Proof of Work #48

Don't call it a comeback!

Hi from a plane en-route back to the US from Tokyo! I’m finally done with an epic fundraising trip throughout Asia and can get back to doing what I really enjoy: reading and writing about the most interesting stuff happening in the decentralized infrastructure and money world.

In my absence, a lot of interesting stuff has been developed. Grin is inching closer to release, and there’s beginning to be a real interest in China for mining it. The mining industry itself in China is in the process of undergoing a consolidation driven by the dip in prices, and many smaller miners have been completely forced out of business. Those that survive have the best margins, both in the form of cheap electricity, capital, and mining equipment. These hardcore survivors are currently hanging on for dear life, but are also accumulating a huge advantage in terms of hashpower that will end up being very profitable when the price picks up again. New competitors are also emerging in the chip design sector of the mining field, most notably Whatsminer (神马矿机) a new entrant that has surprised everyone with incredibly efficient and powerful miners, posing a real threat to the incumbency of Bitmain.

During a fundraising meeting, I was asked by the founder of one of the top pharma companies in the world (i.e. someone who has a deep understanding of a capital-intensive industry but is basically new to crypto) what the most basic point of cryptocurrencies is. I explained that I feel (along with a lot of other people excited about this tech) that we’re currently living in an anomalous period where a bunch of centralized gatekeepers and middlemen have monopolized control over the money systems of the world, and use that control both to extract massive profits in the form of inflation and transaction fees, and also to decide who gets to send money to whom. As it turns out, keeping the benefits of digitized money but shaking off those centralized middlemen is difficult technical problem, the solutions to which seem to have a bunch of interesting side applications for designing systems to allocate scarce resources (names, storage, bandwidth etc.) Cryptocurrency, i.e. money based on a mathematically secured ledger, is not a philosophically new thing, but rather a return to the status quo we’ve had for millenia, where individuals and organizations deal directly with each-other, and no one has panoptic insight into the commerce of the world economy. During market downturns such as this one, I think it’s helpful to keep this very basic and almost boring fact in mind.

Finally, a quiet announcement of something that might not be quite ready, but should be fun to play around with: we’ve created a forum for PoW readers to discuss the most interesting things in cryptocurrency. You won’t find vapid “partnership announcements” or talk about which dinosaur-like incumbent has filed for what futile blockchain patent, but instead can read every day about new interesting technical developments in the blockchain space. The forum will start as invite-only (some of our earliest readers and friends have already gotten invites) and will slowly expand as we make sure our moderation team can handle the volume. If you haven’t gotten an invite and you’d like one, feel free to request one here!

Bitcoin & Friends

Daniel from Grin

Grin is a privacy-focused coin based on the Mimblewimble protocol being built by a pseudonymous team of developers

  • 25 Pull Requests were merged in the past week, by 7 unique contributors.

  • The notes from the last governance meeting. We're conducting two security audits, one tba on the libsecp fork, and another by Quarkslab on the key Grin crates.

  • Grin v0.4.2 was released.

  • PR#2052: Keybase is now supported as a wallet plugin to do transaction building with.

  • wallet713 community project announced, standalone wallet with integrated transaction relay.

  • 3rd Grin London Meetup announced, Jan 8.

  • More Grin info here.

Jimmy on Bitcoin

Bitcoin is.

Aviv from Spacemesh

Spacemesh is a fair programmable cryptocurrency powered by a novel proof-of-space-time  consensus protocol.

  • Initial version POET GO prover and verifier merged

  • First version of the Tortoise protocol merged

  • first commit of the new Hare protocol message structure

  • First version of the gossip protocol merged

  • Preliminary design of Spacemesh global state and transaction processor

  • Sync protocol implementation PR

JZ from Decred

Decred is a coin based on Bitcoin, but with a proof of stake addition, and a raft of additional features focusing on governance of the protocol by users with stake.

  • The latest issue of the Decred Journal is out covering everything that transpired during November in terms of development and community, as always discussion about it is taking place on the Decred subreddit.

  • Politeia Digest issue 7was released this week as well, Richard has also started including stats about the treasury.

  • "Treasury balance: 588,681 DCR (approx +16,718 DCR/month) — $11.8 million (+$335k/month) based on $20 DCR price". While the so-called "crypto winter" seems to be taking its toll on other projects, Decred is unaffected due to our sustainable funding model. And we are still looking for talented devs to join us.

  • Snapshot ofpublic Decred dev activity for November: 266 active PRs, 268 commits, 45K additions & 25K deletions across 3-11 devs per repo.

James from Summa

Summa is building tools for trust-minimized transactions across different blockchains.

  • While at ETHSingapore, James hacked together a Bitcoin light client. Look for it to be open sourced later this week 🎈

  • We have our regularly scheduled ETH auction on Thursday. Looking forward to seeing you there 👋

Johnny from Stellar

Stellar is a protocol that uses a quorum-based consensus (totally different from Proof of Work or Stake) to enable cheap transactions in the native coin, and allow for the issuance of assets.

  • Our contact at Stellar is on vacation, updates to resume next week

Privacy coins

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

Zcash is a coin based on Bitcoin but focused on privacy for users based on zk-SNARK transactions to hide senders and recipients

Smart contracting platforms

Myles from EOS

EOS is a smart-contracting protocol utilizing distributed proof of stake and a smaller number of nodes to enable the higher throughput necessary for dAPP type applications

Zaki from Cosmos

Cosmos is a proof-of-stake based system enabling interchain connectivity through hubs, and allowing for zone-based dapps to have inherently stable and economically viable ecosystems.

  • Game of Stakes finally launches

  • I wrote up a very technical breakdown of Cosmos vs Polkadot

  • Blocklayer released ChainKit a new tool for developers building Comsos zones that makes building testnets easy.

  • Tendermint is working with Kava to bring the Interledger Protocol to Cosmos and providing liquidity as an API to cosmos zones.

Kate and Dean from Agoric

Agoric is a new platform that uses an object-capability model and a restricted subset of javascript to make smart contracting easy.

  • We are working with the Moddable team to retarget their XS JavaScript engine to WASM. We can use this tiny and reliable embedded JS engine for smart contracts!

  • We are working with partners at Salesforce, Node.js, Carnegie Mellon, and others to design a module system for JavaScript that enables bringing in third party code safely.

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

dYdX is a lending protocol that allows for trustless lending of ethereum-based assets

  • Gillian joined the team as a Recruiter & Community Manager. Welcome Gillian!

  • Added OasisDEX integration to expo. Expo will now source buy/sell liquidity from both 0x and Oasis, and use whichever gives the best price [This is really cool—presumably there will eventually be a tool that allows you to get the best returns on your crypto across similar risk/return profiles in a variety of settings]

  • Added transaction history to expo. New buys, sells, and withdrawals will now show up in your history

  • Added unrealized PNL to expo. You can now see how much you've gained or lost on your positions

  • Work trialing a design candidate this week

  • Hiring for design, engineering, and product roles full-time in SF

Brendan from Dharma

Dharma is a lending protocol that allows for trustless lending of ethereum-based assets

  • Continued development work for Dharma Lever. We are on track to open-source all of the contract-level code in Q1.

  • This week we are opening up Dharma Lever to Alpha Partners, who will be able to post offers to lend ETH and USDC. 

  • We are hiring across a number of roles: blockchain engineer, full-stack developers, and product designer. Check out all of our open roles here

Coulter from MakerDAO

MakerDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization that produces the MKR/DAI stablecoin system, a stablecoin based on collateralized margin positions of ETH.

  • Mkr.Tools has received a HUGE update, with a new interface, and features like individual CDP pages, visualizations, Dai velocity over time, and more. Definitely worth checking out! 

  • We've linked up with Brian Colwell who has begun a series on our blog around stablecoins. The first being a look at their use cases and real-world applications.

  • Freewallet has integrated DAI & MKR, and ZelCore has introduced DAI into their multi-currency wallets, giving our users another option to send and store tokens.

  • imToken has integrated the CDP Portal directly into their app. 

  • Buy your LAND with DAI or MKR. Decentraland's latest sale will accept both tokens! 

Lazar from MARKET Protocol

Market protocol allows for trading of derivative assets on the ethereum blockchain

  • We are excited to announce the newest addition to our advisory team – Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift! Check out our blog for the full announcement.

  • Our dev team is working around the clock on our December MPX release. Two improvements we are looking forward to sharing are a completely new landing page and support for MetaMask privacy mode.

  • Last week we published a step-by-step MPX User Manual to help users onboard and complete their first trade on MPX.

  • We are looking for more MPX user feedback. To tell us what you like or dislike, please complete our survey.

Layer two and interoperability

Paul from Veil

Veil is a custodial platform built atop Augur to provide a curated and easy-to-use interface for making predictions

  • Added support for Ethereum hash rate derivativesETH-settled scalar markets that let users trade on Ethereum’s future hash rate. We plan to experiment with more hash rate derivatives in the future as hedging products for miners. [ed: been waiting for something like this for ages, extremely cool!]

  • Upgraded Veil's frontend to version 2 of 0x.js, which allows us to use Ethereum's new signTypedData method (on new versions of Metamask).

  • Updated about our backend to keep a cache of users’ balances on our markets, so pages such as your portfolio load a little faster. In the future, we’ll also use this data to give users more accurate analytics and profit/loss calculations.

Rahul from 0x

0x is a protocol that enables trust-minimized trading of ethereum assets via a smart contract.

  • We're excited to launch 0x Instant! Mentioned in Forbes, 0x Instant lets you seamlessly add crypto purchasing to any app or website

  • Working on the development of a Multi Asset Proxy, a new AssetProxy that will allow multiple assets per side of a single order

  • Optimizing ABI encoder and plugging away on two 0x extension contracts. one for dutch auctions and one to enable KYC compliant trading

  • Relayer Report #15, featuring the Harbor launch; 22 Ideas to Explore with 0x  [ed: follow this newsletter for a PoW style in-depth look at 0x specific stuff]

Janine from Liquidity.Network

Liquidity network’s channels implementation allows for cheap payments without onchain overhead

  • Successfully migrated to a new hub. Our stack is back online and the hub is performing effectively.

  • Improvements to the javascript library continue. It now offers lazy sync and should integrate a wallet management system.

Dong Mo from Celer

Celer’s incentivized channel implementation aims to provide cheap and easy payments and an economic system to ensure their security

  • We have released v0.7.0 Testnet, which adds retry for concurrent payments, has better logging, and fixes a bunch of memory leak bugs.

  • We finished a bunch of features that make our backend more robust: better deposit/withdraw mechanics, full support for ERC-20 tokens, and multi-token channels.

  • Work continues on both our iOS and android apps. We want cPay to be the easiest way to send crypto payments and are focusing on leveraging our unique channel design to have better UX than any other options.

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

Parity produces Ethereum infrastructure, and also a cross-protocol protocol (whew!) called Polkadot

Application infrastructure

Doug from Livepeer

Livepeer provisions a decentralized network of transcoding nodes to allow censorship-resistant streaming of video.

  • Published the Streamflow Proposal for scaling Livepeer on Ethereum. Read the proposal paper or the summary.

  • A Livepeer Community Node has launched a pilot grant program, calling for four separate requests for proposals. 

  • Merged the Orchestrator/Transcoder split code, allowing Livepeer nodes to run as an Orchestrator coordinating a large pool of hardware video transcoders. 

Ryan from FOAM

Foam aims to create a user-powered alternative to GPS using low power radios and proof of stake verified location creation

  • Launched Signaling smart contracts to the Ethereum main net, A novel staking mechanism to incentivize location-specific mining. The published audit can be found here.

  • Released "FOAM Developer Update #4 " highlighting the newest functionalists that have been added to the FOAM Map.

  • The initial user period has ended on December 10th. This was a testing period on main net for token holders to work as Cartographers. For those that have fulfilled their Proof of Use, tokens are now transferable

  • There is a new FOAM Daily Digest newsletter, compiled by our community member Blocklytics, that provides updates on new points added to the Map and active challenges that can be voted on. Sign up and view the archive here[ed: worth a look]

David from Sia

Sia is a decentralized storage system that allows users to rent storage space from hosts.

  • 2 Nebulous repo were updated. 36 issues were created, 8 were closed. 14 MRs were merged. GitLab user starius, ChrisSchinnerl, eddiewang, MSevey and lukechampine had code contributions merged into Sia.

  • Lukechampine made progress on the new RPC protocol, that will be used for host-renter communications. The new contract formation and contract renewal protocols were merged. And importantly, the foundation for partial downloads has been implemented.

  • Lukechampine also corrected a bug related to the accountability of hosts. Now the wallet reflects the resolution of a file contract, and its payout, at the correct block height/

  • ChrisSchinnerl finished the implementation of the snapshotting method of the new SiaFiles. As these snapshots live in the RAM memory of the computer, they will allow faster management of all the features for renters of 1.4 that will make use of these new SiaFiles. Chris also completed the bandwidth limiter for the gateway module that was mentioned in last week’s update.

  • DavidVorick announced the roadmap of features for the upcoming 1.4 version, codenamed “Draco”: 1.4.0 (January) including the ability of renters to fully recover their data from backups they hold of the Sia metadata; 1.4.1 featuring partial downloads; 1.4.2 featuring on-chain backups and data recovery from the seed; following 1.4.x versions including file sharing, continuous backuping, and lite clients for phones.

Other

Bowen from Hydro/DDEX.io

DDEX is the highest-volume DEX, and Hydro is an incentivized liquidity provisioning system that powers it

  • Launched Wallet Connect feature:scan a QR code to trade on DDEX Web using your mobile wallet.

  • Shipped DDEX Web Wallet 2.0:offering users a range of wallet options including Metamask, Ledger, Wallet Connect and Browser Wallet

  • DDEX Wallet App Improvements: shorten the app startup time and improve the accuracy of balance calculation.

Martín from Zeppelin

Zeppelin is a set of smart contracts and a system that allows users to stake tokens on their security

  • We started the ZEP token private beta to validate our token mechanics with a reduced set of trusted users, check the interest of the community on EVM packages, and bootstrap an initial network. We got over 100 teams onboard for the beta, including projects like Adex, CanYa, Centre, Centrifuge, CoinFund, Decentraland, Dharma, District0x, Gnosis, LevelK, Livepeer, OpenZeppelin, Paxos Standard, Props, RCN, Set Protocol, Status, and TPL.

  • We've released an alpha version of openzeppelin-test-helpers, a new package that developers can use to test their own contracts using the same helpers that we have been using for OpenZeppelin itself. This has been requested by users for a long time, including in the past couple of weeks, which drove us to give it somewhat higher priority than we initially planned. Given the demand, we think it has the potential to become another go-to library for smart contract developers.