No phishing for me, thanks

Ping! Your cell phone makes a noise and you check who the text message came from.

We’ve all been well trained to keep our phones nearby and to check and respond quickly to text messages. Once in a while, instead of it being your friend, spouse, parent or child, it’s a scary warning from your bank, or the tax department telling you to contact them because something has happened to your account. At this time of year in Canada and the US, we’re all on extra alert, and some cool headed thinking can prevent great financial losses.

Identifying a scam

Text messages are a great addition to our list of communication tools. If I’m in the grocery store and my wife wants me to pick up a few more items, I’ll tell her to send me a text with the list – don’t call me as I’ll forget as soon as we get off the phone! However, as with any helpful tool, there is always someone who finds a sinister misuse for it. It’s not uncommon, especially during the tax season to get a message like this:

Message 
Yesterday 9:1 2 
You have received $493 
from the Canada Revenue 
Agency last year for your 
taxes. Please fill in the 
following online form:

There’s a common pattern in scam messages, also known as phishing (as in fishing for information). The scammer wants to either scare you into action or promises you some reward – like the supposed $493 from the Canada Revenue Agency. These types of texts will have a link that, when clicked, appears to be a trusted organization like your bank. Do not click on these! You will be asked for your user name, password and possibly other private information. The scammer will use these to steal your banking or other financial resources.

But not all texts are phishing

The banks and other financial institutions have also started using text message alerts as a notification system. But how do you tell the difference? Have a look at this message:

TD FRAUD ALERT Purchase 
$58.34 @ SKIPTHEDISHES.C 
Credit Card ** 16 Reply Y if this 
was you/your add! Cardholder, 
N if not Msg rates may apply

In this message, it appears to be coming from TD Bank and is asking if you spent a specific amount at a specific vendor. It asks you to respond either with “Y” that you made this purchase (and all is ok) or “N” for no that you didn’t make this purchase (and all is not ok).

The difference – in the scammer text, you are asked to provide your personal information. In the second, you are only being asked to confirm or deny information. At no time is any personal details exchanged.

So, now you know that scam messages will ask you to click a link, or call a phone number. Notification alerts only ask you to confirm or deny information. For any type of alert where you are not sure, you can call to a known phone number from your bank and find out if the alert is true or not. By understanding the different types of messages you may get, you will always be in control and have the right response.

Sometimes it looks like a scam but it’s not

Recently I read about a new scam going around – scammers attempting to port phone numbers illegally:

In this scam, the scammer was able to determine just enough personal information about someone that they could call the cell phone provider and have the number moved to another provider. A text message was sent to their phone but the original owner either didn’t see it in time or thought it was a scam – a valid response based on how’ve we’ve been trained to react.

Rogers has received a request to 
transfer your telephone number to 
another Service Provider. If you did not 
authorize, contact Rogers urgently at 
1-877-327-8503

Once we have been trained to ignore what seems to be a scam message, what should a cell phone owner to do with this new information?

When you receive what appears to be a phishing text, if you aren’t sure if it’s valid, contact your bank, cell phone provider or whichever company is referenced. Do not use the number or website in the text! Look it up either through your contacts, the back of your credit card or through the provider’s official website.

Most mobile phone providers in the US offer blocks to prevent your phone from being ported unless you provide them with a pin number that you set up. The following article explains this process https://www.thebalance.com/prevent-your-mobile-number-from-being-ported-4160360 and you can call your Canadian (or other) provider to find out if they offer such an option

Always be vigilant

This tax season while you are busy enough getting all of your papers and files in order to submit your taxes, it’s more than likely than before that you’ll get phishing texts or phone calls from scammers. Remember that the tax agencies will never call, text or email you with threatening messages. You can always call them at officially listed numbers to find out if there is indeed a problem. When the inevitable scammer comes calling, take a breath, think about your options and then make the right decision to shut them out.

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Eureka, I figured out why my upgrade failed!

I’ve solved a mystery and I’m so very pleased! You know that feeling when something isn’t working but you can’t figure it out so you just live with it? I recently wrote about upgrading to Windows 10 and how easy a process it can be. Well, there’s also upgrades to Windows 10 to keep it healthy and working nicely. I’ve done this for a bunch of computers of mine and others and had no problems. Except for my primary personal laptop. Here, my Windows 10 upgrade failed.

A failed upgrade

Every time in the past year that I started the upgrade it would hum along for awhile and then end with this oh so helpful error message:

Thanks for the info, but why did it happen?

I’ve also seen the message: Error: 0x80070003 while updating Windows to Windows 10 1903

For those who are technically inclined, there are log files that get created on the computer when something like this failed. I started looking through but got impatient or distracted and didn’t find a solution. I just kept living with an older (and maybe more insecure) Windows 10. Until today, Fri Jan 31, 2020 when I stumbled across this discussion from Microsoft:

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/error-0x80070003-while-updating-windows-to-windows/6efb2834-9348-4955-98b8-1707fc3943a5

and the solution is buried in the discussion:

there’s a lot of technical lingo here but the answer is here

To make a long story short, what this is saying is that

  • a program called Macrium was installed on my computer
  • I removed it
  • It did not play nicely and left behind some incorrect settings
  • and this prevented Windows 10 from upgrading itself

I followed the instructions listed here and fixed the messed up settings – and the upgrade finally worked!

And what do we learn from this

I like to try lots of different programs on my computer and maybe you do too. And many of these programs come from reputable sources but still there can be bugs even in good, safe programs. And to be honest, I’m not going to tell you to stop installing programs that you need. In my case, this was a program for copying one hard drive to another and I needed it for something I was doing. We just have to be aware that there’s a lot of connections between seemingly separate programs on computers but that they can break each other. I also suggest to make note of any error messages and do a Google search for it. My theory is that I’m not the only one having this problem so if I can find someone else experiencing the same thing, then there could be a solution. And sometimes it takes a year!

There’s a line that my wife likes to say, consider your choices, consider your consequences. The more you add to your computer the more detective work there may be to solve unexpected problems.

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Can a slow computer become a speed demon?

One of the activities at my kids’ summer camp during a camp wide competition is tug of war. It is said that a chain is only a strong as its weakest link.  I’m sure that there are always stronger and weaker members of the team in tug of war. I’ll bet that the stronger members of the team wish that they could replace the weaker members with super strong people! 

losing at tug of war can often mean a trip into a messy puddle!

The slowest part of your computer is also the weakest link in the chain. The hard drive has traditionally been the slowest part of the computer. This is because hard drives were a set of moving parts that contain all of your files. Memory and the processor are very fast so when you’re sitting there waiting for something to happen on your computer, it was usually the fault of the hard drive.

A slow computer doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Solid State Drives, known as SSD are hard drives with no moving parts. What this means for you is that they are very very fast.

The Little Computer That Couldn’t

A few years ago my cousin Gerry bought a little computer that he could use for travel, a HP Pavilion x360 Convertible. This was in addition to his primary home computer and using techniques like cloud storage he could still access everything from this small machine.

it looks small and powerful but one feature made it nearly impossible to use

After setting up the computer and installing things like Microsoft Office 365 and Dropbox, Gerry found the computer to be extremely slow. It took over 15 minutes for the computer to power on and get logged in and even then everything was sluggish. This was a new computer out of the box and it was painful to use.

Eventually Gerry got fed up with using it and while discussing it, I convinced him to get a cheap Chromebook. While a great solution for many tasks, Gerry still wanted a travel computer that could run Windows. I have had much success with replacing old, slow hard drives with SSD but this computer appeared very challenging to open. So we left it as is.

After about 2 years, we got to discussing this computer again and I decided that I was up for the challenge of opening it up to see if the hard drive could be replaced. There wasn’t much to lose as it was to slow to be of any use. I learned that modern computers are made to be hard to open. To be fair, on very thin computers, it’s quite a challenge for manufacturers to pack in all the parts in a small case.

I searched YouTube for instructions on how to open a computer like this. Several made reference to screws hidden underneath the pads on the bottom (red arrow pointing to them).

there are screws hiding inside!

The Assessment

I carefully pried these off and sure enough there were screws underneath. After removing all the screws, I gently pulled off the top keyboard and got access to the internals. If you’re wondering what the inside looks like, I’ll save you the suspense – here it is. The hard drive sits in that empty slot in the side so I realized it would be quite easy to replace it.

the top secret internals of a HP laptop

Inside was a slow, old 500 GB traditional, slow, with moving parts hard drive. There’s much better solutions, such as fast SSD drives so that is exactly what I suggested that Gerry do – get a replacement hard drive.

The Solution

Gerry ordered a new 1 TB SSD hard drive for $136 (CAD). Prices have really come down. The next part would appear to be the most difficult but was actually very simple – copying from the old to new hard drive. For that I used my hard drive duplicator. It looks kind of like a pop up toaster oven but instead of bread you put in the source and target hard drives. Press one button, and then wait awhile, and voila, your entire hard drive is cloned!

I think I’m a clone now

How the patient is doing now

The difference from before with the slow hard drive to the new SSD is like getting past a slow section on the highway and kicking it up to highway speeds! The computer now boots up and is ready to go in less than a minute. Everything is fast and smooth and will be a productive and valuable tool. With a 1 TB drive, Gerry can have a full copy of his Dropbox files on the computer. This means that while travelling and away from internet access, he can still have access to all his files. Gerry is leaving on a trip soon so I’ll have to get a full report when he gets back. There’s no excuse now for vendors to ship computers with slow hard drives. SSD drives have come down in price so every computer has the ability to have a speedy disk. And if you have an older slow computer, or even a new one with a slow hard drive, there is a cost effective solution to make your computer at a much faster rate.

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Goodbye Windows 7

It’s been several months since I sent a newsletter. My new year’s resolution is to send a monthly newsletter. I want to write about relevant technology issues that are important to you. Please feel free to email me with any ideas or questions you have. 

It’s out with the old Windows 7, as of January 14, 2020

Cars vs Computers

In spring of 2009 we bought a 3 year old used Dodge Caravan minivan. It’s always risky to purchase a used car but here we are 11 years later and our minivan is still in remarkably good working order. We’ve made this happen by following the recommended maintenance over the years and using a talented, creative and honest mechanic. By the way, Leo (our mechanic) says to get your car rust proofed regularly with a service like Krown. It’s one of the few extra things he highly recommends and we still see the results today.

I realize that at some point soon there are going to be enough things wrong with the van that we’ll have to say goodbye. As long as it’s safe to drive and reasonably cost effective to run, we’ll keep it.

Think about the computers you’ve bought in the last decade

Do you still have one that is in good working order? Is it still ‘safe’ to use? Safety for a computer is a bit different than that of a car. Microsoft and Apple release security updates on a regular basis to keep the computer safe from hackers and other nasty villains out there on the internet. You can think of the security updates over time much like the Krown rust spray that we have put on our car every year. If you have a Windows computer that was bought between 2009 and 2012, it likely came with Windows 7. In fact, Windows 7 was such a successful and reliable operating system, that it was still being installed on new computers past 2015 when Windows 10 was released.

Up until now, if you asked me if you should upgrade your Windows 7 computer, I would ask these questions:

  1. What are you doing with your computer?
  2. Is there anything you are doing with your computer that can’t be done with Windows 7?
  3. And if the answer to the previous 2 questions was that everything is working properly, I would ask if you enjoy causing unnecessary chaos in your life?

That all changes now.

On January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will be reaching End of Life (EOL). You can read all about it here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/4057281/windows-7-support-will-end-on-january-14-2020

What does this really mean to you?

As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release security updates. It would be as if the fine people at Krown looked at our van and said, sorry, your car is too old for a rust proofing, we’re not going to do it anymore. As you can imagine, at first the car would continue to run just fine but as time goes on, and no additional rust proofing is done, the rust will overtake the car and make it a good candidate for the junkyard.

It’s similar with your Windows 7 computer. On January 15, 2020, everything will work properly. And possibly for days and months to come it will be fine. But eventually a security issue will be discovered and there will be no fix from Microsoft. Your chance of some type of hack on your computer will only increase over time.

Should you throw out your computer on January 14, 2020?

No, you have several choices after Windows 7 goes end of life.

  1. Continue using your computer while being aware of the risks.
  2. Install a program such as Malwarebytes to provide some level of protection 
  3. Upgrade your computer to Windows 10

Continue using your computer

We already talked about what happens if you continue to use your computer after Windows 7 goes End of Life. Continue at your own risk!

Third party anti-virus and malware protection

Even after Microsoft ends support for Windows 7, numerous anti-virus and malware protection software will continue to work for some time. Examples include Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus and Malwarebytes. I highly recommend a paid subscription to Malwarebytes as it runs all the time and can protect you from problem websites and other online issues. This also applies to modern up to date Windows 10 computers.

It is important to note that even with the best antivirus protection software running on Windows 7, continuing to use Windows 7 is risky.

Upgrade to Windows 10

Since Windows 10 was released in 2015, they have made a free upgrade to Windows 10 available at https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows10. You need to either run it from the website, or create a USB key or DVD to do the upgrade. It will check your computer first and will notify you if any of your hardware isn’t compatible with Windows 10. I have had much success with this upgrade, even on some computers that are 10 years old.

Concluding thoughts

While on the surface it appears that the end of Windows 7 support means that your computer is now garbage, it’s couldn’t be further from the truth. With a little planning and effort, your computer can still be a useful tool for several more years.

Now if only there was a USB key that would upgrade my 2006 Dodge Caravan to the latest model!

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Malwarebytes to the Rescue

Many times in the past few years I’ve had a frantic call from a family member or a friend whose computer has either slowed to a crawl or is acting strangely. The first thing that I do is have them go to www.malwarebytes.com and to install the free version of Malwarebytes and run a scan. I’d say about 9 times out of 10, the program finds tons of malware and other nasty stuff. The computer starts running much faster and my friend or family member things I’m a hero!

The next question I’m usually asked is how can they prevent this type of thing from happening again? I follow this with my own question – are you willing to spend a bit of money to fix this? If they’re willing to spend about $50 per computer for year then I point them to the full version of Malwarebyes:

Malwarebytes for Home | Anti-Malware Premium | Free Trial Download

Link to purchase Malwarebytes

Full disclosure – if you purchase by downloading from the above link, I will make a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you.

Whether you purchase from here now or at elsewhere in the future, I highly recommend Malwarebytes. Think of it as having a permanent security guard always watching your computer to make sure that nasty malware is stopped in its tracks. That is essentially the difference between the paid and free version. The paid version is always running and you might not even know that it’s removing malware when you click on a link to a website.

I recommend downloading and installing the free version and doing a scan of your computer. You just may find that things run a lot more smoothly afterwards. Then you can decide if and when you are ready to purchase the full version for always-on protection.

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Social Sentiment and Cryptocurrency: A Love/Hate Relationship

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/social-sentiment-and-cryptocurrency-a-lovehate-relationship

From a bird’s eye view, cryptocurrency market commentary hubs like Twitter seem like squabble boxes of shilling, whirly-dirly technical analysis charts, and the occasional well-founded prediction. 

Speculators are seemingly everywhere, and rapid account growth is rewarded to those able to correctly call some of cryptocurrency’s volatile movements. 

Social sentiment analysis is a valuable tool to add to your understanding of cryptocurrency, however, it’s worth exploring the unique slice of history cryptocurrency has offered us in studying how people’s thoughts (and commentaries) affect market movements. 

DOES SENTIMENT ANALYSIS YIELD DIVIDENDS?

One of the first things many savvy traders ended up doing is trying to build actionable correlations between social sentiment and certain digital assets. 

For example, if an algorithm can predict that when tweets about keyword “TRON” hit a certain volume and display a generally positive sentiment, the price of TRON will increase, it would allow those traders to reap some serious profits. 

There are even plenty of 3rd party Google Sheets plug-ins and add-ons that help users calculate their own correlation between social sentiment, social mentions, and the prices of particular digital assets. 

So, can you use social sentiment analysis to make better trades? Humphrey B. Neill, the author of The Art of Contrary Thinking, spent much of his professional life studying group thinking. ”A ‘crowd’ thinks with its heart,” Neill writes. “While an individual thinks with his brain.”

However, it’s worth thinking of the subject from a different angle. The vast majority of professional traders, some of the biggest market movers, aren’t only aware of sentiment analysis and technical analysis, they’re capable of using them to lure retail investors into traps. There was a time where cryptocurrency markets were almost predictable for retail investors with a pulse on movements, but with the injection of large amounts of capital and more experienced traders, rogue price swings based on sentiments and rumors became much harder to predict.  

A 2018 study by social listening platform Pulsar decided to find out whether people are actually talking about cryptocurrency, paving the foundation to explore whether predictive algorithms that study sentiment analysis could actually lead to consistent profits. Some of the key takeaways from the report include:

  • Bitcoin sits at the throne of conversation. With 52% of all conversation (the other 48% being spread around every other token), Bitcoin was the most talked about. 
  • Despite rapid price growth, many people still don’t really understand what cryptocurrency is. 
  • People have started to see cryptocurrency as more legitimate and less shady. 

The study also found that, in the time period of September 2017 and January 2018, for every 10 percent of social media buzz registered, there was roughly a 5 percent rise in Bitcoin’s price within three days.

However, it’s worth noting that this study was during an intense bull run, and it was extremely difficult to lose money in most digital asset investments. This begs the question – does sentiment analysis function as well during a bear market?

Another study was conducted by Feng Mai at the Stevens School of Business that collected two years of data from Bitcointalk and two months of data from Twitter. The team put together a script that collected comment data and put it into sentiment categories. Then, it used a statistical method known as vector error correction, or VECM, to compare the price of Bitcoin with their findings. Mai noted that: “It’s not a one-way relationship, any changes in Bitcoin’s price are obviously going to affect the sentiment around it, so we needed to factor in those influences as well.”

The study affirmed that social media influence did affect Bitcoin’s price. 

DOES SENTIMENT ANALYSIS HAVE A FUTURE?

Social sentiment and cryptocurrency markets have a weird love fling going on that has largely been out of the purview of regulatory authorities until the last year or so. In November 2018, the SEC clamped down on two mainstream figures, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled for failing to disclose payments they received for promoting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). 

Even then as cryptocurrency stands today, it’s not very easy to regulate or control price manipulation by influencers and social media commentary floods. 

At the end of the day, what moves markets is capital. The birds will chirp all day long, but if they don’t have the money to put where their mouth is, there won’t really be a sizeable effect on price (unless people with capital do act on that sentiment). 

Unless whales and the massive movers of markets are tweeting their moves, which they likely won’t, no amount of sentiment analysis will provide any substantial evidence for price predictions. 

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/social-sentiment-and-cryptocurrency-a-lovehate-relationship

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Brightness on iPad goes dark

I had a call from my mom while she was a passenger in a car for a long trip. She brought her iPad with her, loaded with movies to watch. For some reason, the brightness kept dropping, even when she manually moved it back up. She couldn’t figure out why and when she called me, I couldn’t figure it out either.

I asked her to send me a screenshot so I could see what was going on. This is what she sent:

brightness icon shows up on iPad screen

I searched some discussion forums and found some mentions of auto brightness but that didn’t fix it. Then someone mentioned a bluetooth keyboard whose keys were accidentally pressed. So I called her back and asked if her bluetooth keyboard was possibly in her bag and turned on. Yes! It was on and this keyboard has keys for controlling brightness. It seems that the ‘lower brightness’ button was being held down. As soon as she turned it off, all returned to normal.

I hope that someone finds this post when dealing with a similar annoying issue.

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The Scoop on Facebook Libra: Innovative and Controversial

This was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/the-scoop-on-facebook-libra-innovative-and-controversial

Unless you’ve been without Internet or news access for the past month, you’ve likely heard of Facebook’s Libra. Even if you have, worry not – we’ve got you covered. 

Libra is a stablecoin by Facebook backed by a combination of bank deposits and short-term government securities. The project is slated to launch in 2020, but it has already received its fair share of criticisms from the press, regulators, and the general public. 

HOW DOES LIBRA FUNCTION?

Libra is on a mission to be  “A simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.”

Few projects are actually as positioned to do this as Facebook, a platform with over 2.38 billion monthly active users. Facebook aims to connect the world via its Libra on a stable-value, global, digital currency. 

THE LIBRA RESERVE: 

All of Libra’s assets are stored in the Libra Reserve, which contains enough capital to fully back every Libra at all times.

Facebook plans to fill the Libra Reserve with funds from Founding Members, who will receive an Investment Token for their contributions. These Investment Token entitle the Founding members to a percentage of the interest payments the Reserve earns from its assets. However, if you want to be a Founding Member, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny; it costs $10 million to be a Founding Member and you also need substantial technological infrastructure 

Facebook also plans to fill the Reserve through direct consumer Libra purchases. The only time more Libra enters circulation is when a user exchanges their fiat (USD) for Libra. When that user exchanges their Libra back to fiat, the Libra is destroyed by Facebook, decreasing the circulating supply and keeping the price stable. 

Reserve assets are distributed among the custodians. Facebook plans to invest Reserve Funds into low-risk, low-interest bearing assets in order to fund its ecosystem development, engineering research, non-profits, and compensating Founding Members. 

THE LIBRA BLOCKCHAIN:

The Libra Blockchain uses its own specific programming language called Move, similar to how Ethereum uses Solidity. Move enables developers to create and execute smart contracts right on the Libra Blockchain, utilizing Libra’s virtual machine called MoveVM to facilitate. Moving Libra from one user to another requires a small gas fee, similar to Ethereum.  

The Libra Blockchain uses a Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) approach called HotStuff. The Blockchain uses a group of validators to operate and maintain it. The network requires ⅔ of the validators to remain honest. Libra plans to eventually switch to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, where users receive one vote for every coin they own and stake. 

THE CALIBRA WALLET:

Facebook plans to launch its digital wallet Calibra alongside Libra. Calibra will exist within Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and as a standalone application. Recently, the head of the Calibra wallet David Marcus at a hearing with the Senate Banking Committee and touched base on a few critical components of the project’s goals. 

It’s expected that Calibra will require Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) verification and financial tracking. 

LIBRA TEAM & PROGRESS

Facebook has been able to attract some high-profile companies from the tech, financial, and cryptocurrency sectors.  

LIBRA ASSOCIATION

The Libra Association is the decentralized entity working to bring the project to fruition. The Switzerland-based Association currently consists of Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, Facebook, Uber, Spotify, Coinbase, Lyft, and Andreessen Horowitz, among a few others as Founding Members.

The Association is responsible for making governance decisions for the ecosystem and mainting the blockchain network. When it comes to governance decisions, each critical decision is voted on by the Association Council Members. Each validator on the network receives on the representative spot on the Council. All major technical and policy rulings require a two-third majority, just like the BFT consensus. Each Association member is limited to either one percent of the total vote or one vote, whichever is larger. 

The Association also contains a Social Impact Advisory Board (SIAB), a group that recommends social impact and grant investments. 

LIBRA ROADMAP

Libra released its whitepaper on June 18, 2019, and simultaneously launched the network’s testnet, making the code open-source. Facebook currently plans the public launch of Libra for the first half of 2020, which will include all the APIs, libraries, and developer tools to build on the Libra Blockchain. 

In the meantime, the Association is seeking to expand its membership base to include roughly 100 global organizations from a wide diversity of industries. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Facebook’s Libra has made some serious waves and it hasn’t even been released yet. Many are looking at the project as a leading frontrunner not only for stablecoins, but for a global decentralized currency. 

However, the project is not without its antagonists. Facebook is already in hot water for data privacy issues, and adding in a global payments coin isn’t helping take some of the pressure off this company regulators and media have started to view as monopolistic and too-powerful. Many cryptocurrency aficionados are also split on Libra entering the cryptocurrency industry. The massive attention the behemoth social media platform brings to the digital asset conversation could be very important for maturing the industry, if not at least accelerating regulatory guidance. Libra, however, could also be poised to undermine Bitcoin. 

Negatives aside, Libra could serve a powerful purpose in uniting millions (or billions) of unbanked peoples and people living in rapidly inflated economies with a modern economic system, paving the way for global financial freedom. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

This was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/the-scoop-on-facebook-libra-innovative-and-controversial

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What is the “Coinbase Effect” and Does it Still Work?

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/what-is-the-coinbase-effect-and-does-it-still-work

The “Coinbase Effect” is a theory within the cryptocurrency community that postulates that if a token/coin, usually one relatively less well-known, gets added to the Coinbase exchange, its price will increase substantially. 

Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges as well as arguably the most user-friendly, making it the starting point for new cryptocurrency traders. The idea is that when a coin gets added to the once-exclusive list of tokens offered on Coinbase, it’ll receive mainstream attention, higher trading volume, and liquidity. 

The Coinbase Effect has come into question several times over the past year, mainly due to the underwhelming price gains of the nearly dozen assets added throughout the period – which, to be fair, was in the troughs of the crypto winter. 

The Coinbase Effect reached popularity in 2017 with the flood of attention from thousands of new speculators and investors. 2017 was a time where a simple rumor of a digital asset being added to the exchange could give it a double-digit percentage price increase. At the time, Coinbase only had three digital assets – Bitcoin, Ethereum (added July 2016), and Litecoin (added May 2017). 

When Coinbase started adding more digital assets, the prices of those assets didn’t experience astronomical price increases as the trader psychology of 2017 would have anticipated. Ripple, for example, was added in February 2019 and the price per XRP only increase about 5%, leaving the asset to hover at around $0.30. 

Stellar had a similar lackluster result: 

$XLM added to Coinbase Pro but the pump started a week ago 🤔 pic.twitter.com/tmOFb3KEpk— Rob “Crypto Bobby” Paone (@crypto_bobby) March 13, 2019

Today, Coinbase has 15 digital assets, with one of them being a stablecoin. Many analysts assumed the exchanges Midus Touch was extinguished, but then a relatively obscure digital asset LINK (ChainLink) was added in June 2019. Upon its addition, the price per LINK skyrocketed from $2.26 to $4.15 over the next day – a sharp gain of 83.6%.

Admittedly, there are some reservations to make in regards to the Coinbase Effect. The first is that the trader psychology is very much rooted in the speculative “buy the rumor and sell the news” mindset. The second is that Coinbase does actually provide some tangible benefits in the form of attention, liquidity, and volume, so it’s not completely speculative mumbo jumbo. The third is that the price increasing effect is largely a by-product of Coinbase simply running their exchange as they see fit, and pumping an asset’s price isn’t a primary intention (which could also technically be construed as illegal.)

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE COINBASE EFFECT

Of course, we urge our readers to do their own due diligence if they are considering investing in anything, and this information is purely educational and for entertainment purposes. However, it’s worth putting the Coinbase Effect on your radar as there are a few contradicting ideas to its effectiveness. 

The first is what we’ve covered – the price jumps stimulated by rumor mills and the ensuing hordes of speculative investors. The sudden surge of demand creates a snowball effect where more people try to get on the rocket ship, which is either headed to the true enterprise value of the asset (in a perfectly sensical world, which cryptocurrency is not), or to a peak where speculators will immediately try to cash out and cause the price to plummet. 

The second is a bit of a savvier investment perspective. Some projects added to Coinbase might actually be worth much more than what they were prior to the addition, and all they needed was attention, users, liquidity, and volume. This is especially true for utility tokens, which serve to power a marketplace, network, etc., but often have trouble finding trading volume, making them less appealing to holders. 

FINAL THOUGHTS – IS THE COINBASE EFFECT REAL?

The Coinbase Effect is more real than Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, but it definitely isn’t the Holy Grail of a fundamentally intelligent trading strategy. 

As evidenced by the data points of assets added in 2018 and 2019, the trend generally shows that being added to Coinbase can have a positive effect on an asset’s price. Absent of the recent LINK outlier, one would assume being added to Coinbase has a diminishing return as more assets get added. However, for relatively unknown assets, being on Coinbase can help launch them to exponential growth.  It 

Ultimately, time will tell how powerful the Coinbase Effect is. It is interesting to see a single corporate entity have such influence on a wide variety of projects. Then again, cryptocurrency as an entirely new asset class will likely be more than just a small footnote in history books – with the Coinbase Effect being one of the more interesting phenomena.

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/what-is-the-coinbase-effect-and-does-it-still-work

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Cryptocurrency Storage Safety Basics in 4 Minutes

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/cryptocurrency-storage-safety-basics-in-4-minutes

So, you’ve entered the exciting world of digital currency but you’re worried that you may be at risk of having your coins stolen by hackers. This concern is completely valid, and even some of the biggest players in the space have gotten hacked. 

There are billions of dollars worth in cryptocurrency that have fallen into the hands of malicious third parties and hacks don’t seem to be slowing down. Coincheck, a Japanese exchange, lost $534 million in NEM coins (523 million NEM) in 2019 – one of the biggest hacks in cryptocurrency history. 

As an individual, you might not be such a focal target as centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, but the possibility that someone wants to gain access to your coins is still very real. Here’s how to get and stay protected and keep doing online gambling with bitcoin safely.

WHAT’S COOLER THAN BEING COOL? COLD STORAGE

By far, the safest way to keep your coins safe is by keeping it in cold storage, a term that refers to cryptocurrency (or data) kept off the Internet. This can be done in a variety of ways included by paper wallets (literal pieces of paper) or hardware wallets such as a Ledger Nano S or Trezor. 

When it comes down to it, you’re probably better off using a hardware wallet because paper wallets can be very easy to lose and often require using an online generator, which sort of defeats the purpose of having an offline hardware wallet. 

However, keep in mind that cold storage only protects you from external threats – not the seemingly infinite capacity for human error. There are dozens of stories of unfortunate souls accidentally tossing their cold storage devices in the trash, or in a moving box that ended up getting mixed up and being sent to a Goodwill as a donation. 

CALL IN THE BACK UP FOR YOUR BACK UP

The coast isn’t clear even once you’ve got your cold storage set up, but you’re almost there! Hardware wallets usually come with a series of back up words that will help you regain access to your cryptocurrency wallet in the event that you lose the physical hardware wallet. 

But, wait – what’s the point of a hardware wallet if someone can just gain access to your cryptocurrency holdings by using your back up phrases? 

Exactly – so you need to make sure those are safe as well. The point isn’t to prevent someone from gaining physical access to your cryptocurrency, which requires the same precautions as having a briefcase full of cash or high-end piece of artwork. 

Many people decide to rent one or two safety deposit box at a reputable bank(s), which usually costs around $60 per year, and keep their hardware device and back up phrases there for safe keeping.  However, this has some burning drawbacks

The first is that you lose the convenience of having your cryptocurrency on you and available for trading at any moment. This is why this strategy tends to be only used by people looking to sit on their holdings, you know – the HODLers, and not by people doing short-term trades or using their cryptocurrency for things such as online gambling with bitcoin on MintDice. 

The second is more ideological. Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts are vehement supporters of “being your own bank.” Keeping your hardware wallets in a bank seems diametrically opposed to this, but at the end of the day, would you rather be a hacked or not hacked? 

BUT, WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO KEEP ALL MY CRYPTO LOCKED AWAY?

While cold storage is the safest way to protect your digital assets, it can be inconvenient for people who need access to their holdings on a regular basis.

If you’re in this situation, it’s recommended you keep whatever cryptocurrency you need on hand on a software wallet such as Exodus, and the rest in a cold wallet. 

Of course, you also have the option to keep your cryptocurrency on an exchange such as Binance or Coinbase, but then you immediately up the ante of risk. You not only have to worry about hackers getting into your personal wallet, but also those hacking into the exchange itself, or even the exchange deciding to run off with your mula. 

Modern exchanges have taken precautions to safeguard their customers, but this is an article on the best ways to store your crypto, so we need to mention the risks associated with exchanges. 

If you do decide to store some cryptocurrency on an exchange or other “hot wallet”, there are some precautions you should take:

  1. Enable 2FA – This is a MUST. Two-factor or other multi-factor, authentication sets up more safeguards to your private keys. Most people set this up with their phone number, and many exchanges have made 2FA part of their standard procedure. However, there have also been instances where hackers have gained access to someone’s SIM card remotely. 
  2. Google Authenticator – This is a free software-based authenticator that generates new codes every few seconds, making it harder for hackers to use any single code for any period of time. 
  3. FreeOTP – This is a free and open-source software token that can be used for two-factor authentication.
  4. Keepassxc – a free and open-source password manager.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Only you can prevent forest fires.” – Smokey the Bear.

Also, only you can prevent your cryptocurrency from getting jacked. Learn the ropes of keeping your tokens safe, and you will be able to live the crypto-libertarian dream of being your own bank – or at least not losing a bunch of tokens that potentially will be (or currently are) worth a fortune. Done correctly, you’ll be protected and gambling online with bitcoin safely. 

This article was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/cryptocurrency-storage-safety-basics-in-4-minutes

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