BitCoin is taking the world with storm and with it the price of BitCoin is skyrocketing.
In the last 6 months there have been a flood of new and innovative services that use BitCoin. Enough to justify a long term life for bitcoin and to justify an ever increasing price due to a physical limit on how many bitcoins that can be created.
ATMs that convert cash to bitcoins, online and high street shops that accept bitcoins as payments, high street brokers that convert money to BTC and back, payment gateways and even Subway that accept bitcoins and are just some of the examples.
You may have been interested in getting in on the action; be it for investment purposes or just to experiment.
Unfortunately BitCoin (and all crypto-currencies in general) is a complicated concept and the barrier to entry is quite high.
You have to consider how to get your money, be it USD or GBP or EUR, across to a person that is willing to part with their bitcoins (BTC).
You also have to consider security: how to avoid losing your cash, how to transfer the bitcoins to yourself and how to keep your bitcoins safe.
Bitcoin exchanges are a place where sellers meet buyers and the bitcoin exchange provides a service to match these people up. There are several established bitcoin exchanges but instead of discussing them all I’d like to mention the one that has allowed me to instantly purchase bitcoins (and litecoins, LTC) in the UK on several occasions.
Bitbargain.co.uk is using UK bank transfers, also known as Faster Payments.
This allows for near instant and free transfers between buyers and sellers. I cannot stress enough how much this facilitates bitcoin trading in the UK.
The downside is that the purchase prices on Bitbargain are a bit higher than on an exchange so this favours sellers but not buyers. The markup seems to be 8-10%. However if you want to get in on Bitcoins quickly then this is still the best option.
Once you have your bitcoins, you have to consider security. Bitbargain charge a small fee to leave your bitcoins with them which is an incentive to move them away. This is a smart move because exchanges with a lot of bitcoins have been target of hackers that have stolen millions worth of bitcoins.
To purchase bitcoins and tucking them away my preferred method is a “paper wallet”. The concept is to print out the cryptographic secret that secures your bitcoins and store the physical paper in a safe place (or multiple places).
You can still use you your wallets public address to send bitcoins to but you (nor anybody else) is able to spend those bitcoins without having access to the printed secret.
To keep smaller amounts I can recommend a mobile bitcoin wallet, for example Bitcoin Wallet for android devices and Blockchain for iOS devices. Keep it to small amounts only!
Good luck, have fun and please avoid purchasing at the top of a cycle!
Aren’t these wonderful Internet times that we are living in? Things are moving quickly to the ever so popular Web 2.0 and one can spot changes all around: recent blog oriented purchases, easily mixing together information from various web sites and all things are best in three.
As a frequent visitor of the local cinema (Vue) I always cross check all showing movies at IMDb to see what people say about them. This involves a lot of copying and pasting and switching between browsers (actually tabs).
This is very 1999 and I thought that writing a GM script that pulls information from IMDb and displays it directly at MyVue.com was much more 2005.
ImdbRatings4Vue.user.js was born.
To use this script you should ideally be using Firefox 1.0.x. You will also have to install the GreaseMonkey engine. Once that is done, right click on ImdbRatings4Vue.user.js and choose “Install user script”.
GreaseMonkey scripts are also supported* by other browsers like Opera (which is freeware nowadays by the way) and by the Turnabout plug-in for Internet Explorer 6 for Windows.
*I have only tested the script on GreaseMonkey 0.5.3 running on Firefox 1.0.7.
Google have extended their brilliant Maps and Local services to the UK. Until now I have only been using it to see how good online services can be. Now I can use it daily to find addresses, get directions and find services (plumbing especially) in London and UK.
Google Maps is a very intuitive way to present maps. Easy zooming, powerful search and smart dHTML like moving the map around are my favourite features. Wonder if Google plans to add satellite images like they do with the US maps.
Google Local combines Google maps with a local directory of services, restaurants, theaters and much much more. Until now I have been using UpMyStreet and it will be interesting to see how well Google Local performs compared with them.
Last but not least, see if Google Local Mobile works with your mobile. It should if it supports XHTML (i.e. not older than 2004).
Having access to free maps, directions and local directory from your mobile is just priceless.
PS The SonyEricsson T610/T630 has problems with the mobile version. Firefox has problems as well, use Internet Explorer if you want to try it from your desktop.
Currently the Yell footer has a bug (omitted quotes in href) which creates a XML parsing error and only sloppy IE can display the results. Stay tuned, should not take long to fix this.
Update May 10th
The error has been fixed. I doubt it was due to the email I sent to Google support (I did get a reply though) but instead due to the official launch of Google Local UK Mobile (GLUM). Have a go!
With an unconfirmed European release date of July 2005, many European gamers are certainly eyeing imported alternatives. They are however weary to how an imported system will perform in Europe and UK. I picked up a Sony PSP value pack during a recent trip to Japan and can report that using the console and one Japanese game has been very easy (and highly enjoyable).
My main worry was whether the Japanese console supported English menus. I was happy to see that when you turn on the PSP for the first time, it let’s you choose between 15+ languages (English being one of them). From then on, you will not see a single reference to Japanese.
I purchased the much raved about game Lumines. The game is 99% in English making it very easy to play. All in all I have seen two “pop-ups” in Japanese but they were not relevant to the game. Good news. There were several RPG games on the shelves that seemed to be in Japanese only so I avoided them.
Previous PS console games had region encoding which meant that a game purchased in USA would only work in North America. Sony decided to unlock the PSP to make it a truly portable system: if you travel from Europe to USA, you should be able to purchase games in the USA and be able to play them on the way back. With the recent PSP release in USA, you can now get hold of many new English titles.
The UMD movies are region encoded at the moment. The Japanese PSP is region 2 which suggests it is better suited for future European UMD movie titles. USA is region 1 as usual.
The PSP is delivered with an electricity adapter that supports 100-240 Volt and 50/60 Hertz. This means that it can be used in most (all?) countries provided you have a socket adapter. The end that plugs into the socket can even be removed and replaced with your local version.
So is the Sony PSP any good? So far I have been mighty impressed with the big bright LCD screen, graphics, sound, photo and video viewing from memory stick, MP3 listening and WiFi support. Dead pixels seems to be a common problem so it is good being able to switch on the unit before purchasing it to test for any dead pixels. However 2-4 separated dead pixels are very difficult to spot during game play.
At the time of writing a PSP value pack was YEN24,000 which is roughly £120. It will be interesting to see how much the PSP will sell for in “rip-off” London when it finally launches.
Comments have been closed. Please use the Sony PlayStation Portable PSP forum to ask any questions.
A friend recently moved to London. Once again I was reminded about the basic things that are so difficult to accomplish once relocated to London.
Having a bank account is the main thing to arrange to be able to live and work in the capital. While some people manage to get by with cash only, I would not recommend it.
Banks in other countries I have lived in are very keen to secure new customers. They often give new customers perks just to sign up for a new current or savings account. In the UK it seems to be the opposite.
The process to open a current account is so complicated, many people fail trying. Among other countless things you need to provide is an utility bill (electricity, gas, phone, etc) to prove your identity and address. This may seem reasonable until you realise you need a 3-6 months of bank statements to be able to register with an utility company.
Another requirement in order to get a current account is having a monthly salary going in. Since most employers require you having a bank account to put your salary in you have to
beg persuade one of them (the bank or the employer) to make an exception from standard protocol.
The thing that seems to work best, regarding bank accounts, is having a lump sum of money to deposit. Having £1,000-2,000 in cash greatly helps to get a bank account quickly but should that really be necessary in a developed country like the UK?
The amount of cash that you are able to deposit into your account without providing evidence where you generated it has just been lowered considerably. It is supposed to be a money laundering deterrent.
A manager I talked to was not able to disclose the exact sum, not even in loose terms but it seems to be below US$100.
Funny thing is that the big fish criminals do not deposit money in their local branch. They just wire it from or to their off-shore accounts. It is average Joe customers, exchange students and tourists that will be affected the most.
An interesting incident below:
Continue reading “To bank or not to bank in the UK”
Last Saturday was sunny and hot and I was looking forward to Sunday when we had plans to go the East coast of England, Broadstairs.
But on Sunday the weather turned out pretty bad. Windy and with solid overcast, not giving us more than 10 minutes of sunshine throughout the day. Still there were many persons braving the weather and swimming or playing in the water.
I was amazed to see how well prepared the beach visitors were. Normally people bring a beach towel and a good book but these beach bums had so much more. Wind shields, tents, parasols, portable BBQs, crocket and more.
The highlight of the day was ice-cream and cappuccino while overlooking the main Broadstairs beach with its (in)famous rent-a-donkey.
You will probably be spending some amount of money on CDs, DVDs and console games this Christmas so please think twice before purchasing at HMV. Their return policy is not what you may be used to.
Basically, HMV offers no refunds or store credit; only exchanges are allowed and this only if the item is in “perfect condition and original packaging”.
The consequence is that if you purchase something wrong or get an unwated present the only option you have is to take it back to HMV and pick something else with “similar value”. If you don’t, or not to the full value of the previously purchased item, the money is lost. If you cannot decide on something to replace the item with (with the same value again) within 21 days, the money is lost… and, most annoying, make sure to carry the item with you at all times in case you happen to walk into an HMV that day and happen to find something you like.
This strict policy is printed on the back of the receipt but if you do have a read, it is already too late because the purchase has been made.
After the bad luck with the manager in the store I phoned up HMV head quarters (0207 467 1109) to confirm this strict policy. Yes, HMV changed their policy June 2003 due to “hard market conditions the passed year” was the answer.
I am not quite sure what it means but if it means that HMV has been affected by the recent recession in world economy let me just state that I too have been affected.
Apparantly it is up to the managers discretion to offer gift vouchers. I recall that when I mentioned this offer to the manager it was refused. I guess I was not representable enough or that the manager was having a bad day. Too bad that her bad day reflects this badly on HMV and will affect where I (and anybody I managed to inform) makes future purchases.
I was lucky enough to sell on the unwanted purchase to a colleague. If similar has happened to you, you can help by linking to this story (http://www.davidkaspar.com/archives/2003/12/hmv_uk_return_policy_beware.php) on your website to make more people aware and to try to send a message to HMV….
A reader has pointed out that the HMV return policy has changed. I have in fact not been shopping in HMV for the last 4 years so I cannot confirm this.
Best thing you can do is to ask a manager in the store about the return policy for “sealed items with original receipt” before you buy a present.