Better water management thanks to Blockchain?

Although water scarcity is not a problem in our regions, there are many countries that are struggling with inadequate water management. The Blockchain should help to use water efficiently. Australia and the USA have already developed initial concepts.

Two thirds of the earth is covered by water, but only 1 percent of it is usable for humans. While in our latitudes, due to a guilty conscience, we do not let the water run when brushing our teeth, others are actually struggling with water shortages and corresponding rationing. Approximately 4.5 billion people have no access to a secure water supply due to water scarcity – and the trend is rising.

The blockchain technology could ensure that water can be used more efficiently and distribution ensured. In this way, important data on water quality and quantity could be stored on it. This information would help both industrial consumers and private households to manage water consumption. Current data could be used to decide whether the water can be stored or used. This would not only reduce costs, but also make distribution more efficient.

Australia on the advance
The Australian city of Fremantle is currently planning a project to test the capabilities of the blockchain for water and energy distribution. For this purpose, robust, low-carbon and cost-effective systems are combined with the blockchain technology. A large photovoltaic system, a charging station for electric vehicles and systems for water treatment and absorption will also be connected to the blockchain technology. This scope of the project already suggests it: Research is already underway here with a view to future smart cities.

Melbourne also wants to optimize water trading with the help of Blockchain technology. The city has teamed up with the start-up Civic Ledger for this purpose. As part of the collaboration, they completed a feasibility study for a blockchain-based application. This should increase the transparency and efficiency of water market trade in Australia.

Kryptonights with Dr. Julian Hosp

On Monday, June 4 and Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the renowned crypto and blockchain expert Dr. Julian Hosp will once again come to Germany and give a lecture on the topics of blockchain, crypto currencies and decentralization in two major cities.

  • Monday, 04 June 18:30 – 20:30 h in Köln – Tickets
  • Wednesday, 06 June 18:30 – 20:30 in Hamburg – Tickets

Tickets for the lectures can currently be purchased (25 EUR per person). However, the number is limited and the rush is enormous. So if you want to be in Cologne or Hamburg, I would get you a ticket as soon as possible.

The exact venue is not yet known and will be announced by Julian in the next few days. I will fly to the Kryptonight in Hamburg and will inform you as soon as the exact location becomes known. I will also write another blog entry about visiting the Kryptonights.

Website of Julian Hosp

Location:

Bundesstraße 55
20146 Hamburg
Uni Hamburg
Geomatikum, Hörsaal 1

Buy Bitcoins from Coinbase

After these 3 easy steps you are the happy owner of Bitcoins!

  1. Register with Coinbase
    First you have to create a Coinbase account. This ensures a secure environment for storing your bitcoins and a simple payment method for converting your bitcoins into the local currency. To keep the coins even safer, however, I advise you to buy your own Bitcoin Wallet.
  2. Connect to your bank account
    Connect to your bank account after registration. Before you can use your account, you must first perform some verification procedures. After completing these steps you can make your first purchase.
  3. Buy and sell Bitcoins
    After you have made your first purchase, Coinbase completes your process and delivers your bitcoins. (Sales are made in the same way, only vice versa). The bitcoin price can change over time, so Coinbase always shows you the current exchange rate before making a purchase.

Bitcoin Cash successfully carries out Hard Fork

On 15 May at 4 pm, the Bitcoin Cash network conducted a hard fork. The software upgrade brings old functions back into the BCH ecosystem and increases the block size to 32 megabytes.

The Bitcoin cash community planned a hard fork for May 15. The update was successful for Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash itself was created by a hard fork of the Bitcoin network on August 1, 2017.

A higher block limit

The biggest novelty of the Hard Fork was the fourfold increase of the block size. In August 2017 Bitcoin Cash had already raised the limit from 1 MegaByte to 8 MegaByte. Now these 8 MegaByte have been increased to 32 MegaByte. This should enable the Bitcoin Cash network to process over 60 transactions per second. With an average transaction size of 200 bytes, a block can therefore contain 160,000 transactions. This means that over 20 million transactions can now take place every day.

Currently there are about 20,000 transactions per day on the Bitcoin Cash Blockchain. Daily capacity is currently only 0.087 percent exhausted.

However, critics repeatedly point out that increasing the block size can lead to centralization. This increases the cost of running a full node and the distribution of mixed blocks is delayed (one MegaByte is downloaded faster than 32 MegaByte). Currently more transactions are processed in the Bitcoin network than in Bitcoin Cash.

Functional Enhancements

In addition to the increased block size, the Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork also activates scripting commands such as OP_GROUP and OP_RETURN. OP_GROUP can be used to create your own tokens on the BCH blockchain itself. This means that Bitcoin Cash has a similar functionality to Ethereum. With OP_RETURN you can store additional information on the blockchain. This function could be used for Smart Contracts in BCH.

The price after the Hard Fork

Even though there was a lot of excitement about the hard fork in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem, the price reacted negatively to the software upgrade and fell by about ten percent. However, we must not forget that the BCH price quickly doubled in April. However, the price level remained stable above the USD 1,000 mark.

What is Proof-of-Stake?

The proof-of-stake mechanism is a form of so-called consensus mechanisms to achieve consensus in the network and to jointly agree on an identical version of the blockchain.

The decisive factor is the stake of a user, i.e. the share of the total amount of tokens he possesses. The larger the share, the more likely it is that this user will be selected to mine the next block. Roughly speaking, compared to proof-of-work, the proof-of-stake mechanism can be compared to a public limited company – those who own a larger stake in the company normally receive more voting rights that entitle them to make decisions.

An important difference, however, is that a random algorithm is used in the proof-of-stake mechanism for building consensus in a blockchain network. He draws a participant who then has the right to mine the block. Simply put, each token is a winning ticket – so users with a higher stake (= more winning tickets) are more likely to be selected. More precisely, proof-of-stake mining is called forging.

What is the difference between proof-of-work and proof-of-stake?

proof of work
The proportion of computing capacity in the entire miner network is decisive for the probability of successfully mining a block.

proof-of-stake
The proportion of tokens in the entire miner network is decisive for the probability of successfully mining a block.

To mine a block, it is usually a question of using hash functions to find a certain value. Since the hash functions are not reversible, you cannot simply calculate which X you have to use in the function to get the desired Y. Instead, the miners solve the problem by trying out many values. Although there are different types of these calculations, the following analogy can be used in a simplified form:

“Find a hash value that matches the given properties”

The stricter the desired properties are, the more difficult it becomes to find a value that meets all these requirements. With proof-of-stake, however, we influence the difficulty with a user’s stake, among other things – the larger the stake, the lower the demands on the result. This makes it easier for users with higher stakes to hit results with these properties.

How does encryption work?

Encryption is the process by which a plain text is converted into a ciphertext. The ciphertext can only be converted back to plaintext with a matching key. The transformation is the finest mathematics and is not explained here. The field of research dealing with this is called cryptography.

Cryptography has four main objectives:

  • Message confidentiality: Only the authorized recipient should be able to read the contents of an encrypted message.
  • Data integrity of the message: The recipient should be able to determine whether the message has been modified during transmission.
  • Authentication: The recipient should be able to clearly verify whether the message actually originates from the specified sender.
  • Commitment: The sender should not be able to deny that the message is coming from her.

Symmetric encryption
Symmetric encryption uses only one password for encryption and decryption. It’s basically like a combination of numbers on a bicycle lock. All communication partners must know this combination of numbers (i.e. the password). This can be very complex and complicated. The password must always be transmitted in a tap-proof manner. All those who know the password must keep it secret from non-involved persons. If someone is to be denied access, the password must be changed and retransmitted securely to all parties involved. On the Internet, especially when encrypting e-mails, such a system is simply impossible.

Asymmetric encryption
This is why so-called asymmetric encryption is used for e-mails. Two different keys are used: a public and a secret (private) key. This system is also used in Bitcoin blockchain technology.

The principle of asymmetric encryption is essentially based on the fact that the communication partners each generate their own key pair. One of the keys is kept secret, the so-called private key and the other, the so-called public key, is made accessible to every being willing to communicate. The big advantage of this method compared to symmetric encryption is the simple distribution of the public key. This can really be freely accessible to everyone without making the procedure insecure.

The following metaphor is used to simplify the presentation: the public key is regarded as a lock and the private key as a suitable key for this lock.

Let’s say Peter wants to send a message to Jennifer. Jennifer doesn’t want her father to read what Peter writes for messes. First she will make some locks that can only be opened by one (her) key. Then she will distribute her (open!) locks to her friends, so also to Peter. Peter now has an open lock from Jennifer, which he can close, but cannot open again without the right key (Jennifer will not give out her key at any price, of course). So Peter starts writing his letter, puts it in a box and locks it with Jennifer’s lock.

Jennifer can be absolutely sure that nobody could read the letter after closing the box. Even Peter no longer had the opportunity to read the letter, let alone change it, since only Jennifer had the right key to the lock. The advantage of public key transfer is that anyone can use a Jennifer lock to lock boxes, but only she is able to open them again. So Jennifer doesn’t have to meet Peter in private to exchange ideas, which her father would never allow.

A disadvantage, however, is that Jennifer can’t be sure if the message really comes from Peter or if someone just took one of her locks and locked some box with it. Peter has to come up with something.

Ethereum: First Casper version is available

The developers of Casper have now released the update. The community and the network’s stakeholders now have the opportunity to track the current status and make comments. Casper is to bring about a change in the Ethereum consensus mechanism from PoW to PoS.

The Ethereum community has been expecting the Casper update for some time. The innovation in the network is intended to replace the proof-of-work algorithm inherited from the viewpoint of many users. Instead, the proof-of-stake is intended to establish a new way of reaching a consensus. The proof-of-work mechanism is accused of being too energy-intensive and thus causing sustained damage to the environment.

Now it seems that another step has been taken on the way to Casper. Danny Ryan, developer of Casper FFG, has made a first release of the code on Github available on May 8th. This is version 0.1.0, which is intended to provide a clearer guideline and enable clients and external auditors to track the contract and changes more easily.

How does the update work?
The update is not intended to replace the PoW algorithm completely, but to introduce a hybrid mixture of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake algorithms. In the initial phases, Casper will therefore use the proof of work to carry out most of the transactions. The proof-of-stake should first of all only be used for the regular validation of “checkpoints”. Because the network can only manage a few validating nodes, the minimum deposit will start at 1,500 ethers or $1.1 million.

Ethereum: Vitalik Buterin announces sharding technique

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has announced that there could soon be a new solution to the scaling problem of his platform. The technique known as sharding is therefore nearing completion. Similar to Bitcoins Lightning Network, Ethereums Shards will make the scaling of the entire network more efficient.

Sharding: Briefly explained

Sharding is a concept in which the mainnet blockchain is split into different shards. These then run separately on different servers at the same time, which would make scaling the entire network a lot easier. Faster transactions and lower costs should, as so often, be the result of the update. In this respect, Sharding is very similar to the Lightning Network, which is set up on the Bitcoin blockchain. Sharding, however, is not an off-chain solution, but simply a division of the Mainnet.

Similar to Bitcoin, where the Segregated Witness Update has created the basic prerequisite for the Lightning Network, the Ethereum blockchain must also have the necessary infrastructure. The Ethereum community must be patient with the implementation of Sharding until the Casper update is activated. In the course of this update, the final change from the proof-of-work algorithm to the proof-of-stake algorithm is to be completed. This is necessary because each shard requires a higher-level node: the so-called beacon.

According to Buterin, a shard consists of a proof-of-stake beacon chain tied to the main chain. Each beacon chain block must specify a current main chain block. The beacon chain forms a new block every two to eight seconds. All in all, there are to be “about 100 shards” on Ethereum in the future, all of which should have the same capacity as the previous Ethereum Mainnet – possibly even more. So the community can be curious.

Swiss company launches first Bitcoin banknote

Tangem Notes is now available in denominations of 0.01 (approx. 95 CHF) and 0.05 BTC (approx. 475 CHF) and improves simplicity and security when purchasing, holding and circulating crypto currencies for both demanding and incoming users.

Based on a newly developed S3D350A chip from Samsung Semiconductor, Tangem Note is the first hardware storage solution on the market whose entire electronics and cryptography are certified according to the Common Criteria EAL6+ and EMVCo security standards.

Vijay Sondhi joins Tangem as Senior Strategic Advisor to lead the platform into new markets and industries. Vijay has a unique leadership network and experience after five years with VISA as Senior Vice President and Head of Innovation.

The Kudelski Group, under the leadership of Jean-Philippe Aumasson, has completed a thorough review of Tangem’s security architecture. Tangem has now shared the complete source code of its proprietary chip firmware with Kudelski for a comprehensive security audit.

As Singapore takes the lead, Tangem delivers the first delivery of 10,000 production notes to potential partners and distributors around the world for commercial pilots.

Tangem operates from Switzerland and Singapore and produces in South Korea and South China as well as Taiwan, Russia and Israel and develops a hardware software platform to promote the mass application of blockchain technologies.

Tron launches Mainnet

As you may already know, the TRON (TRX) main network will be launched on May 31, 2018. What does this mean for TRON?

Simply put, the introduction of TRON’s main network means that TRON will give up its ERC20 identity and leave the Ethereum platform.

What does that mean if you own Tron (currently still ERC20 token)? What do you need to do to migrate your TRX to Tron’s main network?

Exchanges perform migration

The easiest and most convenient way to migrate your TRX from Ethereum (ERC20 token) to the new Tron Mainnet is to leave your TRX on an Exchange such as Binance or Bittrex during this time around May 31, 2018, since these exchanges migrate automatically.

So make sure that you have saved your TRX on an Exchange before May 31st.