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Bitcoin – to invest or not?

Kirsten Doyle

Kirsten Doyle

By Kirsten Doyle

For several years, Bitcoin has been hailed as the next best thing in foreign exchange markets and a monetary evolution in our ever digital world. It has outperformed pretty much every major foreign-exchange trade, stock index and commodity contract – even gold. But how safe is it, and is it everything it’s cracked up to be?

How it works

Created in 2009, Bitcoin is a worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system that uses decentralised technology to make secure payments and for storing money. Transactions are made with no middle man, meaning no banks, and no transaction fees. It also claims to be totally anonymous, as there is no need to give your real name.

To get started with Bitcoin, you need to install a Bitcoin wallet on your PC or smartphone. This will generate a Bitcoin address, and you can create more addresses as needed. If you want to get paid, you disclose your address and vice versa.

The Bitcoin network relies on block chain technology, essentially a shared public ledger, that includes all transactions.  It can be described as a constantly growing list of records or ‘blocks’ that are linked and secured with cryptography. Their appeal is their security as they are inherently resistant to any change in the data, it cannot be altered retroactively. This allows Bitcoin wallets to calculate their spendable balance, and to verify new transactions.

All transactions, or transfer of value between wallets is included in the block chain. The wallets keep a secret private key or ‘seed’ which is used to sign transactions, and serve as proof that they are from the wallet’s owner. Transactions are broadcast and confirmed in a process called mining, a distributed consensus system that enforces a chronological order in the block chain, and protects the neutrality of the network, preventing any individual from adding new blocks consecutively in the block chain.

Obvious appeal

Bitcoin’s soaring value and well-documented investor performance are tempting many people to invest in the digital currency. It also appeals to a wide variety of people for various reasons – it offers a currency that isn’t controlled by any bank, and can be spent with ease across borders with little regulation or limitation.

For many, the most compelling reason to invest in Bitcoin is its low cost, high speed and complete freedom when it comes to transactions. Sending money around the world takes a maximum of ten minutes, the only charge is what is levied by the exchange in question, and transactions can be any amount. The cost of transferring money becomes significantly cheaper and faster than other methods.

Real value?

But, and it’s a big but – Bitcoin isn’t backed by anything and it has no intrinsic value. It smacks of a pyramid scheme, based on a willingness to assign a value to something that has little or none beyond what individuals are willing to pay for it. And while cryptocurrencies are currently free from regulation, should they grow in popularity to a point where they start competing with traditional currencies, you can bet that they will be banned or regulated pretty quickly. There is just no real substance or power behind this currency to guarantee its viability in the long term.

Bitcoin is also deflationary, meaning that the number mined coins are finite, 21 million to be precise. Once 21 million Bitcoins have been mined, that will be the total number that will ever exist. Moreover, as there are numerous lost or forgotten wallets, the number of active Bitcoins will be lower, with no way of accurately assessing the number. They can be lost due to the death of a Bitcoin owner, or an irrecoverable password, or simply forgotten wallets from when Bitcoin was worth, relatively speaking, peanuts. And it’s close to impossible to recover lost coins.

A favourite among thieves

Bitcoin’s value has soared, there’s no doubt, but it remains highly volatile, and is plagued by associations with malfeasance and illegal activities. Bitcoin users aren’t immune from theft and scams either, in fact it’s lack of regulation may even facilitate this. Malware targeted cryptocurrency users is growing in popularity and sophistication too, being directed at bitcoin exchanges.

By it’s nature, fraud prevention becomes extremely difficult, and there is absolutely no way to get Bitcoin back once it has been stolen. It has also become the preferred method of payment for ransomware authors to monetise their efforts, and is used for the sale of illegal narcotics on the dark Web – it’s anonymity makes it a favourite among criminals.

So, think before investing in Bitcoin. Sure, there are tremendous opportunities, but massive risks too.

Sea Shell Book

New Life for Sea Shell Book

St Francis Bay publisher and publishing facilitator, Write-On Publishing, has just delivered a consignment of the book “The Sea Shells of Jeffreys Bay” to the Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum.

So what? you may ask.

What makes this delivery special is that the little book, by Douw and Elise Steyn and originally published in 1999, was totally out of print! The original publisher/printer no longer exists, and the original content material – colour plates and text – was nowhere to be found.

Petro Meyer of the Humansdorp Museum Association, curators of the Shell Museum, takes up the story:

“When the Humansdorp Museum Association first became involved with the Shell Museum, a knowledgeable “Shell lady”, Susan Hammond, was appointed to assist in the museum.  She mentioned that visitors were enquiring about the book, of which, at that time, the Museum possessed only one copy, which was being used to assist visitors and locals who wanted to know more about a specific shell,” said Petro.

“After a search, we found a number of copies in a local shell shop and bought most of their supply.  We found that they were selling quite well, and when we began to run out, we looked for more copies, only to find there were none. We contacted the author, Professor Steyn, and he gave us permission to reprint the book. The Tourism Department of Kouga Municipality assisted with the printing cost of the book to ensure that the book would still be available for locals and visitors.

“The original printers had unfortunately closed down and that made the whole process more complicated as it meant that the book had to be redone from scratch. This however created an opportunity to do some corrections, as with more modern technology available, the classification of a few shells had changed since the time of the original publication and the new classifications could be included.

“A number of quotations were obtained, and the museum committee decided to ask Frank Nunan of Write-On from St Francis Bay to assist with the re-production of the book. His price was very competitive, and this was in line with the Museum’s policy of making use of local people and companies where possible. It also simplified the process as it was possible to have the odd meeting to discuss questions from either side.

“Prof Steyn agreed that the Humansdorp Museum Association would take over the copyright to the second edition to ensure that no unauthorised copies of the book would be distributed. The museum agreed to pay a small royalty to the author. The new edition has a brand-new cover that was designed by Frank to make it easy to distinguish from the original one.

“The whole process was quite painless, and the end product is of excellent quality.”

In Prof Steyn’s own words: “Ek moet julle (wie dit ook al mag insluit) gelukwens met die prestasie. Ek was maar kleingelowig maar ek is is baie bly vir wat julle bereik het en dit nogal gou ook.”

While the process might have seemed painless to Petro, publisher Frank Nunan was faced with a number of challenges:

“I only had a printed version to work from and this was a huge problem when it came to the quality of the colour plates – reproducing printed colour pictures almost invariably leads to pixellation and a grainy appearance. However, I am pleased to say that I was able to scan and enhance them digitally to the extent that they are barely distinguishable from the originals. The text was scanned using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technoloy, and this also presented a few challenges. A very small typeface had been used, and as the original print quality was not very good, ink runs had occurred, causing some interesting results from the OCR scans – “rn’s’ became “m’s”, just for example. This meant very intensive proofreading and correction was needed. The fact that much of the original text was in Latin made this even more fun,” said Frank.

The Humansdorp Museum Association is already planning its next book revival project: the reprint of “Humansdorp se Groei and Bloei 1849-1975″.  Permission has already been obtained from the children of the original author, E J Gerryts.

The Museum Association would like to thank Write-on Publishing for all the long hours and effort to ensure a very professional result at a very fair price

The Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum’s Aphiwe Masoka receives the first copy of the book from Frank Nunan

Issued by: Petro Meyer

Humansdorp Museum Association and the Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum.

Mrs Ball’s Chutney

A slice of humour seasoned with Mrs Ball’s Chutney

Barrie Thomson a raconteur from Jeffreys Bay entertained a group of Prime Timers at St Francis Links last Friday to a most enjoyable hour discussing both the myths and the known facts about a South African table condiment, Mrs Balls Chutney. From shipwrecks off East London to the original Mr Ball’s Chutney factory in Cape Town it seems uncertain as to exactly where the chutney was first created but it seems most likely, according to Barrie, that it definitely has its roots in the Eastern Cape.

Barrie certainly made what could have been a somewhat boring presentation not only extremely interesting but also rather humorous and had the audience chuckling away at both his quips and his graphic cartoons. Barrie apparently creates cartoons and crossword puzzles for People magazine.

Without going into the detail of Mr Ball’s creation if you have opportunity to listen to Barrie talk on the subject it really is worth listening to him. The amount of research he has put together to say nothing of photographs of the young Mrs Ball and her family is quite astounding considering the subject matter does not seem that interesting until you actually listen to Barrie tell the tale.

The talk was followed by lunch provided by Chef Jono at St Francis Links. Chef Jono gave diners a choice of Chicken or Fish and I ordered the fish and must complement the chef for it was one of the tastiest and well prepared fish dishes I have tasted in St Francis in a long time.

A last word on Mrs Ball’s – Although traditionally sold in glass bottles the manufacturers are now bottling it in plastic bottles. This truly I unacceptable and they should rethink their packaging as should every other supplier who supplies product in plastic bottle rather than glass. Plastic is killing our planet

Prime Timers is a club started and co-ordinated by Paulene Hardy who organises monthly lunches, events and travels around the Eastern Cape. Their next event (for September) is an outing to Addo Elephant Park. Should you with to find out more or join Prime Timers give Paulene a call on 084 789 7801 or e-Mail her on or visit the Prime Timers Facebook page

Prime Timers lunch at St Francis Links

Prime Timers lunch at St Francis Links

Prime Timers lunch at St Francis Links

Stormy St Francis

Such a topsy turvy week of weather ranging from the most beautiful spring day on Sunday to the frightening storm weather complete with heavy hail and gale force windson Tuesday with the week ending off with storm surf that seems to have caused damage to the recent improvements made to the parking and access at Ann Avenue.

Ann Avenue parking area

Cape St Francis

Seals parking area with the sea right up to the pathway

Wildside – Cape St Francis

Concern over children’s creche in residential zone

Concern over children’s creche in residential zone

An open letter from local residents Neil & Les Brent regarding a proposed childrens creche off Lyme Road.  How do you feel about a children’s creche in a residential area?

Open letter to all St Francis Bay Residents

A notice has appeared in the Kouga Express newspaper of the 3 August 2017 re the APPLICATION FOR  DEPARTURE FROM THE ZONING SCHEME TO OPERATE A CRECHE ON ERF 455 SEA VISTA ( 69 LYME ROAD NORTH)

 As per Government regulations, this area is registered Single Residential Zone 1.,  Land Use Planning Ordinance provides for single-family houses.  The regulations further state –  Limited employment and additional opportunities are possible as primary or consent uses, provided that the impacts of such do not aversely effect the surrounding residential environment.

We, as the closest and most immediately impacted by the proposed crèche, for 35 children from 08.00 to 17.00, 5 days per week, object vehemently to the application.  The outdoor play area directly abuts our property and according to the planned programme for the children, 4 hours per day are allowed for this activity.

Furthermore, our investment in St Francis will devalue.  We moved here 28 years ago to enjoy a quiet environment  – not to be uniquely impacted by the noise of 35 children playing 4m from our study and bedroom .

The applicant is not the homeowner (lives in Cape St Francis), is renting the property and not residing on the premises.  I am disappointed and annoyed with the registered owner of erf 455, who has failed to recognise our concerns and rights, for the sake of income.

The applicant has ignored the change this will have on the character and essence of St Francis Bay. It will set a precedent in St Francis and open the door to “anything goes – free for all”. 

The proposed crèche is situated in a particularly dangerous position.  The applicant has not done a formal study to address the serious and dangerous traffic issues already existing.  The reality of 35 additional cars driving this section of road at peak traffic times, is not conducive to dropping off and collecting children.

A further safety issue is that of wayward golf balls.  Living on the perimeter of a golf course one accepts that this WILL happen.  Any injury / death of a child will have major repercussions and be bad publicity for the golf course and St Francis Bay.  This is a serious problem and it is surprising the golf club committee have given their consent without consulting with their members.

The applicant states in her application that “there is a dire need for infant and after care” in the area.  It should be noted that there is already a crèche  associated with St Francis College (situated near the municipal offices) and Talhado, with all the necessary requirements in place AND NEITHER OF THESE ARE NOT RUNNING AT FULL CAPACITY

Neil and Les Brent 042 2940176.   71 Lyme Road North, erf 1350 sea vista

How do you feel about a children’s creche in a residential area?