If you use the official Ethereum wallet/browser Mist, community leaders on Reddit say now is the time to upgrade to the newest version ahead of Wednesday's planned hard fork of the network.
The hard fork will allow the return of more than $50 million worth of Ether to participants in a third party project, the DAO, that uses Ethereum's blockchain to function. The DAO was hacked, causing the funds to move, but not leave Ethereum's network.
In the past, hard forks have been orchestrated successfully by Ethereum's developers. The upgrade to Homestead, the platform's current iteration, was carried out via hard fork. Ethereum is currently the #2 cryptocurrency network after Bitcoin, with a current market capitalization of about US $910 million as I file this.
I upgraded to the newest version, Mist 0.8.1, with little trouble.
Upon first boot-up of Mist, it helpfully asked me (see sample screenshot below) if I wanted to activate the new chain, scheduled to kick in at Block #1,920,000.
I selected Yes, give me the sweet hard fork already and let's move on with this monstrously ambitious, global project.
As I like to remind my friends and YouTube viewers, I still like Bitcoin and I still own some bitcoins. But there's something happening within Ethereum that simply continues to fascinate me. The Ethereum meetups in various cities all over the world are intriguing: there's a revival feel to them, as if people are waiting for something truly great or long overdue to arrive. Very little discussion of price - it's considered gauche, in somewhat stark contrast to some other crypto communities. Turnouts are big; rooms heat up from the sheer density of bodies and - alcohol and caffeine products flowing - awkward technical conversations about blockchains, the nature of money, the nature of information typically unfold. Friendships are made. Wallet app QR codes are shared.
But aside from the burgeoning Ethereum community, the amount of brainpower now focused on Ethereum feels immense to me. It feels and looks like Bitcoin did in late 2013, sometime after the big panels in D.C. wrapped up somewhat favorably on cryptocurrency's side. Except bigger: there's more confidence this time.
Cryptocurrency and blockchains are no longer grey areas of discussion in fintech: it's the red hot core everything else orbits around these days.
There are so many young developers at these meetups, coding apps and future digital societies I can barely begin to understand, and they talk excitedly about them.
In part, the ethers I hold at this point are a bet that whatever these insane young people are excitedly talking about will eventually - somewhere, in some form, eventually - come to fruition.
I don't consider thirty old exactly, but the rate of Web innovation - social networks, social apps, games, ridesharing - is quickly moving beyond my ability to track effectively. The faster it moves, the less I can focus on the new ideas with any degree of certainty. In part, the ethers - whatever they are - are my way of gaining exposure to the crazy ideas the twenty year olds are churning out. They like blockchains, they like tokenized rarity rewarding them for their zany ideas, and I can see how it could all very easily snowball and become massive beyond anyone's imagination in a year or two, quite frankly.
More than any one use case for Ethereum I've seen so far, it's the ecosystem itself that excites me. Mist is called a wallet and browser for a reason. When you mix entertainment, Internet money, and endlessly ambitious twenty year old coders for long enough, the Ethereum's combustion engine just might start up, sending us to places unknown technologically in the years ahead.
Full disclosure: Not financial advice, provided for educational purposes only. Not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any cryptocurrency or asset. At time of publication, I do hold some bitcoins and ethers in my long term portfolio.