Just in time for the 2016th (incidentally, the number of blocks in Bitcoin's shorter metric of elapsed time) year of the fiat calendar, Bitcoin added a new digit to its difficulty decimal, now equal to 103,880,340,815 (an increase of 11.16% over the previous value, placing hashrate estimates over 690 PH/s.). While such increases used to be noteworthy, they pale in the shadow of the last leap (December 18th's 18.14% increase, to 93,448,670,796), leaving thin-margined miners nervously wondering whether they'll ever make good on the forecasts of yesteryear.
While inferior clients have issued warnings mistakenly (archived) construable as network attacks1 , hodlers of Bitcoin are reminded that complaining about not enough hashrate (archived) is like asking for a more true price, or a pinker invisible unicorn; moreover, miners are only relevant when receiving coins, and are unable to pick them from your pocket once secure.2
As warned by bitcoin-daemon-0.11.0-4, packaged by 86CFFCA918CF3AF47147588051E8B148A9999C34, a maintainer of Arch Linux:
"WARNING: abnormally high number of blocks generated, 48 blocks received in the last 4 hours (24 expected)"
Preparing real Bitcoin software for this distribution left an exercise. ↩
Another troubling confusion is that of the role of "forks" in Bitcoin. While software forks are welcome in any healthy republic, Bitcoin has an additional sort: the network fork, further divided into varieties "soft" and "hard". The former variety, primarily concerning miners, requires that they adhere to additional rules enforced by their fellow diggers; effectively, the "space" of valid blocks has been narrowed. Hashpower cartels narrow consensus-space at their whims, and have both the right and ability to abandon such additional rules should they prove too cumbersome to continue enforcing.
The latter variety, that of the "hard network fork", refers to a widening of the consensus space to include blocks considered invalid by existing deployments. Hard forks are an exquisitely efficient tool for targeted DoS against high-security Bitcoin installations, and must be avoided like clichés. ↩