Tag Archives: tech

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.

21 Bitcoin’s Mining Computer

21 Inc has recently made a new Bitcoin computer that has multiple functions.  The 21 Bitcoin computer can mine Bitcoins, it can be a digital store on the web, pay people for sharing your links, rent out any internet of things hardware and buy and sell bitcoins.  The 21 computer has a lot of abilities thanks to the fact it has a full data center backend and a mining chip built on top of a raspberry pi.  Note that the bitcoin mining chip inside is quite small and will not make a lot of money for the user.  The idea for including a mining chip is that the user will spend micro payments on internet services.

The 21 Inc computer

 


As with every new Bitcoin technology, I am always excited to see how it develops and how it is used.  With this computer there are many possibilities, this computer helps spread Bitcoin and the power that comes with it.  These computers could be everywhere, a raspberry pi could be put in all sorts of things helping to grow the Bitcoin network or even fuel other internet of thing applications.  It would be very cool to see every major home appliance having a small Bitcoin computer like this inside of it, powering a decentralized network.

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.

One Plus One Phone

So very recently I got a One Plus One phone.  But what is a smart phone doing on a Bitcoin and security blog? Well I like to write a lot about disruptive technologies, and the One Plus One is very disruptive.  There are a lot of reviews about the phone so I wont go into great detail about the phone, instead I’ll share my thoughts about it.  The hardware in the phone is great, and is on par and if not better than a Samsung Galaxy S5.  I really enjoy using it and I love how I only paid 300$ for a phone that is comparable to an expensive  flagships.  I know I made a good choice buying the phone as almost everything about it is perfect for a smart phone and the price it sells at.  The only problems that I have with the phone are not the worst and can easily be fixed.  My largest issue with the phone is dealing with customer support.  For example I seem to have been experiencing battery issues, which I hopefully fixed.  My problem is that I was getting bounced around from agent to agent, and sometimes it would appear they would not read the previous threads.  One agent told me to flash an update, which would install a new ROM (think of it as an operating system) onto my device to fix a touchscreen problem.  But if the agent read the previous email they would have noticed that the I fixed the problem and was trying to fix another problem.  This sounds somewhat nit picky but if this phone is your only mobile device, you cant have any problems that get in your way of phone working.  So far I the forums community has helped me much more than actual customer support, so the same end result was achieved and sometimes faster.  That is one of the parts I love about the phone, the phone was partly designed for people to mess around with and there are so many different ROMS you can put onto your One Plus One to make it just the way you like it.  This customization “feature” is one of my favorite parts of the One Plus One and very few phones can offer you the same level of customization/flexibility.  If anyone is in search of a new phone, take a look at the One Plus One, it’s a great phone at a great price.  WARNING – there are a few bugs with that are currently being fixed and customer support can be painful to deal with at times.  If you don’t mind putting up with a less than average customer support at the price of a 300$ flagship killer  than go onto the website and buy a phone (or wait until the One Plus 2 comes out).

 

The Good

  • Low price
  • Great customization
  • Flashing and rooting does not void warranty *
  • Comparable to other flagship smart phones
  • Great community that is very helpful

The Bad

  • Touchscreen issue out of the box
  • Android battery drain bug
  • Less than average customer support
  • Many users report all sorts of different issues
    • I have experienced a touch screen bug (fixed for me)
    • Battery drain – currently fixing/not sure if it’s the normal battery

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.

 

VeraCrypt

A while back Truecrypt shutdown for no apparent reason, there are several theories on why it did.  You can still download a limited copy of Truecrypt, to prevent people from becoming locked out.  You can still use the TrueCrypt 7.1a copy, but there are no updates being made to it and it is somewhat strange that they shutdown out of the blue (TrueCrypt did undergo an audit and passed without any major problems).  For these who are looking to use an encryption program that offers similar features as Truecrypt and has no back doors (that haven’t been discovered), VeraCrypt is a great alternative.  VeraCrypt is a fork of Truecrypt, and it is based of the same code.  VeraCrypt has taken the TrueCrypt code, and fixed several problems and added more features.  Essentially VeraCrypt is the same software, but different developers and more support (as it is still under development).  Note that VeraCrypt has not undergone an audit and for all we know it could be some government agency plot to weaken security standards.  Overall I like VeraCrypt and look forward to using it to keep classified files safe and secure.  (For these still interested in using Truecrypt, you can download the fully functional file here, make sure to verify what you download with the hashes).

Tutanota

Tutanota is another secure email service, that makes end to end encryption easy.  One thing that stood out before I even made an account was that they published all their code on Github.  What is nice about this is that anyone with the right skill can check the code and make sure it is secure and safe to use.  Using Tuanota is quite straight forward, you register like any other email service.  Then log in and your good to go and communicate securely.  The majority of your information is encrypted, the only information that is not is the sender, recipient and date (which they are working on encrypting).  Your emails are encrypted  before they are sent to Tutanota‘s servers with AES 128 bit and RSA 2048.  Another added bonus is that they strip your IP address from the email so that your location will remain hidden (they do not log IP addresses unless there is abuse to the system).  Have more questions?  Check out Tutanota‘s FAQ page here.


Tutanota ‘s approach to secure email is great!  They have made all the code open source and public, allowing for anyone to review and check it.  The team behind Tutanota has awesome ethics, “My aim is to fight mass surveillance. I write code to fight for our human right to privacy…”  – Matthias (one of the developers).  The ideas that Tutanota support is what really caused me to like them.  There multiple services that offer secure and private email, Tutanota’s team adds a more personal element that draws me in.  Special thanks to a reader who told me about Tutanota.

 

Ello

Its been a while since I’ve posted a real post, so I’ve decided to give away some more beta keys to an alternative social network.  Ello promises not to sell your information for profit, they also don’t run any ads on their website.  There website is very minimalistic, almost to simplistic.  But I really like this idea though I worry as many others do, how will Ello be able to produce money to run itself.  Anyway, I really like using Ello, the one problem is not many people use it and its in an invite only phase.  So if you would like an invite, subscribe to my blog and comment ello on this post.  If you’re already a subscriber you are all set to go, just comment ello so I don’t send off keys to anyone who doesn’t want one.

Tails Now Comes with a Bitcoin Wallet

For these of you who don’t know what Tails is, it’s considered the most secure operating system.  So secure that the NSA consider it a threat and Edward Snowden used it to protect his identity.  It is a Linux distro designed with security and privacy in mind.  It comes with many security/privacy related tools (see link here) that are extremely helpful in communicating securely and browsing the web anonymously.  It leaves no trace on a computer that it boots from, so the majority of the computers out there can run it.  Tails having  a bitcoin wallet makes the computer world a lot more secure, as now you can store bitcoin in a saver environment and use it on any computer without worrying about security.  Tails has to be one of my favorite Linux distros because you can use it to be super secure and safe, or have a portable secure computer that boots from a USB stick.