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November was an exciting and productive month for the Decred Project. The community began to reap the benefits of Politeia development with live proposal voting and the first proposals being approved. Stakeholders collectively voiced key steering decisions regarding the future of contractor management, public relations, and research all from the comfort of their Decred wallet of choice (Decrediton or command line with the politeiavoter tool).
Additional companies and individuals joined the Decred ecosystem while some long term contributors self-organized according to interests and abilities.
Amidst the excitement, growth and change in the community, Decred development continued with high levels of activity and progress.
dcrd: Two big changes started last month were merged after extensive testing. First one is reversed UTXO set semantics and its accompanying database migration, an important change that provides simpler and more efficient handling of unspent outputs. A side effect of this is that full block reorganization tests run 40% faster. Second one is optimized reorganization handling. New –maxsameip argument allows to limit the number of connections with the same IP address. A fix to an ultra rare bug was ported from upstream btcd.
dcrwallet: Added new RPCs to use ticketbuyer v2, to get single ticket and to sweep account. Added ability to use alternative database backend, this is useful for mobile platforms. Fixed bugs: address watching for heavily used wallets, missed or double spent transactions, missing addresses and transactions.
Work started on a big change to improve the calculation of “locked” balance that should address some issues for solo, VSP and split ticket voters.
Decrediton: Added features: new page to choose SPV or full mode and display of the Decred Treasury balance. Automatic ticket buying was switched to ticketbuyer v2. It has fewer options and is simpler to use than v1 thanks to the stabilized ticket prices. Now all the user needs to specify is balance to maintain, account and stakepool to use. Startup performance of large wallets was improved. Politeia integration saw improvements as well including more responsive proposal loading and notifications for new proposals and votes. UI/UX tuneups: updated proposal list design, overview design improvements, updated account icons and improvements to the navigation icons and microanimations. To ensure continued cross-platform stability and performance Decrediton was updated to Electron 3.
The features mentioned above were merged into the master branch and will be available in the next release of Decrediton.
Trezor: Model T firmware version 2.0.9 was released with Decred support. Cheers @matheusd for making it happen! Now our Decrediton developers can work on the integration.
Beware: A fake Trezor One was discovered, check the blog how to verify and shop for a genuine device.
Politeia: politeiavoter privacy and performance was improved by randomized ticket voting order, randomized delays between votes and filtering of already voted tickets. By popular demand an email notification system was created to support awareness about new proposals and comments. Verification of cast votes was made possible by the search by ticket feature where the search is performed on the client side to protect privacy. Comment permalinks and distinguished author comments are now live. A new “Abandoned” status was added to handle abandoned proposals. “Finished” tab was split into “Approved” and “Rejected” tabs. SVG support was disabled until proper tooling to sanitize SVG is found. A small vulnerability was patched, thanks to @iemlisted for reporting. Lots of smaller improvements and bugfixes.
Note that some of these features will be available on the mainnet site after the next deployment.
Android wallet: mainnet pre-release version is available on Google Play Store! The Play Store version includes updated currency conversion that shows fee in local currency and advanced password protection with the ability to lock all data and to use an access pin code. This version also includes a security menu which allows users to sign messages proving ownership of addresses. Another community sourced innovation is the Hidden Account feature. Hidden accounts allow mobile users to keep funds in their mobile wallet which will not be displayed on the main screen balance total. The added privacy this feature offers will be useful for people buying and selling Decred at local meetups. Fund transfer between accounts was simplified with dropdown selection.
iOS wallet: the wallet is currently in beta testing and will require additional development cycles to incorporate the feature set available on Android.
dcrdata: New features integrated into the codebase this month include a network hashrate chart, the addition of the Decred Treasury to nav menu, showing that an output is spent in mempool and showing tx type on address view. Time grouping accuracy was improved.
Preview of the new home page, along with all new features is available on the alpha site which runs v3.2.0-pre built from master. A more stable beta site runs v3.1.0-beta. The most stable explorer.dcrdata.org runs v3.0.2-release. For consistency with Insight links, the latter is also accessible at mainnet.dcrdata.org.
Several privacy issues were discovered and discussed. A patch is being tested to replace Google recaptcha with self-hosted CAPTCHA to avoid fingerprinting of stakeholders - VSP operators are welcome to join testing. Request to Cloudflare was removed. An issue to make email optional was raised.
Ticket splitting: the beta continued to grow during November with split tickets filled daily. Two VSPs that integrated ticket splitting, decredbrasil.com and decredvoting.com, released an educational walk-through video in Portuguese and English and a general ticket splitting overview, in addition to guides on their sites. The software was updated to support SPV light mode. Please read the issue to consider privacy implications.
docs: November was a huge month for documentation with a variety of community supported changes and updates. The proposal passed which confirmed a community desire to change “PoS Mining” to “PoS Voting” and “stakepool” to “Voting Service Provider (VSP)” in all Decred documentation. First batch of changes is merged. Updates were made to adopt the term “Decred Treasury”. For those looking to take a deeper dive into Politeia a new Navigating Politeia Data page was created. The long awaited Decred Glossary was completed and published in part due to a huge effort by @s_ben and many people who supported the work with feedback and suggestions. We highly recommend utilizing the glossary to improve our shared community understanding.
Dev activity stats for November: 266 active PRs, 268 master commits, 45K added and 25K deleted lines spread across 8 repositories. Contributions came from 3-11 developers per repository. (chart)
Congratulations to 5 new contributors listed on decred.org: Insaf Nori (@butterfly, community manager - Middle East), Guang (@guang, community manager - Asia), Seth Benton (@s_ben, developer), Youssef Boukenken (@sef, developer), Zubair Zia (@zubairzia0, research and strategy).
I have to say that from a technical standpoint Decred is the only daemon which has never experienced any stability or syncing issues in my entire business history.
October issue included a rather short mention of the new contractor company, so let’s give a proper introduction. Block 42 is a blockchain development company based in Minsk, Belarus, that leverages blockchain technology to bring more transparency and efficiency to finance, insurance, logistics and supply chain industries. Their parent company Grinteq is based in New York, USA. Contributor team so far:
As previously reported, funding for Ditto PR services and Open Source Research was approved early in November. Mid-November the Decred community discussed contractor management and voted to adopt a Decred Contractor Clearance process which aims formalize best practices employed by open source projects. Premium listing on Easyrabbit exchange was rejected.
New proposals as of Dec 6 are listed below.
Upgrade mining algorithm to ProgPoW submitted by engineerking on Nov 11
Decred Open Source Research proposal 2 - research projects submitted by @richardred on Nov 21
Decred integration into Crypto-ATMs submitted by bcashgr on Nov 24
Decred Radio Advertising, 190+ FM and AM Stations, + Intl. Satellite submitted by ftl_ian on Nov 26
Decredex submitted by fabianreum on Nov 26
Add Decred support to Coffee Wallet submitted by francio on Nov 29
Stable coin - USDD submitted by fabianreum on on Nov 29
Decred Bug Bounty Proposal submitted by @degeri on Nov 30
Several people started hacking on Politeia data in #proposals and #research. @snr01 shared charts of voting evolution.
Low quality proposals cluttering Politeia were discussed in depth and multiple ideas were suggested. @richardred gave a nice overview of this in Politeia Digest #4.
The weekly Politeia Digest by @richardred covers all important activity around Politeia in greater detail, check issue 4, issue 5 and issue 6 released this month (and issue 7 in early December). Reddit discussions can be found with this search query.
Hashrate: November’s hashrate opened at around 156 PH/s and closed around 159 PH/s, reaching the low of 125 PH/s and high of 234 PH/s in between. BeePool’s share varied between 19-30%, F2Pool 15-46%, Luxor 1.6-4%, and Coinmine 1.9-4%. Unknown hashrate stayed between 25-50% with lows of 15% and spikes to 75%. Pool distribution numbers are approximate and cannot be accurately determined.
Fun fact: the expected total number of hashes it took to produce the current chain tip is getting pretty close to the number of hashes needed to do a birthday attack on a single RIPEMD160.
Staking: 30-day average ticket price was 103 DCR (+3.2). The price varied between 96.7 and 110.2 DCR. Locked amount was 4.02-4.18 million DCR, which corresponded to 45.9-47.2% of the available supply.
After the price dropped to 96.7, 1,378 tickets were purchased in a single window that bumped the price to 110.2 after 9 subsequent price increases. This is the new all time high on the new sdiff algorithm that has been in effect since July 2017.
Nodes: as of Dec 1 there are 204 public listening nodes and 332 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 6.5% are v1.4.0(pre) dev builds (+0.5%), 50% on v1.3.0 (+5%), 25% on v1.2.0 (-3%), 11% on v1.1.2 (-3%), 5% on v1.1.0.
Obelisk began producing Batch 2-5 units and expects to begin shipping in early December, after that it will take ~4 weeks to fulfill all orders. On Dec 4 they announced several new offers: SC1 hashing boards can be purchased and installed into DCR1 units, DCR1 can be converted to Batch 6 SC1 or sold back to Obelisk. The details are in the newsletter post.
The Whatsminer D1 turned out to be 48 TH/s, 9% up from expected 44 TH/s. The price was bumped by $350 to $4,850 from Pangolin. MicroBT’s price changes and shipment delay were handled differently by resellers and drew varied opinions from the community about best practices.
Bitmain announced the Decred Antminer DR5 with 34 TH/s at 1800 W, price CNY 19,000 (USD 2,750) and shipping late December. European importers of the DR5 are listing tentative availability the week of Dec 21 and prices ranging from USD 3,299 to EUR 3,291 (USD 3,724).
Luxor pool announced a 3-5% hashrate boost for Decred miners.
UK holiday shoppers have another option to spend Decred this season. MonetaryUnit announced that DCR is accepted on Flubit, a UK marketplace they acquired in the summer. Some insights from the blog post: Flubit is a 8 year-old eCommerce company that served over 3 million shoppers last year, the cryptocurrency integration is seamless for the merchants.
Outreach for the month of November was mostly of the planning variety, though many local meetups did take place across the world, including important events in Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh City. @eSizeDave and @joshuam are doing a great job spreading Decred in Asia Pacific.
@Dustorf released an extensive blog detailing the process of Ditto’s proposal approval from preliminary vetting, to proposal discussion and voting, to the next steps in planning and executing. The blog received a ton of pre-release feedback in #marketing showing the power and skill of our writers. Much work was done aggregating data to upload and share with the Ditto team so we can hit the ground running in December. @Dustorf had an onboarding call on Monday, Dec 3, and he and @jy-p plan to meet with Ditto in person later that week.
Per @Dustorf’s blog, the initial focus will be on gaining community alignment on positioning and messaging, then rolling that into some web updates while also planning for 2019 execution of the communications strategy. Ditto will engage publicly on Matrix in #marketing, and sensitive information will be reserved for a new Matrix room called “Ditto PR”. If you think you can help and would like to be invited to this room, please reach out to @jz or @Dustorf to be added.
December will be a month of planning, and @jy-p will present “Applications of Blockchain Timestamping” at The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, USA on Jan 16-18. Other events will likely be confirmed the first week of December and will be made public in #marketing.
Besides planning mid and long term strategy our PR will also act on current opportunities, as explained in #marketing.
@Haon started a discussion on Reddit about what to expect from the Ditto partnership and shared thoughts based on his experience with the Decred community and collaboration with the previous PR firm (PRWithBrains).
@jz posted guidelines on representing Decred at conferences.
More articles on various websites were published, but we only listed a selected few. The decred-media-tracker project is intended to track all articles.
Standard & Consensus rated Decred C+. The original report is in Chinese and @guang wrote a review of it in Chinese also. The weak aspects noted by the report are low social media activity, low trading volume and high liquidity risk. The strong aspects are hybrid PoW+PoS system that balances holders, miners and developers, experienced development team and better sovereignty of the community enabled by voting systems.
Community stats as of Dec 1:
Comm systems news:
Reddit: whether DCR whales are good or bad for Decred; investing using Treasury funds and conflicts of interest; Politeia hub-and-spoke model for private torrent trackers; trusting hardware wallets; how many atomic swaps were made.
Chat index was omitted from this issue. The plan is to replace it with a live collaborative document.
The crypto market saw a $70 billion drop in November with most of the top 100 assets by marketcap losing 30% to 60% of USD value. Bitcoin established an aggregated low at $3,606 after dropping from its monthly high of $6,540 making a total 45% peak-bottom spread. Between Nov 14-15 most top 100 assets lost 10-20% USD value in a single day - one day before the infamous BCH split. Forbes and Bloomberg attributed the BTC dump to the Bitcoin Cash fork, the latter citing fear, uncertainty and doubt of some guys. At the end of the month both coins emerged from the fork as sustained new chains but together the price is 40% less than pre-fork lows. Others like Yahoo Finance attribute the SEC rulings about ICOs to the drop.
Decred was not immune to the market movement and saw a drop from $40 to $19.8 at end of month.
Nvidia reported a drop in GPU sales for mining. This must have nothing to do with Ethereum, Zcash and others receiving ASICs for their GPU-oriented mining algorithms, but rather “it is really the canary in the coal mine for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies” per the experts. Seriously guys, it is the collapse of cryptocurrency mining.
New study of Bitcoin mining gives some breakeven and mining cost estimates and suggests that some miners are shutting down equipment. Another interesting finding is that nearly 80% of energy used comes from renewables.
A paper was published in Nature Climate journal that suggests Bitcoin PoW mining will have significant negative impact on climate change. Discussion in #random noted serious misunderstandings of how PoW works and alarmingly low quality of the paper, along with some guesses about why it was published.
Ethereum Foundation is funding efforts to create ASICs that compute Verifiable Delay Function (VDF) as a replacement for Proof-of-Work mining for blockchain security. This article compares VDF and Proof-of-Work.
Zcash is looking into hybrid ASIC-GPU mining, among other improvements planned for next year’s protocol upgrade.
According to this thread, yet another coin with claimed ASIC resistance received an ASIC, while the developers removed ASIC resistance claims from the website. Reddit thread that questioned this was wiped out. An instance where transparent censorship could be useful. (missed in Oct issue)
A new core library written in Rust was released for Bitcoin Cash. This adds to existing rust-bitcoin, parity-bitcoin and bitcrust. Rust is another modern language besides Go that aims for safety and performance. It’s nice to see this software emerging since it may be useful for Decred, which is open to multiple implementations.
Bitcoin Cash, born as a solution to the long-running Bitcoin scaling debate, itself had a contentious hard fork this month. This article has a good summary of what the fork was about. The sides came to be referred to by their dominant software implementation, Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision. BCH ABC was planning a hard fork to add canonical transaction ordering and a new OP code - BCH SV rejects these changes and plans instead to return to a set of rules based on Bitcoin version 0.1.0.
Miners and oracles seemed to be split relatively evenly between the two sides, with Roger Ver and Jihan Wu on the ABC side and Craig S Wright and Calvin Ayre on the BCH SV side. This contentious hard fork was even more contentious than most, as the BCH SV side announced that they would nullify the replay protection added by ABC (another good article about the run-up to the fork). SV actually planned to mitigate ABC’s replay protection by allowing miners to collect any BCH transferred using the new ABC OP codes - so that the use of these new features would result in the loss of BCH on the SV chain. There were also threats to attack the ABC chain and kill it, or make it unusable for long periods, should the SV chain have sufficient hashpower.
This post on r/btc compiled a list of resources for following the fork as it played out. The cash.coin.dance site has a number of tools for keeping track of the fork in real-time. This article has a good report from 24 hours after the fork. @richardred has written a short perspective on this Hash War Theatre also. On Nov 26 the SV side backed off and declared that the hash war was over, they would allow both chains to co-exist in peace. With both chains seemingly being allowed to co-exist by the balance of mining power, it seems like the costs in this case are to be expressed primarily in terms of community fragmentation and aggravation. The BCH holder community in this case did not really have a role to play or way to affect the outcome, it was one for the miners to hash out.
Feels good to have Decred tickets that can be used to prevent sustained contentious chain splits, and to punish miners who turn the chain into a vehicle for their own power plays, should that ever become a problem.
This month also saw the launch of SharkPool, a startup which aims to attack other Bitcoin forked chains by mining empty blocks and selling the profits for BCH.
There appears to be some drama in the RChain community, involving people being laid off and a possible fork. It is difficult to find any sources about this beyond this blog post. This is not the first internal conflict for RChain, since it itself was born out of a disagreement inside Synereo project which has led to a split in the past (discussion)
Looking at all the fighting in other communities I (@bee) can’t help but insert a personal comment. It appears to me that communities waste a ton of energy on all the controversies. This energy is not building value. Chain splits and community splits leave both sides with less people, less talent, and less chances to make any long term impact. It is ironic that in a space of programmed decentralized consensus systems so many people fail to achieve human consensus. Decred manages to keep moving at its decent speed because it avoids external, and more importantly, internal conflicts. Let us keep incentives aligned and keep the community together.
Aragon released a new version on Oct 30 which allows users to create organizations on the Ethereum mainnet. Prior to this, 15,000+ organizations had apparently been created through previous versions on Ethereum testnets. Aragon can be used to create an “organization”, add members and assign them tokens, and then hold signal votes with those tokens. The community also recently voted overwhelmingly (99.97%!) to approve AGP-1, a Governance Proposal Process.
The NavCoin community fund was launched on Nov 16. NavCoin’s community fund operates on “dual-vote consensus”, with an initial vote to decide if a proposal is approved or not, and then a subsequent vote to determine whether the payout should be made (after the work is done). Voters are participants in NavCoin staking, and vote with the weight of their stake. The community fund receives 0.25 NAV from each block minted, 500K NAV per year, or around $93K at today’s prices. Proposal voting lasts for one week and requires participation of 50% of stakers, with 70% approval required for acceptance.
Listing on Coinbase does not always result in a pump.
Unchained podcast episode discusses “why ICOs are down 90% since the winter, why airdrops could be a better than ICOs for seeding usage on networks, whether or not they’re legal and which wallets to target.” (non-itunes link).
Security news: Seven new Spectre and Meltdown attacks were revealed that impact Intel, AMD and ARM CPUs to various degrees. This is following a new Intel Hyper-Threading vulnerability discovered earlier same month. These revelations continue to show that we need safer and more open hardware to run our cryptocurrencies.
SMS, and relying on mobile operators in general, shown to be a bad choice for 2FA. In this recent incident, a server not even protected with a password leaked millions of SMS messages containing 2FA codes, password resets and other sensitive information nearly in real-time. In another case, lawsuits like this will hopefully push cellular providers to improve security, but they won’t get your coins back. Speaking even more generally, most smartphones have a baseband chip and other proprietary parts - nobody really knows what they are doing or how vulnerable they are.
Headphone software was caught installing a root certificate that can potentially be abused to impersonate websites.
Copay wallet was infected with malware to steal cryptocurrency. If you used this wallet or one derived from it, you may need to move your coins to a new seed. This coverage includes details like affected software and versions. The cause was repository compromise of one of the npm dependencies. No known Decred software was affected.
Quite a lot of security troubles this month, but hopefully these warnings will help to educate and keep your coins safe.
Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research.
Credits (alphabetical order): bee, degeri, guang, Haon, kozel, oregonisaac, richardred, zubairzia0.