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Bitcoin adoption could spike with 21 Inc.’s help

Bitcoin used to be a buzz word, but what is it really? How do you use it, where do you get it, and why do you want it? We have all these answers and more.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin may soon be part of your daily life

Bitcoin used to be a daily buzz word; from why you needed it to how to use it, everyone was buzzing about the currency. Now, scuttlebutt surrounding the newest currency kid on the block is scarce at best, but it is still around, still relevant, and here’s why:

Bitcoin experienced a plummet from a high price of $1,242 in December 2013 to a mere $238, according to Stratechery. Now this may seem to make my point about Bitcoin being relevant invalid, but consider this: 21 Inc., a Bitcoin-focused startup, announced they had raised $116 million.

While they didn’t specifically state this was for furthering Bitcoin, Andreessen Horowitz and Matthew Pauker said, “Bitcoin is going to change the way that people and businesses and even machines interact with each other, but for Bitcoin to realize that vision we need mass adoption. It can’t just be for Silicon Valley.”

Wait, what’s Bitcoin?

Herein lies the problem: people do not understand what Bitcoin is, how it’s useful, and why it should interest them. If you’re in the “what the heck is Bitcoin” group, you’re not alone. Here’s what is it and how you can use it (and why it’s probably the next trendy thing).

Bitcoin is digital currency. When I say digital, I mean completely digital, operating free from banking institutions. Okay, not completely digital, as you can attain physical Bitcoins, but this does defeat the original premise behind an “all digital” currency and enthusiasts greatly prefer the digital variety.

So, Bitcoin is 98% digital. I liken Bitcoin to tokens that you used to get in gaming arcades, with one exception: Bitcoin currency can be broken down into fractions (called satoshis). Using the token example, you gave the machine $1, you got four tokens. With Bitcoin, those 4 “tokens” could be divided into multiple fractions, giving you more bang for your buck…or Bitcoin.

When you decide to spend a Bitcoin, the transaction is submitted to a global peer-to-peer network. Compare this to those old illegal music downloading sites, only this is legal. Then, the transaction is verified, entered into public record (also called blockchains). These blockchains have a record of every Bitcoin ever made, so they know who own each one, including fractionals, which helps prevent fraud. These p2p networks are not verifying for free though, they are rewarded with Bitcoins for their efforts, making the Bitcoin system self-supporting. Think of it like PayPal’s fees, only digital.

Don’t get confused, these will be common words soon

When tech gurus and Bitcoin enthusiasts talk about Bitcoin, you’ll hear words like “cryptographic keys” and “cryptocurrency.” These can be confusing for newbies, who aren’t even sure what Bitcoin does; let’s face it, it can be confusing even if you do know what Bitcoin does. This is a complicated way to describe how the information is transferred. Bitcoin uses public key encryption4 techniques for security.

Basically, when a new Bitcoin address is created, a cryptographic key pair is also created. This consists of a public key and private key. These keys are unique, long strings of letters and numbers; a bit like when you have the computer generate a secure password for your site, or email. This keeps Bitcoin secure, and unique to the address that created it.

If you’re ready to get your feet wet in the Bitcoin world, there’s a great primer that even a kiddo can understand. Just remember the one caveat of Bitcoin: the balance isn’t insured, as it isn’t held by any institution. If a hacker breaks into your computer, or your hard drive crashes, you could lose all your “money.”

Now you get it, so let’s circle back to 21 Inc.

For the more advanced Bitcoiners, let’s look at what 21 Inc. is really doing with the money they raised. To understand what they’re doing, you need to know a little about Bitcoin mining. Mining refers to the computer-intensive process of generating Bitcoins. Any computer can mine a Bitcoin with freeware, but it takes a great deal of space and time to complete the process, due to the complex algorithms.

Miners use computers to track and record pending Bitcoin transactions every ten minutes into a new block. Then, they must be verified. The first miner to solve the algorithm and verify the transaction, uploads the results to the Bitcoin network.

This upload, or algorithm answer, is also called a block. When the rest of the Bitcoin network confirms the solution, the block is added to the block chain. The miner who solved the algorithm is then paid 25 Bitcoins for their efforts. Now you can see why some Bitcoin enthusiasts love it: the thrill of the problem solving and reward.

Now, on to 21 Inc. They “unofficially” announced on Medium. 21 Inc. stated, after much hard work, they’ve “created an embeddable mining chip, which [they] call the BitShare.”

This BitShare chip “can be embedded into an internet-connected device as a standalone chip, or integrated into an existing chipset as a block of IP to generate a continuous stream of digital currency for use in a wide variety of applications.” To clarify this, BitShare, simplifies that long computer-intensive process and places it in a chip. This allows you to use your mobile devices as Bitcoin mining devices, along with a whole host of possibilities. This chip could simplify the mining process and allow more users to adopt the Bitcoin concept.

And finally, the Bitcoin crux and why 21 Inc. is so important

Thus, the Bitcoin crux: to be successful and really get off the ground, more users need to adopt the concept. However, the very users that need to adopt it, have passed it off as a fad, or of something of disinterest.

Given the chance to try Bitcoin though, these same users, may begin to understand and enjoy the experience. 21 Inc. is hoping to bridge the gap between the Bitcoin enthusiasts and the “what the heck is Bitcoin” group.

21 Inc. wants to be the AOL CD of Bitcoin by “giving every user a free trial of Bitcoin at near-zero marginal cost” and to onboard millions of users.

This may help bring the additional users needed to the Bitcoin game. It certainly worked for AOL; remember all those CDs hanging in WalMart, Best Buy, and the like. What do you think? Will more users help bring Bitcoin into the usability sphere, or will it require something more to get Bitcoin off the ground?

#BitcoinAdoption

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Students say free coding school wildly fails to deliver

(TECH NEWS) There’s a serious barrier to entry into web development so a free coding school launches, but students say it isn’t delivering on their promises.

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Coding bootcamps

Technology changes quickly and so does the skillset requirement by companies. Many people are finding themselves in the stage of their career path where they may want to try something new – and not surprisingly, make a nice salary doing it. The launch of coding bootcamps (starting with Code Academy and 2011) has been touted as the solution to educate those on a missing skillset and setting them up for well-paying J-O-Bs.

Coding bootcamps, now up to 95 full-time coding academies in the United States, offer job seekers training in an area where they can move in to a new career and also meet to provide much needed talent to employers who need people who can code. This doesn’t usually come for free though. Average coding bootcamps (6 months) can cost up to $21K with the promise you will land a high paying salary at the end of it. There are also many universities providing coding boot camp classes.

What does it mean when a free coding school launches (with the intent to provide an educational opportunity to those who maybe don’t have the funding for a large investment and/or the ability to take out more student loans) and simply asks for a portion of your starting salary once you land that incredible new Developer gig?

Sounds like a great idea. This meets the market demand for interested people to learn a new skill set and be ready for a new career in software development. Shouldn’t we be asking how easy it is for these folks to get hired after the program? The challenge with the Lambda School is that their curriculum and UX for online learning is in development.

While they intended to meet people where they were with an online platform (offering flexibility to the students and teachers), it has left a little bit to desire by its participants. The learning opportunities are constantly changing. The teachers are also not always available and most likely have other full-time obligations or employment.

Many students were left disappointed that they didn’t feel the education matched expectations and didn’t see how they were going to be able to be hired in to roles that would allow them to pay back the tuition. So much so they sent requests to get out of their signed contracts and halt the program.
It goes without saying that anything new has its challenges and businesses can only move so fast.

No matter how fast technology changes, we are humans and have certain human behaviors. Employers want to see real-world experience so even if you’ve taken classes, the candidate must be willing to do things above and beyond the class (volunteer projects and networking for sure). While we root for Lambda School to be a legitimate solution for those how may not have the budget for a full-time coding school, it might be worth the time to let them sort out their curriculum challenges and consider building up your skill set in this area in other ways.

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Tech News

Defense startups are getting beaucoup bucks from the DoD

(TECH NEWS) Some tech companies are getting large venture capital because the Department of Defense is looking for new defense startups.

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While private investors remain wary of funding defense startups, they are still keeping an eye on the possible venture opportunities. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is hoping domestic investors will increase spending into these startups in order to compete with China’s strategy of creating private equity firms to invest into foreign technologies.

A major reason for the growing interest by venture capitalists is the shift in focus from traditional weapons to tools for information warfare, meaning software and tech systems. Defense startups are creating products that may have multiple benefits outside the DoD.

Changes in the defense venture landscape are slow with all three parties learning how to benefit from one another. Startups realize working with the DoD is a “mission-driven objective” as stated by Ryan Tseng, founder of Shield AI. “We went into this eyes wide open, knowing full well that to the venture community, the math doesn’t make sense.”

However, there are several big investor players already in the game. Andreessen Horowitz, a top-tier venture fund is banking on the economic sustainability of defense startups in the future. They’ve already invested in Shield AI and defense tech company Anduril Industries. Additionally, the Founders Fund, another big name venture firm led by Silicon investors Peter Thiel, Brian Singerman, and Ken Howery is investing in Anduril and goTenna after successfully backing SpaceX and Palantir Technologies.

Defense companies’ emphasis on tech could be the answer to challenges usually associated with DoD investments like competing against dominate manufacturers with steady government contracts and long procurement cycles. U.S. Code 2377 stipulates that commercially available items be considered first in procurement efforts. If defense startups can enter the market, they will also stand a chance of winning government contracts over bigger, traditional companies, thus diversifying the playing field.

But until there is a greater guarantee of a payoff, investors are likely to remain skeptical. The possibilities for this new generation of defense companies is going to needs some more wins to prove the future is in their corner.

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Tech News

Goal-based project management tool simplifies your work life

(TECH NEWS) If you are struggling to keep tasks straight then this new tool Qoals allows for a simpler and more straightforward way to accomplish goals as a team.

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Qoals pitch

We all have goals – whether they be personal, professional, financial, etc. Anyone can set a goal, all it takes is having a thought and assigning it a certain level of importance. However, not everyone completes their goals due to the oft difficulties and confusions associated with execution.

Like anything else, if there’s a will, there’s a way. A new way has been found in the form of Qoals – a simple and straightforward tool that helps you to get aligned around business goals instead of an endless wall of tasks.

The ability to complete goals is done through: setting goals, adding tasks, collecting things, and tracking progress. With this, everyone on your team has access to this information to keep tabs on what’s happening.

With setting goals, you create and prioritize your goals, letting your team members know which ones are most important at that time. Goals can be prioritized with tabs such as: long term, short term, and urgent. By adding tasks, you can add and assign tasks to set a clear path in order to complete set goals.

In collecting things, you collect resources related to your goal and keep them in one safe place (again, this is accessible to your whole team). This doesn’t require uploading files, but simply including links to resources to keep everything easily accessible. Finally, by tracking progress, everyone on the team can see where you’re at with your goals – which saves time with the follow ups of “how’s Goal X going?”

Why did Qoals develop this goal-oriented approach? “It’s about time we simplify things,” according to the official website. “Get aligned around goals and let everyone know what’s important for the business. Add goals under various projects and start adding tasks and resources to make that goal happen.”

Additionally, Qoals boasts that this provides users with a birds-eye view of what’s happening with their team, allowing them to be more human-centric. You can create unlimited projects, set and track your goals, collected everything related to said goal, keep the discussion relevant, access your tasks with one click, stay connected to your team, and see what’s going on at a glance.
Qoals is currently in beta.

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