Hi Paul! Don't worry, there are people here to help
. It sounds like the first thing you need to know is that you don't have to understand anything about "mining", or "generating bitcoins" to use BitCoin. Mining is a pretty specialised task that may not be worthwhile for everyone. Why don't you start by telling us what you've heard about BitCoin and what you want to use it for?
What I've heard about bitcoin is that you can run it to earn bitcoins, and that these bitcoins have a value attached to them. I thought it was interesting enough and wanted to give it a try.
I assumed the term "mining" referred to the generation of bitcoins on any given computer.
So what I want to know is how I can ideally take advantage of my system to generate bitcoins. I guess I also would want to know if there's a difference between the term "mining" and the idea of generating bitcoins. I would like to know how to utilize my CPU to its fullest potential, or if it's best to only utilize my GPU. I am currently using a Radeon 5770 (switched out my 6970 last month since I wasn't really using it).
"Generating bitcoins" is a confusing idea that has unfortunately been compounded through otherwise trustworthy sources like the weusecoins.com
video. A better way to understand the process that most of us call "mining" is that miners process and verify transactions for the BitCoin network, and are in turn rewarded with bitcoins in a highly competitive market. There's a limited number being competed for, so it's not like you can just generate them at will--your computer has to work for them.
Because CPU's long ago ceased to be effective at the kind of work needed, most people are using their GPU's to mine. A 5770 will be capable of reasonable mining activity, provided your electricity and time are either cheap or free. In order to mine with your GPU you will need a specialised program called a "bitcoin miner", which you can find several examples of in the mining subforum
--they are definitely classified as "some assembly required". As well, mining "solo" is an inherently random process that would have you waiting a month on average between successfully mined blocks and with no way to predict when you will get them. Because of this most people are using "mining pools" to reduce the variance of their earnings.
But before you get into all of that, why don't you take a little time to learn how BitCoin works? Start by describing what you know so far, and we'll go from there! Where did you hear about BitCoin by the way?