back to article Hey! Want a FREE TOASTER that makes BITCOIN? What? You DO?

The Official Greatest Business Plan Of All Time was back at the time of the South Sea Bubble of the Georgian Age. A promoter made a stock offering for “A company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage but no one to know what it is.” What made it the officially greatest ever was that this was, obviously and clearly, …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      "I mean, come on, really? The larger the installed base of bitcoin mining ASICs, the quicker they will become obsolete, and at that point, they're just burning electricity with no meaningful return."

      I'm pretty sure that commercially available ASICs passed that point about 12 months ago. I'll stop running mine when the weather gets warmer (at the moment they are acting as a small heat source in the corner of the lounge), and find another use for the RaspPi that's controlling them.

      1. squigbobble

        Sold my Antminer S4...

        ...about a month ago when the weather turned warm enough that I didn't need to heat my flat.

  2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Where does the electricity go?

    The short answer, of course, is it ends up as heat. I fail to see how this is a problem in a toaster, the primary function of which is to direct heat at bread.

    1. ZSn

      Re: Where does the electricity go?

      But how long do you expect it to toast - 24 hours?

      1. wikkity

        Re: Where does the electricity go?

        > But how long do you expect it to toast - 24 hours?

        Don't know about everyone else but I unplug my toaster after I've finished with it.

        1. JustNiz

          Re: Where does the electricity go?

          >> I unplug my toaster after I've finished with it.

          I'm assuming its a pop-up toaster so turns itself off when its done. Why on earth would you go to the hassle of plugging/unplugging it every time when Its not consuming any power?

          Do you also bother to plug/unplug your TV everytime? At least there's a semi-logical argument for that since unlike toasters, most modern TVs actually do still consume (a tiny) amount of power even when "off".

    2. joeW Silver badge

      Re: Where does the electricity go?

      Like some kind of micro-sized turbo-output storage heater?

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Where does the electricity go?

      "Ignore the 'leccy meter, chump"

      Solution = make it a space heater.

      Ideally the thermostat would signal an orderly shutdown, as opposed to a sudden power cut.

      My house uses 10 kW of electric heaters, with a 25+% duty cycle (very roughly) in the depths of winter.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Where does the electricity go?

        Don't you guys have heat pumps? Cutting your heating bill by 2/3 to 3/4 seems to make a lot more sense than trying to mine cryptocoins...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where does the electricity go?

          "Don't you guys have heat pumps?"

          They've only just become fiscally rational, with the recent sub-$1000 ones from China.

          A few years ago they made no sense, due to equipment cost and their roughly ten-year lifespan.

          YMMV, depending on your numbers.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Where does the electricity go?

            YMMV, depending on your numbers.

            Indeed. Here where electrons cost only 1.7x as much per unit energy as gas, and summers routinely reach well into the 30s, reverse cycle heat pump systems make a hell of a lot more sense.

            I'll grant you that the initial cost is still high, but the Japanese stuff is still where it's at in terms of efficiency and longevity.

      2. Detective Emil
        Headmaster

        Re: Where does the electricity go?

        Electricity is around four times as expensive per kilowatt hour as gas on normal tariffs. Heating oil and LPG come in around the same price as gas. So using toasters to heat your home is not a smart idea. Well, unless, perhaps, you have a gas toaster. (Mmmm. Almost ten toasty kilowatts…)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Where does the electricity go?

          "Electricity is around four times as expensive per kilowatt hour as gas on normal tariffs"

          Until the gas is gone, or priced out of the market in order to meet carbon reduction targets.

          But how to deal with that is a rant for another story.

    4. Daniel von Asmuth
      Happy

      Re: Where does the electricity go?

      It makes sense after all: you buy a new electrical home heating appliance and purchase the electricity as cheaply as you can. Now your lovely heater's insides are full of Intel, so the more heat you need, the more bitcoins you mine, reducing your energy bill.

    5. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Where does the electricity go?

      I remember reading about another company (Probably on the Reg) trying to make a model out of combined heat and compute service: Get a cloudy rack in your office building to warm the place up. It's exactly as efficient as an electric heater (ie, 100%, by conservation). They manage all the software stuff and pay you a monthly fee. They don't pay for the power, so from the customer's expensive it's just a rather bulky electric space-heater that sends a bank deposit each month.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Where does the electricity go?

        "so from the customer's expensive it's just a rather bulky electric space-heater"

        That you can't turn off. Great in the depths of winter but not so good the rest of the year.

  3. Sureo
    Coat

    My toaster already uses a disproportionate amount of electricity, which has become a lot more expensive in recent years. But thanks for the offer.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no heating needed

    Our recent experiment in bitcoin mining @ our offices resulted in an extra 6kw load, melted power sockets, an extra hot cabinet ( 75 ºc air off), a server room that sounds as if 30 proliant machines turned on at once and got stuck on high fan and 4 btc after 9 weeks @ around £600 thankfully we're not paying for the electric consumtipion..

    1. squigbobble

      Re: no heating needed

      Melted power sockets sounds impressive.

      1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip
        Pint

        Re: no heating needed

        £600 sounds like a good night out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: no heating needed

          Mining Boxes cost £3000 recouping costs very slowly....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: no heating needed

        Someone plugged the entire 6kw load into one wall socket (ordinary 13 amp socket) cue hot socket and melted plastic ..

        1. ABehrens

          Re: no heating needed

          Did your electrician forget to install fuses or circuit breakers on this circuit?

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: no heating needed

      So why didn't you just pinch money and stationery to the tune of GBP600/month that would have been just as honest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: no heating needed

        Company sanctioned activity no stealing required.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I've written more than a few business plans in my time and if I'd come up with this one I wouldn't be able to stop giggling long enough to present it."

    Hang on, didn't you used to do stuff for a political party?

    1. Tim Worstal

      Well, yes, but in politics everyone already knows you're being economical with the actualite.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        have a vague recollection the party in question was UKIP. If i'm right, that's not economical with the actualite, that's downright generous with the pläma

        .

  6. LucreLout Silver badge

    Depends who pays the 'leccy bill...

    I have plug sockets here at work, and stuff plugged into them to charge my phone etc, so potentially I could mine coins while work picks up the tab. Obviously, the question of network connectivity arises, but I'm fairly sure I could route that through my phone, so could achieve up to 50 mining hours per week - possibly full time if the returns justified a second phone I could leave plugged in.

    I'm not personally advocating doing this, but I can see the potential for a market where other people might. I predict a short but glorious future for the company, followed by a swift and predictable demise coming aroudn the time the early adopters and VCs take their money off the table.

    1. wikkity

      Re: Depends who pays the 'leccy bill...

      > so could achieve up to 50 mining hours per week

      It would be interesting to know how much that would earn, 10p maybe. I'm sure it's not enough to justify buying a new [genuine] battery to replace the one killed by been left plugged in excessively.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    If you've got something which is always on like a thermostat or a NAS box I suppose it might keep you in pocket money.

    How many bitcoins are left to mine, anyway?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      There will be 21 million of them when last one is mined in the year 2140. Currently, just over two thirds of those have been mined. At the moment they are rewarded at a rate of on average 3,600 per day, and that halves on average every four years. The next halving is expected to occur at the end of next year.

      The problem with bitcoin mining is that the block rewards are winner takes all. All of the miners out there are randomly calculating cryptographic hashes in the hope of finding one that meets an arbitrary condition. One block is mined on average every ten minutes (the difficulty is adjusted to ensure the average remains ten minutes regardless of the network's hashrate), and the system that finds the winning hash gets all 25 bitcoins. The network's hashrate has flattened out at about 350PH/s. Finding the winning hash when mining on your own is purely probabilistic, so if you have a miner capable of 350GH/s, your chance of finding the winning hash for any block is 1 in 1,000,000.

      1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        "Finding the winning hash when mining on your own is purely probabilistic, so if you have a miner capable of 350GH/s, your chance of finding the winning hash for any block is 1 in 1,000,000."

        A problem reduced by mining pools, which are essential for all but the largest miners now. It's basically the same as a lottery pool: Everyone agrees to donate their hashing capacity into a common pot, and split the winnings according to the ratio of their contributions. Your expected payout is almost the same (Less around a 1% fee for the pool manager), but it comes in small and regular payments rather than a once-in-a-blue-moon jackpot when you manage to score a valid block.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Everyone agrees to donate their hashing capacity into a common pot, and split the winnings according to the ratio of their contributions.

          I figured they worked like that, but I wasn't completely sure, thanks for explaining it.

          Either way, the biggest issue (IMO) is the energy consumption of that 350PH/s. If everyone was using the most efficient mining hardware for which I could find information, the network would consume ~180MW, all just to verify a practical limit of about three transactions per second. That's an absolute lower limit of 50kWh per transaction, using the most optimistic assumptions. The real energy consumption is obviously greater than that and not every block contains the maximum possible number of transactions (some even contain one; the block reward being paid to the miner).

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "If you've got something which is always on like a thermostat or a NAS box I suppose it might keep you in pocket money."

      Well, no, not really. The bitcoin mining is extra power which you are paying for. On a NAS box or similar, where most modern systems reduce their current draw as processing loads decrease or worse, an IoT device which may well be using a few mA most of the time, using them for mining is going to, at the very least, keep the processor under full load 24/7.

      So that 25% value of the bitcoin is still, as Tim said, worth less than your increased 'leccy bill.

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Facepalm

    At the risk of becoming a tedious bore...

    "The reason being that there was obviously an investment bubble going on and people happily bought the stock assuming that they would be able to pass it on to a greater fool soon enough at a higher price."

    Plus ça change, plus ça change.

  9. Irony Deficient

    Bitcoin toaster

    If I had to have one, I’d rather get the offline version sold by these folks instead.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free Leccy

    Um, drive your bitcoin miner off a solar panel maybe? You can get good portable 1-2KW panels these days. Mind you that's not a very scalable solution, and you only get to mine for half of each 24 hr period.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Free Leccy

      The solar panels cost far more than just buying the electricity would over the short lifetime of one of these bitcoin ASICs.

      1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: Free Leccy

        Revise plan: Off-grid solar gives free power in excess. You need to have enough capacity to run on a cloudy day in winter, which means you have an excess in summer and when the weather is better. BC mining can be turned on and off with ease, so it might make some level of maybe-sense to use it as a 'dump load' - a place to productively dispose of excess power when the batteries are full and the sun is shining. Truly 'free' power, because it would only go to waste otherwise.

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Free Leccy

      Or you could just sell the 'leccy back to the grid, in general for a higher return than mining crypto.

  11. badger31
    Joke

    If the asics have no heat sink ...

    Just run 'em for making the toast. It's a win-win!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If the asics have no heat sink ...

      Errm ...

      Yes. Turn it off when not using it.?

  12. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Losing money for the consumer

    With a free toaster that is only true once it starts costing the consumer more than it would if the consumer had purchased and used a non-mining toaster. Up until that point the consumer is the winner.

    Get a free toaster, flog it on eBay, and you have a guaranteed profit. Please send me a dozen.

    1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Losing money for the consumer

      Could be a good deal. Get your toaster dirt cheap, then open it up and cut the power lines to the miner and communications chips.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Losing money for the consumer

        Get your toaster dirt cheap, then open it up and cut the power lines to the miner and communications chips.

        Or just put it on a switched receptacle, or put a switch on the power cord. The small amount of power drawn by the mining electronics while making toast contributes to the toasting, as N previous commentators have noted, and wouldn't significantly affect the cost of using the toaster anyway. You just don't want those chips getting power while you're not making toast.

        The mining is irrelevant - you won't do any significant mining - but it's probably less work than taking the thing apart.

        Unfortunately the toasters in question probably won't be very good models. This sort of thing looks to target the low end of the market, for non-discerning customers. That's if 21 Inc ever gets its gear into any free/discounted appliances at all; I suspect at some point it'll fold, having accomplished nothing but bilking investors (let us all shed a tear), employing a few folks for a few years, and making an even smaller number of con artists entrepreneurs wealthy.

  13. Hellcat

    That explains that then

    If the heat is used for the toasting, and the aim is to run it as often as possible, then what you need is to make the owners want more toast.

    Howdy doodly do. How's it going? I'm Talkie, Talkie Toaster, your chirpy breakfast companion. Talkie's the name, toasting's the game. Anyone like any toast?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sound like Jasper Fforde was right...

      This sounds like something cooked up by the Toast Marketing Board.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Sound like Jasper Fforde was right...

        ...or a line of script from Grant & Naylors Red Dwarf.

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: That explains that then

      Even if they gave you a free toaster and free bread, you'd likely still be losing on the deal.

  14. JP19

    Toaster not a good candidate

    What is to stop you turning off your free toaster at the wall socket while not actually making toast?

  15. eGeezer

    Bitcoin Toaster hacking?

    oh, no! Now terrorists can hack my bitcoin toaster, an make all my toast come out dark instead of light!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bitcoin Toaster hacking?

      Just hack them back so their toast comes out depicting Mohamed.

      Or the US constitution, if your hacker terrorists are NSA and you want to offend them.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a useful toaster might look like

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRq_SAuQDec

    Howdly doodly doo!

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So personal poverty giving corporate prosperity

    Rather than public poverty and corporate prosperity.

    At least this one only the gullible buy into.

    Unlike bank bailouts.

  18. Graham Marsden
    Mushroom

    "Would you like some toast?

    "Some nice hot crisp brown buttered toast. No? How about a muffin then? Nothing? You know the last time you had toast. 18 days ago, 11.36, Tuesday 3rd, two rounds. I mean, what's the point in buying a toaster with artificial intelligence if you don't like toast. I mean, this is my job. This is cruel, just cruel."

  19. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The secret business plan...

    Nice toaster you have there... pay us $X every month or we'll turn on the bitcoin mining feature that will cost you $Y every month.

  20. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    This sounds like the schemes where you could get a loan to put solar panels on your roof, and get a return on the feed-in-tariff which would be less than the loan repayments.

    1. billse10
      Facepalm

      which is also quite a good scam scheme

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      You should have taken your site survey results -- showing the predicted return on investment from your solar power system -- to your bank. It's their job to know what a sound business plan looks like, and they won't be keen to lend you money they don't think you can repay on an asset that is only going to depreciate. Sure it's a little more effort than going with a one-stop shop who will take care of all the paperwork, installation and collecting the money for you; but that convenience has a hidden cost.

      Of course, if the total cost of the system divided by its estimated lifetime output in kWh (so treating it as a bulk energy purchase) is comparable with what you're likely to be paying for electricity from the grid anytime in future, it's probably a worthwhile investment anyway.

  21. Anonymous C0ward

    Needs to be rooted

    so I can keep all the bitcoins.

  22. Tromos

    Business model breaks down...

    ...as soon as instructions are published on the interwebs for where to snip to convert to a non-mining toaster. This should occur within minutes of the toasters actually being handed out.

  23. wikkity

    Global warming

    if a government banned bitcoin currency/mining in their county can they sell that as a carbon offset?

  24. Lallabalalla

    Erm....

    Why does it cost extra money in electricity bills if the electricity was going to be used anyway. I don't unplug my fridge - ever. And when the telly or the washing machine is on - it's on. So what have I missed? Maybe these devices use a tiny bit more leccy than otherwise? Or what?

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Erm....

      Because washing+mining .greaterthan. washing for positive amounts of mining, so electricity(washing+mining) .greaterthan. electricity(washing).

    2. JustNiz

      Re: Erm....

      >> Maybe these devices use a tiny bit more leccy than otherwise? Or what?

      Lol no. Bitcoin miners use a LOT of power. (1 to 3 Kwh is normal), so about 50 quid/week in leccy alone. That kind of mining currently gets you about half a bitcoin a month which is worth maybe 75-80 quid.

      If they made a unit that used less power, then it would also mine correspondingly less, so 10x reduction in power is only going to mine 7 or 8 quid a month but still cost 20/month to run, assum,ing its running 24/7. If they made it any less power-hungry than that it wouldn't even cover the cost of them giving you the toaster.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Erm....

        Lol no. Bitcoin miners use a LOT of power.

        The absolute power requirements of the mining gear in these appliances is irrelevant. It could be very small - they could design individual devices to only hash at a very slow rate.

        The point is the relative cost: whatever the hash rate, and thus power consumption, the cost of electricity used is bound to be greater than the reward in fractional BTC. So any additional electricity used by the device is a loss to the owner. And you can't mine without consuming some nonzero amount of electricity, so whatever the parameters, it's a fool's game.

        1. The elephant in the room

          Re: Erm....

          But surely electric heaters are the one exception, because their only function is to generate heat. Rather than using 3KW to unprofitably heat up nichrome wire you may as well be running an ASIC that outputs the same amount of heat. The electricity costs you exactly the same either way, but if you are given the hardware for free + 25% of the bitcoins you are better off than having to pay for the heater yourself and not receiving 25% of the bitcoins.

          It is true that electricity is an expensive form of heating, but many people do not have the option of gas, and for them I do not see that this is an entirely stupid idea.

      2. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: Erm....

        I'd use the chip from an old Yellowjacket or similar. About 2GH/s on 2.5W, as it runs straight off USB, and really cheap now if you buy second-hand, as everyone is dumping them in favor or more efficient modern chips.

  25. David Roberts
    Joke

    Alternative?

    We have all these wind farms which are throwing away power because the grid cannot cope.

    How about bitcoin rigs to use all the spare electricity?

    All they need is an Internet connection.

    In fact, I am surprised the generators are not already doing ths as the get the power at cost.

    Could also soak up the spare power from gas generation instead of spinning it up and down all the time.

    Recipe for cheap cloud storage?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Alternative?

      "We have all these wind farms which are throwing away power because the grid cannot cope."

      The only reason 99% of those windfarms exist is because they got massive subsidies to build them and get subsidies to run them whether they're grid-connected or not. The same applies to solar installations

      Some windfarms are paid to _not_ connect to the grid.

      Who pays these subsidies? Us - the energy consumers. About 1/3 of your leccy bill in the UK is paying windmills and solar plants at vastly over-the-odds feed-in rates and a good chunk of what's left is paying for all the backing capacity which has to be idle but hot to cater for the unpredictability of supply.

      They're not alternative power sources, they're money pits - and they divert from more important long-term forms of power supply which will make them irrelevant anyway.

  26. Nifty

    Send all donations

    to the Green party in Bitcoin

  27. JustNiz

    seems to me the best thing to do would be to allow them to send you a shiny new free toaster (or whatever) then simply avoid ever connecting it to the internet.

  28. JulieM Silver badge
    Coat

    Two small problems.

    This would be a brilliant idea if and only if (1) there was an infinite supply of Bitcoins to be mined; and (2) the amount of energy required to mine each one was constant -- or at least, if it increased, would never exceed the value of a Bitcoin.

    But not only is there only a finite amount of Bitcoins to be mined, but the energy required to mine each one is increasing to the point where certain mining technologies already require you to spend more than a Bitcoin to realise the value of a Bitcoin.

    That makes it a terrible idea, then.

    On the other hand, given a large enough supply of people with more money than sense and precious little of either, there might just be some money to be made near the top of the pyramid.

  29. NozeDive

    Root

    How do I get my hands on one of these? Not for the intended purpose, but to replace the OS with my own? A toaster that's also a webserver and DOESN'T mine bit coins will surely impress the ladies.

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