As part of the bitcoin podcast we're working on, Kestenbaum and I have been trying to buy a couple bitcoins, just to see how the process works. But we've crashed into a chaotic moment in the bitcoin world.
An evil, bitcoin-stealing virus was spotted last week, after someone reported a $500,000 bitcoin theft.
Then Mt. Gox, the bitcoin exchange we were going to use, shut down on Sunday after someone attacked the site and tried to sell off millions of dollars worth of ill-gotten bitcoins. That briefly drove the exchange rate down from $18 per bitcoin to pennies per bitcoin. Mt. Gox is rolling back trades from Sunday and still hasn't reopened.
Yesterday, we tried to use another exchange, TradeHill. But it wasn't working either. TradeHill seems to be back in action today, though its "instant buy" feature is disabled.
The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday stopped accepting donations in bitcoins. "We don't fully understand the complex legal issues involved with creating a new currency system," they wrote.