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Oxford Virtual Academy Offers Lego Mindstorms Course to Homeschool Students

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The Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) is offering a LEGO Mindstorms NXT class to homeschool students at Kettering University. Enrollment for current students is through December 31, and open enrollment for all students is January 5-16.

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Last semester was the first time the LEGO NXT course was offered. Students learned about using sensors to program robots. No previous programming knowledge is necessary for the introductory course.

Next semester, students who took the introductory course will be able to move up to a more advanced level that will get deeper into sensors and basic programming, navigating the file systems of the robots and using sensors to move them.

Robots Built with Programmable “Intelligent Bricks”

EV3 robotAn early hands-on introduction to robotics seems important to prepare the young to cope with a world where advanced automation plays an ever more prominent role, and industrial robots disrupt traditional manufacturing. The LEGO Mindstorms system permits learning while playing and is often considered as a toy, but expert users can build very sophisticated systems and do leading edge research work. Recently, scientists mapped the connections between the 302 neurons of a worm’s brain, simulated them in software, and uploaded the software to a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot that exhibits worm-like behavior.

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Also read: A Lego Mindstorms Body Powered by a Worm’s Mind

LEGO Mindstorms NXT is a programmable robotics kit first released by LEGO in late July 2006. It replaced the first-generation LEGO Mindstorms kit, which was called the Robotics Invention System. The main component in the kit is a brick-shaped computer called the NXT Intelligent Brick, which can take input from up to four sensors and control up to three motors. A NXT Educational Version, from Lego Education, is made for school use.

The third generation Mindstorms platform, called EV3, is a further development of the NXT. The software that ships with the EV3 set can be used to program the NXT.

The Oxford Virtual Academy is an online school that offers a different style of education from that provided by most public school systems. Begun in 2007, online education from the Oxford school system has to date changed the lives of thousands of students in southeastern Michigan.

Images from CHEN WS and Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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How to Convert Your Cryptocurrency Back to Fiat Currency

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It is possible that at some point in your cryptocurrency investing journey, you feel the need to sell off some of your crypto. Most of the time, this means you are just converting it back into the USD of cryptocurrency, bitcoin, but you could also be trying to get your money out of cryptocurrency entirely.

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If your goal is to convert back into fiat currency, then there are a few paths you can take. As you might remember when you were first putting your money into cryptocurrency, it isn’t nearly as simple as using a regular brokerage account, but it is getting easier.

Simplest Possible Method

This sort of goes without saying, but if you did acquire your cryptocurrency on an exchange that allows for fiat deposits, you are likely going to be able to convert your money back into fiat with that same exchange. Exchanges known to do this are Gemini, Coinbase, Kraken, and Coinmama, although there are many others that do and it is worth checking yourself.

Exchanges are generally motivated to increase their revenue, and as a result, they tend to have fees set for withdrawal. Not only does this make them money when you withdraw your money, but it also makes it more likely you will keep your money in the exchange and continue trade it, which will also make them more money.

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The final thing you should realize here are that the exchanges may put actual limits on the amount you can withdraw or the time period you must wait before withdrawing. Both of these serve to the same effect as high withdrawal fees, and help them control their liquidity in a way very similar to a bank.

Using Services and Vendors

It is possible you have already moved your money to a separate hardware or software wallet, in which case, it might not make sense to move it back to an exchange, just to pay fees on the withdrawal. There are other ways of getting your cryptocurrency back into fiat, and some of them work out to be quite a bit cheaper.

In fact, websites like LocalBitcoins.com make it possible you to actually sell your cryptocurrency at a premium because of the extra effort. LocalBitcoins does take a fee, but it still works out quite nicely for the seller in the end.

Another option you may find appealing is using your money to directly pay for goods or services. There are an increasing amount of companies that accept cryptocurrency, and this saves you a lot of hassle, as it is working very similarly to LocalBitcoins.com. You are bartering with each other rather than have a third party act as market maker, and the costs are reduced as a result.

Similar to this is the idea of using your cryptocurrency to purchase a prepaid debit card. Services like Monaco and Tenx are making this easier than ever, and it minimized the number of times your money needs to change hands before it is spent.

What to Do About Your Altcoins

If you are trying to convert your altcoins back into cryptocurrency, you will have one extra step. Since most altcoins transact on a different exchange than those that convert into fiat, you will need to sell your altcoin for a more well-known cryptocurrency, and then convert it to fiat.

Generally, users choose to do this using Ethereum, because of the significantly lower network fee. You would sell your altcoin for Ethereum, transfer that Ethereum to your fiat exchange, and then sell back to your fiat currency.

No matter why you’re choosing to convert your crypto back to fiat, it is even nice to know how you would if you were in a pinch or were worried about potential crashes. The best way to think of it is having an escape plan, just in case.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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How to Purchase Altcoins

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There is no doubt about it, bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency most of you will have heard about. But after you’ve whet your appetite on this “blue chip” coin, you may wish to expand your horizons into other coins.

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An altcoin, or alternative cryptocurrency, is any coin other than bitcoin. In terms of market capitalization, bitcoin has a total value of $143.9 billion, which is much larger than any of the other cryptocurrencies. At the same time, you have other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Ripple that have market capitalization of $66.6 and $26.1 billion, respectively. Those numbers are no laughing matter.

What Makes Purchasing Them Different

The big difference when it comes to purchasing altcoins is the fact that you generally need to use a different exchange than you started off with. Most users are drawn to big, well-known exchanges like Coinbase, because of their ease of use and the quality of their reputation. But Coinbase only allows for the purchase of a few other currencies (Litecoin, Ethereum, and bitcoin cash at the time of publishing). So for any other coins, it is necessary to use a different exchange in order to purchase them.

Getting into these projects early is the equivalent of investing like a venture capitalist, which is exactly why many people are so interested in them. Ethereum went through massive price increases in 2017, and although many projects may end up being worthless, they also have the potential to achieve unicorn status.

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How To Perform the Purchase

To go about making your purchase of whatever altcoin you are interested in investing in, first you must choose an exchange that lists the cryptocurrency in question. Binance is known as one of the best and most trustworthy, so for the purposes of this article, we will assume you are going to use their services.

The only way to get money into Binance is by transferring in Bitcoin, as they don’t allow for fiat deposits. Once you sign up for an account with them, look for your deposit address and use it to withdraw from the exchange you purchased your Bitcoin on. The money should show up right away, and you are now set up to trade on Binance.

The purchase process is easy from here. Find the cryptocurrency pair you wish to trade (BTC/XRP, for example), select it, and enter the amount of money you wish to invest with them. One tip with Binance: you can save money by purchasing some of their proprietary coin, BNB, and applying that towards your transaction fees. This generally results in a 50% discount on the fees, which can add up over time.

Finally, best practices for security are to withdraw your coins to your own wallet. However, you must make sure that the coins are compatible with your wallet, otherwise they will disappear and be non-recoverable.

Diversification is Healthy

The strongest case for purchasing an altcoin is that you need to diversify out of holding only Bitcoin in the cryptocurrency space. The potential percentage gains are much higher than they are for Bitcoin because of the relatively low exposure the rest of world has had to them. Most investors have heard of Bitcoin, but altcoins are still a very fringe topic.

By taking some of the steps outlined above, you can easily obtain your own altcoins, and increase the potential returns of your portfolio. One last thing: if you really want to get into an altcoin early, you should stay up to date on new ICO’s, since these are likely the lowest prices you will be able to purchase the cryptocurrencies at.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously

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anonymous

As we have previously written about on Hacked.com, many people hold the false belief that bitcoin, by its very nature, is anonymous. However, as transactions recorded on the blockchain are available for anyone to see, this is not entirely true.

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Still, the biggest issue when it comes to privacy arises when someone wants to buy or sell his or her bitcoins for fiat currency. Going through an exchange requires an often lengthy verification process where you need to upload things like your passport, proof of residence, bank statements, etc. It is really a far cry from the privacy that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were envisioned to offer.

Fortunately, we do have a few solutions to this problem. In this article, we will guide you through four of the ways that exists for buying bitcoin anonymously, either online or offline.

1. Using a bitcoin ATM

With the number of bitcoin ATMs currently exploding, buying bitcoins through an ATM is perhaps the most obvious option for anyone wanting to avoid all the requirements that come with traditional fiat to bitcoin trading.

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The catch with this option, though, is that there is usually a buying limit of around USD 750 before you need to present your ID. However, as long as you stay below this amount for each transaction, your purchase will be completely anonymous.

As bitcoin ATMs are still not very commonly found, you do depend on having one nearby. Currently, about 75% of all bitcoin ATMs in the world are located in North America, with some also found in major European cities.

2. Buying bitcoin peer-to-peer

By far the most popular peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform out there is LocalBitcoins. Using this platform, you often have the option of meeting up in person with a specific seller who is willing to trade is bitcoin for cash in your local currency. LocalBitcoins have sellers listed in more than 10,000 cities across the world, so there are good chances you will find someone not too far from your location.

All you need to do to start using LocalBitcoins is to sign up on their website with an email address and username, and then start looking for people who are willing to sell bitcoin to you in your area.

Make sure to check the reviews of a seller before you agree to make a trade. Sellers with plenty of good reviews are safe to use, but you should be careful buying from sellers with few or no reviews. There have even been cases where people have been fooled into traps by undercover police officers posing as sellers in countries where crypto trading is illegal or requires a license.

3. Use a prepaid debit card

In the US and some other countries, it is possible to walk into any convenience store and buy a prepaid debit card that you can load up with cash over the counter. You can then use the same card to buy bitcoin on any fiat-to-bitcoin exchange such as Coinbase or Kraken in just the same way as you would have done if you used a debit or credit card from your bank.

This may be a less convenient option, but if there is no bitcoin ATM or LocalBitcoins sellers nearby, using a prepaid card may be your best shot.

4. Using a decentralized exchange (DEX)

Perhaps the most anonymous way to buy bitcoin online is to use a decentralized exchange, something most people in the world of cryptocurrencies are not very familiar with yet.

Decentralized exchanges are largely a new concept, but they are by many seen as the future of bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading. However, current platforms are still a bit complex for non-technical users, but this is a field that is quickly moving forward. Binance, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges today, has even said that they are working on a decentralized exchange expected to be launched in the not-too-distant future.

One such platform already in operation is Bisq, and another option is AirSwap. Both are early players among decentralized exchanges, which is an area that is inevitably set for growth in 2018.

When using Bisq, no ID verification is necessary and the exchange does not hold any of the user’s funds, which also makes it a much safer choice than traditional centralized exchanges. To buy bitcoin using this service, you would make a cash deposit equal to the amount of bitcoin you wish to buy, and then contact a seller directly. Lastly, an escrow service is used to ensure sellers get paid the cash and buyers receive their bitcoin.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 32 rated postsFredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.




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