The best way to learn about bitcoin, is to jump in and get a few in your “pocket” to get a feel for how they work.
Despite the hype about how difficult and dangerous it can be, getting bitcoins is a lot easier and safer than you might think. In a lot of ways, it is probably easier than opening an account at a traditional bank. And, given what has been happening in the banking system, it is probably safer too.
There are a few things to learn: getting and using a software wallet, learning how to send and receive money, learning how to buy bitcoin from a person or an exchange.
Before getting started, you will need to get yourself a wallet. You can do this easily enough by registering with one of the exchanges which will host wallet for you. And, although I think you are going to want to have one or more exchange wallets eventually, you should start with one on your own computer both to get a better feel for bitcoin and because the exchanges are still experimental themselves. When we get to that stage of the discussion, I will be advising that you get in the habit of moving your money and coins off the exchanges or diversifying across exchanges to keep your money safe.
What is a wallet?
It is a way to store your bitcoins. Specifically, it is software that has been designed to store bitcoin. It can be run on your desktop computer, laptop, mobile device (except, as yet, Apple) and can also be made to store bitcoins on things like thumb drives. If you are concerned about being hacked, then that is a good option. Even the Winklevoss* twins, who have millions invested in bitcoin, put their investment on hard drives which they then put into a safety deposit box.
*The Winklevoss twins are the ones who originally had the idea for a social networking site that became Facebook. They hired Mark Zuckerberg who took their idea as his own and became immensely rich.
What do you need to know about having a bitcoin wallet on your computer?
Below you can download the original bitcoin wallet, or client, in Windows or Mac format. These are not just wallets, but are in fact part of the bitcoin network. They will receive, store, and send your bitcoins. You can create one or more addresses with a click (an address is a number that looks like this: 1LyFcQatbg4BvT9gGTz6VdqqHKpPn5QBuk). You will see a field where you can copy and paste a number like this from a person you want to send money to and off it will go directly into that person’s wallet. You can even create a QR code which will let someone take a picture with an app on their phone and send you some bitcoin. It is perfectly safe to give these out – the address and QR code are both for my donations page. Feel free to donate!
NOTE: This type of wallet acts both as a wallet for you and as part of the bitcoin system. The reason bitcoin works is that every transaction is broadcast and recorded as a number across the entire system (meaning that every transaction is confirmed and made irreversible by the network itself). Any computer with the right software can be part of that system, checking and supporting the network. This wallet serves as your personal wallet and also as a support for that system. Therefore, be aware that it will take up 8-9 gigabytes of your computer’s memory. After you install the wallet, it will take as much as a day for the wallet to sync with the network. This is normal, does not harm your computer, and makes the system as a whole more secure, so it’s a good idea.
- The original wallet.
- This is a full-featured wallet: create multiple addresses to receive bitcoins, send bitcoins easily, track transactions, and back up your wallet.
- Outside of the time it takes to sync, this is a very easy to use option.
- Search for Bitcoin Qt wallet download to find their site.
- Runs on top of Bitcoi Qt, so it has all of the same syncing requirements.
- Armory allows you to back up, encrypt, and the ability to store your bitcoins off line.
- Search for Bitcoin Armory Wallet to find their site.
If you don’t want to have that much memory used or don’t want to wait for your wallet to sync, there are good wallets that do not make you sync the entire history of bitcocin:
- A lightweight wallet that syncs quickly. This is very good for new users.
- Search for Bitcoin Multibit Wallet to find their site.
- In addition to being quick and light, this wallet allows you to recover lost data using a passcode.
- Search for Bitcoin Electum Wallet to find their site.
After you get the wallet set up, take a few minutes clicking around. Things to look for:
o There will be a page that shows you how many bitcoins are currently in your wallet. Keep in mind that bitcoins can be broken up into smaller pieces, so you may see a decimal with a lot of zeros after it. (Interesting note, 0.00000001 is one Satoshi, named after the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin).
o There will be an area showing what your recent transactions are.
o There will be an area where you can create an address and a QR code (like the one I have above). You don’t need the QR code if you don’t want it, but if you run a business and you want to accept bitcoin, then all you’ll need to do to accept payment is to show someone the QR code, let them take a picture of it, and they will be able to send you some money. You will also be able to create as many addresses as you like, so if you want to track where the money is coming from, you could have a separately labeled address from each one of your payees.
o There will be an area with a box for you to paste a code when you want to send money to someone or to yourself on an exchange or different wallet.
There will be other options and features, but to start out with, these are the items that you should know about.
Getting Your First Bitcoins
Now that you have a wallet, you will, of course, want to test them out.
The very first place to go is http://faucet.bitcoin.st/.
This is a website that gives out small amounts of bitcoin for the purpose of getting people used to using them. The original version of this was run by the lead developer of bitcoin, Gavin Andreson. That site has since closed and this site operates by sending out one or two advertisements a month. You agree to receive those messages by requesting the bitcoins. Copy and paste your new bitcoin address and enter a phone number to which you can receive an SMS. They send out an SMS to be sure that people are not continuously coming back for more since it costs nothing to create a bitcoin address. They will also send out once or twice a month advertisement to support their operation. The amount they send it trivial: 0.0015 BTC (or 1.5 mBTC). However, they process almost immediately and you can check to see that your address and wallet are working. It is also quite a feeling to get that portion of a bitcoin. (Non-disclaimer: I have no connection with this site and receive nothing if you use them. I simply think they are a good way to get your feet wet).
Congratulations! You have just entered the bitcoin economy.
To get your feet a little wetter, you can go panning for gold. There are a number of services and websites out there that will pay you in bitcoin to do things like go to certain websites, fill out online surveys, or watch sponsored videos. These are harmless, and you can earn a few extra bitcoins this way, but it is important to remember that these are businesses that get paid when people click on the links on their sites. They are essentially kicking back a portion of what they get paid to you. There is nothing illegal, or even immoral about this (you might like what you see and make a purchase!), but they are frequently flashy and may not be completely straightforward. All the ones that I have tried (particularly bitvisitor.com) have paid out as advertised. It is interesting to experiment with these, but even with the likely rise in the value of bitcoin, you won’t become a millionaire doing this. So, unless you are an advertisement junkie, I would recommend you move on. If you would like to try, simply Google “free bitcoins” or something along those lines and you will find numerous sites.
Buying Bitcoin Hand-to-Hand
Finally, this is going to be the real test of bitcoin. Can people easily trade them back and forth? If this can’t happen, then there can’t really be a bitcoin economy because retailers won’t be able to use it. If retailers can’t use it, what earthly good is it? Fortunately, this is not really a problem. iPhone is a bit of a hold out, but many smartphones have apps (mobile wallets) that will read QR codes and allow you to send bitcoin to whomever you want. You can also display a QR code of your address, or even carry a card in your wallet with your QR code to let people send bitcoin to you. Depending on what kind of wallet you have, you can then check to see if the bitcoins have been received.
A couple of things to note:
- When you set up your wallet, if you click around a bit, you will see an option to pay a fee to speed transactions. This money becomes available to a bitcoin miner as he/she/they process bitcoin information. The miners doing the work of creating blocks of information keeps the system up to date and secure. The fee is an incentive to the miner to be sure to include your information in the next information block and therefore “verify” it. In the short term, miners are making most of their money by mining new coins (check the section on What Are Bitcoins for more information about this). In the long term, as it gets harder to find new coins, and as the economy increases, the fees will be an incentive for miners to keep creating more blocks and keep the economy going. Your wallet should be set to pay 0 fees as a default, but if you want, you can add a fee to prioritize your transactions. You are under no obligation to pay a fee, and many organizations that process many small transactions (like the ones that pan for gold described above) produce enough fees to keep the miners happy.
- In clicking around your wallet, on the transactions page or linked to specific transactions, you will see a note about confirmations. When you make a transaction, that information is sent out into the network and the network will send back a confirmation that there is no double entry for that bitcoin. It is smart to wait until you get several confirmations before walking away from someone who has paid you. It is actually not very easy to scam someone hand-to-hand like this, and it is not very cost-effective for the criminal, but it can be done.
Where can you buy bitcoin like this?
- You may have a bitcoin Meetup in your area.
- You can check out localbitcoins.com to find people near you who are interested in buying or selling.
- Some are trying to start up local street exchanges across the world. These are called Buttonwoods after the first street exchange established on Wall Street in 1792 under a buttonwood tree. See if there is one, or start one, in your area.
- See if you have any friends who would like to try bitcoins out. Actually, the more people who start using bitcoin, the larger and more successful it will be come. So please tell two friends!
Some people ask if it is possible to buy physical bitcoins. The answer to this is both a yes and a no. Bitcoin, by its very nature, is a digital currency and has no physical form. However, there are a couple of ways that you can practically hold a bitcoin in your hands:
- Cascascius Coins: These are the brainchild of Mike Caldwell. He mints physical coins and then embeds the private keys for the bitcoins inside them. You can get the private key by peeling a hologram from the coin which will then clearly show that the coin has been tampered with. Mike has gone out of his way to ensure that he can be trusted. These are a good investment strategy as in the years to come it may be that these coins are huge collector’s items.
- Paper Wallets: A paper wallet just means that rather than keeping the information for your bitcoin stored in a digital wallet, you print the key information off along with a private key and keep it safe in a safe, in a drawer, or in your mattress (if you like). This is highly recommended and cost effective system for keeping your bitcoin safe. Keep in mind, though, that someone could steal them or if your house burns, they will go with the house and there will be no way to get them back. Really, no different than cash. Also, as with Casascius Coins, they will not really be good for spending until you put them back into the computer.
* There is software to make printing your paper wallets easier. bitcoinpaperwallet.com is one of the best and includes a good tutorial about how to use them.
* The bitcoins are not actually in the wallet, they are still on the web. In fact, the outside of the wallet will have a QR code that will allow you ship coins to the wallet any time you like.
* The sealed part of the wallet will have the private key without which you cannot access the coins. Therefore, only put as many coins on the wallet as you want to be inaccessible. You will not be able to whip this thing out and take out a few coins to buy a cup of coffee. Rather, think of it as a piggy bank. To get the money, you have to smash it. It is possible to take out smaller amounts, but at this point the security of the wallet is compromised and it would be easier for someone to steal the coins. Better to have them all in or out.
* People who use paper wallets are usually security conscious, and there are a number of ways for the nefarious in the world to hack your computer. Bitcoinpaperwallet.com gives a lot of good advice about how to print your wallets securely.
Some people have also asked about buying bitcoins on eBay. Yes, it is possible, but they will be far overpriced. So, selling on eBay might seem to be a better option given the extreme markup over market value you might see. But, as with anything that is too good to be true, this is too good to be true. As I will explain in the next section, selling bitcoin this way is just way too risky.
How Not to Buy Bitcoin
In the next section, I am going to explain a couple of key points about buying from Bitcoin Exchanges. Before I do, let me give you a warning.
A short history lesson: When people first started setting up actual business based on bitcoin, they used all of the tools available to any merchant. They sold by credit card and PayPal. The problem with this business model was quickly spotted: bitcoin transactions are not reversible by anyone except the recipient of the money. Credit cards and PayPal have strong buyer protection policies that make it relatively easy for people to request a chargeback. So, nefarious individuals realized this and began making purchases of bitcoin and then sooner or later requesting a chargeback. And, since bitcoin is a non-physical product, sent by new and poorly understood technological means, the sellers were not able to contest this. Because of this, sellers stopped accepting credit cards and PayPal.
This was a big problem for the currency: How to move money between buyers and seller? Some business emerged that would credit you with bitcoin if you wired them money. Very often these businesses would give addresses in Albania, Poland, or Russia. The fact is that many of these did work and there are a lot of stories on the forums of people who bought bitcoins this way. But it took a lot of time and in the meantime the buyer just had to bite his or her fingernails wondering if they would get their bitcoins or kiss their investment goodbye.
I expect that as bitcoin becomes more acceptable and valuable, we are going to see a version of the Nigerian Prince scam. So the warning is this: we now have exchanges and other businesses that allow for moving money easily onto and off of exchanges. Never wire money for bitcoin. It was a short-lived, and well-forgotten, moment in the history of bitcoin.
Next, I will be talking about how to buy from a bitcoin exchange and give a review of the some of the best known exchanges.
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program
Direct Sales Agents
Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.
Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.
Colleges and Universities
Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.
Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.
Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.
Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions
There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.
The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.
Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.
The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?
Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.
Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.
Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon
First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.
Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:
- 2006 – Prices hit the Top
- 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
- 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
- 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
- 2020 – Prices hit the Top
- 2020 to? – Prices Decline
*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.
The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.
Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound
Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.
Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.
Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.
To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.
Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care
If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.
However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.
Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.
This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”
Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price
This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”
However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.
Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.
Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.
Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price
Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.
Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.
During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.
The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.
Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission
Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction
Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.
For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.
The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.
Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.
In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.
By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.
Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer
Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:
1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers
If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.
2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer
It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.
3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part
Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?
4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer
It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.
5) Brand is important
Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider
If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
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