The last remaining doubts I had about the efficacy of my Next client setup were dispelled today around three o’clock, oddly enough just minutes before the home Internet connection went down for an hour or so.
The reason the Internet was down for so long was because our local provider needed to make an update which involved dealing with physical hardware at our location. Our Internet connection had this weird habit of frequently cutting out and needing to be reset when someone would call our land line. After living with the annoyance for several months because we felt too busy to deal with it, today I finally made the phone call and the service technician arrived. This time the culprit for disabling the Internet connection was some political robocall.
While the Internet was still down I happened to glance at my Next wallet client and there were two new Next added to my total. In the spot where normally the transaction fee sits was a dash indicating that these new Next were forged by my own server, my own little piece of the Next network.
Since the Internet was down at the time I didn’t get too excited about it at first. Up to this point my attempts to run the Next server and client have been filled with glitches. One of the more recent glitches when I first updated to the latest version and ran it was that faulty forged Next coins would randomly show up in my client. These faulty transactions would come with transaction IDs and everything. But when I looked them up on the block chain explorer I was told the transaction never happened. The exact words the explorer used were: “Noting (sic) found. Please check your number and try again.” I assumed that the block chain explorer would return the same message once my Internet got back up and running and I could check it. Even before that, the transaction would probably drop from my client window as soon as I refreshed it.
Much to my surprise and delight the transaction remained in my client, and the block chain explorer logged it. So it’s for real, my very first instance of Next forging. Or should I call it my very first Next forgery? More than the additional two Next coins I now have to my name I’m excited because now I know beyond a doubt that my server and client are running properly, and have been running properly with no lasting issues for four entire days.
The Next network is very different from the Bitcoin network. While I am far from understanding the technical details, the basic concept of Bitcoin is that it is a proof of work cryptocoin. A lot of computing power goes into generating new Bitcoin. The computing power, also known as hashing power, is the sum total of all the participating computers working to solve some kind of algorithm. The computer which solves the next problem gets to open up the block containing twenty-five baby Bitcoins. Computers join forces and form what’s called pools so that any one of them has a better chance of generating the next block, and then the reward is divided up among the entire pool. This process is most often referred to as mining, and it maintains and secures the network, and confirms transactions. If you participate in mining, the more power your computer contributes, the greater your potential rewards. This is proof of work.
Next is what’s called a proof of stake cryptocoin. There is no mining in the conventional sense. In fact, all the Next that will ever exist were released in one initial block called the genesis block. That block got opened or generated or whatever actually happened, and suddenly there were one billion Next coins. It reminds me of the Big Bank theory of how the universe originated. First there was nothing, then a big explosion, and now there’s a universe. I imagine a cube exploding, or maybe being struck like a pinata, and one billion tiny Next coins explode out of it. But it wasn’t a random explosion. All the freshly created Next coins got directed to the clients of the seventy-two original stakeholders who became the first ones to maintain the Next network.
Then came people like me who wanted a pieced of the action. I learned about Next from a writing client, and decided to follow his advice and pick up a Bitcoin’s worth shortly after this Next big bang thing happened. I struggled and struggled with being able to successfully maintain my little piece of the network but thanks to lots of help from joefox and the Next development team continually upgrading the program to address glitches as they came up, I am now a bona fide maintainer of the Next network.
Unlike Bitcoin mining, Next forging does not take up tons of computing power. It’s some sort of Java script which runs in the background and does not noticeably increase either my computer’s speed or power consumption. When I’m running this program on battery power, I don’t notice a significant decrease in the battery life. I’m sure I can learn more by studying the task manager but in terms of the other things I need my computer to be doing, whatever is going on with this Next network node my computer is maintaining is negligible.
The probability of my computer generating a block is based on how much Next I have in my open wallet client. The more I have, the more likely I am to get more. This makes Next a proof of stake cryptocoin. The rewards come exclusively from transaction fees paid previously for sending Next. Each transaction buries its fee into a block which will be opened sometime in the future. Because Next is new there aren’t tons of transactions so a lot of the blocks are empty. As Next becomes more widely used, more and more of the future blocks will be loaded. I’m told it takes a long time for a particular node to generate a block, maybe a week or more, so I’m guessing it will be a while before I generate my next one. Also, considering the usual transaction fee is one Next, I consider myself quite fortunate to have opened up a block which contained two.