So What is bit coin mining? According to a wiki it's:
Mining is the process of spending computation power to secure Bitcoin transactions against reversal and introducing new Bitcoins to the system.
Technically speaking, mining is the calculation of a hash of the a block header, which includes among other things a reference to the previous block, a hash of a set of transactions and a nonce. If the hash value is found to be less than the current target (which is inversely proportional to the difficulty), a new block is formed and the miner gets the newly generated Bitcoins (25 per block at current levels). If the hash is not less than the current target, a new nonce is tried, and a new hash is calculated. This is done millions of times per second by each miner.
TL;DNR it does a bunch of math and if it gets a right answer you get some bitcoins!
For reasons I'll go into at a later posting. Instead of using your CPU or even your GPU to do the math you need to buy a device with some ASIC chips on them. these can range in price from $20 to $40,000.
The spped of these things are measured in metric unit Hashes per second. so MH/s is million hashes per sec GH/s is Bilion per second and so on.
The $20 units that I have do 333MH/s each my $115 GPU does ~200MH/s for comparison (which is why you don't just run GPUs). I have 7 and with the GPU thrown in I total about 2.5GH/s.
It would still probably take more than a year if ever to find a block by myself. So I join a Pool which is a bunch of people 'pooling' their work and sharing the rewards.
So here is my mining program at work.
The program is BFGMiner. the top section is general info like version numbers pool address and average total performance.
The middle section is how each unit is doing and the bottom is comunications back and forth with the pool's server.
I'm not worried about showing my username at the top. If you tried using my ID and I'm up and running it will tell that that worker is in use. If I happen to be down you can connect and do work under my name but I'll get paid for it. why would you want to do that?
I'm a very very small fish in a very very big pool. 2.5GH/s out of 406.3TH/s But I'm making .02 BTC about every 40-50 hours.
My next posting will be how to join a pool and install BFGminer and get it up and mining.