The Weird & Wonderful World of Altcoins #1

Internet culture is an enormously complex but very new phenomenon in the grand scheme of human activity. Prior to the advent of the information age, cultural activity was bound by the domains of geography, language, religion and occupational activity. A cross-pollination of these categories (accelerated by real-time interpersonal and group interaction) initiated the rapid rise of a new set of unique macro and micro online subcultures.

Use of emojis and internet slang are now commonplace, but among the most notable of the cultural artifacts produced by people interacting online is that of the internet meme.

One such meme has had a remarkable period of longevity: Pepe the Frog. He first appeared in comics by Matt Furie via Myspace​ in 2005 and has since then experienced an unparalleled number of permutations. Pepe has also represented various (even diametrically opposed) political ideologies over the subsequent years. The tug-of-war over Pepe’s representation of ideas is fraught with intrigue.

The original Pepe

Which brings us to now, where Pepe has been essentially deified in a near-endless series of iterations, many of which have appeared in repost after repost to the extent that specific versions are widely known. This also conversely implies that some Pepes are posited as rare in comparison to their more well-known counterparts. Rare Pepes give a quick wink to the inherent irony of digital images being commonly replicated simply with save-as or copy/paste.

With the advent of blockchain technology, however, the concept of a fixed digital asset has arrived as exemplified by bitcoin, a virtual currency with a finite number of units.

It is the phenomenon of these rare Pepes fusing with the unduplicable nature of bitcoin which brings them to the level of a digital commodity​. Rare Pepes are similar to collectible trading cards​ which are produced in limited quantities to boost their desirability, but rather than producing actual physical cards the limited quantity and ownership of them is validated on the Bitcoin​ blockchain. The purchase transactions are facilitated by a specific cryptocurrency, Pepe Cash. The authenticity of each card “must be certified by the Rare Pepe Foundation,” which succeeds in being as ludicrous at it sounds.

A rare Pepe featuring Doge

Pepe Cash’s early success builds on the legitimacy of Dogecoin​, another meme-based cryptocurrency which has successfully modeled the ability which niche online culture has in finding a real-world use case. The object of using Pepe Cash and trading/collecting rare Pepes is purely for entertainment purposes and in celebrating meme culture, yet, its rise in value has led to others investing in them speculatively for profit.

The official icon for the currency (which is also its own collectible card) depicts Pepe wearing a garish purple hat (consistent with attire synonymous with pimps) and aviator sunglasses while standing near a McMansion​ which has three Lambourghinis parked in front of it – all symbols of new and rapidly acquired wealth (a status many cryptocurrency speculators seek to achieve).​ The caption to the image reads: The Pepe Cash card is useful for buying houses, fast cars and yachts.

Pepe Cash heralds a new level of reification for internet culture. Vapid and intangible meme concepts are manifesting into our everyday lives, and this is accomplished in a truly absurd and hilarious fashion. In keeping with the long-practiced online tradition, Pepe Cash has successfully trolled the concepts of commodity, rarity and commerce itself.

Stand in awe, we’re only witnessing the cusp of dawn on the cryptosphere’s horizon.


Ep. 66 — Crypto 101’s Two Rules of Trading


Before we get started, the usual disclaimer: despite the title this post is not designed to be taken as professional financial advice. It absolutely can not take the place of your own, independent and comprehensive research.

When I was first introduced to cryptocurrency it wasn’t long before two acronyms: FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) and FOMO (fear of missing out) became part of my vocabulary. These acronyms pertain specifically to the practice of trading in cryptocurrencies. I entered the market early January and without explicitly being aware of these two forces, they definitely affected my decision making in those early days.

Both FUD and FOMO have one thing in common: fear. The lesson to be learned here is that if we can do something to control fear, we might just have done the bulk of the work necessary to make smarter decisions in the marketplace. It is an exciting time to be engaged, but external pressures and confusion can hinder our thought processes. When these are coupled with fear, we are much more likely to make poor decisions.

Below are two simple rules that we at Crypto 101 believe help guard the average consumer against falling victim to FUD and FOMO.

1. Don’t invest more money than you are willing to lose.

The money you are willing to lose is the money you are willing to forget about. If you find yourself constantly obsessing about your investment, you may have already made this mistake. Or perhaps, you invested a sensible amount of money but you also may have invested your ego.

Try not to attach your personal identity to the money you put into the market. We all make mistakes, we are all susceptible to rushing in or feeling too personally attached to our choices. A good lesson here is to try not to take market fluctuations personally. How much credit can you really take for a coin skyrocketing or plummeting? If your investment fails, it’s not necessarily your fault. But if you invest only what you are willing to lose, losing doesn’t affect you.

2. Only sell your coins when you are happy with the profit or you have accepted the loss.

Part of this includes having a pre-established goal. This can be flexible, for sure. But make sure you have a starting point. If you invest in a coin at $1, have a clear exit strategy in mind. Maybe it’s $1.50, maybe it’s $2. The end goal can be flexible based upon context: headlines, the performance of the rest of your portfolio etc. But make sure you always have a goal in mind.

Another thing to remember is that over-trading reduces your chances of reaching your goal. Be patient and make educated moves, sparingly. It is time to sell when you are either happy with your profits or you have accepted your loss. If you can’t honestly admit either of these things, it is not the right time to sell. Sometimes you may sell at a point you are comfortable with. You take some profits and are happy with your decision. The next day the coin you sold may continue to grow. It is important to remember that this is fine, you entered with a plan, you made the right decision at the time, and you were happy with your profits. The market will continue to do its thing, we can’t let it fool us into thinking a good decision we were content with, was actually a bad one.

One final point

There will always be another opportunity. If you feel like you sold too soon, or you missed an opportunity — don’t panic. There are new decisions to be made and along the way you have gained more experience in making them better. Again, remove fear as best you can and start afresh.

Crypto 101 Episode 66 —

Blockchain Technology Applications: Marine Insurance

Global shipping operator Maersk is targeting January 2018 for implementation of a new marine insurance platform that utilizes blockchain technology. Partnering with Microsoft and Dutch software security firm Guardtime for technical support throughout a recent trial period, this announcement signals another vote of confidence for the enterprise application of distributed ledger technology (DLT). Blockchain technology traces its origins to the cryptocurrency space but its high potential for financial and data security benefits has captured the attention of industry leaders in the financial services, healthcare, banking and insurance industries.

Key Details

Marine insurance is a $30B market space with a legacy that is measured in centuries. Facing lean margins after years of pressure on insureds resulting from reductions in global shipping demands and inefficiencies that are inherent to the business, Maersk and their partners are hoping the new platform will improve performance metrics through:

  • Creation of secure and transparent databases to track real time shipment information and transit risk profiles
  • Incorporation of shipment databases directly into applicable insurance contracts
  • Confirmation of shipment compliance with insurance loss control standards and transportation or trade regulations that frequently traverse multiple international jurisdictions
  • Settlement of “smart contract” transactions that won’t require third-party verification
  • Access to shipment data across complex and variable networks for all stakeholders, including vendors, customers, insurers, and brokers


Engagement with this emerging technology is rapid and has established itself as a top priority for consideration as company leaders balance its projected advantages and risks for the future of their organizations. Information security persists as an absolute requirement, particularly for industries such as insurance where the terms and conditions of policies and contracts can be quite sensitive to proprietary concerns and uniquely based on historical relationships in very competitive landscapes. The potential benefits of blockchain are significant and as application progresses beyond proof-of-concept trials, its successful maturation may prove to be a smart bet for early-adopters such as Maersk.

More Information





Written by Crypto 101 contributor Ryan LaMonica

7 Step Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with Cryptocurrency

This guide is a helpful attachment to the original podcast interview, 7 Step Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with Crypto. Please listen to that podcast first and then check out this guide.

My name is Dani Amsalem and I’m the founder of a little project called

I got started with crypto in March or April of 2017 after buying a little bit of Monero and Ethereum. I quickly forgot all about it until a couple of months later, a friend told me to check out Ethereum’s price, apparently it had skyrocketed.

I was surprised to see my small investment 5Xed in value!

I made 5X my initial investment on something I didn’t understand. I knew I needed to research it some more and get a better understanding of what was making me money. It became clear to me that every website, forum, and news article was full of technical terms and crypto slang. The learning curve was very, very steep.

As I was digging through the confusion, I realized that there must be others experiencing these same problems. A few friends mentioned the idea of a dictionary, and so I decided to make one!


Decryptionary is the simplest crypto dictionary and beginner’s guide.

Decryptionary has over 200 entries all defined using super plain English. I tried to write everything in an Explain Like I’m 5 (ELI5) format.

I then created 4 visual tutorials to help beginners get started. They introduce readers to crypto, show them how I invested in my first bitcoin, show them how I diversified into other coins and how I protect my investment.

While everything in Decryptionary is aimed to help beginners and amateurs understand the subject of cryptocurrency and its technology, I am not a financial adviser. Nothing published by me or Decryptionary constitutes an investment recommendation, nor should any data or content published by Decryptionary be relied upon for any investment activities. I do like to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and own over a dozen different types, but will never tell you what to buy.1

Step 1 – Understanding Cryptocurrency

Let’s quickly look at the word “cryptocurrency”. The first part, crypto-, is short for “cryptography”. Cryptography is computer technology used for securing and hiding information.

The second part, currency, is a common word and just means the money currently in use.

computer money

Cryptocurrency is an electronic money with technology, not governments, controlling its creation and protecting its value and users.

  • Instead of trusting a bank to receive, store, and send your money, users work directly with each other.
  • Instead of trusting a bank to verify a transaction, thousands of people simultaneously and publicly do that.
  • Instead of paying a bank every time you ask them to send your money, a few pennies are given to the many thousands who record your transaction.

The digital recording of all crypto transactions is called a blockchain. The blockchain is a public, permanent, secure database. Anyone can access it. Anything can be recorded into it.

The openness and security of the blockchain passes on to the cryptocurrency it manages. Compare those unique features with the dollars and euros we’re used to.

Step 2 – How You Can Buy Your First Crypto


For most people, the easiest crypto to buy is bitcoin. To buy your first crypto:

  • I usually suggest exchanges that accept credit cards like Coinbase, Bitpanda, or Coinmama.
  • Wire transfers or direct deposits (also known as Automated Clearing House, ACH for short) are a slower more affordable way to buy crypto.
    • GDAX is owned by Coinbase and they offer direct deposits.
    • Kraken accepts wire transfers.
    • Gemini accepts wire transfers and direct deposits.
  • One of the best ways is to ask a trusted friend to help you. They can walk you through the process, sell you some crypto, and help you secure your investment.

You should use the easiest route available to you.

Step 3 – Securing Your Crypto

stop sign

Crypto security is an all too important subject and one not discussed enough. If you do a Google search for “bitcoin theft” or “stolen bitcoin” you will find dozens of articles where people claim to have lost many thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin.

Lost or stolen cryptocurrencies cannot be recovered.

Bitcoin itself has never been hacked. Weak user or business security was the problem.

You are responsible for your own crypto. You are responsible for safely storing your access keys to your crypto. You are also responsible for the security of your email, phone, and computer.

I’ve discovered 9 simple security actions anyone can take to reduce their chances of theft and increase their protection:

  1. Keep your information private. Don’t go shouting all across Facebook, Twitter or your blog that you bought bitcoin or ethereum. That will make you a public target for hacks and attacks.
    One of the more recent types of attacks are hackers stealing your phone number and hacking into your email then using both your email and phone to steal your online identity and your crypto. The following steps will tell you how to greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim to this kind of attack.
  2. Use a brand new, secure email for all of your accounts. Protonmail is a must when it comes to your crypto accounts. They have an incredibly secure free plan that is greatly superior to Gmail, Yahoo or any of the other typical email providers. I highly suggest you visit their website and check them out.
  3. Use strong passwords. That means 21 characters or more. Don’t include words personal to you like names, birthdays, or addresses.computerhacker
  4. Use Lastpass to store your complex passwords. They use the same cryptographic security as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While Lastpass has been attacked by hackers, there are no reports of information ever being exposed. They also have a really handy password generator you can use for the earlier step.
  5. Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) for all of your accounts including email and Lastpass. While Google Authenticator is the common suggestion, I actually prefer Authy. I did some serious digging and found Authy was leagues ahead of Google Authenticator. Authy offers a much more user-friendly experience, better security and good customer service. I have more information about them in my free PDF, 8 Steps to Protecting Your Crypto.
  6. Use strong antivirus software with a good reputation. There are computer viruses that can allow a hacker to see your private information and steal your cryptocurrency, so make sure your computer itself remains safe.
  7. Avoid fake websites and emails that pretend to be legit. This is known as phishing. For example, a phishing website might make themselves look exactly like Coinbase and have a domain that is spelled “Colnbase” with an “l” replacing the “i”. The simplest way to avoid phishing is to save the correct website with Lastpass or a bookmark and only access it that way.
  8. Spread out your cryptocurrency. This is known as decentralization. By keeping all of your crypto in one location, any weakness in your security means a hacker who gets lucky can take all of your money. Wallets that are not connected to the Internet are the most secure. I have more information in my free PDF, 8 Steps to Protecting Your Crypto.
  9. Tell a trusted family member about your crypto and how to access it. There are stories of unfortunate people who passed away before their time and never told their family how to get access to their small fortune in crypto. By sharing information about your crypto with a trusted family member, you can be sure your wealth will last past your lifetime.

Step 4 – Diversifying into Alternatives to Bitcoin


Excluding bitcoin, there are close to 1,400 cryptocurrencies available. These are known as “altcoins”, which is a contraction of “alternatives to bitcoin”.

Most altcoins were developed with a unique perspective, purpose, and value for their audience. Every altcoin trades at a different price.

I’m often asked if it’s too late to get into the crypto game. Both Matthew and I think there is both plenty of time and opportunities.

  • Ethereum is one of the most popular altcoins. Ethereum is not only a cryptocurrency, but a technology that allows other cryptocurrencies to be built with it. I recently read a great comparison on Reddit: if you were to imagine bitcoin as an app, Ethereum is an app store.
  • Litecoin is the silver to bitcoin’s incredible, and expensive, gold. Litecoin is swift in adopting the latest technology to improve transaction time, security, and other advantages. Litecoin offers lower transaction fees and faster transaction time than bitcoin.
  • Ripple is a cryptocurrency specializing in payment technology not only for individuals, but also institutions and banks. They have already established a network with many big banks such as American Express and Santander.

Those are just 3 of the many cryptocurrencies available. All will have their rises and falls. There are even a few that are really revolutionary.

On the other side of the coin (pun intended), there are many cryptocurrency scams. You must always DYOR, or Do Your Own Research.

To get altcoins, you must use an exchange with more options than Coinbase. Popular exchanges include Bittrex, Poloniex, Kraken, and Binance. There are many more, and with any of those, you can swap your bitcoin or ethereum many other altcoins. is a great website with many tools. One tool is a list of exchanges that a cryptocurrency is available on. Click on any cryptocurrency and select the [Markets] tab. On the left hand side you will see what exchanges are trading that crypto.

bitcoin exchange markets

Step 5 – Checking Out Initial Coin Offerings

Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs, are a marketing event created by the founders of new cryptocurrencies. In an ICO, the public is allowed to invest in a cryptocurrency before it has become publicly tradable. Sometimes ICOs happen before any code has even been written.

Unfortunately, ICOs are a breeding ground for scams. Recently, the SEC went after an ICO scam by the name of Plexcoins. Apparently, Plexcoins was a very shameless scam where they promised investors a 13X profit in less than a month. They managed to get over $15 million from thousands of investors.

The important thing with researching ICOs is to:

  • Study their website and team for professional appearance and experience.
  • Study their less non-technical writings, known as a light paper (if available).
  • Study their technical writings, known as a white paper. You can learn more with my free PDF, How to Become a Wizard with White Papers.
  • Search for them in reddit to see what people are saying about them.
  • Study their github, which is a website where you can review their code and updates.
  • Study their announcement (ANN for short) in bitcointalk.

By the end of that process, you should have a very good idea of the team behind the ICO, how likely it is that they hit their goals, how unique and valuable their cryptocurrency can become, and whether they have a good marketing plan.

Anything that is unclear or missing is a red flag.

Step 6 – Trading Crypto


For the more adventurous cryptomaniac, buying crypto at a low price and selling it at a high price might be interesting. This is known as “trading”.

There is massive risk in trading crypto because you can lose your entire investment if your timing is bad.

Recently, I pulled out my initial investment of over $2,000 in crypto. Less than a week later, I found that if I hadn’t have pulled my money out, it would have nearly doubled!

The emotion involved in seeing a big miss like that can be crippling. Trading is not for the faint of heart.

Step 7 – Keep Learning


Cryptocurrencies are the most rapidly evolving tech I have ever seen.

The potential of blockchain technology has only been used in a handful of industries.

Here are some very popular resources both I use to stay up to date in crypto.

The Bitcoin Problem


The biggest, underlying problem with bitcoin is not that we might be in a bubble, the increasing costs of transactions, or the delay in transactions.

Bitcoin’s biggest problem is the uncertainty.

People are uncertain about whether bitcoin will continue to exist. People are uncertain of bitcoin’s value. People are uncertain of its benefits.

The quickest way is to establish confidence in bitcoin is to distribute it to people. Once they have crypto, they will see how easy it is to own. That will trigger their interest and desire for more.

This problem affects all cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is just the face of this business.

It is our duty, as cryptomaniacs and as educators, to make sure people understand how simple, easy, and real crypto is.

In Conclusion

You now have 7 easy steps to get started with cryptocurrencies:

  1. Understanding crypto.
  2. How you can buy your first crypto.
  3. Securing your crypto.
  4. Diversifying into altcoins.
  5. Checking out Initial Coin Offerings.
  6. Trading crypto.
  7. Keep learning!

You’re also aware of the major problem we all face with crypto: uncertainty. Please help cryptocurrencies stay alive by sharing the concept and helping others get started. One easy way to do that is by sharing the Crypto 101 podcast interview this is based off of.

-Dani | Founder






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Please note that despite the nature of much of the material created, hosted and provided by this website, Decryptionary is not a financial reference resource and the opinions of authors and other contributors are their own and should not be taken as financial advice. If you require advice of this sort, Decryptionary strongly recommends contacting a qualified industry professional.

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To Re-create the Financial System

Vertcoin’s ambitious goals to subvert specialist mining technology and give power back to the people.

Fundamental to the fabric of cryptocurrencies, mining must remain accessible. Verifying transactions with the goal, and reward, of releasing new currency is a simple configuration allowing for incentivized security. This keeps networks ahead of potential threats through diversification and continual decentralization. Currencies like Vertcoin embody this ideal in a space that has risen to prominence on the backs of currencies that have manifested the opposite.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.16.49 AM

Specialist technology defines the cryptocurrency market today. Although the original intent of Bitcoin was determined to push away from this, and other, barriers – in essence many large volume currencies have become difficult to mine without expensive and specifically designed technology. ASIC-resistance is the answer to this divergent conundrum.

ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) are hardware machines designed for a specific purpose. In the case of cryptocurrency ASICs are used to mine more efficiently.

photo cred to Xiangfu

Expensive and difficult to obtain, these machines are not readily accessible to most people and, in reality, are only used by people in the upper echelon of computing – leaving the mining of Bitcoin to an elite group. According to altruist developers like James Lovejoy of Vertcoin “Bitcoin and Litecoin are not much different than [centralized financial entities] that we have now because they are wholly controlled by the ASIC miners – the voice of the miners is disproportionately amplified.”

Instead of allowing specialization to condense the growth and centralize the control, Vertcoin is returning to the roots of crypto, power to the people. Wealth and power cannot be held in the hands of a few, rather the entire process must be accessible to the many.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.04.05 AM

With a core focus on decentralized mining, ASICs are not allowed on the Vertcoin mining network, retaining the idyllic values of access and participation that cryptocurrency is known for. Furthermore, the technology is built to keep the hash rate (how the processing power of a crypto network is quantified) in equilibrium with the price in order to keep mining profitable and scalable. This continues to encourage individuals with regular computing abilities to mine the currency, reinforcing the decentralized intent.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.00.44 AM           Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.02.54 AM

Coupled with prioritizing easy transactions, Vertcoin is creating a currency for the future. Empowering people to take part in the system instead of being a passive observer. After all, if holders of these currencies don’t understand the lightning network or atomic swaps and, worse yet, don’t use the currency – then is it really a currency at all?

Creating a community of participation will help currencies like Vertcoin innovate for a more positive future in crypto as a whole. Decentralization is not just a pipe dream of purist developers, it is the holy grail of the free world. Without it there’s no personal liberty and even less accountability. Find the freedom of crypto and spread the word!


Ross Ruffing, lead writer @ Crypto 101