My opinion is that a large percentage of the population of ‘developed’ nations are very well-banked, has no immediate pressing need for Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, are not affected by blockchain technology and has no incentive to learn or use it at all. 🙂
Okay, now that’s out of the way ..
I’d like to write a series (C-for-Crypto-series) of basic how-to posts because blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, as the word implies, is a fascinating marriage of topics involving cryptography, computing/IT and finance/economics .. unfortunately, abstract topics for many. My wife isn’t interested and doesn’t care HAHA.
I won’t go deep into explaining how things work (there are a lot of good resources for that plus I’m not qualified), but instead write on what I did to learn and get to where I am, which is what most people need.
Pretty funny, by the way, how the crypto market tanked ($4000 Bitcoin and $100 Ethereum – so little people are buying?) but people seldom blog about it now. I attended the Binance conference in January this year, and the attendance was brutal.
So, you have heard of about the hottest news about blockchain tech. If you’re like me and enjoy trying things out (that’s how we learn), then you might have run into some troubles or problems. Decentralized applications (Dapps) are computer application that runs on a distributed computing system e.g. Ethereum blockchain and your normal browser like Chrome don’t work.
One such example of visiting Compound Finance is shown in the screenshot below. Sucks to be left out, huh?
What IS MetaMask?
In their own words, MetaMask is a bridge that allows you to visit the distributed web of tomorrow in your browser today.
A word of advice – the world of crypto can be less secure than we would like it to be. Be safe, not sorry. This is the official MetaMask website. Use bookmarks and avoid Google searches.
More than just a bridge, MetaMask is also a wallet for Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 tokens. More information (common terms) here to get you started. MetaMask which exists in the form of a browser extension can be safely installed via the official website.
A seed phrase is the single most important thing you must know about. Keep it safe. Keep it secure. Don’t let anyone else know about it. Imagine yourself having a vault (wallet), then this is the key (seed phrase). Anyone with the seed phrase can access your wallet and the funds inside. If you lose the seed phrase, no one can help you – because this is the trustless, decentralized economy.
Since you don’t have a seed phrase, click on Create a Wallet to continue and click on I agree after reading the information.
Think of the password as another layer of security on top of your seed phrase. Likewise, keep the password safe and secure.
The seed phrase is the same thing as the Secret Backup Phrase. It sounds much more important when you use the word ‘Secret’ isn’t it? If you lose the seed phrase, no one can help you. There is no Forget Password feature.
Once you are done, it will prompt you to verify that you have documented the seed phrase correctly. You will need to confirm the seed phrase in the correct order. Yes, the order matters.
And we’re done! Read the friendly advice carefully again, because it is true. Even MetaMask cannot recover your seed phrase.
Your MetaMask wallet public address would be the string of letters and numbers. In the wallet that I created for the purpose of writing this post, it is 0xb167F6D785dBCE52c2B956838034314e61931716 (click to launch the Ethereum block explorer) – think of it as your bank account number. It is fine and perfectly OK for people to know your public address. Only the owner has the seed phrase (and therefore, access) to the funds in it.
Wait, I know you might have some questions at this point – primarily : how exactly does a twelve-word seed phrase make my crypto wallet secure? A simple way to understand this is that the twelve-word seed phrase is based on the BIP 39 Specification. MetaMask uses algorithm that involves entropy (means randomness), and the seed phrase is made up of words from the 2048 word list.
Well, wouldn’t the software happen to generate two wallets with the same backup phrase? Possible? – Yes. Likely? – No. In fact, we can claim with a high degree of mathematical certainty that no two wallets would have the same seed phrase.
Consider that each word of the seed phrase has 2048 possibility, and therefore a 12-word seed phrase has 2048^12 (approx— that’s 5,000 trillion trillion trillion — permutations. A hardware wallet like Ledger Nano S (which I have two) uses a double the number of words : a 24-word seed phrase.
Before We Go Further
As a rule of thumb for every single wallet (MetaMask, Ledger, etc) I create, I immediately delete it. In this case, I can delete my MetaMask extension and install it again. And once again, it will start prompting whether I want to create a new wallet or import an existing wallet.
Now you can use the Import Wallet feature to verify that the seed phrase was noted down correctly in the right order.
You would have also realized by now that, with the seed phrase, you can replicate access to the exact same wallet in as many devices (desktops, laptops, mobile phones) as you want. I now have MetaMask activated in my Chrome browser. Navigating to same Compound Finance Dapp earlier in the post, we see something different now :
Compound Finance Dapp now is asking for permission to connect my MetaMask wallet. The red bar still remains, but now we see a different message. The Dapp recognizes we have a MetaMask wallet (see my address in the top right corner) but it duly noted that my wallet does not contain Ether, which means I cannot do anything yet.
Perhaps I’ll write about how exactly do we buy tokens to populate into MetaMask wallets next time. Guess we’re going to have to wait a little longer before we can lend out USD-denominated stable-coins for 7-12% interest per annum.
Since there is no funds (nothing to lose) in your newly created MetaMask wallet, please poke and click around the MetaMask extension. Google for anything you don’t understand. I’ll briefly talk about a way to get US$30 worth of ‘free’ cryptocurrency in my next post.
Oh wait, in case you’re thinking who uses the stupid long address, it is unfortunate that it exists .. but tech is being built to make the user experience (UX) more pleasant. Don’t forget, this how a 30-year-old IBM PC looks like – technology and UX design have come a long way.
In the same way, blockchain technology needs time to grow up. And believe me, it is trying its best. For example, you can now send me ETH or ERC-20 shitcoins using the address sgfireblogger.eth via MetaMask (go on, try typing it in) and it will auto-translate into one of my address. Pretty neat huh?
I guess I have written enough for today. Till next time!
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