Bitcoin Can Now Buy You Citizenship in Vanuatu

Got some bitcoin burning a hole in your digital wallet? And paradise on the mind? You could use it to buy a second passport. Vanuatu, a South Pacific archipelago of some 80 islands, will now let outsiders use the volatile cryptocurrency to apply for so-called investment citizenship. Fork over the equivalent of about $280,000, and your family of up to four can receive passports from what the New Economics Foundation, a U.K.-based think tank, calls the fourth-happiest country in the world. (It ranked No. 1 when the list was first published in 2006, but like the vagaries of the market, happiness can be a fleeting thing.

With bitcoin reaching a record price of $5,209 on Thursday, more than five times its value at the start of the year, passports for the whole clan cost about 53.8 bitcoin. Vanuatu isn’t the only island that offers citizenship for a price—the list includes Antigua, Grenada, Malta, and St. Kitts and Nevis—but it’s the first to allow payments via bitcoin. The development was announced in a press release on Investment Migration Insider, a website focused on investment citizenry. Tourists watch eruptions in the crater of the active Mt. Yasur on Tanna, an island in Tafea, Vanuatu. The volcano is continually active at a low to moderate level. Visitors may approach the rim to view the crater eruptions when the activity level is not dangerously high.

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Vanuatu citizenship offers several advantages. The country has the 34th-most-“powerful” passport in the world, providing visa-free visits to 116 other countries, according to the Passport Index, a list of rankings maintained by Arton Capital, a company that facilitates foreign residence and citizenship applications. Vanuatu falls right below Panama and Paraguay (tied) and above Dominica; the U.K. is in a tie at third place, the U.S. at fourth, and Russia at 40th. The country also has no income, inheritance, or corporate tax. It’s not even customary to tip there, according to the Vanuatu Tourism Office. The archipelago is relatively accessible: about a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Sydney to Port Vila, the capital. And scuba aficionados will appreciate that it’s home to the world’s largest diveable wreck—the SS President Coolidge, a luxury liner-turned-troop ship that sank during World War II.

Should you really want a place to escape, Vanuatu’s abundance of islands and relatively small population (about 290,000) mean that your own private island may be within reach. The least expensive one currently on the market, according to real estate website Private Islands Online, is Lenur, priced at about $645,000. For that you get 84 acres including three sandy beaches, a handful of sleeping bungalows, and an open-plan kitchen. Most of the property is covered in coconut, fruit, and nut trees. Still, like investing in cryptocurrency in the first place, tropical life doesn’t come without risks. Earlier this month, residents had to be evacuated from the northern island of Ambae because its volcano, Manaro Voui, had rumbled to life and was spewing steam and rocks.

– Bloomberg

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All You Need to Know About Bitcoin

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin‘s inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, described Bitcoin as “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” in the original 2009 Bitcoin whitepaper – the document which created the roadmap for Bitcoin. To date, this is still the most simple and accurate description. Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is perhaps best described as ‘cash for the Internet’, but Bitcoin can also be seen as the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence. It is also known as digital cash, cryptocurrency, an international payment network, the internet of money – but whatever you call it, Bitcoin is a revolution that is changing the way everyone sees and uses money.

The beauty of Bitcoin is that it requires no central servers or third-party clearing houses to settle transactions – all payments are peer-to-peer (P2P) and are settled in about 10 minutes – unlike credit card payments, which can take weeks or months before they’re finally settled. All Bitcoin transactions are recorded permanently on a distributed ledger called the “blockchain” – this ledger is shared between all full Bitcoin “miners” and “nodes” around the world, and is publicly-viewable. These miners and nodes verify transactions and keep the network secure. For the electricity they use to do this, miners are rewarded with new bitcoins with each 10-minute block (the reward is currently 12.5 BTC per block).

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The Bitcoin protocol is also hard-limited to 21 million bitcoins, meaning that no more than that can ever be created. This means that no central bank, individual or government can come along and simply ‘print’ more bitcoins when it suits them. In this sense Bitcoin is a deflationary currency, and as such is likely to grow in value based on this property alone. Bitcoin is still a cutting-edge experiment in technology and economics, and like the worldwide web in 1995, its myriad potential, purposes and applications are yet to be decided. Is it just electronic money? A foundation for smart contracts and electronic shares? Is it underground and subversive, challenging the power of governments, or will it integrate into mainstream finance and go unnoticed? If you know the answers to any of these questions, or if you can figure out how to capitalize on them there may be many lucrative opportunities for you in the Bitcoin space.

The Bitcoin universe is changing fast and often – to stay ahead of the game it’s necessary to follow the news almost-hourly and discuss the latest events with other members of the community. Bitcoin.com exists to be a reliable information hub for beginners and industry insiders alike. That being said, ‘staying ahead of the game’ is not a necessity if you simply wish to use Bitcoin as a currency to purchase goods and services, or wish to accept Bitcoin for transactions – something thousands of people around the world do every single day.

No Central Command

Bitcoin isn’t owned by anyone. Think of it like email. Anyone can use it, but there isn’t a single company that is in charge of it. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. This means that no one, including banks, or governments can block you from sending or receiving bitcoins with anyone else, anywhere in the world. With this freedom comes the great responsibility of not having any central authority to complain to if something goes wrong. Just like physical cash, don’t let strangers hold your bitcoins for you, and don’t send them to untrustworthy people on the internet.

Secure Your Wallet

There are several different types of Bitcoin wallets, but the most important distinction is in relation to who is in control of the private keys required to spend the bitcoins. Some Bitcoin “wallets” actually act more like banks because they are holding the user’s private keys on behalf. If you choose to use one of these services, be aware that you are completely at their mercy regarding the security of your bitcoins. Most wallets, however, allow the user to be in charge of their own private keys. This means that no one in the entire world can access your account without your permission. It also means that no one can help you if you forget your password or otherwise lose access to your private keys. If you decide you want to own a lot of Bitcoin it would be a good idea to divide them among several different wallets. As they saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Bitcoin Price

Like everything, Bitcoin’s price is determined by the laws of supply and demand. Because the supply is limited to 21 million bitcoins, as more people use Bitcoin the increased demand, combined with the fixed supply, will force the price to go up. Because the number of people using Bitcoin in the world is still relatively small, the price of Bitcoin in terms of traditional currency can fluctuate significantly on a daily basis, but will continue to increase as more people start to use it. For example, in early 2011 one Bitcoin was worth less than one USD, but in 2015 one Bitcoin is worth hundreds of USD. In the future, if Bitcoin becomes truly popular, each single Bitcoin will have to be worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to accommodate this additional demand.

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Bitcoin Exchanges

There are several ways to buy Bitcoin, but trusted exchanges are a great way to acquire Bitcoin. Because there are inefficiencies in the traditional banking system, exchanges will sometimes have slightly different prices. If the difference is too great, traders will buy low on one an exchange and sell high on another and close the gap. If an exchange constantly has substantially different prices than others, it is a sign of trouble and that exchange should be avoided. As with everything else, do your research and find an exchange you can trust. It’s also a good idea not to use an exchange as a wallet. Move your Bitcoin to your personal wallet so that you have control over your funds at all times. You can view a list of Bitcoin exchanges here.

Bitcoin Isn’t Completely Anonymous

Because all Bitcoin transactions are stored on a public ledger known as the blockchain, people might be able to link your identity to a transaction over time. Some companies offer various tools such as Bitcoin mixers to help achieve greater privacy, but it takes a huge amount of effort to use Bitcoin anonymously. You may want to follow your country’s tax regulations regarding Bitcoin in order to avoid trouble with the law, but you have the power not to should you choose to take that risk. To improve privacy, most newer Bitcoin wallets will use a new Bitcoin address each time someone sends bitcoins to you.

Unconfirmed Transactions

Bitcoin transactions are seen by the entire network within a few seconds and are usually recorded into Bitcoin’s world wide ledger called the blockchain, in the next block. While it’s possible that a transaction won’t be confirmed in the next block, in the vast majority of circumstances it is fine to accept a transaction as soon as it has been seen by the network. Unlike traditional payment systems, Bitcoin transactions are lightning fast and can be sent globally. Bitcoin is still relatively new, but with each passing day the technology becomes more reliable. It is more and more unlikely that a major bug will emerge in the system as time goes by, and people can trust the technology more with the passing of time. Each month people transact hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin.

To know more about Bitcoin, visit this link

  • www.bitcoin.com

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The Coming End of Big Oil

It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.

The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

big oil

But in 2025, no one wants the oil.

The Keystone XL will go down as the world’s last great fossil fuels infrastructure project. TransCanada, the pipeline’s operator, charged about $10 per barrel for the transportation services, which means the pipeline extension earned about $5 million per day, or $1.8 billion per year. But after shutting down less than four years into its expected 40 year operational life, it never paid back its costs.

The Keystone XL closed thanks to a confluence of technologies that came together faster than anyone in the oil and gas industry had ever seen. It’s hard to blame them — the transformation of the transportation sector over the last several years has been the biggest, fastest change in the history of human civilization, causing the bankruptcy of blue chip companies like Exxon Mobil and General Motors, and directly impacting over $10 trillion in economic output.

And blame for it can be traced to a beguilingly simple, yet fatal problem: the internal combustion engine has too many moving parts.

Let’s bring this back to today: Big Oil is perhaps the most feared and respected industry in history. Oil is warming the planet — cars and trucks contribute about 15% of global fossil fuels emissions — yet this fact barely dents its use. Oil fuels the most politically volatile regions in the world, yet we’ve decided to send military aid to unstable and untrustworthy dictators, because their oil is critical to our own security. For the last century, oil has dominated our economics and our politics. Oil is power.

Yet I argue here that technology is about to undo a century of political and economic dominance by oil. Big Oil will be cut down in the next decade by a combination of smartphone apps, long-life batteries, and simpler gearing. And as is always the case with new technology, the undoing will occur far faster than anyone thought possible.

To understand why Big Oil is in far weaker a position than anyone realizes, let’s take a closer look at the lynchpin of oil’s grip on our lives: the internal combustion engine, and the modern vehicle drivetrain.

Read the full article here

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Nokia Looks to Sell Head Quarters to Raise Cash

What a fall for the once mighty Nokia.  From literally lording over the whole mobile phone market worldwide to now having to sell its HQ in Finland to raise cash, its been a culmination of a series of missteps and huge mistakes on the part of the Helsinki based company.

Unable to compete with competitors like Samsung, Apple, HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson in smartphones, it was already on the death spiral.  The final nail in the coffin was its tying up with the buggy Windows platform for its future smartphones. Lets be fair. Microsoft hasnt been able to master making a bug free desktop Operating System even after being in the industry for more than 3 decades, a mobile Operating System was not up its alley.

And Nokia fell into the Microsoft trap by allying with them on their Windows platforms.  It should have stuck to its Symbian platform for the keypad based phones and diversified itself into using Android for its smartphones and at the same time invested in the Meego platform that it intended for smartphones.  Such diversifying would have kept Nokia afloat.  Now, by tying up with Microsoft, the end of Nokia is here, soon.

Pic source: Wikipedia

Nokia has started a process to sell off its headquarters outside Helsinki as the stricken Finnish mobile phone maker urgently looks for ways to conserve cash. The lossmaking company is looking to sell and lease back the building that employs 1,800 people in a move that could raise €200m-€300m, according to estimates. The move comes amid intense scrutiny of Nokia’s cash position after it burned through liquidity at a very fast pace around the turn of the year. In the second quarter of this year, its net cash position fell 14 per cent to €4.2bn due entirely to a dividend payment to investors.

“We have ample cash resources to do what we need. But to cut costs and conserve cash we are looking at all possible options with no stones being left unturned. One of those is the possibility of selling our headquarters,” Nokia said.

Nokia moved out of central Helsinki in 1996 to a striking glass and steel building on the edge of the sea in the neighbouring town of Espoo that it expanded in 2001 to its current size. It pointed to other Finnish companies that had sold and leased back their headquarters in recent years, including Kone, Stora Enso and UPM-Kymmene.

Nokia has sent documents out to interested parties but a sale is not imminent. It had earlier said, when it announced its second-quarter results, that it was looking to sell its property holdings around the world. “We are not a real estate company and we would rather invest in our core operations,” it said.

But analysts remain concerned about the level of cash burn as the company fights for survival following a series of disappointing product launches in an attempt to compete with Apple’s iPhone and companies using Google’s Android platform. Credit analysts stress that technology companies can go bust with positive cash balances, pointing to Nortel, which had several billions of dollars in cash on its balance sheet when it went bankrupt in 2009. Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, said in August when it downgraded Nokia again that it expected the group to end this year with less than €3bn in net cash.

Nokia in return has touted its ability to squeeze cash out of its business, using advanced royalty payments on some of its patents to avoid a worse cash burn in the second quarter. It also has an undrawn credit line of €1.5bn, which is available until March 2016. Analysts have speculated that Nokia will soon have to cut its dividend to protect its remaining cash. Its first debt repayment is for €1.25bn in early 2014.

News source: FT

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Lotus Notes is 21

Happy 21st birthday Lotus Notes.  The best ever email, collaboration, IM, workflow application (all bundled in one) has completed 2 decades. No matter what Microsoft tries to rubbish the product, the truth is that Lotus Notes rules.

Its the only product that doesnt need a rip and replace every time a new version hits the market and is an application that supports true backward compatibility.

I run a Lotus Domino 8.5 test server on my 5 years old Windows XP PC with 1.5 GB RAM along with the rest of the applications.  And still my system doesn’t complain.  If it was Microsoft Exchange 2010, heck i cant even install it as my hardware / Operating System is not 64 bit.  I rest my case.

Lotus Notes @ 20

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