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RAM It All: Rising Costs Are Turning EOS Into a Crypto Coder's Nightmare

Compared to ethereum, EOS seems to have scalable dapps figured out.

Users of decentralized applications (dapps) on ethereum frequently chafe at the fact that any action – sending a tweet, playing a card, breeding a cat – costs money in the form of “gas” and takes time, as miners hash out the new state of the chain.

At first glance, EOS suffers from neither of these issues. There is no fee to send tokens or call a dapp smart contract. And in contrast to ethereum, even when the EOS blockchain is processing millions of transactions a day, it runs smoothly.

According to the EOS white paper, these perks are likely to make the system “gain more widespread adoption,” and some dapp developers apparently spot an opportunity.

For instance, Kevin Rose, the co-founder of EOS New York, a block producer, an entity that performs a similar function to miners in other blockchain networks, told CoinDesk:

“I’m having conversations with at least one group a week about, ‘These are the challenges we’re having on so-and-so platform, we want to come onto EOS.'”

Rose mentioned Tixico, which announced that it would transition from ethereum due to EOS’ “better performance and scalability to serve high demand.”

Yet, the grass may not be as green as some dapp developers hope.

That’s because, whereas ethereum dapps can be costly for the ones using them, EOS dapps can be costly for the teams deploying them.

In order to onboard users to an EOS dapp, developers generally have to make sure they’ve secured sufficient amounts of three separate resources: RAM, which amounts to state storage on the blockchain; CPU, which measures average consumption of computing resources in microseconds; and network bandwidth, or NET, which measures average consumption in bytes.

And getting these resources has proved costly.

Yutin Chen, CEO of PandaFun, a game that recently launched on EOS, said the team bought 10,000 EOS worth of RAM or around $65,000 at current EOS prices. The company also staked 10,000 EOS for CPU and 1,000 EOS for NET. Although, Chen made it clear that most of the RAM would go toward an upcoming token sale, saying, “The game doesn’t cost that much.”

By contrast, deploying a smart contract to ethereum only costs a bit of gas, whether it houses functionality for a dapp or a token contract. The cost of deploying the ethereum smart contracts could be $1 or $100, but it’s a far cry from what it would cost on EOS.

Ultimately, that’s not only a problem for the developers, but also EOS users.

For instance, some dapps might begin shifting expenses back onto users, to the extent that’s possible. And others might do what would-be dapps on ethereum are doing, and decide to launch elsewhere.

RAM: Speculators and hackers

Arguably the biggest headache for developers right now is RAM, as the resource has to be bought at a changing market price using EOS, with trades taking place on the Bancor algorithm.

Each dapp user takes 4 kilobytes of RAM to onboard for developers. According to the current RAM price, that’s around $3.12 per user. RAM is necessary for other actions as well, besides just creating an account.

And as such, Rose told CoinDesk:

“We do not understand the total costs of onboarding a dapp user yet. I don’t think that that data […] could give us confidence in an average of sorts.”

Even before the EOS mainnet launched in June, an open issue of GitHub (which has received 60 replies since it was created) argues that the RAM model “simply can’t work if your target is to create tens or hundreds of million user accounts for your dapp!”

And at the time that was written, RAM prices were far cheaper.

Following the launch, however, speculators jumped on the limited available RAM in hopes of selling it later at a profit. This drove prices as high as 0.94 EOS per KB – eight times higher than the current level.

In response to the spiking price, block producers decided to double the total supply of RAM, adding 64 GB over the following year at the rate of 1 KB per block. This move has so far helped to calm the market.

The issue around RAM, though, isn’t just how expensive it is.

It is also vulnerable. In August it emerged that attackers could eat up an account’s RAM, using a notification feature to stuff the target’s available RAM with useless data. Developers can avoid this attack by sending tokens through proxy smart contracts that contain no RAM, but that adds another step developers must take into account.

The issue was serious enough for EOS’ chief architect to weigh in. Dan Larimer, CTO of Block.One, the company that developed the protocol and held the $4 billion EOS ICO, wrote that block producers could free up maliciously consumed RAM by enforcing the principle that “intent of code is law.”

While that rule is contained in Larimer’s proposed revision to the EOS “constitution,” a set of bylaws that network participants are in theory held to, the problem is that the constitution has not been adopted, because the voting system necessary to do so hasn’t been implemented yet.

CPU: WE LOVE BM

EOS’ other two network resources, CPU and NET, haven’t received as much attention, but CPU in particular could squeeze both developers and users.

These resources work differently from RAM. Rather than being bought and sold, they’re obtained through staking, in which a network participant delegates EOS tokens to a particular kind of smart contract.

When the network is not being fully utilized, participants can get an outsized amount of CPU time for a relatively modest stake. In theory, that should mean early adopters don’t need very large stakes for the time being.

After all, according to Dapp Radar, just a handful of EOS dapps have more than 100 daily users, so how strapped for CPU could the network be?

As it turns out, a spammer has stepped in to fill the void. A single account, Blocktwitter, has been “sharing messages comprising of 192 million actions, which is  about 95 percent of all EOS transactions to date,” said Tom Fu, a partner at standby block producer GenerEOS.

Nearly all of them say simply “WE LOVE BM,” a reference to Larimer’s nom-de-net, bytemaster. As Fu put it, the messages are “not important.”

But they’re still having an impact, due to Blocktwittter’s high CPU stake. Users, as well as developers, are seeing their allotted CPU times get squeezed due to all the spamming.

Fu told CoinDesk:

“RAM can be pushed onto users, however, CPU cannot. In this sense whoever executes the action needs to have the CPU staked in their account.”

A recent Reddit post by an EOS Knights player underscores this point. The user wrote that they delegated 10 EOS – $59 worth – to play the game, thinking that would be enough, but actually it wasn’t even close. EOS Knights suggests staking at least 15 EOS ($88) on CPU to play the game, but the Reddit user claimed that even a $500 stake would not meet the recommended required CPU time.

As such, Larimer has proposed a model for renting CPU and NET, which he writes “will lower the cost of using the EOS network.”

Worth it?

Yet, it may be overly simplistic to say that ethereum pushes costs onto users, while EOS pushes costs onto developers.

“There are use cases where a developer can write a dapp where the user has to bring their own CPU and/or [NET] and/or RAM to the interaction,” former Block.One VP of product Thomas Cox said, adding: “that’s one way to write an early version of your dapp that won’t bankrupt you if it suddenly gets popular.”

One thing that is clear is that EOS dapp developers will have to think hard about their business models, perhaps more so than their counterparts on ethereum.

In the final analysis, though, EOS might have its advantages, according to Cox.

For one, whereas a popular dapp like CryptoKitties can clog the entire ethereum network, EOS staking does guarantee a certain minimum access to CPU.

Another potential advantage is that unlike ethereum’s gas, investments in EOS resources can be recouped. Tokens staked on CPU can be unstaked, and RAM can be sold – perhaps at a lower price, though.

Finally, Cox said, ethereum dapp developers are “one bug away from bankruptcy.”

EOS’ arbitration system has been the subject of considerable controversy, but it does provide some recourse and the potential to avoid a DAO- or Parity-type fiasco.

As such, Cox posed, but didn’t answer, the question:

“What’s that worth?”

EOS with skeleton via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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In Rare Decision, ICO Founders Will Delay Crypto Paydays – For a Decade

In an industry that’s become synonymous with fast cash, patience can be a rare commodity.

That makes a little-discussed announcement last week by the Nebulas project, powered by the top 100 cryptocurrency NAS, all the more remarkable. The team behind the protocol, today valued at $64 million, will now voluntarily wait a decade before they can get their hands on the blockchains’ tokens they’ll earn for their labor – seven years longer than they had originally planned.

In December, the Beijing-based team raised $60 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) for a general purpose blockchain with additional features that they believe will accelerate development and market adoption. In the original token allocation, 20 percent of the initial supply (or 20 million NAS tokens) were set aside for the team and founders to be gradually released over a three-year period.

But based on a blog post published last week, the timelines for the token release are being extended considerably.

For the developer team, the start date for the gradual distribution of tokens will be postponed for a year, and for the founders of the network, the token distribution doesn’t start for a full decade.

Its a move that’s already winning nods of approval from an industry seeking to develop best practices. Ryan Selkis, founder of the token data source Messari, said that he believes a multi-year vesting schedule should become a standard for new token companies.

“The best way to align founder incentives is with vesting schedules – could be time-based, many are starting to do this, or milestone-based,” he wrote CoinDesk.

The Nebulas team has also committed to publishing the smart contract address holding the NAS tokens and will contract with a third-party auditor to verify their finances.

“We are conscious that the construction and development of Nebulas still have a long way to go. We need to focus on Nebulas developing, including technology and ecosystem,” Hitters Xu, a founder of Nebulas, told CoinDesk.

Echoing that, the project’s marketing director, Becky Lu said, “We just want our team to focus on our technical vision.”

She continued:

“It’s not an easy decision for everyone because the blockchain industry is a very innovative industry and still has a lot of risk. I think that shows our determination.”

Ranking dapps

Part of the reason behind the move, founders say, is the strength of the project’s core idea, the mission of creating a blockchain ranking system that helps users elevate the best dapps, or decentralized applications.

“It’s like Google ranking in the blockchain world,” Lu explained. “There’s a lot of data.”

By analyzing the interactions between smart contracts and addresses, Nebulas believes it can create a more sophisticated view of the blockchain’s users. This mechanism could be helpful to entrepreneurs behind token projects, who have become more interested in sophisticated user targeting for their airdrops.

Speaking to that, Lu said of Nebulas: “You can reach some people if you see they are your target audience.”

Or at least that’s the goal.

Nebulas’ mainnet went live the first quarter, but there are still several tools promised in the ICO that have not been completed: Nebulas Rank (a system for assessing entities on the blockchain based on activity), Nebulas Force (a way to upgrade the software on-chain) and Nebulas Incentive (providing dynamic to developers using Nebulas).

Developing dapps

According to the project’s spokespeople, 6,900 dapps have already been built on the blockchain as it exists today.

From May to July, Nebulas ran an incentive program for developers, distributing in total 450,000 nas tokens to 1,472 different applications. Plus, the project continues to provide these incentives for new dapp development.

Still, those dapps will have some time before they see significant use, primarily because the project’s token migration (moving from ethereum to its own blockchain) is still ongoing, and some users have run into roadblocks.

Since many of Nebulas’ token holders are investors within the United States and the regulatory framework for crypto tokens is still very much uncertain, they have not been able to execute the swap on exchanges.

“Originally, we thought the exchanges would be easier,” Lu said.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped the team from continuing development on tools that will one day help users interact with the protocol. For instance, the team is building a way for its wallet to allow users to execute the migration that way, instead of having to go through an exchange.

Speaking to the need for such a feature, Lu told CoinDesk:

“In this bear market, some community members are very worried about token price.”

The nas token – which was sold for $2 each during the ICO – is currently trading at $1.41, according to CoinMarketCap.

Hitters Xu image via Nebulas Project Facebook

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Here Is How The Tron Virtual Machine (TVM) Will Be The MacGyver of the Blockchain Industry

Many adults who grew up in the 80s and 90s, knew MacGyver was the bad-ass hero who did not use guns but could save the world using a wrench and some chewing gum. He was an educated scientist and secret agent who was very resourceful. He also never went anywhere without his Swiss Army Knife and a roll of duct tape. When some kids wanted to blow things up like Rambo, there was another community who wanted to be MacGyver. The series has since got a reboot beginning 2016.

So how will the Tron Virtual Machine become the MacGyver of the Blockchain Industry?

The current countdown on the Tron (TRX) website for the launch of the testnet of the Tron Virtual Machine currently reads 3 days and 16 hours at the moment of writing this. This means that the TVM will be released on the 30th of July and this will be another huge event on the Tron calendar of 2018.

A Virtual Machine is an application environment that emulates a computer system (dedicated hardware). The TVM is a virtual machine made by the Tron Foundation for making the tron ecosystem bigger, better and developer friendly.

This is where the TVM can be compared to MacGyver. 

Developers can create smart contracts that run on the TVM using friendly programming languages developers are familiar with. There is no need to learn a new programming language. Developers can use Ethereum’s Solidity as well as other common ones. The Tron Foundation has not yet disclosed the other programming languages the TVM will support, but one can assume it is the popular C, C#, Java and Python.

If this is the case, the TVM will be the Blockchain Virtual Machine of choice for every developer out there for it will solve all their smart contracts problems without them having to learn a new programming language. This will be a manner similar to how MacGyver could improvise a solution to escape from a hairy situation.

The TVM will at first be compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) so that Ethereum developers can compile and adjust their existing codes in an environment where it is easy to port to TRON. Once DApps are tested on the TVM, they will be uploaded to the TRON Mainnet and run on the TVMs of the Tron Super Representatives.

There are also plans for the TVM to be compatible with the EOS Virtual Machine and other mainstream VMs.

The TVM uses bandwidth rather than gas as is the case with the EVM. This means it will be a cheaper and efficient option for developers. Transactions and smart contract operations are free on the Tron platform. Developers will love the flexibility provided by the TVM.

In a nutshell, the efficiency and problem solving capabilities of the about-to-be-released TVM can be compared to MacGyver. Once developers realize that the TVM is their one stop shop for smart contracts and DApp creation, then the Tron ecosystem will continue to expand further. The Tron ecosystem continues to grow and decentralizing the web is slowly becoming a reality.

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. It is an opinion piece. The opinion herein should be taken as is. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available.

[Photo, the Legendary MacGyver. Source, Variety.com]

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What Scams? Ethereum's Vision for Apps Is Only Growing Bolder

Borderless, permissionless and free from coercion.

That’s the dream underlying web 3.0, in which unstoppable, decentralized applications (dapps) combine with web 2.0 technology, eventually corroding the power structures that traditional infrastructures encode. But that vision hasn’t come as fast as some expected or hoped, and moreover, some ethereum applications seem to even be working against that rosy vision for the future.

Outpacing CryptoKitties in cumulative volume, dapps like FOMO3D and POWH3D are leading the polls right now with high-risk gambling games that, as detailed by CoinDesk, are essentially Ponzi schemes in structure.

Larry Cermak, an analyst, described the situation on Sunday as “depressing.”

“Legitimate use cases like [decentralized exchanges] and prediction markets are not gaining any traction while scams and useless games are thriving,” Cermak tweeted.

And still what proved to be ethereum’s “killer use case” across the past two years (culminating a total of nearly $20 billion), the initial coin offering or ICO also left a stain on ethereum’s history. According to one study, a whopping 78 percent of ICO’s in 2017 are now “identified scams.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, projects that overemphasized the crypto funding scheme were turned away from attending last week’s Dappcon conference in Berlin, where the focus was on the underlying technology.

“The focus should be on the building part, not on the raising money part,” Alex Van de Sande, developer of ethereum’s mist browser and ethereum core developer, told CoinDesk. “I think if you focus too much on raising money to build stuff then you might not be the guys who are actually building, right.”

As such, the conference brought together developers and high-profile dapp projects to reinforce their goal and determine what needs to be done to make that goal a reality.

Because according to many at the event, dapps are still the key technology for moving ethereum and the blockchain industry as a whole closer to its dream of making the world a better, more free place.

Gregor Zavcer from Datafund, a blockchain-based project for allowing web users to take back control of their data, told CoinDesk:

“I think the dapp development is a new paradigm in terms of how you do everything in the open, how you connect with others, and how you also provide value, not just necessarily for the end user but for the ecosystem.”

Ambition meets reality

And those things, according to Van de Sande, are the essence of ethereum.

“Ethereum makes no sense if there are no dapps; if there are no dapps running on ethereum then it’s just another coin that gets its worth from speculating,” he told CoinDesk.

And as such, “I think our job, as ethereum developers, is to try to understand what are the dapps doing and what are the dapps not doing, what are the biggest challenges for those dapps, and we need to solve that for them. We serve the dapp developers.”

Yet borderless communication, trade, computation and organizations – there’s a known disconnect between the technologically ambitious dapp community and ethereum’s ability to handle a fully decentralized dapp that has mainstream use.

For example, CryptoKitties was lambasted when it was first launched since it garnered significant traction and caused transaction backlogs and increasing fees on the network.

Then later, it was criticized for sacrificing full decentralization for the sake of usability. And this tension between usability and decentralization – manifest by the lack of user engagement on most dapps so far – was the most troubling concern for those at Dappcon.

Benjamin Bollen from OpenST, a layer-two scaling solution for ethereum crypto tokens, said that the need for user engagement even eclipses the platform’s need to scale to keep up with market demand.

Bollen said:

“I had to be told this many many times by business people – as a technology nerd – to really absorb this message: We need to actually get to a point where it has real value and it only has real value if there are actually hundreds of millions of people using this technology.”

He continued, saying that ethereum has piqued interest from time to time – during the ICO boom, to name one – and it’s up to the developers to make sure what ethereum is known for isn’t vaporware.

Live and invaluable

While the dapps eliciting the most conversation right now are those that most developers disregard, still there have been a number of announcements and launches this year displaying that ethereum dapps are making headway.

For instance, Golem, a decentralized computation market, launched into beta earlier this year, while the hotly anticipated prediction market Augur has been live and functioning rather well for the past two weeks.

Mobile ethereum client Status, that runs over decentralized, encrypted chat protocol Whisper, has also made substantial progress. As well as enabling transactions to occur across the chat app, Status provides an early look at some of the more exciting possibilities of the decentralized web – peer-to-peer token swaps, DAO creation apps, identity systems, social networks, collectibles and Local Ethereum.

And for some, these features are invaluable. Because Status offers a free method for communication for those who live behind strict internet firewalls and cannot access conventional social media websites, the dapp has become one that many ethereum developers point to as not just a success, but a necessity.

Speaking to that Status use case, María Paula Fernandez, communications lead for decentralized computation app Golem, said:

“We don’t realize this shit, but this is the power of a dapp. Dapps are fucking alive.”

And according to Zavcer, typical of the dapp ecosystem is that protocols overlap and reinforce each other.

“These past two days I was reminded about the notion of ‘team protocols,'” Zavcer told CoinDesk. “Teams are specializing on the aspect that they want to cover and somehow together we create these decentralized mosaics.”

Echoing that, Anna Rose, co-host of the ZeroKnowledge podcast, which takes a look at the technology that’ll power web 3.0, told CoinDesk:

“I think when there is a momentum in a scene – be it music, art or tech – you see a flourishing of ideas, buzz around certain terms. New humor, aesthetics and memes emerge. It is an exciting moment.”

Bad dapps do good?

Part of the new “humor” – a dark humor –that’s emerging from the ethereum dapp ecosystem is the concept of honesty in your bad behavior making that bad behavior somehow charming.

For instance, the Ponzi scheme games, FOMO3D and POWH3D, have several fans. One Twitter user said of FOMO3D, “Deadly combination of smart contract and psychology. Like bitconnect but honest. Simply genius.”

But overall, ethereum dapps developers have come out to criticize the games, contending that the only reason they are popular and causing a stir within the community is that they are easy builds that aren’t technologically complex, so work can go into marketing instead of development.

“Bad dapps are popular because they are the easiest to build, and due to the newness still of this technology and hype, people see dollar signs,” Fauve Altman, community manager for dapp registry and analytics site, State of the Dapps, told CoinDesk.

That said, the team behind FOMO3D and POWH3D emphasized their shared commitment to a decentralized web.

“Most of the crypto sector is nothing but unsubstantiated hype, a melting pot of impractical ideas fueled by psychologically manipulative marketing, greed and deceit. Like it or not, this is the reality of not just crypto but the majority of capitalism as a whole,” Mantso, the pseudonymous lead developer behind the games, told CoinDesk.

While the statements could be taken as tongue-in-cheek, Mantso could be onto something in that any kind of development in the field will provide the much-needed research to make the vision a reality – one that doesn’t accidentally cause harm.

As such, Mantso, rather optimistically, concluded:

“All of you are pioneers in a completely new, disruptive economic field that will undoubtedly come to flourish. This community is the breeding ground, the nurturing womb for the first, true decentralized society and economy.”

Image via Dappcon Berlin Twitter

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Weiss Ratings Loves EOS but Hates its Centralization

Weiss Ratings, the investment risk analysis firm, published an article for its subscribers in which they talk about the benefits and dangers of EOS.

We Still Love EOS. But its Centralization is a Case of Bad Breadth” is the name of the report written by Juan M. Villaverde. In it, he objectively shows some of the points that make EOS fail to be the “Perfect Blockchain.”

The first part of the letter explains that EOS is a great project, with a lot of potentials to become everything that Ethereum promised.

They recognize that EOS can easily “take the crypto world to the next level, and establish a foundation for the smart economies of the future.” However, it’s not enough to be excited just yet:

“EOS is the first fully scalable, complete, third-generation, distributed-ledger platform ever to be released to the public. I know that’s a mouthful. But that’s exactly what it is.”

For the author, the main problem with EOS is centralization. And it may be something so serious that it could jeopardize the promising future that lies ahead for this blockchain:

“The EOS dream will not come true until it fixes its centralization problems, which came into sharper focus with its launch this week.”

The report made by Weiss Ratings states that although the team behind EOS did its best to avoid this problem through an incredibly long ICO to promote better distribution of the tokens, in the end, they failed in their purpose, creating highly centralized crypto money.

The letter shows the irony of having a crypto with a high level of centralization running on a blockchain whose motto is “decentralize everything.”

According to official statements, The Team “identified EOS as a platform with one of the most centralized distributed ledgers in the world today.”

If someone adapts the Gini index to cryptos, the figures make it easy to crete a chart; the numbers will show that the level of centralization of the EOS platform is practically impossible, even more significant than those of authoritarian regimes.

The team dared to compare the results of the centralization level of EOS with the level of centralization of wealth in a “feudal kingdom with indentured servants.”

“The Gini coefficient, used by economists to measure wealth distribution of countries, when applied to EOS, comes up at 97 (on a scale of 0 to 100). Even if you recognize that crypto communities and countries are two different animals, the fact remains that any Gini coefficient above 60 is problematic.”

The EOS distribution mode could allow a small elite to control the process of creating and distributing wealth within the blockchain.

An explanation of Delegated Proof-os-Stake: – EOS´ consensual algorithm – also gives light to the problem EO is facing:

“Trouble is, EOS lets each token holder vote for up to 30 different candidates — all with the same tokens.

So if I own one million EOS, does that mean I can vote for 30 different block producers with the full weight of my one million? Yes.

And since there are only 21 block producers, if my buddies and I have a majority of the tokens, could I effectively run the whole EOS network? Yes again.

This is what I mean by a case of bad breadth. The wealth distribution on this network is narrow enough as it is. Allowing each token to be voted for up to 30 different candidates makes it even narrower. It opens the Pandora’s box to a possible situation in which a small elite can call the shots on the EOS blockchain.

And this is supposed to be decentralized?

No. This community has got to come together and ensure the decentralization needed to let EOS’ true potential shine through.”

Weiss Ratings: The Solution Lies on The Backs of the Community

Mr Villaverde concludes the letter proposing some solutions to this problem:

  1. Get rid of the 30-votes-per-token scheme.
  2. Allow for more than 21 block producers.
  3. Cap the voting power of large token holders to no more than 2.5% of the total token supply.
  4. Large token holders need to identify themselves.

In the end, as the report states, “the destiny of this project is now mostly up to its community.” Up to know there are no major initiatives to solve this problem.

Weiss Ratings downgraded this coin to a “B-” in the Weiss Cryptocurrency Rating, but remains strong with a market cap of $13,062,095,768, placing it in fifth place in the Coinmarketcap Top.Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratin

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Nebulas (NAS) Wants To Reward You For Referrals Through Its NEW Super Contributors Program

The Nebulas (NAS) project wants to reward you through an extension of its currently running Incentive Program. This new offshoot of the Incentive Program is known as the Super Contributor incentive. With this new Super Contributor initiative, community members will be rewarded in NAS for inviting more people to join the Nebulas ecosystem. The new users include both developers and non-developers on the platform.

With Super Contributors, the top 20 accounts with the most invites that result in new users signing up to the ecosystem, will become Super Contributors. They will share a reward of 10,000 NAS per week (valued at $66,500 using current values of NAS) and get to vote on the best Decentralized Applications on the platform through the Nebulas Initiative Program.

So how does the underlying Nebulas Initiative Program work?

The initiative program has two goals, to get more developers building DApps on the platform and to encourage community member participation by rewarding them each time they refer a developer to the platform. The program is worth $5 Million in rewards and has been running since May 7th. It will end on the 2nd of July this year.

The developer rewards system works as follows:

  • 100 NAS to the developer for every valid DApp submitted
  • Submitted DApps are in turn re-awarded each week
  • 10,000 NAS for a 1st place finish each week
  • 5,000 NAS for a 2nd place finish each week
  • 3,000 NAS for a 3rd place finish each week
  • 300 NAS for 20 winners of the Excellence Award per week
  • 20,000 NAS for a Monthly Winner

The referral program works as follows:

  • 40 NAS for each successful referral
  • 20% commission based on the developer’s reward if the entry wins any prize mentioned above
  • 10,000 NAS for a 1st place referral champion per month
  • 2,500 NAS for a 2nd place referral champion per month
  • 1,000 NAS for a 3rd place referral champion per month

What is Nebulas (NAS)?

Nebulas is a new generation of public blockchain and dedicated to building a collaborative ecosystem with sustainable upgrading, and its mainnet was launched on March 30th, 2018. Nebulas features an original blockchain value discovery system, forward-looking incentive and consensus mechanisms, and the ability to avoid hard forks through self-evolution.

The platform has been compared to being the ‘Google App’ on the blockchain for it hopes to host and rank DApps on its platform for its users to decide on the best pick. Nebulas selects outstanding DApps according to its algorithm and the now active Super Contributor voting. The algorithm also measures the importance of each user and smart contract on the platform.

Current market analysis indicate that Nebulas (NAS) is trading at $6.65 at the moment of writing this. The token has dropped 4.73% in the last 24 hours amidst a relatively stable Bitcoin that is trading at current levels of $7,589. All fingers are crossed that these levels are maintained throughout the coming weekend.

Further investigation of the NAS token value in the crypto-markets indicate that the token has peaked three times this year. The first two were in January and to levels of $14.81 and $13.31 respectively. The most recent peak value was seen on May 3rd when the token was valued at $11.85.

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Meet the Dapp Market: A Twist On Open Source Is Winning Developers

“[For the] entirety of the history of technology, open-source software developers have had to live like paupers.”

While this is a bit of an exaggeration, Kevin Owocki has a point: making a living can be rough for developers of open-source software, that is, software for which the code is made freely available to use, modify and redistribute under licenses that mostly preclude hallmarks of ownership such as patent rights.

As the founder of Gitcoin, a decentralized bug bounty marketplace, Owocki is trying to fix that.

And this push comes at a time when many open-source developers are lamenting the struggles of their passion, as a Medium article called “A Bitter Guide To Open Source” makes its rounds.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Owocki described the categories open-source maintainers and developers fall into: either they work on their pet projects for free outside regular work hours (which can be draining); they solicit donations from the users of their software (which generally doesn’t garner much pay); or they work under the auspices of a corporate sponsor (which turns off some developers that appreciate their autonomy).

None of these are perfect options, so Gitcoin, launched in September 2017, aims to create a marketplace whereby open-source developers – particularly those that focus on ethereum and the decentralized applications or “dapps” that run on top of it – can get compensated for whatever work they want to do.

“Open source produces billions of dollars a year in economic output, but the expected value is free,” Owocki told CoinDesk in interview, adding:

“Somewhere between those two numbers is what a rational market would actually pay for open-source software.”

Gitcoin, a closely allied platform to Bounties Network, and others aim to build that “rational market” by establishing marketplaces where developers get paid in crypto. And already, Gitcoin and Bounties Network are attracting active users – though, admittedly, still small ones.

Still, since these marketplaces are also dapps in their own right, they’re challenging the narrative that many that have raised money don’t have solid use cases or good intentions. Looking ahead, Gitcoin and other dapp developer marketplaces could change that discussion even further by giving developers some incentive for improving today’s dapps or building new ones that users want.

How it works

Both Gitcoin and Bounties Network are two-way marketplaces, in which projects post “bounties” – discrete chunks of work such as fixing a bug in some software – and developers complete them as their skills and schedules allow.

The bounties are hooked up to GitHub, a popular repository for open-source code, and the transactions – priced in ether or any other ERC-20 token – are mediated by ethereum-based smart contracts.

The two projects function in more or less the same way, since Gitcoin adopted Bounties Network’s protocol for ethereum smart contracts and IPFS data storage in November. That was around the time that Gitcoin joined Bounties Network under the umbrella of ConsenSys, an ethereum startup and incubator.

Both projects have now begun to build user bases.

Owocki told CoinDesk that Gitcoin has 220 daily active users. In all, developers total have completed 350 bounties on the platform, worth close to $47,000. Bounties Network, meanwhile, has seen 263 users complete bounties worth $97,000, the project’s founder Mark Beylin told CoinDesk.

To date, Owocki said six people have been hired full-time after doing work on Gitcoin, describing the process as “try-before-you-buy hiring.” Rather than “working with a recruiter who doesn’t really understand the position that they’re hiring for, or who charges 20 percent of an engineer’s first-year salary, you can … buy and build a relationship before you decide to get hitched.”

And while the marketplaces function relatively similarly and are interoperable due to their shared smart contract protocol, they each have slightly different focuses.

Gitcoin, for the time being, is concentrating on open-source software (“depth“), whereas Bounties Network – while most of its bounties are still for code fixes – also aims to attract work such as website design and translation (“breadth”).

According to Bounties Network’s head of community Simona Pop:

“Our goal is to make this available to a whole range of audiences that aren’t necessarily proficient in code or extremely tech-savvy, because the wider population actually isn’t.”

Supply and demand

One of the reasons for these new decentralized marketplaces’ success is the disadvantages of today’s alternatives.

Christopher Allen, co-founder of the GitHub Blockchain Guild, which provides financial support to open-source developers, described traditional bug bounty programs as siloed. They “are often written in forms that benefit a single company, rather than an ecosystem,” he said.

And the traditional platforms that do offer marketplaces of work from different institutions and projects, like Bountysource and Upwork, are generally filled with “noise,” Market Protocol CTO Phil Elsasser, who posts bounties to Gitcoin, told CoinDesk.

“We had tried things like Upwork early on, but it was very hard to find solid developers and also to screen through the massive amount of noise on the platform,” he said, noting that developers on Gitcoin are easy to come by and tend to be of a higher caliber.

Still, Elsasser’s comment hints at one of the hurdles faced by developers on decentralized marketplaces today – that these sites continue to be heavy on developers but light on teams posting bounties.

Owocki, though, put a positive spin on the mismatch, saying that he’s proud to be offering an application developers are interested in using.

Still, there are other hurdles.

For instance, because the system runs on ethereum, users must pay “gas” (the unit used to price fees on the network) to commit changes to the blockchain, such as posting a new bounty or sending a payment for work done. If more developers and businesses start using these decentralized marketplace dapps, they could push up against ethereum’s scaling limits, a la CryptoKitties, leading to high fees and transactions backlogs for participants.

Plus, connecting “web 3” applications like Gitcoin to “web 2” browsers like Google Chrome requires installing and running Metamask, a browser app designed specifically for interacting with ethereum, which could be a roadblock for some users.

But initial reports indicate that participants on both sides of the marketplace like the service. The organizations that have sourced the most development work from Gitcoin include notable decentralized apps and platforms: Augur, ethereum, MetaMask and uPort.

And Kenneth Ashley, a web developer who’s completed several bounties on Gitcoin, told CoinDesk:

“It’s really straightforward. You claim a bounty, you do the work, you get paid. There have been times where all this happens within an hour.”

Owe it to ICOs

Putting these challenges aside, though, Gitcoin and Bounties Network have accomplished something few dapps have.

They’ve turned the typical dapp lifecycle on its head, launching live platforms and attracting users without having sold tokens or even published white papers (Gitcoin has a page where you can sign up to receive the white paper “if/when” it becomes available and mentions elsewhere that it might consider a token distribution at some point in the future).

Ironically, though, Gitcoin and Bounties Network owe much of their success to “the whole ICO hype pump-and-dump scene,” as Owocki describes it.

“There’s actually funding for open-source software right now,” he told CoinDesk. “Now, because we have open-source money, there’s open-source jobs that are being built on top of that open-source money. As those open-source monetary foundations are looking to deploy their capital, they’re going to deploy it in a place that leverages their technology.”

As for the possible stumbling blocks, Owocki waves away “short-term concerns.”

When it comes to scalability, he trusts the ethereum developers to solve the issue; as for user experience, he suggests that can be tweaked until it’s no longer a problem.

Twenty years down the line, he argues, we’re likely to see the results of a virtuous cycle, whereby Gitcoin and other decentralized marketplaces lead the dapp space out of the white paper and ICO fundraising stage – not just by example, but by actively contributing to its development.

Using blockchain developer slang for “building,” Owocki said:

“The more we focus on BUIDLing, the more dapps launch, the more users they get, the more devs can continue entering the space.”

Old computers image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Golem Arrives: One of Ethereum's Most Ambitious Apps Is Finally Live

Wouldn’t it be nice to make some extra cash while browsing social media?

That’s the promise of Golem, a peer-to-peer market for putting your computer’s excess CPU power to use for other people. And today, after three years and 14 software implementations later, it’s going live on the ethereum blockchain.

The project, which sold out of its GNT token in 20 minutes, raising 820,000 ETH – around $340 million, according to current metrics – in 2016 by selling its crypto utility tokens to investors will likely see a significant amount of fanfare since Golem was one of the earliest generations of ethereum applications.

But it has also received some amount of criticism for its failure to turn around a product relatively quickly.

“This is typical for software development in general, and blockchain in particular, is that we underestimate the complexity of what we want to do,” Julian Zawistowski, CEO and founder of Golem, told CoinDesk. “You always underestimate how difficult it is, and this was obviously the case with us.”

That said, even though the project is still far from its goal of building a worldwide supercomputer, the mainnet launch is an important step forward in proving out its underlying architecture and ethereum itself.

In its current format, the service enables computers to rent unused CPU power for creating computer-generated imagery (CGI) using Blender, an open-source software for animated films, visual effects, interactive 3D applications and video games. It works by swapping computational power for GNT through an interface that connects to Blender directly.

And this current release, Golem Beta or Brass Golem, is an effort to test whether the technology functions in real market conditions with real money. “We have to see how it behaves in the wild,” Zawistowski said.

CTO and co-founder of the company, Piotr “Viggith” Janiuk, told CoinDesk:

“The release is there to prove to us and everyone that we can actually deliver something that can run on mainnet and that’s really usable. And well, it is.”

Big ambitions

As such, Golem today works through a software client, which connects the two parties in Golem’s network – “requesters,” those that sell computational resources, and “providers,” those that want to rent CPU power.

The providers are given small tasks, or “subtasks,” which went pieced together, create a full computational picture.

“We send those subtasks over a peer-to-peer network where peers compute them, return the results for you and connect that into one piece and pay for the use of the other peoples’ computers,” Zawistowski said.

Zawistowski explained that all interactions happen directly between nodes on the network. While it’s not built on a blockchain itself, Golem uses ethereum not only for its token but also its consensus layer.

For now, the primary function of the mainnet release is to test the economic assumptions of the network, as well as appealing to early adopters for feedback on usability and issues.

“You start with a very simple Golem that should work up to a point where we have the Golem which is perfect and self-contained and modular, and you give it a computation and it’s done in a matter of seconds,” Janiuk said.

And that future goal is first to create a dedicated plugin for Blender so that there’s no extra step for using Golem’s service through the application, and then, even more ambitious, allowing the network to provide computational resources for the sought-after form of artificial intelligence called machine learning.

“We definitely need to move in the direction of machine learning. This is something that is suited to Golem pretty well,” Janiuk said.

Inventing the wheel

But that will take time.

Speaking to the project’s long road to production, Janiuk told CoinDesk, “Interfacing with ethereum seems pretty straightforward, but once you want to move into production it is difficult. You have to make sure that it is as bulletproof as possible; there can be no holes because you’re risking someone else’s money.”

And what the team behind Golem found was that their aim of splitting computational tasks up into smaller tasks and then reintegrated them was an uphill battle.

The project faced with complicated and previously unresearched technical barriers.

For example, while verification – or proving that a computation is correct – is easy to achieve for simple crypto transactions, it becomes extremely difficult to develop around different kinds of computations.

On top of that, there was the issue of building on ethereum, which has seen its fair share of hurdles recently, as platform apps cause transaction backlogs and rising fees. Even ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin lamented the state of affairs on the network recently, telling an audience in Seoul, South Korea that app makers are “screwed” by scaling challenges.

Yet, as witnessed during CryptoKitties’ peak hype, this isn’t limited to Golem, but something that extends across the industry.

“Any decentralized solution right now is I believe still at least a few steps before being even close to something that can be called a production-grade solution,” Janiuk said.

And Zawistowski compared the situation to web development and infrastructure building in the 90s. While web developers today have a host of tools to choose from when building web applications, in the early days, developers had to start from scratch.

This is true of the blockchain space as well, Zawistowski said, adding:

“Very often you have to invent the wheel to solve your problems. Not reinventing the wheel, but actually inventing the wheel.”

Technician installing CPU in computer image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Blockstack Today: 5 Apps Already Being Built on the Decentralized Web

Blockchain architecture startup Blockstack has a vision for a truly free and open internet.

It’s a vision built on the idea that users shouldn’t get locked into a particular application, but instead be able to choose from a myriad of applications without sacrificing control.

Co-founder Muneeb Ali recently discussed how major internet players wield too much power over users, and this is exactly what Blockstack was created to disrupt.

While the vision sounds rather utopian, the company has been able to convince developers that building decentralized applications on its platform can solve the problems – namely the liability of holding huge troves of customer data vulnerable to hacks – inherent in traditional digital services.

Patrick Stanley, growth partner at Blockstack, told CoinDesk:

“Apps are being developed at a much quicker rate than we had thought. We’ve already got over 200 applications for building apps on this platform so the interest is there to build these applications and, especially, to get funding for them.”

Stanley said this is partly due to the platform’s ability to allow developers to move between different blockchains, but it also has a lot to do with the infrastructure –from security mechanisms to a forthcoming payments plug-in – the company has built to allow developers to focus on their core business.

Another part of the equation is Blockstack’s recent efforts to try and seed entrepreneurs with capital to build.

In August, the company announced a $25 million venture capital fund, backed by firms including Lux Capital and Rising Tide Capital, to invest in developers, and plans to launch a kind of “XPRIZE” program to award developers for potentially revolutionary blockchain services.

While the company isn’t ready to divulge details about the delegation of the awards and investor money, developers currently building on the Blockstack platform give us insight into what kinds of projects it can accomplish.

OpenBazaar

One of the more high-profile services associated with Blockstack, decentralized marketplace OpenBazaar is not actually built on Blockstack, but one of its key features relies on the platform.

OpenBazaar uses the Blockstack platform to name its merchants’ stores with user-friendly identifiers, explained Sam Patterson, co-founder of OB1, the startup founded to maintain OpenBazaar.

Patterson continued:

“Just like a bitcoin address is a random string of characters, an OpenBazaar store is a random string of characters. That’s not particularly user friendly, no one’s going to be able to remember that.”

Instead, through Blockstack, merchants can take the string of characters and map it to a user-friendly handle, such as Ski Shop.

Before OpenBazaar chose Blockstack, though, it considered other options, but all were limited, said Patterson. The marketplace thought not only about building its own system, but also tried ethereum’s naming system and several others.

According to Patterson, “It usually comes down to they’re not decentralized enough or they’re not user friendly enough or they haven’t been around long enough for us to be comfortable using them.”

OB1, which has raised $4.2m in total funding, is prepping version 2.0 of the marketplace, which will be “a complete overhaul” that users can hopefully start beta testing by the end of August, Patterson said. It will be built in IPFS to limit disruption to stores when they go offline and will include Tor capability.

Casa

Built totally on Blockstack, Casa is a decentralized home-sharing protocol allowing users to book rooms with bitcoin payments.

For Casa, the decision to use Blockstack was all about scalability, said founder Jeremy Welch, adding the platform is more accommodating compared to other networks as it relates to potentially dealing with millions of users.

Welch told CoinDesk:

“The Blockstack team is designing and building to scale apps to hundreds of millions of users, which no other blockchain tech can even come close to handling right now. Ethereum network is extremely congested with ICOs alone, much less a fully functioning app.”

Plus, Blockstack already has an existing user pool of early tech adopters.

The startup, which was created by Bedkin, has raised funding from early stage investment firm Precursor Ventures and will launch the protocol publicly next month.

Afia

Afia is a platform to help people better manage their personal health data.

Its creators say the application gives the individual greater control of their medical records by storing them in a personal, encrypted cloud storage.

“Because the users bring their own storage through Blockstack’s Gaia storage system, we don’t have to worry about public information being lost or held by third parties,” said Ani Agajanyan of Afia.

The cloud storage can only be decrypted with the individual’s Blockstack ID private key, making the system compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which outlines data security and privacy provisions for medical information.

The platform also removes the need to fill out the same information for each new service provider a user interacts with, and gives users much greater control over how and when the information is shared.

And because Agajanyan hopes that app will “last forever,” Blockstack, with its virtual chain technology, where an app does not rely on a single blockchain, was a perfect choice.

Guild

Guild imagines a future for open source blogging that is completely decentralized and server-less, allowing it to remove the restrictions put in place by other centralized blogging networks.

It’s like a decentralized version of Medium, a project that seems particularly alluring to the backers of Blockstack XPRIZE that have already been revealed (Guild will be taking part in the program).

Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures has confirmed he’ll be looking to fund a blockchain-powered blogging platform through the project, and early Twitter investor, Naval Ravikant is interested in funding a blockchain alternative to the popular micro-blogging site.

For Guild developer Jay Hwang, the company’s choice to go with Blockstack, and build decentralized apps, is all about giving user’s control.

“Creating a decentralized blogging platform allows for users to post any blog they want, no matter how controversial it may be,” he said, adding:

“And because it is stored where the author specifies and not on Guild’s servers, Guild has no power to remove blogs they don’t approve of or agree with. This takes away power from the monarchs of today’s internet and gives more power and control to the individual users.”

Ongaku Ryoho

Following the trend, decentralized media player, Ongaku Ryoho is looking to allow users to control all their data.

The app connects music with user’s chosen cloud storage, and allows artists to upload their music without platform fees, as well as make it available to download.

The music industry, and it’s various middlemen have been in blockchain entrepreneurs’ sights, with a Slovenia-based startup, Viberate attracting the attention of high-profile investors, Charlie Shrem and Pinterest chief scientist, Dr. Jure Leskovec.

But Steven Vandevelde of Ongaku Ryoho said the startup is differentiating itself with this idea of control.

He told CoinDesk:

“There aren’t many [music apps] out there where you are actually in control of all the data, and by all the data I really mean all of the data, from the user data, like favorites and playlists up to the music files.”

In terms of why it chose Blockstack, Vandevelde said, “I like how they think about data and identity, and how they are shaping those ideas into reality. Even though it’s still early, it was really easy to integrate the authentication layer with my app.”.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has ownership stake in Blockstack and OB1. 

Pegs and string image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Interested in offering your expertise or insights to our reporting? Contact us at [email protected].