Tag Archives: bitcoin business

Cryptosteel

A little while ago I finally got the long-awaited Cryptosteel.  I have waited a very long time, since the start of the crowdfunding project for Cryptosteel’s secure cold storage wallet to be released.  There were a fair amount of roadblocks in the path to getting Cryptosteel to the funders, but these issue are over.  The reason that I am so excited to have a Cryptosteel is because Cryptosteel has made my Bitcoin funds even more secure.  Before Cryptosteel, my seed containing the majority of my funds  was written down on a piece of paper.  Now my seed is a metal plate that is virtually indestructible.  With Cryptosteel, I am safe from outside physical threats, and if you use a hardware wallet you will be secured from physical and software threats.

First Impressions

I was extremely excited to receive the Cryptosteel wallet, so my first impressions were not really diminished by the fact that travel was not kind to the cold wallet.  The wallet of course was intact and there was no physical damage at all.  But the tiny steel letters were all over the place due to the way that they are stored.  With them being loose they became a bit of a hassle to reorganize.  But other than that minor inconvenience I really like it.

Setup

There is not a lot to set up with the Cryptosteel, I found “unlocking” to put the tiles inside to be the hardest part.  It is a little tricky to open the Cryptosteel but once you figure it out the first time the rest is easy.  Now the issue of all the tiles arriving loose are a pretty big issue as they are shipped out organized, and without this organization I have to sort through a large amount of tiny tiles.  Hopefully they change the packaging so that this does not happen, unless it just happened to me.  Once you get the tiles inside and lock the Cryptosteel the “setup” is pretty much finished.

The Verdict

If you are going to be investing a lot of money into Bitcoin or another crypto currency then proper back ups are a must.  There are a few options other than Cryptosteel’s but what I really like about Cryptosteel is that I do not have to send/put my seed anywhere online.  Instead I just have to place tiles into a fireproof, extremely strong cold storage device.  I’m happy that I got myself a Cryptosteel it is definitely an awesome Bitcoin product to have.  If anyone has any questions about it, feel free to ask.

Ledger Unplugged Review

What is it?

Ledger Unplugged is a credit card sized Bitcoin hardware wallet created by Ledger.  It is a Java Card that uses NFC to communicate, with any device that has NFC support.  The Ledger Unplugged costs $32 U.S Dollars, it costs the same as the Ledger Nano.  I prefer using the Ledger Unplugged over the Ledger Nano mainly due to the fact I end up using my phone with Bitcoin as opposed to my computer(s).

First Impressions

Ledger Unplugged is a very interesting hardware wallet.  The firs thing that comes to mind after unboxing it, is that it is some sort of security card or other card commonly found in a wallet.  I really like how inconspicuous  the Ledger Unplugged is, it wont stand out in a users wallet.  The Ledger Unplugged is one of the best devices for every day mobile use, its easy to carry around and does not need any cables.  It’s the perfect wallet for mobile users.

Apps that you can use it with

There are not a lot of wallets that you can use Ledger Unplugged with.  The apps that you can use with Ledger Unplugged are GreenBits, Mycelium and Copay.  Mycelium is my personal preference for a mobile wallet, it supports hardware wallets and has some interesting features.  Although there are not a huge amount of wallets that support the Ledger Unplugged, the ones that do support it are great and make using Ledger Unplugged super fun and easy.

Setting it up

Setting the Ledger Unplugged up is just as easy as any other Bitcoin wallet.  Setup begins with the Ledger mobile app, once the wallet you can open the wallet in the available mobile apps.  I really like the ability to set up the Ledger Nano on an offline secure system, unfortunately you cannot do this with the Ledger Unplugged.  It would be nice to be able to set up the Ledger Unplugged in a secure environment as Android is not always the safest environment.  The video below is another tutorial by Ledger showing how to set the Ledger Unplugged up.

The Verdict

Of the three hardware wallets that Ledger offers, the Ledger Unplugged is my favorite.  It is hard to go wrong with the simple design, and no wires are needed to use it.  The only thing that the Ledger Unplugged needs is a better mobile app, currently you cannot change your pin code easily.  Also I dislike having the security card for the Ledger Unplugged, it is a security feature and makes your wallet more secure.  But I would not mind having a better alternatives as then I have to keep track of two cards.  I currently carry the Ledger Unplugged and the security card in the sleeve that it came with, the end goal for me would to be just have the Ledger Unplugged in my wallet without another card.  That being said, it is still an awesome wallet and it is the wallet that I use it to keep my funds on my mobile devices secure.  If you tend to use your mobile devices with Bitcoin over desktops or laptops, the Ledger Unplugged is the way to go.  Its a tough call, if you compare the Ledger Unplugged with the Ledger Nano as they sell at the same price.  Although if you are buying your first Bitcoin hardware wallet, I would recommend buying the Ledger Nano so that you are not limited to mobile devices.  If you want to see more content related to Ledger products, check the website or subscribe.  More posts and tutorials are on their way.

Ledger Nano Review

My review of the Ledger Nano

What is Ledger Nano

Ledger Nano is a smart card hardware wallet created by Ledger, a French startup (you can read more about them here). The Ledger Nano costs $31, which is a very nice price for a hardware wallet.  The Ledger Nano is on the lower end of the price scale when you look at the competition, great for anyone who wants to secure their funds without breaking the bank.  Nano is very similar in size to a USB drive, you would not notice the difference until you slide the usb part out and notice that it looks a little different.

First impressions

The first thing that I noticed when I opened the box, was how it felt very similar to unboxing a cellphone.  Inside the box you have the Ledger Nano, a security card (for extra security), a lanyard and some small accessories.  When I first saw the Ledger Nano, I thought that I would like how it was built.  The reason for this is part of it is based off of the HW.1 Wallet, which I was always worried about breaking.  The good thing was my initial thoughts were off.  Although they did incorporate part of the HW.1 Wallet, it is a lot better off.  It is quite enjoyable to use, and feels nice in the hands thanks to it being made partly of metal.  Not needing any cable to connect it to a computer is also a great plus, no need to carry a cable in you pocket in addition to your wallet.  It is also quite light weight and small compared to the other Bitcoin hardware wallets that exist.  From my experience, so far it definitely stands out from the competition and gives a few of them a run for the money.

Wallets that you can use it with

You can use your Ledger Nano with the wallet created by Ledger.  The wallet is a chrome app, that runs on Windows (7 and higher), Mac 10.8 (and higher), Chrome OS and Linux.  There are also other wallets that you can use your Ledger Nano with, such as GreenBits, Mycelium, Electrum, Coinkite and Copay.  Although you can use your Ledger Nano with any of these wallets, I recommend setting your Ledger Nano up on a Ledger Starter or a secure computer for added security.  The last thing you want is to think your wallet is secure when in fact it is weak.  A false sense of security is just as bad as no security.  If you are new to Bitcoin, I recommend using the wallet that is created by Ledger, it has a good interface, its easy to use, and if you have questions there is a great time supporting it.

Set up

There are two ways of setting the app up, one is more secure than the other.  The more secure method is to use the Ledger Starter, which I wrote about here.  I highly recommend setting up the wallet with the Ledger Starter or an offline computer.  If you do not have either available, do not worry as you are still able to set up your Ledger Nano.

Select create a new wallet or recover an existing wallet
Select create a new wallet or recover an existing wallet
The instructions are very important, make sure to read them
The instructions are very important, make sure to read them
Select a pin code
Select a pin code
Enter the pin one more time
Enter the pin one more time
Make sure to save this, as the instructions say you will only see it once
Make sure to save this, as the instructions say you will only see it once
Your getting there, enter the seed words that it asks for
Your getting there, enter the seed words that it asks for
Finishing touches
Finishing touches
Almost there
Almost there
Your wallet has been created successfully
Your wallet has been created successfully, it only took  9 steps.  One of the easier setup experiences I’ve gone through

Setup Part 2 (optional)

Your Ledger Nano comes with a security card that adds an extra layer of security to your wallet.  This added level of security is great, but it requires you to keep track of another thing.  I like the security card, the design is nice but I do not like that I have to keep track of the security card if I want to send funds.  Luckily you can pair your smart phone to your Ledger Nano so that you do not need to carry the security card around with you.  I recommend pairing your phone with Ledger Nano as it makes it easier to use your Ledger Nano, after all your phone tends to be around you all the time.   Below is a tutorial by the creators of the Ledger Nano on how to pair your smart phone to your Ledger Nano.

The Verdict

I am a big fan of the Ledger Nano, its low price makes purchasing it a very easy decision.  It is a great device for someone looking to get into Bitcoin and anyone who want to secure their funds without breaking the bank.  The form factor is very small, which is quite nice when it comes to bringing it with you.  The one issue that I have with the small form factor is that I often have trouble connecting it with my computer as it does not always fit properly with the usb port.  This results in the software locking itself as it thinks I removed the Ledger Nano.  The solution to my problem was plugging the Ledger Nano into a usb hub as the Ledger Nano seemed to fit better.  Other that problem with the size and using a similar design, I really enjoy using the Ledger Nano.  It is the perfect hardware wallet for a beginner to Bitcoin who does not want to throw down a fair amount of money for something they have never tried before.  That being said, it is not just for beginners, I will definitely be using it as my go to hardware wallet for my desktop/laptop.  It’s the best wallet for the money that does not cut corners.  I can’t wait to see what other products Ledger creates, they are definitely going to be great.  Be sure to keep checking the site or subscribe! I have more reviews and content on its way.

 

 

Whiteout Update

A while back I wrote an article about Whiteout mail, a secure end to end email service that uses pgp to keep your messages secure.  When I wrote about Whiteout, they were in a closed beta test.  Now they are open anyone, go to their website to register.  They are also running a Kickstarter funding project to help them finish their project.  The funds from the Kickstarter project will be used to tidy up the project and further develop the project.  I really liked using the Whiteout app, I did not have to create a new account, I just logged into my Gmail account through their app.  With Whiteout you can use your normal email with extra security that is incredibly strong.  I love all security related projects and love seeing what people create to solve problems in the world.  One of the biggest problems in today’s world is insecure communications, and Whiteout does a great job of solving that issue.  Unfortunately their first attempt at running a crowdfunding project did not succeed hopefully it can a second time around.

Bitdeals.io

There are many benefits to using Bitcoin, one of them is that some merchants offer discounts if you pay in Bitcoin.  This is because with Bitcoin, there are miniscule fees for sending money, and its also a lot faster and secure.  For many merchants it is easier to use Bitcoin because they don’t have to pay a fee for every transaction and its quicker.  As using Bitcoin is easier, safer and cheaper than using a credit card, many merchants offer discounts if you pay with Bitcoin.  Bitdeals makes it easy to find deals for places that accept Bitcoin.  As more companies accept Bitcoin, the list at Bitdeals will grow.  Hopefully Bitcoin becomes the regular currency of the U.S and even the world.

Bitsim

What is it?

Bitsim is a secure token that lets any mobile phone become a Bitcoin wallet.  The chip goes in the same slot that the sim card goes in, you can use your phone like normal because it leaves room for the sim card.  Bitsim has a huge amount of potential, “There are over 7 Billion SIMs out there in the world that we can address with BitSIM, the opportunity is huge.” (Bitsim).

My Thoughts

As always when I see a new piece of Bitcoin tech, I immediately want to get one to mess around with it.  A small secure chip such as Bitsim can help spread Bitcoin all over because it lets any phone with  a sim port become a wallet.  Just insert the chip, there are no cables or adapters needed, so you can leave it in and never have to worry about it.  This makes using Bitcoin extremely easy because when you have your phone your Bitcoin wallet is with you, all while being super secure.  With Bitsim you phone becomes an ultra secure Bitcoin wallet.

 

What do Bitcoin exchanges have to do to stop getting hacked?

One of the easiest things that an exchange could do is use a hardware wallet combined with a multi-signiture wallet.  Hardware wallets are quite cheap when compared to the amount of money that Bitcoin exchanges deal with and very secure.  Using it with a multi-signiture based wallet would add another layer of security to the wallet, as multiple signatures would be needed.  This solution could put an end to many of the hacks against Bitcoin exchanges and make the Bitcoin ecosystem a bit safer and friendlier.

Buttercoin

Buttercoin is a new Bitcoin exchange that focuses on ease of use, speed and security.  One of the more notable factors of Buttercoin is thattheyare backed by some big names in the tech world, such as Google Ventures, Y Combinator and the Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.  Currently there is a waiting list to get in, or if someone you know is already a member they can send you an affiliate link.  The affiliate link lets you earn money for every person that you invited who buys bitcoin.  My friend invited me, and we both got 20$ as a result (it is going down to 15$ soon), which was quite nice.  Buying bitcoin the Buttercoin is effortless, as almost every other exchange you have to get verified.  Onceyouare approved you buy bitcoin using your banks credentials (you can also wire money but its only available to business accounts).  It usually takes about 2-3 days for the money to be put into your account but note, the first time you add money is the longest as their payment processor has to manually check it.  This ended up taking 9 days for me, as something went wrong along the way, but that was no problem for me; Buttercoin gave me 10$ credit “for my patience”.  Once the funds arrived, you can either set your own price to buy/sell bitcoins at or use the market price.  The moment I hit buy, it went through and a short while later I had 30$ worth of bitcoin in my Trezor hardware wallet.  It was super easy to buy bitcoin, and the customer support was very helpful and did a great job (Thanks for giving me the 10$ credit, it was really nice that even though the transaction got stuck in pending you guys gave me credit).  Buttercoin is a really easy exchange to use, I definitely will be using them again in the future.


My referral link here, if you sign up by the 16th of February and buy bitcoins before the 23, you can get 20$ free.  After that it drops down to 15$.

Whiteout.io

Whiteout.io is a German email that provides software to securely communicate with anyone.  Whiteout comes in the form of a Chrome plugin, web client, and mobile apps (IOS & Android).  There is also a private beta email service that they offer.  Whiteout lets you use any email address with their service, all you have to do is login like any other client.  It took me less than a minute to login and shoot off a test email.  Whiteout’s goal is to provide a secure and easy to use service that can run on multiple devices.  I found that Whiteout did a great job of doing so, I know that my messages are secure because of end to end encryption.  But at the same time I do not have to deal with the hassle of installing plugins, or anything of the like.  It’s just login and go, no problems to deal with.  Take into note, that this is still the beta test, so not everything is perfect.  The private beta email service is quite nice, it is very similar to the regular client and seems to offer the same features.  I know that PGP is one of the most secure methods of communication today, but it is also well-known for being a pain to use.  But with Whiteout, all the pain of using PGP is gone, and so easy to use that it’s just as easy to use as Gmail or other email services.  Whiteout could easily be used by everyone, as it removes the hassle of PGP without the loss of security.  The developers behind were kind enough to give me some Beta keys to the private beta email service.If you would like one just enter your email in the subscribe box and comment on this post, and I’l send you a key.