WTF is MetaMask!?

Hmmm… At decentralized exchange sounds kind of cool, I mean.. Bitcoin is so popular because it’s decentralized..

Is it easy to sign up though.. ? *clicks*

“Connect an Ethereum wallet to get started.” *clicks*

“Download MetaMask” – idk what meta mask is.. that sounds complicated.. maybe some day

WTF is MetaMask anyways? It’s usually the top option when using any decentralized application, so you’re bound to come across it while venturing through Web 3.0.

To convince you to keep reading, here’s a spoiler: It’s easier to use than a Facebook account.

How to set up MetaMask

The one caveat to setting up MetaMask is that you can’t be using the Edge or Safari web browser. The best MetaMask compatible alternatives are Brave, Chrome, Opera and Firefox. After you have the browser, the steps are pretty univesal.

  1. Search “MetaMask download “your browser” (or click links to browsers above, they link to MetaMask extensions)
  2. Download the MetaMask plug-in from your browsers’ website
  3. Authorize your browser to install MetaMask
  4. MetaMask will pop up and ask you to create a password
  5. Next, you will write down the 12 word phrase that it gives you
  6. You’re done. Excellent skill.

The password will allow you to access your wallet from where you installed it, and the 12 word phrase allows you to access it from any other computer or program. Losing this phrase would mean that you will never be able to recover your funds or virtual identity if the device is compromised.

Crypto storage feature

MetaMask plays two important roles in the Web 3.0 environment. Since it’s called a “wallet,” the most obvious use is that it can store your crypto. This wallet is more niche than others because it can only store ERC-20 compatible crypto, which means no Bitcoin.

The niche MetaMask fulfills is being very accessible to decentralized applications (dApps) built on the Ethereum network. Most widely used decentralized applications run are built on Ethereum because it is the most popular blockchain network that supports smart contracts. Smart contracts allow developers to build applications.

Right now, the most popular dApps with tangible use cases involve decentralized finance (DeFi). DeFi includes trading, lending, borrowing, and generally, managing assets in a decentralized manner. The DeFi ecosystem doesn’t involve much Bitcoin because of incompatibility. There are ways to “wrap” Bitcoin, essentially making an ERC-20 token with the value of Bitcoin, but most big dApps don’t use it.

So, MetaMask focuses on storing the things that dApps do use, which is all related to Ethereum.

MetaMask Identification

The ability for MetaMask to act as identification is way more cool and interesting than its storage capacity. Simply put, it replaces the traditional experience of signing in when using a dApp.

One dApp in particular, peepeth, acts as a decentralized twitter built on Ethereum. Instead of signing up with a username and password, you can use your MetaMask signature. If Web 3.0 grows in the future, this will in theory replace the signing in process and make your online accounts as secure as your crypto wallet.

A downside is that in order for you to sign in on new devices, you will need the 12 word keyphrase to recover your wallet. So if you signed into peepeth on your friends phone, they could snatch it out of your hands and have full access to your crypto wallet. This could be solved by having separate key phrases for identity and storage, or by opting for a traditional username/password sign in.

Summary

MetaMask is a wallet with traditional storage features that can also prove your identity to the Ethereum network. It has many of capabilities within the Ethereum network, but essentailly none outside of it.

In order for MetaMask to stick around, Ethereum’s plans to be able to scale and stay secure with a proof-of-stake update need to come to fruition. If this update is successful, it will be less costly and more time effective to build and transact in Ethereum. This will theoretically bring more developers and users onto the network, where Web 3.0 will be built.

This wallet is the leading solution to interact with Ethereum, but it Ethereum’s future is not certain. Projects like Telegram’s TON, TRON, Elrond and many others are all aiming to be the blockchain network that people will build the future of the web on. In the meantime, those who do want to explore Ethereum are in good hands with MetaMask.

[Update: October 2019] Top 5 best GPUs for a Monero mining rig

If you’re just getting into Monero mining, you probably find yourself asking the age-old question every good cryptocurrency miner is confronted with: What graphics card should I choose? Choosing a graphics card is by far the most important decision a miner can make. A graphics card decides whether you turn a profit or hemorrage money. A graphics card will make or break your rig. It’s critical that you choose the very best graphics card for your budget.

Navigating the maze of manufacturers and their respective GPUs can be a massive headache. And finding out which of these GPUs will actually turn a profit is a nightmare. To add even more fuel to the fire, some GPUs may require heavy tweaking (such as flashing the bios of a RX 580 to that of a RX 480). Luckily, we’ve put together a list to help you find the very best GPU for your budget, to make sure you get the very most out of your mining rig.

Best graphics cards for mining Monero

Radeon RX 5700

Hash rate: 1100 H/s | TDP: 92W | Memory: 8GB

Although not too exciting in of itself, the Radeon RX 5700 performs surprisingly well for a budget-oriented GPU. A single card manages around 1100 H/s. Mining with six of these cards will show a hash rate of around 6600 H/s. Taking its price into consideration, the Radeon RX 570 may be the best card on this list in terms of price-per-performance. If you’re getting into mining primarily as a hobby, this is the perfect GPU for you. If you ever get bored of mining Monero or just want to switch to another currency for whatever reason, repurposing this card to mine something else is a very simple task, as this card performs well across the board for many different cryptocurrencies.

Where to buy: Amazon

AMD Radeon VII

Hash rate: 3000 H/s | TDP: 275W | Memory: 16GB

Some people are calling this the best mining card ever, and with tests averaging above 2800 H/s, we’re inclined to agree. The Radeon VII runs for about the same price as a GTX 1080ti but achieves almost three times the hash rate power for Monero. While it turned out to be a bit underwhelming for gaming, it is a testament to how much more efficient AMD cards are for mining. This is definitely a top tier GPU and the most expensive on our list, but with a a significant lead over the competition, you get what you pay for.

Where to buy: Amazon

Radeon Vega 64

Hash rate: 2200 H/s | TDP: 250W | Memory: 8GB

At a price point between the RX 5700 and Radeon VII, Vega 64 is a great mid their option. Although this card is much older than AMD’s recent RX series cards, it still manages to pull its weight better than most GPUs on the market, including many newer alternatives by AMD. With it, you’ll be managing a hash rate of around 1100 H/s, which is a noticeable improvement over the GTX 1080ti. Even during the recent unpredictability of the GPU market due to global shortages, the AMD HD 7990 manages to be much cheaper than other GPUs, including the GTX 1080ti, making it a perfect choice.

Where to buy: Amazon

AMD RX Vega 56

Hash rate: 1800 H/s | TDP: 110W to 160W | Memory: 8GB

You may recall this card making headlines last year as AMD made a refreshing move to enter the high-end GPU market. Although things didn’t pan out for AMD in the gaming market as many consumers had hoped, it has certainly made its way into the hearts of hardcore cryptocurrency miners for it’s superior performance in relation to much of the competition.

With a hash rate of around 1800 H/s, it blows away the AMD HD 7990 and GTX 1080ti. That is not to say, however, that it doesn’t come with a burdensome price tag. If you’re planning on building a multi-GPU rig, this card performs surprisingly well as it combines it’s effort with a twin. Two RX Vega 56 GPUs will return a hash rate of around 3600H/s, which is incredibly impressive.

Where to buy: Amazon

Sapphire Radeon RX 580

Hash rate: 1000 H/s | TDP: 110W | Memory: 8GB

With prices starting under $200, it can make a lot of sense to get a few of these GPUs instead of one Radeon VII. The ultimate budget option for Radeon is still very close in comparison to the $800 GTX 1080ti. You won’t be booting up many triple-A  titles with this GPU but sticking more than one of these into a mining rig is will give respectable results. The only downside to buying many of these is it will never be as expandable as buying a Radeon VII now and saving up for more down the line.

Where to buy: Amazon

Have feedback or thoughts on how we can improve this guide? Leave a comment.

Everything you should know before trading on BitMex

BitMex has great resources for any questions you might have about the exchange, but to get a good summary of fees and features, I’ve summarized everything you really should know before trading.

About BitMex:

Some of the largest communities in crypto trading are built around the existence of this platform. BitMex set the standard for high leverage crypto trading not only because of the hundred times buying power, but because of a plethora of features and perks.

Trading on BitMex can be dangerous. $225 million was liquidated in one single day a few months ago. Leveraging an entire account at 100x results in a loss 99.9% of the time, but for real traders, high leverage limits along with cross leverage can be a great tool to hedge positions or diversify.

BitMex Fees: 

  • Bitcoin & Ethereum pay .025% per limit order Costs .075% per market order 
  • Funding fee Varies depending on cumulative interest in long or short positions Can potentially pay you or charge you depending on if you are in a short or long position
    • Charges account every eight hours, meaning you could avoid paying it altogether
    • When price is relatively stable, it usually charges long positions .01% every 8 hours
  • For 10% off fees for 6 months and to support the site, sign up through this link.

Margin / leverage:

  • Bitcoin – 100 times buying power 
  • Ethereum – 50 times buying power 
  • Cross When leveraged contract would normally be liquidated, it pulls from your account instead
  • Leverage available on other coins can vary
  • Learning to trade while leverage increases fear, a traders worst enemy

BitMex Liquidity:

  • Highly liquid compared to competition
  • No integrated slippage calculator 

KYC (Do I need to prove my identity?):

  • No KYC whatsoever

Withdrawal times and fees: 

  • Only able to withdraw once a day at 13:00 UTC 
  • Money is locked up if withdraw is requested before 13:00 UTC 
  • Minimum fee of .001
  • The more you pay, the faster the withdrawal is processed 
  • Selling with 1x leverage is a way enter an artificial fiat position. This can help save your exact balance between the time you want to withdraw and when BitMex allows you to

Utilities and features: 

  • Market orders
  • Limit orders 
  • Stop marketStop limitTrailing stop
    • Take profit limit
    • Take profit market
  • CalculatorProfit/LossTarget price
    • Liquidation price

Other coins: 

  • Cardano, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Litecoin, Tron, Ripple
  • Fees vary on these coins 

Where is BitMex banned? 

  • There’s a lot of them, including the U.S. and parts of Canada. Check it out here: https://www.bitmex.com/app/terms
  • Remember, it is illegal for them to provide service to you, not for you to use the exchange. (Not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer)

 

 

Comparing risk on DAI lending platforms

Earning interest on crypto is in a sweet spot between profitability and ease of use. In a previous piece, I touched on some platforms that make the process of investing very simple, but exactly how risky can lending crypto assets get?

Coinbase holding risk

Coinbase is the most regulated of the options. CENTRE (Coinbase & Circle), who manages USDC, lists reserve bank partners and compliance organizations that ensure “checks and balances.” There, you can also find attestations from an accounting services firm, updated every month. 

The biggest risk of earning through Coinbase is if suddenly, everyone sold their USDC and Coinbase had backed money in contracts that they couldn’t get out of. This scenario seems very unlikely. Still, there is not much information on how the interest is calculated on Coinbase, and it would be a good idea to follow them closely incase something changes. 

DyDx lending Risk

DyDx puts borrowers in over-collateralized positions ranging from 125% to 150%. Margin traders collateral only needs to be 25% because they can’t withdraw their loan. Each borrower has a liquidation point to ensure the lender will be paid back.

If a borrower’s collateral becomes worth only 115% of their loan, it is liquidated. The other 15% goes to DyDx’s insurance fund. Everything is collateralized through Ethereum, so liquidation can occur if Eth becomes less valuable. DyDx says the insurance funds are there for times of “extreme volatility.”

So far there are no reports of the insurance fund running out of money. 

Dharma lending Risk

Lending on Dharma means that you’re adding value to the Compound protocol. Like DyDx, Compound requires 125% collateralization for both USDC and DAI. Instead of building an insurance fund through a liquidation buffer, 1/10th or 1/20th of interest paid by borrowers is set aside for “reserves.” 

Like DyDx, nobody has reported the protocol running out of reserves. 

Still, there have been times of high lending pool usage. If someone puts millions of dollars into compound, which right now contains around 150 million, they could risk not being able to pull. out. If 96% of compounds funds were being lent out, only 6 million would be able to be removed.

Multiple people being afraid that they won’t be able to pull their friends could cause a “run on the bank” scenario where everyone pulls out and causes panic. Still, the higher the usage, the more interest lenders get paid. Users have to put trust in that system of incentives.

Risk between tokens

USDC risk has been summarized in the Coinbase platform section because of how closely the two operate. DAI on the other hand has a very complex system that is tied to the volatility of Ethereum. 

To make it short, DAI has a system of checks and balances that hasn’t fallen apart yet. Still, it’s peg to the dollar is choppy. Throughout history, DAI has stayed within 5% of the dollar mark. This means that earning 5% APR could either put you at a total of 0% earnings or 10% earnings depending on the price of DAI when it is purchased and sold. 

If passed, on November 18th, “Multi-Collateral Dai” will allow users to use more than Eth for collateral. Theoretically, the feature will give DAI a wider safety net for when extreme volatility strikes the market.

Remember, it’s new technology 

Compound offers a “bug bounty” to encourage people to report issues rather than taking advantage of them. On the Dharma “risk” faq, they warn you that you are using new technology that is prone to bugs. Not all the kinks have been worked out of these systems and developers are aware. 

With that being said, all protocols have been audited to an extent by third parties. There are no records of either 0x or Compound being hacked. Keeping up with news about the protocols should help mitigate risk as it is less likely for a whole insurance fund to be taken out in one day than it is over time.