Striking A Miner Chord

As a relative newcomer to the world of cryptocurrency – most of my previous experience has been with the filthy lucre known as “U.S. dollars”, and at that, only spending them - I have encountered a few obstacles on my way to becoming the King of All Currency.

One of those obstacles that have been lurking in the darkness in front of me for quite some time now is named bitcoin mining. Now excuse my innocence, but until the other day I thought that there were actually legions of people hired specifically for their level of physical fitness and lack of stature (hey, you have to fit into those tiny mines) that were spending their days and nights chopping away at something called a blockchain. In my mind I envisioned this blockchain as something intimidating, dark and heavy – a chain made of metal blocks, perhaps, that snarled and snapped at anyone approaching it.

Then, as fate would have it, I ran across a conversation on one of the bitcoin forums that gave a beginner's point-of-view description of the mining process. This only served to further confuse and mystify me.

“Depending upon whether you're ASICK miner or use a CUP or a GUP, you'll have different hash-marks on your rig. If you're running Scrypt (sic) you'll be at a disadvantage even if you confine yourself to mining light coins. If you're a Linus fan you'll just have to assemble without a Gooey.”

As you can no doubt imagine, this left me thirsting for even more knowledge about this arcane art. It also created many, many more questions in my feeble brain concerning mining. For example, if you're ASICK miner, shouldn't you be staying at home gulping down chicken soup? I don't have a “rig”, because I never considered attending one of those truck-driving schools, but if I DID have one why would I have hash marks on it, and why would they be different if I had a GUP?

I'm assuming the author of this piece was in somewhat of a hurry, since he spelled “script” wrong, but even so it would have been helpful if he had explained what a “light coin” is – is that the opposite of a “heavy coin”? Or are they somehow luminescent, glowing in the depths of the mines and thereby revealing their positions to the miners?

The Linus part had me going for a while. I burned up Google Search trying to find out about it, but all I came up with was 9,046,877 hits for Linus van Pelt, Lucy van Pelt's brother in the “Peanuts” comic strip. While I enjoyed the strip over the years – heck, I grew UP with it – and consider myself sort of a fan, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was supposed to assemble with Linus, nor why I would assemble it with or without “Gooey”. Come to think of it, I might have used that once when the sole of my rubber boots came loose.

Then once again Fate intervened – one of the Google searches had a sidebar with a picture of some guy named Linus Torvalds, who supposedly made some kind of computer language called Linux. A little light bulb went on over my head and I made the connection between Linus and Linux. When I mentioned this to a programmer friend of mine while chatting with her on the phone, she laughed hysterically when I pronounced it “LIE-nux” - she told me in no uncertain terms that it was pronounced “LYNN-ix”. She even went so far as to send me an MP3 of Mr. Torvalds pronouncing it that way during a seminar in some run-down motel.

You know how sometimes one question leads to twenty others? Well, I got side-tracked with this whole Linus/Linux thing and spent several hours reading violent arguments on programmer's forums about the proper way to say it. I eventually came to the conclusion that if they couldn't even agree on how to pronounce their computer language's name then I wasn't going to bother trying to learn how to use Gooey to assemble it.

From another thread I clicked on a link to a place called GetHub, which had lots of strange files with even stranger letters after them. I started clicking every “DOWNLOAD” button I could find until my 3Tb external drive overflowed with the files, then called it a day.

The next morning I went into those files and started clicking on anything with an “.exe” extension on it. My pitiful little twelve-inch monitor instantly filled-up with dozens of little black and white boxes with marching lines of code, saying that I had “threads” and that “blocks were discovered”, and on more than one occasion I was informed that my “TCP” wasn't quite right.

I deleted all the boxes, the fire and smoke stopped coming out of my CPU and I took a coffee break, pondering my next move.

The word “pools” came to mind.

Pools have always terrified me – I'm allergic to chlorine as well as to UFOs (Unidentified Floating Objects). People are supposed to have fun in pools; they aren't supposed to be working. Yet from everything I can read about mining, you are strongly urged to join a pool. So once again I get a mental image of short people toiling away in a mine, this time wearing bathing suits and using pool noodles in lieu of pick-axes.

The conclusion I've made after all this time-consuming research? I'm going to stick to investing. At least there I won't have to wear a bathing suit.


Categories: Cryptocurrency | Mining | Humour


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