What is a Block Explorer?

What is a Block Explorer?

A block explorer is an online blockchain browser which displays the contents of individual cryptocurrency blocks, transactions, the transaction histories and balances of addresses. A Bitcoin block explorer is used for exploring the bitcoin blockchain while other block explorers may be specific to other cryptocurrencies.

Popular Block Explorers

As you go further and further down the bitcoin rabbit hole, you will probably find yourself needing some information on a particular transaction, address, block or hash. The following block explorers are the most popular in the bitcoin space for finding out just about any information that the blockchain has to offer. It will definitely benefit you to learn how they all work and what they can do for you.

Blockchain.Info

Blockchain.info is not only one of the first block explorers but it probably one of the most trusted sources for data on the bitcoin blockchain. It is equipped with several useful bitcoin tools such as an HD wallet, charts and a robust API that includes some merchant tools and a donate button. One of the things that I personally do not like about their wallet is that you are required to sign in with an e.mail address which means that this is not a zero-knowledge nor a permissionless wallet and this can erode your personal privacy.

Blockchain.info

Blockonomics.co

Blockonomics.co is my personal favorite block explorer primarily because of its simplicity and privacy enhancing features. Not only does it provide some great visual features, it is also equipped with a permissionless, zero-knowledge merchant service such as an invoice generator that is pegged to a fiat price rather than a bitcoin price. This means that you can sell goods for bitcoin but price them in a fiat currency so you don’t have to worry about bitcoin price volatility. I have spoken highly of this service in the past and I personally believe this service has the potential to be the most useful block explorer in the bitcoin space.

Blockonomics.co

BlockExplorer.com

BlockExplorer.com is probably the most obviously named block explorer. It is able to give you basic information on the blockchain and has some basic API services. According to their landing page they are “an open source web tool that allows you to view information about blocks, addresses, and transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. Their source code is available on GitHub.

blockexplorer.com

Additional Block Explorers

There are probably dozens of block explorers and I will end up making this post 2,000 words if I list them all in detail but here are a few others that you might like.
Blockr.io
Blocktrail.com
BlockCypher.com

What is a bitcoin term that you would like us to define for you? Let us know with a comment below or a tweet at @WhatIsBitcoin.

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10 Bitcoin Privacy Enhancing Tools

Bitcoin Privacy Enhancing Tools

One of the driving forces behind bitcoin adoption is its amazing privacy features. The ability to store and transact value without your identity directly attached to your money or spending greatly increases your individual freedom and personal privacy. While not all bitcoin services and tools protect your privacy as much as others, using these 10 tools will help to increase your own privacy, the privacy of the entire bitcoin network and also increase bitcoin’s utility around the world.

Brave

Brave, a web browser for a better internet

Brave is a new privacy focused web browser that is going to change the way we browse the web as well as how publishers monetize content. Brave creates a safer browsing experience by blocking ads and trackers that violate your privacy and slow down your browsing experience. Brave also converts all http connections to https connections for more secure browsing. But Brave’s most revolutionary feature is something called Brave Payments. This allows content viewers to directly contribute to site publishers and also block ads and trackers. The end result is users seeing less ads and publishers make more money than they would if the monetize their site with Google AdSense. Brave has the potential to change the way publishers monetize their online content.

ShapeShift

Shapeshift
ShapeShift is probably one of the biggest names in the bitcoin space because it enables anyone who already accepts bitcoin to seamlessly accept all of the other cryptocurrencies without any personal information. ShapeShift is integrated into a number of services like CoinCap.io, OpenBazaar, KeepKey and others. If you don’t already use ShapeShift, you should be.

OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar is the one and only e.commerce platform of its kind. It is a distributed network which means that none of the product listings are stored on any single centralized server. This means that your listings cannot easily be censored or shut down. What makes OpenBazaar even more awesome is that you can only pay using cryptocurrency. OpenBazaar also recently integrated ShapeShift so that buyers can pay with the cryptocurrency of their choice and the seller receives bitcoin. OpenBazaar will compete with eBay, Amazon, Fiverr, UpWork and dozens of other online retail sites.

Blockonomics

Blockonomics is my personal favorite block explorer. Their landing page has a simple call to action to enter a bitcoin address or transaction ID so you can view the history of any given address or transaction. You can also use blockonomics to create invoices that are pegged to fiat currencies so if you accept payments, you do not have to worry about volatility issues because you are always invoicing in a fiat currency. In my opinion, blockonomics has potential to become one of the most useful bitcoin tools in the world.

Anonymous Ads

Have you ever wanted to put ads onto your website but the whole signup process with Google AdSense requires too much of your personal information? Well, now you can have ads on your site in a couple minutes with no usernames or logins. Anonymous Ads allows you to select an ad size and then you just paste a bitcoin address to receive payments without giving up any of your personal information. Users also have the option of creating an account if they so chose. You can create an ad in about a minute. This is what their 748×90 ad looks like:

Money Badger

Money Badger

Money Badger is a service that enables you to send bitcoin to people via phone number or e.mail address without revealing yourself as the sender. This service is primarily for incentivizing people to learn about bitcoin. You also have the option to have your funds returned in seven days if the recipient chooses not to claim them. I predict that MoneyBadger will integrate ShapeShift so that you can send any a cryptocurrency of your choice and the recipient will receive bitcoin.

RushWallet

RushWallet is a web wallet that can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection and doesn’t require any personal information. You just go to the website and move your mouse or finger around to create a random string of numbers and letters to generate your private key. Once you have done this for about 10 seconds, you have a public key which you can accept bitcoin. No app downloads, or logins. Just pure math based freedom. It is one of the best services for new users to learn about public and private keys with the least amount friction.

BitAddress

BitAddress is probably the best way to generate paper wallets in the least amount of time. Paper wallets are very important for bitcoin security because they are the least vulnerable to being hacked. Paper wallets are not stored online so hackers and cybercriminals cannot access them via the internet. This means that each paper wallet that you generate is its own little swiss bank account that can fit in your pocket.

Piper Wallet

Piper Wallet was the first hardware wallet to offer offline paper wallet creation. This simple device is just a RasperryPi computer that attaches to a printer for generating paper wallets at the push of a button. Since this computer is never connected to the internet, it is one of the most secure and private ways to make your own cold storage wallets anywhere in the world regardless of whether or not you have an internet connection.

Bread Wallet

Bread Wallet is a mobile wallet and it is without doubt the cleanest user interface in the entire bitcoin space. It does not require any personal information of any kind to send, receive or store funds. No usernames, passwords, phone numbers, e.mail addresses. Just pure bitcoin privacy on a mobile device. If you are looking for a wallet for your phone, look no further than Bread Wallet.

Do you know of some other bitcoin tools or services that increase privacy? Let us know with a comment below.

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