Bitcoin Weekly 2016 March 16: Microsoft mistakenly removes Bitcoin …

This week Microsoft silently removed the Bitcoin payment option from the Windows 10 and Windows Mobile stores–but once it was discovered the company quickly noted that it was a “mistake.”

The once mysterious company 21 Inc. continues to show its own efforts to revolutionize peer-to-peer markets and the Internet of Things by releasing a proof-of-concept for its distributed 21 Bitcoin Marketplace with a proof of concept. Ping21 allows owners of 21 Bitcoin Computers to run a service that can be accessed via an API to send pings and return network information for bitcoin.

Bitcoin merchant processor service and Bitcoin infrastructure company BitPay, Inc. recently announced a partnership with Bloq, Inc. to enhance its Bitcore developer platform that provides Bitcoin node services as well as a Bitcoin blockchain API library. The partnership integrates Bloq’s enterprise-grade Bitcoin blockchain platform product.

The “2016 Year of the Blockchain” continues as well with new uses for the Bitcoin blockchain being presented. First, BitPay released an open source project called “I Did This” on Github enabling documents to be registered with “proof of existence” on the Bitcoin blockchain using the company’s Bitcore service. Next, digital rights platform company Blockai raised $547 thousand in seed funding to provide a user friendly copyright registration system using the Bitcoin blockchain.

Bitcoin market value remains near $420 (at $420.01 according to Bitcoinaverage.com) and has stayed in a band between $410 and $430 all week. Last Thursday saw a high, but also a drop during Friday and Saturday; but overall the price has held fairly steady.

microsoft-bitcoin-account-accept

The “Redeem Bitcoin” option is still available on the Microsoft account page for Windows 10 Store and other digital products.

Microsoft removes Bitcoin payments for Windows 10 store by “mistake”

Earlier this week, people suddenly noticed that Microsoft had removed the option to pay for digital goods with Bitcoin from the Windows 10 and Xbox Live stores; shortly after this discovery the company went to the press with a statement that the removal was a mistake.

The software and service giant added Bitcoin as a payment option to its Windows 10, Windows mobile, and Xbox stores in late 2014 but has never published metrics as to how many users make use of the digital currency for payments.

Looking at the fact that the Bitcoin payment option was silently removed it supports the statement that the removal was a mistake. Logging into the Microsoft account services section does still have an option to “Redeem Bitcoin” as of time of writing.

The 21 Bitcoin Computer -- in the electronic flesh.

The 21 Bitcoin Computer — in the electronic “flesh.”

21 Inc. starts proof-of-concept Bitcoin computer network service selling “pings”

Ping21 is the first proof-of-concept service on the 21 Bitcoin Computer network that allows clients to pay bitcoins in exchange for ping statistics from a network of 21 servers. This service is the first of its kind and shows the power of the 21 Bitcoin Marketplace, a distributed service and client network with a bitcoin-exchange network attached. In many ways the 21 Marketplace is set to revolutionize the concept of distributed Internet of Things services.

Businesses use uptime and performance services to monitor the stability and connectivity of their servers over time. An uptime service works to act as a rapid-warning system should a website or a service go offline and it can also act as a method to tell if service connectivity has been lost for a particular part of the world compared to another. For services where performance is an issue, a ping network such as Ping21 can act as an early-warning system allowing operations and DevOps teams to tell when something is starting to go wrong.

Using micropayments, clients can purchase “pings” from the Ping21 network that will return distributed statistics on ping times to a particular address. With multiple servers around the world all sending pings to a given address it would become possible to get a better understanding of current customer experience from those locations. A ping measures not only if a service is currently available on the Internet, but how long it takes a packet to make a round-trip between client and server as well as how much that round-trip can change over time.

Anyone running a 21 Bitcoin Computer can run the Ping21 service on their machine and become an end-point for the service. Clients would then use the 21 Bitcoin Marketplace API to discover them and pay that machine in bitcoin micropayments for the service. The 21 website has a fully fleshed out tutorial on how to set it up; it just takes a few installation commands and network access to have the satoshis flow in.

While this is an amazing proof-of-concept for the 21 Bitcoin Marketplace, it also raises some concerns. Highly distributed networks of computers are the mainstay of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks where massive amounts of data (sometimes in the format of PING) are directed at a single target. Once large enough the Ping21 network could become such a network, hopefully depending on individual pricing it might be cost prohibitive to deliver a DDoS attack using it.

BitPay announces partnership with Bloq for blockchain enterprise support

Yesterday, Bitcoin payments processor BitPay, Inc. announced a partnership with blockchain technology provider Bloq, Inc.

Bloq is an enterprise-grade blockchain platform provider founded by Bitcoin Core developer (and BitPay adviser) Jeff Garzik and Matthew Roszak. With Bloq’s service enterprise businesses get access to Bitcoin routing libraries, security fixes, blockchain infrastructure and software platforms and scalable software solutions that use blockchain technology.

Through this partnership Bloq will offer its BloqEnterprise product to BitPay’s Bitcoin platform and API Bitcore. Bitcore is a library and infrastructure offering that allows developers to rapidly prototype blockchain-based apps; with the addition of Bloq’s enterprise-grade platform developers who use Blockcore will get all the functionality of a full Bitcoin node, native utilities and Node.js libraries for extending that functionality.

According to Bitpay, one of the most powerful Bitcore applications is the Bitcore Wallet Service (BWS), which simplifies the production of bitcoin wallets that can query the Bitcoin blockchain at higher speeds than web standard json-PRC API calls. As a service BWS is considered an enterprise-grade wallet platform and with the value add of Bloq becomes a far superior option in the market.

For developers: Bitpay’s Bitcore used to create blockchain-enabled timestamp service

Bitcoin merchant processor and API developer BitPay, Inc. has published a tutorial on using its Bitcore blockchain API application development library to timestamp files using the blockchain named “I Made This.” The project is available on github and can be downloaded with the command “git clone git@github.com:bitpay/i-made-this.git”.

The application works by producing a hash of the file to be stamped and then produces a blockchain transaction by transferring bitcoins that includes the hash. If the file has already been timestamped then the application will find the hash on the blockchain (and will note that to the user).

The setup uses a Bitcore node to communicate with the blockchain, a service that extends the Bitcore functionality to provide timestamps and finally Electron and AngularJS to act as the desktop UI.

Using the Bitcoin blockchain to prove provenance of document is a long-expected extension of blockchain technology. As blockchains are cryptographically secured through a mechanism (in Bitcoin’s case the work of miners) on the network and distributed by nodes, this means that cryptographic signatures (hashes) of files that uniquely identify a particular file can be added and then checked against the blockchain to show that the file’s state has been recorded.

A full description of the project is available on Bitcore’s website.

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, Satoshi, copyright EverdreamSoft

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, “Satoshi”, copyright EverdreamSoft

Blockai raises $547k to produce blockchain digital rights platform

Blockchain digital rights platform company Blockai (QuickCoin, Inc. DBA Blockai)–pronounced “block-i”–is working on a very similar idea to the one outlined above with “I Did This,” (above) but as a professional service. To this end, the company has raised $547k in seed funding.

Blockai seeks to use the Bitcoin blockchain as a mechanism to prove authorship and provide copyright provenance for artwork, writing or any other type of creative work that could be registered with the Library of Congress. CEO Nathan Lands likened the process being somewhere between registering a copyright and doing nothing. As in the United States a work is automatically copyrighted upon creation, proof of that creation is difficult and does not readily attach without registering it with the copyright body in the U.S. which is run by the Library of Congress.

While this concept has been forwarded already by other companies—including Ascribe GmbH, for example—Lands seeks to make Blockai’s offering easier and user friendly to entice artists to use it to prove creative ownership of their works.

According to Blockai using the service is 100 times faster and cheaper than registered with the United States Copyright Office, which charges $35-$85 per registration and can take up to four months. Blockai charges as little as $0.20 (to fund the Bitcoin blockchain transaction) and it only takes minutes to receive proof of creation. Users pay as they go with credit packs that range from $5 to $100.

The image, movie, document or artwork is stored on Blockai’s servers and a cryptographic hash signature representing the file is stored in the Bitcoin blockchain using a protocol developed by the company called Open Publish. This is a publishing protocol for registering media as a digital asset on the Bitcoin blockchain; once registered the blockchain registration provides “proof of existence” that works seamlessly with IPFS, BitTorrent and WebTorrent.

The goal is to provide verifiable ownership  of digital media to an individual and allow smart contract licensing and micropayment channels using Bitcoin that allows for royalty payment mechanisms.

Featured image credit: Bitcoin Logo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastminute/12350379324.
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Kyt Dotson
Kyt Dotson

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