The creator of Signal, the popular privacy-enhanced secure messaging app for iPhone and Android, is creating MobileCoin. MobileCoin is a new cryptocurrency that aims to be user-friendly:
MobileCoin wants to leverage an extensive architecture to add simplicity to real privacy protections and resilience against attacks. The ultimate goal: To make MobileCoin as intuitive as any other payment system.
“I think usability is the biggest challenge with cryptocurrency today,” says Marlinspike. “The innovations I want to see are ones that make cryptocurrency deployable in normal environments, without sacrificing the properties that distinguish cryptocurrency from existing payment mechanisms.”
Usability efforts for older generation cryptocurrency protocols, like bitcoin, have largely been left to services like Coinbase, which centralize everything from currency exchange to your wallet, key management, and processing transactions. These platforms make actually using cryptocurrency more realistic for the average person, but they also consolidate mechanisms that are meant to be kept separate in the private and decentralized concept of cryptocurrency.
Good news everyone! BitPay, a bitcoin payment processor, has announced that they will be processing payments for more than just bitcoin.
This is a great idea because apparently, the market cap of the top 10 cryptocurrencies is around $179 billion. BitPay will continue to work on Lightning Network support so that Bitcoin transactions are faster.
They will also be implementing support for Bitcoin Cash:
We are already working in various parts of our platform to support transactions with SegWit. Segwit is a new set of features in Bitcoin which can reduce the bitcoin miner fee cost for transactions by over 40% on average. However, with average transaction fees already around $20, we understand that Bitcoin alone cannot handle the current demand for blockchain payments.
We will begin adding support for a Bitcoin Cash payment option this year, starting with BitPay Card loads. All BitPay invoices will include a Bitcoin Cash payment option by default in early 2018.
If you use the BitPay wallet or Copay you can start using Bitcoin Cash:
The BitPay wallet already includes optional Bitcoin Cash support. If you want to use Bitcoin Cash to load your BitPay Card or pay a BitPay merchant, you’ll be able to use your BitPay or Copay wallet.
The KDE foundation is working with the Purism organization to create the world’s first truly free smartphone. The phone is called the Librem 5 and you can help fund the development of the hardware and the software for the phone by clicking here. As of this moment, they’re hoping to raise $1.5 million and have already reached $844,150 with 24 days to go!
The Librem 5 phone will not be running Android or iOS. It will be running PureOS which is a GNU/Linux derivative of Debian. Basically, any app you write for PureOS and the Librem 5 can also be made to work on your desktop Linux computer. This is a huge advantage that you don’t get with Android or iOS apps, most developers end up using Qt or Unity to be able to create multi-platform applications.
Since the Librem 5 functions as a small computer, you can also hook it up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and use it that way. All of our smartphones, iPhones and Android phones alike, are powerful enough to be used as desktop computers but they don’t provide a convenient method for doing so. One of the Librem 5’s goals is to change that. Take a look at the crowdfunding rewards, the higher tier rewards include a monitor, mouse, and keyboard with them ($1399 includes a 24-inch monitor, $1699 includes a 30-inch monitor)! When you fund the phone, you’re funding the development of a privacy-focused computer that fits in your pocket. It feels like some days we forget just how powerful the phones we have in our pockets are. The Librem 5 aims to remind us of that.
It will feature end to end encrypted chat with Matrix along with other privacy and security features. By default, there will be no tracking.
If you want to break out of the duopoly that Apple and Google have over the industry, you will definitely want to check out the Librem 5 smartphone.
Naivecoin is an open source implementation of a cryptocurrency. It includes all the major components needed to build a cryptocurrency such as a miner and the blockchain. If you’ve been reading about BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies and still don’t quite understand how they work, you should check out the code in Naivecoin.
Sometimes to understand a concept we have to implement it ourselves. Or in this case, we can use someone else’s implementation as a live simulation that we can watch and read through the code.
Naivecoin is written in Node.js which should make it easy for everyone to learn from. It is short and the author aims to keep it as small as possible.
We had a blog post about Copay, a shared bitcoin wallet. It would be cool to see someone implement a shared wallet for NaiveCoin. Another idea is to add smart contracts to NaiveCoin.
If you have an idea for how a cryptocurrency could be better, you can use Naivecoin as a basic implementation and proof of concept.
Riot.im is out with version 0.12 for web and desktop. It is another fine example of an open source Slack (or HipChat) alternative (we’ve covered one Slack alternative before, Zulip). In this latest version they include widgets which are a way of sharing app integrations embedded within a Riot.im chat room.
Embeddable Widgets For Your Chat Room
Widgets are embedded and pinned to the top of your Riot.im chat room. This makes them visible at all times to everyone in the chat room. Similar to pinning a particular message.
The widgets included in this release are:
- YouTube, for sharing an endless playlist of cat videos in a chat room
- Etherpad, for sharing notes that can be collaborated on
- Grafana, for sharing graphs of how much traffic is spiking web server CPU
- Google Docs, for sharing documents
There’s an ability to add custom widgets so I’m hoping someone creates a custom widget for Kolab Now (which is a free/open source alternative to Google Docs).
Only the Most Proper Video Conferencing with Jitsi
The bigger news? Riot.im has support for proper video conferencing with Jitsi! Jitsi is free/open source video conferencing software that is compatible with WebRTC and is scalable and matches what the big players of video conferencing (Skype, Zoom) are offering.
Riot.im and Matrix, free/open source alternatives to Slack
Riot.im promises the same thing as Slack except in a nicer, more hackable free/open source package. Riot.im is a client for the Matrix group chat server. Matrix is the free/open source infrastructure for setting up a Slack/HipChat alternative. There are other clients available for it. Matrix can be viewed as an alternative to XMPP/Jabber and as an upgrade to IRC.
You can support Matrix and free/open source chat/communications infrastructure by donating here through Liberapay (or Patreon or sending cryptocurrency like BitCoin or Ethereum BTC 1LxowEgsquZ3UPZ68wHf8v2MDZw82dVmAE, ETH 0xA5f9a4f9E024F6D727f7afdA9257e22329A97485).
SHA2017 is on today (it started over the weekend and ends tomorrow) and it is a hacker conference and camp.
Most of the conference videos are up on Youtube and they are very informative and fun. There are a lot of good talks. I’ve picked a few to showcase here but you should check out the whole playlist of SHA2017 videos.
Decentralize! Self-hosting in your own home using Sovereign
In the Decentralize! talk, the software Sovereign is explored and shown to be a good way to set up your own personal cloud and host your own services and data. Sovereign is a set of playbooks that can be run to install the software on a server that you run. It’s similar to the Freedom Box project.
The software you can self-host with Sovereign is:
- Dovecot, Postfix and Roundcube for email servers and a webmail interface
- Jabber/XMPP messaging server with Prosody
- RSS reader
- VPN server with OpenVPN (FreedomBox also can do this)
- Git code repository hosting
Continue reading “SHA2017: hacker conference/camp videos are up”
Thought-provoking article in Bitcoin Magazine about a conference that happened at the end of September, the Hackers Congress Paralelni Polis in Prague.
It’s an interview with two crypto-anarchists who explain their views on the direction of society and the possibilities of a future that includes mainstream usage of Bitcoin and encryption technologies.
One of the first questions asked by the interviewer is, “what is cryptoanarchy?”
This is their answer:
Sip: Simply put, crypto-anarchy is the idea that people can govern and organize themselves without governments, by using the tools of cryptography, cryptocurrencies and other means of decentralization.
Lupták: With these tools, we can build a more effective, a more free and a more voluntary society…
This is a nifty idea, and what makes it nifty is that free software and open source developers have been collaborating for decades and have been more effective, more free and all open source developers are contributing voluntarily.
In fact, there was a recent article by Daniel Pink suggesting that the further we are from a problem, the more creatively we will think about it. In open source development, we are close to the problem but when reviewing other people’s code or submitting patches, we are further away from the problem meaning we can be more creative in coming up with solutions.
So at least for software development, a decentralized model can work. Can it work as a replacement for government? That question is still open but we have seen lots of actions to make government more transparent and more accountable to the people. If you’re looking for small-scale examples of “anarchy” in action, you can look at the Workplace Anarchy described by someone who works at Igalia, a software co-operative that sells consulting service and is quite profitable.
In the interview they mention OpenBazaar which is free/open source software that lets you run a peer2peer ecommerce site. The idea there is to reduce transaction costs to whatever the bitcoin transaction costs are and to remove any middlemen that would cut into profits. A thoroughly free-market-oriented concept that is based on market efficiency and accomplished through free/open source software with the BitCoin currency.