Now What

Jack climbed up the beanstalk to reach the magic castle and the giant greeted him and asked Jack if he wanted to invest in bitcoins.  Jack told the friendly giant that he had no idea what bitcoins were, or where he would even put them.  The giant told Jack that he would not need a wallet or a purse to store his bitcoins in, as they are digital and that all he would get is a long string of 34 letters and numbers and these 34 characters would consist of random digits made out of uppercase and lowercase letters, however the uppercase letter “O”, uppercase letter “I”, lowercase letter “l”, and the number “0” were never used to prevent visual ambiguity.  Jack said that he always had problems discerning uppercase letter “O” with the number “0” and that he could see the uppercase letter “I” being mistaken for lowercase letter “l”, but he had no idea what he could do with these bitcoins.

The giant told Jack that would be up to him as here in the magic castle their only concern was validating all the transactions.  The giant said that they make chains of data that validate the bitcoin that you decide to send to somebody, and that they ensure that it hasn’t already been sent to someone else.  The bitcoin address is the key, as it keeps a record of all of your transactions, and therefore it knows your balance.  The whole world can see this sequence of 34 characters; thus, it is known as your “public key”, but the good news is that you also get another corresponding “private key” that consists of another string of 64 letters and numbers.  The two keys are related, but there’s no way that anyone can figure out your private key from just having your public key.  If you decide to use your bitcoins you will need to get bitcoin software on your computer or smartphone and have internet access so that you’re your bitcoin address can be “signed” with your private key.  The program will spit out a digital signature, for us to use so we can validate your transaction.  The giant said that this pretty simple method was the way of the future.

Jack acknowledged that he was able to follow what the giant was telling him, but he told the giant that he still had no idea what he could use the bitcoins for.  The giant told Jack that he would be getting to that, but first they needed to discuss the hash function.  Jack told the giant that he was no novice at smoking hash and that he just did a bowl of some black opiated Pakistani before he climbed up the beanstalk to get to the magic castle.  The giant said that is great, but the hash that he wanted to discuss produces a “hash function”, which is a complex math equation that reduces any amount of text or data to 64-character string.  This particular data will confirm that your transaction has not been tampered with as each block of data, includes a hash that links back to the previous block and this is what makes the Bitcoin virtually tamper-proof.

The giant told Jack that the bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and that it only exists online and that he could use it to buy or sell items from people and companies that accept bitcoin as payment.  The giant said that for each bitcoin transaction, a computer owned by a bitcoin “miner” must solve a difficult mathematical problem.  The miner then receives a fraction of a bitcoin as a reward.  The system functions around the clock and it doesn’t care where or to whom you send the money.  Jack told the giant that he was not interested in bitcoins and all this information was making him sleepy and then he asked the giant if he wanted to sell that goose which he saw outside of the magic castle.

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver #253 hosted by Michael – magic castle fairy tale.

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