Sorry for the Lack of Posting Today

Things at work are busy. In addition to the main project I’ve been working on coming to a header in the next few weeks, as we get closer to final delivery, on the side I’ve been busy layering my wookie suit. I’ve started a Bitcoin mining pool based on a half-baked suggestion from our CEO.

Bitcoin mining is actually quite like real prospecting, only digitally. They are looking for rare hashes; ones with a certain number of runs of zeros (determined by the network), which is unusual mathematically. The network can adjust the required difficulty up and down, depending on how quickly new Bitcoins are being discovered. This is algorithmic, so there’s no “central bank” so to speak, controlling the supply of the “currency.” This is what makes Bitcoins so attractive to the wookie suited among us.

Prospecting involves running through a lot of SHA256 hashes looking for the “valuable” ones. Turns out GPUs are quite adept at doing SHA256 hashing, and since we have quite a bit of GPU processing power hanging around not doing a whole lot, it seemed like a potentially fun experiment, to try to find some of those rare and valuable hashes. I have no idea whether this can earn real cash, or what we could actually buy with Bitcoins, but our company encourages side projects, and this seemed worth learning a bit about (no pun intended).

Fortunately for you guys, the blog server was absolutely pitiful at mining Bitcoins. It has CPU power (which sucks at prospecting) rather than GPU power (which excels at it), so I decided using the blog server’s spare CPU cycles was never going to be worth the electricity it consumed. My workstation is also not so good at mining, even though it has a decent GPU, partly because I think Apple’s OpenCL implementation is craptastic. But a Linux machine with a mid-range ATI Radeon card in it? All your hashes are belong to us.

21 Responses to “Sorry for the Lack of Posting Today”

  1. Welcome to the fold! Check my website for some stuff you can buy with BTC.

  2. ecurb says:

    It sounds like you need a special purpose rig to mine effectively these days (seen pics of giant clusters of GPUs), but maybe the stuff you’ve got at work would be perfect for it.

    • Sebastian says:

      The stuff we have is nothing special, just that we have a very good deal on electricity, over residential, and some of our workstations have spare GPU power that most of the time is unused.

  3. Make sure you take into account the cost of electricity in earning BitCoins. It may be net negative value, depending. Also, the government could shut down BitCoin at any time…..

  4. Zermoid says:

    Ok, for non-geeks, what’s GPU???
    CPU I know, but GPU?

  5. anon says:

    @Zermoid: GPU = Graphics Processing Unit. Modern graphics cards are very fast and very good at floating point calculations, and tend to have several parallel pipelines, and if you’re clever about it, you can use them to do repetitive numerical calculations to great effect.

  6. chiefjaybob says:

    I’m ascared of bitcoin. If I can’t roll around on it naked, or defend it with an AR, it’s not really mine.

  7. Gattsuru says:

    Note that this has major security ramifications: SHA- encryption is a default on many older software systems to obscure users passwords, and provides security primarily by taking a lot of time to calculate the hundreds of millions of possible passwords until it gets the same output. If you can do millions or billions of calculations a second, it’s trivial to replicate every password that is not unrealisticly long in hours or even minutes. And even old generation graphics hardware can handle that sort of division-based number crunching, since that’s precisely what they have to do in order to render graphics.

    Keeping your encrypted output and precise algorithm (salt) secure would keep that as a minor concern, but there have been a number of very high profile attacks on major sites pulling precisely that data out.

    But it is cool for bitcoin stuff, even if bitcoin indexes look to be a bad currency to hold right now

  8. Other Steve says:

    Lol bitcoin mining… I’m convinced the lower company and GPU resellers are pushing that now. Here’s the thing, it’s been on your local news already. If you’re just getting into it now – you are definitely too late. Maybe a year ago you might have made a couple hundred. Bitcoin will crash hard, but it will certainly lead the way to a real “private” online currency for the future.

  9. Thomas says:

    A gen 1 ps3 with Linux still on it might even be better at it.

    • Bryan S. says:

      Mid-range graphics cards blow through the PS3 in FLOPS these days. Link 4 of them together in a single computer, and you might as well calculate them on a graphing calculator.

  10. PT says:

    Head over to Zero Hedge for the back and forth over BitCoin.

  11. NotClauswitz says:

    Can you buy a house and go through escrow with Bitcoins? Until you can buy actual property…

  12. Steve says:

    I heard you can buy Greece with bitcoins.. ;)

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