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Author Topic: Physical Bitcoin Monitor  (Read 1678 times)
cbeast
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February 08, 2012, 04:43:02 PM
 #1

Would it be useful to have a client that only allows you to import private keys into an encrypted wallet for the purpose of monitoring your Bitcoin trade value? This would be for people that store their bitcoin in physical form and don't want to spend it.

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etotheipi
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February 08, 2012, 10:19:49 PM
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Would it be useful to have a client that only allows you to import private keys into an encrypted wallet for the purpose of monitoring your Bitcoin trade value? This would be for people that store their bitcoin in physical form and don't want to spend it.

This is already possible with Armory.  You create a full wallet that has the private keys (which might be created on an offline computer that never touches the internet), then "Create a Watching-Only Copy" of it, which doesn't contain any private keys.  You can even import private keys into the full wallet before you fork the "watching-only copy" and those addresses will be monitored the same way.  Import that wallet into Armory on your online computer, and you can watch all the addresses without having the private keys exposed to the internet.

If you only have one computer, you could create the full wallet, print a paper backup, then delete it from the computer and keep only the watching only version.  However, this would make it super-annoying to spend any of that money, requiring you to re-import that wallet from paper every time (though, what other options do you have if you don't want to keep the private keys on any computer, anywhere?).

What I don't have, is a way to import public keys directly into a watching-only wallet (only private keys into a full wallet).  But that should be an easy upgrade if it's a high-demand feature.   But, in the end, the private key has to touch some computer at some point, unless you plan on calculating the public key and address from the private key, with pencil&paper.

The beauty of Armory is that the watching-only wallet, will be able to generate an infinite series of [deterministic] keys, that can be used to receive Bitcoins, and the addresses it generates are exactly the same as are generated by the full wallet (this is described by gmaxwell as a "type-2 deterministic wallet").  This allows you to manage all your money from an online computer without the private keys, and use new address for every incoming transaction.  The only real risk is that, if the online computer is compromised, your privacy is breached but the security is not (they can't spend your coins, but they can link all the addresses used by that wallet).

If you want to spend the money in these addresses:  well that's what the "Offline Transactions" interface is for -- allowing you to shuttle transaction data between online and offline computers using a USB key, and the private keys can stay offline.  And Armory will walk you through the whole process.  See Using Offline Wallets in Armory for more information (illustrated tutorial coming soon!).

I think that completely covers the use-cases you asked about.  If there is a feature missing from this description, please let me know, and I'll see how I can accommodate it in a future release! 

EDIT: I realize now that you were talking about "trade value."  I assume you are talking about grabbing MtGox+Tradehill price for your local currency, and displaying the balance of your wallets in that currency...?  That would literally be a few lines of code added to Armory to query the prices online, and then replace the "Balance (BTC)" field with "Balance ($)" field.  After that, everything I wrote above is applicable.

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February 10, 2012, 03:13:14 PM
 #3

eto, it might be interesting to have a separate interface where you can simply enter bitcoin addresses to watch/monitor.  For example, if I have a private key on paper and it has never been near an online computer (it was generated on an offline/air-gapped box), but I want to monitor the BTC stored there.  Another use case would be to monitor the BTC amounts at other address that may not even be mine-- for example, I may want to monitor how much has been donated to the charity I work with, but I don't have access to the private keys.

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February 10, 2012, 03:56:45 PM
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eto, it might be interesting to have a separate interface where you can simply enter bitcoin addresses to watch/monitor.  For example, if I have a private key on paper and it has never been near an online computer (it was generated on an offline/air-gapped box), but I want to monitor the BTC stored there.  Another use case would be to monitor the BTC amounts at other address that may not even be mine-- for example, I may want to monitor how much has been donated to the charity I work with, but I don't have access to the private keys.

The charity situation you mentioned is a prime example of a problem that's already solved by Armory.  If the charity wants to allow me to see the charity funds, they'll give me a watching-only version of the wallet they are using.  If they don't want me to see their funds, they wouldn't give me anything, and I won't have anything to monitor anyway.   I believe that most use cases are covered by existing Armory functionality, simply using watching-only wallets.    Because deterministic, multi-wallet clients are not widespread yet, most users still think in terms of individual addresses in a single wallet.  When you do consider it, you'll see that most of what you want is there.

However, I believe that it wouldn't be a bad idea to allow watching-only-address importing into watching-only-wallets.  I will have to revamp the import/sweep functionality a bit anyway, to accommodate bulk key imports (due to slower blockchain scanning).  It might be straightforward to expand it for this purpose. 


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Armory Bitcoin Wallet: Bringing cold storage to the average user!
Only use Armory software signed by the Armory Offline Signing Key (0x98832223)

Please donate to the Armory project by clicking here!    (or donate directly via 1QBDLYTDFHHZAABYSKGKPWKLSXZWCCJQBX -- yes, it's a real address!)
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February 10, 2012, 05:59:02 PM
 #5

Sharing a watching-only wallet is perfect is they are using the armory deterministic wallet.  If they have other previous donation addresses (or I have a paper wallet address) that doesn't fall within the deterministic wallet, then importing individual addresses to watch only would be useful (as you mention in your last paragraph).

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February 10, 2012, 07:11:24 PM
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Sharing a watching-only wallet is perfect is they are using the armory deterministic wallet.  If they have other previous donation addresses (or I have a paper wallet address) that doesn't fall within the deterministic wallet, then importing individual addresses to watch only would be useful (as you mention in your last paragraph).

There's nothing stopping the charity from importing their previously-created private keys into their Armory wallet before forking the watching-only copy for you (imported addresses will be copied-without-private-key data the same as the deterministic addresses).   It would be in the charity's best interest to consolidate all such addresses into the same wallet, anyway.  Having loose addresses like that is a liability.

Arguably, maybe they consolidate addresses later after you have already received the watching-only wallet.  So they will send you the address, but Armory doesn't allow you to import watching-only addresses!   I argue, if they're sending you the address by email, they could just as easily send you the updated watching-only wallet instead.  It's mostly redundant information, but wallet files are very small unless they contain tens of thousands of addresses.

I agree that you are promoting a desirable feature, and I will implement it eventually.  But I believe that the current capability of Armory covers most use cases already, and current priorities eclipse this one (like bringing down the RAM Smiley).  I will add this to my list of things to do before a final release.

Founder and CEO of Armory Technologies, Inc.
Armory Bitcoin Wallet: Bringing cold storage to the average user!
Only use Armory software signed by the Armory Offline Signing Key (0x98832223)

Please donate to the Armory project by clicking here!    (or donate directly via 1QBDLYTDFHHZAABYSKGKPWKLSXZWCCJQBX -- yes, it's a real address!)
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February 10, 2012, 07:27:23 PM
 #7

I agree that you are promoting a desirable feature, and I will implement it eventually.  But I believe that the current capability of Armory covers most use cases already, and current priorities eclipse this one (like bringing down the RAM Smiley).  I will add this to my list of things to do before a final release.
Wonderful, and thanks for the hard work!

BTC: 1CDCLDBHbAzHyYUkk1wYHPYmrtDZNhk8zf
LTC: LMS7SqZJnqzxo76iDSEua33WCyYZdjaQoE
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