The reaction to all of this is completely ridiculous, because it lacks good context.
Bitcoin is still up around 444% if you look at the chart from six months ago: http://bitcoinity.org/markets/bitstamp/USD. It's still one of the best investments of the year, if you compare it to pretty much everything else (the stock market, gold price, options, housing, oil, you-name-it). When the fed tapering program begins, I think we are going to see a similar (though probably not as drastic) drop in the stock market as well, which I also believe to be overinflated. That hits a lot of people too, most of whom have their retirement funds built on it. It's just the nature of investing, which I have a lot of trouble at times isolating from the idea of gambling.
The real lesson here is that if you're just trying to get into Bitcoin to make easy money, you're going to be disappointed. People should be hesitant of get rich quick schemes in general, and in altcoins in particular. When friends and family ask if they should buy Bitcoin, I immediately warn them that getting into Bitcoin solely on price increase speculation is akin to gambling or stock investing and should be treated as such. As Roger Ver said, Bitcoin's price is the least interesting thing about it. What excites me about Bitcoin is the ability to control your own purchasing power, and not require a central system (bank, payment processor) to manage and send it. Bitcoin is still at an incredibly early stage in its development, and like anything, there is a lot of uncertainty now, and to come.
It's not my intention to gloat, but I want to give you a positive story against all this. I sold enough of my ownership of Bitcoin at about $950/BTC to pay my usual salary in USD for an entire year, which will allow me to work on Coinpunk and Neocities full-time, and have some extra funds to pay people that help me work on it. I have never had this opportunity in my life, and I'm really excited about it. It's like getting angel investment without the investor, and it gave me complete autonomy to do for the project what I feel is right. For me (and for people that were sensible about it), it's been a very good year.
My prediction is that the China situation is going to get sorted out eventually. But sure, until that happens, the value of Bitcoin has fallen because of concerns about liquidity. If the US banned the ability to exchange dollars, I imagine you would see a similar drop in its value as well. And it's looking like most countries are invariably going to not ban Bitcoin. The US hearings in particular were quite positive. If China's government decides it's done with Bitcoin, it just means that other countries will have the opportunity to become the leader in Bitcoin startups. And that's also a positive thing for me ultimately, but sadly, not as much for future entrepreneurs in China. As someone that works on startups for a living, I would always rather have a level playing field than be given an opportunity due to a punitive effect.
Can you do me a huge favor, though (and I'd be happy to toss you an entire bitcoin if you simply promise to do this): You NEED a better test suite. You're writing software that deals with money (or "a money," whatever), it absolutely needs a robust test suite. Primarily unit tests, but also a few functional tests. For both the server-side AND client-side code. Bitcoin itself has a reasonably good test suite, yours should too. I REALLY doubt Blockchain.info has a good one. You could distinguish yourself this way while also covering your own ass in the event you need to refactor things without breaking things :)
I didn't think tests were fun to write until I realized how much time they were saving me in debugging and headaches after the fact. Do it now, before your code size gets much bigger.
Kyle, this is going to sound very random, but I found out from a Facebook posting by your mom of the Wired article about Coinpunk the other day that your mom and I grew up just down the block from each other. So I have to be glad to see someone with roots (the generation before) in my hometown posting here on Hacker News.
That said, I wonder if it isn't possible for people on both sides of the issues around Bitcoin to lose perspective once in a while. Just three weeks ago, you wrote here on HN
The congressional hearings were very upbeat about Bitcoin. Once the word got out that there wasn't any intention to ban it, a lot more people got interested.
The China part isn't working out quite so well now. The United States part of Bitcoin regulation will, I suspect as someone trained in the law, depend a lot on what trade-offs are perceived in different patterns of regulating Bitcoin by the most influential interest groups in Congress who care about Bitcoin. I wouldn't predict today that Bitcoin will never face an unfavorable regulatory environment in the United States, despite the hearings three weeks or so ago.
So, yes, I think your most responsible advice I fully agree with: When friends and family ask if they should buy Bitcoin, I immediately warn them that getting into Bitcoin solely on price increase speculation is akin to gambling or stock investing and should be treated as such. That's about where I am with Bitcoin. It has some interesting ideas behind it, and I'm glad that creative people are exploring those ideas and seeing what Bitcoin might be good for in today's and tomorrow's economy. But you are correct that Bitcoin is not a sure-fire way to get rich soon.