Something awful bitcoin

The drawing for the record jackpot Tuesday night yielded a single winner. Sigal Zarmi will become the bank’s “head something awful bitcoin transformation. New CEO Hans Vestberg has “massive confidence” in digital ad play.

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Interested in publishing your awesome game with us? We would love to see it! If you found something wrong with our games, let us know and we can fix it! We are a small indie game studio and publisher based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Dante Castiglione, a Bitcoin broker, pays a client in U. Castiglione stalked through the doors of a glass-walled office tower on the edge of downtown Buenos Aires, just a few hundred feet from the old port district. In the crowded elevator, he shook his head and muttered under his breath about the stresses of the day and his profession.

On the 20th floor, he hustled into an impersonal, windowless office and quickly removed the tools of his trade from his backpack and set them on the desk: locked blue cash box, cellphone and clunky Dell laptop with the same yellow smiley-face sticker that he puts on all his electronics. This room, rented for the day, was not one of Castiglione’s regular haunts. He mostly drifts among the old cafes in Buenos Aires, where the bow-tie-wearing waiters serve small glasses of seltzer water with each coffee. His 18-year-old daughter, Fiona, often deals with customers, but she was about to give birth to her first child.

Her twin brother, Marco, who used to make cash runs, was now focusing on school. So Castiglione was alone, his stress evident in the sweat on his forehead and the agitation on his face. Spanish, before switching to another call. Everybody wants everything now, and I am just trying to do it. I’m not magical, as people think. Magical, no, yet something new all the same.

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That afternoon, a plump 48-year-old musician was one of several customers to drop by the rented room. A German customer had paid the musician in Bitcoin for some freelance compositions, and the musician needed to turn them into dollars. 100 bills, which he was trading for a little more than 1. 5 Bitcoins, and gave them to his client.

Commerce of this sort has proved useful enough to Argentines that Castiglione has made a living buying and selling Bitcoin for the last year and a half. That mundane service — harnessing Bitcoin’s workaday utility — is what so excites some investors and entrepreneurs about Argentina. Bitcoin first appeared in early 2009, introduced by a shadowy figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto. 12 decades from now, no more Bitcoins will be generated. 1,200 over the last two years — have obscured a significant aspect of the currency’s broader potential.

Bitcoin digital tokens are part of a new kind of online financial network, which runs on the computers of those who use the virtual currency. But Argentina has been quietly gaining renown in technology circles as the first, and almost only, place where Bitcoins are being regularly used by ordinary people for real commercial transactions. The money brought to Argentina using Bitcoin circumvents the onerous government restrictions on receiving money from abroad. Bitcoin proponents like to say that the currency first became popular in the places that needed it least, like Europe and the United States, given how smoothly the currencies and financial services work there.

It makes sense that a place like Argentina would be fertile ground for a virtual currency. Wences Casares grew up on a remote sheep ranch in Patagonia and now lives on an estate looking out over Silicon Valley. He is, as much as anyone, responsible for making Bitcoin known in both Argentina and the United States. He sold his next big company, an online bank, to Banco Brasil. There was rarely a time during Casares’s youth when Argentina was not enduring some sort of financial crisis. In 1983, after years of inflation, the government created the new peso: each new one was worth 10,000 old pesos.

In 1985, the new peso, its value eroded by inflation, was in turn supplanted by the austral, worth 1,000 new pesos. Eventually the government went back to the peso, this time pegged to the dollar, an effort that also failed. I’ve seen every single monetary experiment you can imagine. One particular episode is seared in Casares’s memory. In 1984, during the first significant episode of Argentine hyperinflation following the military junta’s loss of power, Casares’s mother came to get him and his two sisters from school one day.

His mother carried two grocery bags filled with cash — the salary she had just been paid. Dante Castiglione, left, at the Rock Hostel, with its owner, Soledad Rodriguez Pons, who accepts Bitcoin. Casares is descended from one of Argentina’s old landholding families — a town called Carlos Casares, near Buenos Aires, is named after one of his ancestors — but his branch of the family went through hard times and ended up ranching sheep. In 2003, Casares and five friends bought a school bus and drove it on a three-week road trip from Buenos Aires, the capital, to Tierra del Fuego, at the southern end of South America. After the vehicle was stolen upon their return, the friends vowed to buy a second bus for another trip. At the time, the virtual currency had a small cult following in the United States and was essentially unheard-of in Argentina, but Restelli had read about it on an American tech blog.

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Casares sent Restelli the Bitcoins that evening. Casares was fascinated by the transaction. Here was money that anyone could buy online and that promised to hold its value better than the peso. That promise would later be tested by extreme price swings. It also seemed to offer access to the financial system for those who couldn’t open bank accounts or secure credit cards.

Even Casares, who created his first start-up in the country, had never held an Argentine bank account. He sent articles about Bitcoin to his bus-trip friends and explained how easy it was to move thousands of dollars in and out of Argentina. One friend went on to found the central Bitcoin advocacy group in Argentina and opened the Bitcoin Embassy in Buenos Aires. By then, Casares was proclaiming Bitcoin’s promise to any Silicon Valley friend who would listen. He had come to believe that the advantages of its network would push the value of each Bitcoin to astronomical values, just as slivers of the airwave spectrum increased in worth as more communication companies sought to use it.

In the meantime, each Bitcoin could serve as an easy, secure place to store money, comparable to gold. Many of Casares’s friends in the United States were initially skeptical: What could Bitcoin do that their credit cards couldn’t? But Casares explained how places like Argentina were different. At dinner the first night, Casares won the attention of a table full of investors by describing his childhood experiences in Argentina and how Bitcoin equipped people to avoid similar situations. At the time, Casares was still running his mobile-wallet start-up and had no business stake connected to Bitcoin beyond his own holdings of the virtual currency, which had become substantial. He urged his friends to make their own purchases.

The buzz generated by the conference was not the only factor that pushed up the price of Bitcoin in March 2013. Russians were seeking refuge from the Cypriot banking system in Bitcoin. Federico Murrone, left, and Wences Casares at Xapo, their company that handles Bitcoins, in Palo Alto, Calif. Dante Castiglione first heard about Bitcoin that same March. A Canadian who hired him to do some software consulting asked if he could pay him in Bitcoin. Castiglione, who grew up in a small apartment in downtown Buenos Aires, ran his own consulting firm, the latest in a long line of jobs after he dropped out of college.

When it came to working for overseas clients, the biggest issue for Castiglione, like many Argentines, was the government-set exchange rate between dollars and pesos. In an attempt to tamp down inflation, the government has long forced banks to sell dollars at artificially low rates. In March 2013, the government said a dollar was worth around 5 pesos. When the Canadian customer paid Castiglione in Bitcoins, Castiglione found someone online willing to meet him in Buenos Aires and pay him in pesos at something close to the dólar blue rate. The demand for his Bitcoins was, in fact, so great that Castiglione, whose company was limping along, began to think there might be a business opportunity there. In-person Bitcoin trading, as Castiglione does it, happens in many other cities around the world. But if this were the only way to procure Bitcoins, the interest in trading them would not have exploded as it has in the United States and China, where exchanging money directly with strangers — without a trusted middleman, in other words — is not a routine part of business.

In Argentina, the banks refuse to work with Bitcoin companies like Coinbase, which isn’t surprising, given the government’s tight control over banks. This hasn’t deterred Argentines, long accustomed to changing money outside official channels. Instead of bank tellers and branches, Bitcoin users in Argentina have come to rely on Castiglione and his competitors, some of whom are even willing to make house calls. This financial system developed much more slowly than it has in the United States, where American companies could take deposits from banks anywhere in the country. I first met Castiglione when I visited Buenos Aires in June 2014. At the time, he was working downtown, out of a stuffy single room in the same building as a Berlitz language-school office. A joker playing card was lodged in the corner of the whiteboard on the wall.

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His daughter, Fiona, was in touch with customers by phone and online. Right now, maybe God is on our side. One of Castiglione’s main competitors was another Bitcoin broker named Brenda Fernández. In a more serious moment, Fernández, who is 24, attributed both her attitude and her embrace of Bitcoin in part to the gender transition she made in her early 20s, after years of struggling with traditional gender categories. The Rock Hostel, with band-themed rooms, caters to a young clientele.

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A number of people were drinking beer in the common area when Fernández showed up. She once, somewhat accidentally, held onto her Bitcoins at a time when the price was rising, and ended up with a small windfall when she sold. She used the proceeds to build a rooftop bar and a music-rehearsal space. As anyone who has dealt with Western Union or wired money abroad already knows, Argentina is not the only place that could benefit from Bitcoin’s easier and cheaper way of moving money across international borders. A Hong Kong firm called Bitspark recently opened a shop in a mall popular with Filipino domestic workers, through which they can send money back home using Bitcoin. Banks currently serve as the front line in stopping illicit money transfers. Oddly enough, American regulators have actually been friendlier than banks toward the new technology.

Even before the advent of Bitcoin, the Federal Reserve was looking into ways to update the relatively antiquated American payment networks, which often take two or three days to complete a simple money transfer. Banks are aware that this is an area in which they will likely have to adapt or lose business, perhaps even be made irrelevant. While most of the major banks have criticized Bitcoin and refused to work with virtual-currency companies, many of them are nonetheless spending a lot of time and energy behind the scenes studying the technology. JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, decided in early 2014 not to conduct business with Bitcoin companies. Banks are captivated, in particular, by the ledger on which all Bitcoins and Bitcoin transactions are recorded: what is known as the blockchain. Unlike traditional financial ledgers, kept by a central institution, the Bitcoin ledger is updated and maintained by everyone on the network, not unlike how Wikipedia is written and monitored by its users. One of the most recent entrants into this area is a start-up led by a former top executive from JPMorgan.

The Federal Reserve has had its own people looking at how to utilize the blockchain technology and potentially even Bitcoin itself. If someone can find a way to minimize the volatility of Bitcoin prices — as many are trying to do — it would be much easier for people to keep their savings in Bitcoin instead of a bank account. The Bitcoin broker Brenda Fernandez scans the QR code of her client’s virtual wallet to make a trade. Dan Morehead, a former Goldman Sachs executive who now runs a hedge fund focused on Bitcoin, told me.

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Things are happening sooner in Argentina, he said, because its financial system creates hassles for the people there. When I returned to Argentina in February this year, the price of Bitcoin had been falling for some time, scaring off many speculators in the United States. There was no sign of waning interest in Argentina, however. Several new companies were trying to provide a more seamless and reliable version of Castiglione’s service. Castiglione was so busy running around the city, trying to keep up with the competition, that he was hard to pin down. She had come to have serious doubts about whether Bitcoin would end up being any better than the old system if it was dominated by the ruling class, which would be immune to any popular backlash, thanks to the lack of a central Bitcoin authority.

Among the people Fernández and Castiglione were both contending with was Wences Casares. He decided in late 2013 that he cared too much about Bitcoin to leave its development to others. He quickly sold his digital-wallet start-up and started his own Bitcoin-centric company with one of the friends from the bus trip, Federico Murrone, an Argentine who was the head programmer on Casares’s past start-ups. Buenos Aires has none of the scrappiness of other virtual-currency players in the country. Casares spent months establishing a partnership with Taringa, the most popular Argentine social network. This month, millions of Taringa members in Argentina and the rest of Latin America automatically had a Xapo Bitcoin wallet opened for them. Users will be able to put Bitcoins or fractions of Bitcoins in their wallets by depositing cash at local drugstores, in the same way they pay utility bills.

When I asked Castiglione what he thought about a global venture like Xapo, he evinced a workingman’s skepticism. Castiglione said, as we sat in his temporary office between client visits. People get the cash to spend. Whether his endeavors would help Bitcoin live up to its grand promise — supplanting Wall Street and central banks — was something Castiglione would consider only in the most pragmatic terms.

If people use it, then it has a future. Nathaniel Popper is a financial reporter for The New York Times. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week. A version of this article appears in print on , on Page 48 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Quick Change. 4 5 1 4 1 2 1 . I think I understand economics better than most people because I grew up in Argentina. We wanted any new setup to have a mixture of high tech and retro flair,” Joe says.

To understand our entertainment-center woes, you must understand where we started. They found a couple local contractors to work on the project. One was a cabinet guy who was confident he could turn Joe’s design into a workable cabinet. The other was a carpenter who was responsible for creating the hole in the wall and various other remodeling tasks. Joe was very pleased with the final product.

It contains all the components while only protruding 6 inches into the family room. Close up it looks even better. When they open the doors, which have screens on them, the rest of the components are revealed. We haven’t made the jump to 4K, but we have set ourselves up for it,” Joe says. The issue for us is, we like to occasionally watch 3D movies and it is not supported on new TVs, so we’ll probably ride this one out for a couple more years before we transition. However, Joe’s ultimate goal is to go full Atmos. The system supports it — it just requires adding 4 new speakers.

Now all Joe has to say is, “Alexa, turn on fireplace” and she fires up the flames, as well as the fireplace fan and an overhead family room fan. Now it’s hidden, tucked away inside the cabinet. The right sub in the middle compartment. Close-up of the Klipsch surround speaker. Thanks to Joe for submitting this showcase!

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Of late, I have been getting an increasing number of folks asking for my opinion on cryptocurrencies. Polar bears know more about astrophysics than I know about cryptocurrencies. They probably know more about cryptocurrencies, too. As luck would have it, the most recent person to ask about this is my pal Lucas.

He reached out a couple of weeks ago and, after I suggested he’d get a more useful response from a polar bear, he began to share a bit about what he had learned and what he was doing. I know Lucas as the website manager who keeps jlcollinsnh. So I asked him to write this guest post. I could tell he knew his cryptocurrency stuff. What I didn’t know was, could he write?

1017 USD on the recommendation of our lead developer at the web firm where I worked. At least, that’s what I wish I could tell you about the first time I heard about Bitcoin. The truth is the same as thousands of other techno geeks. I heard about Bitcoin in 2011, thought it was a cool idea that appealed to my libertarian tendencies and then promptly did nothing about it for 6 years. You may have been hearing about Bitcoin a lot lately.

If you haven’t you will soon. 10,000 per Bitcoin for the first time. New Crypto-Millionaires are being minted every day. Before we start, lets be crystal clear on this: This is the riskiest investment you will ever make.

Malware on your computer steals your coins. Am I qualified to give this investing advice? That said, I have spent several hundred hours studying this space and I’m happy to share what I have learned. I’ll also provide a bunch of links to better resources at the end, all written by people much more knowledgeable than I. Why cryptocurrencies are the future of money and the internet 3. Who should consider speculating on Bitcoin?

Something awful bitcoin