Proof of Work #55

Added a short description of each project, and also (in italics) a broad overview of what the project is working on over the next few months for those projects I was able to reach. I hope this contextualizes the updates—if you’ve been following along since issue 1 it’s easy to see a pattern but for occasional readers this will make it clearer who is hitting goals and who isn’t.

Being able to write for such a large audience of extremely smart people is a privilege, and I try to respect everyone’s time. Proof of Work is best when it’s concise as hell, so I’m going to start moving updates from teams who don’t have anything super exciting to report in a given week from the newsletter to the forum, to keep the newsletter nice and readable. If this happens to one of your updates, please don’t feel discouraged—it’s not every week that something exciting happens.

Also, welcome to NEAR protocol (yet another smart contract platform, but by a very credible team. I was resistant to adding them to be honest but I’ve been impressed by their fast progress towards something which resembles the “eth 2.0” vision) and to Theta, a project working towards an incentivized network for video distribution, something which I’ve been curious about given the potential network topology benefits of a highly distributed network of edge nodes for video.

Bitcoin & Friends

James from Summa

Summa builds tools to exchange crypto in a convenient and truly trustless fashion. 

Summa's pushing to release a multi-chain wallet with fast p2p trading built in.

  • We pushed multiple bugfixes for secpy256k1. Look for a new library using it this week 

  • The Summa team will be hacking on BTC/ETH2.0 interoperability at EthDenver this weekend. Come say hi 

  • We are prepping to ship the next major version of the Summa app. Watch this space 

Jimmy, Steve, and Eric on Bitcoin [ed: subscribe to Optech for a deeper BTC dive]

Bitcoin is Bitcoin

Bitcoin continues to focus on stomping out extreme-edge-case networking issues, hardening the codebase, and preparing for a potential soft-fork that would add Schnorr Signatures and Taproot to BTC.

  • Blockstream has released a tool that allows “proof of funds” without creating an onchain transaction. The tool works by creating an almost-valid transaction that contains all of the same information a valid transaction would contain, using the increasingly popular BIP174 Partially Signed Bitcoin Transaction (PSBT) format.

  • A pull request to Bitcoin Core changes the way transactions are requested to make it harder for an attacker to cause delays in transaction propagation by opening many connections to your node and exploiting the 2 minute delay before your node will start requesting a given tx from other nodes. The change doesn’t fully mitigate this attack but it makes it more expensive and difficult, and future work based on something like libminisketch might be able to completely solve this issue for any node with at least 1 honest peer.

JZ from Decred

Decred is a hybrid proof-of-stake/proof of work blockchain intended to be a complimentary store of value with Bitcoin. It features a community directed treasury to ensure continuous development and flexibility.  

The Decred team is currently focused on getting a lightning network activated, and shipping our unique privacy implementation to enable true fungibility.

Zack from Stellar

Stellar is a non-PoW non-PoS BFT protocol for moving value between banks and other financial infrastructure providers, with a native token XLM.

The stellar team is currently working on Stellar is working on substantial database performance improvements to the Bucket List with the help of Graydon Hoare. There's also a focus on improving the semantics of fee paying. Additionally new features like deterministic accounts and relative time outs still being fleshed out which will vastly improve Starlight, stellars equivalent to the lightning network. Lastly, there are imroovements to co-signed assets in the works.

Izaak from Coda

Coda is the first cryptocurrency with a constant sized blockchain, which it achieves using recursive zk-snarks, compressing the entire blockchain into the size of a few tweets.

Coda continues to work towards mainnet launch!

  • O(1) Labs is hosting the OCaml/Reason meetup this Tuesday, February 10. Yuki Li, Sean Grove, and Avery Morin will be speaking. And there will be food and fun conversation!

  • Speaking of, we welcome Avery Morin who joined O(1) Labs as a hybrid frontend/protocol engineer. Avery submitted an RFC for an internal API for accessing blockchain internals.

  • Matthew has been majorly overhauling the surface syntax of snarky to be more user friendly. Right now, it basically looks like ReasonML. If you want to shape the future of zk-SNARK programming, join us on GitHub or Discord and let us know what you’d like to see!

  • Echo has implemented the trust score system for detecting node misbehavior.

  • We’re hiring for the following roles: product managerengineering manager, front-end engineer, protocol reliability engineer, developer advocate (new postings forthcoming, check our jobs page for updates).

Privacy coins

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

Zcash is a bitcoin-derived blockchain that uses ZK-snarks to provide the strongest privacy guarantees possible for shielded transactions. 

The Zcash team is working towards robust wallet support and a new type of ZK proofs that can work without a trusted setup.

Daniel from Grin

Grin is a new coin that was launched in a fair manner by a group of anonymous founders. It derives privacy from a combination of non-reusable addressing (CT) and the mimblewimble protocol.

Grin is working to support better wallet infrastructure, stamp out minor bugs, and increase the security of interactive transaction building

Diego and Riccardo from Monero

  • No update this week

Beni from Beam

Beam is a competing implementation of the Mimblewimble protocol that powers Grin
  • Working on Testnet-Mainnet Coexistence and planing Testnet’s Release: We’ve been designing the download page for Testnet (#396)building clear indication for users to differentiate between Testnet and Mainnet (#392) and establishing interoperability between the two environments (#397).

  • We’ve fixed several bugs - Here are the main ones: Transaction stuck in in_progress state (#169), the sum in error message didn’t include fee (#360), transaction was registered in the chain after canceling (#402), estimated time on restoring and creating new wallet changes disproportionately to the time (#206)

  • We’ve been working on performance enhancements - Here are the main ones: removed GPU miner from UI wallet (#448), all miners are now built on builder (#308), added option to avoid using TLS for Stratum (#357), added ability to export and import addresses for users (#346), and removed mining threads from wallets (#361)

  • We have worked on Wallet API integrations, including adding ability to use JSON RPC over HTTP in Wallet API (#423), implemented wallet API (#76), added current difficulty to wallet_status api (#429), added `from` field to `tx_send` wallet api (#417), added rules configuration options to wallet-api (#310) and some wallet API enhancements (#306)

  • 134 open issues and 310 closed issues, 29 commits by 5 unique contributors

  • We have created a comprehensive Documentation Base for Beam on Read the Docs platform. Read it here.

Smart contracting platforms

Erik from NEAR

NEAR is a sharded, developer-friendly blockchain and smart contract platform which addresses both usability and scalability at the protocol level.  

Near is working on getting a testnet shipped!

  • The NEAR DevNet is now live: See https://studio.nearprotocol.com or https://docs.nearprotocol.com to start diving into v0.1 and to deploy a TypeScript smart contract in about 4 seconds.

  • Tech talk on Sharding from Alex Skidanov, usability and scalability from Erik Trautman.

  • Built a hosted wallet with OAuth flows

  • Switched to use protobufs for encoding transactions across nearcore and nearlib.

  • Nearlib: updated docs, syntactic sugar for contract method calls, easy way to wait for transaction completion using promises, handle failed transactions and return readable errors through promises, get logs from node into JS console

  • Refactored runtime and transaction/receipt processing to allow for validation of the receipt source

  • Integrated BLS signature aggregation and verification for block production

  • Finalized rewriting the network protocol and started to build integration testing for TestNet

Michael from Loom

Loom is one of the first Plasma implementations in the wild, currently being used to create a blockchain gaming platform.

Evan from Ethereum

Ethereum is the currently most-used smart-contracting platform, with native token ETH. 

Rather than summarize what the various Ethereum teams are working on, I’ll link to this interesting write-up of the state of ETH 2.0, and try to have a more complete look at this next issue .

Myles from EOS

EOS is a smart-contract platform that uses delegated proof of stake to deliver a high performance blockchain platform, at the potential cost of some centralization. The EOS protocol allows holders of the token to access computing resources like CPU and RAM in proportion to their EOS holdings. 

The EOS team is currently working on the economics of RAM/CPU distribution, and a native DEX

Zaki from Cosmos

Cosmos is a platform for building blockchains which are necessarily economically self-sufficient, powered by a bft consensus layer (tendermint) and a cross-chain communications protocol (IBC).

Cosmos is wrapping up the adversarial testnet Game of Stakes, and is approaching the final preparations for the IBC hub launch.

  • The first in a 3 part series on final launch preparations for the Cosmos Hub.

  • The Cosmos V 0.31 is the release candidate for the Hub Launch. 

  • Zaki did a 1 hour webinar on the Cosmos Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol.

  • Game of Stakes is in last week and will be concluding on Friday.

Kate and Dean from Agoric

Agoric is a smart-contracting platform using a secure subset of javascript to create an object-capability (ocap) security architecture, in which access to a programming object itself is the authority to use the object.
  • SES-0.3.0 is released and up on npm. This release improves security and functionality and fixes all known confinement leaks. It also improves usability by allowing the user to turn on console.log and display uncaught exceptions.

  • This week we had a lot of great activity on ocapjs.org, the community forum for discussing object capabilities in JavaScript.  

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

dYdX is building open-source code that supports margin and derivatives trading of blockchain assets.
  • We're looking for crypto traders to talk to about a new margin trading product we're building. Reach out to contact@dydx.exchange if you're interested in providing feedback or becoming an alpha tester!

  • Hiring engineers & designers full-time in SF!

Brendan from Dharma

Dharma is building tokenized debt on the blockchain, to support a variety of use cases including leveraged trading and loan products. 
  • Based on the increased confidence we've built in Dharma Lever's smart contracts and feedback from early Alpha partners, we have made a few changes to the way Lever loans work. We now support loans of 28-day durations and enforce a 25k USD limit on loans (for both ETH and USDC).

  • Right now we have some very aggressive lenders offering 0.10% APR on loans through Dharma Lever

  • We are rolling out a brand new look and feel for Dharma Lever, including loan management tools for borrowers and lenders

  • We're hiring for a blockchain developer and a front-end developer. Our open roles are listed here: angel.co dharma jobs

Coulter from MakerDAO

MakerDAO is a decentralized organization and set of smart contracts that allow people who wish to margin ETH to create a stable token (DAI).

MakerDAO is working towards a multi-collateral DAI that can be created using CDPs of other assets besides just ETH.

  • One of our latest blogs dives deep into Dai usage, and the numbers behind it. TLDR: Dai usage is growing ~20% per month! 

  • The folks at MyCrypto did a great writeup on stablecoins and an intro to Dai. A nice primer for those looking to get educated! 

  • The Aave team has added Dai to EthLend, allowing users to borrow against Dai. 

  • Part Two of CEO Rune Christensen's appearance on Laura Shin's Unchained podcast went live

Layer two and interoperability

Tieshun on Handshake

Handshake is a protocol creating a new decentralized root zone for DNS using a blockchain, and allowing human readable names for crypto and web addressing.

The handshake team is putting the finishing touches on the final testnet and preparing for Mainnet launch!

  • No update this week, something cool next week.

Paul from Veil

Veil is a curated prediction market system running atop 0x and Augur, with a user friendly UI. 

The team is working to increase the number and type of available markets on Veil

Rahul from 0x

0x is a protocol for decentralized trading of cryptoassets on the Ethereum blockchain.

The 0x team’s number one priority priority over the next half is to have the most liquid DEX for a number of key pairs by making market making easier and more profitable. On a tactical level, we’re doing through this through our Market Making program (which is massively over-subscribed) and our sponsorship of Hummingbot.io. On a higher level, we’re releasing a number of Coordinators that allow off-chain cancellations, which improve market making UX and eliminate trade collisions and frontrunning

Dong Mo from Celer

Allows offchain transactions via generalized state channels to massively increase blockchain throughput and allow applications that were previously not possible with only on-chain transactions
  • Fixed a ton of bugs on mobile

  • We've made a CelerX mobile web view gaming prototype, and drafted a list of javascript APIs for CelerX developers 

  • We are finishing coding the new OSP protocol and duplex channels, and have made significant progress on the websocket-based SDK, near completion 

  • We started the design of the multi-region (multi-datacenter) scalable OSP 

  • We are continuing implementation of LiBA and PoLC contracts and web UI 

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

  • At Melonport's M-1, Gavin Wood discussed upcoming Substrate and Polkadot developments, including: HODL voting bonus, correlating multi-origin slashing, runtime parallelism, offchain compute, delegated voting, and more. Recording here.

  • We were notified that a special RPC request can crash Parity Ethereum nodes pre-2.2.9 or 2.3.2. We released a fix the day we were notified—please update your Parity Ethereum nodes ASAP. While the vulnerability only directly affects Parity Ethereum nodes that serve JSONRPC as a public service (e.g., Infura, MEW, MyCrypto, etc), we recommend everyone to update their nodes immediately.

  • New article on lip2p, a highly modular network framework that could be the standard for the decentralised web, and is being used by Filecoin, Agoric, Golem, IPFS, Substrate, Polkadot, and perhaps Ethereum 2.0. 

  • New Substrate-TCR-UI - a react-based frontend for the Substrate TCR runtime which uses PolkadotJs API for connecting to the Substrate node.

  • Going to ETHDenver? Come hang out at our meetup

  • We're hiring—new positions listed.

Application infrastructure

Doug from Livepeer

Livepeer enables decentralized live video streaming on the Ethereum blockchain 
  • Governance proposal is open for discussion on increasing the # of active transcoders on Livepeer's network to 25. The Streamflow update should enable an increase on the order of hundreds of active transcoders.

  • Partial unbonding was enabled in Livepeer's Explorer, so token holders can now unbond and withdraw a portion of their LPT, without unbonding all of their staked LPT.

Wes from Theta

Theta is an economic system for incentivizing nodes to handle live-streamed video, also hosted on the ethereum blockchain.
  • Theta mobile wallet will be released for both iOS and Android this week  

  • Optimizing of streaming video delivery for Theta mesh network. Support for dynamic video fragment slicing was implemented to achieve a high peer offload ratio even with bad network conditions.

  • Finalizing validator staking mechanism. This allows Theta stake holders to deposit/withdraw stake to the validator nodes.

  • Snapshot export/import. A Theta node can export a state snapshot for any given block height with a compact cryptographic proof for the validity of the snapshot. With the snapshot, instead of downloading all the blocks from genesis like Bitcoin/Ethereum, a blank Theta node can simply load the most recently state from the snapshot, which takes only minutes instead of days. The compact cryptographic validity proof of the snapshot only takes seconds to verify, and can handle validator set changes.  

Ryan from FOAM

The FOAM Proof of Location protocol empowers a permissionless and autonomous network of radio beacons that can offer secure location services independent of external centralized sources such as GPS through time synchronization.
  • Released a new post analyzing the FOAM Map, this one focusing on territorial disputes on a chain of islands that sit right in the middle of the Sea of Japan. 

  • Community Call round up, with more map analysis, staking statistics and new feature previews 

  • Formally announced a new NFT campaign for our upcoming event. 

  • Competed building the "Geo-Pie", a custom server rack of Raspberry Pi's running the time synchronization protocol in real world conditions 

David from Sia

Sia is a decentralized storage platform secured by blockchain technology

Sia is focused on bringing full decentralized disaster recovery to market. Knowing nothing more than a wallet seed, a user should be able to recover their most precious data. Additionally, they’re focused on a major integration that should increase the number of users of Sia by 100x.

  • This week was spent tracking down bugs and fixing them (10 Merge requests were bug fixes). Some users got early access to the release candidate which will be made available in the coming days. As stated in previous updates this release introduces a lot of new code and features. The development team is being careful to preserve backward compatibility and functionality of the new code.

  • Chris finished a new API endpoint that allows a user to create and restore a backup of their .sia files. This will allow users to more easily back up their installations and is an important step towards proper seed based file recovery. 

  • Matt finished a new RecentRepairTime metadata timestamp that’s used to record when a file was repaired. This helps Sia decide which files are the highest priority to repair and should improve the reliability and performance of file repairs. For those who aren’t familiar, file repairs are needed when Sia hosts go offline. If a host goes offline Sia will “repair” your files by automatically uploading your data to a new host, therefore, ensuring its available when the user needs it.

  • An astute Sia follower noticed that the total Siacoin supply is nearing 40 Billion Siacoins. Block rewards decrease by 1 Siacoin every block until it hits 30,000. Siacoin does not have block reward halving like Bitcoin.

Other

Martin from Tezos

Tezos is a proof of stake blockchain with an onchain governance mechanism built in.
  • Come Join us at TezTalks on March 23 @ Hero City, San Mateo. Tezos Commons and Draper University present a day of curated 15 minute talks about Tezos and the future of the Commons. Guest speakers include a diverse set of community members such as Tezos Co-founder, Kathleen Brietman, and many more! RSVP here

  • Elevated Returns and Securitize will tokenize $1B USD of real estate on Tezos and build new compliant security tokens issuance standards. Learn more

  • TezVote is a free voting tool developed by Stephen Andrews of TezTech Labs. Vote your preference for the upcoming proposal! Learn more about the proposal and join the discussion at Kialo

  • Meet the creative team of ‘Baking Bad', an independant tool to calclcute baking rewards and making sure the community isn’t ‘Baking Bad’ -- check out their fun parody video

  • Join the vibrant community of Tezos developers at Tezos Stack Exchange and start building

Ari from Decentraland

Decentraland is a virtual reality environment, with property rights secured by the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Released version 2.2.6 of the CLI, including bug fixes, improved testing pipeline, and updated dependencies.

  • We’re implementing feedback to the SDK from the hackathon: adding docs for the UI API, adding support for XML to the CLI, adding a new ID protocol, and adding a “goto” command for teleporting between parcels.

  • We’ve merged in the bidding feature to the Marketplace’s master branch and have begun testing. The audit will begin next week!

  • We’re adding the UI flow for the Creator Contest to the Builder, we’ve added new ground textures, and have improved the UI based on internal feedback.

Sam from OpenBazaar

  • No update this week.