Are you more of a hacker, or a gamer?
Back in my hackerspace days, someone asked me how Bitcoin worked. I explained it using Turnips and Bells in Animal Crossing:
1. You use Bells to buy Turnips.
2. You have a few days to check in with the market (in your town or your friends' towns), turn around, and sell them for a profit.
3. If you held onto them for too long, your "investment" would turn into so much worthless dust.
Safe to say, I thought I was talking out of my ass by the time I finished describing all this. To my horror, the other folks at the hackerspace ended up telling me this was a decent analogy.
This more or less describes my relationship with crypto after all these years. Every now and then, I pick up a few coins here and there as they come my way (or become offered on Coinbase Earn). I make sure to write down the wallet information someplace I'll remember in a few years. I then forget about them until it's time to actually find a use for the things. Use, rinse, repeat.
... which explains why I actually tried to earn myself what I thought was a simple $5 over here: https://www.publish0x.com/publish0x-contests/300-dollars-in-prizes-my-first-trade-on-loopringio-dex-excha-xxmxow
I say "simple", but it took the better part of the next 24 hours to accomplish. I knew it wasn't going to be as easy as, say, Coinbase Earn, but... really?
Can You Find the Problem with this Tutorial?
First, I needed to make sense of the tutorial here. https://www.publish0x.com/trading-blog/how-to-trade-on-loopringio-no-kyc-dex-xovrvo
... so I needed to set up a wallet on my Brave Browser. To my relief, this was exactly like their MetaMask walkthrough. It even included the "tap the words in the right order to convince us you wrote down your secret" feature!
So far, so good. I threw some of my BAT into the account from one of my other crypto wallets. (Hey, it was free!) From there, I tried to set up an account on Loopring.io.
... which failed at first because it wanted MetaMask.
I refreshed and tried again. It seemed to fail again... except this time I noticed the prompt on my second screen.
Okay, this time we're getting somewhere.
Setting up the account on loopring.io requires Gas to pay for the account. It's only about a dollar, which wasn't so much the problem as it was that it had to be in ETH already.
... and my money was still in BAT. So now I had to figure out how to convert my crypto into ETH...
...without getting everything devoured in transaction fees along the way. The few methods I'd tried on Uphold would have consumed the entirety of my BAT with no ETH to show for it.
The good news is I have wallets elsewhere, including: Coinbase! The next obvious step was to see if there was a way to convert some of my hodgepodge of Coinbase crypto into ETH.
Thankfully -- yes! It was quick, easy, and -- most importantly for me -- it didn't cost me a thing. Within minutes I was able to turn my other coins (like Orchid and Tezos) into ETH. From there, I could send it to myself on my Brave account.
I threw about $22 of ETH into the Brave account, set up the loopring.io account, and deposited about half that (0.07 ETH?) into the loopring.io account to go play with.
From there, things... slowed down a bit.
Some of it was because I was unfamiliar with the interface of an exchange. Some of it was because I had no clue what I was doing. (Do I want to price in the green numbers? Is this a decent deal?) Some of it was because it was getting later in the evening, and I wanted to play Jackbox games with my friends.
The actual answer was more difficult than that: I had to make a purchase order and wait for it to be fulfilled. This took time. This was an unfortunate thing to discover given the original thing I was after -- $5! A measly $5! -- was only available to the first 40 folks.
I cancelled the first handful of orders in an attempt to try and get a better price. In the end, I went to bed with an open order in my browser window. I crossed my fingers and hoped things would sort themselves out by the time I came back. Guess I'm not done with using Animal Crossing as a metaphor here.
By the time I woke up, it had, in fact, worked.
Reminder: This was all to try and earn $5.
The verdict? I don't see myself using loopring.io much in the future. Animal Crossing jokes aside, I don't see myself having the patience for trying to play the spread. I'm not about to wait for purchase orders to make their way through if I didn't have to.
How much of this is loopring.io's fault is a different issue. I can't blame them for my own attention span in the wake of coronavirus. Or that my usual approach to Crypto is to gain enough of it to have "street cred" and not one whit more. Or that I'm usually more busy doing other computer geekery vs. knowing how to play financial markets.
Then again, having a few new tools in my toolbox? Figuring out how to use a crypto wallet in Brave? Discovering the ease at which I can exchange between coins in Coinbase? That's useful, or at least it would be useful if I had a clear idea of what I would use this for in the future.
... this is a long running gripe I have about lots of stuff involving crypto. It goes double for "smart contracts" and dApps and other such solutions-in-search-of-problems. Yes, it's all quite lovely, and it also seems like so much of it is a solopsistic ouroboros about itself. Even a site like Publish0x? It seems more focused on talking about crypto than actually using it for anything useful.
Don't get me wrong, it's fun. There just has to be something more useful for us to do than recreate endless iterations of the financial system. Nobody cares how much bitcoin you have when you have to sell all your hard work for a bottle of hand sanitizer.
... oh, right, I'm supposed to be encouraging people here, aren't I?
My degrees are in usability and utility of computer systems. For better or worse, the harder this stuff is to figure out and use, the more someone like me needs to talk themselves into getting hired at a place like this.
That said, if every time I want to use a new service I have to set up multiple brand new accounts, pay money to set them up, keep track of secret phrases and refresh and reboot systems to make them function -- and do ALL of that just to end up in a conversation with other people in the community about the technology we're all using and how it's going to somehow solve all other problems...
... well, if I wanted to do all that, I'd stick with my Ham Radio friends. At least they have the excuse their technology works when the rest of the internet doesn't.
Still, I'm hopeful. I'll keep collecting various coins, hoping someone's going to develop some kind of killer app that justifies their use.
Until then, I'll stick to Animal Crossing. The utility may be just as questionable, and at least Raymond's cute.