Hi Monero community! Two months ago I posted a CCS for continuing my research on Monero Atomic Swaps. That research is now complete and I'm happy to present my results. This post will be a summary of my research, but you can also find the whitepaper that describes the full protocol and all the details here.
Shiny BTC/XMR Atomic Swap Protocol!
We found it! With the help of the MRL, my colleagues, and the community, we created the first (to our knowledge) protocol to atomically swap bitcoin and monero. And this resulting protocol is implementable today - no more obscure crypto!
Why now? What changed?
When I started studying Monero for a Bitcoin/Monero atomic swap three and a half years ago, most of the swap protocols where based on 'Hash Time Locked Contract' (HTLC), something that we all know as non-existent on Monero. So the goal at the beginning of the project was to create an atomic swap where all the logic (timeouts, possible sequences of operation, secret disclosures, etc) is managed on the other chain: the Bitcoin chain. The second difficulty with Monero and Bitcoin is their respective underlying cryptographic parameters: they don't share the same elliptic curve, they don't share the same signing algorithm; they have nothing in common! This makes the pair a bad candidate for other types of atomic swap that don't (solely) rely on HTLC. In November 2018 we came up with a draft protocol that respects the above constraints. Thus, the protocol requires a specific type of zero-knowledge proof to be trustless: a hash pre-image zero-knowledge proof. This type of zkp is not wildly used in practice, if at all. Thus the protocol works in theory, but with some obscure crypto, making the protocol a bad candidate for an implementation. In early 2020, after presenting the draft protocol at 36C3 in December 2019, I discovered, by reference from Sarang Noether (MRL), Andrew Poelstra's idea of doing a discrete logarithm equality across group zero-knowledge proof of knowledge (MRL-0010), meaning that we can prove some relations between elements in two different groups (two curves to simplify) and the paper by LLoyd Fournier on One-Time Verifiably Encrypted Signatures allowing secret disclosure with ECDSA. With these two new (to me) cryptographic primitives, we were able to replace the previous zero-knowledge proof with a combination of the latter, making the protocol complete and practically feasible.
How it works
As a broad overview (and simplified) the protocol work as follow:
The monero are locked in an address generated by both participants
At the beginning, neither of the participants have the full control over the address; they both have half of the private key only
With the cross group discrete logarithm equality zkp, both participants prove to each other that the address on the Bitcoin chain is related to the address on the Monero chain
By means of Bitcoin scripts and ECDSA one-time verifiably encrypted signatures, one participant reveals to the other her partial private key by taking the bitcoin, allowing the other to take control over the monero
If the swap succeeds, A reveals to B, and if the swap is cancelled, B reveals to A. (We have a third scenario explained in the paper to force reaction and avoid deadlock.)
The obvious next step would be to have a working implementation on mainnet, but a ready-to-use implementation that is also robust and safe-to-use requires a lot of engineering work. Furthermore, even though the cryptography is not too obscure, most of it still also lacks an implementation. I'll post soon, if the community wants it, a CCS proposal to get my team and I to work on implementing this protocol, step by step, with the end goal of creating a working client/daemon for swapping Bitcoin and Monero. It would be very exciting to build that!
Thanks to the MRL and its researchers for their help, the CCS team, and the community for its support! I hope I fulfilled the community's expectations for my my first CCS - all feedback is appreciated.
F.A. Hayek explains the monetary and societal problems and issues created by central control of currency (that Bitcoin may now solve) in his 1976 Essay "Choice in Currency: A Way to Stop Inflation" (free PDF, 23 pages)
https://preview.redd.it/al1gy9t9v9q51.png?width=424&format=png&auto=webp&s=b29a60402d30576a4fd95f592b392fae202026ca Hopefully any questions you have will be answered by the resources below, but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. If you're quite technically-minded, the Zano whitepaper gives a thorough overview of Zano's design and its main features. So, what is Zano? In brief, Zano is a project started by the original developers of CryptoNote. Coins with market caps totalling well over a billion dollars (Monero, Haven, Loki and countless others) run upon the codebase they created. Zano is a continuation of their efforts to create the "perfect money", and brings a wealth of enhancements to their original CryptoNote code. Development happens at a lightning pace, as the Github activity shows, but Zano is still very much a work-in-progress. Let's cut right to it: Here's why you should pay attention to Zano over the next 12-18 months. Quoting from a recent update:
Anton Sokolov has recently joined the Zano team. ... For the last months Anton has been working on theoretical work dedicated to log-size ring signatures. These signatures theoretically allows for a logarithmic relationship between the number of decoys and the size/performance of transactions. This means that we can set mixins at a level from up to 1000, keeping the reasonable size and processing speed of transactions. This will take Zano’s privacy to a whole new level, and we believe this technology will turn out to be groundbreaking!
If successful, this scheme will make Zano the most private, powerful and performant CryptoNote implementation on the planet. Bar none. A quantum leap in privacy with a minimal increase in resource usage. And if there's one team capable of pulling it off, it's this one.
What else makes Zano special?
You mean aside from having "the Godfather of CryptoNote" as the project lead? ;) Actually, the calibre of the developers/researchers at Zano probably is the project's single greatest strength. Drawing on years of experience, they've made careful design choices, optimizing performance with an asynchronous core architecture, and flexibility and extensibility with a modular code structure. This means that the developers are able to build and iterate fast, refining features and adding new ones at a rate that makes bigger and better-funded teams look sluggish at best. Zano also has some unique features that set it apart from similar projects: Privacy Firstly, if you're familiar with CryptoNote you won't be surprised that Zano transactions are private. The perfect money is fungible, and therefore must be untraceable. Bitcoin, for the most part, does little to hide your transaction data from unscrupulous observers. With Zano, privacy is the default. The untraceability and unlinkability of Zano transactions come from its use of ring signatures and stealth addresses. What this means is that no outside observer is able to tell if two transactions were sent to the same address, and for each transaction there is a set of possible senders that make it impossible to determine who the real sender is. Hybrid PoW-PoS consensus mechanism Zano achieves an optimal level of security by utilizing both Proof of Work and Proof of Stake for consensus. By combining the two systems, it mitigates their individual vulnerabilities (see 51% attack and "nothing at stake" problem). For an attack on Zano to have even a remote chance of success the attacker would have to obtain not only a majority of hashing power, but also a majority of the coins involved in staking. The system and its design considerations are discussed at length in the whitepaper. Aliases Here's a stealth address: ZxDdULdxC7NRFYhCGdxkcTZoEGQoqvbZqcDHj5a7Gad8Y8wZKAGZZmVCUf9AvSPNMK68L8r8JfAfxP4z1GcFQVCS2Jb9wVzoe. I have a hard enough time remembering my phone number. Fortunately, Zano has an alias system that lets you register an address to a human-readable name. (@orsonj if you want to anonymously buy me a coffee) Multisig Multisignature (multisig) refers to requiring multiple keys to authorize a Zano transaction. It has a number of applications, such as dividing up responsibility for a single Zano wallet among multiple parties, or creating backups where loss of a single seed doesn't lead to loss of the wallet. Multisig and escrow are key components of the planned Decentralized Marketplace (see below), so consideration was given to each of them from the design stages. Thus Zano's multisig, rather than being tagged on at the wallet-level as an afterthought, is part of its its core architecture being incorporated at the protocol level. This base-layer integration means months won't be spent in the future on complicated refactoring efforts in order to integrate multisig into a codebase that wasn't designed for it. Plus, it makes it far easier for third-party developers to include multisig (implemented correctly) in any Zano wallets and applications they create in the future. (Double Deposit MAD) Escrow With Zano's escrow service you can create fully customizable p2p contracts that are designed to, once signed by participants, enforce adherence to their conditions in such a way that no trusted third-party escrow agent is required. https://preview.redd.it/jp4oghyhv9q51.png?width=1762&format=png&auto=webp&s=12a1e76f76f902ed328886283050e416db3838a5 The Particl project, aside from a couple of minor differences, uses an escrow scheme that works the same way, so I've borrowed the term they coined ("Double Deposit MAD Escrow") as I think it describes the scheme perfectly. The system requires participants to make additional deposits, which they will forfeit if there is any attempt to act in a way that breaches the terms of the contract. Full details can be found in the Escrow section of the whitepaper. The usefulness of multisig and the escrow system may not seem obvious at first, but as mentioned before they'll form the backbone of Zano's Decentralized Marketplace service (described in the next section).
What does the future hold for Zano?
The planned upgrade to Zano's privacy, mentioned at the start, is obviously one of the most exciting things the team is working on, but it's not the only thing. Zano Roadmap Decentralized Marketplace From the beginning, the Zano team's goal has been to create the perfect money. And money can't just be some vehicle for speculative investment, money must be used. To that end, the team have created a set of tools to make it as simple as possible for Zano to be integrated into eCommerce platforms. Zano's API’s and plugins are easy to use, allowing even those with very little coding experience to use them in their E-commerce-related ventures. The culmination of this effort will be a full Decentralized Anonymous Marketplace built on top of the Zano blockchain. Rather than being accessed via the wallet, it will act more as a service - Marketplace as a Service (MAAS) - for anyone who wishes to use it. The inclusion of a simple "snippet" of code into a website is all that's needed to become part a global decentralized, trustless and private E-commerce network. Atomic Swaps Just as Zano's marketplace will allow you to transact without needing to trust your counterparty, atomic swaps will let you to easily convert between Zano and other cyryptocurrencies without having to trust a third-party service such as a centralized exchange. On top of that, it will also lead to the way to Zano's inclusion in the many decentralized exchange (DEX) services that have emerged in recent years.
Where can I buy Zano?
Zano's currently listed on the following exchanges: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/zano/markets/ It goes without saying, neither I nor the Zano team work for any of the exchanges or can vouch for their reliability. Use at your own risk and never leave coins on a centralized exchange for longer than necessary. Your keys, your coins! If you have any old graphics cards lying around(both AMD & NVIDIA), then Zano is also mineable through its unique ProgPowZ algorithm. Here's a guide on how to get started. Once you have some Zano, you can safely store it in one of the desktop or mobile wallets (available for all major platforms).
How can I support Zano?
Zano has no marketing department, which is why this post has been written by some guy and not the "Chief Growth Engineer @ Zano Enterprises". The hard part is already done: there's a team of world class developers and researchers gathered here. But, at least at the current prices, the team's funds are enough to cover the cost of development and little more. So the job of publicizing the project falls to the community. If you have any experience in community building/growth hacking at another cryptocurrency or open source project, or if you're a Zano holder who would like to ensure the project's long-term success by helping to spread the word, then send me a pm. We need to get organized. Researchers and developers are also very welcome. Working at the cutting edge of mathematics and cryptography means Zano provides challenging and rewarding work for anyone in those fields. Please contact the project's Community Manager u/Jed_T if you're interested in joining the team. Social Links: Twitter Discord Server Telegram Group Medium blog I'll do my best to keep this post accurate and up to date. Message me please with any suggested improvements and leave any questions you have below. Welcome to the Zano community and the new decentralizedprivateeconomy!
The following articles / guides have been translated into Russian and posted on the XMR.RU website and my Github repository. Note: If you would like to read the original article in English, then, open the article you are interested in, and at the end of each article you will find a link to the source.
A criticism of the article "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation"
(be gentle, it's my first RI attempt, :P; I hope I can make justice to the subject, this is my layman understanding of many macro subjects which may be flawed...I hope you can illuminate me if I have fallen short of a good RI) Introduction So, today a heterodox leaning Argentinian newspaper, Ambito Financiero, published an article criticizing monetarism called "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation". I find it doesn't properly address monetarism, confuses it with other "economic schools" for whatever the term is worth today and it may be misleading, so I was inspired to write a refutation and share it with all of you. In some ways criticizing monetarism is more of a historical discussion given the mainstream has changed since then. Stuff like New Keynesian models are the bleeding edge, not Milton Friedman style monetarism. It's more of a symptom that Argentinian political culture is kind of stuck in the 70s on economics that this things keep being discussed. Before getting to the meat of the argument, it's good to have in mind some common definitions about money supply measures (specifically, MB, M1 and M2). These definitions apply to US but one can find analogous stuff for other countries. Argentina, for the lack of access to credit given its economic mismanagement and a government income decrease because of the recession, is monetizing deficits way more than before (like half of the budget, apparently, it's money financed) yet we have seen some disinflation (worth mentioning there are widespread price freezes since a few months ago). The author reasons that monetary phenomena cannot explain inflation properly and that other explanations are needed and condemns monetarism. Here are the six points he makes: 1.Is it a mechanical rule?
This way, we can ask by symmetry: if a certainty exists that when emission increases, inflation increases, the reverse should happen when emission becomes negative, obtaining negative inflation. Nonetheless, we know this happens: prices have an easier time increasing and a lot of rigidity decreasing. So the identity between emission and inflation is not like that, deflation almost never exists and the price movement rhythm cannot be controlled remotely only with money quantity. There is no mechanical relationship between one thing and the other.
First, the low hanging fruit: deflation is not that uncommon, for those of you that live in US and Europe it should be obvious given the difficulties central banks had to achieve their targets, but even Argentina has seen deflation during its depression 20 years ago. Second, we have to be careful with what we mean by emission. A statement of quantity theory of money (extracted from "Money Growth and Inflation: How Long is the Long-Run?") would say:
Inflation occurs when the average level of prices increases. Individual price increases in and of themselves do not equal inflation, but an overall pattern of price increases does. The price level observed in the economy is that which leads the quantity of money supplied to equal the quantity of money demanded. The quantity of money supplied is largely controlled by the [central bank]. When the supply of money increases or decreases, the price level must adjust to equate the quantity of money demanded throughout the economy with the quantity of money supplied. The quantity of money demanded depends not only on the price level but also on the level of real income, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), and a variety of other factors including the level of interest rates and technological advances such as the invention of automated teller machines. Money demand is widely thought to increase roughly proportionally with the price level and with real income. That is, if prices go up by 10 percent, or if real income increases by 10 percent, empirical evidence suggests people want to hold 10 percent more money. When the money supply grows faster than the money demand associated with rising real incomes and other factors, the price level must rise to equate supply and demand. That is, inflation occurs. This situation is often referred to as too many dollars chasing too few goods. Note that this theory does not predict that any money-supply growth will lead to inflation—only that part of money supply growth that exceeds the increase in money demand associated with rising real GDP (holding the other factors constant).
So it's not mere emission, but money supply growing faster than money demand which we should consider. So negative emission is not necessary condition for deflation in this theory. It's worth mentioning that the relationship with prices is observed for a broad measure of money (M2) and after a lag. From the same source of this excerpt one can observe in Fig. 3a the correlation between inflation and money growth for US becomes stronger the longer data is averaged. Price rigidities don't have to change this long term relationship per se. But what about causality and Argentina? This neat paper shows regressions in two historical periods: 1976-1989 and 1991-2001. The same relationship between M2 and inflation is observed, stronger in the first, highly inflationary period and weaker in the second, more stable, period. The regressions a 1-1 relationship in the high inflation period but deviates a bit in the low inflation period (yet the relationship is still there). Granger causality, as interpreted in the paper, shows prices caused money growth in the high inflation period (arguably because spending was monetized) while the reverse was true for the more stable period. So one can argue that there is a mechanical relationship, albeit one that is more complicated than simple QTOM theory. The relationship is complicated too for low inflation economies, it gets more relevant the higher inflation is. Another point the author makes is that liquidity trap is often ignored. I'll ignore the fact that you need specific conditions for the liquidity trap to be relevant to Argentina and address the point. Worth noting that while market monetarists (not exactly old fashioned monetarists) prefer alternative explanations for monetary policy with very low interest rates, this phenomena has a good monetary basis, as explained by Krugman in his famous japanese liquidity trap paper and his NYT blog (See this and this for some relevant articles). The simplified version is that while inflation may follow M2 growth with all the qualifiers needed, central banks may find difficulties targeting inflation when interest rates are low and agents are used to credible inflation targets. Central banks can change MB, not M2 and in normal times is good enough, but at those times M2 is out of control and "credibly irresponsible" policies are needed to return to normal (a more detailed explanation can be found in that paper I just linked, go for it if you are still curious). It's not like monetary policy is not good, it's that central banks have to do very unconventional stuff to achieve in a low interest rate environment. It's still an open problem but given symmetric inflation targeting policies are becoming more popular I'm optimistic. 2 - Has inflation one or many causes?
In Argentina we know that the main determinant of inflation is dollar price increases. On that, economic concentration of key markets, utility price adjustments, fuel prices, distributive struggles, external commodity values, expectatives, productive disequilibrium, world interest rates, the economic cycle, stationality and external sector restrictions act on it too. Let's see a simple example: during Macri's government since mid 2017 to 2019 emission was practically null, but when in 2018 the dollar value doubled, inflation doubled too (it went from 24% to 48% in 2018) and it went up again a year later. We see here that the empirical validity of monetarist theory was absent.
For the first paragraph, one could try to run econometric tests for all those variables, at least from my layman perspective. But given that it doesn't pass the smell test (has any country used that in its favor ignoring monetary policy? Also, I have shown there is at least some evidence for the money-price relationship before), I'll try to address what happened in Macri's government and if monetarism (or at least some reasonable extension of it) cannot account for it. For a complete description of macroeconomic policy on that period, Sturzenegger account is a good one (even if a bit unreliable given he was the central banker for that government and he is considered to have been a failure). The short version is that central banks uses bonds to manage monetary policy and absorb money; given the history of defaults for the country, the Argentinian Central Bank (BCRA) uses its own peso denominated bonds instead of using treasury bonds. At that time period, the BCRA still financed the treasury but the amount got reduced. Also, it emitted pesos to buy dollar reserves, then sterilized them, maybe risking credibility further. Near the end of 2017 it was evident the government had limited appetite for budget cuts, it had kind of abandoned its inflation target regime and the classic problem of fiscal dominance emerged, as it's shown in the classic "Unpleasant monetarist arithmetic" paper by Wallace and Sargent. Monetary policy gets less effective when the real value of bonds falls, and raising interest rates may be counterproductive in that environment. Rational expectations are needed to complement QTOM. So, given that Argentina promised to go nowhere with reform, it was expected that money financing would increase at some point in the future and BCRA bonds were dumped in 2018 and 2019 as their value was perceived to have decreased, and so peso demand decreased. It's not that the dollar value increased and inflation followed, but instead that peso demand fell suddenly! The IMF deal asked for MB growth to be null or almost null but that doesn't say a lot about M2 (which it's the relevant variable here). Without credible policies, the peso demand keeps falling because bonds are dumped even more (see 2019 for a hilariously brutal example of that). It's not emission per se, but rather that it doesn't adjust properly to peso demand (which is falling). That doesn't mean increasing interest rates is enough to achieve it, following Wallace and Sargent model. This is less a strict proof that a monetary phenomenon is involved and more stating that the author hasn't shown any problem with that, there are reasonable models for this situation. It doesn't look like an clear empirical failure to me yet. 3 - Of what we are talking about when we talk about emission? The author mentions many money measures (M0, M1, M2) but it doesn't address it meaningfully as I tried to do above. It feels more like a rhetorical device because there is no point here except "this stuff exists". Also, it's worth pointing that there are actual criticisms to make to Friedman on those grounds. He failed to forecast US inflation at some points when he switched to M1 instead of using M2, although he later reverted that. Monetarism kind of "failed" there (it also "failed" in the sense that modern central banks don't use money, but instead interest rates as their main tool; "failed" because despite being outdated, it was influential to modern central banking). This is often brought to this kind of discussions like if economics hasn't moved beyond that. For an account of Friedman thoughts on monetary policies and his failures, see this. 4 - Why do many countries print and inflation doesn't increase there? There is a mention about the japanese situation in the 90s (the liquidity trap) which I have addressed. The author mentions that many countries "printed" like crazy during the pandemic, and he says:
Monetarism apologists answer, when confronted with those grave empirical problems that happen in "serious countries", that the population "trusts" their monetary authorities, even increasing the money demand in those place despite the emission. Curious, though, it's an appeal to "trust" implying that the relationship between emission and inflation is not objective, but subjective and cultural: an appreciation that abandons mechanicism and the basic certainty of monetarism, because evaluations and diagnostics, many times ideologic, contextual or historical intervene..
That's just a restatement of applying rational expectations to central bank operations. I don't see a problem with that. Rational expectations is not magic, it's an assessment of future earnings by economic actors. Humans may not 100% rational but central banking somehow works on many countries. You cannot just say that people are ideologues and let it at that. What's your model? Worth noting the author shills for bitcoin a bit in this section, for more cringe. 5 - Are we talking of a physical science or a social science? Again, a vague mention of rational expectations ("populists and pro market politicians could do the same policies with different results because of how agents respond ideologically and expectatives") without handling the subject meaningfully. It criticizes universal macroeconomic rules that apply everywhere (this is often used to dismiss evidence from other countries uncritically more than as a meaningful point). 6 - How limits work?
The last question to monetarism allows to recognize it something: effectively we can think on a type of vinculation between emission and inflation in extreme conditions. That means, with no monetary rule, no government has the need of taxes but instead can emit and spend all it needs without consequence. We know it's not like that: no government can print infinitely without undesirable effects.
Ok, good disclaimer, but given what he wrote before, what's the mechanism which causes money printing to be inflationary at some point? It was rejected before but now it seems that it exists. What was even the point of the article?
Now, the problem is thinking monetarism on its extremes: without emission we have inflation sometimes, on others we have no inflation with emission, we know that if we have negative emission that doesn't guarantees us negative inflation, but that if emission is radically uncontrolled there will economic effects.
As I wrote above, that's not what monetarism (even on it's simpler form) says, nor a consequence of it. You can see some deviations in low inflation environment but it's not really Argentina's current situation.
Let's add other problems: the elastic question between money and prices is not evident. Neither is time lags in which can work or be neutral. So the question is the limit cases for monetarism which has some reason but some difficulty in explaining them: by which and it what moments rules work and in which it doesn't.
I find the time lag thing to be a red herring. You can observe empirically and not having a proper short/middle run model doesn't invalidate QTOM in the long run. While it may be that increasing interest rates or freezing MB is not effective, that's less a problem of the theory and more a problem of policy implementation. Conclusion: I find that the article doesn't truly get monetarism to begin with (see the points it makes about emission and money demand), neither how it's implemented in practice, nor seems to be aware of more modern theories that, while put money on the background, don't necessarily invalidate it (rational expectation ideas, and eventually New Keynesian stuff which addresses stuff like liquidity traps properly). There are proper criticisms to be made to Friedman old ideas but he still was a relevant man in his time and the economic community has moved on to new, better theories that have some debt to it. I feel most economic discussion about monetarism in Argentina is a strawman of mainstream economics or an attack on Austrians more than genuine points ("monetarism" is used as a shorthand for those who think inflation is a monetary phenomenon more than referring to Friedman and his disciples per se).
Stakenet (XSN) - A DEX with interchain capabilities (BTC-ETH), Huge Potential [Full Writeup]
Preface Full disclosure here; I am heavily invested in this. I have picked up some real gems from here and was only in the position to buy so much of this because of you guys so I thought it was time to give back. I only invest in Utility Coins. These are coins that actually DO something, and provide new/build upon the crypto infrastructure to work towards the end goal that Bitcoin itself set out to achieve(financial independence from the fiat banking system). This way, I avoid 99% of the scams in crypto that are functionless vapourware, and if you only invest in things that have strong fundamentals in the long term you are much more likely to make money. Introduction
Stakenet is a Lightning Network-ready open-source platform for decentralized applications with its native cryptocurrency – XSN. It is powered by a Proof of Stake blockchain with trustless cold staking and Masternodes. Its use case is to provide a highly secure cross-chain infrastructure for these decentralized applications, where individuals can easily operate with any blockchain simply by using Stakenet and its native currency XSN.
Ok... but what does it actually do and solve? The moonshot here is the DEX (Decentralised Exchange) that they are building. This is a lightning-network DEX with interchain capabilities. That means you could trade BTC directly for ETH; securely, instantly, cheaply and privately. Right now, most crypto is traded to and from Centralised Exchanges like Binance. To buy and sell on these exchanges, you have to send your crypto wallets on that exchange. That means the exchanges have your private keys, and they have control over your funds. When you use a centralised exchange, you are no longer in control of your assets, and depend on the trustworthiness of middlemen. We have in the past of course seen infamous exit scams by centralised exchanges like Mt. Gox. The alternative? Decentralised Exchanges. DEX's have no central authority and most importantly, your private keys(your crypto) never leavesYOUR possession and are never in anyone else's possession. So you can trade peer-to-peer without any of the drawbacks of Centralised Exchanges. The problem is that this technology has not been perfected yet, and the DEX's that we have available to us now are not providing cheap, private, quick trading on a decentralised medium because of their technological inadequacies. Take Uniswap for example. This DEX accounts for over 60% of all DEX volume and facilitates trading of ERC-20 tokens, over the Ethereum blockchain. The problem? Because of the huge amount of transaction that are occurring over the Ethereum network, this has lead to congestion(too many transaction for the network to handle at one time) so the fees have increased dramatically. Another big problem? It's only for Ethereum. You cant for example, Buy LINK with BTC. You must use ETH. The solution? Layer 2 protocols. These are layers built ON TOP of existing blockchains, that are designed to solve the transaction and scaling difficulties that crypto as a whole is facing today(and ultimately stopping mass adoption) The developers at Stakenet have seen the big picture, and have decided to implement the lightning network(a layer 2 protocol) into its DEX from the ground up. This will facilitate the functionalities of a DEX without any of the drawbacks of the CEX's and the DEX's we have today. Heres someone much more qualified than me, Andreas Antonopoulos, to explain this https://streamable.com/kzpimj 'Once we have efficient, well designed DEX's on layer 2, there wont even be any DEX's on layer 1' Progress The Stakenet team were the first to envision this grand solution and have been working on it since its conception in June 2019. They have been making steady progress ever since and right now, the DEX is in an open beta stage where rigorous testing is constant by themselves and the public. For a project of this scale, stress testing is paramount. If the product were to launch with any bugs/errors that would result in the loss of a users funds, this would obviously be very damaging to Stakenet's reputation. So I believe that the developers conservative approach is wise. As of now the only pairs tradeable on the DEX are XSN/BTC and LTC/BTC. The DEX has only just launched as a public beta and is not in its full public release stage yet. As development moves forward more lightning network and atomic swap compatible coins will be added to the DEX, and of course, the team are hard at work on Raiden Integration - this will allow ETH and tokens on the Ethereum blockchain to be traded on the DEX between separate blockchains(instantly, cheaply, privately) This is where Stakenet enters top 50 territory on CMC if successful and is the true value here. Raiden Integration is well underway is being tested in a closed public group on Linux. The full public DEX with Raiden Integration is expected to release by the end of the year. Given the state of development so far and the rate of progress, this seems realistic. Tokenomics 2.6 Metrics overview (from whitepaper)
Ticker: XSN. Currency type: Coin.
Consensus: Minting Proof of Stake, Trustless Proof of Stake.
XSN is slightly inflationary, much like ETH as this is necessary for the economy to be adopted and work in the long term. There is however a deflationary mechanism in place - all trading fees on the DEX get converted to XSN and 10% of these fees are burned. This puts constant buying pressure on XSN and acts as a deflationary mechanism. XSN has inherent value because it makes up the infrastructure that the DEX will run off and as such Masternode operators and Stakers will see the fee's from the DEX. Conclusion We can clearly see that a layer 2 DEX is the future of crypto currency trading. It will facilitate secure, cheap, instant and private trading across all coins with lightning capabilities, thus solving the scaling and transaction issues that are holding back crypto today. I dont need to tell you the implications of this, and what it means for crypto as a whole. If Stakenet can launch a layer 2 DEX with Raiden Integration, It will become the primary DEX in terms of volume. Stakenet DEX will most likely be the first layer 2 DEX(first mover advantage) and its blockchain is the infrastructure that will host this DEX and subsequently receive it's trading fee's. It is not difficult to envision a time in the next year when Stakenet DEX is functional and hosting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trading every single day. At $30 million market cap, I cant see any other potential investment right now with this much potential upside. This post has merely served as in introduction and a heads up for this project, there is MUCH more to cover like vortex liquidity, masternodes, TOR integration... for now, here is some additional reading. Resources
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
Gulden [NLG] - Constant development - In wallet Staking/Mining/Dex
Official Website / Official Slack About Gulden: How to setup a Witness (Staking) Gulden was founded in April 2014 based on the Litecoin codebase. In 2015 the Litecoin codebase is abandoned and Gulden switched to the Bitcoin codebase. After years of development it can be said that Gulden now has its own codebase. Gulden started with a 10% premine that was spent entirely on development. The current developments are now paid by part of the mining reward. The direction of the developments are determined by the Gulden advisory board (GAB). The GAB consists of 9 members and is elected each year from the members of the community. Anyone can stand for election. Voting for candidates is recorded and done through the Gulden blockchain. Gulden would like to become a generally accepted means of payment. To this end, the development is aimed at making the wallets as user-friendly as possible. What makes Gulden unique: - PoW2 - Proof of work + Witness/Staking - SegSig (Segregated Signature) - SIGMA (Semi Iterated Global Memory Argon) - Linking (Control your mobile wallet from your desktop wallet) - Wallet accounts - Unity (Unified codebase) - Delta (Difficulty Algorithm) - Sonic (Fast Sync) Features of Gulden explained: PoW2: Gulden does not use a standard PoW consensus model, but the in-house developed PoW2 model. This is a combination of PoW and Witness. Miners control the transactions and the Witness controls the miners. In order to get the same chance of success for a double spend as for the single transaction approval systems it is therefore necessary not to control >50% of the mining power or >50% of the number of coins in witness accounts but to own more than 71% of both systems. (0.71 * 0.71 = 0.5 so 50% chance). Because many Gulden owners have their Gulden fixed in witness, it is difficult to get a 71% majority in witness. There are now more than 100 million Gulden in witness. In order to get a 71% majority, an attacker has to secure an additional 220 million Gulden in witness. Apart from the fact that this is almost impossible, the price of the Gulden would go up sky high if so much Gulden had to be bought by the attacker. And because the attacker has to lock the Gulden, it looks like a bank robber who is going to rob his own bank. So such an attack is theoretically possible, but not possible in reality. Anyone can become a witness: by locking an amount of Gulden in a Witness account in the desktop wallet for a certain amount of time. Depending on the weighting of the witness account (chosen duration and amount in the account) the witness earns rewards. The advantage of this system is that the Gulden blockchain can withstand 51% attacks without relying heavily on energy-guzzling PoW miners or vulnerable standard PoS systems. Transactions can be safely accepted after one confirmation instead of the standard 3-6 confirmations.
SIGMA: Since October 17, 2019, the Gulden team has implemented the Sigma algorithm and since then it is possible to mine Gulden solo without additional equipment. The algorithm is asic resistant and can be done on a normal desktop computer using it’s CPU. One can simply use this CPU mining algorithm by creating a mining account in the desktop wallet and start mining Gulden. SegSig - Segregated Signature - Detailed article still to be published but was implemented with PoW2. Advantages of Segregated Signature: 1. 58% space saving on all transactions. More then twice the bitcoin SegWit implementation. 2. 58% increased transaction throughput. No block size or frequency changes needed. 3. Overhaul to the transaction script system which allowed us to implement PoW² and SegSig as clean as possible along with other benefits. Please take your time and read the technicals on this coin as its truly phenomenal and seriously under valorised and recognised. Barely any effort has been made to market its potential but you can judge yourself. Read the PoW2 Whitepaper or the short version PoW2 simply explained The Official Website and Official Slack chatroom.
Vitalik dropped a bombshell on us when said that "high fees make Ethereum less secure". I explored what that means, why it's true, and what it means for the future of blockchains
The source of this is: https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin/status/1285593115672358912 And in particular, he links to: https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~arvindn/publications/mining_CCS.pdf I am: an Ethereum entrepreneur working full time on https://flowerpatch.app, an indie game When I first read that tweet, I was really surprised. We've been thinking since the start of Bitcoin that fees would gradually become the long-term thing that sustains miners. We were told that paying miners = security for the network Overview: The btc whitepaper explained that the block rewards would go down, slowly over time. Ethereum is modeled on this concept too, though has no fixed cap. Then: big blocks are good, because big blocks = more fees. However, looking back at this idea now, we see that there was a fair bit of hand-waving in this transition, and a new scalability problem becomes clear:
Up until recently, blocks have basically always had the same value per block. It turns out that this was a very important game theory assumption!
As fees begin to dominate the miners' revenue, we enter into a world where some blocks are very valuable, and some blocks not so much
An additional problem, especially in Bitcoin, is the "exponential time variance" in block mining. Sometimes, there's just no blocks for an hour
Miners always have the option to "fork" a blockchain. As we start to have high variance in the value of blocks, it becomes much more logical to try to fork valuable blocks instead of building on top of them. The paper states this as: "it becomes attractive to fork a “wealthy” block to “steal” the rewards therein". You can incentivize other miners to "join in" on your theft-fork by not taking all of fee revenue (i.e. not including all the transactions), leaving some for others that wish to follow you into the dark world. The paper provides an illustration: https://i.imgur.com/I2K9QDd.jpg
The paper also outlines several other "bad actor" strategies that miners can use. Increasingly, as blocks become irregular, and more "evil" strategies start to creep in, this actually opens the door to further bad actors, and collusion
One key quote from the paper: "Without a block reward, immediately after a block is found there is zero expected reward for mining but nonzero electricity cost, making it unprofitable for any miner to mine." — this leads to another class of game theory issues, where miners have no reason to start mining until transactions start to pile up, but still have to pay electricity fees. The world has changed since the btc whitepaper: various schemes for mining multiple currencies at once, or quickly switching to alternate networks, become available. Miners may choose to switch off their equipment, or switch networks for a while, instead of waiting for transactions to pile up. They call this phenomenon "mining gaps"
Impact on Bitcoin security. If any of the deviant mining strategies we explore were to be deployed, the impact on Bitcoin’s security would be serious. At best, the block chain will have a significant fraction of stale or orphaned blocks due to constant forks, making 51% attacks much easier and increasing the transaction confirmation time. At worst, consensus will break down due to block withholding or increasingly aggressive undercutting.
How this affects Ethereum:
Ethereum has, like Bitcoin, been slowly reducing its block rewards
Today, as Vitalik said, we had fees make up 40-50% of the block rewards
This actually introduces a new scalability issue — if we increase the blocksize by 4, even if the network could handle that, we could have a situation where fees make up 200% of the block reward (50% x 4). This would start to seriously undercut Ethereum's security, as the tweet alluded
This issue is not purely hypothetical, but could really happen, if fees hit a sustained 100-300Gwei — on today's eth1 network! Even without extra blockspace! We could start seeing these mining strategies appearing soon
How we fix this:
As Vitalik mentioned, EIP-1559 does largely solve this issue. That's all the reason we need to include this EIP. Burning fees is the key to fixing the game theory. But if nothing else, you can achieve a 0% inflation rate while still issuing block rewards, as long as enough eth is burned
ETH2 is not susceptible to these issues, because mining rewards are shared, rather than adversarial. The years of game theory research were worth it
What happens with Bitcoin: Well, this probably won't be an issue for quite a while, because BTC's rewards will only slowly dwindle over the next 100 years. However, they have a strict policy around this. BTC was always meant to have a totally fixed cap, and that's a big part of their "digital gold" narrative. What happens if the price of BTC tanks while the network is at capacity and has high fee revenue? They could start seeing issues pretty soon, especially with the abundance of other coins using the same mining hardware. There's already a fair bit of miners that jump between BTC/BCH/BSV based on profitability, so the "mining gaps" we discussed earlier could become more prevalent
Stablecoins Are Not as Safe as You Think. How Your USDT, PAX, BUSD Get Frozen in a Moment
Being created on the basis of blockchain, stablecoins were considered to be a safe haven for investors… until recently. Why is their immunity elusive and how does the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plan to control them? Established in 1989 by the G7, the FATF inter-governmental organization develops policies to resist money laundering and financing of terrorism. It sets standards and implements legal and regulatory measures to combat illegal financial transactions. They developed recommendations for the monitoring of money laundering and keep revising them regularly. In case of non-compliance, law enforcement is executed via regional financial organizations. As of 2019, there are 39 full members of FATF, including the USA, UK, Australia, most EU countries, Singapore, India and the Russian Federation. Since 1st July, the FATF organization has been headed by Marcus Pleyer. During the last FATF meeting, the new president expressed his concerns about global stablecoins and organizations that issue them. Although the organization had already dealt with these cryptocurrencies, it highlighted that, “it is essential to continue closely monitoring the ML/TF risks of so-called stablecoins, including anonymous peer-to-peer transactions via unhosted wallets”. Is it ever possible to control crypto wallets that are not hosted on online exchanges? – you’d ask. We’re used to the fact that cryptocurrencies are outside the reach of banks and governments. However, when it comes to stablecoins, things are different.
It’s in the code
What makes stablecoins special is that they are pegging to fiat currency, for example, 1 TUSD = $1 USD. This means that such assets should be backed up by real money stored in the bank accounts of the issuing organization. Consequently, stablecoin creators need to comply with the requirements of the SEC, FATF and other controlling agencies, if they are to operate in the cryptocurrency sphere and be authorised to sell stablecoins. Transparent reports are not the only requirement, stablecoins must also provide the possibility of account blocking. Surprisingly, this feature is implemented in each stablecoin. The experts from QDAO DeFi are covering several stablecoin protocols that enable this function.
Issued by Tether Limited, USDT is a stablecoin that was originally created to be worth $1 with each token backed by a $1 real fiat reserve. The currency was successfully promoted and added to major cryptocurrency exchanges but stayed a controversial asset. Despite the claims of Tether Limited, they failed to provide any contractual right or other legal claims to guarantee that USDT can be swapped for dollars or be redeemed. In April 2019, Tether’s lawyers explained that each USDT was backed by only $0.74 in cash or equivalent assets. No audit of dollar collateral was done. A month before that, it changed the backing to include loans to affiliate companies. The scandal also involved the Bitfinex exchange that was accused of using USDT funds to cover $850 million in funds lost since 2018. They were also accused of manipulating USDT to push the BTC price. Tether is available on five blockchains: Omni, Ehereum, EOS, Tron and Liquid. Only the latter does not have a freezing feature. Omni was the first protocol for USDT. Blocking of users’ accounts is possible, thanks to the following piece of code: https://preview.redd.it/uqho45l33om51.png?width=690&format=png&auto=webp&s=c0feebdae086b0deeccde05278eaf3cc760f9e2b Apparently, it’s used to blacklist addresses and contracts.
The concerns about PAX were centered around the notorious MMM BSC Ponzi scheme. Before the widespread adoption of DeFi services, it was the second-largest gas consumer after Ethereum. Out of 25,000 daily transactions, 5,000 were performed by MMM BSC. It was reported to be a scam but none of the accounts were frozen. Does it mean PAX lacked the resources to regulate illicit activities? Evidently, not. The protocol code has a LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNCTIONALITY function that allows for the freezing/unfreezing of contracts or burning assets on blacklisted accounts. It turns out, anyone risks having their PAX coins destroyed during an investigation process while their accounts stay blocked.
History of frozen accounts
In 2019, the ZCash Foundation and Eric Wall conducted research on the privacy of stablecoins and revealed several frozen addresses. It’s not clear why exactly they were blocked. Most probably, it happened shortly after the exchange withdrawal – users took this action after witnessing platforms being hacked. https://preview.redd.it/pkbruqm83om51.png?width=838&format=png&auto=webp&s=b068c5b8c5e5439892eaf5feefa3fbc93c694c8c USDT was implicated at least twice in scandals to do with freezing. In April 2019, about $850 million in Tether dollars sent by Crypto Capital Corp. were frozen by a New York court. Tether and Btfinex were accused of participating in a cover-up to hide about $850 million worth in clients’ funds. By July 2020, Tether had frozen 40 Ethereum addresses with millions of USDT (some of them are shown in the screenshot above). The Centre Consortium was the next to follow their lead; about a month ago, it blacklisted an address with USDC worth $100,000. That was done in response to law enforcement. Yet, it’s not only Europe and the USA imposing control over cryptocurrencies. Since June 2020, the Chinese government managed to block several thousands of users’ bank accounts. It was done to resist illicit activities, especially money laundering. On some of those accounts, no activity had been detected for several months. Meanwhile, prior to April 2020, Chinese residents moved over $50 billion worth of crypto outside the country borders – more than is officially allowed (a maximum of $50,000 per person). The authorities claim that USDT and other stablecoins are often used in illegal activities. Together with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), they are developing new ways of investigating digital crimes and money laundering operations involving exchanges and crypto wallets. Local financial bureaus and police are working tight-lipped about investigating startups and crypto exchanges. And they are succeeding at it. In July 2020, Chinese authorities confiscated BTC, ETH and USDT worth $15 million from people who allegedly ran a fake cryptocurrency scheme. By the way, not only corporate accounts are being closed. One investor claims his account had been frozen after using yuan to purchase crypto. Also, users who transfer illegally obtained money outside of the mainland in large amounts are under suspicion. Does it mean the Chinese government has started tightening the screws on cryptocurrency users?
DAI, USDT on Liquid and USDQ are the main options for stablecoin deposits
So, where can you store your crypto assets? USDT on Liquid and DAI are not the only solutions available. Consider making a deposit in USDQ, the stablecoin of the QDAO ecosystem. Like other stablecoins, it’s 1-to-1 pegged to USD. However, it cannot be frozen by a government, financial organization or anyone from the QDAO team. You can check it yourself by reading our Smart contract and USDQ Audit. In QDAO, users’ accounts are never frozen by a single person – all account issues are solved by the entire QDAO community, with the help of a QDAO governance token. In case of blocking (the chances of which are almost non-existent), you can address the QDAO community and get timely help.
With FATF taking this new course of action, we might witness serious pressure on stablecoin providers. Some projects will resist it, but it’s still not safe to store your assets in popular stablecoins, especially USDT. Your account can be frozen by authorities for dozens of reasons without the possibility of retrieval. Yet, there are a number of reliable alternatives and USDQ stablecoin is one of them. QDAO DeFi platform users feel free to manage their crypto reserves and make profitable deposits. Want to be the first to hear QDAO DeFi news and updates? Visit our website and stay in touch with us on social media:Twitter,Facebook,TelegramandLINE(for the Japanese-speaking community).
Attention incoming interns! Here's a list of TIPS I WISH I KNEW starting my intern year, some things you can start working on now and some less commonly discussed but very important parts of your job
It’s that time of year and yet again I’ve seen plenty of incoming interns asking what they can do to prepare. I wrote this post to share some tips for all of the not-exactly-medical stuff I wish I knew before I started intern year and to share a few things that interns can do before they start to feel like they’re well prepared for the long white coat. As a quick background, I was a surgery intern in the first half of the 2010s and much of this is informed by my notes and memories from that time in addition to everything I’ve learned since, particularly about professionalism both in medicine and in the business world with work I’ve done in the healthcare startup arena. I’m also not perfect and very much a work in progress myself and, outside the intern-specific items here, I try to do most of these things myself—sometimes more successfully than others. So take what you think are good ideas here, leave what you don’t think would be useful, and if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to chime in. TL;DR: Intern year is hard. Here are some not-so-commonly-disucussed tips that may help.
1. Being an effective intern is, at its core, about being responsible, effective and reliable.
Your day to day responsibilities are nearly always dominated by the need to get things done and to do so in a manner that lets your other team members focus on their own roles and responsibilities. What about learning clinical medicine? You'll learn plenty and fast. Don't worry. When reading through these tips below, view them from an angle of “would this help me develop an effective system for making sure everything gets done and nothing falls through the cracks?”
2. For your in-the-hospital life as well as your outside-the-hospital life, remember this one thing: you will forget.
You will be busy and have responsibilities in a way you likely have never experienced before. This will naturally make the day-to-day things in life more difficult than you’re used to so developing ways to outsmart your forgetful brain will pay off.
3. You are a professional now. This is your career. You’re in it.
It’s easy to view your life as a trainee as a sort of advanced student or something in between a student and a “real doctor”. But that’s not true. View yourself as a professional building your career. Your intern year is just the first step of that career. You’re a real doctor as much as any other now.
4. One of the hardest things about being an intern or resident is dealing with feelings of isolation. It will take work to actively manage and overcome those feelings.
Imposter syndrome, feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you don’t belong, feeling like you’re not the person you used to be, that you don’t have time to do all the “normal” things that other people do, thinking your co-residents or attendings think you’re dumb, feeling that you don’t have time for friends/family/hobbies, ruminating on “what if I screw this up and hurt a patient?”, or “this doesn’t matter -- the patient is going to XX or YY anyway” etc are all common feelings and they all share the same undercurrent of feeling isolated in one way or another. You need to actively work to find ways to confront and overcome these feelings or else they will control you. When they control you, you’re burned out. It may not seem like it at first, but nearly every single tip below is geared towards avoiding feelings of isolation. Feeling like you’re not in control of your finances will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re losing a handle on your relationships will make you feel isolated. Feeling like you’re behind on your email and haven’t done all the little things in life you need to do will make you feel isolated. Read these tips through that lens.
What you can do before you start
1. Organize and update your contacts. Seriously.
Here are some ways it can help you maintain and grow your relationships.
Use the ‘Notes’ feature in your contacts for everyone important in your life and all the new people meet.
You will forget your friends’ kids names and ages. Every time you get a birth announcement or see a post on social media, go to your friend’s contact, edit the notes and put in the info. Then, when you reach out to your friends, ask about their kids...by name.
You will forget your friends’ boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/partner’s name, especially if you’ve never met them or haven’t seen them for a long time. Put their name in your friends’ card with a note like “Started seeing Sam in June 2020, he/she’s a software engineer”. Someone you know gets married? Add their wedding date to their card.
You will forget how you knew people in your contacts. Met at a conference? Was a medical student on your heme onc service? Friend-of-a-friend you met at a wedding? Someone shares an interest you have? Make a note in their contact card. Tip: these notes are for you, not them. So if someone reminds you of an actor, or didn’t stop talking about bitcoin, make a note. It will help because you will forget.
Tag your contacts or add them to lists and use those tags/lists to your advantage.
Make lists or tags for your family, your medical school friends, your undergrad friends, your coresidents, your attendings, your medical students, the hospitals you’ll be working at, etc. Put those lists or tags to use like this:
You will forget to stay in touch with people important to you. Set reminders in your phone for every week / two weeks / month, etc to pull up a list (family, medical school friends, etc), pick someone on that list you haven’t chatted with in a while and text them and ask them how they’re doing. Aim to start a conversation, ask about what’s happening in their life. Texts are more personal and meaningful than liking a post on social media or sharing a meme. Initiating conversations with your friends and family will help you feel connected and will increase the likelihood they reach out to you.
Don’t label your medical students like “MS3 Laura” or “Sub-I Juan”, etc. Label them with their full name and treat them like the colleagues they are. Put them on a list, clear it out next year if you want, but don’t treat them as “MS3 XXX“ or “MS4 YYY”. I’m sure you remember feeling like a nameless/faceless medical student at times in school and I’m sure you didn’t love it. So don’t repeat that behavior. Add a note or two about them while you’re at it. Take enough interest in your medical students to treat them well. You never know when or how you’ll cross paths with them again.
If you rotate through different hospitals, you will forget which “ED” or “PACU” or “nursing station 3rd floor” numbers are which. Tag them or put them on a list. It’ll make finding them when you need them much easier.
2. Use a good note taking app and a good task manager app to help with both your in-hospital life and your outside-of-the-hospital life.
Here are some ways to use a notes app.
Make a note for each rotation you’re on. Add in any unstructured tips as they come up, like “Send all of Dr. X’s patients home with Y”, “Use the call room in the basement outside of the locker room, passcode 1234”, “Park in the X lot on the weekends”, “Dr. A likes to manage Z with Y”, “The case manager, NAME, usually sits at the computer behind the 2nd floor nurses station”, etc. Don't overthink them, just write them down when they come up. Review those notes the next time you rotate through because you will forget all those little things and they will help you in the future.
Create a master grocery list of all things you typically get at the grocery store. Share it with a roommate/partner so they can keep it updated too. That way if you ever stop to pick something up, you can review the list to make sure there’s nothing you’ll forget.
Make master lists for other things in your life too like “packing for a conference”, “packing for a family trip”, “Target/Wal-Mart household master list” so you can quickly review anytime something comes up so you minimize the chance of forgetting something
Make notes for all of the other stuff you have to manage in your life like your car, your apartment/house, your loans, etc and update them every time you work on that thing. Change your loan repayment? Add it to the note. Have to get your brakes fixed? Add to the note where you got it done, how much it cost, etc. Talk to your landlord about fixing the shower? Add it to the note. Have to call the medical board to sort something out with a license? Add it to the note.
I like two note apps on iOS: Bear for personal notes since it’s fast and has great tagging and Apple’s Notes app for shared notes
Pick a good task manager app and use it for all the things in your life that aren’t your day-to-day work
Cousin getting married and you can go to the wedding? Make tasks to ensure your time off, book your travel, buy a gift, rent a hotel room, etc. Then put all the relevant info into your note because...you will forget.
Pandemic is over and you get to present a poster at a conference? Make tasks to review your draft with your coauthors, print your poster, book your travel, submit your reimbursement, etc. Then put all the relevant info into a note. Otherwise, you’ll forget.
I like Things and have also liked OmniFocus. There is a ton of content on how to set one of these things up for productivity so review it and use it YouTube search
3. Take charge of your finances
When I was an intern, I figured all I had to do was pay my loans and not go into more debt. I wish I had done the following instead:
Read these two books: The White Coat Investor and I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Both are very good and have different strengths. The WCI is directly applicable to you and will help educate you in ways medical school didn’t about your financial future. IWTYTBR is much more of a “millennial” book but it’s very good for explaining big concepts and for providing a system to set yourself up for success. They’re both easy and relatively quick reads and don’t require any financial background. WCI is fine as an e-book but IWTY has a bunch of dialog boxes that make the e-book a poor experience, get a physical new or used copy.
Set up a budget. I use and swear by You Need A Budget. It’s the best money I spend every year. Their system is easy and straightforward and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
4. Update your CV now and keep it updated regularly
You will no doubt have to share your CV with someone at some point whether it’s for fellowship or a research project or any number of things. The time to work on it is not when someone says “can you share your CV?” -- that’s a recipe for omissions, typos and mistakes. The only thing you should be doing every time you share your CV is giving it a quick once-over to make sure you don’t spot any mistakes and to make sure it’s up to date There are plenty of templates online and your training institution may even have a preferred format somewhere on their website. Your ERAS application will give you a good head start but most of your medical school CV lines will either be condensed or removed all together unless something was particularly notable. You can almost always find example CVs online from senior people in your department or institution with a quick web search -- use a few as a guide Set a reminder / task to update your CV at regular intervals. Quarterly is good, yearly at least. Save new versions of it each time so you can refer to the old ones if you need to and name them in a way to let you know you’re always sharing the most recent version, e.g., LASTNAME_FIRST NAME_CV_2020-06. You will forget if the one marked “CV” only is the right one you want to share.
5. Subscribe to a couple of newsletters to stay up to date with the world outside of your hospital
For general news, your preferred newspaper probably has a daily email briefing. Otherwise, Axios AM/PM and Politico’s Playbook are both very good quick reads to stay up to date with current events.
Keep up with healthcare news so you know what’s going on in the healthcare system broadly
Politico’s Pulse and Morning eHealth are both very good and have quick facts at the beginning if you just want to skim
Rock Health’s Rock Weekly is a decent summary of each week in the healthcare startup and technology world
Pick a few of these and aim to get through them each day. If you can’t get through them, unsubscribe to the ones you think are least relevant to you so you never feel “behind” in staying up with the news. You can breeze through the few you pick in a few minutes here and there throughout the day -- don’t make it any harder than that to feel like you’re “up to date” on the news.
General tips for maintaining relationships
For any romantic relationship, do these things if you don’t already:
1. Make a rule: no phones at the table. * Don’t put your phone on the table face-up. Don’t put your phone on the table face-down. Keep your phone off the table and set to silent. * Focus on the person in front of you and show them you care about them by paying attention to them. We all know what it feels like to be with someone more interested in their screen than in interacting with you. If you’re on call, say “sorry, I’m on call, I may have to check something here and there”, apologize if you do check it and then put your phone away. 2. Make another rule: no phones in bed * Same principle as at the table. Want to feel like two strangers just passing through life who just so happen to share the same bed? Wake up, reach for your phone and scroll through your feeds like a zombie before getting out of bed. Same idea before bed. Your phone can wait. 3. If you’re at the point where you share finances, set a regular meeting to review how you’re doing. * Ideally, this is a “red, yellow or green” meeting and should only take a few minutes. Money can be a big conflict issue for relationships and avoiding talking about money is a surefire way to eventually turn to conflict. If you have a budget and shared goals, this should be quick. * A monthly check-in is good. Create a recurring calendar event, attach the shared notes or spreadsheet document you use, add your goals for the meeting and honor the meeting when it comes around.
Eat with people who are important to you, if you can.
There’s something about sharing a meal that’s special in human nature. Friends who are important to you? Partners? Mentors you’re looking to get to know better after you’ve had a few chats? Try to eat with them when you can. And keep your phone off the table.
The same idea works with your coresidents and teams in the hospital. Eat with them if you can. Eating with others builds, strengthens and maintains relationships. Keep your phone off the table if you can.
Think about it this way: who would you consider a better mentor, the person you’ve met with a few times in their office where they sit behind their desk and you in front of them while they glance at their computer screen every time it pings or the person who’s invited you to get coffee or food and they kept their phone away the whole time? Now turn that around and realize the power of the message you can send to people you care about by trying to eat with them and show them they have your full attention.
1. Learn to think about tasks as a continuum from start to finish instead of as a binary 'done/not done'.
Let’s say you have to order a CT for a patient of yours.
Instead of marking the task as complete the second you place the order for the CT, recognize that the whole task is not just placing the order, but also knowing when your patient is going down to the scanner, when they’re back, when the CT is up in the system, when the report is up and also that you’ve looked at the CT yourself and have read the report.
When your senior or attending asks you, “Did patient X get their CT?”, a not-so-great answer is “Yes” or “No”. A better answer is “they’re down at the scanner now” or “the scan’s done but it hasn’t been read yet. Want to look at it?” or “Yes, it’s negative for XXX but did show YYY”.
Whatever system you eventually adopt for your day-to-day task management in the hospital, whether it’s a list or index cards or a printed signout sheet, make sure you’re tracking both when orders go in, when they’re complete, when they’re cancelled, etc. Just marking things as complete once you place the order isn’t enough.
2. Signout is taken, not given.
What I mean by this is that when you take signout, that means you’re accepting responsibility for those patients. They might be your patients, you might be cross-covering, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that when those patients are your responsibility, it’s your responsibility to get what you need to know to take care of them. Is someone signing out to you in a hurry and not giving you what you need? Ask them for that relevant past medical history, those exam findings, and so on. It’s not enough for the person handing off to say “we’re worried about x or y”, you’ve got to follow that up with “in case of x or y, is there a plan for what the team wants me to do?”. Get the answers you need. A lot of covering patients on call is playing defense whereas the primary team generally plays offense. But that doesn’t mean you can play defense in isolation. The last thing you want is for the primary team to feel surprised by your choices.
* Here’s two ways for the above example to go when turning the patients you were covering back over the next day or whatever: 1. You: “For patient so-and-so, you said you were worried about x or y. Y happened.” Them: “What did you do?”. You: “Z”. Them: “Shit, my attending’s not gonna like that”. 2. You “Y happened so I did A like you said, it went fine and here’s the current status”. Them: “Great, thanks” * See the difference?
Along the lines of taking responsibility for those patients, that means that if you couldn’t get the information you needed at signout then you have to go and see those patients and get the information you need yourself.
You’ll hear this idea said a bunch of different ways like “trust but verify”, “trust no one” and your comfort level will change over the year as you become more confident and comfortable. But always error on the side of going to see the patient and getting your own information at the start.
3. If you will be miserable without something when you’re in the hospital, bring it with you. You won’t reliably be able to find it at the hospital every time you need it.
Need coffee otherwise you turn into a demon? Bring it with you. You never know when you’ll get caught doing something and won’t be able to run to the cafeteria for your fix.
On call overnight and know you need food so you don’t go insane? Bring it with you. Here’s a hospital food rule: never rely on the hospital's ability to feed you. The hospital will let you down sooner or later, I guarantee it.
Know you always get cold on call? The day you forget your jacket/sweatshirt is the day you won’t be able to find a spare blanket in the hospital to save your life. Put a backup in your locker (if your hospital respects you enough to give you one).
Miscellaneous productivity, professionalism and lifestyle tips
1. Aim to “touch” everything only once
Example: your physical mail. You know, the stuff made of dead trees that accumulates in that box you check every once in a while. For every piece of mail you get, you should either trash it, file it, or act on it. Don’t touch it until you’re ready to do one of those things.
Example: your email. Either delete it, archive it, reply to it or do the thing it’s telling you to do right away. Don’t fall into the trap of using your inbox as a to-do list -- that’s a recipe to get burned. Use a task manager for your to-do list and aim to keep your inbox at zero. Realize that email’s true power is communication and use it as a communication tool and nothing else.
I’ll use the example of going to a wedding again as something to “touch once”. Aim to accomplish all the tasks at once or at least create tasks and reminders to complete those tasks all in one go. Respond to the RSVP, create the calendar invite with all the information from the invitation, share the calendar event with your date, book your travel, book your hotel, book your rental car, buy your gift from the registry and set a reminder to get your suit/dress cleaned a few weeks ahead, etc.
2. Lean to use your calendar as a tool
Professionals in the “real world” tend to live and die by their calendars. Some people, especially many senior people in medicine, don’t manage their own calendars. But you manage yours. With it you can:
Make sure all events—even small ones like dates or errands you want to run—have locations so all you have to do is click the location for directions
Send invites to friends / family / coworkers for anything you talk about doing that has the relevant info
Make reminders for yourself to prepare for upcoming events, i.e.., don’t count on seeing your parents’/spouses’/whomever’s birthday “coming up” to remind you to get a gift or send a card. Create an event two weeks before their birthday that says “Buy Mom a birthday card”, set it to repeat yearly and buy a card when it comes up, send it a few days later and don’t worry that it won’t get there in time.
3. Learn to use email well
Ever get an email from someone and feel their tone was terse, condescending or rude? Don’t be that person. Error on the side being polite and professional and writing in complete sentences without textspeak. It’s not hard — you type fast, even with your thumbs, I’m sure of it.
Learn to communicate effectively. Keep it short but not terse. State why you’re writing to someone, be clear if you’re asking a question, and think about it this way: “How am I making it as easy as possible for this person to understand why I’m emailing them and do what I’m asking them to do?
Don’t use a canned salutation like “Best, NAME” or even worse: “Best, INITIALS”. Use your salutation to continue to communicate your message and remember that politeness and professionalism extend through your signature.
I don’t know why “Best,” is so common in medicine but it’s meaningless, unthoughtful, inherently passive aggressive and I seriously read it as if the person writing it were signing off by saying “Go f*ck yourself,”. Same thing for “Regards,” and its ilk, any abbreviation like “vr,” or any form of cutesy quote.
Write your salutation fresh each time. Did you ask someone for something? Say “Thank you for your help”. Are you writing someone senior to you and want to sound somewhat formal? “Sincerely,” never goes out of style. Are you sharing information and essentially writing a memo? Use “Please let me know if you have any questions”. Your salutation is communication, treat it that way.
Sign with your name, not your initials. Signing with initials is a common way senior people will try to remind you they’re senior to you. If you do it, it’s like you’re trying to prove you’re a Cool Guy Big Shot too. It never comes across well -- even for those senior people. Initials are terse. Lowercase initials are even terser. Although they may look different at first glance, all initial signatures functionally come across as ‘FU’. Write your name.
If it’s a few rounds back and forth of email, it’s normal drop salutations and signatures and treat email more like texting. Keep using complete sentences without textspeak, though. I promise you’ll come across better that way.
Use the ‘signature’ feature of your email client to share your professional details and contact information
Your institution (not department) will hopefully have a format for this that’s standardized and includes minimal or no graphics. If it doesn't, then I feel sorry for all the inevitable IT headaches you will eventually endure at your institution since they clearly underfund and undervalue contemporary IT and professional services. It’s the wild west out there so find some good examples of clean, professional signature formats and make one for yourself.
Note: this signature lives below your salutation and sign off. It’s essentially the letterhead for your email that lets your recipient fill in the details you may not otherwise provide like your department, mailing address or fax number. It’s not a replacement for signing off of your communication professionally.
Never use bold, italics, underlines or different font sizes in your emails. They only make emails harder to read and jumble your message.
If you want to highlight something, put it in a numbered or bulleted list.
If you can’t communicate what you want with 2-3 bulleted points, then email is not the right medium to use. Do you like reading long emails? Of course you don’t. Write a memo, attach it as a PDF or shared doc and use the email to tell your recipients to review the attachment.
You will eventually, in some way or another, ask someone to introduce you to one of their contacts and or refer you for something. Learn how to write a good forwardable email that utilizes the double opt-in concept and how to make it easy on the person doing you the favor. Read more here, here and here.
While you’re at it, understand the power of using CC and BCC to communicate effectively.
Aim to answer all emails written directly to you within 24 hours.
If you can’t respond fully right away, respond briefly saying you got the note and that you’ll work on it and get back to them. Set a reminder or create a task to do or review the thing and get back to them once you’ve done it.
Do you hate being left on read in text? You do it in email every time you don’t respond to someone in a timely fashion. It’s better to share a quick, “I got it and I’m working on it message” then not replying until days or weeks later.
4. Don’t let someone else’s negative energy and/or anxiety transfer to you
You will frequently experience things like this in the hospital:
A co-resident disagrees with a management decision made at rounds and mentions that so-and-so is an idiot. So-and-so probably isn’t an idiot. Your co-resident probably isn’t an idiot either. Form your own opinions from your own experiences.
A nurse pages you with a tone that says “THIS IS REALLY BAD”. It might be, go and see. And on your way, stay calm and go over the steps in your head of what you’d do if it is, in fact, REALLY BAD. But don’t freak yourself out before you even get to the room. You won’t be able to make decisions with a clear head if you’re already worked up.
You’re a surgery intern and all your patients are normally on the med-surg floor. Every once in a while, one goes somewhere like heme-onc if the med-surg floor is full. Someone on your team says something like “great, now they’re going to screw up our patient”. Recognize that that floor isn’t full of terrible nurses and may just have less experiences with lines and drains and that the best thing you can do is go down there, talk to the nurse and say “here’s what we want to be called about” and “this thing may look bad but it usually isn’t and we don’t need to be called, here’s why”, and so on. Doing things like this will mean you get fewer calls. Fewer calls are good.
Your attending is having a bad day and you’re not enjoying your interactions with them. Don’t let that make you have a bad day too. Medicine is hard enough as it is, stick to your own bad days instead adopting other people’s. Then pull up your friend list, text a buddy and feel better.
5. Don’t neglect your physical health. Trying to eat well and stay active are even more important when you’re insanely busy.
The #1 thing you can do to help your waistline is cook your own food and pack your own meals. It doesn’t matter what you cook or how good of a cook you are, as long as you’re aiming to pack meals that an adult would eat, it will be healthier than takeout and cafeteria food. It’s better for portion control, you control all the ingredients and you get a sense of satisfaction for being on the ball. It’s better in every way. I know it’s not realistic to always prep and pack your own food on the busiest of services but you should try to hit at least a percentage like 25% or 50% of your meals. There are no lost causes in your own health. It will be hard to exercise and work out. You should still try to do it anyway. You will go long stretches without exercising at times. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Every day is a chance to do the thing you want to do so get back out there.
6. If your social profiles are private, consider doing some housekeeping and making them public.
Instead of thinking about them as a liability to be that needs to be hidden, think about them as a narrative you can control. Nothing is private on the internet. Even your private profile. You never know who knows someone you know or what may get screenshotted and shared down the line. It’s natural to run a web search on anyone you’re meeting for a date, interviewing with for a job, or researching in general. When you search your own name, what comes up? What do you think when you’re searching for someone and they have a private page? Do you ever click on a few links to see professional stuff from LinkedIn, and then some social pages to see what else you learn? So does everyone else. Use your social pages to put forward a version of you that shows who you are, shows some interests true to yourself, makes you seem like a totally normal and reliable person (which is exactly what any potential date, partner, fellowship director or hiring manager is asking themselves about you) and doesn’t share enough information to let a patient show up at your door. Medicine lags behind other industries with people still commonly hiding behind private pages. In the tech world, it’s more strange to not have a public page. A private page says more about you that you might want to hide red flags whereas a public page says “go ahead and look, you won’t find any red flags”. One is much more powerful than the other.
Closing and something to read
When you view your professional life, it’s natural to view your professional relationships as being a binary one between patient and physician. That’s certainly essential and certainly important, but as a professional you now have relationships to consider with so many more types of people: co-residents, faculty in your department, faculty in other departments, administrators, support staff, medical students, and so on. Just as you had to learn how to work with patients, you will have to learn to work with all of the other people in your professional life. Truly effective professionals will treat all interactions importantly and give thought and consideration to each one. All these interactions and relationships will all affect your day-to-day experience, your well-being and, ultimately, your professional experience. You will find yourself being not just responsible for your patients, but also for yourself, your career and your relationships. It takes effort to succeed in all of those areas. And even with effort, sometimes you’ll be winning in an area and losing in others. And in a few months it will be different -- that’s just life. I want you to consider looking outside of books and resources written specifically for physicians when you’re trying to tackle these issues inside the hospital and out. Medicine is a much-smaller-than-you-realize bubble with a long history of personality-driven examples of “that’s just the way we do it” or “that’s how we’ve always done it”. There are good books about medicine out there, to be sure, but you’ll benefit more professionally by learning from the wide world outside of hospitals since there are quite simply many more successful and accomplished people who’ve written great resources for all aspects of professional life that medicine tends to ignore. I’d recommend you start with this book: Andy Grove’s High Output Management (a review by another Valley titan here). Andy escaped communist Hungary, taught himself English and rose to be CEO of Intel and went on to be a sage of Silicon Valley before he passed. This book is a how-to guide for how to be an effective professional in an organization (hint: you're now a professional in an organization) and if you’ve enjoyed this post at all, you’ll love this book. You may think that this book applies to ‘managers’ and ‘business’ and not medicine but you couldn’t be more wrong. Although it was probably written around the time you were born, nearly everything in this book is a lesson that directly applies to your professional life in medicine and when you start seeing it, you’ll feel like you’re in The Matrix. Congratulations! You've worked hard to get here. Be proud of yourself, your degree, your long white coat and be the best doctor you can be.
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