I'm aware that when the hash of the block header (block hash) is below the difficulty target, a block is deemed as validated.
But because I've never run a bitcoin node before (will soon), I had a few questions regarding the mining process.
1) When miners are running the BTC software, are they by default confirming transactions in the mem pool based on the highest fees, or are they allowed to choose which transactions they may validate?
2) If you have a higher hash rate, does this mean you can validate transactions quicker as well?
3) When a block is validated on average every 10 minutes, as set by the BTC protocol, are miners also trying to validate transactions too?
4) How are transactions validated?