Book Review of “Ready Player One”

The Steven Spielberg movie will be release in theaters March 30, 2018. Meanwhile, I would like to recommend the book.

Today’s world is starting to look more and more like science fiction, so it should come as no surprise that more readers than ever are getting into the genre for the first time. Whether readers are avid sci-fi fans or first-time explorers of the realm of science fiction and fantasy, they can’t afford to miss Ernest Cline’s recent work. Check out this brief Review of “Ready Player One” to discover whether it sounds like a good fit.

What’s it About?

Taking place in a dystopian version of the near future, Ready Player One is about a teenage boy who only feels truly alive when he’s plugged into the novel’s virtual reality utopia, known in the book as OASIS. Wade Watts becomes fascinated with the puzzles hidden between the layers of this digital world. As he stumbles upon his first real clue, he finds himself surrounded by players in an insidious game that forces him to confront the real world in order to learn how to survive it.

The Real World

In the real world, Wade is so quick to abandon the teenager’s family lives in a large block of unpleasant stacked mobile homes, dividing his time between school and the abandoned van he uses to plug in and adopt his online persona. As he becomes more obsessed in the online world, readers begin to see his real-life persona slumped over his desk sleeping, risking access to his virtual reality visor, which will be taken away if he flunks out.

The Virtual Wort

In OASIS, Wade Watts transforms himself into an alter-ego known as Parzival. In the virtual world, he becomes more and more obsessed with the game, called Anorak’s Invitation, which is chock full of references to 1980s trivia. In fact, the very name of the novel hearkens back to the phrase that signaled the beginning of arcade games designed in that era.

Understanding the Game

Readers who are hooked by the author’s premise but don’t have the background knowledge to understand his many references will likely have to begin looking things up as soon as the plucky hero begins to uncover clues. To begin with, it’s important to note that many games from the era incorporated secret features, known as Easter eggs. In the novel, the game’s creator, Halliday, has incorporated Easter eggs into his own game as secret clues designed to lead the novel’s protagonist on an exciting adventure through the virtual world.

The Egg Hunters

Wade isn’t the only player who has become obsessed with unlocking the puzzle behind OASIS. In Cline’s dystopian future, prospects have already grown quite grim on the resource-depleted earth, so it’s no surprise that so many players have chosen to devote the majority of their lives to the virtual world Halliday has created. Those who are playing the game within a game are known as gunters, and they will stop at nothing in their hunt for Halliday’s Easter eggs.

The Other Players

Wade becomes virtual friends with four other players in an attempt to quicken his progress in the game. These players, known collectively as the High Five, throw around 80’s-vintage movie quips and obscure references like nothing and begin to bond over their hunt for Halliday’s eggs.

The End Game

As Wade struggles to make progress toward his goal of winning the untold billions that are promised by the game’s creator it becomes clear that this virtual contest is taking its toll back in the real world. When players begin to die in the real world, Wade must decide whether he can trust his new-found virtual friends, or anyone else, for that matter, with helping him in his quest toward this ultimate prize.

Worth the Read?

Complete with sly references and inside jokes that will appeal primarily to gamers and 1980’s trivia buffs, Ready Player One is still accessible enough to engage a wide range of readers. This smart, funny thriller functions as both a celebration and a critique of modern online culture, and the author’s well-developed sense of suspense keeps the narrative moving quickly along. With its intriguing puzzles, intense action, and a remarkably engaging payoff at the end, Ready Player One is worth the read even for those who might need to pause periodically to check Cline’s many obscure references.

Movie Trailer

 

The Future of Virtual Reality and Cryptocurrencies

Both virtual reality and cryptocurrencies have been gaining popularity in recent years, and show signs of being the next big thing in the future of the entertainment industry. While both of these technologies have been around for some years, it is only recently that virtual reality prices have begun to drop and cryptocurrencies have begun to catch on as a viable form of exchange. Chances are, as these technologies become common household names, people will begin to spend larger portions of their lives in virtual reality and those who spend some time trying to imagine what that will look like stand to profit a good deal as these changes occur.

Cryptocurrencies and MetaMask

It’s important to note that this article really isn’t describing some kind of utopian distant future; in reality, virtual and augmented reality is already here and it requires new ways of thinking about both currency and the world in general. For example, a Google Chrome extension known as MetaMask is already available and is quickly catching on. MetaMask works sort of like an online wallet interface, allowing browsers to display their current monetary standing on their screen while they browse to help them make responsible online shopping choices.

This may not sound like futuristic innovation, but it is one important step toward the adoption of cryptocurrency as a viable means of performing online transactions, which is already paving the way for the use of this technology as virtual reality develops further. It’s not the only example of cryptocurrency being used in virtual reality’s infancy, though.

VibeHub Marketplace

VibeHub is an online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell virtual reality sessions using cryptocurrency. This represents an incredible step in the direction of a comprehensive change in how users think about virtual reality and social communication alike, as it allows users to experience things like meet and greets with their favorite artists, live music concerts, or even learning new skills from the comfort of their homes using virtual reality technologies. Like virtual reality more generally, this platform is still in its infancy and the potential for future development is almost limitless.

VibeHub and Cryptocurrency

VibeHub uses its own currency based on the block-chain technologies behind other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to enable virtual trading in real-time. This web platform is compatible with MetaMask and Myst, allowing those who are unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies to access VibeHub as well. However, as public confidence in cryptocurrency continues to rise, eventually, the forms of currency that are currently most commonly in use could easily become antiquated and unnecessary.

The Future of Virtual Reality

As the world’s populations continue to skyrocket while its resources become simultaneously depleted, it is hard to imagine everyone in the world having access to all of the physical things that they desire. However, virtual reality might someday offer a virtual alternative in which users are able to have the virtual houses, cars, pets, and material possessions of their dreams with no need to continue consuming valuable natural resources to have and maintain them. Of course, this is only one potential future for those technologies currently being developed, but it is admittedly an appealing one.

The Winding Road Toward Progress

It would be a mistake to believe that these two examples of virtual reality backed by cryptocurrencies represent any kind of end-point for either of these technologies. In fact, both block-chain technologies and virtual reality are still in their infancy, and chances are the road to progress will be long and winding. There are a wide variety of possible outcomes for these technological innovations, but with any luck, the end result will be a fully-integrated virtual reality that is decentralized and accessible to all.

Dec 22, 2017 – May be known as the Black Friday of the Crypto World

December 22, 2017

Almost every one of the top 100 crypto currencies are down 35-40% this morning, Friday, December 22, 2017. This day may well be known as the “Black Friday” of the cryptocurrency world.

Waiting for more news to be released as to the reason that precipitated this huge fall.

The general idea is that most cryptos would rise after Christmas when many people share the news of their profits with their relatives. We are about to enter the sharp geometric increase of the “S” curve, where early adopters are in, and the masses (or “herds”) start to buy in. Maybe this price drop will motivate them to get in now and drive the prices up even more after Christmas.

Below is a screen shot from http://CoinMarketCap.com. Of the top 100, all are currently down except Kin and Agoras Tokens. Earlier today ETN (Electronem) was up a little, but it has dropped. For whatever reason, a lot of coins follow up the trend of the BitCoin, the original and “gold” standard of all the cryptos.

Last week CoinBase added “BitCoin Cash” which was a created when BitCoin hard-forked due to lack of consensus. Many believe that there will be a fight or race to see which will be “The BitCoin” adopted by the masses. Many are complaining that the original BitCoin is too slow and the fees are getting to high.

For real crypto fanboys, the best advice when this happens is to HODL – Hold On for Dear Life. Don’t sell, don’t panic. Cryptos all come back higher after each dip!

A second similar crash happened on January 16, 2018.

 

Difference between a “coin” and a “token”

December 18, 2017

In the video below, George Levy, Blockchain Institute of Technology, explains the difference between a cryptocurrency coin and token.

Some define a coin as something that is used strictly as a means of electronic payment, and a token is anything else,. But George focuses on how the coins are defined in their evaluation. He opens the famous site: http://CoinMarketCap.com, and there there are tabs at the top labled “All”, “Coins”, and “Tokens”.

In George’s definition, a coin is a cryptocurrency which operates independently of any other platform. In other words, it has it’s own blockchain. Examples are BitCoin, BitCoin Cash, and Ethereum.

A token requires another blockchain (or “platform”) to run or host it. So for example, OmiseGO is built entirely on the Ethereum blockchain. Other examples of tokens that run on Ethereum are Augur and Golem. Other platforms include: NEO, Omni, Nxt, and Waves.

What he doesn’t mention is that Ethereum has a standard called an ERC-20 token, which you can learn more about here.

 

Review of BitCoinIRA and BitIRA – for moving my IRA to BitCoin

December 14, 2017

I thought this process was going to be an easy “no-brainer”. But after a call from their support, or perhaps better dubbed sales person, I learned about the hidden fees and “the rules”.

I started by filling out form onBitCoinIRA.com.One of their options was an “investment mix” where you theoretically split up your investment among the six coins they support: 1) BitCoin, 2) Ethereum, 3) Ripple, 4) LiteCoin, 5) BitCoin Cash, and 6) Ether Classic. But later, as you will see below, I learned this wouldn’t work.

This included downloading a PDF, having to sign it, then upload it. It was called a “Account Transfer”. I actually called them first, to ask a question about the beneficiary. The guy I spoke to was very American, very professional, and almost no wait time. I was trying to figure out if I could make my own estate the beneficiary, instead of a specific person or persons. He checked, and said if it was a trust, but I don’t have a formal trust yet. After I got my question answered about the beneficiary, I got the data for my beneficiary (SSN and date of birth) and completed the form.

After all that hassle and sending them the first form, THEN he called back to explain their fees and limits.

  1. There is a 15% origination fee 9,
  2. 1% fee when you liquidate/cashout,
  3. 5% trading fee,
  4. Custodial fees of $20/month and 0.07% of your balance from the custodian, which is Kingdom Trading.
  5. And a big kicker, there is a minimum of $10,000 in any one coin. He said this is because they use GenesisTrading.com. This totally blew my investment mix based on the amount of the IRA I would be transferring.

NOTE: When you submit and sign their PDF document, that doesn’t really kick off the process. They send you another form, which I think he called a “Transfer Document”. I’m not sure how it’s different than the one I already signed. But they give you a chance to absorb their fee structure, then tell them if you wish to continue or not.

A follow up question I will ask is about early withdrawals. Sounds like I would always have to keep a minimum of $10,000 with them.

So then, I decided to check out their competition. The first one I had already seen wasBitIra.com,. Minutes after filling out the form on their site, their rep called me. He was also very professional and helpful. They have a similar 15% origination fee, said custodian fee is about $300/year (pegged at entry amount), and they use Preferred Trust. I think there is one other competitor. The kicker there was they wanted a minimum of $20,000; and he checked if they could go lower, and the answer was yes, but I would have to pay the 15% fee instead of having it come out of my IRA.

I’ll keep you posted as I learn more and make my decision. The alternative is to cash out, pay the IRS penalty, and have more freedom with the money. Later the same day, that’s exactly what I did. I figured if I’m going to have pay another company a 15% origination fee, and high trading fees, and not have control over how I allocate my tokens, it’s better to pay the IRS penalty and have the freedom.

 

BitCoin Ben – Predictions for LiteCoin (LTC) in 2018

December 11, 2017

I started watching BitCoin Ben (your friendly truck driver) on Facebook each day. He now does one daily video cast regarding BitCoin, LiteCoin, and all things crypto. Although he has done some videos from home, he lately does it from the cab of his truck while waiting on other to fill the truck with whatever it is he has to haul. He’s a very friendly and funny guy; but his language is not always family friendly.

He’s really been pushing LiteCoin the last few weeks. In this morning’s video, he says his “inside sources” tell him that LiteCoin will go to $350 to $450 by year end (about 20 days away), and that by April of 2018 it will be $3,600. In a previous video, he said that LiteCoin is going to do what BitCoin did in about 18 months. So this implies he thinks it LiteCoin maybe around $10,000 to $15,000 by mid-2019.

He and other, such as Charlie Lee, MIT graduate, former software architect at Coinbase, and creator of LiteCoin classify BitCoin as a store of money, and LiteCoin as a currency used to buy things. LiteCoin has faster transaction times than BitCoin. Charlie has provided a rough analogy, comparing BitCoin to gold, and LiteCoin to silver.

Based on his videos, I traded some my BitShares to LiteCoin today. I’m also in the process of setting up a BitCoin IRA account. I placed sell orders for my gold eagles and silver eagles today. Even though Clif High predicts silver will go up, I see BitCoin and LiteCoin are going up now, so now is the time to act.

 

How to Sell BitShares or Trade it For LiteCoin

December 11, 2017

This blog tells you how to sell your BitShares. What does “sell” mean? Well, if you want to cashout to your bank account, you would trade it for BTC, LiteCoin, or Ethereum, then move it your on/off ramp (such as CoinBase), and then sell that currency and get the proceeds in your bank account. I bought BitShares earlier this year when I heard Stan Larimer speak at a conference. I still believe in it, but the crowd is going crazy right now with LiteCoin and a few other cryptos; so I re-allocated my portfolio today.

Even though BitShares has it’s own exchange, I couldn’t find regular BitCoin (BTC) or LiteCoin (LTC) on it. I ultimately wanted to trade some of my BitShares for LiteCoin. At first, I did a small test using https://wallet.crypto-bridge.org. I was able to do a manual trade from BitShares (BTS) to BitCoin (BTC) and then did a withdrawal to CoinBase. Like I said above, I really wanted LiteCoin, not BTC, but the process worked, even though it was rather confusing. It’s not something I would recommend my elderly parents to do.

Then I kept looking and found https://BlockTrades.us. You don’t have to submit a trade. This is how their site works.

You select the currency (cryptocoin) you are sending (selling), and the coin you wish to receive. The amount is used at this point just to estimate what price you will get; the actual price may vary. You can decide if it’s a fair exchange rate or not (perhaps more about that in another blog). You paste in your receive address, i.e. where you want your new currency to go (LiteCoin address in my case). The receive address is validated after you enter it. Note: If you are converting to BitShares or SteemIt, it asks for the account as appropriate for those tokens.

Then click the “Get Deposit Address” button.

Based on the information above, you go to your BitShares wallet, and make sure you paste the AccountName and Memo. NOTE: It’s best to copy/paste because at first I almost entered “blocktrade” instead of “blocktrades”. Had I sent my BitShares there, that party would not have to return it.

Note: BitShares recently upgraded their wallet. It’s odd to me that they say their “Send” function is “Beta”, yet they don’t offer any other choice on how to send your BitShares. I couldn’t get it to work in Chrome (I could enter the data, but the “Send” button at the lower right didn’t want to work), but it worked fine in FireFox.

As we know, BitShares is fast, and the tokens show up in a few seconds. In the bottom of the BlockTrades.us screen, you can see either pending or completed transactions (probably based on whether the trade was done, and whether they sent the coins to your target address).

If you click on the Transaction ID, you can get the full transaction ID displayed, and go to your favorite blockchain explorer to view it and watch the confirmation happening.

 

 

 

 

How to Buy EMV Token (or any ERC-20) token with Parity Wallet and EtherDelta Exchange

This video shows you my first experience buying EMV tokens on EtherDelta using the Parity Wallet. So it’s slightly rough in a few places, and maybe later I’ll make a shorter version now that I’ve had the experience.In the video, I bought EMV tokens with a small amount. I suggest starting with a small amount of $1 to $10 to begin with. Make sure you know how everything works before you try a larger amount. EMV is one of several thousand ERC-20 tokens hosted on Ethereum; for full info about EMV, see their website (Ethereum Movie Venture).


from my YouTube Channel:NealsVideos.com

Steps:

  1. The first step is really to make sure that you have some Ethereum to invest. If you have BitCoin, you might have to trade it to Ethereum first (not covered in this video). Most people have an “on-ramp”, such as CoinBase or CoinMama connected to their bank account. Others uses local dealers to buy BitCoin or Ethereum.
  2. If you don’t have a suitable wallet available, download one, such as Parity. Download parity from here: https://parity.io/parity.html. This is where you want to store your EMV (or other ERC-20 token). Make sure you backup everything, and save your recovery words somewhere safe (or print them out). If a hacker gains access to these codes, they can take all your tokens.
  3. Transfer the amount of Ethereum you want to invest to your EtherDelta account. (In the video, I went from CoinBase to Parity Wallet, then to EtherDelta, but the intermediate step was unnecessary).
  4. In EtherDelta, select the EMV token from the top
  5. In EtherDelta, enter an amount of Ethereum and click the Deposit key to move your ETH to the EtherDelta Smart Contract for Trading.
    Make sure you have a little extra ETH available to cover fees. You might have to wait a minute or two for the transaction to get processed, and you will see the deposited amount.
  6. In EtherDelta, click the lowest price in the red. You can see how many tokens they are selling. If more than what you want to buy, then type in the amount you wish to buy.
    If you want to buy more than that, you will have to buy all of tokens of that order, then repeat the process with the next lowest price until you are able to buy what you want. When you change the number of EMV tokens and click or tab off that field, then the “ETH” will automatically get recomputed.

    NOTE: looks like there is no”are you sure button”, so be sure you enter the proper numbers before clicking the blue “Buy” button.
  7. Withdraw your EMV (or other selected and purchased ERC-20 token) from the EtherDelta trading contract to your EtherDelta Wallet
  8. Transfer your EMV (or other selected and purchased ERC-20 token) to your Parity Wallet (or any other Wallet where you want to store your tokens)

    You might have to wait a few minutes for it to process.
  9. Check your Parity (or final wallet). Within a few minutes you should see the tokens your purchased there.

What Makes Litecoin Special?

August 14, 2017

Like several other cryptocurrencies, litecoin was founded with the intention of improving upon the world’s first cryptocurrency, BitCoin. Google engineer Charles Lee was the mastermind behind the creation of litecoin in October of 2011, and the stated objective at that time was to achieve a silver standard behind BitCoin’s gold standard.

Like BitCoin, litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency with open-source software, which means theoretically anyone can modify the code. There is no central regulatory authority managing litecoin, so the creation and transfer of coins is simply based on a cryptographic protocol which has been hard-wired into the software.

The technical improvements that litecoin provides over BitCoin and all other major cryptocurrencies lie in its usage of the so-called Lightning Network payment system, and the Segregated Witness, which is an attempt to improve upon the restrictive BitCoin block size. When used in tandem, these two enhancements permit processing of a greater number of transactions by the network at any specified time.

This has the happy effect of reducing the number and severity of potential bottlenecks, which BitCoin has been vulnerable to throughout its eight-year history. Other advantages which litecoin supporters point to with enthusiasm are the fact that payment cost for transactions is negligible, and that payments can be carried out about four times more quickly than BitCoin payments can be.

Litecoin vs. BitCoin

In terms of its market cap at least, litecoin has achieved its objective of becoming the silver standard, becoming the second highest mined cryptocurrency in the world, only trailing its BitCoin counterpart. Probably the most important difference between litecoin and it’s BitCoin predecessor is the fact that it takes only about 2 1/2 minutes to generate a block, while 10 minutes is required to generate a BitCoin block. As previously mentioned, the Segregated Witness was undertaken by litecoin to address this issue.

Techies understand however that there’s an even bigger difference between the two cryptocurrencies, mainly in the area of their respective Proof-of-Work algorithms. While BitCoin makes use of the SHA ‘256 hashing scheme, litecoin uses a ‘scrypt’ algorithm, which is based on the SHA – 256 algorithm, but has its calculations performed in a serial process, as opposed to BitCoin’s parallel processing.

Expensive transaction fees

Some business users have also discovered that the fees associated with BitCoin have become prohibitively large and out of sync with returned value. Another drawback to using BitCoin is that when using various payment channels, it is often necessary to initiate multiple transactions in order to achieve an overall economic objective, and those multiple transactions are all subject to individual fees. When situations like this arise, it simply places BitCoin out of the realm of affordable solutions, even when compared to older technologies like PayPal, whose transaction fees are not nearly so exorbitant.

LiteCoin Video Review

 

More special features of litecoin

The litecoin network is secured by mathematics, which allows individuals and companies to manage their own finances without the intervention of any regulatory body, and also permits anonymous transactions. It can provide faster confirmation times for all transactions, along with a greater efficiency of storage than any other math-based currency. Here are some of the special features about litecoin that make it stand out from the cryptocurrency crowd:

  • Block chain‘because litecoin can handle a greater volume of transactions than BitCoin and has more frequent block generation, the software can scale up in the future as usage is increased, without having to modify the software
  • Wallet encryption‘users’ wallets can be secured so that transactions and account balances can be viewed safely, although a password must be entered before spending any litecoins
  • Reward for miners the current reward for miners is 25 litecoins for a new block, with acoin ceiling of 84 million litecoins, a figure 4 times greater than BitCoin
  • Open-source software‘the entire litecoin project was made available under the MIT/X11 license, which allows all users the capability of copying, modifying, and executing the software
  • Community growth‘a number of litecoin communities have sprung up quickly since it’s launching, including litecoin forums, the Litecoin Teelegram, Reddit Litecoin, and the ability to do user searches on Twitter.

Outlook for litecoin

Litecoin is firmly entrenched as one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies already, and it does have some advantages over BitCoin which may be enough to eventually edge it past BitCoin in the overall rankings. While some businesses have already made the shift from BitCoin to litecoin, there are always changes to be expected in the cryptocurrency world, especially because of the open-source software capability. Stay tuned for more developments with litecoin, and probably with other digital currencies as well.

Chart from: https://www.worldcoinindex.com/coin/litecoin

Free BitCoin Course – For Beginners

There were so many people asking me questions about BitCoin, Altcoins, and Cryptocurrency that I put together a this Free BitCoin Course, a short “mini” course at http://FreeBitCoinMiniCourse.com.

Most lessons can be done in 10-20 minutes. They include short summaries, and videos that I either created or those that I found on YouTube that best describe the topic.

Free BitCoin Course – The Lesson/Topics include:

  1. What is BitCoin? What is Blockchain?
  2. BitCoin Wallets
  3. Downsides to Bitcoin
  4. How to Make Money with BitCoin
  5. The BiCoins Wealth Club
  6. DayTrading with 1Broker
  7. How the world is changing (The big picture)
  8. On ramps – Buying your first Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency
  9. Documentaries
  10. Top 25 – Video Summaries of the Most Popular AltCoins (Cryptos).

Join Free Here:http://FreeBitCoinMiniCourse.com.