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Bitcoin is a victim of its own success

Yeah, no, I think I'll be holding on to my BTC.
Yeah, no, I think I’ll be holding on to my BTC.

Image: U. Baumgarten/Getty

It was never meant to be this way. 

With the price of Bitcoin skyrocketing by the hour, it’s either time to buy buy buy or step back a moment and ask ourselves just exactly how Bitcoin went from a proposed digital currency to an increasingly popular investment opportunity — and what that says about its future. As this is a blog post and not the internal dialogue of a cryptocurrency trader, we’re going to go with the second option. 

Launched in 2009 by a still unknown person (or persons) under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin offered a decentralized currency that removed any sort of central authority from the mix. This, of course, is a fascinating idea — and over the following few years news outlets reported on it with a mixture of confusion and befuddled amusement (if they covered it at all).

But that didn’t stop Bitcoin or its adherents. In 2010, a Florida programmer made what is generally considered the first transaction paying with Bitcoin — 10,000 BTC for two pizzas — and the dream of a digital currency was one step closer to reality.

But, wait — you’re surely asking yourself right now — 10,000 Bitcoin for a pizza? And you’d be right to be incredulous. At today’s BTC prices, the cost of that pizza comes out to $170,999,950, although that value changes hourly. 

That hourly change — with Bitcoin shooting up in value thousands of dollars today alone — is great for investors holding their BTC to sell at a later date, but not so good for anyone trying to use it to, actually, you know, buy something. This extremely volatile state, combined with high transaction fees, even led one major company to cease accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment on Dec. 6. 

“In the past few months we’ve seen an increase in the volatility in the value of Bitcoin and a significant increase in the fees to process transactions on the Bitcoin network,” the company, Steam, explained in a blog post. “For example, transaction fees that are charged to the customer by the Bitcoin network have skyrocketed this year, topping out at close to $20 a transaction last week (compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin).”

Other companies may soon follow, with the future of actually using Bitcoin perhaps best represented by a joke made by security researcher Marcus Hutchins

When he tweeted that, on Nov. 26, a single Bitcoin was worth around $9,298. At the time of this writing, it’s trading at $17,457 on Coinbase

And it’s not just the lost potential gains of spent Bitcoin that makes its practical use as an actual currency dubious. The aforementioned network fees themselves are pretty ridiculous. In order to process a transaction yesterday, a person would have needed to fork over around $7.34 — plus whatever fee the exchange charged.

Buying a beer with BTC doesn’t make much sense when the fees are higher than the cost of the drink.

So, is Bitcoin doomed? Hardly. While no one knows exactly what the future holds, BTC looks like it’s here to stay in some form or another. Is that as a decentralized digital currency, or merely an investment opportunity? Today’s volatility perhaps provides a hint. In the end, Bitcoin may end up being too hot for its own good. 

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Bitcoin hits $15,000 and is already trading at $19,000 in Korea

Image: Alexander Mak/shutterstock

If you bought 1 bitcoin yesterday, it would’ve cost you $12,000 and someone in your family probably would’ve called you a mad man. Just one day later, however, you’d be able to sell that bitcoin for $15,000. 

The market cap of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is currently at $252 billion, and the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies just crossed $400 billion. However, right now most Bitcoin competitors are in the red, possibly because everyone’s selling them to buy more Bitcoin. 

Interestingly, Bitcoin’s popularity in Korea is even bigger than in the rest of the world; there, the price is already above $19,000 on local exchanges. 

Besides the Korean buying frenzy, Bitcoin’s price is likely rising on the news that Bitcoin futures are launching on CME, Nasdaq and CBOE soon. 

Furthermore, Lightning protocol, a technology that should make Bitcoin transactions so much quicker, reached version 1.0 on Wednesday. The three companies working on Lightning — ACINQ, Blockstream, and Lightning Labs — said they’ve successfully tested it on actual Bitcoin transactions. There’s still a lot of work to be done before Lightning can safely be implemented, but this is promising news for Bitcoin, which is currently plagued by slow transactions and high transaction fees. 

The price of Bitcoin is now up 1,500% since January 2017 and roughly 3,500% since January 2016.  

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All the places you’ve shopped at that have been hacked

Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Hackers are winning. This summer, they infiltrated HBO and stole unreleased material. Last month, they breached Equifax — the consumer credit reporting agency — and gathered information on over 140 million Americans. But hackers also raid places that seem a bit closer to home: the places we buy burgers, drink beer, and shop for refrigerators. 

Below, Mashable compiled a timeline of the various establishments that have been hacked in the last five years, beginning with Target and ending with Sonic. It’s likely that this list will only expand. After all, there’s growing evidence the United States’ own National Security Agency (NSA) was hacked by Russians. If the NSA can’t keep hackers at bay, how can Sonic Drive-In?

Image: mashable

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Instrumments 01 might be the best way to measure anything on the fly

How things measure up is pretty important to us. We don’t just look at objects, we automatically scale them in our minds, guessing about width, height, and how they might fit in our world.

We make these assumptions because few of us carry rulers in our back pockets (where would we put our phones?), and you better be a Property Brother if you’re in the habit of carrying a tape measures on your belt.

If only there was a subtler way to have the power of dimensioning in your pocket.

That’s the simple idea behind the Instrumments 01, a pen-sized, laser-powered measurement stick.

The $149 version, which I tested, also doubles as a retractable pen (there’s a pen-free $99 version), so there’s even more reason to always have 01 with you.

The key to Instrumment 01's measuring ease is the rolling ring on the end of the device.

The key to Instrumment 01’s measuring ease is the rolling ring on the end of the device.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Battery-powered, the mostly aluminum 01 uses a laser, a rolling ring, and a companion app to let you measure on any surface. To use it, you pair it via Bluetooth with your iOS or Android phone, open the app, place your finger on the end for three seconds to activate the pen, and then, holding it in one hand, roll the back end along any surface to measure it. On the app, the numbers go up as the pen edge rolls along the surface. The laser shoots a precise red beam out of the 01’s back end. You use it to align with the start and finish edge of whatever you’re measuring.

If you want to measure the height and width of, say, a painting, you can capture and save both those measurements in one file. For a box, you can add height, as well. You can title these measurements — “This is a box!” — add notes, and store them in the cloud.

Getting started

Let’s begin with a few things I didn’t like about 01. First, the packaging didn’t adequately warn me about the laser, so when I powered up the pen by holding my finger on the back end for a few seconds and then removed my digit, I found myself staring directly into the red beam. I can’t imagine this is beneficial to my corneas.

The measuring stick even hides a pen. The tip can also be swapped out for an iPad stylus tip or lead pencil.

The measuring stick even hides a pen. The tip can also be swapped out for an iPad stylus tip or lead pencil.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Second, the app wouldn’t let me finish setup without signing up with Instrumments. I get that they have a cloud-based measurement data storage service — but there’s an offline option, so I don’t have to sign up with them.

Measure this

As I mentioned above, measuring something is simply a matter of lining up the red laser line with the starting edge of the measurement subject (making sure that the double “XX” on the pen’s back is facing you), and then slowly dragging the pen to the right as the measure wheel smoothly spins on the back end. (That ring acts like a tiny contractor’s measurement wheel). To add another dimension, I simply tapped on the top of the pen and the app would switch to, say, height. You can, of course, switch the app’s measurement from standard to metric and in increments of inches, feet, yards, and even miles. (I have no idea how anyone would measure a mile with this thing).

The app tracks the rolling ring, giving you precise, digital, shareable measurements.

The app tracks the rolling ring, giving you precise, digital, shareable measurements.

Image: instrumments, Inc.

In this setting, you can see a virtual, 3D depiction of the 01 pen.

In this setting, you can see a virtual, 3D depiction of the 01 pen.

Image: instrumments, inc.

I was careful to move slowly because the faster I rolled, the more the pen roller would slide off a straight line, especially if I didn’t have a hard edge to rest against.

If I rolled past the end of my object, something I did a lot, I could carefully roll backwards, using the laser to line up with the correct edge, while the app simultaneously rolled back the measurement number.

There’s even an Apple Watch app that let me keep track of the measurement number on my wrist.

Instrumments 01 can also measure 3D objects like boxes, and capture curves. When you switch the app to 3D mode, it will recommend you attach the training wheels to the pen. This triangular-shaped attachment slides onto the pen and adds two small rubber wheels backed by two gnarled metal wheels that line up with the roller ring. To measure with the training wheels on, you have to roll them along the surface while they spin the 01’s roll ring. The rougher metal wheels help keep you from slipping around on your measurement surface.

These training wheels help you measure uneven surfaces.

These training wheels help you measure uneven surfaces.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

I had a little trouble properly positioning the training wheels. Even when I did figure it out, rolling the pen over 3D objects felt awkward. Plus, the 3D representations that appeared on-screen were useless. Often, it was a jagged line that looked nothing like the box I was trying to measure. One thing I did like is that, in the app, I could turn on a virtual representation of the 01 and watch it move in tandem with the real device (apparently, there’s an accelerometer in it, too).

The laser helps you line up with the edge of whatever you're measuring.

The laser helps you line up with the edge of whatever you’re measuring.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

You can also, according to Instrumments, use 01 to grid out measurements by having the laser blink when, for example, you’ve rolled a foot away from your start point. This could come in handy for hanging photos or finding studs (which are usually 16-inches part) in your walls. Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how that works, and information about the feature is not included in the very basic printed manual (which comes with a free Moleskin-style notebook).

The Instrumments 01 is only a little thicker and heavier than your standard pen.

The Instrumments 01 is only a little thicker and heavier than your standard pen.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

As for accuracy of the measurements, I would say that depends on the steadiness of your hand and if you can properly align the laser. When I did so, the measurements were perfect. When I got a little sloppy, the measurements became estimates, at best.

Overall, I like the Instrumments 01. Would I pay $149 (or $99) for the convenience of a pen-sized, laser-guided tape measure in my pocket? Probably not, but I could see a carpenter or home decorator using it.

Instrumments 01

The Good

Pen-sized Simple, smart app Ingenious measurement ring

The Bad

It forces you to sign up with their service. 3D measurement is disappointing.

The Bottom Line

Intrumments 01 is a great, pocket-sized measurement system for DIYers, carpenters and home decorators.

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TapMedia Twitter account goes rogue as former employee calls out CEO for sexism

Hell hath no fury like a former social media manager scorned.

TapMedia learned that the hard way after a former social media manager took the reigns to the company’s Twitter account and blasted the company’s CEO, John Meyer, for being sexist.

In the replies to that tweet, the person who took over the account clarified that she’s a woman, and adds more on why she believes Meyer’s tweet, which poked fun at a woman’s eyebrows, was sexist. 

In addition to calling Meyer sexist, the tweeter at hand also sent out a barrage of tweets, revealing details about her time at TapMedia, including how much money she reportedly made.

As the tweets continued, the profile and background images on the account were changed, a rose emoji was added to the name of the account, and a tweet was pinned to the top of the profile that read: “Entrepreneurs are false idols end exploitation & oppression of the working class.”

As for the identity of the hacker, the bio on the TapMedia account linked to a separate Twitter account for someone named Imogen. Mashable has also reached out to them for comment.

In a statement to Mashable, TapMedia CEO John Meyer explained that “Imogen” was Imogen Olsen, a former employee at his current company, Fresco.

“It’s very disappointing to see Imogen Olsen hack a previously inactive Twitter account for my previous app company, TapMedia (where I was the sole employee). It’s even more sad to see such a strong case of cyberbullying from someone who talks frequently on social media about her own mental health issues.”

Meyer added that his father recently died by suicide, and lived with severe mental health issues. As someone who experienced that loss, he said he believes cyberbullying should be frowned upon for its toll on mental health.

“I wish her all the best and hope that she could instead engage in a much more mature, professional, and respectful dialogue with me about the things that cause her anger or frustration,” he said. 

As of this writing, the banner photo on the TapMedia twitter account still displays the url for the website of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the tweets are still posted to the account.

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