Monday, April 28, 2014

DIY Air Freshener: Cut Up Christmas Tree Branches

The closets and cupboards that we don't open very often were acquiring some nasty dank and stale smells over time. Rather than buying an air freshener, we found out that cut up Christmas Tree branches worked pretty well as DIY air fresheners. It's been about 4 months and the closets still smell pine-fresh. Take that Glade!

XMas Tree Timmings make a great DIY Air Freshener
We cut up an entire mini-tree into several tubs of branches and put them in the closets and cabinets that don't get opened very much.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Bitcoin Works in 5 Minutes

This is a shorter version of my original "How Bitcoin Works Under the Hood" 22 minute video, and it's also geared more towards non-programmers.


If, instead of how it works, you're looking for where to buy Bitcoin, I use coinbase. And for trading, check out bitcoin wealth alliance (both affiliate links).


At a very basic level, Bitcoin is just a digital file or ledger that contains names and balances, and people exchange money by changing this file. When Bob sells Carol a lawn mower for 5.2 Bitcoins, Bob’s balance goes up by 5.2, and Carol’s down by 5.2. There’s no gold or government issued money backing these numbers. Bob is only willing to trade his real-life lawn mower for a higher number in this digital file because he has faith that other people will also trust the system.

So who maintains this ledger and makes sure no one cheats? One goal of Bitcoin is to avoid any centralized control, so every participant maintains their own copy of the ledger. One surprising consequence of this is that everyone can see everyone else’s balances, although the real system only uses account numbers and not names, so there’s some level of anonymity.

If everyone maintains their own ledger, how are all the ledgers kept in sync as money is transferred? At a basic level, when you want to send money, you simply tell everyone else by broadcasting a message with your account number, the receiver’s, and the amount. Everyone across the entire world then updates their ledger.

As a quick aside,  I’m describing how Bitcoin works for power users--people who help maintain the system. You can also just use the system to send a receive money, however, without maintaining a ledger.

Account Security

If sending money is as simple as creating a message with some account numbers, what’s to stop a thief, Alice, from spending Bob’s money by using his account number?  Like a pen and paper check, Bitcoin requires a kind of signature to prove that the sender is the real owner of an account, but it’s based on math rather than handwriting.