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Bitcoin is a decentralized system of digital cash in which users don’t need to trust anyone else with their money; however, the full benefits of this technology are only seen when users operate a full node on the network. The vast majority of Bitcoin users do not operate their own full nodes, but one man is trying to change that with a piece of hardware he calls the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr.
There are many good reasons for individual Bitcoiners to operate a full node. Full nodes are responsible for validating transactions and blocks on the Bitcoin network. Only by running full nodes can users know with full certainty that they received a valid payment. Additionally, the more users that run full nodes, the more decentralized the Bitcoin network is, making it harder to shut down or corrupt.
And as Sia Co-Founder David Vorick pointed out in a talk at this year’s MIT Bitcoin Expo, those who do not operate their own full nodes do not get a say in the matter when hard forks are deployed on the network. “If you’re not running a full node … your opinion on whether or not you like a hard fork is less relevant because, ultimately, if you’re not validating the rules and someone gives you a transaction following a different rule set, you don’t have a way to detect that,” he explained.
Running a full node, however, has been a rather expensive proposition. As a result, larger, economically invested entities that are better able to support full nodes have had more of a say.
According to Vorick, users can be dragged along with miners and large businesses if the cost of running a full node is too high: “If full nodes are expensive to run, only people who are capable of running nodes really have any say in what happens in a contentious upgrade.”
Matthew Zipkin is the man behind the Bitcoin Block Clock. A sound engineer by trade, he has been working in his spare time on creating full nodes that are both affordable and fun to use. During a recent discussion with Bitcoin Magazine, Zipkin revealed his desire to create a piece of hardware for operating a low-cost Bitcoin full node that isn’t boring.
A Bitcoin Full Node That Isn’t Boring
“I always wanted one, but they disappeared when they got bought out, so I decided to build my own,” said Zipkin.
While there are other full node options out there, such as Bitseed, Zipkin wanted to make something that was more than a piece of computer hardware that would sit on the floor next to a router. Zipkin wanted to turn a Bitcoin full node into a work of art, and that’s exactly what he did.
Zipkin built the first version of the Bitcoin Block Clock last year, and it was on display at the SF Bitcoin Meetup’s “Proof of Art” event in May of 2016. After receiving positive feedback at the event and on Reddit, Zipkin decided to make a smaller version of the full node hardware to sell.
The Bitcoin Block Clock included a screen that displayed various live information about the Bitcoin network. Zipkin put the original version of the Bitcoin Block Clock for sale on OpenBazaar and Purse.io, but it hasn’t sold.
“I priced it pretty high because it’s art and I love it and kind of want to keep it,” explained Zipkin. “So of course it still has not sold.”
Creating the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. With Bcoin
In an effort to create a version of the Bitcoin Block Clock that could be produced at a lower price, Zipkin turned to Raspberry Pi Zero and Bcoin, which is an implementation of the Bitcoin protocol written in Node.js.
Of course, the problem with using SPV mode is that it’s not a full node and the device won’t receive all of the information related to a new Bitcoin block as it’s mined on the network. Zipkin opted for the pruned full node option in Bcoin in an effort to lower the system resources required to operate the node on Raspberry Pi Zero.
“With pruning, I get all the fun block details I wanted to display,” said Zipkin. “I even submitted a pull request (which got merged!) to Bcoin to make my application work even easier.”
Zipkin described the LED displays on the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. as follows:
“The Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. has two LED rings. The outer ring of 24 LEDs indicates recent blocks. Each LED represents 2 minutes, and they “tick” clockwise around the ring. The color of the LED is determined by the block’s version (BIP 9 version bits combined with keywords from the Coinbase scriptSig like “/EXTBLK” or “/EB1/AD6/”). The inner 16-LED ring indicates the progress of the current difficulty period (2,016 blocks, or about two weeks). It starts blue and gradually turns more and more red as the meter fills up. The tiny little display screen indicates some details about the latest block: height, size, version (and extra scriptSig version) and the adjustment period progress. I added a little web interface so I could turn the lights off at night without having to SSH into the Pi every time.”
An Economical Way to Contribute to the Network
While Zipkin noted that the original Bitcoin Block Clock displays much more information and also comes with full wallet functionality, he also pointed out that the latest model proves that Bitcoin users only need about $20 to run their own full nodes (at least in pruned mode).
Having said that, Zipkin admitted that the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. can struggle to keep up with the network at times.
“Bcoin plus my Python script and all the GPIO display output just barely hangs in there on this tiny underpowered computer,” said Zipkin. “The Python script has a method to restart Bcoin when it crashes and monitor it as it catches up to the network.”
All of the technical details of the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. are open source and can be found on GitHub.
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Bitmain are (in)famous in the Bitcoin world, not only for producing the fastest available ASIC miners but for their AsicBoost and Antbleed scandals. With the powerful L3 Scrypt miner, Bitmain have expanded into Litecoin mining. Once again, their products supply the most hash for your cash… But as the L3 was quickly sold out on […]Continue Reading
The weekly price analysis for Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
Ethereum price has grown from $130. Does this mean another downtrend correction or a reversal wave?
No upward reversal
Most Ethereum buyers passed the correction bottom. The exchange rate reaction, an increase in price from $175 to $225, only confirms it. Last week, the key points of where Ethereum was most likely to move were identified. Thus, the $240 level was responsible for the structure of the downtrend. A turn at $240 would give a signal that the structure of the trend is broken and, therefore, the advantage is now on the side of the buyers. It’s the most likely reversal scenario. The fact that Ethereum price reached only $225 and turned indicates that the sellers maintained the advantage.
Uptrend analysis since December 2016
Large-scale correction after the growth from $10 was expected. We observed the first signal at the end of May after the price reached $200 and collapsed by almost 50 percent. The demand was growing, and it allowed for a large trader to invest further. But a sharp drop from $400 ended the trend, that started in December 2016. If we analyze purchases, we can that the main volume of transactions was made at the $20 to $50 range, and from the $300 level, the volume of the purchase began to fall. There was a great demand for Ethereum at the $350 to $400 area, which allowed investors to fix more than 500 percent of the profit.
Until the structure of the downtrend is not broken, you should consider any growth as a correction wave. The structure break will indicate the ‘shift in power.’ At the moment, the breaking point of the downward structure is somewhere at $200. The largest order volume for sale only proves it. Therefore, for the fall from $400 to end and the growth to start, at least for correction, requires a turn at this point. If there is no reversal, then the fall is very likely to continue.
Ethereum Classic couldn’t hold
After a rebound from the lowest border of the flat at $13, ETC stopped at the key point around $15 to $16. The course failed to gain a foothold at profitable for sellers zone. As a result, the supply exceeded the demand and Ethereum Classic price continued to go down.
One more increase in volatility
Ethereum Classic is traded at the lowest flat point. That is why there is a high probability for volatility growth since most traders manifest themselves at such key levels. The current $19.5 to $13 flat wave can turn into a reversal wave, where the flat exit from and a deeper fall may follow. But saving the structure is essential in this case. The key point, responsible for the trend structure is $15 to $16. If there is a turn in this area, chances are the flat will go on.
What to expect
If there is a $200 upswing, then there is a high probability for a correction of the entire downward trend from $400.
If there is a turn up at $15 to $16, then the growth is likely to reach at least $18.Continue Reading
If this kind of delivery systems sees success in the future, it could lead to a major adoption of Blockchain technology by leading service providers including Amazon.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and Concordia University in Quebec have introduced a Blockchain-based system which utilizes onion routing techniques to facilitate anonymous deliveries.
In their official paper entitled “Lelantos: A Blockchain-based Anonymous Physical Delivery System,” researchers wrote:
“In this work, we present a Blockchain-based physical delivery system called Lelantos that within a realistic threat model, offers customer anonymity, fair exchange and merchant customer unlinkability. Our system is inspired by the onion routing techniques which are used to achieve anonymous message delivery.”
Bitcoin and Tor-inspired automated delivery platform
Essentially, the Lelantos Blockchain platform developed by researchers from the two above mentioned Canadian universities uses smart contracts and the immutability of Blockchain technology to facilitate deliveries in a direct manner between delivery companies, sellers and buyers.
In the beginning, the initial smart contract is created and initiated by the purchaser trying to receive products anonymously from the seller. Another smart contract is then made with delivery companies, automating the entire process with the Lelantos Blockchain network.
Two major advantages of utilizing Blockchain technology and smart contracts are the security measures and privacy the two technologies provide. With onion routing techniques, all deliveries are processed anonymously. Because a Blockchain network is immutable, the alteration of data integrated into the Blockchain network is not possible.
Like all Blockchain networks, Lelantos will likely struggle to deal with scaling problems in the future if the user base of the Lelantos Blockchain network grows. Therefore, from the beginning, Lelantos will utilize off-chain solutions to facilitate deliveries.
“This system allows the customer, merchant and a set of customer chosen delivery companies to engage in a delivery smart contract. Such a contract acts as a trusted intermediary to enforce fair monetary transactions and to enable the contractual parties to communicate. Lelantos is composed of an on-chain part which is the smart contract on the Blockchain, and off-chain components which are user-side applications and a web server,” reads the paper.
Necessity of an anonymous delivery system
Government officials and law enforcement agencies will likely criticize the Lelantos network for opening the possibility of illicit goods ordered from the dark web being delivered to buyers anonymously. Already, drugs being ordered by young adults in countries such as the US, UK and Hong Kong have been on the rise.
However, privacy is important and necessary for anyone. Many analysts have stated in the past that solutions such as TumbleBit would benefit Bitcoin users by anonymizing transactions.
Anonymizing the Bitcoin network may increase dark web activity, but it will also protect users from potential attacks. For instance, with the current transparent Blockchain, anyone can track Bitcoin wallets and amounts of Bitcoin stored in the wallets. Such transparency could lead to targeted thefts and attacks.
At the moment, industries including insurance, healthcare and information technology are trying to commercial Blockchain technology due to its immutable nature. If delivery systems such as the Lelantos network see success in the future, it could lead to a major adoption of Blockchain technology by leading service providers including Amazon.Continue Reading