Rumors of a “Facebook Bitcoin” have been floating the web for weeks now, if not longer. Well, the company finally took the wraps off its new cryptocurrency, and it’s not a Bitcoin at all. Nor does it belong to Facebook.
We usually recommend you steer clear of all cryptocurrency coins (Bitcoin or otherwise). It’s volatile, generally unsecured, and it’s not uncommon to lose most your value or just have your currency stolen.
Bitcoin really isn’t a currency at all, but the idea behind the blockchain, the technology that powers cryptocurrency, is sound. If a cryptocurrency was implemented correctly, in many ways, it could be essentially a digital equivalent to cash. You can spend it anonymously, unlike a credit or debit card, and each transaction is verified, like marking a $20 bill to check that it’s real. The analogy breaks down when you get into how most digital coins act though. They usually aren’t stable, fees for transactions are high, and depending on resources transactions can be slow to process.
The new Libra coin seeks to solve those underlying issues. It’s designed to be stable, low in fees, and quick to use. You might be worried about Facebook having control and hooks into the digital coin, but the company gave up majority control to get both people and other companies on board.
To start, founding members include Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay, Spotify, and more. Many of the companies listed specialize in payment processing (like Visa and Mastercard). And each, along with Facebook, has an equal say in the governing board.
And you’ll have privacy, especially from Facebook. What you won’t do is make money. Again, Libra is designed to be stable. Your cash value shouldn’t go up (or down). And you won’t earn interest either. Instead, the founding members (who have to invest heavily in the entire system) will earn interest on the cash stored in the system.
But the entire system could be beneficial to those who can’t or won’t use banks. If Libra is adopted widely, and it’s already on track for that out of the gate, then someone without a bank could theoretically go to a currency exchange, trade in cash for Libra, and then spend that Libra somewhere else, on the internet or otherwise. Or send it to a friend through a digital wallet.
Libra won’t be available until sometime in 2020, and it’s too early to recommend jumping in the deep end of this crypto pool yet. But it’s a solid entry that shows a lot of promise. [TechCrunch]
In Other News:
- Huawei finally has good news, well almost: Earlier this year Microsoft pulled all of its Huawei laptop stock from its website. The good news? Those listings are back. The bad news? Microsoft says it’s selling existing stock only. It sounds like when it’s gone; it’s gone. [The Verge]
- Texans can soon order a robot pizza: Ok, not a robot made of pizza, or a pizza made of robot. But a pizza-delivering robot. Dominoes is partnering with Nuro to offer automated pizza delivery. If you’re in Houston, a small self-driving car will bring your pizzas to you instead of the usual delivery driver. We live in the future, a lazy lazy future. [Ars Technica]
- You can now purchase Stadio Controllers sans Founder Edition: When Google first confirmed Stadia pricing, the only way to buy the new Stadia controller was to go in on the founder edition. But that came with a Chromecast you might already own and very little subscription time. Now you can opt just to buy the Stadia controller, which is important because the Founder edition included a buddy pass time pass to share with a friend. Who would need a controller to play. [9to5Google]
- You can pay Dish to install your smarthome stuff: Dish is offering a new onsite service to install your smarthome stuff. One of the worst things about owning a smarthome is needing to be a part-time electrician. If you’re not comfortable with that though, this would be a good solution. Most installs are $99 and include a quick lesson on your new tech. Not bad at all. [Engadget]
- Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? Google Earth and Carmen Sandiego are teaming up for a third and final game. This time you need to track down Paperstar, a master origamist (that’d be a maker of origami) and recover the keys to the Kremlin. I dare you not to get the classic theme song stuck in your head while playing. [Google]
- Microsoft wants to make your code reviews easier and cheaper: Pull Panda is a fairly popular set of code-review tools that integrated into GitHub nicely. Though useful, they came with one issue: The cost ranged between $15 (for 7 users) a month and $150 a month. Now, Microsoft has purchased the tools and made them free for everybody. Huzzah for code-reviews! [ZDNet]
- Dr. Mario World is coming to iOS and Android: Hot off a Mario Kart Android beta (we played it, it’s ok at best), Nintendo has another mobile game in the works: Doctor Mario World. The game will be free with in-app purchases, and require the internet to work. That last bit may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s what Doctor Mario recommends. [9to5Mac]
- Robocalls are overwhelming hospitals, and it’s awful: Robocalls are a modern scourge and the problem has only been growing. For most people, the best solution is not to answer your phone, but hospitals can’t do that. A hospital needs to answer every phone call, and there’s no way of knowing what’s spam and what’s an important call. But the problem is overwhelming; one medical center received over 4000 spam calls in a two hour period. At the end of the day only the Government and our phone carriers can solve the problem. [Washington Post]
Do you have a steady hand and want to find new black holes? A citizen-science project might be right up your alley. People are naturally good at finding patterns, better in some ways than sophisticated programs. And scientists want to use that fact to their advantage.
Most scientists believe that any galaxy as large or larger than our own will have a supermassive black hole at the center. And the bigger the galaxy, the bigger the black hole.
What scientists don’t fully understand is how the two evolve together. They do see a correlation between the tightness of the spiral arms in a galaxy and the mass of the supermassive black hole.
So to track down more supermassive black holes to study, they need to identify potential galaxies that host them. That’s where you come in. You’ll look at pictures of possible galaxies and trace the arms you see, drawing the spirals. Scientists will then have more data to work with to rule out unlikely candidates and focus on the galaxies you identify that may have a supermassive black hole at the center. It looks like art class paid off after all! [Space.com]