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Don’t forget what self sovereign identity system uPort doesn’t claim to do

February 19, 2017
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Introduction uPort is a neat concept of self sovereign identity but there is one thing to keep in mind. uPort is a neat concept of self sovereign identity but there is one thing to keep in mind. It doesn’t remove the need for trust in 3rd parties but instead users choose the 3rd parties they want to trust. Firstly, lets do a quick recap on the basic concepts. Firstly, lets do a quick recap on the basic concepts Basic concepts Self sovereignty can be thought of as having self authority or for yourself to be in control of something. Self Sovereign Identity is the ability to own and control your identity. Another neat definition is: “Self-sovereign identity is a concept where the individual has ultimate control over their identity and is the final arbiter of who can access and use their data and personal information” – John Lilic ( ConsenSys). This is an interesting concept because have you ever stopped to think if you actually own your identity? Your name, your date of birth (D.O.B), or your work experience that you display on LinkedIn, who owns that? Your hobbies, the places you have visited, your martial status on Facebook, who owns that? […]
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Microsoft Virtual Academy Blockchain As A Service Course

February 13, 2017
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Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) has recently published a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) training course which is worth a look. It talks about Ethereum, solidity, smart contracts and the devops process for blockchain development. It naturally has a Microsoft Azure bias which is helpful in understanding what Microsoft offers The presentation format and MVA portal is very similar to that of the Princeton University course with transcripts, forums, a progress bar and course information and covers 5 modules. Distributed Ledgers 101 – 48 mins (3 videos) Smart Contracts Explained – 40 mins (3 videos) Decentralized Applications and Architecture – 35 mins (3 videos) DevOps for Blockchains on Azure 5 – 46 mins (3 videos) Development of Decentralized Applications – 44 mins (4 videos) The presenters were Cale Teeter and Derek Martin. Links to the course: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses/microsoft-blockchain-as-a-service-17104 https://mva.microsoft.com/ (keyword search: Blockchain) What was good about the course? The course was well organised and structured. The demo at the end of each course was helpful in terms of seeing what could be done in Microsoft Azure. Module 4 on devops was good providing insight into some of the considerations required. Module 5 showing the development ecosystem was excellent. My new word of the […]
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Neat site for monitoring active crowd sales of coins

January 30, 2017
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An interesting site that lists past, current and upcoming ICO (Initial Coin Offering). https://cyber.fund/radar
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A Hal Finney Must Read

January 27, 2017
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If you are a true cryptocurrency believer you will have read these articles already. If you haven’t, it’s not too late: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=155054.msg1643833#msg1643833   Bitcoin’s Earliest Adopter Is Cryonically Freezing His Body to See the Future
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Does notarization on the blockchain actually work?

January 25, 2017
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Introduction At first glance it may seem that blockchain technologies can revamp or disrupt notary services. There certainly has been a lot of hype and articles in this area. To understand whether or not this is true we need to look at what notary services provide, what blockchain technology provides and see if one can replace the other. Notary services Notaries provide a wide range of services. The ones relevant to us are: Witness and certify the validity of signatures on documents. Certify the authenticity of the documents themselves. Documents on the blockchain Storing information on the blockchain provides proof of: Timestamp: A digital fingerprint of the document on the blockchain proves that the document, containing an idea for example, was created at that point in time. Data on the blockchain, in geek speak is immutable. That means it cannot change. It is locked within the blockchain forever. Ownership: With public/private key technology you can prove that you were the person that put the document there. Independently verifiable: Once it is there, any 3rd party can verify that the documents were placed there by the person who holds the private key. The blockchain is also secure, global and decentralised. How does […]
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Colorful analogies of OP_RETURN

January 23, 2017
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Some colorful analogies I came across during my research into OP_RETURN. “OP_RETURN is like giving out clean needles to heroin addicts.  It’s there as harm mitigation, but it isn’t something thats generally good for the system.” https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=471928.0 “@gidgreen OP_RETURN is being added because some people insist on abusing the blockchain. This gives them a less painful way to do it. An analogy would be a rape victim not-resisting to try to minimise the damage.” “Words like “abuse” and “rape” aren’t helpful. If you think the size of the blockchain is a big issue, then please help optimize it. Because even without OP_RETURN, the blockchain will get bigger. Forever.” https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/3737
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Mobile is Eating the World by Benedict Evans

January 22, 2017
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An insightful presentation on the progression of technology highlighting how mobile is becoming nothing special anymore and the rise of machine learning and autonomous systems. Blockchain concepts such as trustlessness and decentralisation were yet to feature but one can imagine it’s not too far away.
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How many unbanked can bitcoin help?

January 20, 2017
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It is interesting to see the numbers bounced around as to how many unbanked people around the world bitcoin can help. It feels like this magic water that can help billions. First there are reports without references. For example: Nov 2014: Bitcoin Could Enable 3.5 Billion Financially Excluded People to Participate in World Trade – https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/cell-phone-connected-unbanked-bitcoin-will-bank/ Mar 2016: Over 4 billion people, living in the bottom of the pyramid, with daily wages as low as $1.56 and a combined purchasing power of over 5 trillion dollars are ignored by financial organizations that cater largely to urban customers with higher income – http://www.scmspune.ac.in/chapter/2016/Chapter%2014.pdf Where do those number came from? Articles that provide sources such as: Aug 2014: A World Bank report in 2012 cited cost, distance to a banking facility and bureaucratic hurdles as reasons that more than 2.5 billion of the world’s poor lack a bank account.- http://www.coindesk.com/can-bitcoin-deliver-promise-worlds-unbanked/ Feb 2015: Roughly 2.5 billion adults in the world don’t have access to banks, which means somewhere in the order of 5 billion people belong to households that are cut off from a financial system that the rest of us take for granted. -https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-02-26/bitcoin-unbanked Jul 2015: More than 2 billion adults lack […]
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What is currency devaluation?

January 19, 2017
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As the Yuan weakens there is a capital flow out of China. Bitcoin is seen as another tool for moving money around. To understand what devaluation is and how it works here are a few useful links: https://www.quora.com/How-do-countries-devalue-currency http://samvak.tripod.com/nm025.html
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An epic list of bitcoin research

January 17, 2017
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Here is a link to an epic list of bitcoin research. It makes a great reading list. Here is an exported list in case the Google link above breaks. Bitcoin Academic Research  
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The Death of Money – Andreas Antonopoulos

January 16, 2017
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A great interview with Andreas once again explaining things very clearly. The interview starts at 6:20 and is a recommended watch. Part 1 is on YouTube. You will have to sign up to London Real to watch the entire clip. It is entirely worth it!  
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Why Understanding P2PKH is Important in Blockchain

January 13, 2017
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Introduction P2PKH is an important acronym to learn. It stands for “Pay To Public Key Hash” and is the most common form of transaction on the bitcoin blockchain. Part 1: What on Earth does “Pay to Public Key Hash” mean? In a bitcoin transaction, the “Public Key Hash” is synonymous to a “bitcoin address”. (A bitcoin address is derived from a the hash of your public key for the technically minded). So let’s reword P2PKH to mean “Pay to this bitcoin address”. That’s not so scary is it? P2PKH is therefore an instruction on the blockchain to transfer ownership from the current owner to the new owner of the bitcoin address. Why this is important to understand? This instruction can be modified for example to say, “pay to this bitcoin address OR that bitcoin address”. This is basically a smart contract in its simplest form. It is also known as multi-sig. A multiple signature condition that states “please provide any 1 of the 2 provided bitcoin addresses for this transaction to evaluate to true and execute”. That is the basics of P2PKH. Part 2 tackles this from a technical angle. Part 2: What does it “technically” really mean? There are […]
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Good overview of some technical blockchain concepts

January 12, 2017
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This is a good resource for some really technical information on bitcoin and blockchain fundamentals. You know you’re getting heavy when you see the word endian! The information was well laid out over several  sections and the concepts built upon each subsequent section. The audience expectations were laid out which was a nice touch. I would have included the section number in the title so I knew how far in I was and how many more sections there were. The term “outpoint” was introduced in section 9 and I first thought it was a typo for output but Davide confirmed it wasn’t. It would have be good if it was explained in a bit more detail. The example code was one of the highlights. A lot of people talk about stuff, but it’s the implementation or the “how” part that is the hardest. The last section on wallets was interesting as well. This would be a good area to possibly expand on.  
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OpenSSL Cookbook

January 11, 2017
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Blockchain technology relies heavily on understanding public and private keys. How they are generated and used. This OpenSSL Cookbook is a good reference. I found the first half more informative and useful than the second half. Here is the link to the online version: https://www.feistyduck.com/library/openssl%2dcookbook/online/ For other formats, check out: https://www.feistyduck.com/library/openssl-cookbook/
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Learning The Lightning Networks

January 10, 2017
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There are lots of resources to read when learning about the Lightning Network for blockchain transactions. Here is a recommended list of resources in a specific order. Lightning Network Summary from https://lightning.network is a great one pager that is very clearly written and provides a great summary intro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zVzw912wPo “The Scaling Bitcoin to Billions of Transactions Per Day” also on the lightning.network home page is important as well. It is clear with good examples. This 3 part article does a good job also. https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/understanding-the-lightning-network-part-building-a-bidirectional-payment-channel-1464710791 https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/understanding-the-lightning-network-part-creating-the-network-1465326903 https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/understanding-the-lightning-network-part-completing-the-puzzle-and-closing-the-channel-1466178980 Finally, some discussions at bitcoin.stackexchange will come from a different angle also. http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/43700/how-does-the-lightning-network-work-in-simple-terms http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/42639/what-are-the-trade-offs-between-transacting-on-lightning-network-and-bitcoin-mai These are your starters. If you want to get more technical, the whitepaper from the https://lightning.network homepage is your next step. It’s 59 pages and the first 10 or so pages are ok, but it then jumps another gear. Unfortunately what put me off was the abstract. The bitcoin protocol can encompass the global financial transaction volume in all electronic payment systems today, without a single custodial third party holding funds or requiring participants to have anything more than a computer using a broadband connection. A decentralized system is proposed whereby transactions are sent over a network of micropayment channels (a.k.a. payment channels or […]
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Banking on Bitcoin

January 9, 2017
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A neat documentary showing some key players in the industries history. It doesn’t fully cover all the aspects but if it did, it would probably be double the current length of 90 mins. It shows some useful insights and if you have read some of the books including Digital Gold and The Age of Cryptocurrency the various authors help to provide their view and part narration also.         What was interesting was I had just finished the “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” course by Princeton University and saw one of the lecturers Ed Felton there also  
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A very high quality Bitcoin Blockchain Online Course

December 31, 2016
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Introduction If you are serious about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, this is the course you want to take. To borrow a line out of “The Chase UK”, it’s a course “right out of the top drawer“. Don’t let the course title “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” mislead you. It’s all about “blockchain” technologies. With the “blockchain” rave rampant, this course highlights blockchain technologies specifically with bitcoins as the example application. Content I missed the first intake for this course about a year ago but managed to enrol this time around. It’s presented as an 11 week course and with lectures via videos. Summary of course. See full details here: Week 1: 6 videos, 55 min: Introduction to Crypto and Cryptocurrencies Week 2: 5 videos, 71 min: How Bitcoin Achieves Decentralization Week 3: 6 videos, 74 min: Mechanics of Bitcoin Week 4: 7 videos, 78 min: How to Store and Use Bitcoins Week 5: 5 videos, : 84 min: Bitcoin Mining Week 6: 6 videos, 109 min: Bitcoin and Anonymity Week 7: 8 videos, 69 min: Community, Politics, and Regulation Week 8: 5 videos, 42 min: Alternative Mining Puzzles Week 9: 5 videos, 83 min: Bitcoin as a Platform Week 10: 4 videos, 62 min: Altcoins and the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem Week 11: 4 videos, 82 min: The […]
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OP_RETURN 40 to 80 bytes

December 30, 2016
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At first it is really confusing understanding the actual size of the OP_RETURN field. This field in a bitcoin transaction allows arbitrary data to be written to the bitcoin blockchain and was “standardised” in v0.9.0 of the bitcoin core client on 19 March 2014. The core developers noted however that “Storing arbitrary data in the blockchain is still a bad idea; it is less costly and far more efficient to store non-currency data elsewhere. 5 Jun 2013 was the initial pull request for the 80 byte OP_RETURN https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/2738 These notes go with it: http://bitcoinfoundation.org/core-development-update-5/ On 25 Feb 2014, it was proposed to be reduced to 40 bytes as can be seen by this pull request https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/3737. The comments make an interesting read! It was then accepted (merged) into the code on 27 Feb 2014 as part of v0.9.0. On 16 Nov 2014 there was a pull request to have the OP_RETURN size increased “back” to 80 bytes. https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/5286 “The maximum size for OP_RETURN outputs used to be 80 bytes, then got changed to 40 bytes to be on the safe side. We have now been running with 40 bytes for about 9 months, and nothing catastrophic happened to the Blockchain, so I am proposing to increase […]
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Ethereum Mist flag provided but not defined

December 26, 2016
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I downloaded Mist-win64-0-8-7.exe and had Mist 0.8.7 running on Windows 64 bit 8.1. Then a few days later I tried opening it and got this message: Couldn’t connect to node? See the logs for more: Node type: geth Network: main Platform: win32 (Architecture x64) … flag provided but not defined: -support-dao-fork I was at a loss. Googling actually didn’t turn up anything useful at all which was even more surprising. The way I eventually resolved this was to download the latest version (0.8.8) which loaded up correctly and re-sync. No funds were lost things are back to normal again!
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Segregated Witness Explained Like I’m 5

December 21, 2016
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Introduction Segregate Witness is a neat concept invented by Pieter Wuille. Pieter has a Ph.D in computer science and is part of the bitcoin core development team since 2011. What is SegWit? The short non technical version Segregated Witness, or SegWit as it is commonly known is where data, or more specifically data related to signatures are removed from bitcoin transactions making them smaller in size. This in turn makes the blocks smaller meaning more transactions can be included in a block. The short technical version “Segregated witness (segwit) is a soft fork that, if activated, will allow transaction-producing software to separate (segregate) transaction signatures (witnesses) from the part of the data in a transaction that is covered by the txid.” The long version Background SegWit was officially released on October 2016 in v0.13.1 of the bitcoin core code. It’s the result of about 1 years work and was presented at the Bitcoin Scaling Conference in Hong Kong in December 6th 2015. The details To fully understand SegWit, it is important to understand the make up of a block and a transaction. Inside a transaction are scriptSig and scriptPubKey fields. This is where signature data is contained. Pieter asks the […]
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