Answers To Your Questions About Bitcoin

Answers To Your Questions About Bitcoin

Cryptocurrency doesn't have to be so cryptic.

Behold, the mysterious bitcoin. With the tech media raving endlessly about this digital currency, it would make sense to say that us common folk have a clear picture of its nature. However, having analyzed my own knowledge of cryptocurrency, and having consulted others about their comprehension, I realized that collectively, our bitcoin smarts were rudimentary at best. Thus, I decided to investigate the hidden realm of bitcoin, and eliminate the cloak veiling its identity.

For starters, what is cryptocurrency? If this term prompts your mind to imagine genius coders implementing complicated algorithms to protect sensitive data transfers, your thoughts are correct, and exactly defined as cryptographic protocols. Jacked on mathematical steroids and fed with complex engineering frameworks, it would take a James Bond-like hacker to even attempt to break these protocols.

Cryptocurrencies are controlled by a decentralized system, meaning that the value and supply of the currency is governed by user activity and protocols, not banks. Additionally, digital currencies are limited in stocks, which means that once supply runs out, its game over. Lastly, cryptocurrency both possesses perks and drawbacks. The former has to do with the fact that the political independence of cryptocurrency makes it nearly impossible for the government to freeze accounts of users–essentially free reign. However, cryptocurrency drawbacks also revolve around the shady transactions of the hacker underground, which has lead various countries to cast severe discontent upon the matter. Now that you know some background information on digital currency, it's time to dive into the world of bitcoin!

Bitcoin was born in 2009, and though its creator is said to be a man by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, the author's true identity is still speculated over. As previously mentioned about cryptocurrency, bitcoin is governed by a decentralized system, and is politically independent. The currency has no physical attributes, as its anatomy is entirely composed of complex mathematical computations, and further, bitcoin doesn't exist as "bitcoin", but rather as a set of digital keys that are stored electronically and in the cloud.

In order to spend bitcoin, users need to buy it and exchange it via transaction platforms like Coinbase in San Francisco. All of these transactions are recorded on something called the blockchain, which the Guardian defines as a "digital ledger that provides a secure way of making and recording transactions, agreements and contracts." Usually, one can pay for bitcoin by traditional means such as with credit cards, but bitcoin ATMs have also appeared that enable users to exchange the cryptocurrency with cash as well.

As mentioned before, cryptocurrencies have a finite supply, and bitcoin's total stands at 21 million. Of that total, 15 million bitcoin are currently in circulation. Supporters of the digital currency claim this circulation rate makes bitcoin more stable than currencies supported by the government, as central banks that print money have the potential to depreciate currency values. According to The Sun Newspaper, one bitcoin is worth $12,990.00 to the US dollar as of Wednesday, December 21st.

Through this article, I hope I have enabled you to achieve a greater understanding of bitcoin and the general operation of cryptocurrencies, and hope to have successfully eliminated any confusion over the media-populated matter. Perhaps you will now have the courage to go out there in the digital world and explore the realm for yourself! And who knows, maybe you will become the next big face in cryptocurrency trading.

Cover Image Credit: Crypto Reporting

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?

In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Privacy While Using Facebook

3. DO NOT log in with Facebook for other websites

As you may have heard in the news all over the place, Facebook has failed to protect your privacy. You and I might feel worried about how our personal data has been used and why it has been used. No one knows, yet. We hope that nothing serious would happen. You as a user of Facebook, may or may not aware of how Facebook has been either selling or using your personal data for advertising but you can take precautions to protect your private information by several steps before and after you use Facebook.

It is easy to get angry about what the lack of cyber security of Facebook has done, but it’s not the end of the world. According to reports by Cambridge Analytica, they have used Facebook user’s data to promote a political campaign for the election of 2016. Here, as a computer major student and developer, I am going to tell you five ways to protect your privacy while using Facebook. It’s doable by an average person without any technical expertise.

1. Always log out from Facebook

You should always log out from the Facebook after using it for numerous reasons. First, by doing so, you’re decreasing the chance of your personal information being stolen or misuse. I’m claiming that Facebook use your private data without your permission, but there are more chances that your other activities (e.g., browsing) might be recorded for various purposes. Also, someone you know or complete stranger might take your phone and post whatever he/she would like to post. So, it’s a best practice that you should do it.

2. Use the "incognito" searching mode

You have seen a notice either in the header or footer of the webpage saying “this website use cookie... Accept/OK!..” Well, those people want to know what do you like/search on the internet so they can give you advertising according to it. Your browsing history, cookies and site data, and information entered in forms would be saved/accessed if you do not choose to go incognito. Incognito mode means “browse privately” (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N). Since you have a Facebook account, your preferences about products and browsing are more likely to be accessed by other websites that have like and share buttons. In short, go incognito!

3. DO NOT log in with Facebook for other websites

According to Facebook recent privacy updates, they are limiting how developers can use your login information. However, you should avoid to Sign Up or Login using Facebook for numerous reasons. First, if you log in to other sites with Facebook login, you are sharing your personal and private information with them indirectly. Someone would need your full name, email, and a city that you’re currently live to track you down or at least figure out who you are. You are more likely to get tons of ads on your browser and Facebook page. If you hate ads, then you should avoid using Facebook to Sign Up or Login to other websites.

4. Manage Facebook apps that you use

Go to (Settings⇒ Apps and Websites) to make changes of your choice. You will be surprised by how many apps and websites you are going to find that you no longer use. You should remove all apps that you don’t use frequently. Also, you should click on each app’s (View & Edit) to make changes how they should use your private information. Personally, I want to suggest that DO NOT use apps or websites that would tell you “who are your top 5 best friends?” or “how much money you will make in 10 years,” etc. These are spams. By using this tools, you’re putting your privacy in danger.

5. Manage Facebook ads

This is my favorite one, and this is the on that I’m most pissed about for numerous reasons. You will be shocked after looking what kind of categories Facebook has set up to give you the “perfect matching” ads. You will also be surprised after clicking on your interest tab. You will be amazed by how powerful Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool is. You may or may not remove whatever preferences you no longer have about any categories. You should check “Your Information” tab to make sure that what kind of information you are sharing with whatever company. You should also hide whatever ad topics that you don’t want to see.

MUST DO: You should click here to here to see if your personal information has been shared with Cambridge Analytica or not (you must be logged in).

In short, these are some basic precautions that you can take to protect your privacy if you are a Facebook user. The primary purpose of this article is not to oppose what Facebook does for their user, but it is to inform them about how to protect their private data besides what Facebook does or will do. In the 21st century, cybersecurity is becoming the biggest concern, and we should be aware of what do we share online because once it’s out, it stays there forever. I hope that after reading this article, you would know how to protect your privacy while using Facebook. See you next week!

To see Facebook’s current practice, click here.

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