Planet Gorik

My personal blog

Category: cryptocurrency

An introduction to SteemIt

What is Steemit?

Steemit is a social network and content rewards platform that rewards users using its own cryptocurrency, called STEEM.

As a user, you can earn digital tokens by posting or curating posts.  Your earnings depend on the number of upvotes you get.

Since STEEM is a cryptocurrency, it can also be traded on crypto-exchanges, such as Poloniex and Bittrex.

The main idea behind Steemit is that authors should get most of the rewards of their content instead of the platforms that publish the contents.

Currently, platforms such as Facebook and Youtube make a lot of money from other people’s content and share little or nothing to the authors. A decentralized social network can change this.

How to use it?

The easiest way to use Steemit is to go to the default website steemit.com. Here you can create a free account, publish new posts and upvote other users posts.

STEEM has its own blockchain that records all posts and votes. The blockchain is publicly accessible, you can see it as a distributed database. Because of this, other applications can be built on top of the STEEM blockchain. Developers can find more info on developers.steem.io.

Some examples are DTube (Decentralized YouTube alternative), SteemImg (decentralized image hosting) and dMania (9GAG clone for STEEM).  More can be found SteemTools.

Since SteemIt is still relatively young, most apps are still in an alpha or beta stage. But if the platform gets enough traction, it could deliver a lot of interesting new applications!

How it works

The STEEM blockchain uses a delegated proof of stake model to produce blocks. Instead of miners, STEEM uses witnesses to produce blocks. A witness only gets 10% of the new coins allocated to a new block. The 90% remaining coins go to content producers, curators, and STEEM Power holders. Witnesses produce a new block every 3 seconds. 21 witness nodes produce 21 blocks in each 63-second round.

To become an active witness, you need to get enough votes from STEEM users, voting can be done at the Steemit witness page. Hence the name delegated proof of stake.

How I use it

So far, I’ve only been following and upvoting other steemers. You can see my feed at Steemit and find the people I follow here.

With this post, I’m trying to integrate my WordPress blog with my Steemit feed using a WordPress plugin. One thing I noticed so far is that the plugin also publishes draft posts, which is not so convenient when you want to save unfinished posts in WordPress without publishing them to the blockchain.

If you like my posts, please upvote them on Steemit (you’ll need to create a free account to do so). You can also follow me @gorik.

5 interesting altcoins worth looking at

I wrote before about cryptocurrency and Ethereum. As I explained, Bitcoin is a virtual currency, using a blockchain to offer a safer way to store your money than the classic solutions. And Ethereum is a platform to allow development of decentralized network application based on blockchain technology.

What are altcoins?

Altcoins is just a nickname. It refers to all crypto coins that are not bitcoin because the general public only knows about Bitcoin.

But there are actually 900 different cryptocurrencies on the market these days and new ones created daily. A lot of them are scams. It is easy to create a new cryptocurrency. Some copy the Bitcoin source code and make some changes, others create tokens using the Ethereum platform. With Ethereum, it actually takes less than 100 lines of code to create a new coin.

But just because a lot of these new coins are scams, it doesn’t mean they are all scams. Some of them have great value and potentially a great future.

Here is an overview of some of the more well-known altcoins that are worth looking into. One of the things worth looking at is the market cap of each coin. At the time of writing, Bitcoin has a market cap of $93.5 billion and Ethereum has $32.6 billion market cap (source coinmarketcap.com).

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin was created in 2011 as a fork of Bitcoin by former Google employee Charlie Lee. It tries to fix some of Bitcoins shortcomings, such as shorter transaction time and lower payment fees. Litecoin keeps evolving with new features and technical upgrades (SegWit Upgrade, Lightning Networks). Those upgrades will allow Litecoin to scale and make it usable by more users in the future.

Current market cap: $3.4 billion.

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is not a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Litecoin. Instead, it is a distributed, real-time payment protocol than can be used to trade anything of value. Its aim is to make payments easier and cheaper, replacing systems such as SWIFT. XRP is the token used for paying the cost of a Ripple transaction.

Ripple now has over 75 banks signed up that are experimenting with XRP. Just last month they recruited the former business director at SWIFT.

Current market cap: $10 billion.

Dash (DASH)

Dash is another cryptocurrency originally based on Bitcoin, created by Evan Duffield in 2014. The first name was XCoin, later it became DarkCoin before changing the name again to Dash (short forDigital Cash). Dash aims to be faster, more private and more secure than Bitcoin.

Current market cap: $2.3 billion.

NEM (XEM)

NEM (New Economy Movement) was launched in 2015 and is based on its own original source code. Instead of copying an existing technology and modifying it, NEM was written from scratch, trying to fix some of the shortcomings of other cryptos. For example, it uses its own POI (Proof of Importance) algorithm. NEM was developed in Java under the Test Driven Development (TDD) methodology, improving the stability of the code. The goal of NEM is to improve scalability, ease of use, energy consumption of cryptocurrencies.

NEM is not only a coin but also a platform that allows companies to easily create special blockchains for different purposes using Java programming language. The difference with Ethereum is that NEM offers an API to write smart contracts while Ethereum allows you to write the entire contract code. This creates some limitation on the side of NEM but also makes the smart contracts more robust (less chance of bugs).

Current market cap: $1.8 billion.

Monero (XMR)

Monero was created in 2014. Monero is esperanto for coin. The original name was BitMonero. Monero source code is writting from scratch, so not a copy of existing technology. Its main focus is privacy. While with Bitcoin, it is possible to trace back all transactions made with a bitcoin address, the Monero wallet address is not shown in the public blockchain. Also the transaction amounts are encrypted.

Current market cap: $1.4 billion.

Conclusion

There are many cryptocoins out there, some are fighting to be the best cryptocurrency of the future, trying to improve some of the short comings of Bitcoin. Others are just part of a bigger platform, such as Ethereum, Ripple and NEM, that offer a range of features.

There will be not 1 sole survivor in this race to become the best cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is the biggest and will keep growing because it is the most well-known name. Ethereum and Litecoin have the benefit of being sold on Coinbase. As long as Coinbase is the easiest place to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, that will have an effect on the adoption of a coin.

But we are still at the beginning of the crypto age. A lot can change and no one can predict the future.

There are many other interesting altcoins but I wanted to keep this post short. I will do a follow-up post soon with some more of my favourite coins.

What is Ethereum?

On the one hand, Ethereum is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. But it is also very different.

Bitcoin is designed as a digital currency, with the specific purpose of exchanging money. All transactions are stored in the Bitcoin blockchain.

Ethereum also uses a blockchain, but it is designed as a platform to run decentralized applications. Continue reading

Blockchain and cryptocurrency explained

I’m a fan of new ideas and new ways to adjust our society to the evolution that the Internet has brought us.

I’ve kept my eye on bitcoin for some time now. Not as a big time investor, but as a technology watcher. Although my little share of bitcoin has the biggest return I’ve ever seen. On paper that is, because I don’t want to sell it. Bitcoin is like digital gold. You keep it for a rainy day. I’m not a day trader.

But the blockchain technology behind bitcoin has so much applications than only being a digital currency. Blockchain is the future and it will change the way the world does commerce in the future.

Hate banks that make you beg for a loan and charge high interest fees? Blockchain will allow worldwide micro loans between individuals at much lower cost.

Hate the large fees you pay to banks, PayPal or Credit Card companies when you want to transfer money between people in different countries? Or hate being at the mercy of their ever changing rules, canceling accounts for no good reason, just to protect their own assets? Cryptocurrency solves this problem.

Hate lawyers, notary fees, expensive escrow services? Look into smart contracts build upon blockchain technology.

I’m fascinated by the evolution and the potential that blockchain and cryptocurrency will bring to our world and I plan to write more about it.

In the meantime, read this awesome article by Nick Szabo, one of the founding fathers of the concepts behind cryptocurrency:

http://unenumerated.blogspot.be/2017/02/money-blockchains-and-social-scalability.html

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