Category Archives: Technology

The Bitcoin mania

FC-Bitcoin-Frontview-SingleCoinIn November 2008, an unknown person who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper that led to the creation of the first decentralised virtual currency called Bitcoin. Since then the value of the currency has increased and can be used to buy pizza or even pay tuition fees.

What is Bitcoin?

 

Bitcoin mining

Bitcoins are generated using a process called mining. The computer is given a complex mathematical problem to solve and the goal is a 64-digit number. The person who solves this algorithm will get 50 bitcoins. The network creates a difficulty where 50 bitcoins are created roughly every 10 minutes.

It is open source and uses peer-to-peer networking, digital signatures and cryptographics to generate currency.

“With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless,” says Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Developer

Bitcoin is a mobile phone app or a computer software called a wallet that is used to send and receive bitcoins.

Growth of bitcoin

The bitcoin is highly volatile. The currency has experienced fluctuations several times.

There will be only 21 million bitcoins that will ever be created. Therefore, mining bitcoins is like mining any precious metal that is limited. So far about 10 million bitcoins have been unearthed. Most users would not have the patience to solve the algorithm to earn bitcoins. Therefore, they would buy and sell them from a bitcoin exchange. In such exchanges, bitcoins can be purchased using local currency and even stored.

BTC China is the oldest and largest bitcoin exchange in the world. Other bitcoin exchanges include Hong Kong-based Asia Nexgen, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox and London-based Bitstamp. Bitcoin exchanges exist in Germany, USA, Bulgaria and Canada.

Wikileaks and WordPress have started accepting bitcoins as cash. The Royal Canadian Mint has recently launched the MintChip, an electronic currency backed by the Canadian government. A bitcoin ATM was opened in Vancouver in October 2013 allowing people to buy and sell bitcoins in a coffee shop. University of Nicosia in Cyprus has become the first accredited university in the world where tuition fees can be paid using bitcoins.

Legal issues

Bitcoin is a decentralised electronic cash system that is unregulated. This means, there are no banks, no governments and no borders. Hence, they could be manipulated and speculative. It could be used for money laundering.

Bitcoin is the currency that runs The Dark Web using a software called Tor where users can hide their identity online and access the online black market called the Silk Road. Illegal drugs like LSD, heroin and marijuana have been sold on the Silk Road using bitcoins.

Hackers have attacked wallets and bitcoin exchanges to steal bitcoins. Several bitcoin exchanges such as Bitomat, MyBitcoin, Bitfloor and others have shut down due to hacking and theft of bitcoins.

Bitcoin is an open system where people can view all transactions. However, the identity of the owner is protected.

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Blackberry Messenger is coming to Android and iPhone

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry will launch the instant messaging service Blackberry Messenger (BBM) for Android on 21 September and iPhone on 22 September.

Why is BBM coming to Android and iPhone?

BlackBerryThe instant messaging feature was the reason why most people ended up buying Blackberry handsets.

Apple and Samsung have emerged as the market leaders in smartphone markets due to its constant innovation and effective marketing strategies. Offering BBM across other platforms broadens the charm of BBM.

“With more than a billion Android, iOS, and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers,” said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President for BBM at Blackberry.

Troubled Times

Once considered unbeatable and the pioneer in smartphone technology, Blackberry is struggling to stay afloat in the smartphone market.

Blackberry is expected to lay off 4,500 employees, which is around 40% of its workforce.

Blackberry is going to step back from the mainstream consumer market and focus on enterprise devices.

Why BBM is better than Whatsapp?

BBM provides message indicators such as D and R that mean Delivered and Read. Whatsapp provides check marks. On Whatsapp, a single check mark means the message has been delivered to the server and a double check mark means that the message has been delivered to the phone. There is no indication to prove that the message has indeed been read.

BBM provides a unique pin which you can give people so that they can add you on BBM. Whatsapp uses phone numbers. Whatsapp users can add phone numbers to groups and through this, user phone numbers are visible to the public and can even be stored. This could lead to potential harassment. If a user changes his phone number, the new user of the phone number can access all the Whatsapp contacts that were used by the previous user.

A BBM user can receive a message only if the receiver has approved them. If the user has been deleted, he needs to send another request until he can continue messaging the receiver.

BBM has the ‘ping’ feature to draw the attention of the receiver.

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Reasons not to upgrade to iOS 7 immediately

In a few hours, iOS 7 will be available for upgrade. Here are some of the reasons to wait

 1.    Expect a few bugs

ios 7When a new upgrade is available, expect a few bugs and flaws. These bugs will be ironed out after the initial release. Apple releases updates regularly to fix bugs so it is worth waiting for stable software while Apple fixes its flaws.

2.    Downgrading may not be possible

As with all iOS updates, downgrading is not possible. Considering the hype surrounded by the iOS 7, may be this upgrade is here to stay

3.    Some apps may not be compatible immediately

Developers had access to iOS 7 much earlier so that they could work on updates for their apps. However, as much as iOS 7 is ready for launch, not all apps have their updates ready for launch. Hence, all your apps would not work the way they used to work before.

4.    You will lose your jailbreak

If your device is jailbroken on iOS 6, then the jailbreak for iOS 7 may not be available instantly.

5.    Your older device may not be compatible

iOS 7 will be compatible with the iPhone 4 and above, iPad 2 and above and the fifth generation of the iPod touch.

6.    Reviews

At the moment, developer reviews are available but it would be wise to wait for user reviews before updating.

If you plan to upgrade to iOS 7, please backup your data using iCloud or iTunes. While installing any major software update, you run the risk of losing data.

Delete any unused apps and make space for the new update

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Apple unveils iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C

After months of speculation, Apple has finally launched two new iPhones – iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. This time there is a premium product and a more affordable version.

Goodbye iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 has had the shortest shelf life in the history of the iPhone. This model been discontinued. Whenever Apple unveils a new model, the previous model is discontinued. This time, the iPhone 5 has been discontinued but the iPhone 4S stays which rather comes as a surprise. This strategy is somewhat similar to the availability of the iPad 2 after the iPad with Retina Display was announced this discontinuing the iPad 3.

iPhone 5s

iPhone 5SThe iPhone 5s is available in space grey, gold and silver colours in capacities of 16GB (£549), 32GB (£629) and 64GB (£709). The phone features a 64-bit A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and a M7 motion coprocessor.

“iPhone 5s is the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world, delivering desktop class architecture in the palm of your hand,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

iPhone 5C

iPhone 5CThe iPhone 5C is available in white, pink, yellow, blue and green in capacities of 16GB (£469) and 32GB (£549). The phone has an A6 chip.

“iPhone 5c is everything iPhone 5 was and more, in an all-new design packed with great features. It is designed with a polycarbonate enclosure that looks and feels so solid in your hand,” added Schiller.

Availability

The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets will ship on September 20 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong Japan, Puerto Rico and Singapore. Customers can pre-order the iPhone 5C online from September 13.

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Mumbai resident creates BEST mobile phone app

Standing at a bus stop and wondering about the route the bus takes is a common occurrence. Imagine having a device that would guide you through all the bus routes in the city. Raxit ShethTo ease this difficulty, Kandivali resident Raxit Sheth has created a mobile phone application that helps you get the bus routes and bus route numbers on your mobile phone. “Bus routes are available on the internet but today everybody carries a mobile phone so they would prefer it that way,” says Sheth. This project is titled ‘Mobile 4 Mumbai’.

The idea struck Sheth about four months ago when somebody at the bus stop asked him about a bus route. “I am new to Mumbai and have lived in Gujarat all my life. If a local person is confused about routes, imagine the plight of a newcomer,” says Sheth. He casually mentioned his desire to create such an application to his colleague at Polaris Software Labs Ltd., Deepa Kapadia who liked the idea and the duo began programming the application two months ago.

Raxit Sheth and Deepa Kapadia had several options in mind while creating the prototype for the application. “We could have it SMS based where users could send the query through an SMS and get the answer through the SMS but people may not want to spend their time and money keying the SMS,” says Sheth. “The other option was through GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) but again not all handsets are GPRS enabled or even if they are, it may not be active and it is expensive,” he adds. Finally, Sheth and Kapadia decided to create a simple application that could be installed on Java enabled handsets. “Today Java enabled handsets are really affordable. The cheapest handset is about Rs. 3000 with a bill,” informs Sheth. Sheth is a C++ programmer while Kapadia is a Java programmer. Mobile 4 Mumbai will be very light and just requires about 180 kb – 200 kb free memory space on the mobile phone.

Even though GPRS users can access the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) website on their mobiles, the Graphic User Interface (GUI) is not suitable for mobile phone browsing.

Sheth and Kapadia, both computer engineers, have been working on the mobile phone application during the weekends and after office hours. Even though they have invested lots of time and energy, the duo will wants to give out the application free to their families and friends who in turn could give the application to others.

The duo has not decided whether they will present the prototype to the BEST once it is ready. “This is a very good idea. We did not realise that we could even reach out to mobile phone users. It will be good, if Sheth and Kapadia approach the planning department of the BEST. We can give them all the possible support,” says a BEST official.

The application is currently in its final stage of creation. By next month, the beta version will be out and only after three months the application will be available to the public.

If this mobile phone application is successful, they will adopt the same prototype for bus routes in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Pune.

 

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