Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My first day using Bitcoin-Qt

I wanted to try to document my experience with Bitcoin, not only for myself or others unfamiliar with Bitcoin, but for experienced Bitcoin users, who may not know what getting into Bitcoin is like for a new user.  On this post I'm only covering my experience with installing and using the Bitcoin-Qt program, since there seems to be a good bit on what Bitcoin is, and repeating it here would seem redundant, especially because I'm not entirely sure enough about the more technical aspects to try to explain it sufficiently.

I use Linux Mint, so I went ahead and installed the bitcoin cli program, and found a ppa for Bitcoin-Qt and installed it.  So far so good, program installs and is synchronizing...and synchronizing...and synchronizing.  It ends up taking about two days (on and off, I turned my computer off for about 6-8 hours at one point).  I'll admit that I don't understand how or why that takes so long, but I can see why that would be a turnoff for some people.  But whatever, I finally get it up to date, and we're good to go!  Now what?  I start searching around online and find what appears to be the two best forums for Bitcoin, Bitcointalk.org and Reddit's /r/Bitcoin.  They seem like pretty good starting points, so I start digging in and checking out this Bitcoin thing.

Someone on Reddit (I don't remember who, I'm really sorry) mentions a link on the wiki to "Bonus Programs" which are basically websites that will give you Bitcoins in exchange for taking surveys or viewing some advertisements, but it's nothing huge, I've gotten ~0.00005 BTC for a few of them, which as of writing this, converts to around $0.00066 USD.  It's not even pocket change, but it's certainly understandable; it adds up, and if they just gave away lots of Bitcoins for nothing, the damn things would have no value, so they'd be worthless anyways.

So I go through the list of "Bonus Programs", some of which will give you tiny amounts of Bitcoins every hour, some once a day, and I do them as much as I can (although not every hour, only when I remember to), and at the end of the day my Bitcoin wallet is sitting at 0.00567 BTC, or $0.07679 USD as of me writing this.

So, the Bonus Programs are a good way to get a little bit of bitcoins, but they're not any way to seriously make money.  The important thing about them, to me, is that they helped me understand the concept of transferring and receiving Bitcoins.  I had to give them a code, such as
"1A4f9eKk23CvPiCKkLKN44uiXyNu8Eyo55", which is one of the Bitcoin addresses I generated.  I may be terribly inaccurate in this, but my understanding is that they send an amount of Bitcoins to that address, and once the payment has been confirmed by a certain number other Bitcoin programs (since there is no central program that verifies it), it is added to my balance.  How long this takes depends on how many connections I have to other Bitcoin programs running that can verify that the transaction took place (but it is my understanding that all they know is that the transaction took place and that 0.0005 Bitcoins were given to me, not who I am specifically, I am only identified by that address I gave them).  There's also apparently a very small fee involved with sending Bitcoins (something like 0.0005 BTC), but I don't know the details of this since I sent no Bitcoins, but that's something I'm sure I'll learn about another day.

So that was my first day (after the program was set up) with Bitcoin.  I learned two main things: through these "Bonus Programs" I learned a little bit about how Bitcoin is transferred, and I learned that it takes forever to set up the Bitcoin program the first time.  I still have a lot of questions, but I'm sure they are things I will learn as I go along.  So far it looks to be an interesting concept, and I'll continue to see what I can learn about it.


  1. "How long this takes depends on how many connections I have to other Bitcoin programs running that can verify that the transaction took place"

    Not really. You don't need any connections, you can be even offline.

    To make transaction "verified" it must be inserted into a block, which is done by miners. It should be done in around 10 minutes, depends on miners luck and by how many transactions waiting for inclusion. Adding small tx fee can speed it up.

    1. Yeah, the discussion on Reddit clarified that misunderstanding, but I didn't want to correct it here because I wanted to try to highlight what new users perceived, even the things that were incorrect