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Learn Bitcoin Fundamentals in Under 3 Hours

Mayank Dwivedi is a working professional, who is on a journey of personal wealth creation (and discovery).

Overall Course Review

Five out of Five.

This course provides the genesis and fundamentals of Bitcoin and Blockchain in general. The instructor conveys his lessons in simple, easy to understand language. The course is well paced, and not rushed. Instructor uses ample examples to explain the concepts he explains. Definitely informative for anyone wanting to know more on Bitcoin

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Who is this course for?

  1. Newbies who want to understand the concept of Blockchain
  2. Industry leaders who want to understand blockchain, and explore using it in their business area
  3. Anyone who is curious to know basics of Blockchain and Bitcoin

This book is NOT for those who want to exchange in Cryptocurrency. This is NOT an investment course on Cryptocurrency, rather a course on the basic of Blockchain, common myths, its shortcomings, and future applications.

My Magic moment while taking this course

The course instructor explained the whole ecosystem of Bitcoin, which made me appreciate the new revolution round the corner.

There is a huge segment of miners who mine Bitcoin, basically by using their computing processors, and continuous power supply to solve the cryptography, and confirm a set of transactions in the block. Based on this effort, the miners are rewarded for mining each block. This reward is in the form of bitcoin.

Bitcoin trading is done on numerous crypto exchanges, which makes the price of Bitcoin go up and down - eventually up. As bitcoin availability in the world becomes more scarce, the price of Bitcoin increases.

The real-world users and companies are slowly adapting to use bitcoin for purchases, such as buying paintings using Bitcoin, buying Tesla cars using bitcoin etc. Using Bitcoin is like a universal global currency, you need not convert it to a local country currency for usage - convenient right?

When this entire ecosystem was laid out, the word WoW escaped my mouth. Each segment of the Bitcoin ecosystem uses Bitcoin in return for some reward, that reward can be monetary, or convenience, or trust etc. Bitcoin is a new civilization of its kind, paving the path for the next definition of money.

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My Top Three Learnings from the course

Learning 1: Why is Bitcoin Secure? Almost every article on cryptocurrency or blockchain out there tells you that bitcoin, or cryptocurrency, is secure. However, why it is more secure is not clear enough. This concept is explained in detail in this course. Bitcoin is a sequential block pointing towards each other. Copies of this sequence of blocks are maintained by thousands of miners and bitcoin users across the world. Even if someone commits fraud and changes this block, the copies of these sequential blocks maintained by multiple other miners and bitcoin users will remain true, and over time the block on which fraud was committed will not be used (or pointed towards by) by any bitcoin user/miner, thus being left out in the bitcoin world as unreferenced or dead. If this explanation is still not clear, do refer to the course where the instructor explains this over several video lessons.

Learning 2: Blockchain Block: Understanding block is key to understanding any blockchain. A software issues a block at every recurring time interval, say every 10 minutes. Each block is a collection of transactions. Each block is encoded using a hash function, such as SHA256 hash algorithm. Miners decode a block. Each block points to the next block, forming a continuous chain, hence the word block chain.

Learning 3: Bitcoin is (NOT) Anonymous: Many people, including me, think that using Bitcoin is anonymous, and can be used for money laundering. This course clarified that Bitcoin is pseudonymous. This means that your true identity is not revealed on Blockchain, but your pen name, or the name and address you use on Bitcoin is public. It is like an artist having a stage name. On Bitcoin, people know your stage name. Using Bitcoin requires Know Your Customer (KYC). Example: FBI arrested the creator of Silk Route, which operated a dark website trading in narcotics using Bitcoin as currency.

What I liked about the course?

Like 1: Focus on Why: The instructor focuses on “Why”, before getting into that the what and how part. This helps the course taker appreciate the later parts of the course. Example: How do you know that the Rolex watch you are wearing is a genuine Rolex Watch, or the Champagne you are drinking actually came from France? These questions make you think of the need to build solid trust in the daily transactions we make, instead of putting all of our trust in a centrally governed institution such as a bank or a media agency.

Like 2: Applications of Blockchain: This course goes beyond introduction to Bitcoin, and explores various ways and industries who are using Blockchain. This not only makes one appreciate the wide applications of blockchain, but also makes one think how blockchain can be used in your own business area. Digital tokens use blockchain technology for a specific use case, such as selling paintings, an artist selling his latest album, enabling people to loan their computing resources etc. Some real world examples include Walmart and IBM collaborating to use blockchain to track food supply chain, Shipping Insurance companies using blockchain for auditing insurance claims, or humanitarian aid agencies tracking supplies distribution to Syrian refugees. How will you use blockchain in your business?

Like 3: The concept of FORK: Before I took this course, I always felt that BitcoinCash is a totally different cryptocurrency, and it is coincidental that its name has Bitcoin in it. I was wrong! The instructor beautifully explains the concept of FORK, and different types of FORK in the blockchain world. When two or more miners mine a block at the same time, a fork is created. Eventually one chain wins by being longer and referred to by maximum people. The loser block mined becomes an orphan block. Soft Forks are backward compatible, and existing miners can keep on using the blockchain as it is. Hard forks are not backward compatible, and creates a new blockchain sequence separate from the original blockchain. Hardfork forces everyone to upgrade on that blockchain. BitcoinCash is the result of a User Activated Hard Fork. It was created as many miners supported it. Why did miners support it? Because this increases the size of the block, from 1MB limit on Bitcoin to 8mb limit on BitcoinCash, thus allowing more transactions to be stored in one block. Example of Soft Fork is Segwit, or Segregated Witness. Segwit is a protocol upgrade, introducing a different way of measuring block size. Segwit pulls the Digital Signature out of the block, thus saving 60% space in the block.

How the same instructor changed over the 3 hour duration of the course :-)

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What could have improved in the course?

Opportunity 1: Incoherent Audio and Video: It appears that the instructor combined different video clips to build this course. Because of this, his appearance and voice changes across the course. This is not a serious limitation, but something in-coherent across the course. For me, it was actually funny when I realized that the instructor suddenly got more healthy with less head hair over subsequent videos :-).

Opportunity 2: Deeper Information for Miners/Traders: First off, this course does a fantastic job at what it claims to do, which is to provide fundamentals of Bitcoin and Blockchain. Video lectures touch on mining bitcoin, trading bitcoin, storing it in a digital/hardware wallet. It would have been good to direct interested folks towards online resources, free books where they can read more on how to become a better crypto miner, or a better crypto investor/trader. This is not a serious shortcoming though. It felt that after capturing the audience with an interesting course and importance of blockchain, leaving them with some free resources, as well as some paid ones, will be a good send-off note for the course end.

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