QoinPro Pre-Launch Promo – Free Bitcoins and Alt Coins Every Day for Every Member

A new Bitcoin services (they are tight lipped about what its going to be, but my bet is an online wallet service of some kind) is using a unique promo to get members signed up for a free account pre-launch – a daily multi-coin faucet. That means that everyone who registers an account gets free Bitcoins, Litecoins, Fedora Coins, Earth Coins and World Coins every day (you don’t have to do anything, as long as you verify your email address they just give you the coins automagically each day).

Check them out here: QoinPro

Donate Your Computers Spare Power to Science – and Ripple will pay you!

You can now do the right thing, and also earn some extra money at the same time. For the moment anyone who joins the Ripple network, a new digital payment and international currency exchange system, can apply for to get financial rewards if they agree to donate their computer’s spare power to BOINC – a project to help scientists around the world do their work without needing to find the funding for expensive supercomputers using distributed computing. 

Each computer taking part in the project will be given a small part of a very large scientific problem to work on – a problem too big for any one computer to work on alone. When they all upload their work the results can be calculated by the project team. There are loads of exciting projects, such as analysing genes help find new cures for cancer or HIV.

The payment you get comes in the form of XRP – the digital currency (a bit like Bitcoin) which makes Ripple work. This digital money can then be exchanged for your local currency, or saved as an investment.

You can join the giveaway and help with important science here: https://www.computingforgood.org/

Overstock Now Accepts Bitcoins

Diary of Dennis

I mentioned already in an earlier article that the retailer Overstock would plan to accept Bitcoins in 2014. But this came true now. It is now official, the retailer Overstock now accepts Bitcoins as they mention on their website. If you shop for everyday needs and different products on Overstock, you can now check out with the Bitcoin currency.

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Why Ripple is a Better Investment Than Plain Alt Coins

It seems like everybody and his dog is trying to create a new digital currency to compete with Bitcoin these days. Considering how successful Bitcoin has been in such a short time, and how much money it has made for people who got in early, it is hardly surprising that other developers are trying to emulate some of this success – or that investors are closely watching all of these so called ‘alt coin’ for profitable high growth investment opportunities.

If this whole subject is completely new to you then here is the briefest, simplest summary I can manage: Bitcoin and the other alt coins are ‘cryptocurrencies’, which use peer to peer connections and cryptographic keys to manage, track and secure transactions without the need for central banks.

Most of the new alt coins have little new to offer, and are highly likely to have a short lifespan. But there are some developers building on the original Bitcoin innovation with their own, truly innovative systems which have something extra to offer. Although the market and technology is constantly changing, my top pick for the best alt coin investment in 2014 at the moment is Ripple and its XRP currency.

In actual fact Ripple is much more than a ‘cryptocurrency’ or ‘alt coin’ – it is positioning itself as a low cost currency trading platform and international payment system. It uses a peer to peer cryptocurrency to acheive this. The way the system works is that if you wanted to exchange British Pounds for US dollars you would buy XRP (the system’s own currency) with your GBP, and then sell them for US dollars. Because the distributed nature of the system, which is run on the computers of the community of users themselves, the costs for doing this are lower than traditional currency exchange. Other alt coins can also be built on and traded through the Ripple platform. For example, the NoFiatCoin is being launched – a new currency backed by precious metals which will appeal to ‘gold bugs’ and other members of the investment community who have long opposed fiat currency and lamented the end of the gold standard.

I think Ripple will be much more successful than regular alt coins because it offers genuine innovation which you won’t find elsewhere, and seems designed to appeal to a very wealthy market segment – currency traders and investors. Another reason I like Ripple is because it does away with the kind of professional ‘mining’ which is used for currency creation in Bitcoin and the other alt coins. This mining requires serious hardware making it out of reach for most ordinary people – but have instead introduced a giveaway system which includes the opportunity to get free XRP if you donate your computing power to valuable scientific research. An ordinary home PC is enough to do this and to get yourself started with some free currency!

Check out the Ripple website for more information, download the software, and open an account. Please feel free to comment here if you have any questions or problems. You can also find me on the Ripple Forum under the username ‘profitofthegods’.

Constructing the Lomography Konstruktor DIY SLR

Liz Tyler Photography

I was lucky enough to be given the lomography Konstruktor DIY SLR camera kit.  I had been interested in this kit for a while, I thought it would be fun to build my own camera and learn a bit more about how cameras work in the process.  Lomography said that the camera was simple to build and would take 1-2 hours to complete.

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Well, I built it yesterday and I did feel a sense of achievement upon completion but only because the previous 4 hours (!!) were like a living nightmare (apart from the very nice curry I had for tea halfway through).  I have documented my journey with the Konstruktor via the medium of blurry mobile phone camera pictures.

Here is me at the start of the journey, all fresh faced, enthusiastic and wearing my glasses for extra ‘smarts’…

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And here is the contents of the box…

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It looked…

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The Cell Phone Microscope

The Cell Phone Microscope

‘Microskia’ from The Best Mobile Phone Peripherals

Is Prosumerism the New Socialism in China?

I was really surprised recently when researching an article for Hubpages on Prosumerism as an Alternative to Capitalism as we know it to find out that the work of Futurist Alvin Toffler – the man who first coined the term ‘prosumer’ – is very popular in China. Apparently, in the not so distant past, it was the second best-selling book in the country, behind the work of Chairman Mao.

That got me wondering how much influence the concept of the prosumer has had over the economic transformations that have taken place in recent years, as the country has adopted what many see as a basically capitalist economic model whilst still remaining nominally communist. In many was it seems to fit with what is happening in China, and it also seems like a kind of bridge that could be seen as embodying the best bits of both capitalism and socialism.

For those of you who don’t know a ‘prosumer’ is both a ‘producer’ and a ‘consumer’. The idea is that technology has, and will continue to empower people to play a greater role in the production of goods, and that the previously very distinct economic roles of producer and consumer will gradually merge. Bloggers, YouTube celebrities and independent musicians who distribute their work themselves on the internet are all excellent examples of ‘prosumers’, and there is an argument that various technologies such as 3D printing will continue the trend of more and more people becoming prosumers.

 This seems to provide a way for regular people to ‘take control of the means of production’ as socialism has always wanted, whilst maintaining a basically capitalist system with all the broad economic advantages and innovation that goes with that. It is also true that the prosumer economy is driven by empowering people to freely create and share their work, and as such is a massive challenge to intellectual property rights. Considering that China is infamous for its disregard for intellectual property rights I was wondering whether the two might be connected. I have always wondered how China can reconcile its new capitalist economy with its communist ideals, so I was also wondering whether – rather than ignoring the contrast as I had previously thought, the idea of prosumerism may be part of the way that the ‘thought leaders’ of China are seeking to embrace the benefits of capitalism whilst maintaining a socialist philosophical underpinning for what they are doing.

I’d love to get comments from anyone with any insight into Chinese politics.

I’m Learning Embedded Electronics with a Free Online Course with Lab Component!

I’m super excited to have ordered my lab kit today for the University of Texas’ free online course in embedded electronics! The course, which starts on 22 January and runs for a couple of months part time, is actually pretty unique. OK, so there are loads of free online courses out there these days on all sorts of topics – I took one myself not long ago on Udacity.com to learn computer science and Python programming. But something like electronics can’t really be learned effectively just by watching videos, reading articles and completing quizzes or written projects. You have to actually get your hands dirty tinkering with and making stuff.

That’s where Texas Uni comes in with possibly the first free internet course with a substantial, well developed, lab components. You don’t have to buy the kit to do the course, as they have developed some software which allows you to complete lab projects in a simulated virtual environment. But the full lab kit, including optional extras, only cost me around £40 with tax and P&P, which isn’t too bad and really makes this course exciting.

They aim to teach you the basics of embedded electronics, through an interactive internet course which features a series of lecture videos and graded lab assignments which are initially completed in the virtual environment (not yet seen it – the software becomes available at the start of the course) and then in real life using the lab kit. At the end of the course we’ll have made our own handheld ‘arcade style’ video game – built using a Texas Instruments board and various basic components and programmed in C. I’ve had a bit of programming experience in higher level languages but know nothing about C, and I have no experience with making my own electronics, so I think it might be a fairly steep learning curve, but I’m really excited to give it a try and can’t wait to get started now!


Image taken from the lab kit description page from the course site – http://users.ece.utexas.edu/~valvano/edX/index.html


My Guide to Exploring the Darknet

My Guide to Exploring the Darknet

The darknet, or dark web, is a hidden internet below the surface of the regular web. This is my guide to how to access to darknet, how it works, and what you’ll find when you get there.

This Man Thinks He Can 3-D Print An Entire House

Wow – 3D printed homes – that’s pretty amazing

WebInvestigator.KK.org - by F. Kaskais

Scientists already are working on 3-D printing organs. If we can do that, a house should be easy.

While enthusiasts believe that there will eventually be a 3-D printer in every home, University of Southern California professor Berokh Khoshnevis has spent the last decade working on a far bigger vision: a gigantic 3-D printer that can print an entire home–concrete, electrical wiring, plumbing, and all.

The idea of manufacturing homes using what essentially looks like a gigantic hot glue gun sounds crazy. But Khoshnevis and his students at the school’s Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies have been tinkering long enough to have made major progress on designs and prototypes. His “contour crafting” robotic construction system has now printed entire six-foot tall sections of homes in his lab, after perfecting the difficult process of extruding concrete in a layered fashion. He can also use gypsum, wood chips, and epoxy, and…

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