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Make money just by working on your computer: the rise of electronic currencies, in the wake of bitcoin, can be a little dream, especially in times of
crisis. We tried the experiment. Wealth at your fingertips? Not for everybody.
Reading time: 6 min.
We have known at least since March 2013, with the soaring Bitcoin (BTC) price during the closing of Cypriot banks: electronic currencies, it has not much virtual. Since the creation of the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto serves as a safe haven, a playground for speculators, interests the States and even makes it possible to pay for his trip to the space where his beer, bigger world would dare to pretend that it only serves to buy prohibited substances on SilkRoad - if it ever was.
At the end of November, James Howells was mocked a lot, this Brit, caught in a household frenzy, inadvertently threw a hard disk containing 7,500 bitcoins, the equivalent of 4.8 million euros. A small fortune now lost in the depths of the Docksway dump near Newport. Nevertheless, before causing the consternation of the global Internet, Jamie still had the nose to undermine the BTC at a time when the experience mobilized a handful of hardcore geeks.
Since the rise (sawtooth) bitcoin, each unit currently weighs more than 800 dollars, nearly thirty cryptocurrencies have emerged. Is it possible, this year again, to let this promising, volatile and risky train pass, or to fall into
- Choose your electronic motto.
- All are based on the same principle: to summarize (very) big features , the issuance of money is governed by an algorithm, and the new corners put in circulation reward the resolution, by participants in a network of peer and mathematical problems, including the validation and archiving of transactions, which are public . Mining a cryptocurrency is like putting the computing power of your computer in the service of the network.
- Since the program is decreasing , the mining becomes more and more difficult with time (and with the increase of the number of participants): to hope to make his pelote via the only computational activity, one must either have to at its disposal a large fleet of machines, to be a miner from the first hour. Exit the bitcoin, long since out of the reach of a personal computer.
- I similarly gave up the litecoin and peercoin, already well launched (they date respectively 2011 and 2012), to set my heart on one of the most recent currencies - and certainly the hippest of the moment: the dogecoin.
- As its name suggests, the cryptocurrency favorite Shiba Inus from around the world is a tribute to the Doge, one of the most famous memes of 2013, with its captions in Comic Sans, the font most sorry for the web. A geek joke, therefore, except that - the unfathomable mysteries of the Internet - its value jumped 900% in the third week of December, and she suffered a Christmas robbery online.
- Admittedly, at the time when these lines are written, the dogecoin caps at 0.00023 dollars  - its quite ridiculous (and quite depressing), but even if you bet on the future, so much to go frankly.
- 2. The hands in the engine the billboard.
- From there, things get tough (a little). Installing an electronic purse on ones computer is not very complicated (the software is available for Windows, MacOS, Android or, for the more adventurous, on a repository to compile under Linux). It is also possible to use an online wallet, but it is more risky (except, perhaps, when one is called James Howells). When opened for the first time, the purse automatically synchronizes with the Dogecoin network (be careful, it can be long), which gives you a payment address (we can generate more later).
- The two most common ways to undermine electronic money are to use the computing power of the computers microprocessor (CPU) or, more efficiently, that of the graphics card processor (GPU). In the first case, the program is simple to install; in the second, it is necessary to choose the most adapted to its material . There are, thankfully, a lot of online tutorials. Still, to operate the corner board requires in all cases to trade the comfort of the GUI for aridity, so confusing to the layman, command lines - we have nothing for nothing.
- Finally, at work alone, we prefer collaboration. Mining is best done in groups, or rather in pool: it distributes the gains, of course, but also the difficulty. For the dogecoin as for all the crypto-currencies, the pools are numerous. A quick tour of a dedicated section of the Reddit community site can help you make your choice.
- 3. Extension of the field of struggle.
- And after? After, we can rest, since it is the machine that works. But the truth of a cryptocurrency - even at the exceptionally high LOL and LOL rates of the Shiba Inu - is cruel and brutal: not all computers are equal. Or rather, some are more equal than others. For while you heat your CPU or your graphics card to grapple some unfortunate corners, others will sweep the game thanks to specialized integrated circuits, computing capabilities much higher.
- If the game of buying and reselling corners is basically just another stock exchange mechanism, less the intervention of the central banks - what is at stake, and the big political question they ask: are we certain to prefer speculation pure and perfect to monetary policies, however questionable they may be? -, production, it is the law of the strongest (in calculation). There are even lethal weapons at $ 10,000 each, with which your processors are like mosquitoes in front of an A bomb.
- And if you think it does not matter because after all, it does not cost you anything, think again: the components, like humans, wear out faster when they work at full speed, and the bill of electricity can quickly grow. The profitability of the case is anything but certain, as evidenced by the results of online calculators. (Needless to say, our laughing dogecoin does not stand up to this kind of simulation.)
- Much more boring, from a collective point of view: the carbon footprint, current and above all expected, of electronic currencies worries more and more. Last spring, Bloomberg estimated that the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network was equivalent to that of 31,000 US households. Not sure, according to the site, that their emission is less damaging to the environment than have been some physical currencies.
- For exciting to analyze that is the emergence of cryptocurrencies, it is better to ask now about their cost, economic and ecological. To see it as a potential source of income, except for being a very early adopter with a hollow nose, an individual with a lot of computational capital or a clever trader, you have to make a point.
- If the recurrent comparison with the famous Ponzi pyramid  is discussed (after all, the decentralized currencies do not make promises), remains that, as long as the value does not collapse, the system benefits mainly to the first entrants - except James Howells.
- As the Bitcoin.fr site aptly states: all this is just an experiment, invest only the time and money you can afford to lose. LOLs love was not a worse reason than another to experiment, so I finally submitted my laptop to four days and three nights of intense activity, which makes me happy. owner of a good half a thousand dogecoins. Either the equivalent of 0.115 dollar, or 0.08 euro. It is obviously not worth the electricity consumed to generate them, it increases my carbon footprint, but it amuses my entourage. But laughter is, as everyone knows, a safe bet in times of crisis, less volatile than a real bitcoin.
- And then, after all, you never know.
- Amaelle Guiton.
- 1. For explanations more provided (the case is quite complex), refer, for example, to the series of very detailed notes devoted to blogger Turblog.
- 2. And as such, searchable by everyone. It is the identity of the users that is not known, unless they reveal it, hence the reputation of anonymity (relative, therefore) cryptocurrencies.
- 3. In the case of bitcoin, the maximum of 21 million units should be reached around 2140.
- 4. For a day-to-day follow-up, see the CoinMarketCap site which lists the exchange rates of crypto-currencies, based on the dollar value of bitcoin.
- 5. We discover then, unfortunately, that some graphics cards do not allow the mining. This is the case for the author of these lines, reduced to working in conditions of extreme computer deprivation.
- 6. Comparison which is at the heart of a hilarious note on the ponzicoin, signed by the economic journalist Matthew OBrien, on The Atlantic (to read if you intend seriously to invest in the dogecoin).