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Drew Sowersby
Lives in Austin TX
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Getting Into and Exploring Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies.
An overly long account of my recent explorations and learnings for those curious about distributed, peer-to-peer, public-ledger-backed digital currencies but are yet to take the plunge and acquire some.

Until this past six weeks Bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies were not much more than a curiosity to me; I read the tech news, watched some videos, wondered about the future of money, pondered the statement digital currencies will do to money what email did to postal mail, and learned the conceptual basics of blockchains, public ledgers, mining, and exchanges The Bitcoin wikipedia page is also a very good starting point for beginners

Following on from this post of mine about Bitcoin and distributed exchanges, and given a final push by +Peter H. Diamandis via his post about Bitcoin and the growing disruptive potential of cryptocurrencies (and including a poke at the end to jump in) I decided to turn Bitcoin into my next tech project and, as is my wont, to jump into the deep end and learn by doing. Six weeks ago I had no idea how to get a digital wallet and bitcoin address. Now I’ve nearly lost count of how many bitcoin addresses have been assigned to me. Bitcoin and its kin are no longer curiosities; I am now a user. 

Getting my first slice of digital currency.

Now, because I’m based in Australia I’m somewhat limited in transacting Bitcoin with my default fiat currency the Australian Dollar (AUD) and can’t make use of the more popular and established exchanges used by those in North America and Europe. At least not at first; once I have bitcoins I can move into those exchanges and make use of their services. If you’re in North America or Europe you might do well to start with Coinbase, Kraken, or Bitstamp In fact, Kraken’s services look very interesting and I suspect I’ll check them out soon. Regardless of where you start the process will be similar to my experience described below. 

To get my first bunch of bitcoins I decided to go with the local exchange BTC Markets, a local provider and currency exchange market ( that offers conversions between bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), and Australian Dollars (AUD), which I found via listings and information via the core website as can be seen here This involved setting up an account with BTC Markets and, in order to be able to deposit my real-world fiat money in the form of Australian Dollars into that account I had to verify and confirm my identity. 

Many choose to get into Bitcoin and keep their usage as private and as anonymous as possible and so may employ other methods to get hold of the currency, including face-to-face meet-ups for exchange of physical cash and the transfer of an agreed amount of currency into an anonymous digital wallet. But in this particular case this was not a priority and I wanted a method that was easy, flexible, and convenient. 

Identity verification involved sending through an image of my passport and another document; I chose the front page of my electricity bill in this case although others are permissible. Once confirmed, account details are upgraded to allow options for depositing and withdrawing AUD to my preferred financial institution. I would have transferred funds via conventional Internet Banking through my default financial institution but, being a Friday the transfer would not have been cleared until late Monday or Tuesday. Instead I went into the local branch of their preferred bank (Wespac) during my lunch break and directly deposited AUD $150 into the account of BTC Markets and made very sure that the cashier added the reference code to ensure transfer into my personal BTC Markets account. 

40 minutes later my BTC Markets account showed AUD $150. 

From this point the BTC Markets user interface (see image 2) provides a number of easy options for withdrawing AUD to another institution, buying and selling bitcoin and litecoin, and transferring BTC and LTC to and from the BTC Markets account, which had auto-generated my first bitcoin and litecoin addresses and would function as a web-based digital wallet if I wished to use it in that capacity. I placed “at market” orders for BTC and LTC, to ensure the transaction was complete as soon as possible (as opposed to “at limit” orders in which you specify a different price to the current market price in the hope of getting a better deal, which can take longer) and quickly purchased units of digital currency with all of my AUD $150, including small transaction fees charged by BTC Markets. 

My account now showed 0.220 BTC and 4.1829 LTC. 

This obviously meant that I had decided to trust BTC Markets to not just take my money and disappear with it. 

Transferring to other digital wallets and currency addresses.

I didn’t want to leave my newly acquired cryptocurrencies within BTC Markets and so examined and reviewed a number of other, different options with regard to storing my currency at different addresses and within different wallets. Again, combined with some searching and the perusal of forums and reviews, provided a jumping-off point for choosing a wallet, while was useful in a similar vein for Litecoin.  

Bitcoin wallet
For Bitcoin I decided to go with the Bitcoin Wallet by Blockchain This option is both a phone-based application Wallet and a Web-based service Wallet that are linked / synchronised to the same account. See images 3, 4, 5, & 6 for details on the user interface. I opened the account at and it was easy to set up my details in the application on my device; overall I find to be easy, convenient, and user-friendly. After being issued with a unique Bitcoin address I transferred all of my BTC out of BTC Markets and over to my Bitcoin address. Again, after twenty or so minutes, and propagating through the blockchain, and generating the required number of confirmations my 0.220 BTC appeared in both my web and mobile wallets. 

For now this serves as my main Bitcoin wallet and if you’d like to send me a little BTC you can do so at this address: 15H2nAV4MCUqPeRCboyonsBA3uMGDG8Moj

I also installed a second Bitcoin Wallet as another stand-alone smartphone application, and generated another Bitcoin address for transacting bitcoin. See the app, which is nice and user-friendly (see image 7), and also served as the basis for the Litecoin Wallet application I mention below. Worked well when I transferred a little bit (10 mBTC) of bitcoin from one wallet to the other. 

Litecoin wallet
For Litecoin, the second most popular digital currency, which uses a slightly different cryptographic scheme to Bitcon, I just decided to go with what seemed like the easiest option at first and installed the Litecoin Wallet application for Android onto my phone. Launching this application generated a new, unique Litecoin address, which I entered into the withdrawal section of BTC Markets and initiated the transfer of all of my litecoins. Twenty or so minutes later, after the transaction had been confirmed and propagated through the blockchain, my 4.1829 LTC appeared in the Litecoin Wallet app on my phone. See image 8 for details on the user interface. 

For now this serves as my main Litecoin wallet and if you’d like to send me a little LTC you can do so at this address: LacoMJiiMCDWJyBafERoLD6Fyq9riFrmsD

From third-party to distributed exchanges.

BTC Markets is an example of a third-party exchange that I used, and trusted, to deposit funds and convert into or purchase other digital currencies. However, one needs to be wary when dealing with third-party exchanges, as highlighted by the Mt. Gox debacle at the start of this year. Mt. Gox was the largest third-party exchange and accounted for 70% of all bitcoin trades at one point. Despite this the service closed earlier this year citing numerous problems and ultimately losing, or being robbed of, or defrauding customers of, many hundreds of thousands of bitcoins worth many hundreds of millions of dollars. Customers and owners of those wallets had no recourse, no ability, to get their money back.
Partly as a response to just this sort of risk posed by centralised third-party exchanges, altered versions of distributed digital currencies like Bitcoin have been engineered to also contain the exchange itself. In this way the exchange becomes a distributed peer-to-peer system that contains its own digital currency to facilitate trades.
Two examples of these innovative new systems, which I explored in some detail, are Ripple and Stellar; these can be described as distributed payment systems, currency exchanges, and remittance networks built on their own digital currencies, ripples (XRP) and stellars (STR) respectively. I found the learning curves for Ripple and Stellar to be a little steeper. The Ripple wikipedia page is a good starting point for beginners In contrast to Bitcoin, Ripple validates transactions via a consensus protocol in which the network of servers that run Ripple come to agreement.  

By heading to it is easy to open an account and get started on Ripple, although being new and not knowing how to get my first allocation of XRP I ended up paying a merchant $5 for my first batch. Ripple uses both names and conventional addresses to transfer and process payments between users. For example, my Ripple name is ~markbruce and my Ripple address is ra3A8vtamze6hnA1wTveWKR7yQf7gZhrmZ and any other user of Ripple can transfer me XRP (or any other currency) by sending to either of those addresses. 

In the same way, by heading to it is easy to open an account and get started on Stellar; I joined during their launch phase and managed to get some free STR after a few days. Like Ripple, and being a slightly modified fork of Ripple, Stellar uses both names and conventional addresses to transfer and process payments. For example, my Stellar name is markthebruce and my Stellar address is gUxyK1w62tUqjCpZiQvNPuTqVxfCK6o6BX and any other user of Stellar can transfer me STR (and eventually any other currency) by sending to either of those addresses. 

Stellar also has a workable, if early implementation on an Android application called Centaurus Stellar Wallet, which can be found here, and the user interface can be seen in image 9 (Web-based Stellar UI in image 19). Transferring STR between different accounts and users with this app is pretty easy and straight-forward. Note that the app creates a new Stellar address number that is not linked to your usual Stellar address as above. 

Detour to third-party exchanges again.

Despite the existence of these decentralised exchanges there is still a need for centralised third-party exchanges to help facilitate the efficient functioning of currency exchange markets and the trade of many different types of both fiat and digital currencies. I explored a few of these in detail and read about many others. 

The Rock Trading
The Rock Trading,, seemed fairly well-established and reputable. Opening an account was easy (the user interface can be seen via images 10 & 11) and with yet another new Bitcoin address that was created for me, 16ugX1E37qtpVHCiETuRNekWwLKSAK3gtT I was able to transfer a portion of my bitcoin balance from my wallet to my Rock Trading account / wallet. Going into the trade section it was straightforward and easy to sell a portion of my BTC balance for USD. As can be seen in image 12 my Rock Trading account now has BTC and USD sitting in it. 

In addition to BTC and USD The Rock also allows trades with other currencies including LTC (litecoin), XRP (ripples), DOG (dogecoin), NMC (namecoin), EUR (euros), and PPC (peercoin). This exchange also includes a stock market for companies whose shares can be treated / traded like digital currencies; some of these even pay dividends. While I can hold and trade real-world currencies like USD with The Rock, if i wanted to transfer USD to another, conventional, financial banking institution then I would have to verify and confirm my identity with The Rock via the typical provision of copies of my passport and utility bill for example; there is no such restriction on digital currencies. The Rock also has a couple of other interesting features that I want to explore further. 

I also read good things about Justcoin,, a newer, innovative exchange that also seemed to have a good reputation. Again, opening an account was easy (user interface examples via images 13, 14, & 15) and another new Bitcoin address 1Ez6sNYu9vraD6mT8jMJJ5Lo6VaF7FAUF1 allowed me to transfer another allocation of BTC from my wallet to my Justcoin account / wallet. 

One of the reasons I wanted to use Justcoin was because, in addition to BTC, it facilitates trade between other currencies including LTC (litecoin), STR (stellars), XRP (ripples), EUR (euros), USD (dollars), NOK (krone). Holding and trading any currency is easy; but like with The Rock, transfers of fiat (such as EUR or USD) require identity verification as above. I quickly used a portion of my BTC to purchase some STR and XRP, then transferred a portion of these into my Stellar and Ripple accounts in order to establish a more workable account balance on these systems. 

Coinex,, is another exchange that caught my eye due to facilitating my own local fiat currency, Australian Dollars (AUD). Its reputation seems good based on the initial news and reviews I’ve read and during my learnings about cryptocurrencies in general they seem to plug into new services and opportunities pretty quickly. Last I looked they seemed to be upgrading their website and services and as soon as this is complete I’ll open an account there; I suspect Coinex will be a more flexible option for me than my original BTC Markets entry but we will see. In addition to AUD, Coinex facilitates trades between NZD (New Zealand Dollars), USD (dollars), and BTC (bitcoin), and also facilitate conversions with STR (stellars), and XRP (ripples). 

Going back to distributed exchanges and gateways.

Going back to the distributed exchange that is Ripple; one of the main reasons for Ripple and one of it’s killer features is, as discussed above, the ability to reliably and rapidly facilitate the transfer and conversion of any currency, whether fiat or crypto, between any user and particularly for users that don’t, won’t, or can’t use the same currency. 

To do this you need to add what are called Gateways to your account and this involves trusting these gateways to transact in currencies and amounts that you approve. For example, third-party exchanges can function as gateways, and to test this out I added The Rock Trading as a trusted gateway that I approved certain currencies and amounts that it would be able to transact through my Ripple account. Note that you do not need to have an account with the exchange in order to add that exchange as a gateway, and in this case my use of The Rock Trading as a gateway was independent of my The Rock Trading exchange account. 

Buying euros
With The Rock added as a gateway, and my Ripple account boosted with the transfer of XRP that I sent from my Justcoin account, I was then able to go into the “Trade” section of the Ripple user interface. From here, as a test I issued a trade order through the Ripple network, setting The Rock as the gateway, and selling a portion of XRP (ripples) for EUR (euros). This transaction was completed almost instantly (again just going for a market and not limit order) and my Ripple account now showed I had XRP and the recently purchased euros. See images 16, 17, & 18 for an example of the user interface and account balance. 

Note: to the best of my knowledge I didn’t actually own the EUR directly, they didn’t directly sit in my account, but rather The Rock had issued an IOU for the euros that I would be able to redeem, convert, or sell at a later date. Hence the need to trust any exchange that you engage in this manner. By adding a number of different gateways you can facilitate, indirectly in this manner, the transfer and conversion of many different types of currencies, even if you never hold them directly, and all for negligible cost. 

There are many other Gateways worth looking at. For example, if I want to trade for CNY (Chinese Yuan) I can use Ripple China, if I want to trade for SGD (Singapore Dollars), USD (dollars), XAU (Gold), XAG (Silver), or XPT (Platinum) I can use Ripple Singapore, and likewise many other gateways and exchanges for many other different currencies and, in future, commodities. As mentioned at the start of the article, Kraken would also be worth a look. 

DividendRippler is another interesting service that functions as an anonymous Ripple gateway and allows transactions in bitcoin, litecoin, terracoin, and namecoin; the introductory announcement here is worth a read. It took me a while to get my head around how it works but it seems to be quite a clever implementation and I added DividendRippler as a trusted gateway to Ripple. 

A note on two-factor authentication.

Given the importance of security when dealing in money in general and digital currencies in particular it shouldn’t be surprising that most services employ additional security in the form of two-factor authentication in which you need your password and a code, generated at the time of login, in order to gain access to your account. I’ve used this system with my Google Account for a long time now and would feel very uneasy were it not in place. The services I used employed a couple of different two-factor authentication techniques including emails with codes to my default email address, and time-dependent codes from incredibly useful (but I suspecet underutilised) services such as Google’s Authenticator application

A note on backups.

When using digital wallets, for example on your phone, it is a good idea to perform back-ups. If you don’t and you accidentally delete your digital wallet keys and other information then your digital currency will be lost forever. Likewise if you forget your password; a digital wallet whose password is forgotten is essentially locked forever. And if your phone is stolen or passwords hacked then any digital currency in those accounts is also irrecoverable, one way or another. 

A note on mining.

I don’t mine bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency; I don’t have a “mining-rig” and nor have I downloaded a complete copy of any blockchain and the regular updates / additions that are made. In this situation you are essentially relying on the network and trusting the advanced participants to do this for you; you are not independently verifying your own transactions - you’re trusting others to do this for you. 

Price movements during the period.

Interestingly, during the last week or two while doing additional explorations and finalising this post the price of Bitcoin dropped by about 20%, from about $500 to $400 (see image 20). I’m not sure why and not sure where it will go from here. 

Second generation digital currencies.

At some point I’ll have to explore emerging second generation digital currencies such as Ethereum, Skycoin, Nextcoin, etc that possess algorithmic improvements over first generation currencies such as Bitcoin - e.g. using proof-of-stake instead of proof-of-work to confirm ownership, better security, invulnerable to 51% attacks, etc. 

In summary

Six weeks ago I didn’t own and didn’t know exactly how to get a hold of bitcoins. Now I have purchased bitcoins and know how to very easily purchase and acquire more. I’ve bought, sold, and traded bitcoins, litecoins, stellars, ripples, US dollars, and euros. I know how to very easily acquire other fiat and crypto currencies as needed for very little transaction costs. I’ve created accounts with third-party exchanges and traded on them. I’ve linked gateways to distributed exchanges and traded with them. I’ve played with obscure little cryptocurrency web services that I never knew existed. I know how to purchase commodities like gold and silver with digital currencies. And I know how to reverse my steps and transfer and convert all of these currencies back into Australian Dollars and into physical cash whenever I need to. 

For me personally I’d say the learning curve has been low-moderate; nothing too difficult and really just requiring the investment of some time, a little patience with inevitable dead ends, and application with avenues that work. But I’m a technophile who absolutely loves learning about, tinkering with, and exploring new technologies and is reasonably well accomplished and knowledgeable with the Web as a tool, an ecosystem, and techno-social landscape. 

However, most people are not like me. 95% of the people I know and interact with in real life would never have the inclination to explore digital currencies to such a level, and likely wouldn’t have the capacity to do what I have done without some support, even with this overly-long post to prompt and guide them. There is only one person, a friend, that I know in real life who has dipped their toe into digital currencies and tentatively acquired some bitcoin via a face-to-face meet-up with another local bitcoin owner. There still exists a huge adoption barrier that most people face when confronted by digital currencies, and this mainly comes down to the sheer complexity of the digital currency ecosystem that exists now - there is a lot to learn, a lot to take in, and a lot to be aware of with regards to security, features, risks, trust, and other factors that must be considered. 

While genuine mass adoption will probably have to wait for incredibly simple user-facing tools and services to be developed, the sheer complexity and variety of the digital currency ecosystem belies how big, productive, and robust this “niche” actually is. Digital currencies have only just started and the first generation cryptocoins gave only a faint hint of what was possible and what was to come. The space is expanding, innovating, and developing rapidly, with distributed exchanges and second-generation digital currencies already in place, and talk of third-generation currencies, digital contracts or crypto-contracts, and decentralised autonomous corporations or organisations to come in the near future. 

It might well be past time you jumped in to poke around. Risk a few dollars in autodidactic education. Learn by doing. Be better prepared and so better able to adapt to the ever-bigger changes that are coming.

#bitcoin   #beginner   #digitalcurrency   #cryptocurrency  
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Drew Sowersby

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Bitcoin Analysis: 27 Jun 2015

Great Expectations

The attached chart is very bullish, and could prove to be a preamble to a glorifying July 4 here in the U.S. Notice, for each

--> The strong horizontal resistance line at ~ 247 has been breached with force. That line should now provide decent support.

--> The white simple moving average represents the trend over 1000, 4 hour increments.

--> The yellow simple moving average represents the trend over 100, 4 hour increments.

--> The pink simple moving average represents the trend over 10, 4 hour increments.

--> The blue simple moving average represents 1, 4 hour increment.

The fact that the 100 MA may soon cross over the 1000 MA is significant. The market looks poised to select action over continued consolidation. The odds appear to highly favor a continued advance after a potential minor pullback to test our newest support level at the horizontal line.

Our targets remain unchanged as we hope great expectations don't lead to disappointment.

Up Target = 300
Down Target = 240
Mark Bruce's profile photoDrew Sowersby's profile photo
Ultimately, your right. We live in a crumbling global financial system, and Bitcoin, along with other digital instruments stand a good chance at offering building blocks to a much better system. 

However, I am not convinced the current state represents a Greece problem. As this article clarifies, no more Euros are being spent on Bitcoin now than typical. Couple that with the fact Grecians represent one of the most cash associated people (to avoid egregious taxes) and the link becomes more tenuous.

Also, trading volume has been increasing, albeit still well within reason. The BTC market is maturing after a significant testing period over the last 6 months. 
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Drew Sowersby

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Drew Sowersby's profile photoJohn Hendrick's profile photo
Will watch.
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Analysis: 17 Jun 2015

Bears to Dust

Three days ago, I reported what I thought was a relatively progressive advance in the price of BTC, and that we could soon see a rematch with resistance at 250. But no, not to be. There was no rematch, and there was no resistance. Once the price nixxed 240, it set off a huge short squeeze rally. The price is now knocking on the door at 260. 

This most recent advance is indicative of a classic bullish impulse wave, and there may be room for further advance to 270-280 before a significant sell-off. In one scenario, the sell-off could be short-lived, leading to a blast through 300. In another, the sell-off could erase a good portion of gains before a slower advance to 300. To the downside, we look at 240 to hold down the fort. 

This latest impulse is real, leaving the bears in the dust. But further advance is not guaranteed as we wait for a deeper confirmation. 

Up target = 300

Down target = 240
John Hendrick's profile photoDrew Sowersby's profile photo
Probably not. I will be where you are now...remember!
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Introducing "The Bitcoin Chronicles" Collection Here on G+ 

The last 10 years have been quite the learning experience for me. I have come across several important terms such as "graphene" "regenerative medicine" "transhumanism/post-humanism" "semantic web" "3-D printing" "crowdsource" "open source" "nanobiotechnology".....and so on to merely scratch the surface. I have experienced some of these terms in real time working as a molecular biologist, and have met many others traveling a similar path.

But nothing has captured my attention the way #bitcoin  has. And it still seems surreal to me just how much power a single word can have. Humans are embarking on the next phase of their existence, one that will most likely result in a toppling of the current financial paradigm and integration of our species at the global scale (referred to as "One Organism" in Augmata Hive lore). We have the fiber optics in place, and now we have a world wide ledger (the Blockchain) to index everything of value. Anti-globalists should take note that Bitcoin is not being propagated by an elite class or New World Order, but by the same "you and me" that grew out the World Wide Web.

All roads lead to a future where button-pushing sequences on layers and layers of computer code result in tangibles, the so called Internet of Things. Join me over the coming months and years as I chronicle my experience with this most interesting and disruptive technology.

If you don't mind, please respond to the poll. 
9 votes  -  votes visible to Public
This sounds awesome
This sounds boring
I don't care a lick
jd quinitchette (CrazyLikeABOSS)'s profile photoMark Bruce's profile photo
Document what you're passionate about. To hell with what anyone else thinks. 
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Drew Sowersby

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Rolling dung through treacherous terrain. 
Chris “Compo” Baker's profile photo
Insect Death Star, I thought he looked Sith!
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Our Ailing Internet needs Bitcoin

A more academic view on the implications of a bitcoin-based Internet.
Ceres Legifera's profile photo to the idea of bitcoin I fail to C it as a commodity like gold or oil... seems still a fiat (let there be (faith based)monetary system it seems its finite supply would then lose value to the infinite supply of $ ??
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Drew Sowersby

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Analysis: 12 Jul 2015

Bulls on Parade

After weeks of coiling, Bitcoin has resumed a trend of recovery after a protracted bear market to stab our last up target of $300. We are now back in open waters with no significant resistance ahead. The following chart highlights underscore extremely bullish price action.

--> The 1 and 10-day moving averages (MA) have stayed above the 100-day MA for several days

--> The 1 unit 3-day MA has crossed the 100 unit 3-day MA with the 10 3-day MA close behind. 

--> Trading volume and volatility are increasing = action/system energy

--> All medium-long term DMI trends have buying pressure significantly above selling pressure and ADX scores approaching 50. This signals high momentum in the trend.  

--> Price didn't crash within hours of sliding by $300.

So what is the prognosis? Bitcoin price has been on the move for a few weeks without a larger correction since price has been correcting dynamically. Every advancing wave has undergone a quick and decisive consolidation, resulting in retracements of 30-60% each time. This has allowed the price to move without much pain. There will be a larger correction at some point as I believe we are seeing the first wave of a new macrocycle that should take the price well above $1000 in the coming year. That may not occur until 350-400.

The attached daily chart highlights some key features to current BTC price action. Looking toward 350 for a major correction, and would be highly disappointed if we get below 280 from here. 

Up Target: 350
Down Target: 280 
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Drew Sowersby

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Just in: Don't Buy Bitcoin #dontbuybitcoin  
Gerd Moe-Behrens's profile photoDrew Sowersby's profile photo
That is not at all the way I view the satire. 

His point to me was this: Bitcoin has had 4 "bubbles", all resulting in crash behavior. We are now at the bottom of the last crash and perhaps ready for the next BOOM! So to all the skeptics out there, Don't buy bitcoin, it will crash. 

In his satire, he doesn't take a small snippet from each chart, those represent the entire timeframe from bubble initiation to the end point of the subsequent crash. 

How do you view the satire?
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Drew Sowersby

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Analysis: 14 Jun 2015

The price of BTC has been advancing, slowly, under relatively light trading volume which has touched the standing 235 Up Target. Most technical indicators have aligned for further advance as sellers cannot stomach sub-220 prices. In light of the latest failure to drive the price lower, we could shortly see more enthusiastic participation from a wider audience and rematch at 250.

This comes on the heels of some very interesting comments from some of the most influential financial voices of the old system....copied below.

Mr. Hock said: “We live in the 21st century but are still using command and control organizational structures from the 16th century. Bitcoin is one of the best examples of how a decentralized, peer-to-peer organization can solve problems that the dated organizations cannot.”

John Reed, under whose leadership Citibank created the modern ATM, said: “Bitcoin is truly the best iteration of a universal ledger we’ve ever seen. The mere fact that there will never be more than 21 million Bitcoins and that each Bitcoin can be divided into 100 million units makes it a significant improvement of any historical form of currency.”

Lawrence H. Summers commented that, “Bitcoin offers, for the first time, a method for transferring value and making payments from anywhere to anywhere, in real-time, without any intermediary. This could mean we soon see many billions of people sending Bitcoin everyday as easily as they currently send a text message.”


Up Target: 250

Down Target: 220
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Drew Sowersby

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Hi, I eat foreign DNA for a living!
The toughest animal on the planet

A rotifer is a small animal that lives in water and sweeps food into its mouth with small hairs.  There are many kinds, most less than a millimeter in length.  They can eat anything smaller than their head.

The toughest are the bdelloid rotifers.  These can survive being completely dried out for up to 9 years!  When they dry out, they sometimes crack.  Even their DNA can crack... but when they get wet, they come back to life!

Thanks to this strange lifestyle, their DNA gets mixed with other DNA.   Up to 10% of their active genes come from bacteria, fungi and algae!!! 

Scientists have found DNA from 500 different species in the genes of a rotifer from Australia.  "It's a genetic mosaic. It takes pieces of DNA from all over the place," said one of the study's authors. "Its biochemistry is a mosaic in the same way. It's a real mishmash of activities."

Perhaps because of this, bdelloid rotifers don't bother to have sex. 

Their ability to survive dry conditions makes them great at living in desert lakes and mud puddles that dry up.  But they also use this ability to beat some parasites.  When they dry out, the parasites die... but the rotifers survive!

On top of all this, bdelloid rotifers can survive high doses of radiation.  My guess is that this is just a side-effect of having really good genetic repair mechanisms.

Puzzle 1: what does 'bdelloid' mean?

Puzzle 2: what other words begin with 'bd'... and why?

Here's the paper that found 10% of active genes and 40% of all enzyme activity in bdelloid rotifers involve foreign DNA:

• Chiara Boschetti, Adrian Carr, Alastair Crisp, Isobel Eyres, Yuan Wang-Koh, Esther Lubzens, Timothy G. Barraclough, Gos Micklem and Alan Tunnacliffe, Biochemical diversification through foreign gene expression in bdelloid rotifers, PLOS Genetics, 15 November 2012,

The  animated gif is from here:

#spnetwork #bdelloid #rotifer doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003035
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Mark Bruce's profile photo
Bizarre little things. Wonder how it does these tricks
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Drew Sowersby

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Life on Metal

It always amazes me, the places you will find life. Apparently this species likes old rusty tractor parts. 
Kenneth Cummings's profile photoMark Bruce's profile photo
Pretty amazing - I never would have thought you'd get organic growth like this on rusty metal
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