A Bitcoin Primer.

Update 7/12/14: A great article over at Borro explaining what Bitcoin is, how it works, etc. Highly recommend reading it. This article still has more links to jump off of, but the Borro article is really, illustrated, and concise.

Bitcoin has become all the rage in recent days. At first it was just a niche news item, then it began to virally spread across geeky news sites and blogs – now it is taking to the mainstream. There is a plethora of articles and sites related to Bitcoin available and I don’t want to add to this mess – so I’ll try and keep this simple and provide a few brief pointers and then a summary of some of the best resources currently available on the topic.

Note: I recommend also reading Brennon Slattery’s article on PCWorld, which discusses attempts already to shutdown Bitcoin by lawmakers (due to use in the facilitation of drug sales) and article by Dan Goodin for The Register about a heist of $500,000 worth of Bitcoins, highlighting the potential for theft of the new currency.

Introduction to Bitcoin:

Other Interesting Bitcoin Articles:

Bitcoin Related Sites:

  • Bitcoin P2P Virtual Currency – The official website for Bitcoin, you can download the P2P software here.
  • ClearCoin – serves as a form of escrow serve for Bitcoin transactions.
  • Bitcoin Venture Capital (BTCVC) – A venture capital firm focused solely on supporting startups that utilize bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin Mining Pool (gbyte) – Allows one to work with others to “mine” bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin Plus – Allows you to within minutes get started generating bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin Bonus – A rewards site that offers bitcoins in exchange.
  • Bitcoin Classifieds – Get stuff off a classifieds using bitcoins, or sell stuff for bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin Watch – Allows one to see how much bitcoins are selling for at various exchanges.
  • Bitcoin Miner – By a professional bitcoin miner, blogging about the experience.
  • BitcoinMe – A friendly site that attempts to introduce folks to the bitcoin economy.
  • We Use Coins – An introductory site to the bitcoin economy similar to BitcoinMe.
  • Bitcoins.lc – Another mining pool similar to gbyte for mining bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin Faucet – Gives you 0.01 free bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin Charts – Provides charts and other analytical informationa bout the bitcoin network and exchanges.

My Thoughts:

I recently posted about the need for a non-profit banking system. I’m interested in Bitcoin b/c of it (or something similar) to provide a “non-profit” banking system of sorts. I think Bitcoin has potential and as I have ridden other potential moneymakers (e.g. AllAdvantage) in days far past, I figure I might as well take this ride as well, and see where it ends. From AllAdvantage, I ended up with maybe $200. That said:

  • Bitcoin’s complexity is off-putting. Unless it is significantly simplified it will not achieve mass appeal.
  • Bitcoin has a reputation problem. It can easily facilitate illegal activities, just as many other technologies can, and it is likely to face legal challenges in the upcoming months.
  • Bitcoin has a security problem. At some other juncture I’ll talk about the state of information security in general, but lets just say it isn’t pretty. So having one’s entire wallet stored on your computer…well, it’s risky!
  • Still, Bitcoin could be the start of something useful…a currency that cuts out lays of fat from the economy that result in unnecessary fees and complexity.

Book Review: Streams of Mercy (Author: Mark Rutland)

At Philadelphia Biblical University, in the school bookstore, there is a section for used books. I don’t know who the suppliers are (a few folks who sell used books I think) but they keep several hundred volumes stacked on the shelves at low prices all year round.

As an undergrad student (and to this day) I loved walking into the bookstore and browsing through the shelves – looking for some gem to take home. So many of the books are priced between $1 and $3 it is just a beautiful opportunity to buy books.[1]

In any case, as I was perusing the shelves so many years ago I stumbled upon a small blue paperback entitled Streams of Mercy and subtitled “Receiving and Reflecting God’s Grace.” I’d never heard of the book or the author before – but I was struggling horribly with scrupulosity and so I picked up the book and went home.

I’m not sure when I actually began reading the book. It is not unusual for me to acquire a book and for it to sit on a shelf for a year or two before I actually crack it open (or even longer), but when I did, God used it as part of some major renovations He was doing in my heart and life.

Rutland’s book is not a complex theological treatise, rather it is a humble, passionate, and logical discussion of humanity’s need for mercy, God’s provision of mercy, the many ways in which we deny and ignore mercy within and without the church, and a discussion of how receiving mercy allows us to be completely changed and minister to others from the overflow we have received.

Rutland doesn’t attempt to tease out every theological complexity – instead he allows paradoxes to stand and instead focuses on what we do know and understand about the nature of God. He carefully attempts to balance his portrayal of God so as not to diminish God to a you-can’t-do-anything-wrong Grandpa in the sky.

Rutland’s book is filled with personal experiences, anecdotes, and thoughtful stories that bring me to tears. I’m reading the book again – for a third or fourth time. For anyone who knows me – you know this is astounding. I do not read books more than once. There are a very few I might read twice…and I absolutely do not read books three or four times!…and when I finish it, I have every intention of starting at the first page and reading it again and again and again.

Rutland’s book is balm for the soul and he does it in such a way as is sure to upset all forms of Christians equally and soothe all forms as well. Rutland is a charismatic Christian, but he does not emphasize or even acknowledge this within his work – instead focusing on a common truth that all Christian’s share about the grace and mercy of God.

Every once in a while I look into where this Rutland guy is and what he is up to…and always I’m impressed. Now, all glory belongs to God for the work of grace He has performed in Rutland’s life – and I am sure that he would be the first to state this…but for those who are interested, take a look at the Wikipedia article describing Rutland’s life and ministry thus far.

Dear Father, Might you extend to us grace and mercy in abundance that we might reflect your grace and mercy to others in an overwhelming manner. In Christ we pray, Amen.

  1. [1]Yes, I struggle with not buying books like the stereotypical member of the female gender struggles with not buying more shoes. :)

Omega-3 Supplements (Coromega)

horsepills
Image by D’Arcy Norman via Flickr

Omega-3 is believed to be helpful to the body for all sorts of reasons. The Wikipedia article on Omega-3 fatty acids notes research indicating that Omega-3 can be helpful in battling cancer, reducing cardiovascular disease, improve immune system functioning, improved mental health, and the reduction of inflammation.

Unfortunately, our diets contain significant less Omega-3 in them than they have historically – this is due to a significant decrease in our consumption of fish. We could increase our consumption of fish – but then there are concerns about mercury toxicity and for people such as myself – we simply don’t like fish!

There have long been supplements available – usually in capsule form – of Omega-3. These pills have traditionally been quite large (and difficult to swallow) and I’ve found that after consuming them I have a very bad aftertaste and occasionally burp fish breath. Yuck!

Several years ago I discovered Coromega – and I’m a huge fan! While more expensive than traditional Omega-3 supplements, Coromega greatly deserves the extra cost because it:

  • Comes in small yogurt like packets and tastes sweet – very easy to consume and very easy on the taste buds.
  • Doesn’t give you a bad aftertaste and doesn’t cause fish breath burps.
  • Has 300% better absorption than many of the softgel capsule alternatives.

You can learn more about Coromega at the official website. I purchase my Coromega from Amazon, a three month supply is around (or $20.50 if you have Prime!). That is $8/mo! Not too bad.

Why do I take Omega-3?

  • I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Depression, and ADD and Omega-3 is believed to assist in proper mental functioning.
  • I am a knowledge worker (IT) and need my brain to function at its peak for prolonged periods of time – something it can’t do without Omega-3.