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Offspring

Author's note: This article is part of an ongoing blog about my adventures in the world of alternate currencies.

The Next development team recognizes that having a wallet client that blows up every couple weeks is not conducive to growing a solid economy and the currency to underpin it. Last night I got an email from the Bitcoin Next Trading platform, also known as DGEX (though I do not know what the letters stand for) acknowledging this as well as announcing a bunch of upcoming exciting news about Next.

The best news for me was the announcement about the Windows based wallet client for Next, called Offspring which came with a link to a download site.1) By that point my web-based wallet client was still not working properly. I decided to give it a try.

My first attempt to install was unsuccessful–I believe the culprit was errors caused by my own computer's security settings. The major computer companies just don't build their computers to automatically recognize things like crypto wallets. My computer seemed to be assuming this was a piece of malware.

After a while I closed the window on my wallet and after that I couldn't get it to open again. Not only that, it prompted me for a password which I do not remember setting up. So I deleted all the files associated with the install and tried again. The second attempt worked well. I realized that what I'd done with the first attempt was enter my Next account number private key in the place where you set up a wallet password, but I had forgotten all about that. This second time I correctly chose a brand new randomly generated password and set that one up instead. Then of course I recorded it in my safe place.

The second time I opened my wallet it showed all my transactions–correctly this time. It also showed my total and a running value of this total in both Bitcoin and fiat based on a three hour moving average of the exchange rate.

I have been very concerned about PC wallet private keys. I generally don't set them because with the Bitcoin and Devcoin clients, if I lose that key, I also lose access to the funds inside them. I could read the block chain with the client, but I would not be able to send any transactions. I've been told losing a wallet private key would be equivalent to losing a physical wallet filled with cash, except that I could still see the cash inside. I think it would be more like having a physical wallet suddenly encased in bullet proof glass. It's there and I know where it is, and I can even see all the cash inside it, but it's stuck there inside the glass.

The awesome thing about the Next wallet password is that should I lose it, all I have to do is uninstall the wallet and set a new password upon re-installation. The private key that truly matters is the one I used to open up a particular Next account number. I have three Next accounts, two of which are empty, because it's easy to get a new account number by simply entering a new private key. So over the course of my Next journey I've collected three account numbers. But the wallet password can at least protect my funds if my computer happened to be stolen–until I could log in on a different computer and get those funds moved to a brand new account.

This actually brings up one way in which Next PC wallets are superior to Bitcoin or Devcoin PC wallets. It's not the wallet which generates the address. The account numbers are generated within the Next network itself and are transferable. I can log into my Next accounts from any computer that has the program to run the network. If something bad happens to my wallet, I can recover the funds in a different wallet by simply re-entering the account number passwords. Of course, if I ever lose those passwords, then I also lose access to my funds. But I like how my access to those funds are not dependent on my having backed up the PC wallet client software. In that sense, my Next accounts function a bit more like online accounts, except that they lack the password reset feature.

The Offspring Next wallet client comes with a live feed of the buy and sell wall for Next on the exchange and a chart based on the three hour moving average. Being able to visualize my NXT coins' value in terms of Bitcoin is a click away. This saves me the effort of having to go to either Vircurex or DGEX to check the prices. From there I can go to the “accounts” view which shows my transactions. I can look at all three of my accounts by simply clicking on the one I want to look at. To set up my accounts I simply had to enter each one's passphrase once. From now on I can access them all by simply using my wallet password. I can see how many blocks I've forged that had something in them, and I can see how much I've earned from forging. My current tab is four NXT from forging rewards.

I can also switch to a different view and watch the blocks as they are forged and which ones were full and which ones were empty. I can see the running list of active peers on the network, their balances and which version of the NXT client they are running. It appears that Offspring is compatible with previous versions. The part that is missing is the list of unconfirmed transactions in the network as well as the countdown timer which tells me when I can generate the next block.

The default setting for the Offspring wallet client is that forging is turned on. I have not found anyplace where that could be turned off (not that I would want it turned off). Without the timer running I don't have any way of actually knowing for sure that it really is turned on. But this afternoon I looked up my full account on the block chain explorer and noticed that since I installed Offspring I have generated an empty block. So I can be confident that my client is indeed forging and it won't be too long before it generates a full block and yields a forging reward.

Offspring is going to be adding new features as time goes on. One of them is decentralized trading, and there is a tab for it, though it's currently empty. A really exciting upcoming feature is the ability to support multiple currencies–that would be amazing. Another upcoming feature is encrypted peer to peer messaging which would be a lot of fun to play with.

So far I like Offspring. I haven't tried to move any funds with it but I'm assuming that will work just fine. I know it's forging. This could be a very good wallet if it proves to be stable.

Devtome Writers


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