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Luckily for us, however, bitcoins seem to be going up in value and should maintain their value over time, unlike your mint condition Tiny the stuffed Chihuahua. But how do you get bitcoins? You can begin by buying them outright, but the market is currently wild. In short, you should probably mine. But what is bitcoin mining? Think of it as work done by groups of people to find large prime numbers or trying keys to decrypt a file.
In fact, many wager that the DDOS attacks on many bitcoin-related services are direct action by hackers to inject instability in order to reduce the price. As it stands, mining solo is very nearly deprecated.
The process of finding blocks is now so popular and the difficulty of finding a block so high that it could take over three years to generate any coins. While you could simply set a machine aside and have it run the algorithms endlessly, the energy cost and equipment deprecation will eventually cost more than the actual bitcoins are worth.
Pooled mining, however, is far more lucrative. While this is simplified, it is basically how the system works. You work for shares in a block and when complete you get a percentage of the block based on the number of workers alongside you, less fees.
The astute among you will note that I probably used twice that amount of electricity. My buddy Tom explained how to set up a pooled mining account so I thought it would be interesting to share the instructions. You can either store your wallet locally or store it online. Wallets require you to use or download a fairly large blockchain file — about 6GB — so downloading and updating a local wallet may be a non-starter. There is no preferred wallet type and there are obvious trade-offs to both.
Privacy advocates would probably say a local wallet is best. You can download a local wallet here but make sure you keep a copy of your data backed up. This, without the period, is a direct way to send bitcoins to your wallet. Make a note of your address. In Coinbase, the wallet address found under linked accounts. To mine in a pool you have to work with a group of other miners on available blocks. You can also try guilds like BTC Guild as well as a number of other options.
Pools with fewer users could also have a slower discovery time but pools with many users usually result in smaller payments. However, as one pool owner, Slush, notes:. First, create a pool login. The workers are sub-accounts with their own passwords and are usually identified by [yourlogin]. I have three workers running, currently — one on my iMac and two on my old PC. You must create workers to mine. Like any online club, you can dig deeply into the subculture surround bitcoin as you gain experience.
Also be sure to enter your wallet address into the pool information. This will ensure you get your bitcoins. There are a number of mining options for multiple platforms although OSX users may find themselves in a bit of a pickle.
Miners, on the other hand, use these cycles to help handle peer-to-peer processes associated with bitcoins. GUIMiner is the simplest solution for Windows users as it allows you to create miners using almost all standard graphics cards. You can download it here. Linux users can run miners like CGMiner. An excellent guide to installing a miner on Ubuntu is available here. Sadly, it uses deprecated calls to Bitcoin and is quite a bit slower. Note the last two arguments are necessary for Mountain Lion.
RPCMiner is far easier to run — you simply click an icon and enter some data — and both have very rudimentary, text-based interfaces.
Running Diablo on my iMac has not had much effect on application performance under OS X although it does slow down my Windows 8 machine considerably. Keep your mind on your money. Bitcoins are baffling in that they are wildly simple to use and mine. Speculators, then, would probably be able to throw hundreds of machines at the problem and gather bitcoins like raindrops, right? As more bitcoins are found, they become more difficult to find. In theory, as the Bitcoin pool operator, I could keep the 25 BTC from a block found by the pool for myself.
It is their freedom of choice, and Bitcoin is about freedom.