Bitcoin Mining on Mac OS X – Bitfury ASICS

A new batch of ASICs is hitting the market based on the 55nm Bitfury ASIC chip (abbreviated BF1). The most popular of these are USB sticks branded as either Blue Fury or Red Fury, depending on the color of the onboard LED. The BF1 Fury sticks look very similar to the ASICMINER Block Erupter sticks. However, while the Block Erupters hash at 335Mh/s the new BF1 Fury sticks hash at anywhere from 2.2Gh/s up to 3.0Gh/s.

Red Fury

Miner Installation

As with the ASICMINER Block Erupters, the first step is to install either bfgminer or cgminer on OS X. There are several ways to go about this, from compiling them yourself, to using Homebrew, to downloading precompiled binaries.

There is a thread here on the Bitcoin Talk forums which discusses various ways to install cgminer and bfgminer on Mac OS X. One of the more full-proof methods is to use Homebrew:

  1. Launch from Spotlight or from your Applications folder
  2. Install Homebrew by entering the following command:
    ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  3. Run the following command and fix any reported issues:
    brew doctor
  4. Tap this Homebrew repostory so that you can install packages from it:
    brew tap nwoolls/xgminer
  5. Finally, install either cgminer or bfgminer:
    brew install cgminer

If you’d like to install the miner using the latest source from Github rather than the latest official package, use the –HEAD (two dashes prefix) parameter, e.g.:

brew install bfgminer --HEAD

Driver Installation

As with the ASICMINER Block Erupters, bfgminer requires the correct kernel extension to be loaded in order to detect the BF1 Fury stick. And, as with the Block Erupters, cgminer will fail to detect the BF1 Fury stick unless that same kernel extension is unloaded. Unlike with the Block Erupter there is no driver or software to download. When using bfgminer the Apple Communication Device Class (CDC) driver will be used. When using cgminer that driver (kernel extension) must be unloaded.

To load the required Apple drivers (if you intend to use bfgminer) execute the following commands:

sudo kextload -b
sudo kextload -b

To unload those drivers (if you intend on using cgminer) execute the following:

sudo kextunload -b
sudo kextunload -b


Once you have the proper Bitcoin mining software installed and the kernel extensions loaded (or unloaded), you can use the -d? argument to list available devices with bfgminer:

bfgminer -d? -S bigpic:all
[2013-11-21 16:38:38] Started bfgminer 3.6.0
[2013-11-21 16:38:38] Devices detected:
[2013-11-21 16:38:38] 0. BPM 0 (driver: bigpic)
1 devices listed

or with cgminer:

cgminer -d?
[2013-11-21 16:49:06] Started cgminer 3.8.2
[2013-11-21 16:49:09] Devices detected:
[2013-11-21 16:49:09] 0. BF1 0 (driver: bitfury)
[2013-11-21 16:49:09] 1 devices listed


Once the BF1 Blue Fury or Red Fury is detected you can fire up your chosen miner using the -o, -u and -p arguments to start hashing away:

cgminer -o hostname -u username -p password

Running bfgminer requires an additional -S argument:

bfgminer -S bigpic:all -o hostname -u username -p password

bfgminer Red Fury

Feel free to leave any questions below or on this thread on the Bitcoin Talk forums. And happy mining!

Cryptocoin Mining on Mac OS X – Wallet Backups

If you’ve taken cryptocoin mining beyond the hobby stages, you probably have at least one digital wallet on your system – possibly several. What happens if your OS were to crash? If you were to reinstall? Where would your accumulated cryptocurrency be?


It is very important that you backup the private keys that secure your digital wallet so that you can restore them at a later time. Otherwise the keys required to claim ownership of your coins will be gone forever. It is also important that you backup your wallets regularly. It is not enough to backup your keys just once. See this entry on securing the bitcoind wallet for more details.

So what steps can you take on Mac OS X to keep your wallets backed up? Luckily OS X comes with several tools that help along the way. Additionally, the Unix foundation of OS X allows us to fall back on some time-tested solutions for this project.

Step One – Create an Encrypted Disk Image

Step one will be to create an encrypted disk image used to store the wallet.dat backups. This is what Steve Gibson refers to as “Pre-Internet Encryption” – encrypting important data before backing it up to the Web.

  1. Launch Disk Utility from the Applications folder
  2. Click New Image
  3. Save the image somewhere that is itself backed up (e.g. Dropbox or Wuala)
  4. For the name, specify Wallet Backups (so that the below scripts match)
  5. For Encryption, select either 128 or 256 (256 is more secure and should be plenty fast for this)
  6. Click Create

New Disk Image

Step Two – Create a Backup Script

Now that we have a secure place to store wallet backups, the next step is to create a script that will do the grunt-work. Namely it should mount the encrypted disk image, backup any wallet.dat files (we could have Bitcoin, Litecoin, and who knows what other digital wallets – get them all), and then unmount the encrypted image.

We can do all of this with Automator and a couple of shell scripts.

  1. Launch Automator from the Applications folder
  2. Select Application and click Choose
  3. Add a Get Specified Finder Items action
  4. Select the DMG file created in Step One
  5. Add a Mount Disk Image action
  6. Add a Run Shell Script action and enter:
    cd ~/Library/Application\ Support && rsync -R ./*/wallet.dat /Volumes/Wallet\ Backups/
  7. Add another Run Shell Script action and enter:
    diskutil unmount /Volumes/Wallet\ Backups/
  8. Click File, Save
  9. Save as in Applications

Complete Automator Application

Step Three – Schedule the Backup

Armed with encrypted storage and a backup script, the only thing left is to schedule the backup. The Unix foundation of OS X means we can do this by editing the system crontab, a configuration file that specifies the commands to run for cron, the Unix job scheduler.

  1. Launch Terminal from the Applications folder
  2. Enter the following and press Return:
    export EDITOR=nano && crontab -e
  3. Enter the following into the nano editor:
    # backup wallets at midnight every Sunday
    0 0 * * 0 open /Applications/
  4. Type Ctrl+X, Y, Return



And we’re done. You can check your disk image each Sunday after midnight to ensure that your wallets have been backed up. You can also run the application to backup your wallets on-demand.

Delphi Shelf Life Reaches a New Low

I am going to try to keep this post short and to the point. I don’t want to rant (too much) or say anything I regret (too much), but something has to be said.

When it comes to iOS development, Delphi XE4, a major product released by Embarcadero five months ago, is now obsolete. If you want support for iOS 7 you must buy their new product, Delphi XE5.

Let’s take a step back and look at the facts when it comes to Delphi and Embarcadero chasing the mobile landscape:

  • Delphi XE2 – released September 2011. Claims support for iOS development but, by all reports, fails to deliver. iOS development makes use of the FreePascal compiler and cannot use traditional Delphi code.
  • Delphi XE3 – released September 2012. Support for iOS development completely removed. Anyone who built their iOS app on the foundation of XE2 was left out in the cold.
  • Delphi XE4 – released April 2013. Claims support for iOS development (again). Anyone who wants the iOS development support promised in XE2 must now buy XE4, released as a new product only seven months after XE3.

And now Delphi XE5 has been released only five months after Delphi XE4. It’s another new version and another paid upgrade.

Here’s the real rub though. iOS 7 was just released by Apple. It features a new UI and new navigation elements for apps. Anyone using Xcode (the traditional tool for iOS development which is free) could simply recompile their apps and resubmit them to support iOS 7.

What about Delphi XE4 customers? The ones who just put down their hard earned money for iOS support, again, five months ago? They are left out in the cold. Again. If a Delphi XE4 customer wants to support iOS 7 they must now purchase Delphi XE5. I confirmed this myself with a back-and-forth on Twitter with Jim McKeeth from Embarcadero:

Jim goes on to point out that, if you forgo using the bundled UI kit in your iOS app, you can still leverage the new iOS 7 elements using Delphi XE4:

However, this is basically suggesting the customer not use the same UI technology that is the very heart of Embarcadero’s marketing strategy for several releases now: FireMonkey.

To be clear, I am not upset by a six month release cycle. A lot of companies do that and it’s a smart move for some of them. However, Embarcadero is releasing Delphi like a subscription while selling it like a packaged product. While they offer “Software Assurance” this is a far cry from a subscription. This is an added fee on top of your purchase that allows you to get major upgrades that happen to be released within a year. It’s insurance. It’s the type of thing most of us pass up when checking out at Best Buy.

All-in-all this has just left a horrible taste in my mouth and the mouths of many other developers. My advice? If Delphi has turned into a subscription then charge a subscription. Stop packaging it as something that will be obsolete in 5 months without another purchase.

Resources for the Self Employed Software Developer

After a year of working for myself as a software consultant, this Monday I begin a new position at IDMWORKS. And, while I’ve had a blast being self-employed, I’m very excited to start this new chapter in my career with a lot of really cool ladies and gentlemen.

As I wind down my consulting I thought I’d do a blog post describing some of the resources I’ve used for the past few years in order to work with my customers as a software consultant and freelance developer. One of the fun parts of venturing into this was learning about all of the really awesome services there are out there – and at amazing prices – to help the solo consultant really hit the ground running.

Time Tracking & Invoicing


For tracking time and invoicing customers, I really dig Harvest. It does everything I need and then some, and it’s priced right. Harvest is very easy to use and lets you manage:

  • Clients
  • Projects
  • Time Sheets
  • Invoices
  • Retainers
  • Payments

It also lets you accept payments via PayPal, Stripe, or Authorize.Net, sends out automatic invoice reminders, and more. When it comes to time tracking, they have a very nice HTML5 page for that, or you can use mobile apps and desktop widgets.

And, you can use it for free until you need more than two projects or more than four clients. After that, if you are the only user you are looking at a whopping $12/month.



In order to get projects under way you’ll eventually need to draw up some contracts and get them signed. I’m a fan of Contractually for getting this done. They have a library of contract templates available to customize, and you can save your customized templates for re-use later. From there you can invite folks to review and, optionally, edit the contract online with full version control. Once both parties accept the contract, both can sign the contract digitally. With the latest changes from the team at Contractually, the party you invite to review and sign no longer has to create a Contractually account.

Like Harvest and the rest of the resources on this list, Contractually is priced right. The price has gone up since they launched, but you can still get a solo account for $49/year, which is a bargain for getting this level of ease when it comes to the contract process.

Project/Task Management


So everyone’s all “Trello“! Honestly, I really like Asana for project/task management. It’s a very straight-forward “traditional” task management system that lets you break things down into workspaces, then projects, and finally tasks. Tasks can have sub-task lists, and it’s very easy to invite customers to participate in individual workspaces.

Asana is completely free for teams up to 15 people. After that their pricing model scales up nicely.

Hosted Source Control


As with project management, there’s already another strong contender in this category: GitHub. And I love GitHub, especially for working on collaborative, open source projects. The workflow is just superb. But it costs money to host private repositories, and you must pay more as you add repositories. To me this discourages version controlling projects and keeping them offsite.

Bitbucket is a really wonderful product. The only real weakness is that it’s not GitHub. And everyone uses GitHub for collaborative projects. But if you need somewhere to store your private projects with great features and the ability to easily invite your customers, Bitbucket gives you that and is free – including unlimited private repositories – for up to 5 users.

And while we’re on the topic, Atlassian also provides a wonderful Git client for OS X (and Windows) called SourceTree.

Hosted Servers/Services

Windows Azure

If you follow my blog or my Twitter account you’ll know I’m a fan (if sometimes critic) of the Windows Azure services. To me, there is no single stronger tool a self-employed software consultant can have under her belt. Eventually you are going to need to host things somewhere that isn’t your machine. In my experience, the hosting options out there come in two flavors: cheap and horrible, or expensive and great.

Windows Azure gives you hosted environments for many different things, from websites to full virtual machines (Windows and Linux) to SQL data, off-site storage and APIs for mobile applications. And the pricing is very attractive. All of the services let you start off for free and the portal and services are structured in such a way that you will be warned before you are ever billed. From there, the pricing scales very nicely.

Most importantly, Windows Azure is absolutely a high priority for Microsoft. This is obvious from their recent developer conferences and product releases. For now it looks like Windows Azure is more of an Xbox than a Silverlight.



The independent software consultant must constantly stay up-to-date on the available technologies in the field and how (and when) to exploit them. And Pluralsight is just a fantastic resource for training and education on the top technologies in development today. They go far beyond just how-to and include great details on the whys of what you are watching.

And to stick with our established pattern, the pricing don’t suck. Starting at $29/month you get access to their entire catalog of courses. This one is a no-brainer folks.


I’ll still be blogging here, plus I’ll be contributing to the IDMWORKS blog going forward. Feel free to share any resources you’ve found useful in the comments and good luck!

Painless File Backups to Azure Storage

Windows Azure

In my previous post I discussed steps and utilities for backing up Azure SQL Databases in order to guard against data loss due to user- or program-error. Since then I’ve started investigating options for backing up files – specifically those in Azure Virtual Machines – to the same Azure Storage service used previously.

Just like before I was delighted to find an existing app that makes this super easy. The AzCopy utility makes it possible to copy files to and from Azure Storage and local storage, or from Azure Storage to Azure Storage, with a nice set of arguments.

For instance, the following command will copy all of the files in a local folder, recursively, over to Azure Storage. It will overwrite existing files, and it will skip any files that already exist unless the source file is newer. Perfect.

AzCopy.exe C:\Here\Be\Important\Things /destKey:YourSuperLongAzureStorageKey /S /V /Y /XO

The Azure storage account name and access key can be accessed in the Storage section of the portal, by clicking the Manage Access Keys button at the bottom of the Windows Azure Portal.

Azure Storage Information

This command took under a minute to backup 3,000 files to Azure Storage from an Azure Virtual Machine. From there I can keep running the command and it will only copy new files over to Azure Storage, overwriting any existing file.

As in my previous post, my little utility AzureStorageCleanup is a nice companion to this process. I have updated the source on Github to include a -recursive argument, which will remove files within the virtual hierarchy found in blob storage (created by the recursive option in AzCopy).

AzureStorageCleanup.exe -storagename yourstoragename -storagekey YourSuperLongAzureStorageKey -container yourstoragecontainer -mindaysold 60 -recursive

By scheduling AzureStorageCleanup to run with the -recursive option, you can remove old files to keep storage use in-check.

Painless Azure SQL Database Backups

Windows Azure

While the SQL Database service from Windows Azure provides resiliency and redundancy, there is no built in backup feature to guard against data loss due to user- or program-error. The advised way to handle this is to take a three-step approach:

  1. Make a copy of the SQL Database
  2. Backup the database copy to Azure Storage
  3. Maintain & remove any outdated backups on blob storage

The process in Windows Azure that backs up a SQL Database to blob storage is not transactionally consistent, which is why the initial database copy is required.

Richard Astbury has provided an excellent tool, SQLDatabaseBackup, that takes care of the first two steps with little fuss:

SQLDatabaseBackup.exe -datacenter eastus -server hghtd75jf9 -database MyDatabase -user DbUser -pwd DbPassword -storagename mybackups -storagekey YourSuperLongAzureStorageKey -cleanup

The data center and server name can be obtained from the SQL Databases section of the Windows Azure Portal.

SQL Database Information

The Azure storage account name and access key can be accessed in the Storage section of the portal, by clicking the Manage Access Keys button at the bottom of the portal.

Azure Storage Information

Finally, by specifying the -cleanup argument, the utility will delete the SQL Database copy it creates after the backup is successfully created.

And while the pricing for Azure blob storage is very affordable, you may want to automate the process of deleting old backups. I’ve created a very simple utility that does just that. AzureStorageCleanup uses command line arguments that mirror the SQLDatabaseBackup project (as it is meant to compliment its use):

AzureStorageCleanup.exe -storagename mybackups -storagekey YourSuperLongAzureStoragekey -container sqlbackup -mindaysold 60

The above command will remove files equal-to-or-older-than sixty days from the container “sqlbackup” – the default container used by SQLDatabaseBackup. The details of each file deleted are printed to the console.

By scheduling these two utilities on an available machine you’ll have painless, affordable backups for any of your Windows Azure SQL Databases.

Bitcoin Mining on Mac OS X – ASICs

While it’s been possible to purchase ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits – chips specifically created to mine Bitcoins in this case) for several months, it has been a difficult and risky process involving auctions on forums with one-way exchanges of money for promises of future hardware. However, recently ASICMINER has made it much easier to purchase their Blades and USB miners. You can pick up one of the USB ASIC miners for around $90 USD (at current exchange rates). One of these will hash at around 333 Mh/s at a fraction of the power usage of modern GPUs.

USB Block Erupter


To get started using a USB ASIC under OS X, such as the Block Erupter from ASICMINER, you will first need to install either cgminer or bfgminer. You can refer to my previous article for details on installing cgminer or bfgminer under OS X. The basic steps are:

  1. Launch from Spotlight or your Applications folder
  2. Install Homebrew by entering the following command:
    ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  3. Run the following command and fix any reported issues:
    brew doctor
  4. Tap this Homebrew repostory so that you can install packages from it:
    brew tap nwoolls/xgminer
  5. Finally, install either cgminer or bfgminer:
    brew install cgminer

If you’d like to install the miner using the latest source from Github rather than the latest official package, use the –HEAD (two dashes prefix) parameter, e.g.:

brew install bfgminer --HEAD

NOTE: if you are going to use bfgminer, at this time you must use the above –HEAD parameter to get the latest changes from Github. Otherwise USB devices may not be recognized automatically.

Also, if you are using bfgminer you must install the CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP driver found here. This driver will break USB support in cgminer. Click here for instructions on removing the driver. If you get a page saying your session timed out, visit the main knowledge base site first, and then navigate to the removal instructions. I’ve also reproduced their instructions below:

To uninstall the VCP driver from a Mac OS machine, just drag the driver to the trash from the System/Library/Extensions folder (SilabsUSBDriver) and then reboot the machine.

To verify if a driver is present, plug in a CP210x device and check the /dev directory for a device named “tty.SLAB_USBtoUART”. If this is not present, it means no VCP driver is active, or that the CP210x device has a VID/PID combination that does not match the driver installed. The VID/PID can be found in the device listing in the System Profiler (even if a corresponding driver is not installed).


Once you have successfully installed one of the above Bitcoin miners, use the following commands to probe for the ASIC USB devices:

cgminer --ndevs

The above command should show USB details for each Erupter ASIC:

[2013-07-01 17:16:30] USB all: found 18 devices - listing known devices
.USB dev 0: Bus 58 Device 2 ID: 10c4:ea60
Manufacturer: 'Silicon Labs'
Product: 'CP2102 USB to UART Bridge Controller'
.USB dev 1: Bus 93 Device 2 ID: 10c4:ea60
Manufacturer: 'Silicon Labs'
Product: 'CP2102 USB to UART Bridge Controller'
[2013-07-01 17:16:30] 2 known USB devices

For bfgminer, use the following command:

bfgminer -S all -d?

The bfgminer output should show ICA devices for the Erupter ASIC:

[2013-07-01 17:15:12] Started bfgminer 3.1.1
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] Devices detected:
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] 0. OCL 0 (driver: opencl)
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] 1. OCL 1 (driver: opencl)
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] 2. ICA 0 (driver: icarus)
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] 3. ICA 1 (driver: icarus)
[2013-07-01 17:15:17] 4 devices listed


Finally, once you have ensured the miner is recognizing your ASIC, you can start mining with it. You can start cgminer without any special parameters:

cgminer -o hostname -u username -p password

Or start bfgminer with the -S all parameter:

bfgminer -o hostname -u username -p password -S all

cgminer USB Erupter

If you run into any issues you can leave comments below. However, if your issues are specific to cgminer or bfgminer you can find specific forum threads for them here and here.

UPDATE: Several readers have asked how to mine using only their ASIC devices and not their GPUs. Both cgminer and bfgminer support the –disable-gpu (two dashes prefix) argument:

cgminer -o hostname -u username -p password --disable-gpu
bfgminer -o hostname -u username -p password -S all --disable-gpu