why do this? For science! (among other rational business reasons)
What is one of the challenges you are facing with BetMoose?
Our biggest challenge (as other P2P platforms) is users and volume. It gets easier as the platform grows (as we have been, which is good), and the bets that get going usually keep going at an increasing rate, however, if you’re a new host with no starting liquidity (even though you may have a good bet!), it may be a challenge to get that crucial bit of beginning liquidity.
We try our best to help out, but it’s ultimately up to the host to at least post his bet somewhere to get some outside eyes on it.
Lastly, we’ve been a little bit concerned with the overall market of bitcoin using statistics from http://bitinfocharts.com/top-100-richest-bitcoin-addresses.html (as one example). From our analysis, we believe ~500K people (at the most) have bitcoin that is 0.01 BTC or more (just $3). Realistically though, that amount is halved if you look at those that own anything more than 0.1 BTC. So even if every single person who had bitcoin was using it on our site, we’d be at no more than 250K users.
What are some of your goals with BetMoose?
Our goal as bitcoin entrepreneurs should be to bring more people into the bitcoin ecosystem, not fight over the existing one. We’ve created something that isn’t available or easily repeatable with fiat, hopefully to show the power of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. We’re also planning to give out free coins to new users (a meaningful amount, like $2-3 each) – we want to become the first, fun and friendly step into bitcoin for them. And unlike a faucet, they’ll be able to use them right away. We hope more people join us in our vision for bitcoin adoption.
Does the recent rulings in Canada have any effect on what you guys are doing? I’m not a lawyer but it sure doesn’t seem like it would apply but even still I’d be happy to hear about you and your teams thoughts regarding it and what it may mean if anything for BetMoose.
No. There was a good summary somewhere but basically (paraphrased from someone else’s summary):
If the business model is fiat BTC touching exchange, then you’re a MSB and you need a license.
If your business model is NOT about moving fiat person to person, and is a bitcoin store, game, service etc (like BetMoose), then there’s nothing to worry about.
This ruling is all about the fiat – Canadian dollars are the jurisdiction of Canada, hence they can create this ruling.
All of that said however, we do not operate in Canada (we have 2 servers in 2 jurisdictions (one is a fail-safe backup which we haven’t had to use yet)), and we do not target Canadians directly. BetMoose is as much ‘in the cloud’ as it gets, so no physical presence is our strong point. We also maintain anonymity exactly for this purpose, trying our best to replicate btc-e’s model.
Thanks for you time Adam! I can’t wait to keep watching BetMoose grow!
One thing that I’ve been curious about is what the behind the scenes of a Bitcoin faucet looks like.
What sort of challenges are faced by the owners and operators, why are they doing it, what sort of stories do they have to tell. So I’ve been interviewing various people in the Bitcoin faucet scene.
When I launched this site my goal wasn’t just to give reviews but rather scratch an itch for writing that I have and to hone my skills and further my potential craft. After launching the site I headed over to Bitcoin Talk an Internet forum about Bitcoin and decided to try and track down some of the owners and operators of Bitcoin faucets to see if any were willing to speak with me.
I had assumed it would be slow going as this is a fairly new site and I haven’t had much of an opportunity to share it out much but within minutes of my requests to speak with developers of faucets some responses started coming in.
I was insanely excited to start digging in to tell the stories and even possibly learn about what drives others who are creating these sites.
I spoke with devthedev who used to operate devfaucet that peaked at over 2,000 users, Boelens who used to operate the Domestic Pineapple faucet that had over 14,000 unique visits, and the owner behind CoinLearn to see what it is like being on the other side of the faucet.
Thanks to all of you guys for taking some time to speak with me.
How did you each get your start in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin?
devthedev: I got my start when a friend introduced me to cryptocurrency.
CoinLearn: You can call me the second generation bitcoiner. I missed the boat of CPU/GPU mining. When I joined the bitcoin world, bitcoin was trading at its peak, i.e. 1000+ USD. Like most of the others of my time, I also got my first few Satoshis from faucets, as mining means a substantial investment now.
Boelens: I’ve been involved in the bitcoin community for well over a year right now, and I got started when I had made an investment in BTC and found Reddit and bitcointalk. I just posted occasionally, met some cool people, and got involved slowly.
What was the motivation for starting a Bitcoin faucet?
Boelens: My primary motivation was that it was easy to set up with TradeFortress’ script using inputs.io at the time (which turned out not to be so easy after I had to change a lot), also it just seemed fun, you’ll share the wealth with others, get pageviews going for my site, which resulted in profit from ads. I never made a real profit, I just always ran even with what was paid out.
CoinLearn: Something I noticed, that most of the faucets are single page CAPTCHA based and does not provide any added value to the users or advertisers. So I just thought, why not code something where people would get something to learn as well as earn. Thereby the idea of CoinLearn struck me…
devthedev: To give back to the community and raise awareness of the innovative currency.
What were some of the challenges you faced or are facing running a faucet? Are adblockers an issue?
Boelens: There have definitely been some issues/challenges. In the beginning funding was an issue, and TradeFortress (owner of the script) also didn’t help well. There was a vulnerablity in the script which caused someone to get the API key and steal 0.18 BTC, after renewing it and having it “fixed” by TF, the same amount was stolen and I lost 0.36 BTC which was a huge setback. He also refused to refund it (which is sort of understandable since it’s my own risk). Otherwise I haven’t had that many issues, apart from the shutdown of inputs.io, of course.
Adblockers weren’t a single issue for me, actually. I placed the ads in divs, used an image supplied by the sponsor and added a link to it. I don’t think adblocker detected those as ads. If you use something like Google ads to supply ads for you, it probably is an issue.
devthedev: One of the biggest challenges faced was the constant hacking attempts.
CoinLearn: 1. For months, while I was developing the site including logo, I knew CoinLearn.com was free. It got booked the day before I tried to actually book it online. So, again I needed to decide which domain I needed to settle upon and change logo and texts accordingly.
2. Within a few days of launch, we faced an attack of SQL injection. So I had to take down the site and add a patch to stop it in future.
3. I tried not to have a CAPTCHA for ease of use. But started to notice in the backend that people are using auto-pilot to earn coins. Now we have a CAPTCHA at the end of the learn page.
4. Initially no one was interested in advertising on the site. So I had to pay from my pocket. Now as we are riding up the alexa curve and getting tons of traffic, advertisers are rolling in.
Are Bitcoin faucets a good way to get started in Bitcoin? Do they serve as a gateway?
Boelens: I used faucets a few times when I heard about it in 2010-ish, and then didn’t think much of it. (oh how I wish I had not formatted that HDD). I think they are a good gateway, it’s a slow way of earning but it introduced you to how transactions work, and give you a small amount of bitcoin to experiment with, see what all the possibilities with it are.
devthedev: Yes, that was our main goal and we believe we brought in new Crypto users.
As I spoke to these various guys it really helped further assure me that faucets are a great way for people who have zero experience with Bitcoin to at least get a feel for how it all works.
Sure, the number of coins you actually get are really small but if you are just looking to wet your feet a little bit and have your first transaction come to your wallet these are likely a good way to get going.
Lots of faucets are popping up every single day and we are doing our best to keep up with them and give you honest reviews.
It is clear that most faucets are just breaking even and most will never even do that but they provide a great service.
Each of the people I spoke with in this part of the community was more than willing to answer the questions I presented them and were completely open and honest. It is cool to know that this community exists!