Free Bitcoin crash course

Alastair Aitken 8 December 2013 0

There’s a Simpsons episode, Flaming Moe’s, where Homer Simpson becomes overwhelmed by the fact that the bartender (Moe) at his regular drinking dive has ripped off his recipe for a cocktail and is making a mint. As he sinks into despair – endlessly repeating the name “Moe” – Homer sits, dishevelled and unshaven, at the family dining table. As members of his family speak, all Homer hears is their words transmogrifying into the name “Moe”. “All work and Moe play, makes Moe a moe moe moe”, ends one sentence.

Now replace the name “Moe” with “Bitcoin” and you’ve got a fair approximation of what some of my geek friends have been hearing and reading in the past few weeks. In fact, if I had a Bitcoin for every time I’ve read an article about, or heard a mention of, Bitcoin then I’d be a Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin.

Unless you no longer take a morning paper, then you may have heard that the exchange rate for Bitcoin against real world currencies has been going through the roof of late, a trend that is, of course, fed by the very media that reports it.

Norwegian wood

There’s the story of the Norwegian man who forgot that he’d bought $24, $25, or maybe it was $27 worth of Bitcoins in 2009 and which is now worth $886,000, or perhaps it’s value is even greater now as the graph for the Bitcoin exchange rate appears to now match the hockey-stick projections for global warming.

Welsh landfill

Or maybe you heard about the hard drive that’s gone missing in a Newport landfill site that contains £4m worth of Bitcoins. By the time you’ve finished reading this paragraph, the valuation is probably nearer £8m.

Special interest DVDs

I first looked at Bitcoin a couple of years ago when I wanted to buy something as mundane as a WordPress theme. The theme I wanted was being sold by a company that accepted all the normal methods of online payments plus Bitcoin. This piqued my interest to the point where I investigated how to obtain enough Bitcoins to effect a purchase. This involved trawling around websites that looked as dodgy as websites from the late 90s that were hawking DVDs that would be delivered from foreign lands with no duty to pay – and no, I’m not talking about “special interest” DVDs. The prices were tempting but the chances of getting the goods you paid for, or your money back, looked as unlikely as the websites looked unprofessional. I bought no Bitcoins.

Not suitable for miners

Another route to obtaining Bitcoins is to “mine” them, which entails leaving your computer running an application that slowly gathers fractions of Bitcoins. It all feels a bit like those old programs that ran on your unattended computer churning away at tasks that would help detect the presence of alien life – a process that has been a resounding success and absolutely worth the untold amount of electricity that went into it.

Gamblers Anonymous

I’m half-expecting some erstwhile friends to re-surface in the Bitcoin wake. They would badger me for advice about whether to invest in E-Gold, or whether they should invest in cyber-squatting .EU domains. Should they invest in Bitcoin?

Before investing your life savings in a virtual currency, do a bit of research and see how many start-ups and concepts have had as their central premise “a currency for the web”. I’ll bet you a fraction of a Bitcoin that it might cause you to change your mind.

Alastair Aitken (124 Posts)

As a contract developer and manager I’ve worked in a wide range of enterprises in a variety of countries where I’ve encountered everything from great work, awful work, bizarre work, all the way down to quasi-legal work. If you think that you recognise your own organisation within my articles then you’re undoubtedly wrong, where you work isn’t that unique.

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