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Drinking the blockchain kool-aid

The funnest game.

I first heard about cryptocurrency and bitcoin in 2009 working as a support agent in a call center for Dell. At the time the closest thing to it was the currency in games like World of Warcraft and so I found it intriguing. I also didn’t think it would go very far (?) since I couldn’t tie it back to USD as easily as I could things like video game gold. I revisited the idea in 2013 when I heard about MtGox and how bitcoin made the best currency for Magic the Gathering cards, and decided I could try GPU mining bitcoin. At the time it was possible to mine using a pool and earn enough to start day trading.

A friend at work had told me day trading could be fun and I wanted to try it. I didn’t have 10k laying around to pay a broker. Thus it was an obvious move to play ‘the funnest game’ and day trade bitcoins. I did pretty well and earned about 100USD in a few weeks. This from simply GPU mining and trading. Of course the bubble grew one weekend while I was out fishing and I lost it all. MtGox shortly after imploded and took with it any trust or interest in crypto I had, until about 2 weeks ago.

Blockchain Punch.

While I was sharpening my hardware chops and building our IoT framework CropWatch, some interesting things were going down with Ethereum and Hyperledger. Unbeknownst to me a new distributed task queue was being cooked with gas.

The EVM or Etherium Virtual Machine allows one to execute code within the blockchain and not just use it as a fiscal ledger. This will allow new models to emerge fostered by the ideas of immutability and no-trust. It took a few tech friends and seeing all the blockchain technologies at Collision (such as Coincierege Club) for me to drink the punch. The final tipping point was listening to Lennart Frantzell of IBM speak in a workshop at Collision. The workshop was about IBM Blockchain and Hyperledger. Of course everyone wants to blockchain themselves and their dog, and many startups in the space are simply ridiculous, knowing when to use the technology and when to default back to traditional databases is going to take some experimentation and time. I already have some good ideas however and in the coming weeks will be working on some decentralized applications to get a better grasp on it.

My advice to anyone still holding out is to at least check out Hyperledger. Since it has no currency and is just a really good distributed immutable database. Hyperledger is best for distributed Internet of Things. My reasoning for that is based on its admin and server model. By allowing a central admin setting up private blockchains becomes possible. By using traditional server models one can eliminate the need for concepts like gas in the EVM. Which makes sense for large IoT applications among large organizations. Since they need many data capture points and can host their own dedicated hardware. Expect to see our IoT applications interfacing as Hyperledger Oracles sometime soon.

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