Microsoft recently introduced Enterprise Smart Contracts to make it easier for enterprises to build powerful blockchain applications.
Two years back, the company launched Azure “Blockchain-as-a-Service.” The goal was to give developers an environment to build useful apps using blockchain.
Blockchain is a technology that stores bitcoin or other cryptocurrency transactions and acts as a digital ledger. It interests the banking and finance sectors, who can use it for secure and private transactions.
Since the launch of Blockchain as a service, Microsoft was trying to understand what else customers needed to build applications.
In a blog, Marley Gray, Principal Program Manager, Azure Blockchain Engineering said, “Our customers and partners often say to us – Ok, you’ve made it easy for me to stand up these blockchain networks, but what do I do now?”
With Enterprise Smart Contract, Microsoft aims to help enterprises analyze what to build on top of blockchain platform.
Web hosting industry has seen several big players accepting Bitcoin as a payment option over the last few months, however, today marked the launch of BitcoinWebHosting.net, a first of its kind web hosting provider that accepts Bitcoin for their privacy minded hosting solutions, which include anonymous web hosting services and anonymous domain registration.
Whether you need simple website hosting, or a dedicated server, we have a solution that will meet your needs. We even offer DDoS protection – and all of our services can be purchased with Bitcoin. – Robert Lons, Co-Founder and CMO, BitcoinWebHosting.net.
The services provided include shared hosting, anonymous VPS hosting, dedicated servers, DDoS protection, and anonymous domain registration.
VPS Hosting is available in six plans, ranging from $39/mo to $209/mo.
The Dedicated servers are available in three packages named Standard line, Professional line and Enterprise line, priced at $169/mo, $259/mo and %$669/mo respectively.
Shared Bitcoin hosting is available in two packages named Standard Bitcoin hosting and Premium Bitcoin hosting, priced at $14.95/mo and $24.95/mo.
The company also provides custom plans, as per the website.
The company provides 24 / 7 Network Monitoring and 99.9% Guaranteed Uptime, as per the official website.
“We provide solutions for people seeking anonymity. It’s quite apparent that with the rise of crypto-currencies, people are interested in more than privacy. They want to do business with companies that are focused on Bitcoin’s growth, and share the same ideals. At our core, we are a web hosting solution built for the Bitcoin community,” said Robert Lons, Co-Founder and CMO, BitcoinWebHosting.net.
“Quite simply, we have positioned ourselves to be able to deliver an exceptional hosting experience to every one of our customers. Whether you need simple website hosting, or a dedicated server, we have a solution that will meet your needs. We even offer DDoS protection – and all of our services can be purchased with Bitcoin,” he added.
Domain name registrar Namecheap has announced special promo codes and discounts on the eve of Earth Day 2013 in a bid to support World Wildlife Fund and Rainforest Alliance, two eco-conscious organizations. Customers have two coupon codes to choose from: they can use the coupon code “SAVETHEFOREST” if they want to help the Rainforest Alliance or “DONATE2WWF” if they want to help WWF.
Every com, net, org, info or biz domain name transferred using either of the two coupons today will cost only $5.99 (normally $10.69). The coupons can also be availed to get a 60% off on shared hosting. Namecheap will donate $1 from every domain transfer and hosting purchase to either WWF or the Rainforest Alliance, based on customer’s choice.
At the time of writing this article, Namecheap has raised $509 for Rainforest Alliance and $303 for WWF. Earth Day 2012 observed a total of 1536 domains transferred to Namecheap in a period of 24 hours. Planting two trees for each domain transferred, Namecheap planted a total of 3072 trees in partnership with the International Tree Foundation.
One of the very few organization offering green hosting, Namecheap recycles old server hardware and packaging and uses free air cooling in it’s datacenters whenever outside weather permits in order to save energy.For more details regarding the Earth day promos, click here. Very recently Namecheap also started accepting Bitcoins as payments and announced it’s own SSL reseller program.
Bitcoins, the currency on the tech world’s lips lately, sounds endlessly fascinating and builds up curiosity as it is supposedly the first time in the history of mankind that people’ve a way to hold and transfer value without any other person involved or having control over it. It gives complete ownership of money both in storage and transfer. Nobody can prevent you from having it. Nobody can prevent you from spending it. I was hooked up with the whole premise but was skeptical whether a man of the street like me, who is no cryptography expert, can understand the working intricacies of a concept like Bitcoin which works on cold hard mathematics. However, after reading extensively about it on the internet, I realized that it is fairly easy to understand and an average guy with just basic technical knowledge can use them.
What is Bitcoin? A currency. Just like euros, dollars, yen, pounds, rupee etc. The beauty of Bitcoins lies in the fact that it is 100% virtual and has no counter-party risk to hold and to transfer. It allows a direct and immediate transfer of value between two people anywhere in the world. No banks, governments, or organizations control or influence it. Created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin network is structured like a guerilla movement. Built on peer-to-peer Internet technology so that no one person, business, or government controls it ; it is literally enabled by the individuals that choose to use it. . Similar to popular file sharing protocols like BitTorrent, clients talk to each other and propagate transactions through the network. Complex math and strong cryptography are the foundations used to confirm valid, fundable transactions, prevent double spending, and deny inflation.
How do Bitcoins Work? How do they get rid of governments, banks, and payment companies? Pretty simple. To use Bitcoins, you download the software from Bitcoin.org. The software acts as your bank account and is called your “wallet.” It stores a secret code on your computer, and this code enables funds to be spent from your bank account. As soon as one has this wallet software, one can receive and send Bitcoins to other wallet-holders anywhere in the world. You don’t need a name, an address, a Social Security number, or any personal information of any kind. Nobody “approves” you for Bitcoin. It’s free and open-source.
Transactions are sent and accounts are secured using “public key cryptography.” Every account/wallet has two keys- a public key and a private key. These keys are long strings of numbers and letters.
Your private key, which your wallet software knows, allows you to send money. To send money to someone, you merely need to know their public key (kinda like a bank account number). If you have your private key plus their public key, a transaction can be created and the funds are deducted from your account and credited to the receiver’s account, without anyone else having a say in the matter. Simple as that.
How are Bitcoins generated? By Bitcoin Mining. A process similar to a continuous raffle draw. Bitcoin Mining secures the transactions to make sure that every transaction (transfer of bitcoins from one computer to another) is verified and
generates new Bitcoins by the aforementioned verification.
What is Bitcoin Mining? Bitcoin mining is a process where the people who use the Bitcoin system install a software onto their computer. This software is very advanced and does computationally intensive work (SHA256 decoding) of verifying transfer of bitcoins. It collects the transactions on the network (like “A pays B 5 bitcoins” and “C pays D 6 bitcoins”) into large bundles called “blocks.” The software now computes a cryptographic hash of these blocks to verify the integrity of transactions. The people running the mining process get rewarded for completing a block by receiving a certain amount of bitcoins from the system. And this is the ONLY way that new bitcoins are created. So as a Bitcoin Miner all you need to do is run computer programs on a very specialised hardware that helps verify earlier transactions made. And get paid for it.
A detailed list can be found here.
Government Vs Bitcoins Given the fact that bitcoin could facilitate illegal activities, including the sale of pirated or counterfeit goods, stolen credit card numbers and passwords–even child pornography, there’s a very real chance that the Governments might try to bring down this whole network in future. But, can they? The first step they might take is that they can try to take down Bitcoin websites. Mr. Erik Voorhees, a writer and an entrepreneur, in his recent article described taking down Bitcoin websites as cutting the heads of a Hydra – for each successful severance, publicity and the profit motive would compel more sites to spring up.
So taking down websites is an inadequate strategy if the government wishes to impede Bitcoin. What else could they do? Can’t the government just “shut down” Bitcoin transfers? Bitcoin is not vulnerable to this risk, because there is no central point of failure. There is no Bitcoin office. There are no central Bitcoin servers. There is no president nor employees of Bitcoin. Bitcoin has no home country, it is licensed nowhere. It is a distributed network, a protocol, that can operate as long as the internet exists (and, in fact, even without the internet per se). Transactions occur peer-to-peer, meaning no governing body approves them. Accounts cannot be frozen, because nobody has the freeze button.
Bitcoin cannot be turned off – it is like a benevolent virus which, so long as a few hosts survive somewhere in the world, can perpetuate itself and regrow at the speed of information.
The Future of Bitcoins It’s too early to say whether Bitcoin will be a success not. An entirely new global monetary system that Bitcoin is, it faces an uphill battle, both technically and legally. The future depends on the inclination of big organizations towards accepting Bitcoins as a payment option, and they’ve started to do so. Exchanges where you can swap money for bitcoins and vice versa are up and running, and the number of vendors that accept bitcoins for payment continues to expand. Beyond the concerns of acceptance, there’s even a bigger issue. Many economists, including Paul Krugman, consider Bitcoin’s sudden jump as ephemeral— they see it as a bubble which will pop once the novelty wears off. Only time, really, will tell the true potential of Bitcoins. However, there’s an urgent need for decentralized currency system, and Bitcoin certainly is a step toward censorship-resistant digital currency. And for that reason alone, it’s worth consideration.
This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Links to part 2 and 3, which will elaborate more on Bitcoin Mining and the proper use of Bitcoins, will be updated soon.