Friday, May 11, 2012

Choosing a Programming Language - A Daring Dilemma

    As an ongoing student and fairly new computer science major, I am stricken with the inevitable choice all programmers must eventually face- deciding on a coding language to learn. Upon first glancing at a list of potential computer programming languages, I found myself overwhelmed. I quickly became lost in an industry which was unsuspectingly rich in scope, blanketed with challenging terminology, and always lacking the simple descriptions (perhaps as a deterrence for those not belonging to the exclusive programming club). The languages of the computer world were harder to grasp than I originally had thought, and as I continued researching I would only encounter more unknowns.

    Eventually, after a perpetual circle of bouncing from decision A to decision B and waging all the factors, I came to the only correct conclusion. I learned the solution to my dilemma is to just dive head first into one programming language and don't look back until I've mastered it. I was only wasting time trying to find the "perfect" choice, and I was diluting my analyses with days of reading biased opinions and reviewing excessive information from the coding community. Sometimes you just have to tighten up, make a decision, then stick with the results and hunker down in the books for a year. So I did, I chose a language and I'm going to stick with it for a year before I come back to my decision.

    Maybe one year is all it takes. In on year you'll garner more experience on the subject to get you to your goal, or possibly just reveal the correct path. Regardless of the choice, a decision will educate you on something useful and give you experience in your field, whereas no decision will result in zero progress. The best things happen where you least expect them; hopefully, the decision you make will reveal an amazing skill you enjoy using and possibly, barring a few more years, land you on the career path you want.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Creating a Indy Video Game

I'll be attempting to create a indy-style video game in the vein of LoZ: A Link to the Past, but with more RPG elements.

Here is a link to some of the resources I'll be referencing, as I have no background knowledge of creating video games.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Moneyball: My Opinions on a Great Movie

Before reading any critiques, it's good to know how a writer thinks in order to compare and contrast your thoughts or opinions, as well as get an idea of how their brain functions.
Personally, I'm an avid baseball lover, and I have been following the Yankees, basically since I was born. I played little league in my younger days for over 7 years, and I still retained my love of the game even though I didn't play for my High School or College. To give some movie insight, I think Captain America and Midnight in Paris stand among my favorites of this year, and were my most enjoyable releases thus far. In a quality film, I look for professional and quirky acting, enjoyably portrayal of substance, serious attempts at emotional or personal connections, proper pacing of the plot, and a certain fluidity which varies and captures the audience; keeping the viewer interested in the progression, rather than bored with hollow and easily predictable filler.

Now, The Movie:

Recently released in theaters nationwide, Moneyball is the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' hit 2003 novel of the same name, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game." Walking into the theater, I expected Moneyball to fall in the vein of the typical sports drama (eg; 1999's "Love of the Game"), maybe fluffed up by some sprinkles of light-hearted comedy. Having been an avid baseball fan all my life, I didn't expect a relatively bare cast of Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman to give any sort of convincing semblance of real baseball feel. All signs in my head pointed towards a mediocre film and the boring rehash of a sports book, lacking any substantial personality or qualities to garner my full attention. Furthering my doubting theories, I found advertisements painfully exaggerating the film's household actors with viewer pull, and I've found this is usually a desperate move to sell tickets for a bad movie. To explain, I think It's fine to put a star actor's name above or tied to the movie title as they want to promote their investments; but I am seriously concerned when Brad Pitt's name is the same size and same font as the film's title and comes above it (on some posters); I know it's good business, but it screams "this movie sucks, but come see it because Brad Pitt is in it." Now, after explaining every problem and preconceived notion fueling my heavy pessimism before the movie, Moneyball ironically ended up managing to shove my foot right in my mouth; this is while it shattered every thought I had about the movie and replaced my false perceptions with some two hours of genuinely enjoyable, completely engaging, seriously great baseball cinema.

With one of the lowest budgets of any professional baseball team and facing the loss of their three star players in free agency, the Oakland Athletics were preparing for a dismal 2003 season in baseball. General Manager Billy Beane decides to gamble on the statistical theories of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) which take the classic rules of baseball and throw them out the window. Replacing the keen eyes of the talent scout with pure mathematical equations and statistics, Brand and Hill attempt to evaluate talent which is undervalued by other teams. One example is a player who can no longer throw but can still hit fairly well and drive in runs. While other teams consider him a useless catcher, Oakland's GM thinks creatively and decides to have him play first base (where he won't need to throw as much). Focusing on a system which promotes the on base percentage stat and scoring runs using statistics and mathematics, Bean and Brand acquire replacements whose combined ability is equal to that of their star players being lost. By finding value in seemingly undervalued players, the Athletics formed a competitive playoff team with an extremely low budget. Moneyball focuses on overcoming challenges in today's baseball game, which is generally dominated by high spending teams like the Yankees, using intellect and ingenuity to beat brute force.

As for acting, I believe in Brad Pitt's talent and his ability to portray plenty of roles, but I never was on board with the idea of him in any screenplay churned out for this very unique movie. I'll praise Pitt's diverse acting ability, but his history of action, drama and romance personally taints my view of him as a convincing baseball character. Thankfully, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) sticks to the business end of things in Oakland and Pitt really just captivates you from the start with his entertaining and genuinely managerial personality. Never straying too close to the thick of baseball itself, Beane's part was well-suited for a Brad Pitt, who I couldn't really see pulling off a true baseball aura. To clarify, I think Pitt was great because his role was essentially all off of the field, social and business, all of which are more of his strong suit; he's not exactly a character who oozes the aura of baseball fundamentals and he doesn't try to force that in Moneyball. However, Billy Beane's (Pitt) character is definitely not a solo act, as a young Peter Brand (who is played by Jonah Hill) provides an uplifting partner and catalyst for emotional depth.
Generally a comedic subtlety, Jonah Hill usually has a more substantial lead cast to support him. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting Hill to carry such a major role of the movie as well as he did. Similar to Pitt, managerial roles kept Jonah far from the thick of baseball technical and instead allowed him to thrive at what he does best, his quirky supporting comedy. One benefit of Brand (Hill's character) which differed from the very real Billy Beane, was that Peter Brand was actually made up. From 1999-2003, a man named Paul DePodesta was actually Oakland's assistant GM, but chose not to allow his likeness in the movie and thus was represented instead by the fictional Yale Economics graduate, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Because Oakland's actual Assistant GM was not being characterized, the lack of historical structure provided flexibility which attributed greatly to Hill's success in his role. Without the need to fulfill factual parameters, Bennett Miller (Director) could mold the character of Assistant GM Brand to help reinforce Jonah Hill's strengths by adapting to his acting archetype. Jonah made Peter into a great, entertaining personality, and proved he could stand tall to fulfill an essential supporting role (with tons of screen time) which complimented Pitt. Peter Brand acted as a voice of reason and calculations, a necessary foil to Beane's harsh words and reflexive actions at times; he was someone for audiences to emotionally connect with, as Brand was an Economics grad. thrown into a whirlwind of baseball unknowns. Hill emphasized an awkward, likable charisma, with an air of mathematical insight, a combination which emphasized his acting prowess and balanced the emotion of important scenes with Billy.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was my one major grip with the movie, and really the only leading character who stuck out as awkward or misplaced. It seemed as if Hoffman was forcing his role as Manager (Head Coach) Art Howe, overacting in the few meaningful scenes he had with dialogue. I definitely got the image of a baseball coach, but I just couldn't shake some very stereotypical baseball caricature. It's almost as if Phillip just read a book on how to be a baseball coach, and proceeded to follow it explicitly and robotically throughout Moneball. Maybe I'd mistakenly attributed some of my general dislike of Hoffman to the shortcomings I perceived, but I still believe his name just another draw for more sales. I would consider plenty of other far less noteworthy actors to fill the role of Art, especially with the lack of overall screen time his character had in the film. He just seemed to be there, existing as a stand-in so the movie could continue. Either way, Hoffman served his purpose (albeit mundanely) playing A's coach Art Howe, he just didn't accelerate at it and take it to the next level; something which was painstakingly obvious among the convincing efforts of Hill and Pitt.

I can only blatantly express Moneyball as the greatest cinematic surprise I've had the pleasure of witnessing in the last 10 years. Director Bennett Miller takes some rather boring, historical, sports literature, and skillfully transforms it into a great story which maintains plenty of authenticity and conveys an amazing message of fighting adversity through intellect and overcoming the impossible. To capture the hearts of audiences not with the story of an amazing baseball team or players, but with a tale of faces farm removed from the field, I believe this film was a great success with a very challenging subject. A genuine baseball masterpiece which surpassed every expectation of mediocrity I had, Moneyball truly holds it's own among the movie greats of athletic triumph, sharing space in my heart with the likes of Remember the Titans, and comedic fair like Sandlot and Major League. Executing award-winning levels of acting without undermining baseball's true importance, Moneyball is a unique amalgam of memorable characterization, meaningful introspect, and great artistic portrayals turning bland recollections to lasting enjoyment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Guide to Start Mining Bitcoins Today (Better Late Than Never)


If you haven't the slightest clue what a bitcoin is, how to find them, or what they do, I suggest you diverge and follow the link below to my first post discussing bitcoins. The article gives a brief synopsis of how the concept works, coupled with my opinions on it's past, present and future status.

Link to Bitcoin Introduction Post:

How to Get Started Mining Bitcoins
1. First off, you need to figure out just what your hardware can do. Here's two quick but important bits of information:

!!! Important !!!
**One or more AMD/ATI GPU's will mine faster than almost all other CPU or GPU options**
AMD/ATI HD 5700, 5800, 5900, 6700, 6800, 6900 series desktop graphics cards will provide the best bitcoin mining results. Multiple cards and other PCs with these cards will multiply mining results. nVidia cards will work fine, but they will not be nearly as effective as AMD/ATI cards due to using a different processing design and chip architecture (nVidia uses their proprietary CUDA architecture)

!!! Important !!!
**Here is an extremely helpful chart which lists the Mhash/s values for nearly every kind of Processor and Graphics Card:
Use this chart to find your hardware and calculate a ballpark Mhash/s mining rate. If your hash rate is below 100Mhash/s it's going to take days or week(s), even in a mining pool (see below) for you to get even ONE BITCOIN.
!!! Important !!!
*** Notes: When referring to the calculating power of a CPU/GPU, the term hash/s with a prefix K-(kilo or thousand) or M-(mega or million) is used to denote it's ability to calculate a said number of possible solution strings(hashes) per second for cracking a bitcoin block's problem. ***

***Each solved bitcoin block rewards 50 bitcoins to the successful miner!***
**** Calculated million hashes per second = Mhash/s (more Mhash/s = better) ****

2. So, step one just included some important info you'll always need to
know; step two involves putting that info to use. Now you need analyze the hardware you have to work with. Take some time and find out what your CPU and (if possible) GPU are in your computer. If you have only a single PC at home containing your average CPU and/or GPU that's aged 3-4+ years, you will most likely not find any real profit or satisfaction in bitcoin mining. Laptops are generally a no go for mining as well, due to heat and power constraints. However, despite however technologically lacking you might be, you're still more than welcome (I encourage everyone never to quit) to continue reading on and carry out any, albeit slow, mining endeavors on that old machine; if at least for the experience..... Right? :)


Ways to check your system CPU and GPU specs:

-DXDIAG Method:
1. Hold down the "windows key" and then simultaneously press "r"
Go to: [Start] >> [Run] or [Windows Bubble] >> [Run]
2. Type "dxdiag"
3. Then press enter or click "run"
4. If there's a popup prompt just click "no" or whatever you want, otherwise skip this.
5. Wait for the diagnostic to finish.
6. Clicking the "Display" tab will show your GPU, the "System" tab will show CPU info.

-Google Method:
1. If your PC is a store bought pre-built machine or laptop(amazon, newegg, bestbuy), look for a manufacturer name and model number on case
2. Go to Google and type in both to search bar; look for a list of system specs online

-Invasive Method:
*** Warning: I don't recommend this method to inexperienced PC people. Proceed at your own risk. I'm not responsible for any possible damage done by the user to a computer. ***
1. Find the thumb screws on the back of your tower and remove them
2. Slide off the side of your case/tower
3. Grab a flashlight (if needed) and look around inside for model #s and manufacturers
4. Generally the CPU model is listed on the actual die, which is under a heatsink+fan, just use the dxdiag method above which should name the CPU no problems. Alternatively, in WinVista/7 you can go to: [Start] >> [Control Panel] >> [System and Security] >> [System]; or on winXP: just [Start] >> [Control Panel] >> [System]
5. If there's not a rather large, square card in one of the motherboard's expansion slots towards the back (about 3-5" long, blue, beige or black generally), then you don't have a video card.

Now answer these questions:

a) What Processor do I have?
If your answer is an AMD Athlon x2, Intel Dual Core or older you're better off just trying your GPU. Even the most expensive processors on the market only get 20-30 Mhash/s; all while giving off twice the heat and doubling your energy use!
I have an AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE @3.2ghz which barely gets me 10-15 Mhash/s while putting out 45C air into my room and using at least 100W. I'd be losing money most days on electric and cooling costs if I mined with my CPU. I've forgone my processor, and only use a GPU due to the vast efficiency difference.

b) What GPU/Graphics Card do I have?
If you answer with a HD 5770, or maybe even a 6850, or anything in the HD 5000 and HD 6000 series I listed earlier, congratulations! Your rig may be decent at mining and get you anywhere between $3-10/day (mining 24/7 and always depending on variable BTC market trade value)
For a some real life numbers, I have an ATI Radeon HD 5770 which I mine BTC with on occasion. I get roughly 195Mhash/s with it overclocked @ 930mhz GPU core clock (the memory clock is irrelevant and doesn't affect hash/s rate). Hint: Many suggest turning the memory clock as low as possible to save on power consumption; it's a non-factor in your card's mining hash rate, only the core GPU clock affects the rate.

3. Alright, here's hoping you are lucky enough to own an ATI/AMD GPU so you can put that gaming machine to good use while asleep (or maybe you went and built a respectable, dedicated mining rig). If your hardware isn't up to the task of bitcoin mining or maybe it just needs some light improvements (a simple video card can change everything), I'll discuss some hardware options and budget mining rig setups next. Now on to the third step. Setting up a successful mining rig or operation. For the average Joe miner, having one or more (preferably ATI/AMD) GPUs is a must; it's the only current way to mine at a reasonably profitable rate! ATI cards are preferred because their architecture allows them to process more hashes/second.

For example: My ATI HD 5770 video card mining nonstop for 24 hours gets me a total of about .33-.4 bitcoin (yes, that's 1/3 of ONE COIN per day). In comparison, a friend's nVidia GTX 460 only does about 60-70 Mhash/s despite being a slightly better gaming card. ATI/AMD cards aren't designed to mine, it was just pure happenstance that their processing architecture lucked out in being a great method of carrying out the many simple equations needed for mining. The AMD/ATI GPUs are so adept at mining they even eclipse powerful modern processors, putting to shame the workhorse of any PC with it's inadvertently efficient design.

Important Software Needs
It's time to put all this sexy [hopefully] AMD silicon to use!
The following download links are for the software basics which any miner needs:

1. First you'll need to install official Bitcoin client and to setup a wallet to send and receive coins. Remember, bitcoins are stored locally via hard drive. If you lose your HDD and don't backup your wallet, you lose your coins (your bitcoins act just like any file on your PC). Pretend like your wallet is a text document worth all your coins.

Link to a wallet creation tutorial here:
Alternatively, you can simply just download the client here:

2. Next, pick a mining software; I prefer to use GUI Miner which has an easy-to-use visual interface (others may use command line) and comes pre-loaded with some settings for popular pools.

Helpful forum post about guiminer here:
guiminer download links in this post here:

Phoenix Miner (alternative to GUI Miner) download links here:
Phoenix Install Guide here:

Another helpful tutorial for installing a wallet and configuring a mining program (pictures):

After downloading the official bitcoin and mining software, setting up your wallet and configuring your preferred mining program, you're finally ready to join a pool and start mining! Alternatively, you can mine on your own, but once again I highly advise against this unless you have extremely powerful and abundant hardware (making at least 1 Ghash/s) to be able to solve blocks at a reasonable rate.

What is a Pool?
Here is my definition:

Mining Pool - A coalition of miners who agree to combine their resources and work together as one towards their goal of 50 bitcoins from solving a block. The pool shares the spoils of each solved block and each individual participant receives a specific reward calculated from their total work towards solving the block over the entire pool's work. So the more work you put in, the more you get out!!
The equation can be expressed as:

[Individual Miner's Work Share] / [Pool's Total Work Needed to Solve That Block]

The term "pool" is a rather simple label given to a collective force of miners who "pool" or combine their mining power into one entity. A main server hosted on the web represents a single are to connect to. The server acts as one miner which is made up of many individually connected computers who have personal accounts on the host's website. The personal accounts of each connected miner in the pool act as their ID, and allows the host to designate and deliver the respective member's share of BTC based on the total work contributed. hosted by one or more people who use a program to allow multiple people to connect and combine their mining power into one entity.
Many pools require a reasonably small fee (eg. 1 bitcoin every time a block [of 50 coins] is solved) for support purposes. A pool's fee is taken before distributing each miner's share of a block, and is used to help upkeep and maintain the pool's server/website. Some mining pools forego upkeep fees altogether in order to provide a more attractive offer to miners. These "fee-free" pools run purely as a democratic service to miners and provide the same shared coin distributions as pools with fees (based on each individual miner's contribution percentage), but instead handing out the full 50 coin reward from solved blocks. Many of the younger pool servers have no fees in order to help expedite growth. Generally the pools which are free of fees still work to the host's advantage because said host will be able to solve blocks faster in their pool than on their own; not to mention they still get their rightful share from work done. So pools solve blocks faster, making rewards much more often, thus allowing miners without extensive equipment to have regular payouts of coins. All this speed is only in exchange for the small price of server upkeep (a drop in the bucket for serious mining operations)

But what pool should I join? There are so many options...

Pick a popular pool that will be able to solve blocks fairly often, since you'll be getting your share of coins sent to you only when a block is solved. There's a good 5 or so pools which have enough contributing miners to solve a block every day or so. As you continue down the list the frequency of the pool solving block will decrease, with some groups getting a block every few days, weeks, or [rarely] months. Remember, the hash rate for a pool/miner can only be applied from a statistical perspective as the chance/percentage to predict the solution to a block; mining at 1 Ghash/s does not mean you're guaranteed to solve a block at the predicted rate. The solutions to blocks are still only found by plugging in hash values through trial and error; this means one could theoretically solve a block in minutes or months, despite hash rate. Thankfully, statistics is not a reoccurring friend of the outlier, nevertheless keep the mechanics of mining in mind if your pool happens to fall upon a block drought.

Going Solo? I'd Rethink That!

As a miner with a cheap, simple, spare parts rig at home, one can only dream of solving a single block in a reasonable amount of time. Even after weeks (or sometimes months) of grinding away, day after day, running a perpetually powered mining machine nonstop, you still may not have solved a block; this is where pools come in. Without a pool you're essentially gambling on whether days, weeks, or months of work (depending on equipment) will actually net you either: an overall financial gain (contingent upon invested resources, hardware, utilities),
or the 50 coins from solving a block at all. To reiterate, there is no coin payment to a solo miner unless he/she solves a full block and gets the 50 coin reward. If you're more conservative in your overall mining endeavor, investments and resources, a pool is the only way to be sure of ever getting anything out of mining.

Due to the uncannily low probability for someone on a simple home rig mining at 200-300Mhash/s to solve a block in even months of constant mining, it's best to join a pool. As explained above, with a pool you have tens or even hundreds of people with a 200 Mhash/s home rig working as one giant miner; this allows for faster solving of blocks and faster payouts to each individual, based on their share of mining work towards that block. the pool's owner, each time the group finds a correct hash receive a portion of each block the pool solves collectively It is completely possible (but with an unimaginably small chance) for some lucky devil to decide to mine by themselves on a laptop at some absurdly low rate such as 3 Mhash/s, and solve a block for a quick 50 coins! However, the prevailing winds of the bitcoin system prefer to follow to the more methodical laws of probability and allow generalized predictions based on hash rates. It's also completely possible (and also unlikely) that the same person mining by themselves at a snail's pace 3 Mhash/s, will not crack a block for decades. In the end, probability outweighs all else while mining and you can get a general prediction of when a block will be solved based on one's hash/s rate.

Solving and Explaining The Block

A Block, is the term used analogously to describe a digital collection comprised of vast amounts of unique equations. Each individual bitcoin transaction that takes place automatically creates a multitude of complex equations which are placed inside different blocks. The equations act both as a method for checking the validity of each and every coin transfer, and serves as a piece in the construction of a new block. When a block is solved, the correct hash has been found and the structure of transaction-spawned equations are proven and confirmed. Each transfer of coins on the bitcoin network is checked many times (100+), with equations being embedded in a vast quantity of individual blocks. Thus, miners are inputting long number strings (or hashes) to both, [hopefully] solve the block, fulfill the proof and get the reward, in addition to subconsciously confirming every transaction held within said solved block at the time.

Now, one might think the block system seems kind of tedious, even though it's purpose has an ingenious duality. but in fact it has a third advantage built into itself which is balanced equality. Using a very democratic method, each block has a set of completely random, unknown equations which has only one hash value (solution) that is a proof for the equations to show they are true. With no hints or clues anywhere to give an advantage, the only way to prove a block's equation set is by repetitively plugging in many extremely large numerical values (hashes). Using computational processing power, miners create anywhere from a thousand to billions of hashes each second, through which the mining software inserts to check if it's a block's valid proof. One by one, an unfathomable amount of numbers are checked until a block's sole proof is finally found, and 50 coins are rewarded to the lucky miner.
A foundation of extremely repetitive trial and error allows bitcoin to provide a coveted method of equal opportunities for all miners. Through a very original use of mathematics, the bitcoin block system of disbursal is a superb vehicle to throttle the system's growth, while also helping prevent anyone from obtaining a meaningful advantage.

Basics of The Coin and Backing Up That Fat Stash!

Bitcoins are transferred using a unique address which is listed in your address book, and randomly generated by the bitcoin program for each user. Your address can be changed at will, but each person is only limited to 100 unique addresses per software download, so use them wisely. An important thing to remember is that your wallet and it's contained bitcoins are stored locally as a file on your hard disk; this means if your HDD dies, you delete your wallet, or something happens to the wallet file, all your coins will be lost. Luckily, you can save a copy of your wallet for backup purposes. I highly suggest backing up your wallet files and storing them on a separate partition, extra hard drive, removable USB thumb drive, or some other secure file space that is safe from disaster. Never forget to backup your wallet, don't take a chance some unexpected event might delete your coins and have you crying over all that lost money! Good luck and try not to put all your bitcoin eggs in one basket!


Well that's about all the information anyone would need to start mining bitcoins today. I hope this guide/informational writing was useful to some people. Mining bitcoins can be fun in your spare time as a hobby with some monetary returns, who knows you might even enjoy taking it to new heights by investing in some expensive hardware. Whatever your choices for mining may be, I hope I'll have been a helpful resource for your bitcoin endeavors. Have fun with bitcoins, and always remember to be safe, smart and secure with your currency!

Enjoyed the Guide? Care to donate some coins?
If you enjoyed or appreciated this informational guide enough to tip the author, feel free to donate some bitcoins :)
My wallet address is:


Anything helps. Thanks again and keep on mining!!

All About Bitcoins: Pyramid Scheme or Here to Stay?


Before I say anything, I'd like to state I'm mining bitcoins as I type this very sentence; yes, it's that easy. Now before your head starts jolting with notions of cash just passively streaming into your bank account, we should establish some groundwork.

First off: What are bitcoins? The Bitcoin network is a recently developed monetary system used for trading capital over the internet, and is based entirely on a virtual currency exchange model. Comprised of a nightmarish complex of equations at it's core, bitcoins(BTC) are a man-made digital tender created by combining mathematical ingenuity with the basics of a credit system; the goal of the design was a much safer and extremely anonymous internet currency.

A Brief Summary of Bitcoin Mechanics

Created by Satoshi Nakamoto (note: a possible alias), Bitcoin is a system of finite, pre-made "coins" which come in locked blocks of a 50 count. Each individual bitcoin transaction (from one person to another) creates a proof which must be checked multiple times to authenticate the exchange. Each block is created when multiple proofs from different transactions come together to form a unique cryptographic hash; this hash must then be cracked by miners for the block of 50 coins to be successfully unlocked, and thus dispersed into the market pool. The problem for each block must be cracked by completing a proof of work through constant trial and error of number strings (all done with CPU/GPU through mining programs). Each tied into the transactions of different users and works as an authenticating agent. The processing ability needed to search for a successful string to unlock a block can come from anyone with a computer. However, how fast a block is cracked is dependent on the power of the CPU (newer being better) or as of fairly recently, the architecture and power of a GPU. thus bringing forth a coalition of different people who choose to help search for the key to unlocking the coded blocks, and releasre more coins; these people are dubbed, miners. to search for a string of numbers which will allow Coveted for their simplicity and almost full anonymity, bitcoins are a finite supplied, user-driven, fully digital currency which can be exchanged in a given BTC market for goods, rental fees, or basically anything.

The Past, Present and Future

The Bitcoin market has been blossoming since it's debut roughly two years ago. Some say the network is a pyramid scheme, with the creator(s) waiting for coin values to peak before cashing in and exchanging hordes of preordained coins. Other analysts and community members tout the numerous benefits of using the currency and claim the bitcoin system will remain alive for some time. The hope is that bitcoins will become popularized as a new type of stable main stream currency for internet trading. The future of bitcoins is still speculative and mostly unsure of itself. One thing is clear though, whether arguing in favor of bitcoins or against them, each side packs plenty of legitimate evidence to support their claims.

Aside from the unique premise under which it's designed, bitcoin's positive outlook and growing consumer interest comes from the extreme flexibility it offers. Some unique characteristics of btc include: instant global exchanges, digital sale of any goods, stock market-like trading sectors, fluctuating value and the security of having effectively anonymous transactions. The tracking of BTC transactions are only subject to a few high-level, advanced methodologies; however, when coupled with other measures of protection the anonymity of bitcoin is only truly rivaled by physical cash exchanges. The culmination of benefits from using bitcoins has cemented a heart of loyal followers in the system. The base of regular users who form the market's heart have already bought in to the system, boosting it's worth to extremely high values and essentially contracting the large investors to carry out their financial plans. The heavy investment of the BTC communities' time and capital can be seen as strong evidence boosting the notion of a lasting bitcoin market which will not be dying soon(at least not in large chunks).

Among the benefactors of bitcoin are the many first time, independently owned and web-based businesses which have found success in sales by using the system's small footprint. In addition to acting as a virtual replacement for cash, a pseudo-stock market exists for BTC to be traded at a fluctuating rate for real money (transferable right into your personal bank account). The varying conversion value of coins boosting total worth of a business coupled with a completely digital marketing plan, can alleviate start up costs and remedy expensive maintenance needs. The other major group to benefit from BTC are the initial miners who were able to start from scratch and use existing computers or equipment they owned to work up a bulging wallet of coins; after a year of waiting the virtual nothings became worth over $20.00 USD each. The rate which blocks are solved is adjustable, and before mining became so popular it was far easier to get coins with limited resourced. Some of those who were smart (or lucky) to invest in heavy mining efforts have come out with ten of thousands of US dollars or more in pure profit.

As bitcoins rise in popularity on the web each passing month, many wonder if the system will hold itself up or if the whole thing was just a pyramid scheme for the creator to cash out on. Despite speculation, in the end I still see BTC existing as either, a rarely used underground currency, or a moderately successful alternative to classic payment methods. I imagine bitcoins will never take over the internet market. There's simply too many variables for average users to comprehend for BTC to become the standard, and international governments hate the legal problems caused by the high anonymity of the currency.

More on Trading

Besides using them like currency, bitcoins can be traded like stock through an exchange company for actual cash (think NYSE + paypal). Originally, bitcoins were almost exclusively known and traded by underground web lurkers who got into the game early; those who capitalized on the system now exist as the primary coin holders or sold their coins off and are enjoying some serious profit. Over the past two years (and even more recently) the market has been steadily increasing in popularity, it now boasts a drastically greater amount of web resources, accepting markets, trading companies, and overall user base. Sweeping the hearts of many internet frequenters who are strapped for cash, the simple method of acquiring BTC allowed anyone with a computer to start the "mining" process. Mining for bitcoins involves using the power of a CPU (central processing unit), or more recently, one or more GPUs(Graphics processing unit) to calculate a specific string of numbers, which in the simplest terms, cracks an equation and awards the miner 50 coins and resultingly more bitcoins into the market (further specifics can be found in my bitcoin explanation and mining start up article to be released soon after this post). In the end, the process of finding correct codes (hash values) with the GPU/CPUs of miners is repeated over and over, successful miners are rewarded, thus fueling the economy to grow and grow.

Deciphering the Bitcoin Idea

Now that you've been informed on some of the basics, it's time to analyze the purpose of using btc. For many, the answer is simply to have access to the market, add some security to their purchases, small time sales, or investing for profit. Other advantages can be seen when it comes to easing the pains of international trade, a currency which needs no denomination exchange would quickly replace the much favored US Dollar (but that's already slowly happening I guess). In an age of exploitable technology the public is seeking out more identity protection ever day; and the news media doesn't downplay the problems. Today, it's not abnormal to find a news network reporting on the latest credit-thieving gangs of counterculture indulged computer whiz kids. The public is constantly alarmed of people "hacking" your accounts and masquerading around Amazon with Grandma's Mastercard; Queue bitcoins, the safe and anonymous way to avoid compromised financial information. The btc community would argue, what with such extensive security and numerous benefits, bitcoins are a super currency which should be the new web standard. With enough attention, the concept of btc would undoubtedly sprout legs and pave the road from web to reality, becoming a household name in every public sector. With the many working class Americans frightened by the exploitable holes of technology and driven to financial paranoia would quickly adopt and (possibly still in the future) propel the bitcoin to an explosive status as the elite method for all household purchases. However, the same properties of protection shielding civilians, would also reach the black markets of illegal trade on a global scale.

Problems and Legal Issues

As a method of trading virtually anything and bringing with it no easy way of identifying the transaction parties, the magic of the bitcoin is easily brought down from it's aura of positive intentions and manipulated to befit underhanded, illegal activities. Bitcoins leave no easy-to-follow trail and are extremely hard to trace, especially when coupled with other digital identity fog(proxies, spoofs, stolen wifi etc.); basically bitcoins have all the properties an illegal salesman covets. With the gift of extreme anonymity, essentially any civilian with some advanced knowledge of the internet and networking could become a threat to illegally buy or sell guns, drugs, and basically anything by trading btc.

The governments and lawmakers of many countries, especially the United States, are the ones taking notes on the unique possibilities of bitcoins and their potential for misuse. Those who voice caution against using bitcoins will regularly mention it's political instability among nations. The lack of regulation in the system raises too many eyebrows and heads off a list of major concerns preventing the internationally unanimous acceptance of bitcoins as a legitimate currency. The stimulation of a [once much weaker] now increasingly unmanageable gray area of web-based trading shines light on the downsides of bitcoins while shading the advantages, all of which desperately hurts the bitcoin's reputation. As of now bitcoins remain a disputed political issue, but are not opposed by US laws. However, if the negative uses of bitcoins ever accelerated out of measurable hands of the US, a campaign of negativity would erupt among politicians and surely end with controversy and lawful acts against trading. The main concern among different governments and mainly US legal officials is the notion of disturbing an already established market, which is growing daily. Forcing bitcoins to be illegal now would eliminate the investments of the thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands or more) of US citizens invested in the intangible capital worth millions of US dollars; panic would ensue and a global trade pandemic would skew wealth into unknown territory, possibly benefiting illegal activities. Thus life expresses it's unfairness, as a mechanism created with [seemingly] good intentions becomes an easily corruptible loophole and the major downfall of an innovative design

Conclusion and Opinions

I believe the perpetual, and unregulated use of bitcoins as a proponent of gray market business will cause the BTC to never fulfill it's potential. That said, I have faith in the internet to uphold it's seemingly personal trading chips. I do believe that however great or dwindled the success and popularity achieved is, bitcoins will never truly just disappear. Basically I see the bitcoin system having two possible outcomes; either the idea is successful and adopted by many people, or the idea loses interest after a while (possibly due to legal flak) and it becomes just a flailing concept which is exploited by those who need anonymity. I'd say the market is right about in the middle of the two roads right now, and only time will tell how bitcoins end up. I really hope more really creative and viral ideas, like a unique currency system, start to launch onto the internet from innovative people. Whether it's intended to be scheme people out of their money, or legitimately bring improved payment methodology to the web, one has to appreciate the ingenuity of such an original idea as bitcoin is. Billion dollar success or not, uncommon ideas always go appreciated by some portion of the population and I know I always love to see anything with an origin sitting firmly outside the walls of mediocrity.

Still interested in Bitcoins? Thinking about mining?
Watch for my next post which will have a comprehensive description of all the basics you need to start mining bitcoins:

"My Guide to Start Mining Bitcoins Now"

The guide should be posted on before September 1st 2011.

Sources and Useful Links:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Politics Preventing Rebuilding: Just Get Over The Issues Already!

Let's face it, the US will never retrieve it's former economic dominance over the global market. The prominent disposition our country has held on Earth over the past 70 years was forged in the flames of a falling nation, and so the cycle will continue as the pieces begin to shift again. As the United States begins to slide away from it's once prominent pedestal, another power will seize the opportunity to supersede the world's leadership role. It appears an international shift of power is upon us, and just as the US propelled itself into the lead role during the mid-20th century, a new country will take up the reigns of financial steed . Those who have been patiently waiting in the shadows of America's boastful financial brooding have been busy biding their time and developing a firm base with which to capitalize on the changing tides of global influence.
Despite any flaws, The United States of America will undoubtedly go on to maintain it's classification as a major superpower of the world. However, the US will soon be joined by some feisty young initiates in courting the global dominance role. China, Brazil, the Saudis, and many other thriving nations have their targets set on usurping a wounded America and a chance to lead the pride. As financial woes are felt from coast to coast, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is no swift, magical bandage of law for politicians to conjure up and mend our nation's wounded structure. Other than simply continuing on with our meager lives and watch on helplessly as others make decisions for us, we the people of America must accept that no amount of politician bullshitting or paperwork plans will suddenly alleviate every issue. US citizens should stop worrying about what has already happened, and focus on moving forward towards rebuilding our nation's prominent American structure. Now is the time America should be focusing solely on fixing our own problems first.
Priority one is addressing the problems lurking within our own borders before worrying about any other country, period. There is no shame in shying away from the role of international babysitter and allowing other countries (via their ruling government or otherwise) to take responsibility for their actions as an independent nation. The UN was established to enforce justice through global unity, and as such it exists to maintain balance among the greater issues. Despite the existence of a unified global power created to bring balance, the United States chooses to hastily embark on fully fledged, tax-payer funded, democracy fueled crusades at the first sign Grandma's purse is stolen. Why don't we as a country just take a sociopolitical step back for a second and reconsider all the countless dollars being evaporated each day through the international brown nosing we strategically rain down in exchange for overpriced, oiled up happy endings. With a shift from an aggressive, resource draining military offensive, to an efficient and robust homeland defense, military costs could be temporarily reallocated to more pertinent areas.
Further preventing the US economic bucket from filling is the continual formation of financial leaks as more companies choose to budget and outsource, causing domestic capital to be launched overseas and kept away from working class pockets. Though irresistibly sweet savings pull US companies towards the international labor market, a focus on keeping the dollar closer to home shift America towards becoming a more self sufficient nation. Rather than constantly relying on foreign credit for major expenses, churning the home economy will provide more economic and financial flexibility. The idea of a home grown economy would result in a huge deterioration of credit-based finances; and who knows how that would turn out? But overall, the long run would average out better than now. By stimulating our local economy and ensuring US money keeps flowing back into American hands, we will perpetuate business from within and reduce America's addiction to credit. I'd imagine a country who pays itself upfront with tangible capital to be a little more trustworthy than the trillions of dollars drawn up from nothing and passed on invisibly to the payee; only a cold signature to promise you'll get the money eventually, or at least you hope.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New AMD "A Series" Llanos Mobile and Desktop CPUs Shipping Out Now

AMD has finally started playing catch up with their rivals at Intel. A company cursed since the evolution of the Pentium 4, Advanced Micro Devices has now released it's newest line of uniquely designed APUs(Accelerated Processing Unit); a family of hybrid processors which debuted earlier this year. Now available in the form of the code-named Llanos CPU-GPU fused APU, the new "A series" processors are the first designed by AMD using the 32nm manufacturing process. Unique from ordinary CPUs, the APU design is the first to take what is essentially discrete radeon graphics and place it right onto the same silicon die as the CPU. The Goal? Achieve high graphical performance while maintaining the best possible power, cost, and hardware efficiency at the microprocessor level.

Although previously seen in netbooks as AMD's C and E series APUs, the latest results of AMD's bold new direction are the A5 and A8 processors which feature the equivalent of a low to middle range discrete graphics solution incorporated directly onto the CPU die. By combining the GPU and CPU, AMD looks to enhance GPU-CPU communication speeds and bypass many inefficiencies which result in wasted power on normal motherboards with a discrete PCI-E 16x GPU + CPU. The APU should decrease power consumption, boost graphical performance, and provide cheaper manufacturing when compared to similarly performing hardware. Early benchmarks have shown promising success in the mobile media and gaming market for Llanos equipped laptops, which I'm assuming the new tech was mainly designed for. After receiving moderate praise from their netbook-based APUs, AMD has progressed toward the more advanced laptop and entry-level desktop sector with surprisingly minimal sacrifices. In return for the coexistence of seemingly amazing battery life and moderate media/gaming abilities, general processing power unfortunately had to take a step down. The A8 has proven to be a regression in terms of raw processing ability in regards to a similar phenom II x4 or Intel i5 processors; however, the gains in media performance and energy efficiency under moderate stress tests make this minor performance hit very palatable at listed prices.
With the new APUs, AMD is proposing a future where the average consumer laptop costing $500-600 will be able to eliminate the age old choice between productivity/speed, battery life, and media/gaming needs. The A8 and other (specifically mobile) A series APUs make judicious use of their unique construction and maintain the ability to carry out a more-than-sa
tisfactory day of general use (document reading, web browsing and moderately intensive programs). The kicker is, when called upon for graphics, gaming or HD media, the APU's integrated Radeon series GPU can deliver a powerful punch with an anorexic's appetite for battery wattage. Preliminary benchmarks show mobile Llano APUs running modern games at medium settings and getting almost 2x the battery life of comparable Sandy Bridge i5/intel HD 3000 setups (about 1 hour for the i5 vs. 2 hours for A8); not to mention tests showing off AMD's Allday power plan actually working! The Allday power plan is designed to hopefully provide APU laptops with 8+ hours of standby time. A report on Tom's Hardware stated an A8 mobile system lasted over 7.5 hours on a laptop while browsing documents on lowest brightness settings.

Of course the new AMD Fusion APUs still don't come close the performance of a "desktop replacement" laptop or a PC housing any high end discrete AMD/nVidia GPU coupled with a powerful CPU. However, the A series does wonders for the future of mobile media and as technologically races forward, we may be seeing a lot more of the APU design platform. Imagine the possibilities of the future if the current A8 already has the ability to play Left for Dead 2 at 50+ FPS, and can view HD movies on a mobile platform without running your batte
ry to the ground in 30 minutes.

I'm sure many people can attest to the feelings of worry regarding the future of AMD. With struggling internal leadership issues and Intel's market success backed by their seemingly unstoppable chip advances, this recent tactical strike into the heart of mobile computing is exactly the type of out-of-the-box approach AMD needs to take the reigns from a confidentially coasting Intel Corp. Although not a an instant success by any means, I think APUs will aid in capturing at least part of the mobile computing market back and rebuild the trust lost with by selling inefficient, energy sucking products. The speed, power and ability of CPUs in general has raced ahead of software development over the past decade. While Intel processors and the computing industry as a whole have made amazing technological advances, the priority of CPU companies in recent years has always been more power and speed; the benefits of this are mostly appreciated in the production/business sectors where speed and efficiency equates to profit.

AMD has finally realized the average person's needs for a longer lasting battery and the ability to use their computers for recreation; whether it be music, moderate gaming or just browsing HD media. The general public just isn't in the business of rendering scenes for the next Toy Story, decompressing huge archives, or repeatedly running decryption on government messages. There is really just an astounding surplus of computing power available on the average, mid-range PC being used solely for Facebook updates. With the presence of advancing smartphone technology the consumer-level mobile computing world could see a major realignment, focusing on media and gaming capabilities more than ever. With the ability to become increasingly more productive each year on new pocket-sized devices, the advantages of a bulkier laptop or tablet may become more associated with exactly what the APU is designed to excel at.

One can only hope the future of AMD will see even further development and success with their designs. Here's hoping the intended performance of APUs coupled with the newly designed Bulldozer 32nm architecture, will put the 2nd largest microprocessor manufacturer back on the silicon map. Bulldozer will be the successor to the aging Stars architecture which is used in AMD's current lineup of desktop/mobile CPUs (including Llanos). Look for the first set of newly designed Bulldozer CPUs to be released in Q3 2011.

Here is a link to benchmarks and a full testing report on the Llanos A8 APU:
Another link which reports on A8-3500m benchmarks and testing:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jobs and College Students in America

Jobs are the bane of a college student's existence. Here you have a young adult who is willing to go the extra distance to further their education and society has the nerve to slap them in the face with a $15,000 (generally more) price tag and say "get studying." We all know there are simple answers to dealing with the cost of college, and that is to earn a scholarship, apply for financial aid, and work your ass off at a part-time job. The leading arguments against university tuition problems will say you should "work hard in high school and get a scholarship," or "you should qualify for a grant if you can't afford it."
So let's say for a second, a young 18-year old student gets a full scholarship to a state University. Congratulations, you have now acquired 10 more costs to balance out, not covered by your free money which goes straight to tuition. Many people fail to understand the expenses that sit outside the generalized cost of college curve on a student's financial graph.

---- Costs other than tuition while attending college/university (PER MONTH) ----
Transportation: $300+ (insurance + gas + car payment?) extremely variable per person
Food & Living: $100-$900+/month (varies based on home/rent and meal plan or eating habits)
Books: $100-$600/semester (depends on how well you budget, may require software, lab equipment, or other items based on area of study)

As a reference, here are my personal values for a Junior in college, living at home and commuting to a local state university approximately 15 miles away..
Transportation: $300/month (for gas + insurance. Driving to work-school-home 5 days/week)
Food & Living: $75-$100 (eat at home 70% of the time and live there to avoid rent)
Books + Equipment: usually $400/semester (books generally need to be the latest edition, or are specific to my school. This makes it hard to buy used and save money)

Totals: $400/month + $400/semester.
1 semester = 5 months, so we can simplify everything by saying I pay roughly:
$480/month for all things relative to school and living.

Now, working part-time at a standard rate of $7.50/hour, I need to work 64 hours a month just to support my daily routine.

Now, I know my case can't even compare to what some people go through in the real world, and I might be coming off as negative or whiney; but to be taken out of a grade school environment where everything is layed out on the table for you, and get thrown into a non-stop train wreck of chaotic work is something I wasn't really prepared for. What I'm really getting at is:

high school doesn't prepare you at all for the real world.

If you step through a door like mine, you may find yourself scratching your head and looking up to see the floor. Later in life you'll start to feel a strange weight on your shoulders, and as you peer down at the scale of success you'll find it has become bloated by the burdens of stress and responsibility. Things that were so trivial months ago.... budgeting, work, money and time management (more like no-time management...haha) all become hinged on your back; looking into a mirror you watch your body mold and contort itself to sustain the breeding family of life's leeches. This is life. This is what forces children to mature into adults. This is the filter separating the educated from the ones without the magical piece of paper, the degree, the pass that somehow decides if you're qualified for a job where everything you really need to learn is gained through experience. One can't just expect to graduate high school and ride the interstate from sunshine to rainbows. The rigors of the real world and going to college full-time, really need to be pushed on older grade school students close to graduation; not to scare them from the idea of higher education, but to help ease them into a reality which they may have been unaware of, and ill-prepared for their entire life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Funny Starcraft Related Shirt!!

A little something I whipped up that was inspired by my years of SC and months of SC2.

If it gets enough votes you'll be able to buy it for $6

Any comments or votes would be appreciated :D
Trying to get it accepted.