Easiest way to get your hands Dirty with Ether & other CryptoCurrencies!

In my earlier post I highlighted the many useful features of the cryptocurrency and blockchain platforms and and why they are expected to be the future in many diverse areas such as banking, contracts, insurance, gambling and others as well as a few pointers to keep in mind while trying out using blockchain-based applications for the first time.

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to spend any money, to see what is written on a blockchain, so if you’re just window shopping, you can login with an empty wallet. All wallets are empty to begin with, you can ask someone who already has cryptocurrency to transfer some to you or you can try to buy some using US Dollars on an online cryptocurrency exchange (doing this is currently difficult because of the the Indian government’s somewhat negative stand on cryptocurrencies but also positive outlook shown towards application of blockchain technology)

In this post, I’ll explain the easiest manner in which you can create a wallet to access and use Ethereum blockchain applications. You need a Chrome or Firefox browser installed  on your PC, and then download the MetaMask extension/add-on. You need to just search for MetaMask on google. Alternatively, you can also install MetaMask addon for Firefox app on Android.

Once installed you will be able to open the MetaMask extension by clicking on the small fox-head icon on top-right area besides the browser address bar. Now you need to make a new account. First step is to enter a password that you want to use for the account. Then the wallet will ask you to read through few terms and conditions and accept them to proceed. Then you will be given 12 random “seed words” that are automatically generated which can be used to recover the account. You need to store these 12 words in the correct order in a secure manner so even if you switch to another PC/ browser, you can transfer your wallet there.

Now your account is created. you can see your account id by clicking on the setting menu and then click on the account detail button to see the account id or “public key” (a  long alphanumeric string )and also a QR code for the same. If anyone wants to send ether to you that person needs to know your public key or to scan the QR code.

You will also see an option to view the “private key” (another long alphanumeric string). The private key allows you to send ether to anyone else via your wallet.  In case your PC/browser is no longer working and wallet seed is also lost, even then you can manage to transfer the balance if you know the private key. If someone somehow steals your private key that person can easily empty your account even without access to the wallet. Therefore it is advisable to store this private key in an even more secure manner.

Let us assume that you manage to get the ether transferred to your account. Buying a CryptoKitty is one of the easiest example by which you can learn to use  ether because of their easy to use website. Open the CryptoKitty website then press the Start button on top-right area of the webpage. Then the webpage will direct you to open your Metamask plugin and press sign-in confirmation.(In case the plug-in has been updated there is a small chance the website may have problem detecting the new plugin).

Now you can browse the site and select a CryptoKitty of your liking and confirm the transaction from Metamask window. Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a CryptoKitty , the hottest collectible on blockchain. Get out there and let it multiply. Who knows you may breed the next million $$ kitty!!!

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