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Meetups Staff Thoughts

Bitcoin Meetup | Lazy Jack’s

Yesterday’s meetup went from good to great. A few of us got together at Lazy Jack’s and had drinks and a light lunch on the decks. One of the attendees set up his first bitcoin wallet. I sent him a dollar so he could see how it works. One person who was new to bitcoin this month noticed when he opened his wallet that the value of his bitcoin had increased by 15%. He was pleasantly surprised. They were relatively new and asked a lot of great questions:

“What gives it value?” “What makes you feel secure using it?” “Can’t the government or some bad guy shut the whole system down?” “How do you turn it back into dollars?” “Where can I spend bitcoin?” “Why not just invest in gold or silver?”

Halfway through the meetup, I got a phone call — it was my friend Jim Babb from Philadelphia! He’s into bitcoin, and I even bought 3D printed magnets from his daughters for bitcoin years ago! I told him to come down to the meetup! Afterwards, some of us went over to Free State Bitcoin Shoppe and used bitcoin to buy a singularity t-shirt, an ethereum book, a Somalia postcard, and laser-cut wooden souvenirs.

Next meetup is 3-4p Sunday Aug 20 at Martingale Wharf. See you there!

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Free State Bitcoin Shoppe Featured in ZeroHedge

Original article posted by Joe Jarvis of The Daily Bell, shared by ZeroHedge:

Can you give me the rundown on your shop?

Derrick J: Free State Bitcoin Shoppe is a place for people to level up on their cryptocurrency knowledge and trade their digital cash for unique tech and freedom-themed souvenirs. Our mission is to help people use better money.

To a backdrop of dance-punk and electronic music, we offer one-on-one assistance to the bit-curious to help spread the crypto-economy in New Hampshire. It’s packed with seditious propaganda like libertarian art and literature, books on programming, and freedom tech like hardware wallets and USB thumb drives with TAILS Linux loaded on them (the operating system Edward Snowden uses to protect
his privacy online).

When we’re not busy teaching tourists and passers by about Bitcoin, the shoppe is an office for [co-owner] Zyler and me: where we do coding, writing, and video production. The Shoppe is right on the edge of New Hampshire at 56 State St in Portsmouth — so close that both the water and Maine’s coast are visible from our front door.

What do you sell at the shop? Is there specific merchandise you hope to add?

Derrick J: We sell things you won’t find anywhere else: Doge curtains and pillows, 3D-printed combination locks to protect USB keys, Tesla T-Shirts, laser-cut wood boxes with secret compartments, BipCot Licenses, Bitcoin clocks, an Aztec calendar, build-it-yourself 3D-printer kits, and various New Hampshire-themed gifts. Next week, a unique Bitcoin vending machine will arrive at our store, offering the opportunity for people to trade in their Federal Reserve Notes for Bitcoin, Dash, and Monero.

Besides Bitcoin, what forms of payment do you accept?

Derrick J: Monero is preferred. We take all forms of cryptocurrency and offer 20% if you pay for the merchandise with that currency. Yesterday, a customer bought $85 of doge-themed merchandise with Doge-coin.

We don’t take Federal Reserve Notes, credit cards, or metals. (Sorry, silver bugs. Time to realize the silver thing is never going to happen.)

Since the value of Bitcoin fluctuates, how do you set the prices?

Derrick J: It’s easy. We set prices in Bitcoin. The bitcoin wallet on your phone will convert instantly so you can see how much things cost in terms of dollars or any other currency.

How did you choose the location for your shop?

Derrick J: We had been scouting locations for a retail shop for a month or two. While walking downtown in the Portsmouth Pride Parade this June, we passed some empty windows where a small boutique had been.

We said “This would be perfect!!” It’s 100 feet from the biggest park in town, where musical theater and concerts play daily and nightly, visible by the water, plenty of parking across the street, and adorable tourist-trap stores nearby that attract lots of foot traffic from international guests. It’s one of the busiest corners in one of the wealthiest and most happening places in the Shire. It’s the perfect location to draw in people to learn about Bitcoin.

You have long been a liberty activist. You have committed acts of civil disobedience (Derrick J’s Victimless Crime Spree), challenged unjust laws in court, and even spent some time in jail. Does this shop mark a shift in tactics for gaining individual freedom?

Derrick J: Yes, totally. I’ve learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.

Civil disobedience may be moral and make me feel good, but it is ineffective at achieving more freedom unless others participate en masse. Good luck with that — most people aren’t courageous enough to take any risks and would prefer comfortable slavery to dangerous freedom.

Instead, I am taking the entrepreneurial route: offering political art and freedom-enhancing tools in exchange for cryptocurrency. The mission isn’t as much to “make money selling merchandise” as it is to grow the value of my cryptocurrency holdings by growing the network. As more and more people use bitcoin, the value of the crypto-economy grows, and the power of the central banks shrinks.

This is the best way I’ve discovered to empower myself and others, by taking a small, low-risk baby step toward more financial independence (which is the most important type).

Do you consider Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies the best hope for freeing individuals from the unjust power of the state?

Derrick J: Oh, lord no. Philosophy is the best hope for freeing individuals from the power of the state, because the power and the state only exists in their heads. Without philosophy, people are doomed to continue on whatever path their ancestors’ trajectory put them on.

Fortunately for New Englanders, our ancestors placed us on a slow vector toward ever-increasing respect for property rights, which continues today (in New Hampshire especially).

Bitcoin is packed with philosophy, whether users are aware of it or not. Bitcoin empowers the individual with privacy over their money (if they want it), reduces the power of international central banking cartels with every dollar that exits into the crypto-economy, and ultimately helps end wars as people quickly become accustomed to a deflationary currency (rather than the inflationary currencies used to finance the wars of the 20th century).

A mug depicting Bitcoin smashing the Fed.

Do you have any advice for people who want to be free, but feel it is impossible? What can people do to free themselves in your opinion?

Derrick J: Read books that inspire you. Fill your brain with ideas that energize you. Pursue happiness through a virtuous life. Challenge yourself. No matter my current situation, behind bars or on a deserted island, my journey to freedom has been one of personal growth.

So far, what is your favorite part of running the shop?

Derrick J: My favorite part of running the shop is seeing libertarians walk in and watching their faces light up as they realize what the store is. They see Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, and Ludvig Von Mises, a Bitcoin symbol, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, and “Live Free Or Die” signs plastered everywhere, and they all say some variation of “I’ve never seen a store like this before!”

Those interactions make my day.

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Meetups Staff Thoughts

Bitcoin Meetup | Oar House

Last night’s bitcoin meetup was awesome. There were 12 people — the largest one yet! All different ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. There were a lot of Free Staters at this one — they were in town visiting the Bitcoin Shoppe and stayed to attend the meetup afterwards.

Some conversation topics included: “What are blockchains?” “What are miners?” “Who are nodes?” “What’s a masternode?” “Who decides who the nodes and miners are? Are they voted in?” “How do hardware wallets work?” “Is it more worth it to mine coins or just buy and hold?” “What’s the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?” “What’s the difference between Ethereum and Dash?” “What’s the difference between Dash and Bitcoin?” “How do you start mining, and what coins are worth mining?” “How do you set up a trading account to trade between bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?” “How did you get into Bitcoin/Ethereum?”

Lots of conversation! And those were just the questions I heard on my side of the table. Because it was a lot of people and a large table, there were multiple conversations being carried on at once, rather than the typical meetup which has one continuous conversation with one person talking at a time. This was different.

The service was excellent, by the way. Our server came around at all perfect times for drinks, apps, main course, refills, answered questions, and at the end, was able to split the checks in any combination we asked for, instantly. She was terrific, I wish I could remember her name to pass the praise along. Kate, I think. Anyway, it was my first time at the Oar House, and usually during a meetup I like to talk to the manager or owner about accepting bitcoin, but this meetup didn’t lend itself to that since conversation was already challenging at our own table. The volume of the restaurant was pretty loud. I think it’s better to have those conversations with owners one-on-one or with a small group.

Next meetup is Saturday, 3-4pm at Lazy Jacks. Here’s the Meetup event and the Facebook Event so you can RSVP. See you there!

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Meetups Staff Thoughts

Bitcoin Meetup | River House

Last night, nine people met at River House restaurant in Portsmouth to talk about bitcoin over dinner and drinks. We got a table on the deck, which overlooks the scenic Piscataqua river tugboats and faces the bridge to Maine. The weather was perfect for outdoor dining and the awning was drawn in so the sky surrounded us and the stars came out as twilight fell. Our group — 4 women, 5 men — ranged in age from early 20’s to late 60’s. Experience levels varied from “never used bitcoin” to “long-time power-user.” The event lasted almost 90 minutes. At the conclusion, 2 people settled their bill by sending crypto (Dash & Litecoin) to Steven, who paid their share of the bill in cash.

We talked about the much-anticipated bitcoin split, preference for other cryptocurrencies such as Dash, and learned about new coins such as BitBean and SolarCoin. One attendee showed off a paper bitcoin wallet he received upon attending a Bitcoin Symposium that took place in Portsmouth 3 years ago. The event was sponsored by Blockchain.info, who donated 1 bitcoin (roughly $500 at the time). The first 100 symposium attendees received 0.01 BTC on a paper wallet, and he was one of those first 100. It’s funny because at the last Portsmouth Bitcoin Network Meetup, one of the people who helped put on that symposium attended and mentioned the bitcoin paper wallets they handed out. He remarked that he wondered if anyone actually kept them, or if the bitcoin was “burned” (lost forever). At least one person kept his!

One of the attendees told us about an exciting new business venture called Harvey Woods that seeks to bring energy independence to the world using an artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to broker power between individual houses. Some people at the meetup made business connections. Some learned about the best wallets to use for everyday transactions or long-term storage. Some talked about the future of cryptocurrency and related today’s experience to the early days of the internet.

The next meetup is 8pm Friday, August 4th at Oar House restaurant in Portsmouth. Stay in the loop by joining the Portsmouth Bitcoin Network on Meetup and Facebook.

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Free State Bitcoin Shoppe Featured on Free Talk Live

Derrick called into the popular nationally-syndicated radio show Free Talk Live this week to share an amazing story about a local Portsmouth man and his wife. They walked into the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe looking for some New Hampshire-themed gifts for their friends, and upon learning that our store takes a variety of crytpocurrencies, the man (who appeared to be in his 60s), pulled out his smart phone and displayed several different wallets. He opted to pay for a bitcoin t-shirt and some locally-made coasters in Litecoin because of the instant transaction time and negligible fees. He was very happy to be able to spend his crypto at a local shop, and I was blown away that he not only had crypto on his phone, but had a variety! Who says bitcoin is only for younger people? Listen to the whole story here:

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Free State Bitcoin Shoppe Featured on Neocash Radio

Our friends at Neocash Radio talked about the opening of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe on their hilarious and informative podcast this week. We grabbed an audio clip from their conversation to share with you. Have a listen and a laugh! Darren was so smitten by our adorable, soft Doge pillows that he came in the next day and bought out our entire supply! (Don’t worry, we immediately restocked, and you’ll receive a 15% discount on this item when you pay in Doge!)

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Easiest Way to Get Bitcoin

Yesterday after an amazing lobster BLT, lobster roll, and seafood chowder at River House, my partner Steven asked our server if he’d ever heard of bitcoin. Of course, he had. His college macroeconomics professor bought some bitcoin 5 years ago, and today the value of his bitcoin has quintupled. Our server said he’d like to get some but didn’t know how.

Delighted, we told him we love to use bitcoin and use it all the time — to buy things online like hotels and plane tickets and also things in Portsmouth like tickets to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Bikram Yoga classes, and dinners at STREET restaurant. He was amazed. He asked how people get it.

Steven told him there is a bitcoin vending machine inside the Seacoast Rep where you scan your phone and then feed in paper bills, and it sends bitcoin right to your phone. I told him that the easiest way to get bitcoin is to take it in exchange for a good or service that you sell. For example, Steven asked his last company to pay his salary in bitcoin. I charged bitcoin in exchange for placing ads in my YouTube videos.

Steven offered that if our server sets up a bitcoin wallet, Steven would gladly double his tip, giving him both cash and bitcoin. The server thought that was cool and said maybe next time we could tip him with bitcoin. I said, “How about right now?”

He took out his phone, and we told him to search the app store for “Mycelium”. (That’s the bitcoin wallet I recommend to everyone because it provides the greatest privacy in that no personally identifying data such as name or email is captured. It’s a simple, tiny app for sending and receiving bitcoin. The app downloaded in a few seconds, he opened it, pressed the “New Wallet” button, and immediately saw a QR code with his new bitcoin address. I scanned it and sent $10 (0.00443506 BTC). He tucked his phone back into his pocket and thanked us, saying, “What are your names again?” asking us to repeat our names. He cleared our table while I texted Steven the address, and Steven was able to double his tip on our way out.

Of course, we also left a cash tip so that our awesome server can have something to pay his bills. But now he also has a scarce digital resource as well – the world’s most popular cryptocurrency! What he buys with it is his business — totally outside the reach of controlling banks and snooping governments. It could be a meal at STREET restaurant in Portsmouth, some Bikram Yoga classes, a donation to WikiLeaks, or even recreational drugs on the dark market. No one would know, and free people like it that way.

TL;DR: Accept bitcoin as a tip for something you already do.

[UPDATE: As of July 22, 2 days after this post, the value of the server’s tip had increased from $20 to $25. Not bad. How many more servers would like to see receive tips that 1) they don’t have to claim, and 2) increase in purchasing power, and 3) allow them to shop online outside the watchful eye of banks and governments?]

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Meetups

Bitcoin Meetup | The Fresh Press

This morning the Portsmouth Bitcoin Network held a meetup at the Fresh Press, a locally-owned healthy organic juice and salad bar. It was awesome! City Councillor  Joshua Cyr, co-owner of AlphaLoft, Portsmouth’s first bitcoin-accepting business, attended, as did one of the managers of STREET, Portsmouth’s favorite bitcoin-accepting restaurant!

A few of us ordered delicious juices, a cold brew, and the avocado chop salad with chicken. We pulled up some chairs to a table and the conversation quickly began. “What do you guys think of BIP 91?” BIP 91 is “Bitcoin Implementation Protocol #91” and it would do two things: (from CoinDesk.com)

  • It makes it significantly easier for the network to adopt Segregated Witness (SegWit), a backward compatible upgrade that fixes transaction malleability and clears the path for off-chain solutions like Lightning Network.

  • If activated by July 31, BIP 91 will supersede BIP 148, a proposal that poses a risk of causing the network to split.

We then moved to philosophy of bitcoin: How did you get into it? What do you do with it? Where would you like to see the crypto world go from here? When will we see currencies like bitcoin and ethereum and Dash in use at everyday establishments?

It seemed about half of attendees use bitcoin and crypto for ideological reasons (increased privacy, independence from central banks) and the other half for practical reasons (lower fees, faster & easier payments, investment).

Steven, co-owner of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe on State St in Portsmouth expressed a desire to pay property tax to the Corporation “The City of Portsmouth” (of which he recently became a stake-holder) in bitcoin. He reasoned that the purchasing power would likely grow while the purchasing power of dollars diminishes over time, so it would help taxpayers get the most services for their tax bill. Plus, it would decrease the city’s dependence on the Washington DC bureaucrats and their minions by offering an alternative currency to the Federal Reserve Note.

Concillor Cyr expressed doubt that such an arrangement would be legal under current law, but noted that the crypto-friendly NH state legislature could pass a bill that explicitly permitted cities to hold a portion of their funds in bitcoin as if they were US dollars.

We talked about how bitcoin is both a currency and a payment network, and that it competes with both the dollar and processors such as Visa. These are hurdles for adoption in Portsmouth, since the convenience of credit cards is hard to beat. However, the knowledge that the Federal Reserve inflates the money supply to fund wars of aggression may be enough to encourage pro-peace Portsmouth residents to use bitcoin whenever possible.

We also shared some cool things happening in the crypto-sphere: Dash (digital cash) is taking prominence over bitcoin on the seacoast among small, independent entrepreneurs. Decentraland is an alt-coin with a recent ICO that offers plots of virtual territory that users can develop in a digital ecosystem with others.

We concluded by exchanging contact info. The next meetup is at River House in Portsmouth at 8pm Thursday, July 27. Attendance is expected to be around 10-12 people, and the main topic will be the upcoming hard (soft?) fork on Aug 1.

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Dollars Not Accepted, Free Staters Bet on Bitcoin with America’s First “Crypto-Only” Retail Shop

Although the new store opening today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire may appear to be another small town gift shop, it is the first store of its kind in the world. “We’ll take any crypto-currency: Dogecoin, Dash, Ether, Bitcoin…but no dollars, thank you,” says Steven Zeiler. He and Derrick Freeman are co-owners of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe, a “crypto-only” retail store – located at 56 State St.

“We believe it’s better money,” says Freeman, “and our mission is to help Portsmouth transition to an inflation-proof currency that’s publicly accountable.” Unlike dollars, there is a fixed amount of bitcoin. Similar to gold, bitcoins are divisible and used all over the world.

The store’s first customer was a tourist visiting from Vietnam. “There’s a big bitcoin market there,” she said. She paid from a wallet on her mobile phone and didn’t need to convert currencies.

The governments of Japan and South Korea officially recognized bitcoin as legal tender earlier this year, causing a huge increase in adoption. At the same time, the New Hampshire legislature passed a bill deregulating all digital currency in the state, encouraging entrepreneurs to move here and for tech startups to break ground in the Granite State.

Zeiler left a lucrative job as a developer at a Silicon Valley company to move to Portsmouth because, he says, “the people of New Hampshire are way ahead of the game in terms of sound money and adoption of bitcoin, and obviously Portsmouth is the coolest part of New Hampshire.”

The store sells unique crypto-themed gifts, seditious books, libertarian art, pro-science t-shirts, and loads of “Live Free Or Die” propaganda. They also offer Premium WiFi and cold brew coffee that’s locally produced in Portsmouth for those who want to hang out and get some work done by the park, or just enjoy one of their many bitcoin-themed movies in the air conditioning.