Crypto Currency: A Funding Method for PPGR
Do you leave your computer on at nights or is it running only when you are using it? Whatever your answer is, you can digitally dig like a pirate and find a real treasure. Actually not only you, but your friends or a team that you are involved with or even a party can get funding by mining for the “Litecoin” digital currency.
This is not a game but a true P2P donation method applied by the Greek Pirates the last two months. The idea started by Stratos Zolotas, elected member of the Arbitration Committee of Pirate Party of Greece and member of the IT team. As he said to Pirate Times so far 30 LTCs have been mined, about 100$, from 15 members that are mining day and night and other 20 more that come and go. Zolotas was trying to think of how party members can contribute financially in this period of economic crisis and the idea came to him. It might not be a great funding for the party, but brings members together, strengthens the teamwork and creates the “swarm”. Zolotas calls it “micro involvement” and finds it along the lines of pirate thinking.
PPGR released a statement (in Greek here) and sent it to their members and friends encouraging them to work like a swarm and participate in a collective mining of “Litecoin”, also known as the “little brother of Bitcoin” as they have characteristically named this new currency. The biggest problem for all pirate parties concerning funding could be partly solved by collective mining and the purpose of this interview is to take a closer look on this crypto-currency project.
Pirate Times: What is Litecoins?
Stratos: I think Wikipedia’s description is covering the issue quite well. “Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Inspired by and technically nearly identical to Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin creation and transfer is based on an open source encryption protocol and is not managed by any central authority.”
Pirate Times: It has to do with Bitcoin?
Stratos: Running to Wikipedia again, “Litecoin is intended by its developers to improve upon Bitcoin and offers three key differences: Firstly, the Litecoin network processes a block every 2.5 minutes, rather than Bitcoin’s 10 minutes, which its developers claim allows for faster transaction confirmation. The network difficulty adjusts according to hashing power available, as the aim is for a block to be mined every 2.5 minutes. Secondly, the Litecoin network will produce 84 million litecoins which is four times as many currency units as will be issued by the Bitcoin network. Thirdly, Litecoin uses scrypt in its proof-of-work algorithm: a sequential memory-hard function first conceived by Colin Percival. Its proponents claim that the memory intensive nature of Scrypt reduces the advantage that GPU, FPGA and ASIC mining have over CPU mining (production of Litecoins), when compared to Bitcoin. FPGA and ASIC implementations are more expensive to create for Scrypt than for SHA-256 as used by Bitcoin.” The last difference from bitcoin was the reason that Ι selected Litecoin instead of Bitcoin. Bitcoin mining has become an expensive “sport” with specialized devices or powerful GPU cards that cost a lot of money. For a distributed mining effort among pirates we have to give some chances to people with common average hardware.
Pirate Times: How did you get the idea about Litecoin?
Stratos: I’m following the crypto-currency projects for some time now from a technical and theoretical point of view. The idea was not to make money from nothing (you have to use electricity anyway) but to give to members and friends an easy way for financial donations. I call this type of involvement, micro-involvement. I saw that a lot of members and friends don’t go to the bank or make a money transfer easily but are willing to let their computer systems running for mining, because after the initial install it’s just some clicks from the mouse. Also I thought that something like this will be very coherent to the pirate’s way of thinking.
Pirate Times: How can anyone download the application?
Stratos: There is not only “one” software application for LTC mining. We are using cpuminer because it runs on every system that has a CPU (that means all of them) on Windows, Linux and Mac. There are more specialized software applications for GPU mining or for FPGAs and ASICs. Cpuminer is the way to go for the average user who wants to donate LTCs by mining for the PP-GR. If someone is willing to do more and wants more complex instructions or help, he just have to ask us on our forum. We have prepared ready to run batch files for mining with cpuminer that can be downloaded for windows users of 32 bit CPUs and 64 bit CPUs. There is a source and other versions of cpuminer for Linux and Mac as well.
Pirate Times: What are the minimum requirements for a computer to participate in mining?
Stratos: A decent modern PC with 2 core CPU will do.
Pirate Times: How is this collective mining?
Stratos: We are using p2pool that is a decentralized peer to peer mining pool. Pools are the way for the mining to be efficient because solo mining (without pool) requires a heavy amount of power and resources from the miner. On pool mining, many miners connect to the pool and the blocks are split and distributed in smaller pieces to the miners. P2pool is the only open source decentralized pool, that means there is no registration on a single server. Miners are connected to nodes and all the nodes form the pool. We just run a p2pool node on our server for the miners that are willing to mine for PP-GR.
Pirate Times: For how long has PPGR applied this method?
Stratos: If you count the test period, it is about 2 months now.
Pirate Times: How many members participating?
Stratos: It’s difficult to track this because p2pool supports anonymous mining, but I presume that 10-15 pirates are always on and about 10-20 more come and go, occasionally.
Pirate Times: How much money have you collected so far?
Stratos: About 30 LTCs have been mined until now. That means, with the current price, about 100 $.
Pirate Times: Is it possible to make a calculation for the daily efficiency of the party from this collective mining in euro? E.g. if we have 100 or 1000 computers mining 24 hours how many euros can they generate per day?
Stratos: It is difficult to calculate this. There are a lot of parameters involved and the price of digital currencies is fluctuating on the digital markets. The point is, the more pirates mine, the better it is (swarm power).
Pirate Times: Are you aware if other parties are using this method of collective mining? Would you recommend it to other pirate parties, PPI or PPEU?
Stratos: I’m not aware of other initiatives such as ours. I think that pirate parties should take a closer look on crypto-currency projects, not just for mining but especially for the political meaning of supporting, promoting and use of digital currencies.
Pirate Times: As a member of the IT team, do you think in technical level that PPGR can host a ΡΡΙ or a ΡΡΕU conference?
Stratos: Yes we can. The only problem is the cost (or availability) of equipment for such an event. That means, if we can find the necessary equipment, we can do it for sure.
Pirate Times: What is your background in pirate politics?
Stratos: I’m an elected member of the CoA of PP-GR and a founding member of the party. Before that i [ran] as a candidate with an independent group on local elections in my town and i was involved with politics from my school years. I’m a member of several open source projects and also a professional system engineer, specialized on open source software. I run a small information technology solutions company with two friends on our small island (Syros) where we try to use as much open source software as we can for the provided services to our clients.
Pirate Times: What’s your review so far by the operation of Liquid Feedback? From your experience, what are the plus and the minus of the tool?
Stratos: I think that LQFB is the most complete tool that we have until now. It has some rough edges although. I think that all the “minus” comments are regarding delegation and because of the difficulty to adapt to a new way of participating, discussing, deciding and voting. I am a supporter of the “delegation concept” because i think that “experts” have to receive the support and trust from the other members. Delegation has its disadvantages regarding abuse, but this is not a delegation error, but a human error. The main characteristic of public and transparent delegation is the key of LQFB (and other systems as well). If we abuse delegation it’s our fault, not the system’s. I think that LQFB developers are doing a fine job until now to provide pirates with a nice piece of software.
Featured image: CC BY Pirate Party Greece