Bitcoin: Past, Present and Future

By Ahmed Kabir Chaion

Product Specialist, Strategy and Relationships

Past

From the beginning of human civilization the concept of currency has evolved so much. Trade and commerce depended hugely on what both parties had to offer (material goods, services, etc.) for the transactions to happen; “Exchange”- a more appropriate term. Rice was exchanged for cloth and eventually cloth was exchanged for currency. Now fast forward to the 21st century, we not only have actual currencies but virtual and digital ones as well. A wide range of payment options have reduced the existing barriers of buying and selling regardless of the location or region. The power of technology has allowed us to entertain and utilize the latest form of currency called “Cryptocurrency”.

Present

bitcoinPaying for a cup of chocolate latte in the streets of China using a mobile app (Internet Banking, PayPal, etc.) would have been unrealistic to even imagine about a 100 years ago – now it’s a thing of the present. Such methods of technology not only fasten the transaction but also provides greater levels of security than conventional methods without costing additional fees.

Cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, created and stored electronically within the network. Each completed transaction gets added into a block of decentralized ledgers called the “Blockchain”. Once a transaction gets added to the Blockchain it becomes permanent and cannot be altered. Cryptocurrencies have no physical form as it only exists in the network. Bitcoin is the most common and widely used form of cryptocurrency among 700+ different Altcoin (alternate Cryptocurrency like Litecoin, Dogecoin, etc) types. With record-high exchange rates, (1 Bitcoin = 2730+ USD on 21 June 2017) Bitcoin now has created a hype that is enough for millions of users to sign up for a Bitcoin Wallet Account. Similar to the concept of WeChat Wallet (in China), Bitcoin is slowly progressing towards the wide acceptance in countries such as Japan. However, it is important to know that not all countries or states allow Bitcoin to be used legally as the supply of Bitcoin is not determined by a central bank. Here is the list of countries that have banned the use of Bitcoin:

country

Conceptually, Bitcoin is still new and there are so many unknown areas. The very basic requirement of Bitcoin is that the transactions need to be made over the internet and there won’t be any central authority to process each transaction. A single user can have as many identities over the network and those should be anonymous and can only be identified by their virtual identity. User identities are cryptographically hashed (takes an input or message and returns a fixed alphanumeric string; this string is called the hash value). Bitcoin is generated by “Miners” and unlike conventional digging of piles of dirt, the main job of the miners is to validate each and every transaction on the network by confirming them.

The miners usually look into the history of the transactions that is available in the network for anyone to see. They will confirm that the person who is sending Bitcoin had sufficient funds in their account historically and generate a specific hash value. This hash value will consist of the record date for the transaction and the miner’s proof of work. Thus making them entitled to a transaction fee (generated from this particular transaction) which is then stored to a specific database format known as the Blockchain.

Now the obvious question arises, “How do you control the supply of Bitcoin?” Well the first rule of Bitcoin is that there can only be a maximum of 21 Million Bitcoins generated. For the record, this number is yet to be achieved. Current trends suggests that this number may be reached by the year 2140 or earlier. The Bitcoin system supports fractional values down the eighth decimal (0.00000001). This smallest unit of Bitcoin is called a Satoshi, named after the individual or group of developers who referred to themselves as Satoshi Nakamoto, who are behind the concept of Bitcoin protocol. The process of new coin generation happens while rewarding miners for validating transactions. The reward amount decreases over time and eventually will be set to zero once the total number of coins issued (21M) has been reached. Similar to the upper limit in maximum number of coins there is also a limit in daily production of new coins. Enabling this limit on how fast and how many new coins can be generated, the Bitcoin system is effectively controlling the money supply.

Future

So what is the future of Bitcoin? Well, that is an interesting question to say the least. The advantages of using Bitcoin are:

  1. No third-party seizure

  2. No taxes

  3. No tracking

  4. No transaction costs

  5. No risk of charge-backs

  6. No risk of Bitcoins being stolen

On the other hand the disadvantages of using Bitcoin are:

  1. Bitcoins are not widely accepted

  2. Wallets can be lost

  3. Bitcoin valuation fluctuates

  4. No buyer protection

  5. Risk of unknown technical flaws

  6. Built in deflation

  7. No physical form

  8. No valuation guarantee

The growing number of users by the minute, more and more communities accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, trading of coins becoming a source of income for some and the entire concept has broadened in the past couple of years. We may see more and more countries end up banning cryptocurrencies and at the same time we may also see far greater use of cryptocurrencies that we haven’t yet thought of.

References:

  1. http://www.coindesk.com/price/
  2. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/financial-services/fintech/bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency.html
  3. https://www.toptal.com/bitcoin/cryptocurrency-for-dummies-bitcoin-and-beyond
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-23/pboc-is-going-digital-as-mobile-payments-boom-transforms-economy

 


From the Land of the Thunder Dragon to the Land of Golden Fields

By Phurba Wangdi

Like a tiger waiting for its prey, I was awaiting for my flight to Dhaka on 24th of August. A whole new segment of life waiting for me to explore “Golden Bangladesh”. As I waited for my flight, I could feel the adrenaline rush through my veins.

The flight from Paro Intl. Airport to Hazrat Shahjalal Intl. Airport was very short, but it marked a milestone for me as it was my first visit to Bangladesh. It is not the flight that mesmerized me, but the place that I would be living for two months and eight days. Skipping all my flight details and arrival to Dhaka, I will start off with my first day at Southtech Limited.

Southtech is my first workplace and my first job as a programmer. Like a mother’s care, Southtech cared for me during my stay in Dhaka and provided me with the best possible working area. At first, I felt like an alien looking for a work place to explore. Later on, I was surprised with the work environment, where no one is considered as a senior or a junior, but treated as brothers and sisters. It is not your everyday cup of tea to see such a unique working place.  Southtech is not like other software companies that I know of. It is not like Google nor Microsoft, but it is on par with those companies. It is not the facilities that makes me say that, but Southtech itself makes me feel different. I always wanted to work for a company, where I would be given necessary attention to help me learn. During my stay there at Southtech Limited, I met people who always helped me in every aspect that I needed to work and learn. That helped me to grow as a developer, as well as a person. Southtech provided everything that a beginner would need to learn about work ethics.

Talking about my boss – I would not call him that but rather a guide who encourages and understands you. He leads the company by working together with all our colleagues. I had never come across a boss talking with his staff individually, but he changed my views on how senior management can be. I can’t get enough words to describe a man who is lot more then my words to begin with.

Bangladesh is indeed golden, for I can find different foods to taste, and explore the culture that I know little of. Except for the traffic, I love Dhaka.

Words cannot describe my gratitude to Southtech. It has provided me with a platform to learn and grow, and they have given me much more then I could have asked for. Learning starts but never ends and that is what Southtech has taught me. It is one of the most essential ethics I have learned as a person; something an employee should have. It’s hard to describe but I know I have grown as a developer and as an individual.

If you ever get to work with Southtech, I would say you are blessed.


3 tips to become a highly successful individual at work and at home

by Syeda Wedad Quader

While there are many qualities and characteristics that make a person successful, there are a few things about association that are sometimes overlooked. Surrounding yourself with the right people both at work and at home can make a world of a difference in the kind of person you become. Being motivated and hard-working sometimes doesn’t make the cut if you’re working with ‘not-so-intelligent’ people.

3-tips

Though there is no secret formula to success or a definite routine to follow to become successful both personally and professionally, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. Associate yourself with smart people – your professional circle and your friend circle should consist of many different people but the one thing that should remain a common denominator is their intelligence. Smart people exude confidence and you get to share ideas with them. You are in a thriving environment with people who think out of the box and push the norms. This only helps you grow and think smart too. Associating yourself with unsmart people can lower your personal goals and limit your potential. Surround yourself with people who stimulate your thoughts and ways of working. Learn from them and teach them too.

  1. Compete with yourself – while competition around you might be fierce, you should always remember to challenge yourself. You should set realistic personal targets because no one knows you more than you know yourself. Others might work 50 hours longer or study double the amount of time you have but it could just be that you are more efficient than them. And even if they do work twice as long, your targets should be your own, because you know what you can take. Setting your targets based on others’ will significantly demotivate you and can even cause you to ‘miss the point’. Success is achieved not by beating someone else but by challenging yourself to excellence first. Understand your own potential, identify your own limits and set your own goals to overcome them.

  1. Do not find companionship with people who backbite or spread lies – spend time on doing productive things. While it is true that you must always find time to relax and unwind, always make sure the time you set away to unwind and relax doesn’t include these things. Also, never confuse networking with gossiping – they are two separate things. Your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances that you associate yourself with are very important in your life and the kind of people they are can somewhat shape you. Always surround yourself with people who speak the truth and those who constructively criticize. People who constantly see the worst in others will also always see the worst in you. You should associate with people who help you grow and who also teach you to see the good in others.

Associating with smart people can mean you see the world in a different light. They can open your eyes to opportunities and help you overcome problems. Self-assessment is indeed an important key to success. You need to know where you are and where you want to be – you can’t compare yourself with others. You have to be your own person. Participate in constructively criticizing others rather than backbiting about them. Speak the truth and be with those who do the same.


YOUR NEXT IT SOLUTION

by Mahzabin Chowdhury

 

Marketing and sales hypes are everywhere.  In this dynamic technology landscape, we are bombarded and overwhelmed everyday with ample number of IT choices. Selecting a software solution, be it a Financial Solution, Human Resources Solution, Enterprise Resource Planning Solution, Restaurant Management Solution or Point-of Sale software solution, is a challenging task.  Unless you are an IT geek, chances are there that you might end up spending a huge amount of money and dig up your own source of frustration.

Generally and traditionally, the selection process starts with a software requirement analysis, Request for Proposal (RFP) and identifying vendors. But does this process help to identify the right solution for you?  Not only that, through this process how do you tell which vendor will be trustworthy and provide you with consistent after-sales support and service?  It is important to have a game plan to choose your right software as well as the vendor that will work for your venture without breaking your bank.  So, how do you sort through all the choices that you are offered to and select your desired IT solution and vendor?

 

Let’s have a look at the factors to be considered while selecting your next IT solution vendor.

 

Know your software needs: Before you head out to the marketplace for vendor selection, identify your business challenges. The first step is to nail your real problems. Remember, these are the ones that you truly desire to see resolved and therefore needs to be pinpointed as accurately as possible. A vague set of requirements will only get you a vague solution. Therefore, gather your IT needs as accurately and articulately as possible. Once you have the big picture, you can now narrow your must-have list down and start looking for vendors.

cartoon

Know your budget: The next related step is to determine your budget for this solution. Always remember that you are paying for solving a real life problem and so you must establish a realistic cost associated with it. Going cheaper would often mean an unreliable solution and/or vendor. On the opposite spectrum, spending more than you need may often translate into procuring something that you may not even need. So, try to accurately predict your budget through looking at your problem areas.

Financial stability, expertise and reputation: When acquiring a software, be it expensive or not, it is mandatory to know that the software company is well-reputed, proficient and financially sound and will be around in the future.  You should consider their background and experiences (such as, number of years in the business industry, business trends, a good track record of successful completion of work, adequate staff members with required domain knowledge, credentials and certificates etc.). Client base and word-of-mouth are indicators of vendor reputation and their business strength. You should know the number of clients your vendor has, the size of clients and what other people are saying about your vendor in the industry.  Ask your vendor for references, if possible visit their client(s) to get a better understanding of the product.

Good assistance throughout the journey: During the technology partnership, you will be needing a lot of troubleshooting and software assistance. Therefore, know the vendor’s policies and practices regarding maintenance and support service, contract terms, service level agreement, user training, consultation and customization facilities.

Figure out the cost: Concerning the cost, you often hear businesses claim that budget is not a big deal, however, in reality, it becomes one of the prime factors that impacts your procuring decisions. Hidden costs! – always find out what the total cost of procuring will be. Make sure the price on the label is actually the final cost. Get all the necessary details and full cost of the software to get rid of any unwanted hidden and/or additional fees.

Last but not the least, keep an open mind and take your time to select your vendor.  Happy hunting!

 


Solar- powered Smart Phones

by Sourav Saha Ratul

Being an integral part of our lives, Smart phone brings a common problem “battery life crisis”. When you move out of your house for an average of 10-12 hours, you will certainly need to carry your battery charger along with you. But, the problem does not end here. For outdoorsy people, it is not always that easy to find a wall socket, right when your phone’s battery is about to drain out. Seems like the days of running after wall sockets are going to end pretty soon, with the evolution of transparent solar panel technology into the smartphone screens.

Solar Panel Smart phonePhoto source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3465946/Never-run-battery-Kyocera-concept-uses-solar-panels-screen-charge-phone-using-sunlight.html

According to Daily Mail, Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera has demonstrated a smartphone prototype, which features a solar panel in the smartphone screens. This solar panel device will add one minute of call time for every three minutes of sunlight charging. A French company SunPartner Group is bringing in these solar panel called Wysips. These solar panels will be less than 0.5 millimeter in thickness and as much as 90% transparent. The sunlight capturing component called Wysips crystal can soak up energy from sunlight. These transparent solar panels will not be an absolute alternative to the conventional charging system, but can provide enough support in emergency situation when there is no charger available.


Collaborative technology: A dream or reality in Bangladesh?

by Syeda Wedad Quader

Collaborative Technology

Having worked abroad for a year and a half, I can easily notice the difference in the adoption of technology in the workplace. The use of collaborative technology, such as video conferencing was a matter of conducting your daily work. Meetings would be held in virtual rooms, personal desktop endpoints with high quality cameras and speakers would allow employees to have meetings, with life size video. If phones rang for too long, calls would be automatically transferred to one’s mobile so no customer call would be missed. Technology was relentless, there was no escape from it.

In Dhaka, technology is seeping in to our daily lives and at work but at a much slower rate. Meetings are sometimes conducted via video conferencing but the cultural norms way heavier than the convenience of meeting via the Internet. It’s customary to physically go meet your clients or ‘important’ people. The general consensus still remains to be that face-to-face meetings are more impactful and lead to more successful follow-ups. This opinion however remains as such because CXO’s and decision makers are yet to experience the true immersive capabilities of collaborative technology.

Even if the bandwidth issues and cost of endpoints and implementations are resolved, the question still remains, are the people in Bangladesh ready to use technology? Not just technology, but collaborative technology that breaks the social and cultural norms that have been developed over centuries. Can we really convince people to evolve into becoming a much faster and efficient workforce with the opportunity cost being that age-old traditions would have to go? Would the ‘important’ people realize that meeting via video wouldn’t make them any less important? Could management trust employees to work from home?

While the idea may seem too far-fetched and ‘change inducing’, there is still hope in Gen Y bringing some more collaborative technology to the workplace. Given that they have had a chance to grow up with more technology than their parents and have been exposed from a younger age, they are likely to expect more technology adoption in the workplace. Younger entrepreneurs in the market place means they are also likely to set up ‘smarter’ work environments, with young and fresh ideas of working. But it doesn’t mean there is no place for older generations in the office. They have had to adapt to changes beyond belief. The fact that they have slowly moved away from pen and paper and are relying on technology means they are also open to change. It may take a bit longer for them to adjust to the change but the change comes, slowly but surely. Experienced professionals in the workplace provides benefits outside of technology adoption. They allow the human element to remain, something we cannot cope without.

Technology Vs Human Touch. We can never think of it that way – they have to work hand in hand. We have no other choice. With traffic being one of this city’s biggest disabilities, where commuters have to spend hours getting to and back from work, there is nothing apart of technology that can pave the way to a greener and efficient country. On the other hand, without technology, we have to work in the confines of our offices, cities and country. We won’t have the chance to work with talented individuals as easily. Technology and people. One should never replace another, a symbiosis must be established.

We cannot stop until we find ways of utilizing our time better. Time is precious, time is money. Our lives should be spent making the world a better place rather than waiting in gridlocked roads questioning our existence.


Les Blues: The Strongest Contender of Euro 2016

by Sourav Saha Ratul

With the Euro 2016 approaching towards the Round of 16, it’s time to make a call for the strongest contender for the title. This Euro 2016 presents us with European super powers like Germany, Spain, Italy, and England. On the other hand some newbies like Wales, Albania, and Iceland who have proved their capability to upset any of these super powers. However, you shouldn’t forget teams like Portugal, Sweden, or Poland. They have big names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or Robert Lewandowski. You know they don’t believe in the word “Impossible”! Despite all these super powers, big names, or rising threats, my vote for the strongest contender goes to France.France National Football Team

Automatically qualifying as the host, France always has to be in the conversation when it comes to major competitions, even if they are no longer ‘the team to beat’ after a purple patch that saw them claim both World Cup and Euro glory. France has a respectable record in the Euros, qualifying for every edition of the tournament since failing to feature in the 1988 championships in Germany.

The Les Blues have numerous attacking options and possess talent in abundance across the park. The swashbuckling Paul Pogba in midfield, combined with the dynamism of Blaise Matuidi and Kante is a sight to behold. In attack, Antoine Griezmann is arguably Europe’s most lethal striker at the moment, netting at a prolific rate for club side Atletico Madrid. Dimitri Payet has been a revelation at West Ham and continuing his legacy with two consecutive goals in his two Euro 2016 appearances. He poses a threat from set-pieces as well as on the wing. Don’t forget to keep an eye on youngster Anthony Martial, who has made such impressively free scoring start to the season for Manchester United. Besides they have experienced seniors like Olivier Giroud and Patrice Evra. Besides, these individuals also make a great team, after playing 12 friendlies right before the tournament.

You might have noticed that France is a dangerous side on the counter, but simultaneously like to dominate possession and dictate proceedings on their terms. And like icing on the cake, they are having the advantage of playing on the home grounds. The support from the spectators will definitely lift their spirits up. This advantage also comes with tremendous pressure too, and it is fascinating to see how they are playing with their hearts out.

Just think about it. Wasn’t it amazing to see two stunning goals in last couple of minutes of the game against Albania? To me, the spirit that they demonstrated is the beauty of the game.

What are your thoughts? Who’s the favorite in your eyes?


Question is, will Microsoft gain or lose from its acquisition of LinkedIn?

by Md. Fahim Alam

For Microsoft, big acquisitions have not proved to be very fruitful in the past. It has a long history of unsuccessful purchases that led to massive write-downs, sometimes more than what they actually paid to acquire. Before the recent purchase of LinkedIn, which has many people doubting Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella’s bigger plan, Microsoft decided to take a bite out of Nokia for $7.5 billion. People wondered if they would witness a revolutionary change in the world of smartphones again but much to the Giants’ disappointment, they did not.Sold

The recent $26.2 billion dollar acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft has the industry abuzz. Critics have already questioned this move and are already pretty certain this again is a bad move for the tech giant but some have spoken positively, stating Nadella has not wasted his money.

The problem is this – underestimating the real value of LinkedIn. While some think it’s just any other ‘professional networking’ site that hasn’t taken off like Facebook, others think it’s a brilliant tool for those looking for opportunities in the professional world. LinkedIn and Microsoft together will mean people will have more tools on one platform. Connecting and selling will become easier with LinkedIn giving notifications on interests, similar backgrounds, and common connections before meetings. While many will say people already had access to these functionalities, now Dynamics CRM and Sales Navigator can work seamlessly together, providing rich data that is crucial to anyone in sales.

So let’s give Nadella a break. Just because Microsoft hasn’t made the right choices in the past doesn’t mean they’re always doomed for failure in the future. What do you think?

Will Microsoft gain or lose from its acquisition of LinkedIn?

  1. Gain

  2. Lose

 


Team Dynamics: Small Shifts Make Big Differences

by Mahzabin Chowdhury

Imagine, you work in a team where one person is very critical about his/her colleagues’ ideas. You find it rude and discouraging to others’ to speak up. Another steals ideas and receives all the credits without even acknowledging that it was someone else’s idea. Some team members always nod their head and agrees with more dominant colleagues. You feel frustrated even if you fetched qualified people into your team. These are very usual scenarios that often pulls the momentum of a team dynamics apart. To strategize, firstly we need to know the loop holes that we find are disrupting a team. So let’s diagnose and look at the possible root causes that pull us back while working in a team.

Personality type: People come at work place from different background setting. So, you may expect that clashes due to un-matched personality type may occur and affect team dynamism. Weak leadership: A weak leadership can take a group to nowhere and make a team fragile. Lack of proper direction and courageous decision may lead to infighting and wrong outcome. Even though we know that everybody in a team is accountable to hold their team dynamics, it is inevitable to say that a good leader is the lifeblood of a strong team dynamics. Stalling: A flow of information can be disrupted due to people with obstructive inclination. A person can be inappropriately outspoken or can be deliberately silent in group discussions. Similarly, a person can be a free rider or can be a big-headed attention seeker. Team roles: If we fail to define the roles and responsibilities a person might not have the ownership of his/her tasks thus, creating disheartenment and chaos in a group.

So, the question is what is the recipe of a well-balanced team? How do you douse the dispute and manage it successfully?

Team Dynamics new

Mindset: There are many people with different opinions about forming and running a team but the prerequisite of a successful team work is mindset. In a corporate world, rigidity in mindset is the single most limiting factor of embracing new opportunities. Your mindset is so powerful that it determines your thought process, emotional stability, decision making and leadership. Think outside the cubicle. Throw your ego away. Focus on the bigger picture. Mind over matter. Openness spreads a positive energy, fuels endurance and encourage surroundings towards getting involved more.

Know your team: You cannot expect a group of strangers to sit together and to start working as a team. Building a team and working towards a common goal is a process. Break the ice. Understand each other well. Set the standard. As a leader you need to know who you are working with and simultaneously you should encourage others to enlarge their open areas and know themselves better. Understanding your team will help you to demystify their personality types and to communicate well.

Communicate well: Communication is a key to strengthening your interactions. Speak directly. Be succinct. Be authentic and create a connection. As a leader you should have the delicacy in your vision and clearly share the objectives of your team, define and delegate tasks, roles and responsibilities. A team cannot perform well without a proper direction. A leader should take the charge of ensuring the team members are connected and strongly feel for the entire team. Most importantly, always keep in mind that communication is not about you, it’s about your audience (Your team).

Tackle problems quickly: A conflict may arise in a team but as a leader you need to jump in to the problem and try to resolve it as swiftly as possible. Quick refinement often let people feel protected and secured, thus, reduce the chance of animosity. Give feedback. Use ‘We’ instead of ‘I’. You can follow the Situation-Behavior- Impact (SBI) Feedback Tool developed by The Center for Creative Leadership to structure your feedback in three steps: firstly, refer to the situational context of when and where the event occurred and explain precisely. Secondly, carefully specify the behavior/action that you want to address (avoiding any subjective judgement and/or biasness). Finally, mention the impact of that action. A positive impact can be praised to carry it on and a negative impact can be remedied.

Let your team members feel important: Inviting ideas and appreciating them will let your fellows feel valued. Instead of shutting themselves off instill positive energy. Keep an upbeat attitude that reflects enthusiasm among your work mates. Get yourself on their level. Give them recognition. Go beyond the basic.

The bottom line of making small changes is to uphold a team harmony and to ensure effective team dynamics. Team dynamics is multifaceted and the effectiveness of the process varies depending on many factors (such as, culture, work structure, roles and responsibilities, personality types etc.). Not every team works in a same style. Therefore, as a leader you need to observe and find out the reasons behind the poor team dynamics and apply the strategies that works best for your team. The earlier you identify the problems, the better you will be able to overcome them. Nonetheless, always keep your contingency plan prepared for any unwanted situations that may arise in your team, do little tweaking and apply them on the fly.