bitcoin/net.h at 0.19 · bitcoin/bitcoin · GitHub

Why Osana takes so long? (Programmer's point of view on current situation)

I decided to write a comment about «Why Osana takes so long?» somewhere and what can be done to shorten this time. It turned into a long essay. Here's TL;DR of it:
The cost of never paying down this technical debt is clear; eventually the cost to deliver functionality will become so slow that it is easy for a well-designed competitive software product to overtake the badly-designed software in terms of features. In my experience, badly designed software can also lead to a more stressed engineering workforce, in turn leading higher staff churn (which in turn affects costs and productivity when delivering features). Additionally, due to the complexity in a given codebase, the ability to accurately estimate work will also disappear.
Junade Ali, Mastering PHP Design Patterns (2016)
Longer version: I am not sure if people here wanted an explanation from a real developer who works with C and with relatively large projects, but I am going to do it nonetheless. I am not much interested in Yandere Simulator nor in this genre in general, but this particular development has a lot to learn from for any fellow programmers and software engineers to ensure that they'll never end up in Alex's situation, especially considering that he is definitely not the first one to got himself knee-deep in the development hell (do you remember Star Citizen?) and he is definitely not the last one.
On the one hand, people see that Alex works incredibly slowly, equivalent of, like, one hour per day, comparing it with, say, Papers, Please, the game that was developed in nine months from start to finish by one guy. On the other hand, Alex himself most likely thinks that he works until complete exhaustion each day. In fact, I highly suspect that both those sentences are correct! Because of the mistakes made during early development stages, which are highly unlikely to be fixed due to the pressure put on the developer right now and due to his overall approach to coding, cost to add any relatively large feature (e.g. Osana) can be pretty much comparable to the cost of creating a fan game from start to finish. Trust me, I've seen his leaked source code (don't tell anybody about that) and I know what I am talking about. The largest problem in Yandere Simulator right now is its super slow development. So, without further ado, let's talk about how «implementing the low hanging fruit» crippled the development and, more importantly, what would have been an ideal course of action from my point of view to get out. I'll try to explain things in the easiest terms possible.
  1. else if's and lack any sort of refactoring in general
The most «memey» one. I won't talk about the performance though (switch statement is not better in terms of performance, it is a myth. If compiler detects some code that can be turned into a jump table, for example, it will do it, no matter if it is a chain of if's or a switch statement. Compilers nowadays are way smarter than one might think). Just take a look here. I know that it's his older JavaScript code, but, believe it or not, this piece is still present in C# version relatively untouched.
I refactored this code for you using C language (mixed with C++ since there's no this pointer in pure C). Take a note that else if's are still there, else if's are not the problem by itself.
The refactored code is just objectively better for one simple reason: it is shorter, while not being obscure, and now it should be able to handle, say, Trespassing and Blood case without any input from the developer due to the usage of flags. Basically, the shorter your code, the more you can see on screen without spreading your attention too much. As a rule of thumb, the less lines there are, the easier it is for you to work with the code. Just don't overkill that, unless you are going to participate in International Obfuscated C Code Contest. Let me reiterate:
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is why refactoring — activity of rewriting your old code so it does the same thing, but does it quicker, in a more generic way, in less lines or simpler — is so powerful. In my experience, you can only keep one module/class/whatever in your brain if it does not exceed ~1000 lines, maybe ~1500. Splitting 17000-line-long class into smaller classes probably won't improve performance at all, but it will make working with parts of this class way easier.
Is it too late now to start refactoring? Of course NO: better late than never.
  1. Comments
If you think that you wrote this code, so you'll always easily remember it, I have some bad news for you: you won't. In my experience, one week and that's it. That's why comments are so crucial. It is not necessary to put a ton of comments everywhere, but just a general idea will help you out in the future. Even if you think that It Just Works™ and you'll never ever need to fix it. Time spent to write and debug one line of code almost always exceeds time to write one comment in large-scale projects. Moreover, the best code is the code that is self-evident. In the example above, what the hell does (float) 6 mean? Why not wrap it around into the constant with a good, self-descriptive name? Again, it won't affect performance, since C# compiler is smart enough to silently remove this constant from the real code and place its value into the method invocation directly. Such constants are here for you.
I rewrote my code above a little bit to illustrate this. With those comments, you don't have to remember your code at all, since its functionality is outlined in two tiny lines of comments above it. Moreover, even a person with zero knowledge in programming will figure out the purpose of this code. It took me less than half a minute to write those comments, but it'll probably save me quite a lot of time of figuring out «what was I thinking back then» one day.
Is it too late now to start adding comments? Again, of course NO. Don't be lazy and redirect all your typing from «debunk» page (which pretty much does the opposite of debunking, but who am I to judge you here?) into some useful comments.
  1. Unit testing
This is often neglected, but consider the following. You wrote some code, you ran your game, you saw a new bug. Was it introduced right now? Is it a problem in your older code which has shown up just because you have never actually used it until now? Where should you search for it? You have no idea, and you have one painful debugging session ahead. Just imagine how easier it would be if you've had some routines which automatically execute after each build and check that environment is still sane and nothing broke on a fundamental level. This is called unit testing, and yes, unit tests won't be able to catch all your bugs, but even getting 20% of bugs identified at the earlier stage is a huge boon to development speed.
Is it too late now to start adding unit tests? Kinda YES and NO at the same time. Unit testing works best if it covers the majority of project's code. On the other side, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you decide to start refactoring your code, writing a unit test before refactoring will help you to prove to yourself that you have not broken anything without the need of running the game at all.
  1. Static code analysis
This is basically pretty self-explanatory. You set this thing once, you forget about it. Static code analyzer is another «free estate» to speed up the development process by finding tiny little errors, mostly silly typos (do you think that you are good enough in finding them? Well, good luck catching x << 4; in place of x <<= 4; buried deep in C code by eye!). Again, this is not a silver bullet, it is another tool which will help you out with debugging a little bit along with the debugger, unit tests and other things. You need every little bit of help here.
Is it too late now to hook up static code analyzer? Obviously NO.
  1. Code architecture
Say, you want to build Osana, but then you decided to implement some feature, e.g. Snap Mode. By doing this you have maybe made your game a little bit better, but what you have just essentially done is complicated your life, because now you should also write Osana code for Snap Mode. The way game architecture is done right now, easter eggs code is deeply interleaved with game logic, which leads to code «spaghettifying», which in turn slows down the addition of new features, because one has to consider how this feature would work alongside each and every old feature and easter egg. Even if it is just gazing over one line per easter egg, it adds up to the mess, slowly but surely.
A lot of people mention that developer should have been doing it in object-oritented way. However, there is no silver bullet in programming. It does not matter that much if you are doing it object-oriented way or usual procedural way; you can theoretically write, say, AI routines on functional (e.g. LISP)) or even logical language if you are brave enough (e.g. Prolog). You can even invent your own tiny programming language! The only thing that matters is code quality and avoiding the so-called shotgun surgery situation, which plagues Yandere Simulator from top to bottom right now. Is there a way of adding a new feature without interfering with your older code (e.g. by creating a child class which will encapsulate all the things you need, for example)? Go for it, this feature is basically «free» for you. Otherwise you'd better think twice before doing this, because you are going into the «technical debt» territory, borrowing your time from the future by saying «I'll maybe optimize it later» and «a thousand more lines probably won't slow me down in the future that much, right?». Technical debt will incur interest on its own that you'll have to pay. Basically, the entire situation around Osana right now is just a huge tale about how just «interest» incurred by technical debt can control the entire project, like the tail wiggling the dog.
I won't elaborate here further, since it'll take me an even larger post to fully describe what's wrong about Yandere Simulator's code architecture.
Is it too late to rebuild code architecture? Sadly, YES, although it should be possible to split Student class into descendants by using hooks for individual students. However, code architecture can be improved by a vast margin if you start removing easter eggs and features like Snap Mode that currently bloat Yandere Simulator. I know it is going to be painful, but it is the only way to improve code quality here and now. This will simplify the code, and this will make it easier for you to add the «real» features, like Osana or whatever you'd like to accomplish. If you'll ever want them back, you can track them down in Git history and re-implement them one by one, hopefully without performing the shotgun surgery this time.
  1. Loading times
Again, I won't be talking about the performance, since you can debug your game on 20 FPS as well as on 60 FPS, but this is a very different story. Yandere Simulator is huge. Once you fixed a bug, you want to test it, right? And your workflow right now probably looks like this:
  1. Fix the code (unavoidable time loss)
  2. Rebuild the project (can take a loooong time)
  3. Load your game (can take a loooong time)
  4. Test it (unavoidable time loss, unless another bug has popped up via unit testing, code analyzer etc.)
And you can fix it. For instance, I know that Yandere Simulator makes all the students' photos during loading. Why should that be done there? Why not either move it to project building stage by adding build hook so Unity does that for you during full project rebuild, or, even better, why not disable it completely or replace with «PLACEHOLDER» text for debug builds? Each second spent watching the loading screen will be rightfully interpreted as «son is not coding» by the community.
Is it too late to reduce loading times? Hell NO.
  1. Jenkins
Or any other continuous integration tool. «Rebuild a project» can take a long time too, and what can we do about that? Let me give you an idea. Buy a new PC. Get a 32-core Threadripper, 32 GB of fastest RAM you can afford and a cool motherboard which would support all of that (of course, Ryzen/i5/Celeron/i386/Raspberry Pi is fine too, but the faster, the better). The rest is not necessary, e.g. a barely functional second hand video card burned out by bitcoin mining is fine. You set up another PC in your room. You connect it to your network. You set up ramdisk to speed things up even more. You properly set up Jenkins) on this PC. From now on, Jenkins cares about the rest: tracking your Git repository, (re)building process, large and time-consuming unit tests, invoking static code analyzer, profiling, generating reports and whatever else you can and want to hook up. More importantly, you can fix another bug while Jenkins is rebuilding the project for the previous one et cetera.
In general, continuous integration is a great technology to quickly track down errors that were introduced in previous versions, attempting to avoid those kinds of bug hunting sessions. I am highly unsure if continuous integration is needed for 10000-20000 source lines long projects, but things can be different as soon as we step into the 100k+ territory, and Yandere Simulator by now has approximately 150k+ source lines of code. I think that probably continuous integration might be well worth it for Yandere Simulator.
Is it too late to add continuous integration? NO, albeit it is going to take some time and skills to set up.
  1. Stop caring about the criticism
Stop comparing Alex to Scott Cawton. IMO Alex is very similar to the person known as SgtMarkIV, the developer of Brutal Doom, who is also a notorious edgelord who, for example, also once told somebody to kill himself, just like… However, being a horrible person, SgtMarkIV does his job. He simply does not care much about public opinion. That's the difference.
  1. Go outside
Enough said. Your brain works slower if you only think about games and if you can't provide it with enough oxygen supply. I know that this one is probably the hardest to implement, but…
That's all, folks.
Bonus: Do you think how short this list would have been if someone just simply listened to Mike Zaimont instead of breaking down in tears?
submitted by Dezhitse to Osana [link] [comments]

Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Flatten the Curve. #49. Let's Dig into Jade Helm. AI. The Surveillance State. Internet of Things. FISA. Pentagon Preparing for Mass Civil Breakdown. What is Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio? Stay Aware and Get Ahead of the Curve.

Flatten the Curve. Part 48. Source Here
It's getting crazier day by day now, so are you following the Boy Scout motto?
On this topic, Baden-Powell says: Remember your motto, "Be Prepared." Be prepared for accidents by learning beforehand what you ought to do in the different kinds that are likely to occur. Be prepared to do that thing the moment the accident does occur. In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote that to Be Prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”
Why should you be prepared? Because TPTB have been preparing, that’s why.
June 12, 2014: The Guardian • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements Source Here
Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. It seemed ludicrous back in 2014, didn't it? Inconceivable. Sure some preppers believed it, but they're always getting ready and nothing happened. Doomsday was always right around the corner, and then the next corner, and on and on. Televangelists have probably accused more politicians of being the antichrist than the number of politicians went to Epstein's Island.
But why would they be preparing for mass civil breakdown? Could it be the same reason as why the miltary is preparing for war, droughts and famines brought about by environmental collapse?
February 20, 2020: History Network • Here’s Why These Six Ancient Civilizations Mysteriously Collapsed. From the Maya to Greenland’s Vikings, check out six civilizations that seemingly disappeared without a trace. Source Here
All of these civilizations vanished because of some combination of exhausting their natural resources, drought, plauge, and the little ice age. Sound familiar? Don't tell me that the Rockefeller Foundation and BlackRock became environmentally aware out of a sense of obligation to the planet. They're setting the groundwork for what's coming down the pipe. This isn't about money anymore, this is about control and survival. Throw out the rulebook because the rules no longer apply.
Do you think the surveillance system is for your protection, or the protection of the state? Don't you think that an era of upcoming calamities will severely damage the communication networks, and thus the surveillance system? It might be prudent to consider that Starlink is being established to make the system redundant, so that they never lose track of the precious worker bees before they can be connected to the AI hive mind, right Elon? Neuralink, don't leave home without it.
But let's not forget about the wonderful world of the Internet of Things.
March 15, 2012 • More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" -- that is, wired devices -- at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm. "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft." All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you're a "person of interest" to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the "smart home," you'd be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room's ambiance. "Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters -- all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," Petraeus said, "the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing." Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices "change our notions of secrecy" and prompt a rethink of "our notions of identity and secrecy." All of which is true -- if convenient for a CIA director. The CIA has a lot of legal restrictions against spying on American citizens. But collecting ambient geolocation data from devices is a grayer area, especially after the 2008 carve-outs to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Hardware manufacturers, it turns out, store a trove of geolocation data; and some legislators have grown alarmed at how easy it is for the government to track you through your phone or PlayStation. That's not the only data exploit intriguing Petraeus. He's interested in creating new online identities for his undercover spies -- and sweeping away the "digital footprints" of agents who suddenly need to vanish. "Proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come," Petraeus observed. "Moreover, we have to figure out how to create the digital footprint for new identities for some officers." Source Here
December 19, 2019: New York Times • THE DATA REVIEWED BY TIMES OPINION didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor. The Times and other news organizations have reported on smartphone tracking in the past. But never with a data set so large. Even still, this file represents just a small slice of what’s collected and sold every day by the location tracking industry — surveillance so omnipresent in our digital lives that it now seems impossible for anyone to avoid. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the powers such always-on surveillance can provide an authoritarian regime like China’s. Within America’s own representative democracy, citizens would surely rise up in outrage if the government attempted to mandate that every person above the age of 12 carry a tracking device that revealed their location 24 hours a day. Yet, in the decade since Apple’s App Store was created, Americans have, app by app, consented to just such a system run by private companies. Now, as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night — even though the corporations that control their data are far less accountable than the government would be. Source Here
The IoT should be renamed to IoTT (Internet of Tracking Things), shouldn't it. But we can't have people figure out what's really happening, can we? It's a good thing that quantum computing isn't too close, isn’t it?
April 5, 2018: Global News • (Project Maven) Over 3,000 Google employees have a signed a petition in protest against the company’s involvement with a U.S. Department of Defense artificial intelligence (AI) project that studies imagery and could eventually be used to improve drone strikes in the battlefield. Source Here
December 12, 2019 • Palantir took over Project Maven defense contract after Google backed out. Source Here
December 29, 2020: Input • Palantir exec says its work is on par with the Manhattan Project. Comparing AI to most lethal weapon in human history isn’t comforting. SourceHere
August 14, 2020: Venture: • Google researchers use quantum computing to help improve image classification. Source Here
Hmmm. Maybe Apple will be for the little guy? They have always valued privacy rights, right?
October 2, 2013: Vice News • The hacktivist group Anonymous released a video statement with an accompanying Pastebin document claiming that there are definitive links between AuthenTec, the company that developed the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint scanner, and the US government. Source Here
An apple a day helps the NSA. Or Google. Or Microsoft. Or Amazon. Take your pick from the basket, because dem Apple's are all the same. But at least we have fundamental rights, right?
Foreign agent declaration not required • No mention of foreign agent status is made in the Protect America Act of 2007. Under prior FISA rules, persons targeted for surveillance must have been declared as foreign agents before a FISA warrant would be accorded by the FISC court.
'Quasi-anti-terrorism law' for all-forms of intelligence collection • Vastly marketed by U.S. federal and military agencies as a law to prevent terror attacks, the Protect America Act was actually a law focused on the 'acquisition' of desired intelligence information, of unspecified nature. The sole requirement is geolocation outside the United States at time of Directive invocation; pursuant to Authorization or Order invocation, surveillance Directives can be undertaken towards persons targeted for intelligence information gathering. Implementation of Directives can take place inside the United States or outside the United States. No criminal or terrorism investigation of the person need be in play at time of the Directive. All that need be required is that the target be related to an official desire for intelligence information gathering for actions on part of persons involved in surveillance to be granted full immunity from U.S. criminal or civil procedures, under Section 105B(l) of the Act.
Removal of FISA Strictures from warrant authorization; warrants not required • But the most striking aspect of the Protect America Act was the notation that any information gathering did not comprise electronic surveillance. This wording had the effect of removing FISA-related strictures from Protect America Act 2007-related Directives, serving to remove a number of protections for persons targeted, and requirements for persons working for U.S. intelligence agencies.
The acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance • The removal of the term electronic surveillance from any Protect America Act Directive implied that the FISC court approval was no longer required, as FISA warrants were no longer required. In the place of a warrant was a certification, made by U.S. intelligence officers, which was copied to the Court. In effect, the FISC became less of a court than a registry of pre-approved certifications.Certifications (in place of FISA warrants) were able to be levied ex post facto, in writing to the Court no more than 72 hours after it was made. The Attorney General was to transmit as soon as possible to the Court a sealed copy of the certification that would remain sealed unless the certification was needed to determine the legality of the acquisition.Source Here
Oh. FISA is basically a rubber stamp. And even if it the stage play wasn't pretending to follow the script, would it matter? Who could actually stop it at this point? The cat's out of the bag and Pandoras Box is open.
Controversial debates arose as the Protect America Act was published. Constitutional lawyers and civil liberties experts expressed concerns that this Act authorized massive, wide-ranging information gathering with no oversight. Whereas it placed much focus on communications, the Act allowed for information gathering of all shapes and forms. The ACLU called it the "Police America Act" – "authorized a massive surveillance dragnet", calling the blank-check oversight provisions "meaningless," and calling them a "phony court review of secret procedures."
So the surveillance state doesn't have checks and balances anymore. The state is preparing for Massive Civil Breakdown. They keep warning us about environmental collapse. Got it? Good. Let's keep on keeping on.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 created a single new district corporation governing the entire federal territory, called the District of Columbia, thus dissolving the three major political subdivisions of the District (Port of Georgetown, the City of Washington, and Washington County) and their governments. Source Here)
The first big leap in corporate personhood from holding mere property and contract rights to possessing more expansive rights was a claim that the Equal Protection Clause applied to corporations. One of the strangest twists in American constitutional law was the moment that corporations gained personhood under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It occurred in a case called Santa Clara County, and what was odd was that the Supreme Court did not really even decide the matter in the actual opinion. It only appeared in a footnote to the case. What we are likely to have at the conclusion of the Supreme Court term is corporations that are empowered to spend in American elections because of Bellotti and Citizens United; corporations that can make religious objections thanks to Hobby Lobby; and if Jesner turns out as badly as I predict, corporations will be able to aid and abet human rights violations abroad with impunity. Source Here
"Having a corporation would allow people to put property into a collective ownership that could be held with perpetual existence," she says. "So it wouldn't be tied to any one person's lifespan, or subject necessarily to laws regarding inheriting property." Later on, in the United States and elsewhere, the advantages of incorporation were essential to efficient and secure economic development. Unlike partnerships, the corporation continued to exist even if a partner died; there was no unanimity required to do something; shareholders could not be sued individually, only the corporation as a whole, so investors only risked as much as they put into buying shares. Source Here
The way that the Arab Bank may get away with this alleged morally troubling behavior, even though it has a New York branch, is by reasserting the basic argument that was made in Nestle USA and Kiobel II: that the federal Alien Tort Statute was not intended to apply to corporations full stop. Given other cases in this area like Mohamad v. PLO, which held the word “individual” in the Torture Victim Protection Act means a natural person and does not impose any liability against organizations, the Arab Bank’s procorporate argument may well prevail. There are multiple federal Circuit Courts which have shot down the argument that corporations are immune from suit under the Alien Tort Statute. The lone outlier is the Second Circuit, which decided in 2010 that corporations are excused from suit in Kiobel I. This is the case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and became Kiobel II. Jesner v. Arab Bank was litigated in the Second Circuit. One question in Jesner was what exactly did Kiobel II do to Kiobel I. So far in the litigation, Jesner concluded that Kiobel I and its conclusion that corporations can’t be sued in federal court using the Alien Tort Statute remained the controlling law of the Second Circuit.
There's a reason people call lawyers snakes, it's because most of them speak with forked tounges. So the corporation isn't being held liable, but the shareholders can't be held liable either. That's too insane to even be called a Catch 22. We are literally being set up to have no recourse because there isn’t anybody who can be held responsible. Why is that important when I've been talking about the surveillance state?
July 14, 2020: The Intercept • Microsoft’s police surveillance services are often opaque because the company sells little in the way of its own policing products. It instead offers an array of “general purpose” Azure cloud services, such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools like Power BI (business intelligence) and Cognitive Services, which can be used by law enforcement agencies and surveillance vendors to build their own software or solutions. A rich array of Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings is on full display with a concept called “The Connected Officer.” Microsoft situates this concept as part of the Internet of Things, or IoT, in which gadgets are connected to online servers and thus made more useful. “The Connected Officer,” Microsoft has written, will “bring IoT to policing.” With the Internet of Things, physical objects are assigned unique identifiers and transfer data over networks in an automated fashion. If a police officer draws a gun from its holster, for example, a notification can be sent over the network to alert other officers there may be danger. Real Time Crime Centers could then locate the officer on a map and monitor the situation from a command and control center. Source Here
Uhm, I guess it's really is all connected, isn’t it?
June 18, 2020: The Guardian • How Target, Google, Bank of America and Microsoft quietly fund police through private donations. More than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations, new report says. Source Here
Long live the Military Industrial Techno Surveillance State. If you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to worry about. Really? Are we still believing that line? Cause it's a load of crap. If we have nothing to worry about, then why are they worried enough to be implementing surveillance systems with corresponding units on the ground? Got your attention there, didn't I?
August 19, 2019: Big Think • Though the term "Orwellian" easily applies to such a technology, Michel's illuminating reporting touches something deeper. Numerous American cities have already been surveilled using these god-like cameras, including Gorgon Stare, a camera-enabled drone that can track individuals over a 50-square kilometer radius from 20,000 feet. Here's the real rub: the feature that allows users to pinch and zoom on Instagram is similar to what WAMI allows. Anything within those 50-square kilometers is now under the microscope. If this sounds like some futuristic tech, think again: Derivations of this camera system have been tested in numerous American cities. Say there is a big public protest. With this camera you can follow thousands of protesters back to their homes. Now you have a list of the home addresses of all the people involved in a political movement. If on their way home you witness them committing some crime—breaking a traffic regulation or frequenting a location that is known to be involved in the drug trade—you can use that surveillance data against them to essentially shut them up. That's why we have laws that prevent the use of surveillance technologies because it is human instinct to abuse them. That's why we need controls. Source Here
Want to know more about the Gorgon Stare? Flatten the Curve. Part 12. Source Here
Now, I'm not sure if you remember or know any Greek Mythology, but the Gorgons were three sisters, and one sister had Snakes on her head (she wasn't a lawyer) and she turned people to stone when she looked at them.
MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) is a directed-energy non-lethal weapon designed by WaveBand Corporation in 2003-2004 for temporary personnel incapacitation. The weapon is based on the microwave auditory effect resulting in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is subject to certain kinds of pulsed/modulated microwave radiation. The developers claimed that through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to a “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals. In 2005, Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired WaveBand Corporation.
Ok. Get it? The Gorgon eye in the sky stares at you while the Medusa makes you immobile. Not good, but at least it'll just freeze you in your tracks.
July 6, 2008: Gizmodo • The Sierra Nevada Corporation claimed this week that it is ready to begin production on the MEDUSA, a damned scary ray gun that uses the "microwave audio effect" to implant sounds and perhaps even specific messages inside people's heads. Short for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, MEDUSA creates the audio effect with short microwave pulses. The pulses create a shockwave inside the skull that's detected by the ears, and basically makes you think you're going balls-to-the-wall batshit insane. Source Here
Uhm. And drive you insane.
July 26, 2008: Gizmodo • The MEDUSA crowd control ray gun we reported on earlier this month sounded like some pretty amazing-and downright scary-technology. Using the microwave auditory effect, the beam, in theory, would have put sounds and voice-like noises in your head, thereby driving you away from the area. Crowd control via voices in your head. Sounds cool. However, it turns out that the beam would actually kill you before any of that happy stuff started taking place, most likely by frying or cooking your brain inside your skull. Can you imagine if this thing made it out into the field? Awkward! Source Here
Annnnnnnndddddd it'll kill you.
Guys, they're prepared. They've been prepared. They're ready. Remember the Doomsday Bunkers? The military moving into Cheyenne Mountain? Deep Underground Military Bunkers? The rapid rolling out of 5G? BITCOIN and UBI so neatly inserted into our minds over the last five years? They've directly told us to have three months of supplies in our homes. 2020 isn't going to be an anomaly? It's the start of the collapse of our natural resources. Take a look on Reddit and all the posts about crazy weather. Cyanobacteria blooms killing dogs and people. Toxic Super Pollution caused by atmospheric inversions killing people. This isn’t normal, this is New Normal. And they know it. They've known it for a while. Let me show you one last thing before I wrap it up.
From the earliest Chinese dynasties to the present, the jade deposits most used were not only those of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang but other parts of China as well, such as Lantian, Shaanxi.
Remember, words matter. Look at Gorgon Stare and Medusa. They don't randomly grab names out of a hat, or pick them because they think it sounds dystopian. They pick words for a reason.
July 7, 2017: The Warzone • There only appears to be one official news story on this exercise at all and it's available on the website of Air Mobility Command’s Eighteenth Air Force, situated at Joint Base Charleston. At the time of writing, a google shows that there were more than a half dozen more copies on other Air Force pages, as well as number of photographs. For some reason, someone appears to have taken these offline or otherwise broken all the links. Using Google to search the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, which is the main U.S. military's public affairs hub, brings up more broken links. Oh, and unless there's been some sort of mistake, JADE HELM actually stands for the amazingly obtuse Joint Assistance for Deployment Execution Homeland Eradication of Local Militants. A separate web search for this phrase does not turn up any other results. Source Here
Now, using an acronym that indicates training to Eradicate Local Militants seems pretty dumb. It may be used in that manner if environmental collapse triggers riots, but i don't think they would warn everyone ahead of time, do you? So I dug a little bit more.
Joint Assistant for Development and Execution (JADE) is a U.S. military system used for planning the deployment of military forces in crisis situations. The U.S. military developed this automated planning software system in order to expedite the creation of the detailed planning needed to deploy military forces for a military operation. JADE uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology combining user input, a knowledge base of stored plans, and suggestions by the system to provide the ability to develop large-scale and complex plans in minimal time. JADE is a knowledge-based system that uses highly structured information that takes advantage of data hierarchies. An official 2016 document approved for public release titled Human Systems Roadmap Review describes plans to create autonomous weapon systems that analyze social media and make decisions, including the use of lethal force, with minimal human involvement. This type of system is referred to as a Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS). The name "JADE" comes from the jade green color seen on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is headquartered.
PACOM? Why isn't that command group responsible for the South China Sea?
Formerly known as United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) since its inception, the command was renamed to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on 30 May 2018, in recognition of the greater emphasis on South Asia, especially India.
Now doesn't it look like Jade Helm is preparing for an invasion? And possibly insurrection later. Or at the same time? Or riots over WW3? Or food riots? And start thinking about why the laws are starting to exclude corporations? Then think about the mercenaries that are being contracted out by the government.
October 17, 2018: The Carolinan • In 2016, 75 percent of American forces were private contractors. In 2017, Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, head of Dyncorp, discussed plans for contractors completely taking over U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it remains to be seen if the current administration will change its mind. Contractors are involved in almost every military task, such as intelligence analysis, logistics and training allied soldiers. Contractors are even involved in U.S. special ops missions. This is because contractors are essentially untraceable and unaccountable. Most are born in other countries; only 33 percent are registered U.S. citizens. Private military firms don’t have to report their actions to Congress, unlike the military or intelligence agencies. They also aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so private citizens and journalists aren’t allowed to access their internal documents. There are also no international laws to regulate private military firms. It’s been proven that many contractors are involved in illegal activities. The larger multinational companies sometimes hire local subcontractors. These contractors sometimes aren’t background-checked. A 2010 investigation by the Senate found that many subcontractors were linked to murders, kidnappings, bribery and anti-coalition activities. Some subcontractors even formed their own unlicensed mercenary groups after coalition forces leave. A 2010 House investigation showed evidence that the Department of Defense had hired local warlords for security services. In 2007, Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians. This eventually led Blackwater to being restructured and renamed as Academi. Source Here
Military Exercises. Private Defense Firms. No oversight. And it's all coming soon. Read more at Flatten the Curve. Part 20. Upcoming war and catastrophes. Source Here
Nah. I'm just fear mongering and Doomscrolling again.
Heads up and eyes open. Talk soon.
submitted by biggreekgeek to conspiracy [link] [comments]

[RF] Just another quiet Friday night

"You're fucking crazy John," the man in the black T-Shirt announced. "Seriously, you want to pretend to be a paedo, so you can lure in the FBI and fuck with them? That is some next level warped shit."
"Chill out dude. That was just an example. Doesn't have to be a paedo."
"I don't give a fuck. Anything that's gonna make them zero-day you is some dark shit that you can't just laugh off. And what if they chain the sploits? They'll bounce out of your sandbox and be kicking the door down in minutes."
"No, no, it's ok. Really. I bought these laptops from a heroin addict in another city. Totally untraceable. I've had the lid off and de-soldered the camera, microphone and wireless."
"That's no use, we've got to get online somehow. And when their payload fires they'll trace us through a ToR bypass."
"That's why we need three laptops. Physical separation. This one," he tapped the metallic blue case, "is the bait. It's a regular laptop, but it's only connection is a single wired Ethernet. The only route to the Internet is via this one," tap tap, "which is running hardened Kali and only connects via ToR."
"Seriously, you're going to actually do this?"
"Come on dude, I've always wanted to try. Live a little."
"What's the third one for?"
"It's hardened Kali too. We proxy everything from the bait browser through here. When they deliver their exploit we'll catch it here, do some reverse engineering, and get ready for the fun bit!"
"What the hell. But you're crazy man. And we never speak of this."
"Of course. Goes without saying."
"How do we start?"
"You get a proxy running on that. I'll get the ToR connection set up. I got a 4G dongle off the same guy."
John removed a small ethernet hub from his bag, connected its power but held off from plugging in the laptops. He connected the 4G dongle, started the ToR service and watch its status update. With the connection active he configured the iptables firewall so outbound traffic was permitted only through ToR. Cal started the intercepting proxy, exposed its listener and looked at John. "Ready" They both plugged into the hub, and Cal watched as John connected the bait laptop, accessed the proxy settings and linked it to the listener.
He accessed a non-descript site to check the setup. It loaded a little slowly, while the series of requests popped up on the intercepting proxy. "Are we sure it's going through ToR?" Cal asked. "Don't worry". "Seriously, show me a packet trace." John started a sniffer, gestured to Cal to refresh the bait browser, while a series of packets scrolled up the screen, all safely encrypted by ToR.
"So what now?" a pause "And definitely no paedo stuff. That's too dark to mess about with."
"Old school," John replied, "I guess it's a bit of a cliche. We go on the dark net and try to order a murder for BitCoin. We'll make it an American prosecutor, that'll get the FBI going."
Cal stared at him. But that didn't stop him typing and Cal watched with grim fascination as he navigated around dark net markets, registering accounts, searching vendors and sending onimous enquiries. Cal monitored the proxy, configuring ever more intricate filters to weed out the mundane.
They'd crossed a line of no return and complicit Cal joined in, weaving convincing tales in their messages, striking the right tone to complete their deception. This went on for hours, with no sign of any incoming exploits. Until the browser popped up with "Do you want to allow this site to access WebGL?"
"That's it," John smiled, "there's no way that site really uses WebGL. This is an exploit. Stands to reason too, we always knews that had huge attack surface." He was about to permit it, but Cal stopped him. "No, don't allow it. If we allow it, we'll just get a lame zero day that requires WebGL. Deny it and carry on. They'll send a better exploit soon enough."
The intensity increased, Cal identified the malicious code that had tried to access WebGL. But it was just a stager - no exploit there. John carried on his ruse, until he noticed the browser stutter. He grabbed Cal's arm, "this is it!" Fear in the room intensified. This was serious now, some hacker - be it FBI or otherwise - had control of the laptop right in front of them. "Carry on with the messaging Cal. If we stop now they'll know our game."
Cal typed into the bait laptop while John began to investigate the exploit delivery. He identified the malware quickly enough, and a lingering connection that could be to the command and control server. Alarmingly, it was transferring a lot of data in both directions, a detail he decided not to share with Cal. He loaded the malware into a binary analysis tool and begun the painstaking process of unpicking its workings. 20 minutes in he told Cal to stop. "That'll do. Sign off naturally and shut it down."
Cal joined him with the binary anaysis and gradually they formed a picture of its armory. "It's not like one I've seen before," Cal said, "it's tighter coded than a typical rootkit. Really could be FBI." John nodded. "You can see it repeatedly copying this string. That's gotta be a heap spray. And it looks like self-decrypting machine code. Yeah, that's the payload for sure. We can just plug our own in here."
"What if the exploit's been watermarked?" Cal interjected, "We don't know where they could have hidden one."
"Who cares? We're gonna deliver it anonymously anyway."
They worked industriously to decouple the exploit and payload, build a delivery mechanism, and soon they were ready to test it. They watched in delight as a fully-patched browser accessed their delivery site, churned the laptop's CPU, then registered a ping back on the console.
The next step was to incorporate a real payload.
"So what's it gonna do John?"
"Persist itself to disk, then sit quietly and await further instructions. I've got the C&C software figured out already, it was a fun project from long ago. What I need you to do is use BitCoin to rent a couple of dozen virtual servers in different data centres around the world."
As Cal started registering the servers, John used the third laptop to generate a public/private key pair. One by one, the servers came online, and John installed the C&C software, configuring each to only respond to instructions signed by their private key. On the 20th he told Cal to stop.
There was a sparkle in his eyes. "We're nearly there! Everything's in place."
"How are we going to deliver it?"
"That's why we had to do this today. I found something earlier. A cache poisoning vulnerability on a major site."
Cal stared at him. The chain was complete. This was not real.
They completed their final maneouvers. Scripted a mechanism to dynamically generate payloads containing a random sample of C&C servers. Uploaded the exploit delivery mechanism into the control cloud, and generated a list of exploit URLs. John accessed the vulnerable major site, saved the HTML code locally, and modified it to include an exploit URL. Then he exploited the cache poisoning flaw, so that every visitor - at least every visitor coming through that particular cache cluster - would receive not the legitimate site but his malicious modificiations.
They watched the C&C management console. Around the world, thousands of unsuspecting web users experienced an annoying pause while their web pages loaded. Each time, under the hood, the zero day exploit fired, the payload persisted itself to disk, and made a connection to their C&C network to receive further instructions. Each time a new node joined their botnet, a line was logged to their console, and soon the screen was scrolling uncontrollably.
John was elated, Cal terrified. Cal watched in horror as John repeated the cache poison process across multiple clusters in different data centres. The rate of scrolling on the C&C console exploded. John cancelled it with a smile.
"Lets just look at the numbers"
Running a grep count on the log showed over 900,000 payload activations. And their malware had been live for barely 15 minutes.
"What are you going to do with it?"
"That's for another day. Now, we cover our tracks."
John removed two USB drives from his bag. He created an encrypted container, and into it put his decoy. Some nudes of an office chick that had been circulating. Incriminating enough, but not the crown jewels. He then created a hidden container within the free space of the first container, using a very strong password. Into this hidden container he copied the private key for the C&C network. This key put him in control. The only way to control the botnot was having both the USB drive, and his strong password. He repeated the process for Cal, inviting him to choose his own passwords. When he handed over the drive, Cal held it like it was on fire.
He shut down the bait laptop, gesturing Cal to do the same with the proxy. Removed the hard drive and connected it via USB to the ToR relay. The ToR relay was unlikely to have been compromised that night, a trustworthy system he could use to erase the others. After a secure erase of both drives, then of the ToR relay itself, John started putting everything in a bag.
They left the hotel room in silence. Bag on the rear seat and John drove. Cal was acutely aware of the USB drive in his pocket, the angled corners pressing into his leg. He went out of town, down lanes Cal didn't recognise, and stopped by a chain link fence. They both got out, John retrieved the bag, and with a big hurl, launched it over the fence into the landfill.
Back home, John smoked a large joint of double zero hash and fell fast asleep. He awoke a few hours later. It almost felt like a dream. But he ran his fingers along the USB drive and remembered the sheer power it contained.
submitted by netsecwarrior to shortstories [link] [comments]

GDPR and Blockchain

GDPR and Blockchain
In these series of articles, we will be discussing the General Data Protection Regulation commonly know as GDPR, and explain its relation with Distributed Ledger Technologies such as blockchain. According to Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on Protection of Personal Data, “Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her”, thus establishing data protection as one of the most important rights for EU citizens. Based on this assumption, in April 2016 the European Parliament adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), urging that businesses protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states, or even outside EU borders if transactions involve EU citizens.
The measure was considered a necessary step after a report by the RSA on privacy and security called attention to some alarming data. It emerged that out of 7,500 consumers across the UK, USA, France, Germany, and Italy, 80% said that lost banking and financial information was a top concern, while 76% stated that lost security and identity information was their major worry.
GDPR and blockchain
With the rise of blockchain technology and its cryptographic approach to personal data, which conceals information like names and addresses under a code, the need for some thorough analysis and some relevant regulation became apparent. Data protection regulation principles were designed and developed in a world that only knew a centralized data management type, while blockchain raises questions on how to apply these principles in a decentralized environment. It’s understood and accepted that the issues around the overlapping of GDPR and blockchain are not about the technology itself but how the technology is used when processing personal data. Although we developed the idea that blockchains are private and anonymous, in reality, some user information can lead back to the individual’s identity even if cryptographically secured. Therefore, since this is possible, personal data processed through a blockchain is to be considered subject to the GDPR.
Personal data includes any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (the data subject). In the context of blockchain technology an individual’s public key would be considered their personal data and would therefore need GDPR compliance obligations. While the validity and relevance of blockchain technology in relation to GDPR are not questioned, there still exist many points of tension between the two.
What issues arise under GDPR?
We’ve seen that processing personal data in a blockchain still triggers GDPR compliance.
The two major issues involving GDPR and blockchain are:
  • The definition of Data Controllers and Data Processors when blockchain is involved;
  • The issues arising with the Right of Rectification and Right to Erasure.
What are a data controller and a data processor when a blockchain is involved?
GDPR identifies a Data Controller as “the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data within the EU state members or when it involves an EU citizen, even if the data processing is carried out by a non-member state entity.” (Art. 4 sec 7)
In the case of a blockchain involvement, a natural person who buys or sells bitcoin on their own behalf, for instance, is not a data controller. By contrast, a natural person who trades bitcoin on behalf of professional or commercial activity, or of other natural persons, is a data controller. If a lawyer records a client’s transaction of any sort on a blockchain, the notary is a data controller. If a bank processes a client’s financial data on a blockchain, the bank is a data controller.
The data controller is the one instigating the purposes or means of data processing. He/she/they have to be identifiable so that data subjects can enforce their legal rights under EU data protection law. Blockchain’s decentralized nature replaces a central entity with a network of nodes whose consensus makes it difficult to attribute responsibility and accountability. This is where blockchain technology clashes with GDPR.

Data Protection, GDPR, and Blockchain.
Data Processors activate personal data on behalf of the controller (Art 4 sec 8 of GDPR) where data processing essentially involves any handling of personal data. Processing includes the collection, adaptation, alteration, and recording of personal data but also its simple storage.
According to the French Data Privacy Authority (CNIL), a data processor in a blockchain can be either miners or smart contract developers. For instance, a smart contract developer who processes personal data on behalf of a data controller may be a data processor. Similarly, a miner who follows the data controllers’ instructions when validating a transaction is also a data processor. CNIL mainly draws some guidelines as it has been emphasized that a case-by-case basis should be considered in the connection between the technology and GDPR, rather than the relationship being determined in a broad and general manner.
For instance, with regard to the rights of information, access, and portability it advises that they are not problematic on blockchain technology and that a transaction submitted to the blockchain contains sufficiently transparent and visible information. CNIL also views the “right of access and the right to portability as entirely compatible with blockchains’ technical properties.”
Issues arising with the Right of Rectification and Right to Erasure
The matter becomes more complicated as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on Protection of Personal Data provides that everyone has a right to access personal data relating to them, including a right to have such data rectified or erased.
That’s why the GDPR includes the “Right of Rectification”, that grants data subjects the right to have their data amended in case of inaccurate information; and the “Right of Erasure” (or “Right to be forgotten”) which adds the right of data subjects to obtain from a data controller and the data processor an obligation to erase their personal data.
How can something be deleted or rectified from an immutable blockchain then?
The immutability of the blockchain and the fact that it is a permanent and transparent ledger gives rise to GDPR compliance issues. As GDPR requires that personal data must not be kept longer than it is necessary for the purpose for which it is processed, this may be an issue with blockchains where the data cannot be deleted.
Not all blockchains are immutable though or subject to a predefined and permanent consensus. Permissioned (or private) blockchains, for example, allow participants to establish a governance structure where roles can be clearly defined, contractual terms satisfying GDPR requirements can be embedded, and technological solutions granting individual rights can be built into the blockchain.
With permissionless (open and public) blockchains, the most-compliant approach to these issues is to avoid storing personal data on the blockchain altogether, using for example an off-chain (append-only) data storage approach. If the data is stored off-chain, then it would be easier to process the erasure of the information. On the other hand, if the data is stored on-chain in an encrypted way, then the deletion of the encryption key could be a fair compromise. Because of the immutable nature of blockchains, the data would not be erased as such, however, it would be made inaccessible.
In essence, unless there is a blockchain rollback resorting to a hard fork, as happened with the DAO hack in 2016, open blockchain’s data cannot be deleted. The best practice would be to store all personal data “off-chain” which can then be linked back to the ledger by a hash. Through the erasure of hash functions’ private keys, editing and verifying the hashed information would no longer be possible and confidentiality would no longer be compromised.

Rather than posing a risk for individuals’ fundamental privacy rights and freedoms, blockchain technology represents a tool that grants data subjects exclusive possession and control over their personal information.
Conclusion
Without question, the EU consideration of the blockchain approach to GDPR is a further legitimization of the technology. Even though the blockchain itself may be immutable or can only be updated under specific circumstances, the requirements of GDPR may indeed still be fulfilled. It will soon become obvious that rather than posing a risk for individuals’ fundamental privacy rights and freedoms, blockchain technology represents a tool that grants data subjects exclusive possession and control over their personal information.
Furthermore, as the technology evolves, the digital ecosystem will offer a variety of peer-to-peer networks; from public distributed ledgers developed that grant unrestricted access and equal roles to everybody, to private networks developed with proprietary software that will grant access to selected participants only. Mixed private and public blockchains will provide an additional structure that could range from some nodes running a piece of the protocol to other nodes that could act as block validators.
Stay tuned for the next article with more insights about blockchain technology, its use, and implications by following us on our social media channels.
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submitted by BlockDotCo to u/BlockDotCo [link] [comments]

Delightful Privacy

Delightful Privacy delightful

This is a collection of software, operating systems, and other miscellaneous tools to help the average user fight for their privacy and security online.

Operating Systems

Fedora

Fedora uses Security-Enhanced Linux by default, which implements a variety of security policies, including mandatory access controls, which Fedora adopted early on. Fedora provides a hardening wrapper, and does hardening for all of its packages by using compiler features such as position-independent executable (PIE). Wikipedia

Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS provides full out-of-the-box support for both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. It is regarded as an easy distribution to set-up for gaming, mainly due to its built-in GPU support. Pop!_OS provides default disk encryption, streamlined window and workspace management, keyboard shortcuts for navigation as well as built in power management profiles. The latest releases also have packages that allow for easy setup for TensorFlow and CUDA. Wikipedia

Debian

Debian is one of the oldest operating systems based on the Linux kernel. The project is coordinated over the Internet by a team of volunteers guided by the Debian Project Leader and three foundational documents: the Debian Social Contract, the Debian Constitution, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines. New distributions are updated continually, and the next candidate is released after a time-based freeze. Wikipedia

openSUSE Tumbleweed - Rolling Release!

Any user who wishes to have the newest packages that include, but are not limited to, the Linux Kernel, SAMBA, git, desktops, office applications and many other packages, will want Tumbleweed. openSUSE

For enhanced security

Qubes OS

Qubes OS is a security-focused desktop operating system that aims to provide security through isolation. Virtualization is performed by Xen, and user environments can be based on Fedora, Debian, Whonix, and Microsoft Windows, among other operating systems. Wikipedia

Tails

Tails, or The Amnesic Incognito Live System, is a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at preserving privacy and anonymity. All its incoming and outgoing connections are forced to go through Tor, and any non-anonymous connections are blocked. Wikipedia).*

Whonix

Whonix is a Debian GNU/Linux–based security-focused Linux distribution. It aims to provide privacy, security and anonymity on the internet. The operating system consists of two virtual machines, a "Workstation" and a Tor "Gateway", running Debian GNU/Linux. All communications are forced through the Tor network to accomplish this. Wikipedia

Web Browsers

For Desktop

Firefox Needs manual tweaking to be more secure! Use ghacks

Firefox, is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. Wikipedia Recommended addons: uBlock Origin | Https Everywhere | Privacy Badger | Privacy Possum | Decentraleyes | NoScript | CanvasBlocker

Tor

Tor is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication. The name derived from the acronym for the original software project name "The Onion Router". Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user's location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity to the user. Wikipedia

UnGoogled-Chromium

Without signing in to a Google Account, Chromium does pretty well in terms of security and privacy. However, Chromium still has some dependency on Google web services and binaries. In addition, Google designed Chromium to be easy and intuitive for users, which means they compromise on transparency and control of internal operations.
ungoogled-chromium addresses these issues in the following ways:

For mobile

Bromite Android Only

Bromite is a Chromium fork with ad blocking and privacy enhancements; take back your browser! Bromite

Firefox Focus Android - iOS

Firefox Focus is a free and open-source privacy-focused browser from Mozilla, available for Android and iOS. Wikipedia

Tor Browser for mobile Android - iOS

Tor protects your privacy on the internet by hiding the connection between your Internet address and the services you use. We believe Tor is reasonably secure, but please ensure you read the instructions and configure it properly. GitHub

Email

Tutanota

Tutanota is an end-to-end encrypted email software and freemium hosted secure email service. Wikipedia

Mailbox

There are many ears listening on the Internet, which is why all our services require mandatory SSL/TLS-encrypted data transmission. For additional security, we also use enhanced (green) security certificates ("EV") by the independent SwissSign trust service provider from Switzerland (Check the padlock symbol in your web browser's URL field). But this is just the beginning – there is so much more that we do. Mailbox

Disroot

Disroot is a decentralized cloud-based service that allows you to store your files and communicate with one another. Established by a privacy-focused organization of volunteers, if we look at Disroot as an email provider specifically, it stands out thanks to its emphasis on security with a completly free open-source approach. ProPrivacy

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is an end-to-end encrypted email service founded in 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland by scientists who met at the CERN research facility. ProtonMail uses client-side encryption to protect email content and user data before they are sent to ProtonMail servers, unlike other common email providers such as Gmail and Outlook.com. The service can be accessed through a webmail client, the Tor network, or dedicated iOS and Android apps. Wikipedia

Search Engine

Searx

searx is a free metasearch engine, available under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, with the aim of protecting the privacy of its users. To this end, searx does not share users' IP addresses or search history with the search engines from which it gathers results. Tracking cookies served by the search engines are blocked, preventing user-profiling-based results modification. By default, searx queries are submitted via HTTP POST, to prevent users' query keywords from appearing in webserver logs. Wikipedia - Find public instances of searx here searx.space

Startpage

Startpage is a web search engine that highlights privacy as its distinguishing feature. Previously, it was known as the metasearch engine Ixquick, At that time, Startpage was a variant service. Both sites were merged in 2016. Wikipedia

YaCy

YaCy is a free distributed search engine, built on principles of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Its core is a computer program written in Java distributed on several hundred computers, as of September 2006, so-called YaCy-peers. Each YaCy-peer independently crawls through the Internet, analyzes and indexes found web pages, and stores indexing results in a common database (so called index) which is shared with other YaCy-peers using principles of P2P networks. It is a free search engine that everyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet and to help search the public internet clearly. Wikipedia

VPN

If you need anonymity and privacy online use Tor instead, if you are looking to bypass a geo-restriction, don't trust public WiFi, or are looking to Torrent, a VPN will help you.

Mullvad

Mullvad is an open-source commercial virtual private network (VPN) service based in Sweden. Launched in March 2009, Mullvad operates using the WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols. Mullvad accepts Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash for subscriptions in addition to conventional payment methods.
No email address or other identifying information is requested during Mullvad's registration process. Rather, a unique 16-digit account number is anonymously generated for each new user. This account number is henceforth used to log in to the Mullvad service.
The TechRadar review notes that "The end result of all this is you don't have to worry about how Mullvad handles court requests to access your usage data, because, well, there isn't any." Wikipedia

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN utilizes OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and the IKEv2 protocol, with AES-256 encryption. The company has a strict no-logging policy for user connection data, and also prevents DNS and Web-RTC leaks from exposing users' true IP addresses. ProtonVPN also includes Tor access support and a kill switch to shut off Internet access in the event of a lost VPN connection.
In January 2020, ProtonVPN became the first VPN provider to release its source code on all platforms and conduct an independent security audit. ProtonVPN is the only VPN to do so, even though experts say this is a crucial factor in deciding whether to trust a VPN service. Wikipedia

For information about alternatives to software and services.

If you are looking for alternatives to proprietary services like Discord and Facebook, or an open-source alternative to Photoshop, check out our list about Awesome-Alternatives

Mirrors are kept up to date, this post may lag behind as we add stuff in.

submitted by CipherOps to LinuxCafe [link] [comments]

Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?

Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?
https://reddit.com/link/i8ewbx/video/ojkc6c9a1lg51/player
This is the second part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
---
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.

Users & Audience

These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.

https://preview.redd.it/vigqlmgg1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a5d48a63ce7a637749bbbc03d62c51cc3f75613
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.

Products in Market

Let’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
https://preview.redd.it/gbpi2ijj1lg51.png?width=1050&format=png&auto=webp&s=c039887484bf8a3d3438fb02a384d0b9ef894e1f
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
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Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.
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Strengths

Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
  1. Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
  2. User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
  3. Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.

Weaknesses

Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
  1. Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
  2. User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
  3. Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
  4. Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
  5. Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
  6. Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.

Wrap Up

One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.

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The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
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Extons||What we should expect?

Extons||What we should expect?
The Extons trading platform and the application have become the most desirable and preferred exchange technologies for people finding reliable, safe, and protected trade in digital currencies, as well as solution-oriented exchanges.
When people began to use Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies due to their decentralized, stable, and pursuit of technological advances that could open borders and make money the emergence of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies created new boundaries. Despite the excitement created by exchanges, however, large dark areas and foreign exchanges still exist. Gluts have lost a lot of its digital assets and even platforms that are proud of their fair share of challenges and hacks that have affected traders’ confidence and their global digital currency adoption.

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Today the exchanges are not established any more in fast-growing markets, so I am excited to obtain an effective, secure, and transparent network, along with many trustworthy specialists in the blockchain, to face these enduring challenges. The creative platform is planned to address issues related to the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem, Extons Platform. Extons Exchange.
Exton is a crypto-monetary exchange site. Extons was created in June 2020 to address the disruptive weaknesses and vulnerabilities of cryptocurrency global exchange. Performance, flexibility, consistency, and defense, but new.
What does the Crypto Environment Network offer?
The best user interface with Exton. Users would be very pleased because they can interact seamlessly and rapidly. Extons delivers on-line customer care services 24/7, ensuring that each user’s purchases are completed efficiently and promptly.
In many markets, high liquidity is a missed feature. The team uses state-of-the-art Extons technologies to develop artificial markets that conform with wall street business criteria and to build model-driven analysis focused on over 250 market parameters and 24/7 ongoing support of high liquidity.
The multiple cryptocurrency support is included in Exton. Extons publishes and lists regularly high-quality cryptocurrencies around the world, which allows consumers to trade in a wide range of options for certain cryptocurrencies.

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Safety and stability are essential considerations for the calculation of the trade rate. In order to conduct a reliable system operation, a multi-mode configuration fulfills the conceptual IT control function of the financial sector.
In order to extend the scene and provide better service to customers, the front-end and back-end team architecture and the multi-point and multi-fashion delivery implementation.
Significant market or trade issues
• Minimum requirement if an exchange is not scheduled. Liquidity is the main thing for trade volume. You’re not allowed to buy a thing, but you’re not going to find a vendor, or find a client. When is the trade going to take place?
• Security is the main challenge in crypto world transactions. Many scandals have led users to lose their investment in the past. There is no need for society to connect and to safeguard its property.
• The exchange of cryptocurrency should offer unrestricted transparency for customers, enabling customers to own and invest your investment.
• It’s worthless if you miss any of your bond money. You will get income from Classical Swap or other partners, so you won’t hesitate to pick your earnings. The prices are huge, in other words.
• There are possibilities for certain technological (communications) issues if consumers entrust portfolios for stock trading. It is almost impossible to reach customer service in some cases. This is the key reason why crypto transactions are technically inaccessible.
How does Extons Interchange address these problems?
• It is deeply disappointing to note that no exchanges take care of customers’ desires and expectations on their websites and trade on them leaves consumers dissatisfied and hopeful of more.
• In order to ensure the free running of the network, Extons’ exchange has now introduced the multimode GUI, which can satisfy the technical requirements of The tracking needs of the financial sector.
• Slowly listing and incorporating various content cryptocurrencies throughout the network to provide the customers with different transaction services.
• EXTON Exchange guarantees customers get sufficient treatment when it delivers online customer care facilities 24 hours a day, allowing the smoothest possible execution of each purchase.
Token information
Exton’s got a token called, TON. The token is the TRC-20 format provided on the platform on the Ethereum blockchain token that facilitates network activities. The TONS trade tokens for purchases and other commercial activities are, however, included.
Wrap up:
Exton Exchange has set the standard for other cryptocurrency network exchanges with a customer service framework, a very liquid and robust operating environment that provides outstanding cryptocurrency trading experience to customers and promotes digital tokens throughout the global population.
It does not, however, provide a standard trading portal but has powerful tools and services that can make user-based transfers accessible and cost-effective. The platform will concentrate on the world adoption and usage of cryptocurrencies in the global financial system and the potential of ongoing development.
Website || Thisoption || Whitepaper || Telegram || Facebook || Medium
Author: u/thorex25
Disclaimer
This article is not meant to give commercial or any other kind of advice. It is just an informative text at all.
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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