This is a follow-up on https://old.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/hqzp14/technical_the_path_to_taproot_activation/ Taproot! Everybody wants it!! But... you might ask yourself: sure, everybody else wants it, but why would I, sovereign Bitcoin HODLer, want it? Surely I can be better than everybody else because I swapped XXX fiat for Bitcoin unlike all those nocoiners? And it is important for you to know the reasons why you, o sovereign Bitcoiner, would want Taproot activated. After all, your nodes (or the nodes your wallets use, which if you are SPV, you hopefully can pester to your wallet vendoimplementor about) need to be upgraded in order for Taproot activation to actually succeed instead of becoming a hot sticky mess. First, let's consider some principles of Bitcoin.
You the HODLer should be the one who controls where your money goes. Your keys, your coins.
You the HODLer should be able to coordinate and make contracts with other people regarding your funds.
You the HODLer should be able to do the above without anyone watching over your shoulder and judging you.
I'm sure most of us here would agree that the above are very important principles of Bitcoin and that these are principles we would not be willing to remove. If anything, we would want those principles strengthened (especially the last one, financial privacy, which current Bitcoin is only sporadically strong with: you can get privacy, it just requires effort to do so). So, how does Taproot affect those principles?
Taproot and Your /Coins
Most HODLers probably HODL their coins in singlesig addresses. Sadly, switching to Taproot would do very little for you (it gives a mild discount at spend time, at the cost of a mild increase in fee at receive time (paid by whoever sends to you, so if it's a self-send from a P2PKH or bech32 address, you pay for this); mostly a wash). (technical details: a Taproot output is 1 version byte + 32 byte public key, while a P2WPKH (bech32 singlesig) output is 1 version byte + 20 byte public key hash, so the Taproot output spends 12 bytes more; spending from a P2WPKH requires revealing a 32-byte public key later, which is not needed with Taproot, and Taproot signatures are about 9 bytes smaller than P2WPKH signatures, but the 32 bytes plus 9 bytes is divided by 4 because of the witness discount, so it saves about 11 bytes; mostly a wash, it increases blockweight by about 1 virtual byte, 4 weight for each Taproot-output-input, compared to P2WPKH-output-input). However, as your HODLings grow in value, you might start wondering if multisignature k-of-n setups might be better for the security of your savings. And it is in multisignature that Taproot starts to give benefits! Taproot switches to using Schnorr signing scheme. Schnorr makes key aggregation -- constructing a single public key from multiple public keys -- almost as trivial as adding numbers together. "Almost" because it involves some fairly advanced math instead of simple boring number adding, but hey when was the last time you added up your grocery list prices by hand huh? With current P2SH and P2WSH multisignature schemes, if you have a 2-of-3 setup, then to spend, you need to provide two different signatures from two different public keys. With Taproot, you can create, using special moon math, a single public key that represents your 2-of-3 setup. Then you just put two of your devices together, have them communicate to each other (this can be done airgapped, in theory, by sending QR codes: the software to do this is not even being built yet, but that's because Taproot hasn't activated yet!), and they will make a single signature to authorize any spend from your 2-of-3 address. That's 73 witness bytes -- 18.25 virtual bytes -- of signatures you save! And if you decide that your current setup with 1-of-1 P2PKH / P2WPKH addresses is just fine as-is: well, that's the whole point of a softfork: backwards-compatibility; you can receive from Taproot users just fine, and once your wallet is updated for Taproot-sending support, you can send to Taproot users just fine as well! (P2WPKH and P2WSH -- SegWit v0 -- addresses start with bc1q; Taproot -- SegWit v1 --- addresses start with bc1p, in case you wanted to know the difference; in bech32 q is 0, p is 1) Now how about HODLers who keep all, or some, of their coins on custodial services? Well, any custodial service worth its salt would be doing at least 2-of-3, or probably something even bigger, like 11-of-15. So your custodial service, if it switched to using Taproot internally, could save a lot more (imagine an 11-of-15 getting reduced from 11 signatures to just 1!), which --- we can only hope! --- should translate to lower fees and better customer service from your custodial service! So I think we can say, very accurately, that the Bitcoin principle --- that YOU are in control of your money --- can only be helped by Taproot (if you are doing multisignature), and, because P2PKH and P2WPKH remain validly-usable addresses in a Taproot future, will not be harmed by Taproot. Its benefit to this principle might be small (it mostly only benefits multisignature users) but since it has no drawbacks with this (i.e. singlesig users can continue to use P2WPKH and P2PKH still) this is still a nice, tidy win! (even singlesig users get a minor benefit, in that multisig users will now reduce their blockchain space footprint, so that fees can be kept low for everybody; so for example even if you have your single set of private keys engraved on titanium plates sealed in an airtight box stored in a safe buried in a desert protected by angry nomads riding giant sandworms because you're the frickin' Kwisatz Haderach, you still gain some benefit from Taproot) And here's the important part: if P2PKH/P2WPKH is working perfectly fine with you and you decide to never use Taproot yourself, Taproot will not affect you detrimentally. First do no harm!
Taproot and Your Contracts
No one is an island, no one lives alone. Give and you shall receive. You know: by trading with other people, you can gain expertise in some obscure little necessity of the world (and greatly increase your productivity in that little field), and then trade the products of your expertise for necessities other people have created, all of you thereby gaining gains from trade. So, contracts, which are basically enforceable agreements that facilitate trading with people who you do not personally know and therefore might not trust. Let's start with a simple example. You want to buy some gewgaws from somebody. But you don't know them personally. The seller wants the money, you want their gewgaws, but because of the lack of trust (you don't know them!! what if they're scammers??) neither of you can benefit from gains from trade. However, suppose both of you know of some entity that both of you trust. That entity can act as a trusted escrow. The entity provides you security: this enables the trade, allowing both of you to get gains from trade. In Bitcoin-land, this can be implemented as a 2-of-3 multisignature. The three signatories in the multisgnature would be you, the gewgaw seller, and the escrow. You put the payment for the gewgaws into this 2-of-3 multisignature address. Now, suppose it turns out neither of you are scammers (whaaaat!). You receive the gewgaws just fine and you're willing to pay up for them. Then you and the gewgaw seller just sign a transaction --- you and the gewgaw seller are 2, sufficient to trigger the 2-of-3 --- that spends from the 2-of-3 address to a singlesig the gewgaw seller wants (or whatever address the gewgaw seller wants). But suppose some problem arises. The seller gave you gawgews instead of gewgaws. Or you decided to keep the gewgaws but not sign the transaction to release the funds to the seller. In either case, the escrow is notified, and if it can sign with you to refund the funds back to you (if the seller was a scammer) or it can sign with the seller to forward the funds to the seller (if you were a scammer). Taproot helps with this: like mentioned above, it allows multisignature setups to produce only one signature, reducing blockchain space usage, and thus making contracts --- which require multiple people, by definition, you don't make contracts with yourself --- is made cheaper (which we hope enables more of these setups to happen for more gains from trade for everyone, also, moon and lambos). (technology-wise, it's easier to make an n-of-n than a k-of-n, making a k-of-n would require a complex setup involving a long ritual with many communication rounds between the n participants, but an n-of-n can be done trivially with some moon math. You can, however, make what is effectively a 2-of-3 by using a three-branch SCRIPT: either 2-of-2 of you and seller, OR 2-of-2 of you and escrow, OR 2-of-2 of escrow and seller. Fortunately, Taproot adds a facility to embed a SCRIPT inside a public key, so you can have a 2-of-2 Taprooted address (between you and seller) with a SCRIPT branch that can instead be spent with 2-of-2 (you + escrow) OR 2-of-2 (seller + escrow), which implements the three-branched SCRIPT above. If neither of you are scammers (hopefully the common case) then you both sign using your keys and never have to contact the escrow, since you are just using the escrow public key without coordinating with them (because n-of-n is trivial but k-of-n requires setup with communication rounds), so in the "best case" where both of you are honest traders, you also get a privacy boost, in that the escrow never learns you have been trading on gewgaws, I mean ewww, gawgews are much better than gewgaws and therefore I now judge you for being a gewgaw enthusiast, you filthy gewgawer).
Taproot and Your Contracts, Part 2: Cryptographic Boogaloo
Now suppose you want to buy some data instead of things. For example, maybe you have some closed-source software in trial mode installed, and want to pay the developer for the full version. You want to pay for an activation code. This can be done, today, by using an HTLC. The developer tells you the hash of the activation code. You pay to an HTLC, paying out to the developer if it reveals the preimage (the activation code), or refunding the money back to you after a pre-agreed timeout. If the developer claims the funds, it has to reveal the preimage, which is the activation code, and you can now activate your software. If the developer does not claim the funds by the timeout, you get refunded. And you can do that, with HTLCs, today. Of course, HTLCs do have problems:
Privacy. Everyone scraping the Bitcoin blockchain can see any HTLCs, and preimages used to claim them.
This can be mitigated by using offchain techniques so HTLCs are never published onchain in the happy case. Lightning would probably in practice be the easiest way to do this offchain. Of course, there are practical limits to what you can pay on Lightning. If you are buying something expensive, then Lightning might not be practical. For example, the "software" you are activating is really the firmware of a car, and what you are buying is not the software really but the car itself (with the activation of the car firmware being equivalent to getting the car keys).
Even offchain techniques need an onchain escape hatch in case of unresponsiveness! This means that, if something bad happens during payment, the HTLC might end up being published onchain anyway, revealing the fact that some special contract occurred.
And an HTLC that is claimed with a preimage onchain will also publicly reveal the preimage onchain. If that preimage is really the activation key of a software than it can now be pirated. If that preimage is really the activation key for your newly-bought cryptographic car --- well, not your keys, not your car!
Trust requirement. You are trusting the developer that it gives you the hash of an actual valid activation key, without any way to validate that the activation key hidden by the hash is actually valid.
Fortunately, with Schnorr (which is enabled by Taproot), we can now use the Scriptless Script constuction by Andrew Poelstra. This Scriptless Script allows a new construction, the PTLC or Pointlocked Timelocked Contract. Instead of hashes and preimages, just replace "hash" with "point" and "preimage" with "scalar". Or as you might know them: "point" is really "public key" and "scalar" is really a "private key". What a PTLC does is that, given a particular public key, the pointlocked branch can be spent only if the spender reveals the private key of the given public key to you. Another nice thing with PTLCs is that they are deniable. What appears onchain is just a single 2-of-2 signature between you and the developemanufacturer. It's like a magic trick. This signature has no special watermarks, it's a perfectly normal signature (the pledge). However, from this signature, plus some datta given to you by the developemanufacturer (known as the adaptor signature) you can derive the private key of a particular public key you both agree on (the turn). Anyone scraping the blockchain will just see signatures that look just like every other signature, and as long as nobody manages to hack you and get a copy of the adaptor signature or the private key, they cannot get the private key behind the public key (point) that the pointlocked branch needs (the prestige). (Just to be clear, the public key you are getting the private key from, is distinct from the public key that the developemanufacturer will use for its funds. The activation key is different from the developer's onchain Bitcoin key, and it is the activation key whose private key you will be learning, not the developer's/manufacturer's onchain Bitcoin key). So:
Privacy: PTLCs are private even if done onchain. Nobody else can learn what the private key behind the public key is, except you who knows the adaptor signature that when combined with the complete onchain signature lets you know what the private key of the activation key is. Somebody scraping the blockchain will not learn the same information even if all PTLCs are done onchain!
Lightning is still useful for reducing onchain use, and will also get PTLCs soon after Taproot is activated, but even if something bad happens and a PTLC has to go onchain, it doesn't reveal anything!
Trust issues can be proven more easily with a public-private keypair than with a hash-preimage pair.
For example, the developer of the software you are buying could provide a signature signing a message saying "unlock access to the full version for 1 day". You can check if feeding this message and signature to the program will indeed unlock full-version access for 1 day. Then you can check if the signature is valid for the purported pubkey whose private key you will pay for. If so, you can now believe that getting the private key (by paying for it in a PTLC) would let you generate any number of "unlock access to the full version for 1 day" message+signatures, which is equivalent to getting full access to the software indefinitely.
For the car, the manufacturer can show that signing a message "start the engine" and feeding the signature to the car's fimrware will indeed start the engine, and maybe even let you have a small test drive. You can then check if the signature is valid for the purported pubkey whose privkey you will pay for. If so, you can now believe that gaining knowledge of the privkey will let you start the car engine at any time you want.
(pedantry: the signatures need to be unique else they could be replayed, this can be done with a challenge-response sequence for the car, where the car gathers entropy somehow (it's a car, it probably has a bunch of sensors nowadays so it can get entropy for free) and uses the gathered entropy to challenge you to sign a random number and only start if you are able to sign the random number; for the software, it could record previous signatures somewhere in the developer's cloud server and refuse to run if you try to replay a previously-seen signature.)
Taproot lets PTLCs exist onchain because they enable Schnorr, which is a requirement of PTLCs / Scriptless Script. (technology-wise, take note that Scriptless Script works only for the "pointlocked" branch of the contract; you need normal Script, or a pre-signed nLockTimed transaction, for the "timelocked" branch. Since Taproot can embed a script, you can have the Taproot pubkey be a 2-of-2 to implement the Scriptless Script "pointlocked" branch, then have a hidden script that lets you recover the funds with an OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY after the timeout if the seller does not claim the funds.)
Now if you were really paying attention, you might have noticed this parenthetical:
(technical details: a Taproot output is 1 version byte + 32 byte public key, while a P2WPKH (bech32 singlesig) output is 1 version byte + 20 byte public key hash...)
So wait, Taproot uses raw 32-byte public keys, and not public key hashes? Isn't that more quantum-vulnerable?? Well, in theory yes. In practice, they probably are not. It's not that hashes can be broken by quantum computes --- they're still not. Instead, you have to look at how you spend from a P2WPKH/P2PKH pay-to-public-key-hash. When you spend from a P2PKH / P2WPKH, you have to reveal the public key. Then Bitcoin hashes it and checks if this matches with the public-key-hash, and only then actually validates the signature for that public key. So an unconfirmed transaction, floating in the mempools of nodes globally, will show, in plain sight for everyone to see, your public key. (public keys should be public, that's why they're called public keys, LOL) And if quantum computers are fast enough to be of concern, then they are probably fast enough that, in the several minutes to several hours from broadcast to confirmation, they have already cracked the public key that is openly broadcast with your transaction. The owner of the quantum computer can now replace your unconfirmed transaction with one that pays the funds to itself. Even if you did not opt-in RBF, miners are still incentivized to support RBF on RBF-disabled transactions. So the extra hash is not as significant a protection against quantum computers as you might think. Instead, the extra hash-and-compare needed is just extra validation effort. Further, if you have ever, in the past, spent from the address, then there exists already a transaction indelibly stored on the blockchain, openly displaying the public key from which quantum computers can derive the private key. So those are still vulnerable to quantum computers. For the most part, the cryptographers behind Taproot (and Bitcoin Core) are of the opinion that quantum computers capable of cracking Bitcoin pubkeys are unlikely to appear within a decade or two.
Current quantum computers can barely crack prime factorization problem for primes of 5 bits.
The 256-bit elliptic curve use by Bitcoin is, by my (possibly wrong) understanding, equivalent to 4096-bit primes, so you can see a pretty big gap between now (5 bit primes) and what is needed (4096 bit primes).
A lot of financial non-Bitcoin systems use the equivalent of 3072-bit primes or less, and are probably easier targets to crack than the equivalent-to-4096-bit-primes Bitcoin.
Quantum computers capable of cracking Bitcoin are still far off.
Pay-to-public-key-hash is not as protective as you might think.
We will probably see banks get cracked before Bitcoin, so the banking system is a useful canary-in-a-coal-mine to see whether we should panic about being quantum vulnerable.
For now, the homomorphic and linear properties of elliptic curve cryptography provide a lot of benefits --- particularly the linearity property is what enables Scriptless Script and simple multisignature (i.e. multisignatures that are just 1 signature onchain). So it might be a good idea to take advantage of them now while we are still fairly safe against quantum computers. It seems likely that quantum-safe signature schemes are nonlinear (thus losing these advantages).
If you are a singlesig HODL-only Bitcoin user, Taproot will not affect you positively or negatively. Importantly: Taproot does no harm!
If you use or intend to use multisig, Taproot will be a positive for you.
If you transact onchain regularly using typical P2PKH/P2WPKH addresses, you get a minor reduction in feerates since multisig users will likely switch to Taproot to get smaller tx sizes, freeing up blockspace for yours.
If you are using multiparticipant setups for special systems of trade, Taproot will be a positive for you.
Remember: Lightning channels are multipartiicpiant setups for special systems of lightning-fast offchain trades!
I Wanna Be The Taprooter!
So, do you want to help activate Taproot? Here's what you, mister sovereign Bitcoin HODLer, can do!
If you have developer experience especially in C, C++, or related languages
Review the Taproot code! There is one pull request in Bitcoin Core, and one in libsecp256k1. I deliberately am not putting links here, to avoid brigades of nontechnical but enthusiastic people leaving pointless reviews, but if you are qualified you know how to find them!
But I am not a cryptographeBitcoin Core contributomathematician/someone as awesome as Pieter Wuille
That's perfectly fine! The cryptographers have been over the code already and agree the math is right and the implementation is right. What is wanted is the dreary dreary dreary software engineering: are the comments comprehensive and understandable? no misspellings in the comments? variable names understandable? reasonable function naming convention? misleading coding style? off-by-one errors in loops? conditions not covered by tests? accidental mixups of variables with the same types? missing frees? read-before-init? better test coverage of suspicious-looking code? missing or mismatching header guards? portability issues? consistent coding style? you know, stuff any coder with a few years of experience in coding anything might be able to catch. With enough eyes all bugs are shallow!
If you are running a mining pool/mining operation/exchange/custodial service/SPV server
Be prepared to upgrade!
One of the typical issues with upgrading software is that subtle incompatibilities with your current custom programs tend to arise, disrupting operations and potentially losing income due to downtime. If so, consider moving to the two-node setup suggested by gmax, which is in the last section of my previous post. With this, you have an up-to-date "public" node and a fixed-version "private" node, with the public node protecting the private node from any invalid chainsplits or invalid transactions. Moving to this setup from a typical one-node setup should be smooth and should not disrupt operations (too much).
If you are running your own fullnode for fun or for your own wallet
Be prepared to upgrade! The more nodes validating the new rules (even if you are a non-mining node!), the safer every softfork will be!
If you are using an SPV wallet or custodial wallet/service (including hardware wallets using the software of the wallet provider)
Contact your wallet provider / SPV server and ask for a statement on whether they support Taproot, and whether they are prepared to upgrade for Taproot! Make it known to them that Taproot is something you want!
But I Hate Taproot!!
Raise your objections to Taproot now, or forever hold your peace! Maybe you can raise them here and some of the devs (probably nullc, he goes everywhere, even in rbtc!) might be able to see your objections! Or if your objections are very technical, head over to the appropriate pull request and object away!
Maybe you simply misunderstand something, and we can clarify it here!
Or maybe you do have a good objection, and we can make Taproot better by finding a solution for it!
After 1.5 wipes, I finally broke 50% SR + Tips for newer players from an FPS noob
I am so stoked about this finally happening! My gaming background is overwhelmingly WoW, RTS, and single player puzzle/questing games (Skyrim, Zelda). My buddies got me into FPS games with COD almost ten years ago, but it was never my thing. My reflexes are inconsistent, my eyes have trouble with making sense of constant movement and noticing tiny pixel details instantly, and I'm generally slowing down a little over time...but fucking Tarkov. TARKOV! This is the first FPS that ever made sense to me. It's not purely reflexes, run and gun, spawn die, K/D circle jerking. It's okay to literally just hide until enough information is gathered to counter attack. It's okay to hide in a bush for 20 minutes while Omega Chad 9000 runs around trying to find you after massacring 3/4 of the team, wait for him to loot, then pop the squash. It's okay to retreat and wait for a better fight. Every other FPS game I've played has basically punished intelligent fight tactics and patience, which is totally against how I think and mentally approach that sort of situation. After trying all sorts of styles, I finally found what works for me - I aim for a perfect balance of Rat/Chad. I will NEVER take a fight if I can avoid it, but if the firing starts, I instantly suppressive fire and don't worry if I live or die. This has saved my ass countless times since I started doing it. I used to try to turn and run, then die with my back turned most of the time. Most people will panic if their ambush target suddenly unloads a hailstorm of BT ammo at them, and at that point they usually are on the back foot, which is when Chad time happens. Dump grenades, flank with cover, score the kill. If I have the advantage, I hold my fire until it's a clean shot, especially against squads. I've been able to wipe duos, trios, and even quads by picking them off one by one instead of trying to be a hero with my spray. Against a quad, when the first guy drops, the other three will usually run to where they think you are and start sweeping like they're juggernauts. Pick off another and I almost guarantee one of the remaining two will panic and start to run for cover, which makes them a free shot if you gave yourself good visibility. Last man standing will either rush you (again freebie if you hid or re-positioned well) or run like hell and try to camp the bodies. OUT WAIT THEM. Do not get impatient, this will get you killed. Always let them make the first move so you have information advantage. I will likely not win the fight if they are well hidden and I'm making noise, unless they have bad ammo and are a bad shot. Getting over gear fear was extremely critical as well to break 50% SR. If you're panicking at every engagement and thinking about losing your juice, you're probably going to lose your juice. Any stress or worry that isn't towards your immediate threat will make you play differently, and likely worse. I spent last wipe sitting on ~30mil roubles, and would panic over whether or not I was about to lose a ReapIR, instead of just taking the game fight and winning. This wipe, I decided it's all pixels and I want to play better. Fuck the Slick, fuck the EXFIL, it can all be replaced. Take the fight and win with knowledge. If you die, try again. Of course, having enough money to not care anymore is huge, so for anyone reading this that is going "well of course you stopped caring, you can run full kits and replace them 1000x, while I can barely get good ammo," find yourself a loot run that works. Making money is extremely easy if you put in the time. I spent basically the first 3 weeks of this wipe 50/50 between questing and loot runs to Shoreline. I got extremely lucky and found an East 226 key, which gave me ~12 LEDX and easily over 20 GPUs in East 222. I used those funds to buy more keys/rush Bitcoin farm. Once you have a proper Bitcoin income, you can do literally whatever you want in this game with no real financial consequences. SET. GOALS. Every raid I get into I have a plan. Sometimes it's hit up loot spots and avoid fights when possible. Other times it's quests. Change your plans on the fly and get weird with it. I have a rule that if I hear an M4 shooting, I have to kill that guy. I don't care what's in the way, I don't care how big the squad is, that son of a bitch is using my favorite gun without my permission and must be dealt with. The first week I started doing that, I took a fight on Interchange that I would NEVER take normally. Slick/EXFIL/full meta M4 absolutely massacring the server. I waited my turn and essentially herded the guy, slowly closing in on him, until I had him pinned. Then I rushed him with my RPK and somehow won the fight with 5 blacked limbs. This was probably my most ballsy play in Tarkov, and it happened because I set some idiotic and borderline suicidal rule for myself in every raid. Seriously, just set yourself any goal, no matter how little, big, or straight up insane, and try. You'll start playing differently to achieve that goal, doing everything you can to make it happen. Also, just have fun. It's a damn video game after all. The most memorable raids I've had are when me and my buddies do ridiculous shit and die trying. Cowboy hats and ironsight Hunters into resort while pretending to be cowboys? Absolute blast, just try it and don't worry. Captain Price hats and 'staches into woods with no armor? Absurdly enjoyable. Well lads, that's the ramblings of an FPS noob who is slowly getting better and better at a game I never suspected to continue playing past the first few hours. It's been an absolute roller coaster ride, but I've loved every second of random death, anxiety, and last stands. For any new players out there, feel free to ask me any questions about anything - money making, play style, builds, whatever you're curious about. For the vets, I look forward to trading shots with you! Hope to learn a thing or two from how effectively you gave me some aggressive body modifications. https://preview.redd.it/muidzl4r0ya51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=ab4a0eaa3949bbc75d05029e053b5b4424e5c5d1
I’m a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. I’m not sure the participants are willing.
You’d think being a psychiatric ward for 38 months would be enough to deter a guy from ever going back to a sport that involves watching human beings at the height of their physical prowess beat the living shit out of each other. Sometimes regulated, sometimes not. But, here I am, fresh outta the loony bin and reading the most unusual advertising slogan I’d ever laid eyes on; “The most terrifying tournament has come around once again! Conquer your fears in theNFC*…* literally.” This was the business card that accompanied my black envelope as it was handed to me on the discharge ward by a well dressed and gangly fella with an uncomfortable wide smile. He didn’t say much of anything, just that his name was “Watson” before bowing and holding up the envelope. “Heh, like the butler, right?” I said, taking the envelope from his plasticine hands. His smile ripples across his face and he nods slowly, his perfect hair unmoving in the strong wind before he turns on his heel and walks back to the black sedan. The cold air chilled my bones, and I pulled the medical bracelet from my wrist, grimacing at the marks underneath before following Watson to the Sedan and hauling my luggage into the trunk before setting off, not knowing how I came to even be there in the first place. I guess right now, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is where I am now and what I’m doing. "blood strewn across the canvas, frayed brain matter sailing across my head and splattering against the wall, a woman standing in a pool of blood as the deformed creature twitches on the ground" My name is Sal “Motormouth” Sabotta, I’m a sports commentator by trade. Be it combat sports, pro wrestling, death-matches or martial arts tournament, I’ve done it all. I won’t lie; Work can be hard to come by. I’ve spent months struggling for rent and resorting to less tried-and-true commentary methods in order to survive. That has, at times, involved trying my hand at some of the more underground competitions; unregulated fights, sick, illegal games bet on by people on the dark web and worse… Things I’m not going to detail here. Things I’m not proud to have taken a hefty pay-check for from greasy, sweaty fucks in Armani tracksuits and stinking of cheap booze and coke all the way up to well-dressed bitcoin farmers in their 20s who probably own child slaves. In short, I’m no stranger to the grim underworld or the secrecies with which they conduct their work. I see money and an easy way to make it with my voice; I don’t ask questions. So when I received an email the day of my discharge from the hospital and I’m told “you’ll receive a letter from Mr. Watson, take it and follow the instructions to the venue. Pay up front as agreed.”, I don’t question it. Especially when the note is personalised, and the doctor says my medical fees were covered. We drove past numerous landscapes, vistas and neighbourhoods before veering off into an industrial estate and entering an underground tunnel. Half a mile in, Watson stops the car and peers back, smiling. He directs a thumb to the service door in the side tunnel and rubs his neck, a scar running from ear to ear. Was he a former fighter? Gangster? I sighed and got out, still in my medical gown and hauling ass to the door. It opened before I could reach out and a tall, muscular woman in her late 30s greeted me with a smile. She was imposing, powerful in her gait, a black eyepatch with several seals adorning the sides accompanying a thick scar down her face did nothing to stop her beauty. She wore a tank top with a black cloak with white fur on the tops and sleeves, a thick black chain clasp around the neck. I won’t lie; she looked badass. Terrifying, but badass. “‘Bout time ya showed up, Sabotta!” She grinned and put a cinderblock of a hand on my shoulder. I’m 5’10 and 180lbs, but she made me feel like a child in front of her. The power emanating from her fist was unbelievable. “C’mon, the trial match is starting and I don’t want no tourney without a broken in commentator! You gotta know the ropes of this place!” “You know your driver was standing right outside when I was discharged, right? Couldn’t think to give me an extra day or two to freshen up?” I frowned. This wasn’t normal protocol, even for back-alley promotions like this. She just laughed at me and slapped my shoulder. “The tournament waits for nobody, Sal. Times a-wasting.” The hallway is dimly lit and the sounds of a ruckus above us are as impossible to ignore as the sounds of thudding, screaming and snapping. As we pass several doors with one-way mirrors on the front panes, I hear sounds I could have never placed in the animal kingdom or otherwise; gurgles, clicks, grunts and even otherworldly whispers. “What the fuck is that? You guys doing animal fights down here? I mean I called a monkey fight once, but it’s not exactly… pleasant.” I shuddered, thinking of the violence chimpanzees can inflict on one another, let alone humans. She never stopped walking or staring directly ahead when she responded.“Those ain’t animals. Not by a long shot.” Before I can probe further, I’m hurried into a changing room and practically swept off my feet by her strength. I turn back and she’s already poking her head out the door. “You’ve got 5 minutes, get your shit and head up the left stairs, Watson will guide you.” She grinned, and I saw gold filings in her teeth that glinted as much as her bedazzled eye patch. “Ya came highly recommended… I expect good things!” I do as instructed and within 5 minutes I’m back in my commentary clothes; an open buttoned Hawaiian shirt with my old Hotel Inertia shirt underneath, skinny black jeans and shimmering black shoes. I found some old slick gorilla powder in my hair and dusted it up, opting for the dishevelled look as I knew I’d be sweating by the end of the ordeal. “You shouldn’t bother putting in so much effort, y’know. They’re not gonna care how good you look, only how well you talk.” Standing in the doorway was a woman in her 40s, dark-skinned and hair clad in meticulous dreadlocks, tied back into a large bun with a pair draped down the sides of her head. She held a thick book in one hand and pocketed a serrated blade in the other before motioning to me. “We’ll have to do the pleasantries on the way, the match is starting and you don’t wanna miss that. The commissioner isn’t the type you want to upset. Especially when you’re not here by choice.” I looked for a moment, dumbfounded. “I’m here because I was invited, already got my pay from the woman who let me in.” I shrugged, pocketing the envelope and getting my equipment from the suitcase. The woman gave a sad smile and shook her head. “Of course you’d think that. She likes it that way. Bet she didn’t introduce herself either, did she? C’mon.” I follow her down and after a few minutes we come to a fork in the hallway, an elevator system to our right and a stairway to the left. Dutifully, Watson stood patiently, still grinning and motioning us to go up. Once we’re situated in our booth upstairs, I set my equipment up and look down at the table, expecting a slew of papers and fighter information in front of me. I look to the woman to ask, but she doesn’t break her stare in the darkness, looking down at the arena floor some 100ft below us.“You won’t need that. Not for this match.” The lights flicker on and the enormity of this venue reveals itself to me. It’s a structure of imposing steel, dried blood, claw marks and other unknown substances that littered the 40ft wide circular pit the fighters contested in, a black lift on either side from the fighters corners that I can only assume ascended up from their locker room area. Around them were chain-link fences that rose up to the audience stands above, situating around 300 people across all four sides. At the very top sat our booth, the commissioner’s office directly opposite, the judges booth to our right and the fight analysts/medical area to our left. Standing in the centre with a spotlight over them was the commissioner, microphone in hand and an energy that was almost palpable. “Ladies, Gentlemen and Freaks of all kinds out there in the universe. I welcome you once more to the annual Nightmare Fighting Championship Tournament! It’s been a long year, but we have new blood to pit against our resident night terrors and some fresh fears to feast on the fortuitous soul that frolics into their den. As always, our contestants will be fighting for their freedom, a chance to get their wish or to fight for the ultimate prize.” The crowd cheers and the majority are hidden behind thick plexiglass and lighting, but I can see some have Karate Gi’s, weapons in hand and others with demon masks as they whoop and holler. The clientele here were, at least in my estimation, experienced. But I was feeling a lump in my throat at that one phrase The Commissioner so surreptitiously added in without issue; “As always, our contestants will befightingfor theirfreedom*”* I leaned to the woman next to me and as if she knew what I was going to ask; she put a finger up and shook her head. Eyes awash with fear and a grimness I had only seen on that of trainers who knew their fighter was not ready for the bout ahead. She pointed the finger down to my machine, then to the pit. Turning it on, I looked down as the commissioner began to talk, readying myself to commentate on whatever weirdos came up to battle. “But before we get to that, we have an exciting exhibition match for our loyal supporters who bankroll this event every year. Without you elite few, we could not do this. You are the pound for pound goats of support! Now, without further ado; let’s get this show on the road!”The rest of the lights clicked on and spun around the venue as they raised the profile of the bout, the elevators both whirring into action as the right one arose first. “In this corner, from the marionettes shop and accompanied by his Bunraku doll “Mr. Stares”, it’s the man who pulls the strings… THE PUPPET MAN!” Out steps a tall, thin Japanese man in full clown makeup. His head shaven save for two ridiculous strands of hair stretched out and fluffed up to their limits, like red antennae. His eyebrows large m’s that practically cover his forehead, the nose a completely vacant slot with a black hole drawn in and the mouth… the fucking mouth was nailed shut. Literally. Sharp rusted nails had been hammered down through the lips with such force that they’d bent. A sickening crimson red face-paint stretched across the entire bottom half of his face, making it seem far larger by comparison. He carefully held a small bundle underneath a sheet and bowed deeply to the audience before standing at his designated spot. “In the other corner, from the streets of god knows where and the womb of someone who misses him… "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell!” I watched with wide eyes and a stomach threatening to evacuate its contents at any moment as the smoke cleared and a boy no older than 17 rushed out, beating his chest and screaming to the crowd as if he was the Incredible Hulk. I don’t know if they drugged the poor kid, but he clearly had no idea where he was. “There are no rules, no referees and judges only exist in case of a draw or unclear victory. Our commentary team will take over and we wish you a phenomenal match.” She drools a little before she speaks again, looking up at me and winking. “Let’s make this a violent one.” She snaps her fingers and leaps for the fence, climbing up with ungodly ease before sitting on her makeshift chair in her office. I have no idea what I’m seeing but every cell in my body is urging me to run; I feel my knees tense and my frame rise ever so slightly before the woman next to me puts her hand on my thigh, pushing me down with great force. “You have a job to do, so do I. Trust me, you think you can leave but if you get out of this chair, not only will YOUR life end. Mine will too.” She unsheathes the serrated blade and looks at me with pity. “We both have a part to play here, so put the headset on and let’s do our job, no matter how hard it is.” Hands shaking, I pick up the headset and connect it to the portable recorder and take a breath. “I… I need your name. What is it you do?” I stutter, trying to calm myself. She hands me a bottle of water as the surrounding lights dim and the spotlight focuses on the spectacle below. “I’m Madame Nelle Lockwood, cryptid hunter and your co-host to guide you through tonight. Good to meet you, Sal.” - NFC EXHIBITION MATCH: "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell vs The Puppet Man w/ Mr. Stares “Welcome fight fans from around the world, god knows how you’re listening to this or WHY, but here we are. I’m your host Sal “MotorMouth” Sabotta, wishing this was all a bad dream. Joining me this evening is our cryptid specialist and all round badass Madame Nelle Lockwood. How are you doing, Nelle?” She looks at me with a bewildered look on her face before blinking and coming to her senses. “Uhh… good! All things considered… boy, you really have a professional knack for this, huh? I can see why Commissioner Alduin brought you in." “Ahh, yes. That’s right, folks! NFC Commissioner Alduin invited me here personally and our exhibition match proves to be… challenging. Let’s check in on the action below.” I look down and see The Puppet Man sat down and gesturing to the figure under the sheet, like he’s got a negotiation going on. The boy, undeterred and furious, rushes towards him and takes his back, slapping his head and even pulling on his hair with extreme prejudice. “Well take a gander at that, that kid has absolutely NO fear. When I was his age, I would have stayed FAR the fuck away from a nightmare spectre like that. But hell, this is all part of the show, right? Hope they’re paying that poor guy down there a sizeable sum to throw a fight to a child. What do you think, Nelle; is this the weirdest make-a-wish fulfilment task or what?” I look over to her, hoping she’d indulge me and that I could believe this was just going to end with a pissed off actor storming away when the child hit him too hard. But Nelle was scanning her now open book and looking for information on dolls. “He’s talking to his doll because it’s desperate to be let loose. He’s trying to bargain with it to spare him. This is the nature of the puppeteer and his master.” She pushes the book to the centre of the table and shows me a faded illustration of a pristine Bunraku doll; a kind of meticulously crafted Japanese take on the ventriloquist doll. The limbs are thinner and the face is more minimalist, but still no more frightening. “They usually have a symbiotic relationship, but it seems this one obeys the doll and will not want to face more punishment.” “What do you mean more punishment?” I ask, looking back down at the feverish puppet man as he tries signing frantically under the sheet, even putting his head under as the kid bites his arm and kicks him, screeching. “The nails, Sal. Those aren’t to silence him, they’re to punish him.” The rest happened in slow motion; the sheet fell down. The puppet man stood up and walked to his side of the fighters corner, facing the elevator and placing his face into his forearms as he shook. The boy followed to keep attacking, but with one swift kick to the midsection, the boy was propelled back to the centre of the pit where the doll sat. If there was a human face, I didn’t see it. Instead, I was staring down at a small wood carved spider, the head sporting black geisha hair and the makeup still present, but rows of sharpened black teeth protruded from the clicking mouth and two larger eyes jutted out from the base of the skull, smaller ones dotted closely around it. It was like seeing a puppet ogre spider. “Looks like The Puppet Man has let Mr. Stares out to say hi and I can certainly see why he was under that sheet, this one isn’t pretty folks! The face doth fit the name. The question is, what’s he doing to do ne- “I didn’t need to finish the question. My hands shook, and the world spun around me as this creature crawled towards the still wheezing boy with ungodly speed and perched itself expertly beside him. I don’t know if it was my eyes or the distance from where I sat, but this was NOT a small puppet. He was easily half of the boy’s height and that became more unnerving when he reared up on his back legs, the head clicking up and the raspy voice hissing out like a gas leak in a building. “Hey, hey, kid! Wanna make a deal?” The kid rubbed his eyes, seemingly realising where he was as he calmed down and an air of utter confusion around him. “If you let me be your new master and you promise to take care of me, I’ll let you go!” His head spun around and the jaw clicked ferociously as he giggled, extending out a clawed paw. “Whaddya say?” The boy, still confused, slowly reached out his hand and the moment immediately reminded me of a slew of nature shows I’d seen as a kid; where a predator waits until the prey is lulled before striking. I felt the chill up my spine as he extended his hand and grabbed Mr. Stares. In that moment, he leapt up the arm and bore his way into the boy’s mouth, down his throat and shredded his flesh. The sound was so horrifying, so visceral that it outshines any backyard stabbing, joint snap or broken nose. The boy didn’t even have time to scream, he simply looked up with tear-stained eyes as the puppet disappeared. Then he started walking without him realising. He looked down at his limbs, terrified, looked over at The Puppet Master, who still had his head to the elevator and pleaded with someone, anyone to help him. I looked to Nelle who refused to take her eyes away, studying the battle in an almost morbid scientific curiosity, detached entirely from the scenario. I couldn’t fathom how she did it, how she ignored this boy begging us to get him out of there. I wanted to. Every instinct in me as a fight fan and a decent human was to scream “STOP THE FIGHT!”. But clearly, when my own life is at risk and money is involved... I am not a decent human. Instead, with bile in my throat and a sweating forehead, I did my job. “M-My goodness! The P-uppet, I mean, “Mr. Stares” has BECAME the puppet master, surely the fight will be over with our young competitor incapacitated? What does our commissioner have to say about this?” She stared at me, her one eye gleaming and her face elated with the violence. “It ain’t over yet, church boy. We haven’t even seen the finale, have we Puppet Master?!” She laughs and slaps her knee, the puppet master sobbing as he sinks to the floor and she continues. “He ain’t done feeding, not yet.” The way she said that word “feeding” nearly made me lose what food I had in me. That was a young man, somebody's baby boy… “What does she mean by that, Nelle? What is the strategy to victory here?” Nelle looked down at her book and traced her finger across a passage before wiping her forehead and pushing the locks aside. If her composure wasn’t breaking yet, it would do soon. “This kind of parasitic doll feasts on its prey and targets non-essential organs first, controls the host with the neurotoxin in its tail and then, when it’s finally content, it gives the brain a second injection.” “What happens then?” I asked, my own professionalism hanging on by a fucking thread at this point. She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose.“I guess you’ll see in a moment, I sure as hell don’t want to. Not again.” Before I can prompt her further, the boy lets out an ear-piercing shriek and falls to his knees, gripping at his head before it turned red, then purple and finally an ugly shade of puce before… The sound of a watermelon hitting the ground from a great height is the best comparison you’re going to get without making me want to rush to the toilet to puke for a third time. But that’s what happened. His head burst and chunks of his skull, flesh and brain matter sprayed the pit and the walls, some hitting my desk and making me audibly shriek, much to the commissioner's delight. “HA! You didn’t run! I like you, Sal. You pass for the tournament!” She hauls her body up and slams down to the pit, applauding as the microphone descends from the heavens. “And your winner; The Puppet Man and Mr. Stares!” The crowd erupts with applause as the weeping puppet man pulls the blood-soaked puppet out, places him under the sheet and silently begins to walk back to the elevator while attendees clear up the boy’s corpse. “What… what the fuck IS this place?” I ask Nelle, pausing my recording. “This is where nightmares are kept and set upon mostly unwilling competitors for the world’s amusement. You HAVE done dark web fights before, right? Mafia snitches being put into lions pits, bum fights, addicts fighting women to score… this can’t be THAT unusual to you?” I stared at her incredulously. Was that even a question? “I did the dark web ONCE and it damn sure didn’t involve monsters!” She scoffs and closes her book, stretching before looking at me with contempt. “Oh, it did. Just not the ones you hear about in fairytales. Good luck with the selection process. I’ll be back for the opening round. Don’t try to run, they’ll devour us both in minutes, if you think this is the pinnacle of what lurks beneath this club, you're in for a rough night.” She sauntered off, leaving me deflated, sickened and terrified. Unable to leave and frustrated to the point of tears that I couldn’t express that concoction of emotions, I did what I always do; I regressed and pressed “record” on the device as Commissioner Alduin continued. At that moment, however, I was deaf to it all. The gravity of the situation had fully enveloped me… They weren’t kidding about the unwilling participants, I just didn’t realise I would be one of them.On every side of me sits men and women with a desire for violence that goes beyond the norm, beyond the sane and beyond the boundaries of humanity.Below me are an untold number of creatures rattling their cages and howling for blood. Across from me is a woman so powerful she could crush my skull beneath her boot with the utmost ease if it so amused her. That invitation was nothing more than my own ransom note in pretty colours and flattering platitudes. I was in a tournament housing nightmares incarnate. And it would only get more violent from here on out. - The opening round was a blood bath.
Someone posted on here a few days ago asking about forex and forex trading in Kenya, I have gone through the responses and clearly, most people don’t have an idea. It is 3am in the morning and am in a good mood so let me make this post. This will be a comprehensive and lengthy post so grab a pen and paper and sit down. We’ll be here a while. FIRST OF ALL, who am I..? I am a forex trader, in Nairobi, Kenya..i have been actively involved in forex since I found out about it in Feb 2016 when I somehow ended up in a wealth creation seminar (lol) in pride inn Westlands, the one close to Mpaka Rd. Luckily for me, it was not one of those AIM global meetings or I’d be on Facebook selling God knows what those guys sell. I did not take it seriously till August of the same year and I have been active ever since. I don’t teach, mentor or sell a course or signals, I trade my own money. I am also posting from a throwaway account because I don’t want KRA on my ass. What the fuck is forex and forex trading. In simple plain English, forex is like the stock market but for currencies. Stock Market = Shares, forex = currencies. If you want more in-depth explanation, google is your friend. These currencies are pegged on specific countries, united states- dollar, UK- pound, euro zone- euro, Switzerland- Swiss franc, Kenya- Kenya shilling.. you get the point. Now, there are specific events and happenings between these economies that affect the movement and values of the currencies, driving their value (purchasing power up and down). Forex trading exploits these movements to make money. When the value is going up, we buy and vice versa (down –sell) Is forex trading illegal in Kenya? Is it a scam? Illegal, no. scam, no. All the banks in the world do it (KCB made about 4 billion from trading forex in 2019) Have there been scams involving forex in Kenya? Yes. Here is one that happened recently. This one is the most infamous one yet. Best believe that this is not the end of these type of scams because the stupidity, greed and gullibility of human beings is unfathomable. However, by the end of this post, I hope you won’t fall for such silliness. What next how do I make it work..? Am glad you asked. Generally, there are two ways to go about it. One, you teach yourself. This is the equivalent of stealing our dad’s car and hoping that the pedal you hit is the brake and not the accelerator. It is the route I took, it is the most rewarding and a huge ego boost when you finally make it on your own. Typically, this involves scouring the internet for hours upon hours going down rabbit holes, thinking you have made it telling all your friends how you will be a millionaire then losing all your money. Some people do not have the stomach for that. The second route is more practical, structured and smarter. First Learn the basics. There is a free online forex course at www.babypips.com/learn/forex this is merely an introductory course. Basically it is learning the parts of a car before they let you inside the car. Second, start building your strategy. By the time you are done with the babypips, you will have a feel of what the forex market is, what interests you, etc. Tip..Babypips has a lot of garbage. It is good for introductory purposes but not good for much else, pick whatever stick to you or jumps at you the first time. Nonsense like indicators should be ignored. The next step is now the most important. Developing the skill and building your strategy. As a beginner, you want to exhaust your naivety before jumping into the more advanced stuff. Eg can you identify a trend, what is a pair, what is position sizing, what is metatrader 4 and how to operate it, what news is good for a currency, when can I trade, what are the different trading sessions, what is technical analysis, what is market sentiment, what are bullish conditions what is emotion management, how does my psychology affect my trading (more on this later) an I a swing, scalper or day trader etc Mentors and forex courses.. you have probably seen people advertising how they can teach and mentor you on how to trade forex and charging so much money for it. Somehow it seems that these people are focused on the teaching than the trading. Weird, right..? Truth is trading is hard, teaching not quite. A common saying in the industry is “Those who can’t trade, teach” you want to avoid all these gurus on Facebook and Instagram, some are legit but most are not. Sifting the wheat from the chaff is hard but I did that for you. The info is available online on YouTube, telegram channels etc. am not saying not to spend money on a course, if you find a mentor whose style resonates with you and the course is reasonably priced, please, go ahead and buy..it will cut your learning curve in half. People are different. What worked for me might not work for you. Here are some nice YouTube channels to watch. These guys are legit..
After a short period of time, you will be able to sniff out bs teachers with relative ease. You will also discover some of your own and expand the list. Two tips, start with the oldest videos first and whichever of these resonates with you, stick with till the wheels fall off. How long will it take until things start making sense Give yourself time to grow and learn. This is all new to you and you are allowed to make mistakes, to fail and discover yourself. Realistically, depending on the effort you put in, you will not start seeing results until after 6 months. Could take longeshorter so there is no guarantee. Social media, Mentality, Psychology and Books Online, forex trading might not have the best reputation online because it takes hard work and scammers and gurus give it a bad name. However, try to not get sucked into the Instagram trader lifestyle as it is nowhere close to what the reality is. You will not make millions tomorrow or the day after, you might never even make it in this market. But that is the reality of life. Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed. Your mentality, beliefs and ego will be challenged in this market. You will learn things that will make you blood boil, you will ask yourself daily, how is this possible, why don’t they teach this in school..bla bla bla..it will be hard but growth is painful, if it wasn’t we’d all be billionaires. Take a break, take a walk, drink a glass of whatever you like or roll one..detox. Chill with your girl (or man) Gradually you will develop mental toughness that will set you up for life. Personally, I sorta ditched religion and picked up stoicism. Whatever works for you. Psychology, this is unfortunately one of the most neglected aspects of your personal development in this journey. Do you believe in yourself? Can you stand by your convictions when everyone is against you? Can you get up every day uncertain of the future? There will be moments where you will question yourself, am I even doing the right thing? the right way? It is normal and essential for your growth. People who played competitive sports have a natural advantage here. Remember the game is first won in your head then on the pitch. Books: ironically, books that helped me the most were the mindset books, Think and grow rich, trading for a living, 4 hour work week, the monk who sold his Ferrari..just google mindset and psychology books, most trading books are garbage. Watch and listen to people who have made it in the investing business. Ray Dalio, warren, Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn. This is turning out to be lengthier than I anticipated so I’ll try to be brief for the remaining parts. Brokers You will need to open up an account with a broker. Get a broker who is regulated. Australian ones (IC Market and Pepperstone) are both legit, reliable and regulated. Do your research. I’d avoid local ones because I’ve heard stories of wide spreads and liquidity problems. International brokers have never failed me. There are plenty brokers, there is no one size fits all recommendation. If it ain’t broke..don’t fix it. Money transfer. All brokers accept wire transfers, you might need to call your bank to authorize that, avoid Equity bank. Stanchart and Stanbic are alright. Large withdrawals $10k+ you will have to call them prior. Get Skrill and Neteller if you don’t like banks like me, set up a Bitcoin wallet for faster withdrawals, (Payoneer and Paypal are accepted by some brokers, just check with them.) How much money can I make..? I hate this question because people have perceived ceilings of income in their minds, eg 1 million ksh is too much to make per month or 10,000ksh is too little. Instead, work backwards. What % return did I make this month/ on this trade. Safaricom made 19.5% last year, if you make 20% you have outperformed them. If you reach of consistency where you can make x% per month on whatever money you have, then there are no limits to how much you can make. How much money do I need to start with..? Zero. You have all the resources above, go forth. There are brokers who provide free bonuses and withdraw-able profits. However, to make a fulltime income you will need some serious cash. Generally, 50,000 kes. You can start lower or higher but if you need say 20k to live comfortably and that is a 10% return per month, then you can do the math on how big your account should be. Of course things like compound interest come into play but that is dependent on your skill level. I have seen people do spectacular things with very little funds. Taxes..? Talk to a lawyer or an accountant. I am neither. Family? Friends? Unfortunately, people will not understand why you spend hundreds of hours watching strangers on the internet so it is best to keep it from them. Eventually you will make it work and they will come to your corner talking about how they always knew you’d make it. The journey will be lonely, make some trading buddies along the way. You’d be surprised at how easy it is when people are united by their circumstances (and stupidity) I have guys who are my bros from South Africa and Lebanon who I have never met but we came up together and are now homies. Join forums, ask questions and grow. That is the only way to learn. Ideally, a group of 5-10 friends committed to learning and growth is the best model. Pushing each other to grow and discovering together. Forex is real and you can do amazing things with it. It is not a get rich quick scheme. If you want a quick guaranteed income, get a job. And now it is 5am, fuck. This is oversimplified and leaves out many many aspects. Happy to answer any questions.
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Here is how to play the altcoin game - for newbies & champs
I have been here for many previous altcoin seasons (2013,2017 etc) and wanted to share knowedle. It's a LOOONG article. The evaluation of altcoins (i.e not Bitcoin) is one of the most difficult and profitable exercises. Here I will outline my methodology and thinking but we have to take some things as a given. The first is that the whole market is going up or down with forces that we can't predict or control. Bitcoin is correlated with economic environments, money supply increases, safe havens such as Gold, hype and country regulations. This is an impossible mix to analyze and almost everyone fails at it. That's why you see people valuing Bitcoin from $100 to $500k frequently. Although I am bullish on the prospects of Bitcoin and decentralization and smart contract platforms, this is not the game I will be describing. I am talking about a game where you try to maximize your BTC holdings by investing in altcoins. We win this game even if we are at a loss in fiat currency value. To put it another way:
If you are not bullish in general on cryptocurrencies you have no place in investing or trading cryptocurrencies since it's always a losing proposition to trade in bubbles, a scientifically proven fact. If on the other hand you are then your goal is to grow your portfolio more than you would if holding BTC/ETH for example.
Bitcoin is the big boy
How the market works is not easily identifiable if you haven't graduated from the 2017 crypto university. When there is a bull market everything seems amazingly profitable and things keep going up outgrowing Bitcoin by orders of magnitude and you are a genius. The problem with this is that it only works while Bitcoin is going up a little bit or trades sideways. When it decides to move big then altcoins lose value both on the way up and on the way down. The second part is obvious and proven since all altcoins from 2017 are at a fraction of their BTC value (usually in the range of 80% or more down). Also, when BTC is making a big move upwards everyone exits altcoins to ride the wave. It is possible that the altcoin market behaves as an inversed leveraged ETF with leakage where in a certain period while Bitcoin starts at 10k and ends at 10k for example, altcoins have lost a lot of value because of the above things happening.
We are doing it anyway champ!
OK so we understand the risks and just wanna gambol with our money right? I get it. Why do that? Because finding the ideal scenario and period can be extremely profitable. In 2017 several altcoins went up 40x more than BTC. But again, if you don't chose wisely many of them have gone back to zero (the author has first hand experience in this!), they have been delisted and nobody remembers them. The actual mentality to have is very important and resembles poker and other speculative games: A certain altcoin can go up in value indefinitely but can only lose it's starting investment. Think about it. You either lose 1 metric or gain many many more. Now that sounds amazing but firstly as we said we have the goal to outperform our benchmark (BTC) and secondly that going up in value a lot means that the probability is quite low. There is this notion of Expected Value (EV) that poker players apply in these kind of situations and it goes like that. If you think that a certain coin has a probability let's say 10% to go up 10X and 90% probability it goes to zero it's an even bet. If you think that probability is 11% then it's a good bet, a profitable bet and you should take it. You get the point right? It's not that it can only go 10X or 0X, there is a whole range of probability outcomes that are too mathematical to explain here and it doesn't help so much because nobody can do such analysis with altcoins. See below on how we can approximate it.
How to evaluate altcoins
A range of different things to take into account outlined below will form our decision making. Not a single one of them should dictate 100% of our strategy.
It's all about market cap. Repeat after me. The price of a coin doesn't mean anything. Say it 10 times until you believe it. I can't remember how many times I had conversations with people that were comparing coins using their coin price instead of their market cap. To make this easy to get.
If I decide because the sky is blue to make my coin supply 100 Trillion FoolCoins with a price of $0.001 and there is another WiseCoin with a supply of 100 Million and price of $1 then FoolCoins are more expensive. - Alex Fin's Cap Law
This is done usually in the stock world and it means that each company has some fundamental value that includes it's assets, customers, growth prospects, sector prospects and leadership competence but mostly centered in financial measures such as P/E ratios etc. Valuation is a proper economic discipline by itself taught in universities. OK, now throw everything out of the window!. This kind of analysis is impossible in vague concepts and innovations that are currently cryptocurrencies. Ethereum was frequently priced at the fictional price of gas when all financial systems on earth run on the platform after decades (a bit of exaggeration here). No project is currently profitable enough to justify a valuation multiple that is usually equal to P/E in the thousands or more. As such we need to take other things into account. What I do is included in the list below:
Check Github. You need to make sure there is active development for the platform and it's a very bad sign if the project is either keeping the code closed source or even worse there is simply no development. No projects are "complete".
Check Website. If the website is written in bad English the Chinese google translate type it means that they are not serious enough to produce an unbreakable decentralized project. If you can't write English you can't change the world, period. That's a deal breaker.
Check Team's Linkedin. Numerous projects have either fake Linkedin accounts or the team is comprised mainly by unexperienced employees that are even shown to be working in other companies currently.
Check backers. Projects that have Binance, Coinbase or Silicon Valley VC funds backing them are way more legit but way more overpriced too!
One of my favorite ways to value altcoins that is based on the same principle in the stock market is to look at peers and decide what is the maximum cap it can grow to. As an example you take a second layer Ethereum solution that has an ICO and you want to decide if you will enter or not. You can take a look at other coins that are in the same business and compare their market caps. Thinking that your coin will outperform by a lot the top coins currently is overly optimistic so I usually take a lower valuation as a target price. If the initial offering is directly implying a valuation that is more than that then there is no room to grow according to my analysis and I skip it. Many times this has proven me wrong because it's a game theory problem where if many people think irrationally in a market it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But since there is opportunity cost involved, in the long run, getting in initial offerings that have a lot of room to grow will pay off as a strategy.
In 2017 the sexiest sector was platforms and then coins including privacy ones. Platforms are obviously still a highly rated sector because everything is being built on them, but privacy is not as hot as it used to be. In 2018 DEXes were all they hype but still people are massively using centralized exchanges. In 2020 Defi is the hottest sector and it includes platforms, oracles and Defi projects. What I am saying is that a project gets extra points if it's a Defi one in 2020 and minus points if it's a payment system that will conquer the world as it was in 2017 because that's old news. This is closely related to the next section.
Needless to say that the crypto market is a worse FOMO type of inexperienced trigger happy yolo investors , much worse than the Robinhood crowd that drove a bankrupt company's stock 1200% after they declared bankruptcy. The result is that there are numerous projects that are basically either vaporware or just so overhyped that their valuation has no connection to reality. Should we avoid those kind of projects? No and I will explain why. There are many very good technically projects that had zero hype potential due to incompetent marketing departments that made them tank. An example (without shilling because I sold out a while back) is Quantum Resistant Ledger. This project has amazing quantum resistant blockchain, the only one running now, has a platform that people can build tokens and messaging systems and other magnificent stuff. Just check how they fared up to now and you will get the point. A project *needs* to have a hype factor because you cannot judge it as normal stocks that you can do value investing like Warren Buffet does where a company will inevitable post sales and profitability numbers and investors will get dividends. Actually the last sentence is the most important: No dividends. Even projects that give you tokens or coins as dividends are not real dividends because if the coin tanks the value of the dividend tanks. This is NOT the case with company stocks where you get dollars even if the company stock tanks. All that being said, I would advice against betting on projects that have a lot of hype but little substance (but that should be obvious!).
How to construct your portfolio
My strategy and philosophy in investing is that risk should be proportional to investment capital. That means that if you are investing 100K in the crypto market your portfolio should be very different than someone investing 1K because 10% annual gains are nothing in the latter while they are very significant in the former. Starting from this principle each individual needs to construct a portfolio according to how much risk he wants to take. I will emphasize two important concepts that play well with what I said. In the first instance of a big portfolio you should concentrate on this mantra: "Diversification is the only free meal in finance". In the case of a small portfolio then this mantra is more important: "Concentrate to create wealth, diversify to maintain wealth". Usually in a big portfolio you would want to hold some big coins such as BTC and ETH to weather the ups and downs explained in previous paragraphs while generating profits and keep progressively smaller parts of your portfolio for riskier investments. Maybe 50% of this portfolio could be big caps and 10% very risky initial offerings. Adapting risk progressively to smaller portfolios makes sense but I think it would be irrational to keep more than 30% of a portfolio no matter what tied to one coin due to the very high risk of bankruptcy.
The altseason is supposedly coming every 3 months. Truth is that nobody can predict it but altcoins can be profitable no matter what. Forget about maximalists who are stuck in their dogmas. Altcoins deliver different value propositions and it makes sense because we are very far from a situation where some project offers everything like Amazon and we wouldn't even want that in the first place since we are talking about decentralization and not a winner takes all and becomes a monster kind of scenario! Some last minute advice:
Stay out of paid telegram/discord pump groups. They are deadly for your wallet.
Avoid jumping on overhyped coins that have pumped massively during the last days without any very important news.
Don't keep coins in obscure exchanges for too long or you will get burned with certainty.
Stop thinking that your coin will 1000x and overtake Bitcoin!
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Don't blindly follow a narrative, its bad for you and its bad for crypto in general
I mostly lurk around here but I see a pattern repeating over and over again here and in multiple communities so I have to post. I'm just posting this here because I appreciate the fact that this sub is a place of free speech and maybe something productive can come out from this post, while bitcoin is just fucking censorship, memes and moon/lambo posts. If you don't agree, write in the comments why, instead of downvoting. You don't have to upvote either, but when you downvote you are killing the opportunity to have discussion. If you downvote or comment that I'm wrong without providing any counterpoints you are no better than the BTC maxis you despise. In various communities I see a narrative being used to bring people in and making them follow something without thinking for themselves. In crypto I see this mostly in BTC vs BCH tribalistic arguments: - BTC community: "Everything that is not BTC is shitcoin." or more recently as stated by adam on twitter, "Everything that is not BTC is a ponzi scheme, even ETH.", "what is ETH supply?", and even that they are doing this for "altruistic" reasons, to "protect" the newcomers. Very convenient for them that they are protecting the newcomers by having them buy their bags - BCH community: "BTC maxis are dumb", "just increase block size and you will have truly p2p electronic cash", "It is just that simple, there are no trade offs", "if you don't agree with me you are a BTC maxi", "BCH is satoshi's vision for p2p electronic cash" It is not exclusive to crypto but also politics, and you see this over and over again on twitter and on reddit. My point is, that narratives are created so people don't have to think, they just choose a narrative that is easy to follow and makes sense for them, and stick with it. And people keep repeating these narratives to bring other people in, maybe by ignorance, because they truly believe it without questioning, or maybe by self interest, because they want to shill you their bags. Because this is BCH community, and because bitcoin is censored, so I can't post there about the problems in the BTC narrative (some of which are IMO correctly identified by BCH community), I will stick with the narrative I see in the BCH community. The culprit of this post was firstly this post by user u/scotty321"The BTC Paradox: “A 1 MB blocksize enables poor people to run their own node!” “Okay, then what?” “Poor people won’t be able to use the network!”". You will see many posts of this kind being made by u/Egon_1 also. Then you have also this comment in that thread by u/fuck_____________1 saying that people that want to run their own nodes are retarded and that there is no reason to want to do that. "Just trust block explorer websites". And the post and comment were highly upvoted. Really? You really think that there is no problem in having just a few nodes on the network? And that the only thing that secures the network are miners? As stated by user u/co1nsurf3r in that thread:
While I don't think that everybody needs to run a node, a full node does publish blocks it considers valid to other nodes. This does not amount to much if you only consider a single node in the network, but many "honest" full nodes in the network will reduce the probability of a valid block being withheld from the network by a collusion of "hostile" node operators.
But surely this will not get attention here, and will be downvoted by those people that promote the narrative that there is no trade off in increasing the blocksize and the people that don't see it are retarded or are btc maxis. The only narrative I stick to and have been for many years now is that cryptocurrency takes power from the government and gives power to the individual, so you are not restricted to your economy as you can participate in the global economy. There is also the narrative of banking the bankless, which I hope will come true, but it is not a use case we are seeing right now. Some people would argue that removing power from gov's is a bad thing, but you can't deny the fact that gov's can't control crypto (at least we would want them not to). But, if you really want the individuals to remain in control of their money and transact with anyone in the world, the network needs to be very resistant to any kind of attacks. How can you have p2p electronic cash if your network just has a handful couple of nodes and the chinese gov can locate them and just block communication to them? I'm not saying that this is BCH case, I'm just refuting the fact that there is no value in running your own node. If you are relying on block explorers, the gov can just block the communication to the block explorer websites. Then what? Who will you trust to get chain information? The nodes needs to be decentralized so if you take one node down, many more can appear so it is hard to censor and you don't have few points of failure. Right now BTC is focusing on that use case of being difficult to censor. But with that comes the problem that is very expensive to transact on the network, which breaks the purpose of anyone being able to participate. Obviously I do think that is also a major problem, and lightning network is awful right now and probably still years away of being usable, if it ever will. The best solution is up for debate, but thinking that you just have to increase the blocksize and there is no trade off is just naive or misleading. BCH is doing a good thing in trying to come with a solution that is inclusive and promotes cheap and fast transactions, but also don't forget centralization is a major concern and nothing to just shrug off. Saying that "a 1 MB blocksize enables poor people to run their own" and that because of that "Poor people won’t be able to use the network" is a misrepresentation designed to promote a narrative. Because 1MB is not to allow "poor" people to run their node, it is to facilitate as many people to run a node to promote decentralization and avoid censorship. Also an elephant in the room that you will not see being discussed in either BTC or BCH communities is that mining pools are heavily centralized. And I'm not talking about miners being mostly in china, but also that big pools control a lot of hashing power both in BTC and BCH, and that is terrible for the purpose of crypto. Other projects are trying to solve that. Will they be successful? I don't know, I hope so, because I don't buy into any narrative. There are many challenges and I want to see crypto succeed as a whole. As always guys, DYOR and always question if you are not blindly following a narrative. I'm sure I will be called BTC maxi but maybe some people will find value in this. Don't trust guys that are always posting silly "gocha's" against the other "tribe". EDIT: User u/ShadowOfHarbringer has pointed me to some threads that this has been discussed in the past and I will just put my take on them here for visibility, as I will be using this thread as a reference in future discussions I engage:
When there was only 2 nodes in the network, adding a third node increased redundancy and resiliency of the network as a whole in a significant way. When there is thousands of nodes in the network, adding yet another node only marginally increase the redundancy and resiliency of the network. So the question then becomes a matter of personal judgement of how much that added redundancy and resiliency is worth. For the absolutist, it is absolutely worth it and everyone on this planet should do their part.
What is the magical number of nodes that makes it counterproductive to add new nodes? Did he do any math? Does BCH achieve this holy grail safe number of nodes? Guess what, nobody knows at what number of nodes is starts to be marginally irrelevant to add new nodes. Even BTC today could still not have enough nodes to be safe. If you can't know for sure that you are safe, it is better to try to be safer than sorry. Thousands of nodes is still not enough, as I said, it is much cheaper to run a full node as it is to mine. If it costs millions in hash power to do a 51% attack on the block generation it means nothing if it costs less than $10k to run more nodes than there are in total in the network and cause havoc and slowing people from using the network. Or using bot farms to DDoS the 1000s of nodes in the network. Not all attacks are monetarily motivated. When you have governments with billions of dollars at their disposal and something that could threat their power they could do anything they could to stop people from using it, and the cheapest it is to do so the better
You should run a full node if you're a big business with e.g. >$100k/month in volume, or if you run a service that requires high fraud resistance and validation certainty for payments sent your way (e.g. an exchange). For most other users of Bitcoin, there's no good reason to run a full node unless you reel like it.
Shouldn't individuals benefit from fraud resistance too? Why just businesses?
Personally, I think it's a good idea to make sure that people can easily run a full node because they feel like it, and that it's desirable to keep full node resource requirements reasonable for an enthusiast/hobbyist whenever possible. This might seem to be at odds with the concept of making a worldwide digital cash system in which all transactions are validated by everybody, but after having done the math and some of the code myself, I believe that we should be able to have our cake and eat it too.
This is recurrent argument, but also no math provided, "just trust me I did the math"
The biggest reason individuals may want to run their own node is to increase their privacy. SPV wallets rely on others (nodes or ElectronX servers) who may learn their addresses.
It is a reason and valid one but not the biggest reason
If you do it for fun and experimental it good. If you do it for extra privacy it's ok. If you do it to help the network don't. You are just slowing down miners and exchanges.
Yes it will slow down the network, but that shows how people just don't get the the trade off they are doing
I will just copy/paste what Satoshi Nakamoto said in his own words. "The current system where every user is a network node is not the intended configuration for large scale. That would be like every Usenet user runs their own NNTP server."
Another "it is all or nothing argument" and quoting satoshi to try and prove their point. Just because every user doesn't need to be also a full node doesn't mean that there aren't serious risks for having few nodes
For this to have any importance in practice, all of the miners, all of the exchanges, all of the explorers and all of the economic nodes should go rogue all at once. Collude to change consensus. If you have a node you can detect this. It doesn't do much, because such a scenario is impossible in practice.
Not true because as I said, you can DDoS the current nodes or run more malicious nodes than that there currently are, because is cheap to do so
Non-mining nodes don't contribute to adding data to the blockchain ledger, but they do play a part in propagating transactions that aren't yet in blocks (the mempool). Bitcoin client implementations can have different validations for transactions they see outside of blocks and transactions they see inside of blocks; this allows for "soft forks" to add new types of transactions without completely breaking older clients (while a transaction is in the mempool, a node receiving a transaction that's a new/unknown type could drop it as not a valid transaction (not propagate it to its peers), but if that same transaction ends up in a block and that node receives the block, they accept the block (and the transaction in it) as valid (and therefore don't get left behind on the blockchain and become a fork). The participation in the mempool is a sort of "herd immunity" protection for the network, and it was a key talking point for the "User Activated Soft Fork" (UASF) around the time the Segregated Witness feature was trying to be added in. If a certain percentage of nodes updated their software to not propagate certain types of transactions (or not communicate with certain types of nodes), then they can control what gets into a block (someone wanting to get that sort of transaction into a block would need to communicate directly to a mining node, or communicate only through nodes that weren't blocking that sort of transaction) if a certain threshold of nodes adheres to those same validation rules. It's less specific than the influence on the blockchain data that mining nodes have, but it's definitely not nothing.
The first reasonable comment in that thread but is deep down there with only 1 upvote
The addition of non-mining nodes does not add to the efficiency of the network, but actually takes away from it because of the latency issue.
That is true and is actually a trade off you are making, sacrificing security to have scalability
The addition of non-mining nodes has little to no effect on security, since you only need to destroy mining ones to take down the network
It is true that if you destroy mining nodes you take down the network from producing new blocks (temporarily), even if you have a lot of non mining nodes. But, it still better than if you take down the mining nodes who are also the only full nodes. If the miners are not the only full nodes, at least you still have full nodes with the blockchain data so new miners can download it and join. If all the miners are also the full nodes and you take them down, where will you get all the past blockchain data to start mining again? Just pray that the miners that were taken down come back online at some point in the future?
The real limiting factor is ISP's: Imagine a situation where one service provider defrauds 4000 different nodes. Did the excessive amount of nodes help at all, when they have all been defrauded by the same service provider? If there are only 30 ISP's in the world, how many nodes do we REALLY need?
You cant defraud if the connection is encrypted. Use TOR for example, it is hard for ISP's to know what you are doing.
Satoshi specifically said in the white paper that after a certain point, number of nodes needed plateaus, meaning after a certain point, adding more nodes is actually counterintuitive, which we also demonstrated. (the latency issue). So, we have adequately demonstrated why running non-mining nodes does not add additional value or security to the network.
Again, what is the number of nodes that makes it counterproductive? Did he do any math?
There's also the matter of economically significant nodes and the role they play in consensus. Sure, nobody cares about your average joe's "full node" where he is "keeping his own ledger to keep the miners honest", as it has no significance to the economy and the miners couldn't give a damn about it. However, if say some major exchanges got together to protest a miner activated fork, they would have some protest power against that fork because many people use their service. Of course, there still needs to be miners running on said "protest fork" to keep the chain running, but miners do follow the money and if they got caught mining a fork that none of the major exchanges were trading, they could be coaxed over to said "protest fork".
In consensus, what matters about nodes is only the number, economical power of the node doesn't mean nothing, the protocol doesn't see the net worth of the individual or organization running that node.
Running a full node that is not mining and not involved is spending or receiving payments is of very little use. It helps to make sure network traffic is broadcast, and is another copy of the blockchain, but that is all (and is probably not needed in a healthy coin with many other nodes)
He gets it right (broadcasting transaction and keeping a copy of the blockchain) but he dismisses the importance of it
DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent
In this week's edition of DDDD (Data-driven DD), I'll be going over the real reason why we have been seeing a rally for the past few weeks, defying all logic and fundamentals - retail investors. We'll look into several data sets to see how retail interest in stock markets have reached record levels in the past few weeks, how this affected stock prices, and why we've most likely seen the top at this point, unless we see one of the "positive catalysts" that I mentioned in my previous post, which is unlikely (except for more news about Remdesivir). Disclaimer - This is not financial advice, and a lot of the content below is my personal opinion. In fact, the numbers, facts, or explanations presented below could be wrong and be made up. Don't buy random options because some person on the internet says so; look at what happened to all the SPY 220p 4/17 bag holders. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions on what you should do with your own money, and how levered you want to be based on your personal risk tolerance. Inspiration Most people who know me personally know that I spend an unhealthy amount of my free time in finance and trading as a hobby, even competing in paper options trading competitions when I was in high school. A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask if he could call me because he just installed Robinhood and wanted to buy SPY puts after seeing everyone on wallstreetbets post gains posts from all the tendies they’ve made from their SPY puts. The problem was, he actually didn’t understand how options worked at all, and needed a thorough explanation about how options are priced, what strike prices and expiration dates mean, and what the right strategy to buying options are. That’s how I knew we were at the euphoria stage of buying SPY puts - it’s when dumb money starts to pour in, and people start buying securities because they see everyone else making money and they want in, even if they have no idea what they’re buying, and price becomes dislocated from fundementals. Sure enough, less than a week later, we started the bull rally that we are currently in. Bubbles are formed when people buy something not because of logic or even gut feeling, but when people who previously weren’t involved see their dumb neighbors make tons of money from it, and they don’t want to miss out. A few days ago, I started getting questions from other friends about what stocks they should buy and if I thought something was a good investment. That inspired me to dig a bit deeper to see how many other people are thinking the same thing. Data Ever since March, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of money pour into the stock market from retail investors. Google Search Trends \"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020 \"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 12 months \"stocks\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020 \"stocks\" Google Trends 12 months Brokerage data Robinhood SPY holders \"Robinhood\" Google Trends 12 months wallstreetbets' favorite broker Google Trends 12 months Excerpt from E*Trade earnings statement Excerpt from Schwab earnings statement TD Ameritrade Excerpt Media cnbc.com Alexa rank CNBC viewership & rankings wallstreetbets comments / day investing comments / day Analysis What we can see from Reddit numbers, Google Trends, and CNBC stats is that in between the first week of March and first week of April, we see a massive inflow of retail interest in the stock market. Not only that, but this inflow of interest is coming from all age cohorts, from internet-using Zoomers to TV-watching Boomers. Robinhood SPY holdings and earnings reports from E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab have also all confirmed record numbers of new clients, number of trades, and assets. There’s something interesting going on if you look closer at the numbers. The numbers growth in brokers for designed for “less sophisticated” investors (i.e. Robinhood and E*Trade) are much larger than for real brokers (i.e. Schwab and Ameritrade). This implies that the record number of new users and trade volume is coming from dumb money. The numbers shown here only really apply to the US and Canada, but there’s also data to suggest that there’s also record numbers of foreign investors pouring money into the US stock market as well. However, after the third week of March, we see the interest start to slowly decline and plateau, indicating that we probably have seen most of those new investors who wanted to have a long position in the market do so. SPX daily Rationale Pretty much everything past this point is purely speculation, and isn’t really backed up by any solid data so take whatever I say here with a cup of salt. We could see from the graph that new investor interest started with the first bull trap we saw in the initial decline from early March, and peaking right after the end of the crash in March. So it would be fair to guess that we’re seeing a record amount of interest in the stock market from a “buy the dip” mentality, especially from Robinhood-using Millennials. Here’s a few points on my rationalization of this behavior, based on very weak anecdotal evidence
They missed out of their chance of getting in the stock market at the start of the bull market that happened at the end of 2009
They’ve all seen the stock market make record gains throughout their adult lives, but believing that the market might be overheated, they were waiting for a crash
Most of them have gotten towards the stage of their lives where they actually have some savings and can finally put some money aside for investments
This stock market crash seems like their once-in-a-decade opportunity that they’ve been waiting for, so everyone jumped in
Everyone’s stuck at their homes with vast amounts of unexpected free time on their hands
Most of these new investors got their first taste in the market near the bottom, and probably made some nice returns. Of course, since they didn’t know what they were doing, they probably put a very small amount of money at first, but after seeing a 10% return over one week, validating that maybe they do know something, they decide to slowly pour in more and more of their life savings. That’s what’s been fueling this bull market. Sentiment & Magic Crayons As I mentioned previously, this bull rally will keep going until enough bears convert to bulls. Markets go up when the amount of new bullish positions outnumber the amount of new bearish positions, and vice versa. Record amounts of new investors, who previously never held a position in the market before, fueled the bullish side of this equation, despite all the negative data that has come out and dislocating the price from fundamentals. All the smart money that was shorting the markets saw this happening, and flipped to become bulls because you don’t fight the trend, even if the trend doesn’t reflect reality. From the data shown above, we can see new investor interest growth has started declining since mid March and started stagnating in early April. The declining volume in SPY since mid-March confirms this. That means, once the sentiment of the new retail investors starts to turn bearish, and everyone figures out how much the stocks they’re holding are really worth, another sell-off will begin. I’ve seen something very similar to this a few years ago with Bitcoin. Near the end of 2017, Bitcoin started to become mainstream and saw a flood of retail investors suddenly signing up for Coinbase (i.e. Robinhood) accounts and buying Bitcoin without actually understanding what it is and how it works. Suddenly everyone, from co-workers to grandparents, starts talking about Bitcoin and might have thrown a few thousand dollars into it. This appears to be a very similar parallel to what’s going on right now. Of course there’s differences here in that equities have an intrinsic value, although many of them have gone way above what they should be intrinsically worth, and the vast majority of retail investors don’t understand how to value companies. Then, during December, when people started thinking that the market was getting a bit overheated, some started taking their profits, and that’s when the prices crashed violently. This flip in sentiment now look like it has started with equities. SPY daily Technical Analysis, or magic crayons, is a discipline in finance that uses statistical analysis to predict market trends based on market sentiment. Of course, a lot of this is hand-wavy and is very subjective; two people doing TA on the same price history can end up getting opposite results, so TA should always be taken with a grain of salt and ideally be backed with underlying justification and not be blindly followed. In fact, I’ve since corrected the ascending wedge I had on SPY since my last post since this new wedge is a better fit for the new trading data. There’s a few things going on in this chart. The entire bull rally we’ve had since the lows can be modelled using a rising wedge. This is a pattern where there is a convergence of a rising support and resistance trendline, along with falling volume. This indicates a slow decline in net bullish sentiment with investors, with smaller and smaller upside after each bounce off the support until it hits a resistance. The smaller the bounces, the less bullish investors are. When the bearish sentiment takes over across investors, the price breaks below this wedge - a breakdown, and indicates a start of another downtrend. This happened when the wedge hit resistance at around 293, which is around the same price as the 200 day moving average, the 62% retracement (considered to be the upper bound of a bull trap), and a price level that acted as a support and resistance throughout 2019. The fact that it gapped down to break this wedge is also a strong signal, indicating a sudden swing in investor sentiment overnight. The volume of the break down also broke the downwards trend of volume we’ve had since the beginning of the bull rally, indicating a sudden surge of people selling their shares. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will go straight from here, and I personally think that we will see the completion of a heads-and-shoulders pattern complete before SPY goes below 274, which in itself is a strong support level. In other words, SPY might go from 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 before breaking the 274 support level. VIX Daily Doing TA is already sketchy, and doing TA on something like VIX is even more sketchy, but I found this interesting so I’ll mention it. Since the start of the bull rally, we’ve had VIX inside a descending channel. With the breakdown we had in SPY yesterday, VIX has also gapped up to have a breakout from this channel, indicating that we may see future volatility in the next week or so. Putting Everything Together Finally, we get to my thesis. This entire bull rally has been fueled by new retail investors buying the dip, bringing the stock price to euphoric levels. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing the people waiting at the sidelines for years to get into the stock market slowly FOMO into the rally in smaller and smaller volumes, while the smart money have been locking in their profits at an even slower rate - hence an ascending wedge. As the amount of new retail interest in the stock market started slowed down, the amount of new bulls started to decline. It looks like Friday might have been the start of the bearish sentiment taking over, meaning it’s likely that 293 was the top, unless any significant bullish events happen in the next two weeks like a fourth round of stimulus, in which case we might see 300. This doesn’t mean we’ll instantly go back to circuit breakers on Monday, and we might see 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 happen before panic, this time by the first-time investors, eventually bringing us down towards SPY 180. tldr; we've reached the top EDIT - I'll keep a my live thoughts here as we move throughout this week in case anyone's still reading this and interested. 5/4 8PM - /ES was red last night but steadily climbed, which was expected since 1h RSI was borderline oversold, leaving us to a slightly green day. /ES looks like it has momentum going up, but is approaching towards overbought territory now. Expecting it to go towards 284 (possibly where we'll open tomorrow) and bouncing back down from that price level 5/5 Market Open - Well there goes my price target. I guess at this point it might go up to 293 again, but will need a lot of momentum to push back there to 300. Seems like this is being driven by oil prices skyrocketing. 5/5 3:50PM - Volume for the upwards price action had very little volume behind it. Seeing a selloff EOD today, could go either way although I have a bearish bias. Going to hold cash until it goes towards one end of the 274-293 channel (see last week's thesis). Still believe that we will see it drop below 274 next week, but we might be moving sideways in the channel this week and a bit of next week before that happens. Plan for tomorrow is buy short dated puts if open < 285. Otherwise, wait till it goes to 293 before buying those puts 5/5 6PM - What we saw today could be a false breakout above 284. Need tomorrow to open below 285 for that to be confirmed. If so, my original thesis of it going back down to 274 before bouncing back up will still be in play. 5/6 EOD - Wasn't a false breakout. Looks like it's still forming the head-and-shoulders pattern mentioned before, but 288 instead of 284 as the level. Still not sure yet so I'm personally going to be holding cash and waiting this out for the next few days. Will enter into short positions if we either go near 293 again or drop below 270. Might look into VIX calls if VIX goes down near 30. 5/7 Market Open - Still waiting. If we break 289 we're probably heading to 293. I'll make my entry to short positions when we hit that a second time. There's very little bullish momentum left (see MACD 1D), so if we hit 293 and then drop back down, we'll have a MACD crossover event which many traders and algos use as a sell signal. Oil is doing some weird shit. 5/7 Noon - Looks like we're headed to 293. Picked up VIX 32.5c 5/27 since VIX is near 30. 5/7 11PM - /ES is hovering right above 2910, with 4h and 1h charts are bullish from MACD and 1h is almost overbought in RSI. Unless something dramatic happens we'll probably hit near 293 tomorrow, which is where I'll get some SPY puts. We might drop down before ever touching it, or go all the way to 295 (like last time) during the day, but expecting it to close at or below 293. After that I'm expecting a gap down Monday as we start the final leg down next week towards 274. Expecting 1D MACD to crossover in the final leg down, which will be a signal for bears to take over and institutions / day traders will start selling again 5/8 Market Open - Plan is to wait till a good entry today, either when technicals looks good or we hit 293, and then buy some SPY June 285p and July 275p 5/8 Noon - Everything still going according to plan. Most likely going to slowly inch towards 293 by EOD. Will probably pick up SPY puts and more VIX calls at power hour (3 - 4PM). Monday will probably gap down, although there's a small chance of one more green / sideways day before that happens if we have bullish catalysts on the weekend. 5/8 3:55PM - SPY at 292.60. This is probably going to be the closest we get to 293. Bought SPY 290-260 6/19 debit spreads and 292-272 5/15 debit spreads, as well as doubling down on VIX calls from yesterday, decreasing my cost basis. Still looks like there's room for one more green day on Monday, so I left some money on the side to double down if that's the case, although it's more likely than not we won't get there. 5/8 EOD - Looks like we barely touched 293 exactly AH before rebounding down. Too bad you can't buy options AH, but more convinced we'll see a gap down on Monday. Going to work on another post over the weekend and do my updates there. Have a great weekend everyone!
PSA: You're currently accustomed to a bear market and you WILL try to sell too early
Imagine you're an astronaut going into space for the first time. You've studied for many years and know to expect zero-gravity. Perhaps you've even trained on simulators and gotten an estimation of how it might feel. First-time astronauts invariably have the same feedback:
"Nothing could've prepared me for space. There's absolutely nothing like it."
Embarking on your first bull run is much like going into space. You may have read about it, done some paper trading, maybe even simulated going through 2016-2017, but nothing can prepare you for the gut-wrenching, schizophrenic ride of ecstasy of having real money on the line. Your intuition will fail you. You've grown all your life in regular gravity and have developed visual-spatial senses that work well on Earth. When you throw an orange, you expect it to fall. When you see Bitcoin go up 15%, you expect it to flag then come back down to support. What's most insidious is that your instincts you've developed run subconsciously directing you to make mistakes. Much like an astronaut spends a day getting acclimated to space, give yourself time and patience to get used to the new normal. You will sell too early, thinking that on Earth, oranges don't normally travel that far. I'm here to tell you when you're going to the moon, oranges keep on going, much further than you'd expect. The reason why veterans tell you to hodl is because it's the most effective advice helping you learn that you are weightless in space. Once Bitcoin goes on a run, the fatal mistake is pulling the ripcord too quickly. This causes you to get stuck in fiat watching day after day of losing value denominated in BTC. This is the primary cause for people fomo'ing back in higher only to get rekt when Bitcoin comes down from its local top. If you're hodling Bitcoin, no one can tell you to get off the rocket ship. Ride it all the way to the moon with us. 10M by 2030 is my best estimation. If you enjoyed my writing, follow me on Twitter for future pieces!https://twitter.com/uncapslockThis is all meant to be for entertainment and doesn't constitute financial advice.
Scaling Reddit Community Points with Arbitrum Rollup: a piece of cake
https://preview.redd.it/b80c05tnb9e51.jpg?width=2550&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=850282c1a3962466ed44f73886dae1c8872d0f31 Submitted for consideration toThe Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off Baked by the pastry chefs atOffchain Labs Please send questions or comments to [[email protected] ](mailto:[email protected]) 1. Overview We're excited to submit Arbitrum Rollup for consideration to The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off. Arbitrum Rollup is the only Ethereum scaling solution that supports arbitrary smart contracts without compromising on Ethereum's security or adding points of centralization. For Reddit, this means that Arbitrum can not only scale the minting and transfer of Community Points, but it can foster a creative ecosystem built around Reddit Community Points enabling points to be used in a wide variety of third party applications. That's right -- you can have your cake and eat it too! Arbitrum Rollup isn't just Ethereum-style. Its Layer 2 transactions are byte-for-byte identical to Ethereum, which means Ethereum users can continue to use their existing addresses and wallets, and Ethereum developers can continue to use their favorite toolchains and development environments out-of-the-box with Arbitrum. Coupling Arbitrum’s tooling-compatibility with its trustless asset interoperability, Reddit not only can scale but can onboard the entire Ethereum community at no cost by giving them the same experience they already know and love (well, certainly know). To benchmark how Arbitrum can scale Reddit Community Points, we launched the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain. Since Arbitrum provides full Solidity support, we didn't have to rewrite the Reddit contracts or try to mimic their functionality using an unfamiliar paradigm. Nope, none of that. We launched the Reddit contracts unmodified on Arbitrum Rollup complete with support for minting and distributing points. Like every Arbitrum Rollup chain, the chain included a bridge interface in which users can transfer Community Points or any other asset between the L1 and L2 chains. Arbitrum Rollup chains also support dynamic contract loading, which would allow third-party developers to launch custom ecosystem apps that integrate with Community Points on the very same chain that runs the Reddit contracts. 1.1 Why Ethereum Perhaps the most exciting benefit of distributing Community Points using a blockchain is the ability to seamlessly port points to other applications and use them in a wide variety of contexts. Applications may include simple transfers such as a restaurant that allows Redditors to spend points on drinks. Or it may include complex smart contracts -- such as placing Community Points as a wager for a multiparty game or as collateral in a financial contract. The common denominator between all of the fun uses of Reddit points is that it needs a thriving ecosystem of both users and developers, and the Ethereum blockchain is perhaps the only smart contract platform with significant adoption today. While many Layer 1 blockchains boast lower cost or higher throughput than the Ethereum blockchain, more often than not, these attributes mask the reality of little usage, weaker security, or both. Perhaps another platform with significant usage will rise in the future. But today, Ethereum captures the mindshare of the blockchain community, and for Community Points to provide the most utility, the Ethereum blockchain is the natural choice. 1.2 Why Arbitrum While Ethereum's ecosystem is unmatched, the reality is that fees are high and capacity is too low to support the scale of Reddit Community Points. Enter Arbitrum. Arbitrum Rollup provides all of the ecosystem benefits of Ethereum, but with orders of magnitude more capacity and at a fraction of the cost of native Ethereum smart contracts. And most of all, we don't change the experience from users. They continue to use the same wallets, addresses, languages, and tools. Arbitrum Rollup is not the only solution that can scale payments, but it is the only developed solution that can scale both payments and arbitrary smart contracts trustlessly, which means that third party users can build highly scalable add-on apps that can be used without withdrawing money from the Rollup chain. If you believe that Reddit users will want to use their Community Points in smart contracts--and we believe they will--then it makes the most sense to choose a single scaling solution that can support the entire ecosystem, eliminating friction for users. We view being able to run smart contracts in the same scaling solution as fundamentally critical since if there's significant demand in running smart contracts from Reddit's ecosystem, this would be a load on Ethereum and would itself require a scaling solution. Moreover, having different scaling solutions for the minting/distribution/spending of points and for third party apps would be burdensome for users as they'd have to constantly shuffle their Points back and forth. 2. Arbitrum at a glance Arbitrum Rollup has a unique value proposition as it offers a combination of features that no other scaling solution achieves. Here we highlight its core attributes. Decentralized. Arbitrum Rollup is as decentralized as Ethereum. Unlike some other Layer 2 scaling projects, Arbitrum Rollup doesn't have any centralized components or centralized operators who can censor users or delay transactions. Even in non-custodial systems, centralized components provide a risk as the operators are generally incentivized to increase their profit by extracting rent from users often in ways that severely degrade user experience. Even if centralized operators are altruistic, centralized components are subject to hacking, coercion, and potential liability. Massive Scaling. Arbitrum achieves order of magnitude scaling over Ethereum's L1 smart contracts. Our software currently supports 453 transactions-per-second for basic transactions (at 1616 Ethereum gas per tx). We have a lot of room left to optimize (e.g. aggregating signatures), and over the next several months capacity will increase significantly. As described in detail below, Arbitrum can easily support and surpass Reddit's anticipated initial load, and its capacity will continue to improve as Reddit's capacity needs grow. Low cost. The cost of running Arbitrum Rollup is quite low compared to L1 Ethereum and other scaling solutions such as those based on zero-knowledge proofs. Layer 2 fees are low, fixed, and predictable and should not be overly burdensome for Reddit to cover. Nobody needs to use special equipment or high-end machines. Arbitrum requires validators, which is a permissionless role that can be run on any reasonable on-line machine. Although anybody can act as a validator, in order to protect against a “tragedy of the commons” and make sure reputable validators are participating, we support a notion of “invited validators” that are compensated for their costs. In general, users pay (low) fees to cover the invited validators’ costs, but we imagine that Reddit may cover this cost for its users. See more on the costs and validator options below. Ethereum Developer Experience. Not only does Arbitrum support EVM smart contracts, but the developer experience is identical to that of L1 Ethereum contracts and fully compatible with Ethereum tooling. Developers can port existing Solidity apps or write new ones using their favorite and familiar toolchains (e.g. Truffle, Buidler). There are no new languages or coding paradigms to learn. Ethereum wallet compatibility. Just as in Ethereum, Arbitrum users need only hold keys, but do not have to store any coin history or additional data to protect or access their funds. Since Arbitrum transactions are semantically identical to Ethereum L1 transactions, existing Ethereum users can use their existing Ethereum keys with their existing wallet software such as Metamask. Token interoperability. Users can easily transfer their ETH, ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens between Ethereum and the Arbitrum Rollup chain. As we explain in detail below, it is possible to mint tokens in L2 that can subsequently be withdrawn and recognized by the L1 token contract. Fast finality. Transactions complete with the same finality time as Ethereum L1 (and it's possible to get faster finality guarantees by trading away trust assumptions; see the Arbitrum Rollup whitepaper for details). Non-custodial. Arbitrum Rollup is a non-custodial scaling solution, so users control their funds/points and neither Reddit nor anyone else can ever access or revoke points held by users. Censorship Resistant. Since it's completely decentralized, and the Arbitrum protocol guarantees progress trustlessly, Arbitrum Rollup is just as censorship-proof as Ethereum. Block explorer. The Arbitrum Rollup block explorer allows users to view and analyze transactions on the Rollup chain. Limitations Although this is a bake-off, we're not going to sugar coat anything. Arbitrum Rollup, like any Optimistic Rollup protocol, does have one limitation, and that's the delay on withdrawals. As for the concrete length of the delay, we've done a good deal of internal modeling and have blogged about this as well. Our current modeling suggests a 3-hour delay is sufficient (but as discussed in the linked post there is a tradeoff space between the length of the challenge period and the size of the validators’ deposit). Note that this doesn't mean that the chain is delayed for three hours. Arbitrum Rollup supports pipelining of execution, which means that validators can keep building new states even while previous ones are “in the pipeline” for confirmation. As the challenge delays expire for each update, a new state will be confirmed (read more about this here). So activity and progress on the chain are not delayed by the challenge period. The only thing that's delayed is the consummation of withdrawals. Recall though that any single honest validator knows immediately (at the speed of L1 finality) which state updates are correct and can guarantee that they will eventually be confirmed, so once a valid withdrawal has been requested on-chain, every honest party knows that the withdrawal will definitely happen. There's a natural place here for a liquidity market in which a validator (or someone who trusts a validator) can provide withdrawal loans for a small interest fee. This is a no-risk business for them as they know which withdrawals will be confirmed (and can force their confirmation trustlessly no matter what anyone else does) but are just waiting for on-chain finality. 3. The recipe: How Arbitrum Rollup works For a description of the technical components of Arbitrum Rollup and how they interact to create a highly scalable protocol with a developer experience that is identical to Ethereum, please refer to the following documents: Arbitrum Rollup Whitepaper Arbitrum academic paper (describes a previous version of Arbitrum) 4. Developer docs and APIs For full details about how to set up and interact with an Arbitrum Rollup chain or validator, please refer to our developer docs, which can be found at https://developer.offchainlabs.com/. Note that the Arbitrum version described on that site is older and will soon be replaced by the version we are entering in Reddit Bake-Off, which is still undergoing internal testing before public release. 5. Who are the validators? As with any Layer 2 protocol, advancing the protocol correctly requires at least one validator (sometimes called block producers) that is honest and available. A natural question is: who are the validators? Recall that the validator set for an Arbitrum chain is open and permissionless; anyone can start or stop validating at will. (A useful analogy is to full nodes on an L1 chain.) But we understand that even though anyone can participate, Reddit may want to guarantee that highly reputable nodes are validating their chain. Reddit may choose to validate the chain themselves and/or hire third-party validators.To this end, we have begun building a marketplace for validator-for-hire services so that dapp developers can outsource validation services to reputable nodes with high up-time. We've announced a partnership in which Chainlink nodes will provide Arbitrum validation services, and we expect to announce more partnerships shortly with other blockchain infrastructure providers. Although there is no requirement that validators are paid, Arbitrum’s economic model tracks validators’ costs (e.g. amount of computation and storage) and can charge small fees on user transactions, using a gas-type system, to cover those costs. Alternatively, a single party such as Reddit can agree to cover the costs of invited validators. 6. Reddit Contract Support Since Arbitrum contracts and transactions are byte-for-byte compatible with Ethereum, supporting the Reddit contracts is as simple as launching them on an Arbitrum chain. Minting. Arbitrum Rollup supports hybrid L1/L2 tokens which can be minted in L2 and then withdrawn onto the L1. An L1 contract at address A can make a special call to the EthBridge which deploys a "buddy contract" to the same address A on an Arbitrum chain. Since it's deployed at the same address, users can know that the L2 contract is the authorized "buddy" of the L1 contract on the Arbitrum chain. For minting, the L1 contract is a standard ERC-20 contract which mints and burns tokens when requested by the L2 contract. It is paired with an ERC-20 contract in L2 which mints tokens based on whatever programmer provided minting facility is desired and burns tokens when they are withdrawn from the rollup chain. Given this base infrastructure, Arbitrum can support any smart contract based method for minting tokens in L2, and indeed we directly support Reddit's signature/claim based minting in L2. Batch minting. What's better than a mint cookie? A whole batch! In addition to supporting Reddit’s current minting/claiming scheme, we built a second minting design, which we believe outperforms the signature/claim system in many scenarios. In the current system, Reddit periodically issues signed statements to users, who then take those statements to the blockchain to claim their tokens. An alternative approach would have Reddit directly submit the list of users/amounts to the blockchain and distribute the tokens to the users without the signature/claim process. To optimize the cost efficiency of this approach, we designed an application-specific compression scheme to minimize the size of the batch distribution list. We analyzed the data from Reddit's previous distributions and found that the data is highly compressible since token amounts are small and repeated, and addresses appear multiple times. Our function groups transactions by size, and replaces previously-seen addresses with a shorter index value. We wrote client code to compress the data, wrote a Solidity decompressing function, and integrated that function into Reddit’s contract running on Arbitrum. When we ran the compression function on the previous Reddit distribution data, we found that we could compress batched minting data down to to 11.8 bytes per minting event (averaged over a 6-month trace of Reddit’s historical token grants)compared with roughly 174 bytes of on-chain data needed for the signature claim approach to minting (roughly 43 for an RLP-encoded null transaction + 65 for Reddit's signature + 65 for the user's signature + roughly 8 for the number of Points) . The relative benefit of the two approaches with respect to on-chain call data cost depends on the percentage of users that will actually claim their tokens on chain. With the above figures, batch minting will be cheaper if roughly 5% of users redeem their claims. We stress that our compression scheme is not Arbitrum-specific and would be beneficial in any general-purpose smart contract platform. 8. Benchmarks and costs In this section, we give the full costs of operating the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain including the L1 gas costs for the Rollup chain, the costs of computation and storage for the L2 validators as well as the capital lockup requirements for staking. Arbitrum Rollup is still on testnet, so we did not run mainnet benchmarks. Instead, we measured the L1 gas cost and L2 workload for Reddit operations on Arbitrum and calculated the total cost assuming current Ethereum gas prices. As noted below in detail, our measurements do not assume that Arbitrum is consuming the entire capacity of Ethereum. We will present the details of our model now, but for full transparency you can also play around with it yourself and adjust the parameters, by copying the spreadsheet found here. Our cost model is based on measurements of Reddit’s contracts, running unmodified (except for the addition of a batch minting function) on Arbitrum Rollup on top of Ethereum. On the distribution of transactions and frequency of assertions. Reddit's instructions specify the following minimum parameters that submissions should support: Over a 5 day period, your scaling PoC should be able to handle:
100,000 point claims (minting & distributing points)
75,000 one-off points burning
We provide the full costs of operating an Arbitrum Rollup chain with this usage under the assumption that tokens are minted or granted to users in batches, but other transactions are uniformly distributed over the 5 day period. Unlike some other submissions, we do not make unrealistic assumptions that all operations can be submitted in enormous batches. We assume that batch minting is done in batches that use only a few percent on an L1 block’s gas, and that other operations come in evenly over time and are submitted in batches, with one batch every five minutes to keep latency reasonable. (Users are probably already waiting for L1 finality, which takes at least that long to achieve.) We note that assuming that there are only 300,000 transactions that arrive uniformly over the 5 day period will make our benchmark numbers lower, but we believe that this will reflect the true cost of running the system. To see why, say that batches are submitted every five minutes (20 L1 blocks) and there's a fixed overhead of c bytes of calldata per batch, the cost of which will get amortized over all transactions executed in that batch. Assume that each individual transaction adds a marginal cost of t. Lastly assume the capacity of the scaling system is high enough that it can support all of Reddit's 300,000 transactions within a single 20-block batch (i.e. that there is more than c + 300,000*t byes of calldata available in 20 blocks). Consider what happens if c, the per-batch overhead, is large (which it is in some systems, but not in Arbitrum). In the scenario that transactions actually arrive at the system's capacity and each batch is full, then c gets amortized over 300,000 transactions. But if we assume that the system is not running at capacity--and only receives 300,000 transactions arriving uniformly over 5 days-- then each 20-block assertion will contain about 200 transactions, and thus each transaction will pay a nontrivial cost due to c. We are aware that other proposals presented scaling numbers assuming that 300,000 transactions arrived at maximum capacity and was executed in a single mega-transaction, but according to our estimates, for at least one such report, this led to a reported gas price that was 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than it would have been assuming uniform arrival. We make more realistic batching assumptions, and we believe Arbitrum compares well when batch sizes are realistic. Our model. Our cost model includes several sources of cost:
L1 gas costs: This is the cost of posting transactions as calldata on the L1 chain, as well as the overhead associated with each batch of transactions, and the L1 cost of settling transactions in the Arbitrum protocol.
Validator’s staking costs: In normal operation, one validator will need to be staked. The stake is assumed to be 0.2% of the total value of the chain (which is assumed to be $1 per user who is eligible to claim points). The cost of staking is the interest that could be earned on the money if it were not staked.
Validator computation and storage: Every validator must do computation to track the chain’s processing of transactions, and must maintain storage to keep track of the contracts’ EVM storage. The cost of computation and storage are estimated based on measurements, with the dollar cost of resources based on Amazon Web Services pricing.
It’s clear from our modeling that the predominant cost is for L1 calldata. This will probably be true for any plausible rollup-based system. Our model also shows that Arbitrum can scale to workloads much larger than Reddit’s nominal workload, without exhausting L1 or L2 resources. The scaling bottleneck will ultimately be calldata on the L1 chain. We believe that cost could be reduced substantially if necessary by clever encoding of data. (In our design any compression / decompression of L2 transaction calldata would be done by client software and L2 programs, never by an L1 contract.) 9. Status of Arbitrum Rollup Arbitrum Rollup is live on Ethereum testnet. All of the code written to date including everything included in the Reddit demo is open source and permissively licensed under the Apache V2 license. The first testnet version of Arbitrum Rollup was released on testnet in February. Our current internal version, which we used to benchmark the Reddit contracts, will be released soon and will be a major upgrade. Both the Arbitrum design as well as the implementation are heavily audited by independent third parties. The Arbitrum academic paper was published at USENIX Security, a top-tier peer-reviewed academic venue. For the Arbitrum software, we have engaged Trail of Bits for a security audit, which is currently ongoing, and we are committed to have a clean report before launching on Ethereum mainnet. 10. Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup Chain The benchmarks described in this document were all measured using the latest internal build of our software. When we release the new software upgrade publicly we will launch a Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup chain as a public demo, which will contain the Reddit contracts as well as a Uniswap instance and a Connext Hub, demonstrating how Community Points can be integrated into third party apps. We will also allow members of the public to dynamically launch ecosystem contracts. We at Offchain Labs will cover the validating costs for the Reddit Universe public demo. If the folks at Reddit would like to evaluate our software prior to our public demo, please email us at [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to provide early access. 11. Even more scaling: Arbitrum Sidechains Rollups are an excellent approach to scaling, and we are excited about Arbitrum Rollup which far surpasses Reddit's scaling needs. But looking forward to Reddit's eventual goal of supporting hundreds of millions of users, there will likely come a time when Reddit needs more scaling than any Rollup protocol can provide. While Rollups greatly reduce costs, they don't break the linear barrier. That is, all transactions have an on-chain footprint (because all calldata must be posted on-chain), albeit a far smaller one than on native Ethereum, and the L1 limitations end up being the bottleneck for capacity and cost. Since Ethereum has limited capacity, this linear use of on-chain resources means that costs will eventually increase superlinearly with traffic. The good news is that we at Offchain Labs have a solution in our roadmap that can satisfy this extreme-scaling setting as well: Arbitrum AnyTrust Sidechains. Arbitrum Sidechains are similar to Arbitrum Rollup, but deviate in that they name a permissioned set of validators. When a chain’s validators agree off-chain, they can greatly reduce the on-chain footprint of the protocol and require almost no data to be put on-chain. When validators can't reach unanimous agreement off-chain, the protocol reverts to Arbitrum Rollup. Technically, Arbitrum Sidechains can be viewed as a hybrid between state channels and Rollup, switching back and forth as necessary, and combining the performance and cost that state channels can achieve in the optimistic case, with the robustness of Rollup in other cases. The core technical challenge is how to switch seamlessly between modes and how to guarantee that security is maintained throughout. Arbitrum Sidechains break through this linear barrier, while still maintaining a high level of security and decentralization. Arbitrum Sidechains provide the AnyTrust guarantee, which says that as long as any one validator is honest and available (even if you don't know which one will be), the L2 chain is guaranteed to execute correctly according to its code and guaranteed to make progress. Unlike in a state channel, offchain progress does not require unanimous consent, and liveness is preserved as long as there is a single honest validator. Note that the trust model for Arbitrum Sidechains is much stronger than for typical BFT-style chains which introduce a consensus "voting" protocols among a small permissioned group of validators. BFT-based protocols require a supermajority (more than 2/3) of validators to agree. In Arbitrum Sidechains, by contrast, all you need is a single honest validator to achieve guaranteed correctness and progress. Notice that in Arbitrum adding validators strictly increases security since the AnyTrust guarantee provides correctness as long as any one validator is honest and available. By contrast, in BFT-style protocols, adding nodes can be dangerous as a coalition of dishonest nodes can break the protocol. Like Arbitrum Rollup, the developer and user experiences for Arbitrum Sidechains will be identical to that of Ethereum. Reddit would be able to choose a large and diverse set of validators, and all that they would need to guarantee to break through the scaling barrier is that a single one of them will remain honest. We hope to have Arbitrum Sidechains in production in early 2021, and thus when Reddit reaches the scale that surpasses the capacity of Rollups, Arbitrum Sidechains will be waiting and ready to help. While the idea to switch between channels and Rollup to get the best of both worlds is conceptually simple, getting the details right and making sure that the switch does not introduce any attack vectors is highly non-trivial and has been the subject of years of our research (indeed, we were working on this design for years before the term Rollup was even coined). 12. How Arbitrum compares We include a comparison to several other categories as well as specific projects when appropriate. and explain why we believe that Arbitrum is best suited for Reddit's purposes. We focus our attention on other Ethereum projects. Payment only Rollups. Compared to Arbitrum Rollup, ZK-Rollups and other Rollups that only support token transfers have several disadvantages:
As outlined throughout the proposal, we believe that the entire draw of Ethereum is in its rich smart contracts support which is simply not achievable with today's zero-knowledge proof technology. Indeed, scaling with a ZK-Rollup will add friction to the deployment of smart contracts that interact with Community Points as users will have to withdraw their coins from the ZK-Rollup and transfer them to a smart contract system (like Arbitrum). The community will be best served if Reddit builds on a platform that has built-in, frictionless smart-contract support.
All other Rollup protocols of which we are aware employ a centralized operator. While it's true that users retain custody of their coins, the centralized operator can often profit from censoring, reordering, or delaying transactions. A common misconception is that since they're non-custodial protocols, a centralized sequencer does not pose a risk but this is incorrect as the sequencer can wreak havoc or shake down users for side payments without directly stealing funds.
Sidechain type protocols can eliminate some of these issues, but they are not trustless. Instead, they require trust in some quorum of a committee, often requiring two-third of the committee to be honest, compared to rollup protocols like Arbitrum that require only a single honest party. In addition, not all sidechain type protocols have committees that are diverse, or even non-centralized, in practice.
Plasma-style protocols have a centralized operator and do not support general smart contracts.
13. Concluding Remarks While it's ultimately up to the judges’ palate, we believe that Arbitrum Rollup is the bakeoff choice that Reddit kneads. We far surpass Reddit's specified workload requirement at present, have much room to optimize Arbitrum Rollup in the near term, and have a clear path to get Reddit to hundreds of millions of users. Furthermore, we are the only project that gives developers and users the identical interface as the Ethereum blockchain and is fully interoperable and tooling-compatible, and we do this all without any new trust assumptions or centralized components. But no matter how the cookie crumbles, we're glad to have participated in this bake-off and we thank you for your consideration. About Offchain Labs Offchain Labs, Inc. is a venture-funded New York company that spun out of Princeton University research, and is building the Arbitrum platform to usher in the next generation of scalable, interoperable, and compatible smart contracts. Offchain Labs is backed by Pantera Capital, Compound VC, Coinbase Ventures, and others. Leadership Team Ed Felten Ed Felten is Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Offchain Labs. He is on leave from Princeton University, where he is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017 he served at the White House as Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer and senior advisor to the President. He is an ACM Fellow and member of the National Academy of Engineering. Outside of work, he is an avid runner, cook, and L.A. Dodgers fan. Steven Goldfeder Steven Goldfeder is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Offchain Labs. He holds a PhD from Princeton University, where he worked at the intersection of cryptography and cryptocurrencies including threshold cryptography, zero-knowledge proof systems, and post-quantum signatures. He is a co-author of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, the leading textbook on cryptocurrencies, and he has previously worked at Google and Microsoft Research, where he co-invented the Picnic signature algorithm. When not working, you can find Steven spending time with his family, taking a nature walk, or twisting balloons. Harry Kalodner Harry Kalodner is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Offchain Labs where he leads the engineering team. Before the company he attended Princeton as a Ph.D candidate where his research explored economics, anonymity, and incentive compatibility of cryptocurrencies, and he also has worked at Apple. When not up at 3:00am writing code, Harry occasionally sleeps.
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