Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bitcoin in Buenos Aires: La BITconf

La BitConf was a conference held the first weekend of November in the center of Buenos Aires concerning Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto currency. Several influential speakers who are key players in the development and progression of this new, revolutionary currency presented their new advances with BTC, security around it, side-chains to increase its usability, and other crypto currencies such as Dash and Zcash.
            If you do not know what exactly BTC is or what it is all about, you are not in the minority. BTC is a decentralized currency that is not represented by any central bank but rather a system of verification and connection between all users who use BTC. It can be used completely anonymously as there is no registration for it, and many businesses are starting to accept payments in BTC such as Steam, Expedia, Microsoft, and even Tesla. It is a relatively volatile currency, having traded at over $1,200 in 2013 to go down to 500 days later. It has been on a steady rise since then and is currently trading at over 740 at the time of this article (17/11).

            The conference featured an international mix of people. Attendees came from diverse backgrounds. Several presenters represented their companies from Argentina and many more from the United States, China, Peru, and Brazil to name a few. Diego Zaldivar, the founder of Roostock, was a big presence with their new technology seeking to add to the usability of BTC as a smart contract as Etherium has achieved. There were many attendees who were present to network with other influential members of the BTC community such as Alejandro de la Torre who came from Amsterdam to represent his company,, a Bitcoin wallet and news center. As the conference unfolded, it became apparent that although BTC is an international currency that is almost entirely decentralized among the world, it still consists of a tight knit community of players.

This tech savy group of economists is an odd mix between geek and banker. Several presenters were the founders of multi-million dollar companies, yet they had the presentation skills of a nervous teenager. Almost everyone had a galaxy s7 or and iphone 6 on the go, and it was not uncommon to see people on their laptops in the middle of a presentation. The stereotypical programmer with poor hygiene was well represented as was the classic banker with a suit, tie, and slicked hair. This juxtaposition of cultures highlighted itself more with the venue, an old tango theatre located in a basement of a gallery on Florida street. Tango, an old pastime of Argentina mixed together with a new, revolutionary technology that aims to completely change commerce across the world.
Resultado de imagen para bitcoin miningThis mix of old and new, money and technology, culture and progression fits in quite well with Argentina as it is one of the most prominent countries in South America in the BTC world yet also one of the most plagued by corruption and economic slugishness. Since the election of Macri, there has been an explosion of BTC activity in Argentina, from tech companies such as Rootstock to bitcoin ´miners´ that produce Bitcoins. This rise in something new, progressive, and revolutionary in anything related to economics is not exactly characteristic of Argentina, but it could be a great source of financial success for tech savy people looking for jobs and bring futures.

After the first day at the conference it seemed that Argentina could become a powerful player in Bitcoin and potentially draw in other technological advances to help it get a step ahead of the global competition. But being Argentina, progress does not come without a fight. After leaving the conference and walking out onto the street, there was a protest of people marching through Avenida de Mayo to protest the new government and some of the new changes that have been made to make the country more appealing to investors. A great impression to leave for the international people seeing Argentina for the first time. 

Resultado de imagen para bitcoin logo

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Buenos Aires Skyline: Views from above

Here are just a few photos from the past few months of rooftops and planes here in Buenos Aires.
The skyline in Buenos Aires is a truly unique thing to see. Like many cities, the skyline has a different feel depending on the neighborhood. The thing about BA is that it goes on and on in an endless sea of concrete.
Sometimes a rooftop offers a cozy getaway in the middle of the pandemonium. Palermo Holywood has some of the more relaxing terraces in the city.

Above: Caballito at nighttime

Below: a view of the Microcentro neighborhood from San Telmo. You may not be able to tell, but this is the most congested area in the city.

Coming in to BA from above give you a glimpse of the millions of lives living together in chaotic harmony.

Above: Monseratt
Below: Chacaritas

If you want to find a relaxing spot in Buenos Aires, check our hostels out!

Charlies Hostel BA

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Ride a Bike in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is not too hard of a city to get around in, but all too often the public transit gets crowded, and you find yourself up close and personal with all 8 million of its inhabitants who are moving around the city at 5 in the afternoon. The best way to avoid all that traffic is with your own means of propulsion. Traveling by car will take forever because of the narrow streets with few lanes and all of the stoplights. A motorcycle is efficient, but not everyone has a moto license and the money to rent/buy one. The bicycle is the most economic and time-efficient way to get around the city. With several options for rent, lots of deals on used bikes in shops all around town, and government sponsored bike stations, Buenos Aires is slowly becoming a bike haven.

Many people talk trash about biking down town, saying it is dangerous, that all the drivers are out to kill pedestrians and bikers, and that it is a slow way to get around town. Biking can be dangerous if you do not know how to ride a bike, but it is by far faster than a car or subway, and the motorists are rather tame as long as you make yourself present and are willing to share the road.

If you do not know how to ride a bike or do not feel comfortable with riding in a high traffic area, do not worry, there are still some options for you! Plaza Holanda is a park located in Palermo that is a pedestrian paradise with a big circular path and road that is just under 2 kilometers. It features a pedestrians and bikes only side and a road with very little traffic just outside. They rent bikes here, so this could be a great place to try your skills out or get them tuned in to go hit the streets.

From Plaza Holanda, you can get on one of several bike paths (¨Bicisenda¨) that stretch out into all directions of the city. These bicisendas are a safe way to get just about anywhere in town without having to worry about getting hit by an oblivious taxi driver. Scattered along these bike baths are stations for renting bikes at no cost. For more information about how to get a bike and maps of all the bike lanes, check out this link from the city government.

If you do decide to get off the bike lanes and into the streets, here are a few pointers to stay safe and get around quicker.

1 Wear a helmet. Even if you stay on the bike lanes, you should definitely use a brain bucket. 

Keep your head on the swivel. Always know your surroundings and be aware that buses have huge blind spots and are most likely presuming that you are going to yield to them and not the other way around. Pedestrians and motorcycles crossing during stop and go traffic can come unexpectedly. If you are passing by all the cars stuck in stop and go traffic, don´t let your guard down, maybe it´s too good to be true.

3 Make yourself present and be confident. If you feel confidant and present, you will be more likely to be noticed and respected by other motorists. Here in Buenos Aires everyone is pretty good about respecting each other on the streets.... except for the taxi drivers, watch out for them. They are less likely to notice you and less likely to yield any space. Also, they cross the road much slower than other cars because they are looking for fairs.

4 Try to get on a one-way road, and go to the left. If you are on a bigger avenue, the left lane is generally for people on motorcycles and bicyclists. 9 de Julio is an exception. Try to stay on the right there. It can be more intimidating to stray away from the bike paths, but you can get around the town much faster. Corrientes goes from the Palermo area to the city center, and Córdoba goes the opposite direction from the center westward. 9 de Julio goes north/south in the downtown area, but it can be somewhat congested during peak traffic hours. Going to a street parallel to 9 de Julio during peak hours will be a small sacrifice in time for a big increase in safety.  

5 Have fun! Weaving in and out of traffic can be a blast. Going around the city on a bike is exhilarating and is the best way to cover a lot of ground in a day.