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How to ELI5 Ethereum & blockchain

I've wanted to write this post since a while, because I know quite some people who are invested in Ethereum or other blockchain projects and are unable to explain it in "easy" terms to people who have absolutely no idea what it is all about. To be clear: I'm not saying people on this sub don't understand it. But understanding it and being able to explain it are two vastly different things, and I think that being able to simply explain the technology makes a huge, huge difference in the long run, as much for yourself as for the other people.
First of all: don't mention the price until the end of your explanation. One of the biggest pitfalls is to start off by explaining how the price went up by 5000% in two months and then trying to give some kind of half-shaddy explanation of why it is completely justified that will just make you come over as some kind of Madoff-related family member.
Start from the roots: Bitcoin. Why was Bitcoin related? What "simple" issue did it solve? The transfer of money, over the internet, straight from person A to person B, without an intermediary, and without having to trust the other person. In real life, this is easy. When you hand over a 20$ bill to someone, he knows you actually have the money, and he knows you weren't able to spend it before. Over the internet, that was impossible. You had to pass through a bank or at least a trusted third party that would handle the transaction. So in 2009, Bitcoin was created. Bitcoin worked, in very simple terms, in the following way: whenever someone wants to send a transaction, it will be sent to all the other people on earth who are part of the Bitcoin platform. Every single person will verify in a big ledger, that holds the history of all the transactions ever made, if the person sending the money actually has it, and has the right to spend it. If the majority of people agree with the transaction, it will be accepted as valid and added to the book, to the end of the "chain" -- and that's where the term "blockchain" comes from. This way, it's actually even more secure than going through a bank, because to "hack" the system, someone would need to have control of more than 50% of the computers, and in the current Bitcoin platform, that is practically impossible. Now, there are two main issues: a) why couldn't someone just easily simulate being 51% of the computers in the world and fake transaction and b) why would people participate in this ledger book, why would they validate other peoples transactions? The two questions are actually linked. For b), that's the whole genius of the system. The algorithm will, randomly, choose a person from time to time that has helped validate the transactions, and that person will be rewarded in the form of Bitcoin. This gives an incentive to all people to validate the transactions, thus keeping the network secure. For a), the reason is that to validate transactions, you have to check in the big ledger history book if all is fine, but you also have to resolve a very complex mathematical problem, which will cost a lot of money in energy. You can't "fake" helping the network because it would cost you a lot of money in solving this problems. The whole Bitcoin protocol allows us to get rid of the intermediary, in this case the bank. You can now send money from A to B over the internet, without passing through intermediaries, paying huge fees over transactions, and being depended on your bank being open on Sundays, or wanting to close your account.
This is a very simple explanation of Bitcoin, and yes I know, it is much more complex than that. But it does the job in the first place. It's also interesting to explain that there is a fixed supply of Bitcoins that will ever be created, and thus that, as opposed to fiat money, you don't have inflation. On the contrary, you even have a kind of "deflation", so your bitcoins gain in value over time, because we know that there will only be a fixed amount ever, a bit like gold.
Now, it's time to explain what Ethereum is. Basically, Ethereum was created about a year and a half ago. In the Bitcoin protocol, you can only store transactions in this big distributed ledger. You can only say: I want to send money from A to B. Ethereum is based on the exact same idea of a distributed ledger, working with the exact same principles as Bitcoin, except that you can store programming code, "smart contracts" as they are called, in the distributed ledger. This opens a whole new realm of possibilities. The code that has been stored is immutable -- as is the whole history of transactions in Bitcoin. Nobody can come and change code afterwards without the consensus of the majority of the people on the platform. This is huge, because it allows for different applications: you can store code that will for instance store money that is sent to it, until certain conditions are met, and will then sent it to someone else. A very simple example is the Etheroll (DICE) platform. You go on the website, you choose a number between 1 and 100, and you wagger that a randomly selected number will be lower than the one you chose. You send the transaction to a smart contract, that you can review for yourself to make sure that it is fair (because you KNOW that it won't be changed in the middle of the process). The smart contract receives your money, locks it up, randomly generates a number (which you have both agreed on as a fair source), and if it's higher than the number you chose, the money is sent to the house, otherwise, the money and your gains are sent back to you. In this case, the intermediary that we got rid of is the casino. Are you starting to see a pattern? Imagine any market in the world where intermediaries operate, take margins, control the whole system. With the idea of blockchain, and especially with smart contracts, you can bypass these intermediaries, because both parties can agree on the code that has been stored and can't be changed anymore. Ethereum is the platform that will allow all kinds of applications to be built "on top of it". As I explained before, to keep the network secure and functioning, you need people participating in the verification of the transactions. You need a large number of people to make it secure. Before Ethereum, every new blockchain project had to create their own distributed ledger, and make sure that people had it on their computers and helped verify the transactions. With Ethereum, projects can be built on top of the existing distributed ledger, and thus enjoy the security of the Ethereum platform itself. This is what makes Ethereum huge: it's like a new internet, but for all kinds of applications. It's the underlying, solid, brick wall, that allows new houses to be built easily on top of it, without having to worry about the tough part of building the foundations, and more importantly, maintaining them.
So concretely, why can Ethereum and blockchain change the world? Well, imagine a world where you can have a service like AirBnb or Uber, without having a central company behind it taking huge chunks of the profit. Imagine if you can just treat directly from person to person, without always having to pass through intermediaries. The applications are endless: it's worth citing a few very powerful and interesting ones to further illustrate the point. Take Golem. Here is the idea behind Golem: imagine you have to compute a huge task on your computer. We are talking about tasks like rendering 3D movies, processes that can take a lot of time, for which you normally need specific, very expensive, very powerful computers. Currently, Pixar and Disney own those. When small, independent movie productions want to render such a movie, it will cost them a lot of money. Golem solves this issue in the following way: when you send a huge task, it is cut in thousands, hundreds of thousands of little tasks. Every single one of those small tasks is sent to a computer participating in the network. Every computer can compute such a little task very fast and easily -- you don't need a powerful computer to do it. Once a small task is completed, it it send back, and all the little pieces are put back together, and the final content is sent back to the original user. What are the advantages here? It is way, way cheaper, because you simply pay every person that helped solve a little task a little amount of money. It is faster, because all the tasks can be resolved at the same time and put back together. It allows people who will only need to compute huge tasks a couple of times to do it without having to buy expensive equipment specifically needed for it. These kinds of applications are completely new and weren't possible in such a way before. Blockchain makes things transparent: history is there for anyone to see and review, and people can't modify it. Censoring isn't an option. Decentralisation removes single points of failure and make applications more secure, often cheaper, faster, and more transparent.
Now, the price discussion. Obviously the price of such a technology is going up massively. Currently, there is about 30billion$ in the whole Ethereum network. That may seem like a lot, but you have to put it in context and imagine that companies like Apple are worth about 30 times that -- alone. You obviously can't compare Apple, but it's just to illustrate a point. If the technology becomes what it intends to become, and the applications built on top of it (dApps as they are called) become successful, 30 billion is next to nothing. But it's important not to forget that all of this is code, software, and that issues are possible at all moments. Hundreds of extremely talented developers are working on it, but anything could happen anytime, and all of it could come down crashing if some kind of unexpected issue rises up. But as time passes by, this becomes less likely by the day. Blockchain can revolutionise the world as we know it, as we are used to it. This is what most people actually don't understand -- how massively it can help in giving some kind of power back to the regular people, at the bottom of the chain. Transactions can happen straight from person to person, services exchanged straight from person to person, without the need of the people in between, who are often the people making the most money.
Ok, sorry for this extremely long post. Again, I repeat it: the goal was to give an explanation that I usually try to give when I'm asked about the technology and its importance. It is extremely, extremely, extremely simplified, and there probably even are a lot of factual mistakes in there -- feel free to point them out. The idea is just that I have realised that once people actually understand the power of the technology, even people who aren't very techy, they aren't that interested in the price anymore. When you understand that something can potentially change the world, the rest is less important. And if you can help even just one person realise it, it's a win for everyone!
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How to earn Bitcoin?

Overview - Table of Contents Introduction to Earning in Bitcoin Work for Bitcoin Sell for Bitcoin Affiliate Programs Gambling Bitcoin Mining Hardware Mining Cloud Mining Introduction to Earning in Bitcoin Bitcoin is the most popular digital currency in the world today. Bitcoin cloud mining is the fastest way to immediately begin earning bitcoins. Bitcoin is built using very complicated cryptographic principles, and supported by countless individuals and companies from all around the world. By early 2016, total Bitcoin market capitalization had crossed USD 7 Billion, making it almost as valuable as the GDP of a small country like Bahamas. All the other digital currencies together do not constitute even 20% of Bitcoin’s market capitalization, underlining the its dominance and importance in the world of digital currencies.
With such a huge amount of world’s capital available in the form of Bitcoins, the number and types of opportunities to earn in bitcoins are increasing by the day. In this article we will discuss such opportunities that help us earn bitcoins.
We will start with the easiest, or the one that is applicable for the maximum number of people, and then move to the tougher ones. In the end we will cover earning bitcoins by mining. Bitcoin mining is not an easy way to earn bitcoins, but we do have a number of easier ones we will discuss first. So lets start with ‘earning bitcoins by offering your services’
Work for Bitcoin Perhaps the easiest way to earn bitcoins is to work online or in real life for bitcoins. Because of the huge size of the bitcoin eco-system, a number of such opportunities and jobs are available. With Billions of dollars invested in Bitcoin by tens of thousands of people, there is a real market in Bitcoin, where you can find jobs for freelancers, software developers, writers, and others who get paid in bitcoins for their services.
Software development, writing, design, making websites or apps, audio transcription, are some of the most active types of jobs. You can easily discover the types of jobs by going over the more popular job boards for bitcoin related work. The following job boards or forums are some of the best places to look for such jobs or gigs.
Freelancing
XBTfreelancer Cryptogrind Bitlancerr Coinality Bitgigs Jobs4Bitcoins Rein Project Crypto Jobs List Market Places
OpenBazaar Purse.io Bitify /bitmarket 21 Market Video Streaming
Watchmybit Streamium.io Tasks
Bitasker BitforTip WillPayCoin File/Image Sharing
Supload.com SatoshiBox JoyStream Advertising
CoinAd A-ads Coinzilla.io Also, check BitcoinGames for ideas on earning bitcoin and blockchain game assets.
Sell for bitcoin You can also get Bitcoin by selling your old laptops, phones or other items for Bitcoins. Such types of transactions are happening more and more, and a lot of buyers are already buying anything from iPhones to even cars by paying with Bitcoins. For Americans, Craigslist.com is your best bet when you want to find such buyers. You can mention in your ad that you are willing to take payment in Bitcoin. This way if anyone wants to buy the item for you for Bitcoin, they can contact you and make an offer. The same principle applies to other online marketplaces such as gumtree for UK, kijiji for canda etc.
Affiliate Programs Affiliate programs allow a promoter of a business or product to earn money or bitcoins by refering new clients to such businesses or products. For example, amazon.com has a popular affiliate program, where you can earn commission ranging from 2% to 20% for refering clients to products listed on amazon.com. Amazon normally pays in dollars, but there are a number of other sites and businesses which pay you in bitcoin for acting as their affiliate.
Some of the more popular affiliate programs that pay out in Bitcoin are by the sites: cex.io, coinbase.com, okcoin.com and namecheap.com, among others. You can find a larger list of such affiliate programs on the bitcoin wiki page for Affiliates.
Gambling We do not recommend gambling for every player or every user; we find that gambling is only suitable for people who know how to win at it. However, if you are one of such lucky users who have some tricks up their sleeves, and can manage to win at games such as poker, then you will find that earning bitcoins is not that hard.
One of the many applications of bitcoin since the very beginning have been in betting games or gambling. Because of the relative anonymity of bitcoin, and the lower fees, it is very suitable for gambling related applications. Indeed, one such game, satoshiDICE, has been running since 2012, and has paid out a huge number of bitcoins in innumerable transactions to its winners. There are many such games, which you can find be googling.
If you want to gamble totally anonymously, you can play gambling or betting games that are available only on darknet or .onion sites. Such sites allow you to browse them anonymous by operating on the tor network, which is a secure network that allows users to browse .onion websites without exposing their own IP address.
Bitcoin Mining For each block that is added to the Bitcoin Blockchain, a number of bitcoins are rewarded to the creater of that block. This reward is currently, as of June 2016, 25 bitcoins per block, and it halves every four years. The next halving will be in July 2016. Creating or finding the new blocks, and therefore winning the reward of 25 bitcoins for each block you create, is called bitcoin mining. To do bitcoin mining successfully, you need very powerful computers, which compete with other computers to find the next block. The speed or power of computer that do bitcoin mining is calculated in hashes calculated per second.
There are two ways to do bitcoin mining: one is to own hardware or computers that do the mining, and second is to hire the hardware from a third party, usually online, and do the mining on the cloud. Let us discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both in next two sections.
Hardware Mining When you own the hardware that does the calculations and mining of bitcoins, its called hardware mining. Hardware mining is the more popular or prevalent of the two types of mining we mentioned. One of the biggest factors which comes into play when doing bitcoin mining using your own hardware is the price of electricity. If you pay top price for electricity, then bitcoin mining may not be your cup of tea. Another related factor is infrastructure needed to cool the hardware; since every cpu generates some amount of heat, you may need to cool the hardware in case they become too heated. No wonder that some of the most successful miners work from China, specially Tibet, where they can get cheap electricity, and their cooling costs are low due to high altitude which reduces the ambient temperature for them.
For a more in-depth information on how to setup your hardware mining equipment, have a look at the Antminer setup page.
Currently, based on (1) price per hash and (2) electrical efficiency the best Bitcoin miner options are:
AntMiner S7 AntMiner S7 Bitcoin Miner 4.73 Th/s 0.25 W/Gh 8.8 pounds Yes $479.95 AntMiner S7 Bitcoin Miner 0.1645
AntMiner S9 AntMiner S9 Bitcoin Miner 13.5 Th/s 0.098 W/Gh 8.1 pounds Yes $1,987.95 AntMiner S9 Bitcoin Miner 0.3603
Avalon6 Avalon6 Bitcoin Miner 3.5 Th/s 0.29 W/Gh 9.5 pounds No $499.95 Avalon6 Bitcoin Miner 0.1232 Cloud Mining There are a number of service providers that allow you to rent computational hardware from them, which can then be used to do bitcon mining. Some of these services are designed with bitcoin mining in mind, whereas others such as Amazon AWS are general purpose services that can also be used to do bitcoin mining.
Some of the cloud mining services which can be used to do bitcoin mining on the cloud are:
Hashflare Review: Hashflare offers SHA-256 mining contracts and more profitable SHA-256 coins can be mined while automatic payouts are still in BTC. Customers must purchase at least 10 GH/s.
Genesis Mining Review: Genesis Mining is the largest Bitcoin and scrypt cloud mining provider. Genesis Mining offers three Bitcoin cloud mining plans that are reasonably priced. Zcash mining contracts are also available.
Hashing 24 Review: Hashing24 has been involved with Bitcoin mining since 2012. They have facilities in Iceland and Georgia. They use modern ASIC chips from BitFury deliver the maximum performance and efficiency possible.
Minex Review: Minex is an innovative aggregator of blockchain projects presented in an economic simulation game format. Users purchase Cloudpacks which can then be used to build an index from pre-picked sets of cloud mining farms, lotteries, casinos, real-world markets and much more.
Minergate Review: Offers both pool and merged mining and cloud mining services for Bitcoin.
Hashnest Review: Hashnest is operated by Bitmain, the producer of the Antminer line of Bitcoin miners. HashNest currently has over 600 Antminer S7s for rent. You can view the most up-to-date pricing and availability on Hashnest's website. At the time of writing one Antminer S7's hash rate can be rented for $1,200.
Bitcoin Cloud Mining Review: Currently all Bitcoin Cloud Mining contracts are sold out.
NiceHash Review: NiceHash is unique in that it uses an orderbook to match mining contract buyers and sellers. Check its website for up-to-date prices.
Eobot Review: Start cloud mining Bitcoin with as little as $10. Eobot claims customers can break even in 14 months.
MineOnCloud Review: MineOnCloud currently has about 35 TH/s of mining equipment for rent in the cloud. Some miners available for rent include AntMiner S4s and S5s.
Written by Bitcoin Mining on May 4, 2016.
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