The easiest way to start buying, selling, and mining Bitcoins

Despite all the negative news around bitcoin, I believe cryptocurrencies are the future. Bitcoin may not be the one to take off, but one of them will eventually.

Here’s how I started earning bitcoins.

  1. Create a Wallet: I setup a digital “wallet” with Coinbase where you can save the bitcoins you’ve mined, or just buy and sell bitcoins directly with Coinbase. You’ll need the wallet “address” to spend your bitcoins elsewhere and receive bitcoins from others. You’ll also need that address to get into mining bitcoins, which is what steps 2 & 3 are about.
  2. Join a Mining Pool and setup a Worker: I joined the BTCGuild (no longer a thing) to increase my chances of earning bitcoins. Otherwise you’ll mine for months and may not ever receive bitcoins. In a pool you’re joining forces with lots of other miners and are rewarded based on how much processing power your computer contributes to the pool’s efforts. You get smaller increments of coins, but you get compensated more consistently. These days I’d try something like the  Bitcoin.com Pool or Slush Pool
  3. Setup a Miner: I installed Asteroid (no longer a thing, try this instead Mac Miner) on my Mac Pro to start mining bitcoins. Asteroid will ask you or the name of the Worker you setup in step 2. After following a few more instructions your mining bitcoins. My computer is a beast, but its easily brought to its knees when I have the miner running. Asteroid let’s you throttle the mining intensity so you don’t crash your computer, but be careful. If you choose to allow Asteroid to use your graphics card for mining, it may appear to freeze your computer. There are lots of devices you can buy specifically for mining that are faster than your desktop or laptop.

Each of those 3 steps takes about 5 minutes or so, but may take longer to really understand what each step is about.

*Website Developer Bonus

  • TidBit – Earn bitcoins by letting your visitor’s computer mine bitcoins for you while they visit your site.  This will be the end of website display ads when the finish beta testing. [No longer a thing]

Results

After about a week worth of letting my computer mine for hours everyday if earned about 0.00001497 BTC, which converts to about 0.01293 USD (2014) according to this bitcoin to USD converter. So… with my current hardware setup it would take months to earn enough to buy anything. However, if I bought some fancy but inexpensive bitcoin mining hardware I mentioned earlier, I’d be earning at a much faster rate. Either way I’ll probably keep mining. I may even convert a few dollars into BTC. Given the state of the world, a multi-currency strategy couldn’t hurt. Like the saying goes, “Don’t throw all your babies in the egg water.” Or whatever. Let me know if you try it out. Happy mining.

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How to fix the Netflix DRM Error N8151 in Google Chrome for Mac

Quick Summary:

* Try watching after each step. You may not need to go all the way through the process to fix the problem.

  1. Delete the PlayReady folder (This step fixed my problem)
  2. Uninstall & Reinstall Silverlight
  3. Create a new user
  4. Contact Apple
  5. Check Browser’s Rosetta settings
  6. Check for corrupt fonts
How to fix the Netflix DRM Error N8151 in Google Chrome for Mac
Error screen for the Netflix DRM Error N8151 in Google Chrome for Mac

The Troubleshooting Process

This process was recommended by Microsoft Technical Support.

  1. Delete PlayReady folder

    1. Quit all browsers
    2. Browse to Mac HDLibraryApplication SupportMicrosoftPlayReady and delete the PlayReady folder
    3. Restart browser (Safari or Firefox)
    4. Test Netflix again
  2. Uninstall Silverlight

    1. Open you Mac HD
    2. Go to Library
    3. Go to Internet Plug-ins
    4. Drag Silverlight.plugin to the Trash
    5. Go you to you Home Folder
    6. Open the Library folder
    7. Open the Preferences folder
    8. Look for the com.microsoft.silverlight.plist file and move it to the trash
    9. Look for the com.microsoft.SilverlightPlugin.loader.plist file and move it to the trash
    10. Check your Trash to make sure there is nothing you want to keep then empty your Trash
    11. Restart your Mac
  3. Install Silverlight

    To manually install Silverlight please follow the steps outlined below:

    (Note: when completing these steps make sure you have quit our of all running Applications and that they have not just been minimized to the Dock)

    1. Launch your web browser (FireFox/Safari) and visit Silverlight.net/GetStarted
    2. On the lower right side of the screen you will see Install Silverlight, Choose Silverlight Mac Runtime and allow this to download to your desktop. If the installation automatically launches quit out of it and complete the following steps.
    3. Mount the Silverlight image that is on your desktop
    4. Ctrl+Click Silverlight.pkg
    5. Choose “Show Package Contents”
    6. Open Contents
    7. Copy Archive.pax.gz to Desktop
    8. Ctrl+Click the Archive.pax.gz file that appears on the Desktop
    9. Choose “Open With”, BOMArchiveHelper.app or “Archive Utility”.
    10. This should extract a folder to the desktop called Library
    11. Open this folder
    12. Open the Internet Plug-ins folder
    13. Copy Silverlight.plugin to Hard Drive: Library: Internet Plug-ins.
    14. Restart your Mac
    15. Visit Silverlight.net and go to Showcase, if you can view this page without being prompted to install Silverlight then it has installed successfully.
  4. Create a new user

    If this is unsuccessful there might an issue with your user account preventing Silverlight from working correctly. What we would like to do is test a new Mac user. To create a new Mac user:

    1. Go to System Preferences
    2. Go to Account
    3. Choose the Plus sing in the lower left corner to open the new account window, enter Test for the user name, leave the password blank
    4. Put check mark in Allow User to Administer this computer
    5. Choose Create Account
    6. Now logout out of your original account and login to the Test account
    7. Once in the Test Account visit Silverlight.net and go to Showcase, if you can view this page without being prompted to install Silverlight then it has installed successful
    8. Visit NetFlix to make sure that you are able to access their content.
  5. Contact Apple

    If Silverlight works with the new Mac user you will need to contact Apple and have them decide why the original user will no longer allow Silverlight to work.

  6. Check Browser’s Rosetta settings

    If this fails another suggestion we can make it to check to see if the browser is running with Rosetta enabled. To verify this please follow the following steps. (NOTE: you must quit the browser to follow these steps)

    1. Open your Mac HD
    2. Go to Applications
    3. Locate browser
    4. Ctrl+Click on the Icon and choose Get Info
    5. Under General Make sure the box that says Run using Rosetta is not checked
    6. Launch browser and attempt to launch content on NetFlix
  7. Check for corrupt fonts

    If this fails then there might an issue with corrupt fonts within your
    operating system that is not allowing Silverlight to load when attempting to access NetFlix content because NetFlix uses DRM formatted content and corrupt fonts can prevent this type of content from loading.

    The next step will be to manually install the Arial and Verdana fonts to do so please complete the following:

    1. Go to the Hard Drive
    2. Then Applications
    3. Then Font Book
    4. Choose the Verdana font, and go to File, and Export Fonts. Name the folder Verdana.
    5. Then choose the Arial font, and go to File, and Export Fonts, and name the folder Ariel.
    6. Go to the desktop, and look for these two folders.
    7. Go inside each of these folder, then another folder with the name of the font. You will see multiple folders in here. You will need to go inside each of these folders, and copy all fonts located here to HD>Library>Fonts
    8. Restart the computer.
    9. Attempt to view Netflix content.

How I discovered the Netflix DRM Error N8151

My wife and I decided to sign up for Netflix again. We cancelled several months ago, but after buying a few kids movies on iTunes, we started to miss having access to loads of toddler-taming flicks for the price of one movie purchased from Apple.

Netflix had all of our account info on file. After three clicks I was back. My Instant Queue was stocked with everything I added before canceling. I was ready to sit back and watch a show.

I heard that the recent launch of their new interface design was a debatable attempt to make the site more user-friendly. Either way, I was excited to try it for myself.

I clicked my selection and waited for it to load. Instead of opening credits, I saw this:

How to fix the Netflix DRM Error N8151 in Google Chrome for Mac
Error screen for the Netflix DRM Error N8151 in Google Chrome for Mac

Bummer. Anticlimax. I had seen this error before. During my previous Netflix subscription I had to burn a long evening on the phone with support to fix the problem. The problem was frustrating but fixable, so I wasn’t too worried.

Digital Rights, Smigital Rights

After a little googling I found the help I needed.

The error has something to do with Silverlight, a Microsoft technology Netflix uses for their video player. The details of why, how and what circumstances triggered this error do not interest me. I just want the thing to work.

Within a few minutes I found step-by-step instructions from Microsoft Silverlight Technical Support on how to address each possibility.

In my case everything was fixed after trying the first step. The movie cloud was back!

I could simply post a link to the forum where I found all the answers, but then I would have to find that forum if I ever ran into this problem again. So, I’m posting the process here to help myself and maybe others who have a similar problem.

I hope this helps others fix this problem quickly so they can get back to watching their favorite show.

How much should I charge as a new freelancer getting started?

How much should I charge?

This is the first article in a new category I’m starting for my blog: Reader Questions. I’ll be answering questions that I’m often asked by young designers just starting out in their careers. If you have questions about freelancing, graphic design, web design, or anything really, I’ll do my best to find the answer for you. It’s not like I’m some wise old world-renowned designer pro, but I’ve learned a few things over the past 5 7 years as a freelancer.

Our first question is from Nick Elam who contacted me through Facebook:

Hey Paris,
We got the brochure (actually it was a rack card because we didn’t want to spend a lot printing brochures) printed. They look nice. I got Office Max to print them for us because we only needed 100 and Office Max is pretty good at small print jobs like that. (The Green Printing company you suggested would have been great had we needed more than 100…)
Someone received on of the cards last night and asked me how much I would charge to design a postcard for their company. As a beginner, how should I decide how much to charge? They said they could handle the printing, they just need an eye-catching design. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this. So far I have just done volunteer work. Could you give me some advice?
Thanks,
Nick

Thanks for the question, Nick. Pricing is a challenge for every new freelancer. It’s hard deciding how much your passion and energy are worth.  Here are a few things to remember that will make the process easier.

How to decide what to charge

  1. Watch the clock. Start timing yourself today. This will give you an idea of how long it takes you to finish different aspects of your job. Figure in how much you need/want to make per hour and you’ve got an idea of how much to charge. Using this information is key to giving an accurate quote in the future. Even if you don’t charge by the hour, knowing a rough estimate of how long a project will take can save you from over committing yourself.
  2. Ask questions. Every job is different. Get as much info as possible up front. I send my clients a survey, or questionnaire to help better understand each project before giving any specific prices. You don’t want to get locked in to a project at a certain price without knowing the details. The client may not think to mention [random detail], because they assume it isn’t a big deal. Well, [random detail] is a big deal, and will probably cause the project to double in price. It is your job to gather the info. You’re the professional. You’re responsible.
  3. Look around. Consider what other people charge for the same service you offer. You want to be priced competitively, especially if you’re a new freelancer. Why would the client pay you a great deal more for the same thing they could get cheaper from someone else? You better have one heck of a portfolio if you expect to charge high above the industry standard for your services.

Taking the time to get things right from the start will save hours in later. Using this process should help you come to a more exact quote in less time and with less headache.

For those interested, I would probably charge between $250 – $1,000 for the job Nick mentioned in his question.

Check these links out for more detailed info on figuring our exactly how much to charge:

How to edit your host file on a Mac

Apple's Terminal App Icon

Changing the contents of a computer’s host file is extremely helpful skill for web developers to have. You can basically manipulate the way your computer looks at the internet. I use it to keep Google Analytics from counting me as a visitor on my site (or any site for that matter). Whatever your reasons for editing your host file, here’s how to do it on a Mac.

1. Open Terminal

2. Type: sudo pico /etc/hosts

3. Type: YourPassword
*This is the same password you use to log in to your computer

4. Edit host file

5. To save your changes hold down CONTROL & press the letter ‘O’. Then press ENTER

6. To exit your host file hold down CONTROL & press the letter ‘X’.

7. To quit Terminal simply hold down COMMAND & press the letter ‘Q’ at the same time.

And that’s it. You’ve just edited your Mac’s host file.