I just heard about bitcoins a few days ago. I'm still not sure where this is going or who is really behind this, just like everyone else in the world it seems (show me the ID card of the supposed creator and the person with the biggest BTC stash if you think otherwise), but I figured if money is changing hands (real money !) than there's money to be had (for not too much work), and besides it might be kind of fun (I've never played stock broker before
So I installed the Bitcoin client and registered on Bitmarket.eu and bought 30 $ worth of BTC. I plan to buy maybe 100 $ more worth of BTC, but will probably never invest any more than that, both because I don't have a lot of money lying around and because I'm not inclined to investing any more than that in something that might go bust any day (due to market reasons, technical reasons or political reasons). If it does go bust the lesson was worth the money and I can survive without a 100 $ (and I've spent more money on lessons from bad experience in my life, like buying expensive air mattresses that broke on first use
) and if it doesn't and becomes a worlwide widespread currency maybe I'll be able to buy a car or an apartment from those 100 $ in 10 or 20 years...
So I figured that if bitcoins are going to continue to increase in value for a long time to come (which may or may not happen) I want to have as many as possible as early on as possible (too bad I didn't hear about this 2 years ago and invest 100 $ then, but I figure BTCs are still pretty unheard of in the general population), and without investing (and risking) a lot of real money the alternative is mining (or stealing, anyone know of a safe full of BTC that I could crack with a stick of dinamite maybe ?
I'm not talking about buying new mining-oriented hardware here, because many people on the web are saying that may not be more profitable than simply investing money in BTC and waiting for them to grow, because I'm not willing to invest that much money is something risky, and because it would take A LOT of time, and time is even more valuable than money to me right now.
I'm talking about using my old everday computer which is turned on most of the time (and using electricity) anyway for some mining. The processor is ancient (almost 8 years old) but the graphics card is alot newer (though not in the flower of youth either) and everyone is using GPUs for mining now anyway. So I'd install the required software (I read the basic client mines using CPU only and not the GPU, I wish they'd include that feature !) and join a mining pool (it would take me ages to mine a block alone, and this way I get a steady small income). So I need to know the following things (here come the specific questions finally
1. Can an Asus Radeon AH4650 provide enough GPU power for me to earn enough money from mining to even bother with installing and running the mining software (which would be at least 15-20 $ per month) ? How much do you think I'd be able to earn per month (taking into account current mining difficulty and 20$ BTC price) if I ran it about 2/3 of the time in the whole month ? I saw one guy claiming to earn 20 $ PER DAY with one or maybe two cards only a little newer than mine (maybe 5xxx) two or three months ago... I'd be happy with a tenth of that !
2. Can GPU mining software run while consuming a negligible (for a very old processor !) amount of processor power (otherwise it would impede my other activities) ? It can consume as much GPU power as it wants, ~100% for all I care, I only need it in games, and that's less 10% of the time, and I'd turn off the program at those times. Besides, my graphics card has great cooling while my processor has horrible cooling. So the program needs to be very CPU-cheap.
3. Can you recommend simple and easy to use GPU mining software ? Some instructions I saw online sounded horribly complex, with all kinds of compiling, hacking and tweaking involved... And it should also come from a trustworthy source so I can be sure it has no spyware attached (even well-known apps sometimes come infected if you download from the wrong sources). And it has to work under Windows XP 32 bit.
4. Can you recommend a good mining pool for newbies ? Anyone accepting without a lot of procedure and giving honest rewards without a fee higher than 5% would qualify...
5. Everyone says the exponentially increasing difficulty is making blocks harder and harder to mine. But the value of each block is also increasing exponentially. So would you say the same amount of CPU / GPU power and time spent yields an increasing, decreasing or stagnating amount of total value in $ ? And when the number of blocks reaches 200K they will split in size from 50 coins to 25 coins, so that will be an instant reduction in profits by 50 % for anyone mining, in addition to the ever-increasing difficulty...
6. How far do you think BTC value can increase in the long term (5-15 years) ? It's already increased 500-fold in 2.5 years and 10-fold in about half a year I think, but that's all been fueled by early speculators buying to get rich, so do you think it will keep increasing even when (if) it becomes mainstream and used for payment ? Can it increase a 100 times more, or a 1000 ? No one knows probably, but give me your opinion... As I see it, with a limited supply the more people get into it, the more value it has, and there's almost 7 billion to go.