Just released my first Chrome extension, and there’s a story to tell about how that came about….
Been playing around with Bitcoin and several other alt-coins over the last couple of months. So far I haven’t made any “big” money, but it’s been fun to experiment and research tools and technologies.
As I read more and more about the block chain technology I can say that I totally understand how this will be a disruptor in many different areas. The really, really short version is that a block chain can be used to not only secure information but also be used to track changes made over a period of time. If we consider today as the start of time and I create a wallet for Bitcoin, any money going in and out of that wallet can be tracked. The tracking is anonymous but is monitored by thousands if not millions of computers around the world. the technology is a peer-to-peer network and hacking one machine will get you no where, you would have to hack all of the peers at basically the same time. Now if that wasn’t hard enough, the whole thing is wrapped in ridiculous layers of encryption.
How does this benefit the world? easy.. I can now transfer money or something that represents a value to anyone using nothing more than my phone. Basically I run a wallet application on my phone that allows me to push tokens (using encryption etc.) to another user’s wallet. Once a number of peers acknowledge the transaction, it is confirmed and the world accessible ledger is updated. So I moved “money” to someone else without a middleman, no paper, no worry about converting cash (say Canadian to US), etc. There is still a minor transaction fee that gets applied, but much lower than the $1.50 my bank charges me to do an Interac transfer to another user.
So that’s the jist of it, but it gets better… now consider a similar model for social networking. Imagine being able to review a users history on the network, being able to qualify a person based on the contact they have created in their own network. Something like this is also being applied to contracts and organizations. The technology opens so many doors that it is literally mind boggling.
And… the technology is open source! no one owns the licensing so there is no cost to use the technology. The only problem is that it really is the wild west right now with so much misinformation. The number of alt-coins too has risen to over 900 in a very short period of time and unfortunately many of them exist only as ICO (initial coin offerings) and people throw money at them in the hopes that they will achieve the values of Bitcoin. When you hear about the Bitcoin bubble, it is really these unregulated ICO’s that are the problem since many result in the owners cashing out and never producing a product based on the block chain technology.
The Sites I Use
I have worked with numerous sites over the last few months and I have lost money. There was one time that I listed some coins for about 10% of their actual value. Luckily it was only about $50 and before I could cancel the offer, someone bought them. 🙂 Lesson learned, and I have been much more diligent since!
In all, even with my minor losses I am on the positive side of things. If you decide to dig into this be sure to work with small values at first, there is no undo. Right now I own BTC (Bitcoin), ETH (Ethereum), LTC (Litecoin), NEO (Neo) and Tether (basically a USD holding wallet).
I do all of my trading through Bittrex and I really like the site since it allows me to research and exchange other alt-coins. As well, I take advantage of the wallets that they expose under my account. This way my coins are more liquid in the event I decide to move some around. My exposure is less than the current full value of a Bitcoin so I am not too concerned about moving the coins out to a more secure wallet.
As a Canadian, to get money into Bittrex I use the Canadian site QuadrigaCX. This site allows me to fund a Canadian online wallet, and then I transfer the Bitcoin to the Bittrex Exchange for trading purposes. In all cases, I have enabled 2-Factor authentication and strong passwords.
Note: These sites will require you to take part in a verification process. The verification process requires you to supply passport and other details to prove your citizenship and that you are a real person.
Update… found this “free bitcoin” site. Looks like they trickle out BitCoin, Litecoin and others every 24 hours. Going to try it out and see…
Research and News Sites
One thing is for sure, be sure to research before you invest! This technology and the coins that use it are not mainstream by any means. It will be years before that happens. Still, I’m pretty confident in saying that this technology will be an integral part of our future. Like the Internet disrupted the print media companies, this technology will disrupt the multi-billion dollar banking industry, and I believe in a good way.
Some research sites I recommend:
My First Chrome Extension
I’ve been looking for a good reason to create a Chrome extension, and recently I found one!
On Bittrex, the values that are displayed are shown in BTC (Bitcoin) value. Because I only own part of a Bitcoin the value may get displayed as 0.11230639 At a glance, I know this is about 10% of the BTC value, but with other coins like ETH, LTC and NEO on the list my portfolio value is not so obvious. Part of the fun around this is the volatility of the coins and trying to stay ahead of the game in regard to losses and gains.
The Chrome extension that I have created calculates the USD value of the BTC estimates so that you can see what your investment is worth as an approximated USD value.
The component is available here:
I have also made the code available here:
Donations always welcome! 🙂