Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Proof of Work #40

Hi from Boston, where the beginnings of fall colors have me reconsidering my initial dislike for this place. I’ll be in San Francisco on the 10th and 11th, and will probably organize an informal get-together at a bar on the 10th—watch my twitter for details on that.

VC stuff

Forgive me for a brief bit of VC stuff before we get into the tech, but I want to congratulate to the folks at Initialized Capital for completing their raise—word on the street was that it was significantly oversubscribed. Initialized is to my mind one of the best traditional VC funds investing in crypto, so it’s cool to see big institutional interest there. Congratulations also to our friends at Paradigm who just announced their raise as well, including what I’ve heard was a fairly large investment from the grand-daddy of all endowment funds, Yale. That’s indeed a fairly “big deal” as most of the other endowments tend to follow Yale’s lead. Cryptoassets have gone from literally a punchline among the institutional allocator class to something that is inspiring a fair amount of FOMO. Good stuff.

USD Stablecoins are not crypto

There’s been some chatter that the recent spate of USD-backed stablecoins are going to compete with real cryptoassets like Bitcoin, something which I find extremely unlikely. A few issues: First, it’s unclear that at scale they will be able to get the US gov’t onboard with the idea that KYC only occurs at genesis and redemption of the coins, with no KYC or trackability for intermediate transactions. Gemini, Circle, and Trust Token all have fancy lawyers who no-doubt have signed off on this plan based on good legal guidance at the moment, but currently none of the systems are being used much. When they are, it’s entirely unclear what kind of onerous regulation might appear, since the status quo results in a very large step-back from the ubiquitous surveillance of online transactions possible with centralized systems.

An adjacent issue is the freezability of these coins, a feature which all of them share, and which none of them have any meaningful guidelines or explanation about. This isn’t just a problem for Russian oligarchs, either—imagine if you have a GUSD balance on an exchange that happens to also be used by someone unsavory. An order to freeze that exchange’s assets will hit all the coins in that exchange’s wallet, potentially tying up your balance until something gets worked out in court, a process which in crypto time may as well be thought of as “forever.”

Dollar backed coins are a nice stop-gap for getting liquidity onto decentralized exchanges, and as Tether has proven over the years, are certainly useful, but to think of them as a competitor to Bitcoin or other truly decentralized assets indicates a deep misunderstanding of what makes Bitcoin valuable in the first place. In a much more interesting category are Maker/DAI and Basecoin, which I’ll be writing a bit about next issue.

The pieces of the “unstoppable web” are coming together

Something I’ve dreamed about since I first got on the internet as an annoying 8 year old lurking in AOL chatrooms and Diablo dungeons is the idea of an online Library of Alexandria, containing every book ever written. Creating such a thing, copyright violations left aside for a moment, would be an almost religious act of Good—reading about efforts in this direction is what brought Aaron Swartz’s work to my attention almost a decade ago. What would happen next is anyone’s guess—perhaps the publishing industry would wise up and move to a spotify-esque model—but I’ve always been curious about the technological advances required to bring such a thing into existence. Decentralized payments, storage, hosting, DNS, and potentially an encrypted transport layer all seem like necessary pieces, and we’re starting to see those things appear: Sia, Akash, Handshake, [redacted], etc. As a fund manager I’m as happy as anyone that financial interest in crypto is increasing, but the way it may facilitate a revolution in knowledge, sharing, and decentralized organization is what gets me up every day, and I think the pieces may come together faster than people think.

Bitcoin & Friends

Daniel from Grin

Jimmy on Bitcoin

Aviv from Spacemesh

  • No Updates.

James from Vertcoin

  • No Updates.

JZ from Decred

  • Brief snapshot of public Decred dev activity for Sept. 219 active PRs, 197 commits, 28.7K additions & 18.8K deletions spread over 4-10 devs per repo.

  • The latest issue of the Decred Journal has just been released detailing the various achievements of the project and over the last month as well as other news that affects the community. One interesting point of note is that Bitmain has released their Decred miners, adding them to the list of manufacturers which include Obelisk, Halong Mining/Innosilicon, iBeLink, and Whatsminer, who have produced ASIC hardware for Decred. One of the great benefits of Decred’s hybrid PoW/PoS model is that we do not rely on our PoW miners for project governance, so the more hashrate securing the network the merrier, regardless of where it comes from. [ed note: Interesting point. Not just saying that because Decred sent me a shiny jacket this month..]

  • For anyone who’s interested in doing some hacking and potentially winning some Decred we’ve announced there will be a hackathon at the Texas Bitcoin conference which we’ll be at from October 27-28. The competition will focus on scaling the dcrtime backend, see here for the full details.

Zac from Stellar

  • No Updates.

Privacy coins

Izaak from Coda

  • No Updates.

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

  • Announced the new and improved Zcash brand and website https://z.cash

  • The 2.0.1 release candidate (rc) and subsequent full release have slipped considerably. This is due to extra review needed for Sapling support in the wallet and a surprise surge and dropping of hashrate on testnet (#3552 9) requiring a fix so the rc can be tested properly before the full release. Keep an eye out for the 2.0.1 release announcement blog for the full scope of what’s included sometime next week.

  • More in the full update here.

Diego and Riccardo from Monero

Smart contracting platforms

Evan from Ethereum

Myles from EOS

Zaki from Cosmos

  • The LotionJS team started working on a specification for Bitcoin pegzone which uses SegWit enabled large multisig to enable Cosmos to act as a Bitcoin sidechain. This is one of many designs under development in addition to options involving secure hardware and multiparty computation. [ed: this is insanely exciting. I think Cosmos is a massively underrated potential Layer 2 for Bitcoin..]

  • We started working on adding signed Genesis Transactions allowing Cosmos chains to start with bonded validators.

  • Tendermint v0.25 was released which contains improvements to how the mempool handles gas and improvements to the peer to peer layer.

Kate and Dean from Agoric

  • Mark has been writing smart contracts using our proof of concept. We are particularly excited about the covered call option contract, which demonstrates the ability of our smart contract framework to allow access to contracts to be traded as easily as native tokens. This ability to derive new rights from positions in contracts and use them in other contracts will be necessary for a vibrant crypto-economy. The code is still a work in progress, but feel free to take a look!

  • We have two events during SF Blockchain Week: Dean is talking about Authority in Smart Contracts at SFBW Epicenter on October 8th at 2:20pm and Mark is presenting on the Agoric platform and framework on October 10th at 7pm. For more information, see our events page. Hope to see you there!

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

  • Launched expo on mainnet!! Check it out to get your first Short ETH.

  • Working on several improvements to expo, including trade history and margin lending.

  • Adding support for OasisDEX (#369). This will allow expo users to seamlessly use OasisDEX liquidity to mint and close Margin Tokens.

  • Attended DeFi Summit and ETHSF. Team members built a contract event notifier and conditional transaction sending protocol

  • Hiring for engineering, design, and operations roles in SF.

Brendan and Nadav from Dharma

  • Released new API methods for Underwriting. Check out the tutorials here.

  • Putting the finishing touches on some exciting new features which will be launched soon.

  • Hosted the DeFi Summit - San Francisco, which was amazing. Opened breakout session applications for DeFi Summit - Prague. If your project is in the Decentralized Finance space, submit your application here

  • We’re hiring blockchain engineers and full stack engineers. Check out our open positions here.

Coulter from MakerDAO

  • If you're attending San Francisco Blockchain Week, Maker is hosting and attending a flurry of events. Make sure to stop by and say hello. 

  • FORTUNE Magazine wrote about the recent a16z crypto investment

  • Dai is now integrated with MedCredits, where you can get your questions answered by a doctor and pay in Dai.

  • TheBigCoin now supports Dai, enabling people to shop with cryptocurrency in 50000+ online stores worldwide. From now on, all Dai token owners can easily make online purchases using TheBigCoin platform. [ed: woah]

Phil from MARKET Protocol

  • We added order fills and depth charts on the MARKET Protocol Simulated Exchange. See the week's Engineering demo for more details.

  • The Web3 v1.0.0 migration is underway. Our contract collateral consolidation work combined with this upgrade should provide substantial gas savings.

  • We're beginning our ChainLink integration testing. Let us know if you'd like to get involved. Contacts us on Discord.

  • Make sure you upgrade to MARKET.js version 0.7.2 to access the most recently deployed Solidity contracts. 

Robert from Compound

  • Began building a governance/voting application for selecting new assets to support.

  • Kicked off the design process for version 1.1 of the Compound Interface.

  • Participated in ETH SF and Blockchain Week!

Layer two and interoperability

Tieshun from Namebase

  • Come here us speak about Handshake and Namebase at SF Blockchain Week, Wednesday at 3:50pm at the Epicenter location. 

Tom from 0x

  • No Updates.

Janine from Liquidity.Network

  • Liquidity Network’s SDK was launched the last Saturday during ETH SF] is now live, features include full wallet management, invoice generation, and checks to ensure that the hub can be trusted. Moreover, with the integration of the SDK seamless off-chain transactions are facilitated and blockchain powered applications are liquidity enabled. 

  •  Launched bounty for the creation of the first off-chain hub explorer, inspired by how Etherscan visualizes onchain transactions. The participants will be provided with a link to the registered wallets on our current hub and with a link to the transaction history of a particular Liquidity wallet. Resources can be found here.

Dong Mo from Celer

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

  • Substrate's testnet is live, allowing developers to start deploying WebAssembly-compiled smart contracts

  • We are using Substrate to create the Ethereum 2.0 Shasper implementation. 

  • The team is putting together special presentations for Web3 Summit, an event that will bring together devs and researchers working on lower level protocols for the Web3 Tech Stack.

Application infrastructure

Doug from Livepeer

  • Upcoming improvements to the Livepeer Media Server include Object Store support for video on demand transcoding, and the orchestrator/transcoder split, in which protocol aware nodes can coordinate work amongst many GPUs to actually perform video transcoding.

  • The Livepeer MerkleMine concluded this past week after 5 months, resulting in approximately 800 accounts which actively mined. 

Ryan from FOAM

  • Pushed updates to the FOAM Map interface, continued developing filtering and search, general bug fixes and built a comprehensive test suite for the FOAM Signaling smart contracts to be launched later this month. 

  • After facing difficulties with Infura returning incomplete results for the “eth_getlogs” call, points added to the Map on chain were not being sent to our indexer. This week we spent efforts on setting up a self hosted Parity full archive node to solve this. 

  • Launched a new community forum for technical feedback and protocol discussion. 

David from Sia (thanks @tbenz9 for the first week write-up)

  • Nebulous repos were updated. 14 issues were created, 12 were closed. 15 PRs were merged.

  • The Nebulous developers announced the plan to fork Sia changing the mining algorithm on October 31th. You can read the full announcement here.

  • Several interesting features were added to Sia. Matthew Sevey submitted a merge request to add whitelist and blacklist host lists. This will enable a user to block hosts from their host database or block all hosts except what’s on the whitelist.

  • The offline signing of transactions from Luke Champine is finally finished and merged. This MR enables multiple API endpoints that will be used for the Ledger Nano integration and facilitates lite wallet developments.

  • A new subset of command under siac utils has been added. Various offline transaction utilities are included, but other utilities and helper functions are being developed.

  • Version RC1 of the upcoming 1.3.5 was released for beta-testing on the #contributors channel, featuring better renter costs estimation, offline signing and multiple bug fixes.

  • The alpha version of Repertory from Sia contributor @drexel was released. Repertory allows you to mount Sia blockchain storage solutions via FUSE on Linux/OS X or via WinFSP on Windows. The UI is available here (currently windows only) and the command line is available here.

  • Discord user @hakkane released Decentralizer version 0.2.0. This new version is powered by SiaStats.info databases that extend the search of hosting farms to those using sophisticated decoy strategies. Hakkane also released a tracking tool for hosting farms at SiaStats.

Other

Martin from Tezos

  • No Updates.

Ari from Decentraland

  • Last week, we released version 4.1.1 of the SDK, which improves the ambient/sky preview and adds a joystick mode when using a mobile device.

  • We also released version 1.4.0 of the CLI, which simplifies the scene initialization process and adds support for deploying Estates.

  • The Marketplace smart contract v2 audit is now finished, and we’ve incorporated suggestions from Level K into the contract.

  • We’ve also completed the Estates feature, to be launched next week.

  • Now, we’re working on an update for the Agora Voting dApp, with a targeted release in the 3rd week of October.

Bowen from Hydro/DDEX.io

  • DDEX Android Internal test on Google Play. DDEX iOS in the review by Apple Store. 

  • DDEX will support trading USD Coin (USDC), Circle backed Stable Coin.

Sam from OpenBazaar

  • Work continues on prototypes for the web-based OpenBazaar interface. Current focus is on a new system to send messages from the website to the OpenBazaar network itself.

  • Multiwallet work continues, mostly bug fixing on the server side and building out the wallet UI on the desktop and mobile client.

Demi from Zeppelin

  • No Updates.