Friday, June 22, 2018

Best cloud mining providers of 2018

Cloud mining is the process of buying CPU power from dedicated data centers who use their own equipment to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) on your behalf.

The main advantage of this approach is that you don't need to have in-depth knowledge of mining hardware, nor buy expensive and hard-to-obtain devices. Renting 'hash power' (usually measured in Gigahertz per second or GH/s) also means you don't have to deal with the heat and noise that comes with a DIY mining project.

Many of these companies either source their own equipment or build it cheaply and have placed their data centers in countries like Iceland and China where electricity is cheap, passing the savings on to you.

In this guide, we will explore five of the most reputable cloud mining companies. As there are many scam outfits posing as miners, where possible we've chosen cloud miners who can prove that their data centers exist or are endorsed by a reputable firm. Take some time to do your own research before investing at your own risk, of course – ultimately this is your money.

If you are interested in cryptocurrencies but don't feel happy with the idea of mining, you can also simply purchase Bitcoin as an investment (see our guide on how to buy Bitcoins with Bitstamp). Without further ado, let’s move on to our selections for the best cloud mining providers.

As one of the oldest (it dates back to 2013) and largest cloud mining centers, there seems to be no better place to begin than with Genesis.

Its website offers a live feed of some of the data centers which are based in Iceland, a country where cheap geothermal electricity is readily available.

Mining contracts are technically available for all major cryptocurrencies and you can visit your online dashboard at any time to reallocate your purchased 'hash power' (so, for example, you could go 60% Bitcoin and 40% Litecoin).

In terms of fees, Genesis currently charges $0.14 per TH/s per day for mining Bitcoin. The price of other cryptocurrencies may vary so we encourage you to make your own enquiries. The website has a Payouts section which you can use to monitor how much you've mined. Due to high transaction fees on the network, your mined coins may need to meet a minimum threshold before the funds are actually transferred to your wallet.

The simple interface combined with Genesis Mining's solid reputation has meant that at times the company cannot keep up with demand for mining contracts (which tells a story of its own). At the time of writing only Bitcoin mining contracts were available for purchase, although this will likely change later in the year.

Hashnest was launched in 2014 by Bitmain, which is a world-renowned manufacturer of ASIC mining hardware. Bitmain also operates one of the largest mining pools in existence: Antpool. Combined with the photos of a handful of data centers on the Hashnest website, this is persuasive proof that the company is legitimate.

While Bitmain is based primarily in China, Hashnest has mining farms around the world, which benefit from low cost electricity.

The website currently offers a Payout Accelerated Cloud Mining Contract or PACMiC for short. The PACMiC is a type of electronic contract structured in such a way that Bitmain pays the maintenance costs of mining rigs (such as electricity), and all the mining revenue will be used to pay back the owner of the PACMiC. When the principal is not fully paid back, it will share profit with buyers.

This loosely translates as 6.0TH/s of hash power in exchange for 1 BTC. Hashnest claims this results in rolling profit pay-outs for each block found with an annualized ROI of over 14%.

Alternatively you can purchase hash power directly from Antminer devices such as the S9 which has a rate of around 12,5TH/s. You then pay a fixed maintenance fee depending on the efficiency of the device – for instance, the fee for the S9 is currently $0.19/TH/day.

Contracts for the Antminer devices are currently sold out but you can still buy a PACMiC contract if you have the funds.

Hashflare is a subsidiary of Hashcoins, another manufacturer of Bitcoin mining equipment which has been around since 2013. Its website gives a detailed rundown of the firm’s data center including pictures.

Hashflare offers you the chance to purchase hashpower for a variety of SHA-256 and Scrypt coins such as Bitcoin and Litecoin as well as Ethereum and ZCash. You're also free to choose your own mining pool.

Hashflare is open about its maintenance fees: they are $0.0035 for every 10 GH/s of SHA-256 coins and $0.005 for every 1 MH/s of Scrypt coins a day. Ethereum contracts are not subject to any maintenance fees. Your total pay-out will depend on the mining pool you've chosen and how much hash power you've allocated to it.

At the time of writing, only Ethereum mining contract was available, all others were out of stock.

As of January 2018, Hashflare has also temporarily suspended new Bitcoin withdrawals due to a large number of unconfirmed transactions. The company plans to resume withdrawals once this is resolved.

The Hashing24 team claims to have been involved in Bitcoin mining since 2012, although the website itself has only been around since 2016. The company appears to have no data centers of its own, rather, it has partnered with big name providers such as BitFury to lease hashpower to customers. Note that Hashing24 is mentioned on Bitfury's website, which may reassure customers that the operation is real.

If you're new to cloud mining, you can also use Hashing24's demo mode to simulate a Bitcoin mining contract to see how much you might earn. This is a good way to help you understand some of the concepts behind cloud mining, but won't necessarily let you project future profits, as mining difficulty and BTC price will vary over time (naturally).

After registering you can currently sign up for Bitcoin mining contracts only, for a period of 36 months. If these are sold out (as they were at the time of writing) you can also try out Hashing24's auction feature which allows you to bid on hashpower from existing customers.

Regardless of how you purchase your mining contract, Hashing24 charges a flat fee of $0.00033 per GH/s per day. There's also a one-time fee for purchasing hashing power with a particular host.

Eobot has been around since 2013 and is registered in California. Its owners have decided to remain anonymous, so there are no photos or office addresses on the main website.

Eobot's site did not play nicely with our ad-blocker on registration, forcing us to use another browser. However, once sign up was complete, we saw that the website notifies users when someone logs into their account from a new IP address. Two-factor authentication is also enabled by default, meaning that in order to access your account, you need to provide a code sent by email as well as your password.

Eobot offers mining contracts either for 24 hours or five years. The website is neatly laid out and also offers a fee estimator to allow you to calculate daily profits in exchange for the hashpower you purchase. Its main page is very clear that most investments will take around 52 months to break even.

Maintenance fees are currently set at $0.00021/GH/s/day. Unlike other cloud mining websites we've reviewed, Eobot also offers an easy to understand explanation of how maintenance fees work. Contracts are available for a wide range of cryptocurrencies.

Due to the owner's desire for anonymity and in order to stay within the law, direct deposit of funds by bank transfer isn't supported. You can, however, buy contracts with Bitcoin and via a USD credit card using Epay.

Top image credit: Hashing24



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YouTube creators can now jazz up live streams with pre-recorded video snippets

YouTube has announced a bundle of new tools for creators, including the ability to combine live streaming with pre-recorded video. 

The new tool, called Premieres, means creators can multitask during broadcasts – answering live questions while playing a recorded clip, for example. Premieres will roll out over the next two weeks, starting with users in its beta testing program.

The site is also launching channel memberships as a way for creators to earn extra cash from their clips. Viewers can sponsor their favorite channels for a monthly fee of US$4.99 (about £4, AU$7). In return, they'll receive custom emoji and badges, plus the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting the content they enjoy.

There are new merchandise opportunities as well. Creators with over 100,000 subscribers can design goodies like T-shirts and mugs on Teespring and have them advertized on a virtual shelf under their videos. Many YouTube stars already supplement their income with merch sales, but until now they've had to direct their fans to a storefront on a different site.

Premium plans

YouTube announced the new tools at its annual VidCon event in Anaheim, California, which kicked off yesterday shortly after the global launch of YouTube Premium and YouTube Music.

The site is clearly keen to show that it's taking content seriously – and for good reason. The site has faced fierce criticism this year for unsavory videos appearing on YouTube Kids, and its slow response when star vlogger Logan Paul shared footage of a suicide victim with his millions of (mostly young) subscribers.

YouTube's competitors are also nipping at its heels. Instagram's move into long-form video, IGTV, lets regular users share videos up to 10 minutes in length, while social media celebrities can keep their cameras rolling for up to an hour.

Via The Verge



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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Best free image hosting websites 2018 for photos and videos

Ubiquitous cloud computing and the advent of smartphones with superb connectivity and compact-beating cameras have turned us into trigger-happy snappers and eager uploaders.

While Facebook remains the top destination for pictures, other image hosting websites (free or paid) have mushroomed in popularity as folks look for a safe abode for photos that have a serious propensity to be shared and potentially go viral.

When it comes to sussing out the best online home for your pics and vids, you will want to check out where these services are based, and whether or not they require registration. You’ll also need to consider other features: storage space, file size limits, file support, how easy it is to upload pictures, platforms supported, and whether there’s capacity for direct linking, image galleries, editing capabilities and more.

Note that image hosting websites are fundamentally different from online photo printing or backup services – the latter are used primarily to keep a copy of pictures online, with sharing being a minor consideration. At any rate, let’s take a look at some of our favorite free image hosting websites.

Best free image hosting websites in 2018

Imgur is by far the biggest image hosting website in the world (and one of the top 50 online properties). You don’t have to register to use it and everything is pretty much unlimited with three exceptions: you’re limited to uploading up to 50 pictures per IP address per hour, the maximum file size for non-animated images is 20MB, and 200MB for GIFs.

Files are kept online forever but just be aware that the service does apply lossy compression to non-animated images over 1MB (for anonymous uploads) and 5MB (for account holders). So don’t use this as an online backup service for your pictures. There are also a plethora of tools available either produced by Imgur or members of the very active user community.

It’s difficult to mention free image hosting and not bring Flickr into the conversation. The site experienced a meteoric rise under the ownership of Yahoo and Oath/Verizon since 2017, and targets the prosumer audience rather than casual happy GIFer users. Flickr’s base offering remains free with 1TB of storage, powerful photo editing tools and smart photo management, while its paid-for Pro Plus boasts advanced stats, ad-free browsing and a desktop auto-uploader.

With tens of millions of subscribers, Flickr has managed to build one of the biggest photo communities on the web. Also note that if you are in the market for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you can get a 15% discount, which should be more than enough to buy the paid-for Flickr account.

This little-known image hosting website has a unique feature which makes it massively useful for those looking to create thumbnail galleries very quickly. You can upload compressed ZIP files (up to 250MB in size), ideal for archives without index. There is a 10MB file size download limit for pictures, with no limits on the number of uploads/downloads, or how long a file is hosted – only JPG, GIF and PNG files are supported, though.

Unlike others, Imagebam’s focus is entirely on hosting pictures rather than fostering a community and encouraging discoverability. While registration is optional, it provides you with photo management tools, and the ability to organize your images and galleries.

It’s near impossible to go more minimalist than Imgbb and that’s probably why it’s one of the more popular image hosting websites around. Simply drag-and-drop your files on the homepage and you’re ready to go. There’s a 16MB limit (all major image file formats are supported), but no limit to the number of files you can upload, or restrictions on how long they can remain online. Imgbb doesn’t require the user to register – just be aware that all the pictures you upload will be reviewed by human editors.

Like Imagebam, Imagetitan doesn’t operate an entire community, instead simply providing a straightforward browser-based interface. There are no mobile apps here – you can only upload files smaller Than 1.5MB, and only the three major image file types are accepted (JPG, GIF and PNG). There’s no limit to the number of files you can upload, and no bandwidth restrictions, plus the pictures will remain online for as long as you want.

You are provided with a deletion code to remove pictures at a later date. You don’t need to register and you can upload pictures via FTP (up to 100 of them). Hot-linking is not prohibited but Imagetitan doesn’t provide direct links.

At the other end of the spectrum is Pixabay, a popular upmarket image hosting service that pegs itself as an online community of people who publish high quality copyright-free images and videos. To be part of this exclusive club, however, you must stick to the site’s stringent image quality guidelines, which means that all the photos are vetted by humans.

Login is compulsory and the mobile apps do not currently support direct image uploads. Pictures need to be at least 3,000 pixels wide, up to 40MB in size, and you can upload up to 10 pictures in 10 days. High quality images won't effect the upload limit and the more high quality images you submit, the more your daily granted number of uploads will increase.

Other popular image hosting sites include…

Tinypic: A fast, simple and reliable free video and image hosting site owned by Photobucket. There is no registration or login required, simply submit your picture or video.

Use.com: Another well-loved free image hosting website that offers unlimited uploads, perpetual online storage and unlimited bandwidth. Use.com boasts an extra level of privacy by allowing you to share photos and videos with just your friends and family – or with the whole world if you prefer.

Pexels: One of the growing rivals to Pixabay, Pexel wants to help designers and bloggers – and indeed everyone who is looking for an image – to find great photos that they can use everywhere for free. All photos submitted are therefore released under the CC0 license which means pictures can be used for free without attribution.

Deviantart: By far the biggest community of image sharers in the world is Deviantart. An “online social network for artists and enthusiasts” is how the service describes itself, and 45 million or so registered members have uploaded millions of pieces of art online. This is probably as far away as you can get from the likes of Imgur and traditional image hosting websites.



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