Pure profit and no risk: My first BCH transaction

At some point if you’re interested in crypto you have to jump in and start using it. This morning I jumped—albeit a little nervously. Here’s what happened.

I began by studying CoinGeek’s onboarding page:

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

Since I hadn’t got a crypto wallet, I let CoinGeek help me set one up. After I’d agreed that I was in the UK, the next screen asked me to confirm I was using a Macbook. After a couple more pages like that, I was invited to create a wallet. I was shown a list of eight wallet-providers to choose from. I picked Bitcoin.com—for no particular reason—and downloaded the app on my phone.

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

Great. I have an empty wallet. It’s just like real life!

Before I can start using it, there’s some housekeeping to do—which is to back up the wallet. Why? Well, as the app warns you “if this device is lost, it is impossible to access your funds without a backup”. That sounded like a good reason, so I went ahead.

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

The backup turns out to be a string of ordinary words, which you are asked to write down (don’t screenshot as that wouldn’t be secure). I can’t show them here, obviously, but they’re the kinds of words an average Scrabble player might be quite pleased with. They look like some kind of puzzle or psychological test.

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

The app won’t just take your word that you’ve written down the secret string of words. On the next screen, you have to reproduce them in the right order by tapping each in turn. If you don’t make a mistake, the app confirms that your wallet is now backed up.

So now you’ll all ready to go—except that you don’t have any money. I’m still a bit wary of using real money in the Bitcoin Cash world, but I remembered a screen I saw on the Bitcoin.com website:

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

“Receive some free Bitcoin Cash in 3 easy steps”. I’ve already downloaded the wallet so there are only two steps left. I need to show Bitcoin.com how to send money to my wallet—by signing in with a Google account—and then going back to my phone, copying a QR code and tapping the Receive button at the bottom of the screen—like this:

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

All that worked as predicted on the Bitcoin wallet. So then I opened Bitcoin.com to the same page on my phone—because that made it easy to paste the very long code I’d copied from the wallet.

And then, hey, free money appears in my wallet:

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

I’m excited …until I see the next screen:

Pure profit and no risk: my first BCH transaction

Five cents. Well, it’s a start. And I’m in the crypto world.

Next time I’m going to learn how to get serious money into my wallet, and how to transfer BCH from one wallet to another.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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SVPool成功挖掘出首个比特币现金区块

比特币现金(BCH)公共矿池——SVPool于本周三正式挖掘出其首个比特币现金(BCH)区块,因此本周成为SVPool里程碑的一个重要节点。

10月10日下午2点12分(UTC时间),一个大小为7.15MB、高度为55185的区块被挖出,该区块包含25笔交易。根据Coin DanceBitfire公布的数据,尚无法正式确定SVPool是该笔交易的执行矿工,但是Coinbase上显示的付款地址为SVPool.com 

SVPool mines first Bitcoin BCH block

SVPool是由nChain的首席科学家克雷格·怀特博士(Dr. Craig Wright)以个人名义发起的一项计划,截至10月底,本计划尚处于上市测试阶段,仅限受邀人士参与。从11月份开始,SVPool将对公众完全开放。您可以点击本处注册报名加入矿池。

截至发稿时间,全球各地的数百位矿工已注册加入SVPool——人数远远超出9月份预注册的233位。这些报名加入SVPool的矿工大多来自美国、中国、英国、加拿大、澳大利亚与印度。矿池中还有一些矿工来自其他国家和地区,包括西班牙、南非、巴西、德国、韩国、日本、马来西亚、瑞典、委内瑞拉、俄罗斯、瑞士以及荷兰。

SVPool提供PPLNS(根据过去的N个股份來支付收益)作为初始模式,目前,正在努力开发更多功能以及PPS+(Pay-per-share plus)选项,预计将在十一月份正式推出。

CoinGeek Mining将负责SVPool的运营管理,为大大小小的矿工提供帮助并支付报酬,从而确保比特币现金真正实现去信任、去中心化系统属性。这一公共矿池与CoinGeek团结一心,坚信比特币现金是唯一一种可以实现中本聪愿景的、真正的比特币。

无独有偶,矿工们还受邀于2018年11月28日参加CoinGeek周的矿工日,该日将作为在伦敦举行的CoinGeek周大会的一项重要活动,届时SVPool团队与CoinGeek团队将亲临现场并与参会者共同探讨如何能帮助比特币现金发挥全部潜能。您可以通过Eventbrite预订参会席位,这次为期三天的盛大会议将成为今秋最为重要的一场比特币现金大会。

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Toward a new and better World Wide Web?

It was a fitting profile for the World Wide Web’s proclaimed father. A Vanity Fair feature, of all places, taken up by Katrina Booker, photographed by Olaf Blecker. Tim Berners-Lee (TBL), 63, Sir Tim Berners-Lee as he’s often introduced, is the well-regarded genius who many feel gave birth to the modern convenience of the internet, the stringing together of content and, later, our very lives. These days, he’s out to mend what he considers his rather broken creation.

Toward a new and better World Wide Web?

Berners-Lee comes across as the absent minded professor, sentences not quite finishing as he moves frantically to another, seemingly related, topic and tech-filled abbreviation. In 1989, “Berners-Lee’s innovation was intended to help scientists share data across a then obscure platform called the Internet, a version of which the U.S. government had been using since the 1960s. But owing to his decision to release the source code for free—to make the Web an open and democratic platform for all—his brainchild quickly took on a life of its own,” Vanity Fair proposes, eerily describing another epoch-changing event given away by Satoshi Nakamoto.

Unlike Satoshi, Berners-Lee has been lauded ever since. Turing Award. Knighted. He, from the beginning “understood how the epic power of the Web would radically transform governments, businesses, societies. He also envisioned that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a destroyer of worlds, as Robert Oppenheimer once infamously observed of his own creation.” For TBL, a final revelation in this regard happened with the 2016 American presidential election and things Russian, and after investigations of Facebook and its data breach via Cambridge Analytica.

Devastated, mind and body

“For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” TBL warns during the interview. Of the realization concerning what his invention wrought, he verbally clutches at pearls, couch fainting, “I was devastated. Actually, physically—my mind and body were in a different state.” Centralization of the web, he explained, “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human. We demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places.”

The article continues to offer TBL dark night of the soul quotes, such as how he “demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places,” and “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.”

Toward a new and better World Wide Web?

His pain has given way to a combative project, Solid. It’s an effort to reimagine the web, mitigating what he feels is pernicious corporate influence. He’s fond of repeating a statistical chestnut to buttress urgency: before the current year’s end, more than 3 billion people, something like half of humanity, will be online. The cascade impact of that many people seemingly integrating their lives into 1s and 0s makes the internet arguably the most important conversation anyone could have right now.

Solid

Toward a new and better World Wide Web?Maybe it’s important to store our tinfoil hats for a moment, or at least take them off for the time being. The web wasn’t taken hostage by maniacal actors. It was subsumed by the logic of what’s known as the Free Economy. Folks, at least so far, prefer free platforms, free access to kitty videos, fisting porn, news, etc. Gleefully, hundreds of millions, turning to billions, of people User Agreement-ed into behemoths the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google. Those became business models, algorithms, for how to succeed online. Important, too, is explaining these entities knew enough to capture elements of the regulatory state, the elected who carry a monopoly on violence: guns, courts, cages. Consumer confidence plus state sanction and support often lead to fuckery.

Vanity Fair interesting describes Berners-Lee as “methodically attempting to hack his creation.”  TBL examined in particular Facebook, “Looking at the ways algorithms are feeding people news and looking at accountability for the algorithms—all of that is really important for the open Web,” he said. The chestnut above returns, “Crossing 50 percent is going to be a moment to pause and think,” a point of contention he believes won’t empower the newly onboarded but will, instead, push them further behind. Indeed, it is a stark, Grand Canyon gap between Elon Musk’s web usage and relative freedom versus that of, say, “people in Ethiopia who have reasonable connectivity but they are totally being spied on,” Berners-Lee scolded.

Toward a new and better World Wide Web?

“There are people working in the lab,” Berners-Lee elaborates on Solid, “trying to imagine how the Web could be different. How society on the Web could look different. What could happen if we give people privacy and we give people control of their data. We are building a whole eco-system.” Solid, then, is his attempt to once again decentralize the web, giving back to individuals what they handed over to corporations: data control. And he isn’t the only one concerned about the problem of centralization and the web. Ryan X. Charles, of Yours.org and Moneybutton fame, recently gave an interview where he explained how in the future users might be paid for such access to their data. Futurist George Gilder has written an entire book about the subject, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy. TBL is clearly on to something.

Early days

It’s early days for Solid, but because TBL swings such great influence it is worth exploring if only as an intellectual exercise (in case nothing comes of it). “Solid is an exciting new project led by Prof. Tim Berners-Lee,” their website immediately announces, “inventor of the World Wide Web, taking place at MIT. The project aims to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy.”

The name itself is a neologism from “social linked data,”  “is a proposed set of conventions and tools for building decentralized social applications based on Linked Data principles. Solid is modular and extensible and it relies as much as possible on existing W3C standards and protocols,” they explain. They’re poised to offer three basic promises: “True data ownership: Users should have the freedom to choose where their data resides and who is allowed to access it. By decoupling content from the application itself, users are now able to do so. Modular design: Because applications are decoupled from the data they produce, users will be able to avoid vendor lock-in, seamlessly switching between apps and personal data storage servers, without losing any data or social connections. Reusing existing data: Developers will be able to easily innovate by creating new apps or improving current apps, all while reusing existing data that was created by other apps,” Solid claims.

Toward a new and better World Wide Web?

With a goal of worldwide adoption, the project’s current status involves its startup, Inrupt, Inc. It is “building a commercial ecosystem to fuel Solid’s success and protect the integrity of the next phase of the web. Its mission is to restore rightful ownership of data back to every web user and unleash a new wave of innovation – for developers, for business, for everyone.” It’s also launching the Solid Community Site for “regular community updates, a wealth of developer resources and documentation, and general information about how Solid works.”

Reads like many initial coin offering (ICO) projects, to be honest. And, for all the talk and worry about governments and corporations, Solid has two main sponsors: CSAIL-Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) research collaboration and Mastercard. Go figure.

C. Edward Kelso is a financial technology journalist based in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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You don’t need to understand how cryptos work

It’s ten years since publication of the Satoshi white paper proposing Bitcoin, but the crypto revolution is still in its infancy – or childhood, at least. Most people have heard of crypto but don’t really understand it. If you know a bit and someone asks you to explain, despite your best efforts your listener will probably end up more confused than ever – or just wishing they’d never asked. And after their questions, you may realise you don’t really understand much either. (OK, I admit it – I’m talking about myself.)

Are the complications of crypto a problem? Maybe not. By the time millions of people are using cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, the technical details will be hidden and the average user won’t need to take an interest, any more than they now do in how the internet works. (Transmission control protocol, anyone?)

In a former life, as a BBC documentary producer, I made a profile of Bill Gates. We interviewed his science teacher at the school where Gates first learnt about computers, along with Paul Allen, his school friend and future partner at Microsoft. Back in Bill’s day, the mothers’ club at the upmarket school had raised money to give the school a teletype machine linked to a mainframe computer at the local university. Gates and Allen made the most of it and became teenage computer experts. Gates’ dad said it was “almost an addiction” for the young Bill. But after they left school, the two knew exactly what they needed to do to set up a software company – and the rest is history.

We filmed the retired science teacher showing some of today’s pupils the original teletype machine that Gates and Allen had used. The teenagers were impressed: “It’s amazing. I wouldn’t even know how to start to make a program,” they admitted. As so-called ‘digital natives’, most young people are profoundly ignorant of how their devices actually work, however expert they are at using them. Bill’s teacher was shocked at their ignorance of the workings of computers.

It’s been that way throughout the tech business. Most of the first personal computer users were geeky enthusiasts – such as the members of the Homebrew Club, where Steve Wozniak showed off his early computers before founding Apple with Steve Jobs. Today’s Apple customers carry devices which are impossible for the user to open, let alone repair.

And that kind of evolution isn’t confined to modern tech either: Henry Ford began by designing and building cars in his own workshop, while today’s car industry bosses or drivers don’t need to know how engines work.

So what about crypto? Well by this measure, when most people who use the currencies or run the businesses behind them haven’t even heard of blockchain, then we’ll be making progress. Once all the technical stuff is out of sight and out of mind, then the average user will be happy. We’ll still need clever people to develop new uses and keep the systems working. But they’ll be able to get on with their jobs out of the public eye.

And people like me with only a smattering of knowledge won’t be trying to answer awkward questions like “so how does Bitcoin actually work?” From now on, I’m just going to say: “you don’t really need to know.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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The missing piece in decentralizing agriculture—and many other industries

It seems the missing piece in fully blockchainizing and decentralizing food supply is the same hindrance for decentralizing most industries: quality control.

In many countries, fastfood, although unhealthy, is the cheapest option. For those who are on the go and on a budget, they seem to be the go-to solution. But in the Philippines, there’s a micro-economy that offers healthier food at cheaper prices than fastfood—home-cooked meals from small eateries. Some of them even prepare meals in big batches and pack them in individual portions to be peddled to office buildings where employees happily choose them to save money. These meals would cost somewhere around $1.

Micro businesses like these, although seemingly insignificant, actually play a big role in the survival of a large portion of the population and in alleviating poverty overall. If the world follows a more “decentralized” food supply source, like those of homecooked meal peddlers in the Philippines, individuals can cut down on daily expenses, while at the same time helping local small entrepreneurs thrive.

Vertical and urban farming have been gaining mainstream attention, too. Many are looking for cleaner, organic food supply sources but do not have direct access to farmers markets.

I reached out to Clifton Hartsuff, the founder of a startup project called Plant3r, to help assess the feasibility and challenges to decentralizing food supply. Plant3r is an application that would help farmers, particularly those starting out, to “quickly plant, monitor, and diagnose their garden with perfect accuracy.” The project aims to broaden farming by assisting would-be farmers and maximize food production.

“Once this is possible, our addressable market suddenly opens up from traditional agricultural companies to include backyard enthusiasts and small to medium sized farming businesses.

Eventually, we can eliminate wasted or underutilized food production resources globally and make them productive in a way that was never thought possible before. And that’s a vision we believe is worth fighting for,” Plant3r explains.

It’s promising: I need a kilo of carrots, a supplier living a few houses away has it. A peer-to-peer food supply trade— it’s cheaper, faster, simpler. At least, that’s what one would initially think.

Promising, but with a snag

The potential implications are promising. If we move back away from sourcing supplies from centralized providers, we can cut down on health, monetary, and environmental costs of long distance shipments. Maybe produce will also require less plastic packaging since the food doesn’t have to survive longer distances of travel. Most importantly, a blockchain solution can improve business for farmers themselves, according to Hartsuff.

“Farmers can benefit from blockchain technology in two ways: accountability and hyper-local nutritional branding. A major problem for subsistence farmers who are attempting to compete in the global market is a lack of scale, consistency, and quality products,” he says.

In developed countries, at retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance. Although this “ugly” food nonsense may have more to do with consumer attitude. But using a blockchain platform, unwanted food can be redirected to charity organization or feeding programs.

But there’s one big problem, as Hartsuff points out, “consistency and quality.” When it comes to food, safety is a primary concern. Food poisoning and disease aren’t fun after all. What if the supplier isn’t very sanitary? What if they secretly use pesticides, or dead children as fertilizer? That’s a stretch, of course, but you get the point. If you get food poisoning or catch some sort of disease, you would be spending far more than you saved buying from individual suppliers. And if you unwittingly distribute tainted food to mass populations through feeding programs, it would be disastrous.

“There is no way to track good or bad products which enter the global supply chain at the moment. Outbreaks of salmonella are regularly investigated without finding a source for the problem in the USA, for example,” he says.

The missing piece to blockchainizing the food supply

Say what you will about centralized sources, but they have brought entire industries thus far. They have departments dedicated to quality control and safety checks. If something goes wrong, they can be held legally liable so long as you can prove error or negligence from their part.

You can, of course, sue individual suppliers just like you would a corporation. And individual suppliers can also be verified, and they can build reputations on a blockchain platform as transparency and identity is one of blockchain’s biggest selling points (hallelujah!). But the existence of reactive measures aren’t exactly comforting when lives are at stake—being able to sue someone for the death of a family member isn’t much of a consolation prize.

Hartsuff goes on about how these issues can possibly be mitigated, and arrives at a very good idea for a product, but one that would require a lot of research and testing (as well as funding, obviously).

“A global blockchain with nutrient reading devices (not developed as of this time but might be the next hot consumer app with a simple add-on to the smart phone) can provide accountability for all products and also give the buyer a sense of how much good or bad stuff might be in a given product. It also allows consumers to identify nutrient dense local products from new regions of the world which are more beneficial to eat than low nutrient density industrial farmed products presently on the market in developed countries. But this will definitely require a new type of regulatory or maybe even consumer driven monitoring regime.”

Can we create an “uber” for food supplies—where food supplies can be ordered on-demand, on a daily basis? How will urban farming play out with blockchain technology as the infrastructure under it, I asked Hartsuff.

“In a sense, we already have an ‘uber’-like food supply, globally speaking. The key difference between now and after using a blockchain is the problems I’ve outlined above. However, the current system lacks transparency at the consumer level about the true contents of the agricultural products being bought and sold around the world,” he explains.

“Chemicals and adulterants are a persistent problem for which there is no regulatory regime capable of handling the problem at the scale required. Even basic information such as how nutrient dense the food you might see for sale on the shelves at your local produce stand is unavailable to consumers. The availability of devices to make this information available to everyone is a key component of a working ‘agri-chain.’”

Transparency and quality control: can we get there?

Issues with quality control was the same problem expressed by Paolo Velcich in a previous interview I conducted about 3D printing on demand and decentralizing supply chains. Velcich is the CEO of Steezycam, and has worked largely on advanced autonomous drones. It’s a different industry altogether, yet it’s becoming apparent that the missing piece in fully blockchainizing industries and decentralizing supply has a commonality—quality control.

In fact, one thing that we still don’t see as much in the blockchain space—despite thousands of cryptocurrency projects currently in existence (and more popping up seemingly by the minute), are supporting services focused on monitoring and quality checks.

One of my friends in the local blockchain space, James Florentino—the CEO of Philippine-based blockchain development firm MergeCommit, earlier posted on Facebook: “Contemplating of adding smart contract auditing as part of the company’s services,” he wrote. “Too many smart contact developers nowadays, but not many QA smart contract auditors.” I applauded his plan.

Hartsuff points out that the food safety and transparency issue is one that has plagues the food industry now. It’s not just a decentralization problem—even the centralized food sources we “trust” in the market today are not transparent.

“The present global food system actually contains way more food safety risks than people are presently aware. Non-soluble heavy metals persist in much of the world’s fish stocks and chemicals do as well in plant life. Consumers have no idea how clean/not clean these products are at the point of purchase. The best way to mitigate these risks is a new generation of monitoring devices which can provide a detailed analysis of nutrient density and product quality,” he explains.

“The development of these new food analysis devices and production at a global scale is really the critical missing element behind a global agricultural blockchain. Food production went global and allowed for globalization to take off when the British empire moved grains from Punjab back to England in order to convince their farmers to move into factories in the cities. There has never been a global regulatory regime created to keep up with it. We’re really stuck in the 16th century with self-regulation and every nation-state fending for themselves. Even developed countries lack the resources to assure proper food safety so I don’t see how it’s possible for the developing world to do so without a new generation of very cheap monitoring devices that allows global citizens to police the food supply.”

A quick Google search led me to a few new devices promising to do exactly this, such as nanosensors. But none of them (at least, none in the few seconds I looked) are blockchain-integrated. Startup idea alert.

 

Cecille de Jesus
@the_Scientress
PRODIGY

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Bitcoin ABC doesn’t believe in Bitcoin BCH

The only going debate regarding how to proceed with the Bitcoin BCH blockchain has led some to claim that the upcoming hard fork in November could lead to a new cryptocurrency being created. Those who understand the importance of blockchain integrity, and the place Bitcoin BCH plays in the advancement of digital currencies, are working together to ensure that this doesn’t happen. But, there is a minority of individuals who are apparently pushing for it to happen.

One of these is Bitcoin ABC. The development team has repeatedly spoken out against several advances that are being added to Bitcoin BCH, including the Nakamoto Consensus. Per the application’s white paper, “They (the miners) vote with their CPU power, expressing their acceptance of valid blocks by working on extending them and rejecting invalid blocks by refusing to work on them. Any needed rules and incentives can be enforced with this consensus mechanism.”

However, the Bitcoin ABC doesn’t like this idea. One of the team’s developers, Johnathan Toomim, was asked why Bitcoin ABC is against the model, to which he responded, “Because it doesn’t work! Nakamoto Consensus would work for a soft fork but not a hard fork. You [can’t] use a hash war to resolve this issue! If you have different hard forking rule sets you are going to have a persistent chain split no matter what the hash rate distribution is. Whether or not we are willing to use Nakamoto consensus to resolve issues is not the issue right here. What the issue is, is that it is technically impossible.”

To put it bluntly, this – coupled with other recent developments of which Bitcoin ABC has been apart – show that the developers don’t believe in Bitcoin BCH. They don’t believe, despite overwhelming evidence, that the blockchain can continue as has been designed and seem to be determined to create their own cryptocurrency.

If that’s what they want to do – create their own cryptocurrency – then that’s what they need to do. Just because they don’t understand why models such as the Nakamoto consensus and canonical transaction ordering (CTOR) work doesn’t mean that they need to try to kill them. Given that all of the information on how to create a cryptocurrency is out in the public and is open source, perhaps it’s time that they concentrate on creating their own digital currency and let Bitcoin BCH continue to be the blockchain it is now – one that works.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Why Bitmain’s hash war reminds me of Darius III at The Battle of Gaugamela

1,000,000 miners lined up on the plains in formation.

Are they real? Rumours are surfacing that Bitmain has some 1,000,000 “Ghost miners” ready to spring to action to mine BCH (rather than BTC, where the vast amount of Bitmain-controlled mining pool hash now mines) to pervert Bitcoin technology to its Wormhole tech Nov 15th at the next scheduled Bitcoin BCH network upgrade. It’s possible that at least some of this information may be correct, as Bitmain does have a history of not following the rules and especially of throwing its customers under the bus.

We here at CoinGeek have made something of an industry of reporting on Bitmain’s problems and double dealings and how this is likely going to kill their IPO chances. We have also explained in detail a number of times why Bitmain’s WormHole plans are reckless and self-serving at best. And we have also covered their hardware design teams leaving the company and its inability to stay competitive with their hardware offerings.

However, this new rumour brings up another issue, one that goes to the heart of whether or not anyone can trust them. I know I don’t. I bought over a US$100 million from them leading up to Q1 of this year and I can confirm they would never have gotten one Bitcoin BCH from me if I would have known they were going to use my money to try to kill the only technology that actually works as money to the world today.

Since we already know that the entire Mining industry, other than those paid or supported by Bitmain, support Satoshi Vision and will be joining CoinGeek’s side pre upgrade, there are only two possibilities here. Either: (1) this hash is a bluff and will soon be exposed as such; or (2) it’s real and is a kind of fraud or cheating by Bitmain unfairly using its conflicted interests as a hardware sales operation (and a controller of public mining pools which now largely mine BTC not BCH) to stomp on the interests of its own clients.

My purpose in writing this article is to outline my argument that: it is unconscionable that Bitmain should be rewarded for violating its obligations to its BTC mining pool customers by suddenly turning on or moving “ghost miners” to BCH (when its mining pool customers expected to be mining BTC) and operating in violation of the rules of Nakamoto Consensus that the longest chain is a chain of truly competing miners (who I repeat are in fact Bitmain-controlled mining pool customers who invested a lot of money that went to Bitmain to compete fairly).

I have already publicly stated that “I will support the longest Chain” with the most Proof of Work to be recognized as BCH. What I meant by this is the longest chain of legitimate miners competing with each other as outlined in the original Satoshi white paper and as is supported by all who support Satoshi Vision. I still maintain this pledge. I will not, however, follow Bitmain down a rabbit hole of their own making based on cheating by Bitmain.

Furthermore, the longest chain needs to be determined by legitimate, sustained hash power from miners. It would be ridiculously unfair for Bitmain to move or activate 1,000,000 “ghost miners” onto the BCH network only for a temporary basis starting November 15 or short bursts of time, in order to potentially declare an artificial victory in a BCH hash war—but then quickly deactivate those miners or intermittently move them back to the BTC network, while neglecting their own clients. Proof of Work is about true investment to provide computing power and security for the Bitcoin network; it’s a long term commitment, not a one-night stand.  Therefore, the longest chain with the most Proof of Work should be determined by what is legitimate, sustained hash power by miners who are truly committing long-term investment for BCH.

If Bitmain cheats and forces a fork to its own new coin—running its backed Bitcoin ABC changes to the original Bitcoin protocol and also supporting Wormhole—this will result in a chain fork. The entire industry minus Bitmain and friends will stay with Satoshi Vision (as represented by the new Bitcoin SV and other compatible implementations) and this will be the longest legitimate chain as outlined in the original white paper. The Satoshi Vision chain will be the sole remaining version of true Bitcoin in the world and will deserve to remain being called Bitcoin BCH at exchanges globally.

Bitmain can move forward with its Wormhole coin and onto its Wormhole technology that will eventually kill the underlying chain and move to its centralized (with Bitmain) Proof of Stake Wormhole platform. If exchanges want to have this token on their exchanges they can call it what it is, WHL. Exchanges need to make a stand and protect Bitcoin by recognizing Bitcoin BCH as the longest chain with the most legitimate, sustained Proof of Work.

If they do, Bitcoin will survive as Satoshi Vision will have won the day due to legitimate hash investment in spite of all attempts by Darius to cheat on the battlefield.

CoinGeek will actively fight any efforts by Bitmain to fork away from a Satoshi Vision version of Bitcoin.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Why Bitmain reminds me of Darius III at The Battle of Gaugamela

In 331 BC, Alexander the Great led his forces to victory over overwhelming forces at the Battle of Gaugamela, which is historically identified as being close to the modern Iraqi city of Dohuk. His foe was Darius III, who had amassed a larger army and, supposedly, significant experience after being beaten at the Battle of Issus two years earlier. The two met to decide who would prevail as Alexander the Great was on his mission to conquer the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Despite having superior numbers, Darius III lost in a big way and repeatedly attempted to negotiate with Alexander to prevent the emperor from continuing his hostilities. Darius was never able to truly develop himself as a leader, having only served as king for six years, becoming the last ruler of the Achaemenid Empire.

Darius had his roots among the “common people.” He was a skillful combatant who, due to royal connections, was able to secure a job as a royal courier and took the throne in 336BC. As a ruler, he was considered to be “out of control” due to his utter lack of experience, which is what ultimately led to his downfall.

There are a lot of similarities between Darius III and cryptocurrency mining company Bitmain. Bitmain rose to prominence without having any superior skills, settling for a completely chance encounter at the opportune moment to seize control of the crypto mining hardware market.

It has been reported that the company’s most popular miner could have been stolen and several new products that the company has tried to introduce have been complete failures. In fact, only about half of the products take to market have received any type of successful reception— the others have failed miserably.

Like Darius, Bitmain now allegedly has a large amount of troops behind it. It is hoping that the forces, regardless of experience level, will help catapult the company to the ultimate victory and give it complete control over the mining industry.

However, it’s more likely that Bitmain will follow the example set by Darius at the Battle of Gaugamela. Darius turned tail and ran, leaving his commanders and soldiers to fall while he temporarily went into hiding.

This is where we are today, with questionable movements and decisions underscoring Bitmain’s approaching initial public offering (IPO). When put to the test, the company can’t stand up to the pressure and will more than likely run away after putting on a valiant show of force.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Dr. Craig Wright on why smart contracts aren’t so smart

Dr. Craig Wright, an expert in blockchain technology and dedicated Bitcoin BCH supporter, took to Medium yesterday to pen a thoughtful piece on smart contracts. The insightful article provides valuable information on the topic and some of the underlying flaws in the system, and is a further example of how breaking away from the core essence of Bitcoin BCH would undermine the progress the world’s leading retail digital currency has already made.

Wright was responding to another post that asserted, “Electronic contracts do not have to be re-read when they are returned because there’s generally no mechanism (unless it’s built into the electronic process) to alter the contract terms, scratch out a line, insert text, etc. What you send is what is being signed.”

However, this assertion is flawed and shows the danger of not having enough information to reach a full and qualified conclusion. Wright points out that collisions on a blockchain have proven that a hash signature has certain inherent vulnerabilities. He states, “[T]he collision allows two versions of the document to be created with the same hash and thus same electronic signature. For now, SHA256 is considered secure, but, not all hash functions are.”

He uses an example of someone generating two documents – one with an order to sell at $500,000, which Wright calls Order 1, and the other with an order to sell at $1 million, or Order 2. The individual wants Order 2 to be the document that signed, which would result in the sale contract being increased by $500,000. That person can use Confoo or Stripwire to create an MD5 hash – or collision – that is exactly the same for both documents.

Confoo has already been shown to be able to create two web pages that look completely different, but which have the same MD5 hash. This is a concern, as it would allow someone to easily create a fake MD5 hash signature that mimics a different contract.

Wright explains, “This attack works due to the nature of hashing algorithms (in this case, a flaw in the now depreciated algorithm MD5). If you have 2 documents, x and y that have the same hash (i.e. a collision) then by appending an additional block of information — q to the documents will also result in a collision. This is (x+q) will have the same hash as (y+q).”

He concludes, “This is why SV Pool and CoinGeek (and Bitcoin SV) plan to start processing non-standard scripts. To us, your long term security matters. Non-standard scripts are processed in P2SH. The myth was that this is bad for nodes, but, this is again the myth of the Raspberry Pi. Miners are competitive. The fight to be paid. [They] are paid more for larger scripts, so this is not an attack, it is the market at work.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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ShapeShift is still punk rock

It’s more than fair to have deep misgivings about alternative coins, tokens and the like. Security reasons. Economic reasons. Technical reasons. I have considered them all, and even found some persuasive. It’s an important conversation.

I fall on the thousand flowers blooming end, trusting markets to regulate themselves and for folks to take whatever cryptocurrency is, and fashion it in the way they’d like. If my personal favorite, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), is ultimately chosen, awesome. If not, and markets have looked elsewhere, so be it.

Lemonade

ShapeShift is still punk rockWhatever the case, September was a shitty public relations month for ShapeShift, a veteran digital asset exchange within the ecosystem for half a decade. It began with the company having to disclose it will no longer allow relatively anonymous transactions on its platform. “Nothing changed,” its CEO Erik Voorhees posted in answer on an Andreas Antonopoulos Twitter thread. “I am still those things. Yet, I must also calculate risks carefully. I’ve always despised taxation, yet I pay it. Same situation here. Financial privacy is absolutely a right and I will continue struggling for it in ways that are effective.”

Mr. Antonopoulos struck out at the company, tweeting “Very disappointed that @ShapeShift_io is implementing KYC. Just goes to show that any centralized entity will be pushed in that direction, which is why LN, atomic swaps and Decentralized Exchanges are the only way to resist surveillance economics. In the end,” he followed up, “strength of principles is less effective defense than decentralized architecture: ‘can’t do evil’ is the only effective approach.”

How ShapeShift Is Keeping Your Data SafeShapeShift is still punk rock came the announcement drawing all the ire. The exchange’s CSO, Michael Perklin, outlined its all-of-the-sudden Membership Program. “However,” Mr. Perklin was careful to write up front, “becoming a member requires verification of basic customer information. This changes the way ShapeShift handles data– now that we have to collect and store your information, we need to do everything possible to keep it safe.”

Mr. Voorhees described the move as preemptive, a way to scale, taking government mandated lemons and making freer market lemonade. ShapeShift has grown and was growing, and it was beginning to attract more and more attention, not all of it wanted. And much of that notice was coming from regulators who, especially in the United States, have been closing in all around companies like it who dealt in anonymity. It for sure had taken a while. Regulators aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, and they spent the better part of the last 10 years trying to digest the neologism cryptocurrency—forget trying to explain ShapeShift’s business model.

Punk rock

Through a series of encrypted methods, “a 4096-bit RSA key using the widely-used open-source GPG software,” Mr. Perklin detailed, “stored in our database and in most cases is never used again,” the company essentially, and seemingly voluntarily, changed a fundamental reason for its existence. It certainly isn’t a first in the ecosystem, and it will not be the last.

At some point, however, it was clear to the company’s leadership a reckoning was about to happen. There are, essentially, four choices at such a realization: 1, complete capitulation and hope for the best; 2, rogue rejectionism and hope for the best; 3, close the business altogether; 4, move into something like the inevitable regulation, and perhaps permanently avoid numbers 1 through 3.

It’s 4 ShapeShift has opted, and that’s due to the leadership’s tenacity, chess-playing acumen, and punk rock ethos. It’s somewhat like when The Clash, the late 70s and early 80s British pop band, strayed from the garage and incorporated horns. They did lose some edge, some grit, but they managed to survive a few years longer in order to tour and continue doing what they’d always done, make music.

ShapeShift is still punk rockStill, the move under question herein hasn’t stopped longtime fans from openly wondering at the company’s future. Businesses building on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) chain, the most punk rock of all blockchains, such as Money Button, were asked about their plans going forward. CEO Ryan X. Charles started Money Button as a micro tipping payment platform, one without recourse to KYC and AML, and ShapeShift was a big help when dealing with multiple cryptos. “Have you spoken with Erik about shapeshift integration once KYC is required?” a curious tweeter asked of Mr. Charles. “No,” he answered, “we may either integrate with the KYC system somehow or switch to another service.”

He then elaborated, and promptly hit the nail on the philosophical head. “TBH, long-term, KYC for exchanges is inevitable,” Mr. Charles continued. “I wouldn’t bet on being able to do anonymous exchange legally for much longer.” Again, there are four choices, basically, from that realization. See above.

Legacy financial news outlet attacks

ShapeShift is still punk rockThat shittiness continued in a big way toward the end of September, when the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) completed a nearly half of a year investigation into the doings of crypto exchanges such as ShapeShift. Immediately, the article turns sour, playing on scares long drummed up by mainstream media hysterics. “Since bitcoin was introduced nearly 10 years ago,” the WSJ began, “law-enforcement authorities have worried the technology could ease money laundering. Now a new breed of cryptocurrency intermediary is giving fresh urgency to those fears, operating in plain view with scant policing and often allowing users to engage in anonymous transactions.”

Circling back to our above discussion, get this: “Most operate beyond the reach of U.S. authorities,” the WSJ scolds about exchanges within the space, “with unidentified owners and addresses in places such as Eastern Europe and China. Not ShapeShift, the largest recipient of the funds with a U.S. presence. The company is officially registered in loosely regulated Switzerland, but it is run out of a 1980s-era office building in a Denver neighborhood packed with tech companies and marijuana entrepreneurs. ShapeShift’s founder and chief executive, Erik Voorhees, along with its chief operating officer and its marketing chief, all live in the Denver area.” Readers might be ready to believe journalists are citing these facts as lauds. Not so fast.

“A parade of suspected criminals has taken advantage of ShapeShift’s services since the exchange began in 2014, according to law-enforcement officials, independent researchers and the Journal’s investigation,” reporters shrill, pointing fingers at the likes of dastardly North Koreans. “Many cryptocurrency exchanges say they follow federal rules intended to combat money laundering, even though the question of whether they are subject to them hasn’t been tested. They keep records of their customers’ identity and monitor transactions to root out and report suspicious activity,” the WSJ asserts. “Mr. Voorhees has long scoffed at such constraints. ‘I don’t think people should have their identity recorded to catch an occasional criminal,’ he said in a May interview.” Savvy readers can quickly see where this is heading.

“The Journal found that ShapeShift processed nearly $9 million of the suspect funds, more than any other exchange with U.S. offices,” the WSJ claimed. And the accusations fly from there. Tales of its own customers robbing one another, “sextortion,” and all sorts of nonsense seem to be plaguing the exchange. The article is so filled with woe, no one could blame the intended reader, regulators and potential institutional investors, from concluding the entire business is a giant money hole of loss and horror. The WSJ piece devolves into blaming Mr. Voorhees’ libertarian worldview, implicitly, and cherry-picking quotes from talks and panels to paint him as just another crank.

I recommend reading the WSJ piece for no other reason than gaining a crash course in how any crypto business even mildly principled will be treated going forward. Read it. Learn. To a casual crypto enthusiast, it’s pretty damning stuff. Really bad, in fact. But then do yourself a favor and click on over to Shining Light on WSJ’s Attack on ShapeShift and Crypto. It’s Mr. Voorhees’ punk attitude in full force, defending his and his company’s integrity. And you don’t have to like ShapeShift nor Erik Voorhees to understand what all this means in the broader scheme of things. But for sure don’t live in Mr. Antonopoulos’ judgmental, condescending salon. The real world exists, and punk rockers are keen to engage if only to ultimately best it.

Edward Kelso is a financial technology journalist based in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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