With the increasing proliferation of terms such as blockchain, crypto, metaverse and mining, it is not uncommon to feel a sense of being overwhelmed. They seem alien when one first comes across them but it is only because they are unfamiliar terms. Two decades ago, terms such as e-mail, messenger or dial-up would have also seemed just as novel.
As one learnt about these tech marvels, and they became part and parcel of daily life, people worldwide accepted and embraced them. In fact, is it difficult now to recollect a time when such technology existed only on the periphery.
Traditional mining versus crypto mining
When one thinks of crypto mining, the first images that come to mind are possibly of some dark and dinghy environment. Perhaps added to this scene in one’s mind are workers in hardhats and headlamps toiling away several hundred feet below the earth’s surface. The rewards of conventional mining are commodities such as coal, iron ore, or even gold and diamonds.
Mining in the crypto sphere, meanwhile, implies a similar activity; only in this case, it is carried out sans any physical labour. It is accomplished by using computing power and the rewards for the miner are digital. In simple terms, crypto mining comprises a system of processing “transactions” that have been created on a network. The digital rewards for processing these transactions are called tokens and these, in turn, are of the system that one has lent their computing resources to. For example, if one has mined bitcoin, the miner receives satoshis (fractions of a bitcoin are called satoshis).
Utilising unused processing power
“But what are computing resources,” you ask? Well, any smartphone, television or laptop is powered by a processor or motherboard. It is the “brain” so to say that controls the device and enables it to respond to the user’s commands that are in the form of touches on a screen, or by pressing buttons on a remote control or keyboard. Under normal working conditions, not all processing power is required to enable a device to function adequately. And it is this unused processing power that can be used towards basic crypto mining. The terms computing resources and processing power are identical in meaning.
So, each time a user “mines” a “crypto” system, the miner is basically using their computer equipment to calculate the “hash” of a series of “cryptographic” transactions. Cryptography, on its part, is the process of securing information so that hackers, or other such elements, cannot access one’s digital property. There are other terms such as hash and hash rate but let’s dwell on the basics first.
Easiest way to get started
To derive a closer idea of what crypto mining is, consider downloading the following two apps. One is called Pi; yes, just like the ‘pi’ used in grade school to calculate the area or circumference of a circle or sphere. The second one is Stormgain. This one packs in both a miner and a crypto exchange. In terms of hardware, a smartphone is needed that has a minimum of 8GB of RAM. Both apps can be run in the background and the user will find their device’s battery draining out more quickly.
As one explores these apps, it will offer an elementary insight into how one can be mining crypto assets simply by using a device’s unused computing power. The rewards too will not disappoint.