Sunday

Zcash: life on the crypto roller coaster

Suppressed in Japan. Championed in New York. Accused of betraying the billion-dollar community he created with an arcane and byzantine ritual, while accidentally solving — maybe — a transnational clandestine mining mystery. All this while leading the rollout of some of the world’s most cutting-edge cryptographic technology into production.

It’s been an interesting six months for Zooko Wilcox, cryptographer, engineer, and CEO / driving force behind Zcash, one of the world’s most valuable, technically interesting, and politically fraught cryptocurrencies. Thoughtful, soft-spoken, quick to laugh, and eager to see all sides of every issue, he doesn’t seem like a man to inspire bans and rancor. But that’s the crypto world for you, these days.

When it comes to Zcash, “crypto” means both “cryptocurrency” and “cryptography,” for once. It is essentially a fork of Bitcoin which uses a mindbending branch of mathematics known as “zero-knowledge proofs” (which I’ve been writing about for years…) implemented in a form known as “zk-SNARKs,” to allow users to preserve their privacy by concealing both the participants and the amount of any given transaction, even though it is recorded on and guaranteed by Zcash’s public blockchain.

This privacy makes it a knee-jerk target of thoughtless governments and regulators, in the same way that cryptographic protection of your phone’s messages and data has become a knee-jerk target of law enforcement agencies who protest that they are “going dark.” Recently, in the wake of a $500 million hack of Japanese exchange Coincheck, which has been linked with North Korea, Japan’s financial regulator cracked down on privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies … even though they were not what had been stolen.

Zcash is not the only privacy-preserving cryptocurrency, of course; others include Monero and Dash. But it is the most cutting-edge. To an extent this has hampered it, as the first version of its zk-SNARK transactions were quite costly to process. Zcash has recently rolled out a new alpha version with remarkable improvements, though — you don’t often see a 98% improvement in anything in engineering — and we can expect a steady rise in zk-SNARK transactions once this hits its mainnet.

This vanguard position has not gone unnoticed. Ethereum made zk-SNARK primitives available to developers as part of its Byzantium release last year, though they have not yet been widely used. JPMorgan Chase has partnered with Zcash to implement privacy technology in its own corporate blockchain research. Perhaps as a result of this, and/or a deeper understanding that privacy is in fact important to the financial industry, New York State’s Department of Financial Services recently named Zcash as one of the six approved cryptocurrencies on the heavily regulated Gemini exchange. Yes, even as it was being suppressed in Japan. We live in interesting times.

Meanwhile, Zooko is being accused by his own community of turning turncoat. The reason? ASICs.

To oversimpify: (Almost) every cryptocurrency is secured by “miners” who prove they have solved computationally intensive problems, in order to show it would be impossible for anyone to have overwritten the consensus record of transactions unless they control more than half of the network’s computing power. In exchange for this service they get shiny new cryptocoins.

Bitcoin mining has long been taken over by mining companies / consortiums who use custom-built “application-specific integrated circuit,” chips to mine with hardware specifically dedicated to solving these problems, known as “hash functions,” with speed and energy efficiency that general-purpose processors cannot match.

In an attempt to democratize mining, many third-wave cryptocurrencies chose hash functions which were thought to be ASIC-resistant. Zcash was among them. However, ASIC designers are smart people too, and have announced ASICs for essentially all cryptocurrencies. Interestingly, when an ASIC was announced for Monero, its developers promptly changed their hash function to foil the would-be miners … and their “hash rate” dropped by nearly 50%, indicating that someone had likely secretly been mining Monero with ASICs for some time.

This is big business. Across all cryptocurrencies tens of millions of dollars a day are at stake, not even counting the costs of a so-called “51% attack” which have victimized a few smaller currencies of late. So when ASICs for Zcash were announced, and Zooko did not immediately move to change the hash algorithm as Monero did, he was accused of betrayal, and of being in the pocket of Jihan Wu, CEO of the miner manufacturer Bitmain and, if you believe the frothier corners of some cryptocurrency subreddits, all-around evil crypto boogeyman.

Every tradeoff in a billion-dollar market is going to hurt someone. In this case, on the one hand, you’d want the stereotypical “Venezuelan with a GPU miner,” who’s providing for their family with Zcash, the opportunity to keep doing so; on the other, ASIC mining means more dedicated hardware keeping the entire Zcash network more secure. Onn the gripping hand, drastic changes in mining capacity raise the spectre of a 51% attack. Zooko’s current notion is to try to support both GPU and ASIC miners, by dividing the mining rewards between them.

In passing he may have accidentally solved the secret Monero mining mystery. A fascinating thing about the cryptocurrency world, a way in which it’s increasingly a synecdoche for global geopolitics, is that it’s divided between a Chinese sphere and a Western sphere, and the two seem to be mostly tethered by bonds of mistrust, miscommunication, and misinterpretation.

Zooko was less inclined to believe that Jihan Wu was a Bond villain, because, as he puts it, “I’ve met him, at a conference in Buenos Aires, and he just seemed like a nerd like the rest of us. And I like nerds!” So he decided to communicate; he called up Wu and asked him if he was responsible for the stealth mining, and found Wu’s denials convincing. Then he called up Innosilicon, the other main mining company, asked if they had a Monero mining farm going back to last year, and received the hilariously casual answer “Yeah, I think so?” None of this is at all dispositive, of course — but it speaks to how the crypto world often seems to run on rumor and rancor more than open communication.

While we’re on the subject of conspiracy theories: perhaps the single most colorful thing about Zcash is that in order for its zk-SNARKs to work, they have to be initiated by a group of participants who must construct and then discard secret information. If they don’t, and if they subsequently collaborated, they’d then have the ability to create free Zcash out of thin air. Zcash was initiated with a complex six-person ritual, and if any one of those people was honest then the Zcash network is free of this so-called “toxic waste” taint … but obviously this still isn’t optimal, and is a breeding ground for beliefs of betrayal.

However, this underpinning can be replaced. Zooko is looking into new cryptographic developments such as “STARKs” and “bulletproofs” which provide even stronger guarantees. He envisions a world of “non-custodial exchanges,” where people can trade cryptocurrencies without ever giving up control of them. He’s plotting to implement Ittay Eyal and Emin Gun Sirer’s “Bitcoin-NG” protocol to scale Zcash up by an order or two of magnitude.

Meanwhile, the Secret Service has called for action on privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash — after citing numerous cryptocurrency thefts which, er, were not of those currencies — and they’ve felt compelled to respond. All this a week before the Zcon0 developer conference he’s organized this week in Montreal … which will doubtless be attended by some people who consider him a sellout in the pocket of the evil Jihan Wu. I’ll say this for the cryptocurrency world: it’s rarely boring, and for better or worse, Zcash may well be its least boring front.

Snag your super early-bird passes for Disrupt Berlin 2018

Der frühe vogel fängt den wurm! Yikes, if we’re trotting out our tortured German to say “the early bird catches the worm,” it can mean only one thing, folks. It’s time for all you European startup fans to go catch super early-bird tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30.

Our pricing tiers start at €595 + VAT. The value is real, and your time is limited, so go buy your conference passes today.

Berlin’s the perfect city for a Disrupt event. It’s both affordable and an international hub — factors that have contributed to a vibrant and growing tech startup scene. Our Berlin Disrupt events have drawn participants from more than 50 countries across Europe, Asia and beyond. There’s no better place to introduce your pre-Series A startup to the international startup community.

But not everyone who goes to Disrupt events goes to launch a business. Whether you’re a marketer, job seeker, founder or investor, you’ll find opportunity waiting for you in these two program-packed days.

Take in Startup Battlefield, our premier startup pitch competition, to see which early-stage startup will reign supreme and take home the $50,000 grand prize.

Spend time exploring and networking your way through Startup Alley. You’ll find hundreds of early-stage startups showcasing their best tech, products and platforms. It’s prime hunting ground for potential connections, clients and customers.

If you’re a founder or an investor, be sure to take advantage of CrunchMatch. That’s our free, business match-making service that simplifies networking. It efficiently connects founders and investors with similar business interests and profiles. At Disrupt Berlin 2017, CrunchMatch generated a total of 888 meetings — and 97 percent of participants said they’d use the service again.

That’s just a small sampling of what you can expect at Disrupt Berlin, and this is your opportunity to experience it at a great price. Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place on November 29-30, 2018 at the Arena Berlin. Check out our super early-bird pricing tiers, and buy your passes today. We can’t wait to see you in Berlin, ja voll!

Your second chance for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF

If you missed the deadline last week to apply for the renowned Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF, have no fear. There is still one more chance at being part of the action!

Out of all of the early-stage companies exhibiting at Disrupt, three Startup Alley companies will have the opportunity to be selected as one of the “Wild Card” winners. You might be wondering, “what is Wild Card”? Wild Card is a Startup Alley exhibiting company that is selected by our TechCrunch editorial team to participate in the celebrated Startup Battlefield competition. This year we’re selecting three, and if you are exhibiting in Startup Alley, you could be one of the lucky winners.

Last year at Disrupt NY 2017, RecordGram got a table in Startup Alley, where they ended up being selected as one of the Wild Card companies and ultimately went on to win the Startup Battlefield competition — and took home $50,000. Guess what? This year, the grand prize of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF has been doubled to $100,000!

Plus, you’ll have all the benefits of being a Startup Alley exhibitor, including access to CrunchMatch, Disrupt’s matchmaking service between startups and investors. So far, the investors coming to Disrupt SF this year have investment funds in excess of $4 billion, and we’re expecting more to sign up in the coming weeks. Also, over the course of the three-day conference, there will be curated tracks of content across four unique stages in 12 different verticals, plus tons of educational workshops and a plethora of networking opportunities.

So, if your company is pre-series A, Startup Alley at Disrupt SF is the place for you. Secure your exhibitor package here before we sell out!

IIFA Rocks 2018 Videos:  Arjun-Varun-Shraddha Grooves On Taarefan


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IIFA Rocks 2018 Videos:  Arjun-Varun-Shraddha Grooves On Taarefan

The 19th edition of International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards has kick-started on a grand note. This year IFFA is going to rock in Bangkok, which is one of the happening places in the world.


We already gave you a glimpse of the green carpet where celebs graced the event looking all kinds of stylish in the designer clothes.


Well, apart from making the red and green carpet appearances, fans are eagerly waiting to see the stars performing on stage. Which star is performing with whom and on which song is always an exciting thing to see.


And now, brace yourself as we have got you a glimpse of what happened in the award show.


Take a look at the videos which will get you more excited:



In one of the videos, Arjun Kapoor is seen dancing on Hum Kaale Hai Toh Kya Hua song from Gumnaam (1965) with Kartik Aaryan and Ayushmann Khurrana while wearing Lungi.



While in another video, Bollywood beauty Dia Mirza will be seen grooving and setting stage on fire with her latka jhatkas on sensational Bollywood track Tip Tip Barsa Paani. She grooves with with hosts Kartik and Ayushmann.



Another bunch of star kids Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Varun Dhawan set the stage on fire with Veere Di Wedding’s happening track Tareefan. The fun part to see was how perfectly Arjun was seen mimicking Kareena and putting just like she does.




Karan, Varun, Shraddha, Kartik and Ayushmaan danced on Laal Dupatte Wali.



IIFA 2018 will make the presence of stars like Kartik Aryan, Kriti Sanon, Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor who will be entertaining the audiences with their terrific performances.





The IIFA night is just few days away, so folks, let the countdown begin and just wait and watch!


Published by Mamatha on 23 Jun 2018

Nick Jonas confirms his relationship official with Priyanka Chopra with this video, watch

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra is reportedly dating Nick Jonas. Recently, the couple landed in Mumbai for the grand house-warming party of Priyanka Chopra’s new sea-facing bungalow.



Last night, the couple steps out for a dinner date and guess what, the couple were joined by Priyanka’s mother Madhu Chopra. The trio spotted on a dinner date at a popular restaurant BKC.


And now, it seems like Nick has finally made his relationship with Priyanka official on Instagram.


He posted an adorable video on his Insta story wherein Priyanka could be seen happily walking toward him. He captioned it as, “Her” followed by a heart-eyed emoji.


 Check out the video here:



The news of their dating sparked when the two have made an appearance together at LA’s Dodgers Stadium.


Jonas is 10 years younger to Priyanka. The two have known each other since before last year’s Met Gala, where they walked the red carpet together in Ralph Lauren designs.


On the career front, Priyanka is currently seen playing the lead in the last season of her TV show ‘Quantico’. Recently, an episode of the show left Indians offended which portrayed Indian nationalists as terrorists who were trying to frame Pakistan in a terror plot. After which, Priyanka apologized for hurting sentiments with the controversial plot of the show.


Meanwhile, Priyanka will return to Bollywood with Salman Khan’s upcoming film, Bharat.

Saturday

PVR had a unique way to intensify the scare level of latest horror film ‘Hereditary’


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PVR had a unique way to intensify the scare level of latest horror film ‘Hereditary’

PVR Pictures created an out-of-the-box format for the premiere screening for ‘Hereditary’. The midnight screening gathered film enthusiasts of this captivating genre to step out late-night and catch a glimpse of this riveting content before India gets a taste of it. Keeping pace with Ari Aster’s disruptive filmmaking, the marketing initiatives married audience behaviour metrics with technology for the first time.


For fans, influencers and celebrities alike the premise of late-night screening, which ended at an eerily odd hour, left everyone with gripping memories of what they just witnessed. Innovation and technology is the forefront of all modern-day insights. Selected patrons were fitted with heart-rate monitors to capture live data on the ‘peaks’ of horror experienced throughout the duration of the film.



image source


Patrons were slotted with go-pro cameras to understand further behavioural catharsis which they experienced during the film. These data inputs provided an in-depth understanding of how many times, what exact time during the film and by how much were they engaged. Never before has this activity been done in India, even scarce are case studies on this initiative, yet the vision to execute this lies solely with team PVR at the helm of this marketing innovation.




We’re not joking when we say that Hereditary will scare the daylights out of you! It surely can make your heart race faster than ever. Can you make it to through this thrilling journey? #HereditaryAtPVR #PVRPicturesRelease


Gepostet von PVR Pictures am Samstag, 23. Juni 2018




The average pulse per minute extracted from patrons, by observing 7-8 peaks of as high as 127bpm, helped PVR Pictures understand sentiments and the emotional well being of our patrons while they immersed themselves in the film. Even the toughest of us show vulnerability when faced with an epic thriller and an emotionally vested film like Hereditary. The go-pro cameras captured these moments and further asserted the data extrapolated by the ‘heart rate monitors’ and ‘ fit-bits’ . In fact, the audience reviews pre and post the film have re-asserted, thanks to this disruptive innovation, what the core ‘scare quotient’ of the film Hereditary is.



image source


A new dawn is on the horizon, one which binds film-makers, film enthusiast and film marketers alike. An experience is what we all want from our mundane lives. PVR Cinemas provides the premise, Ari Aster gave us thrilling content and disruption brought everyone to the forefront of this midnight. Could this be the beginning of a new IP called ‘ Scare meter ‘ telling audiences exactly how gripping/scary a film would be? Can audience metrics and sentiment analysis drive better innovations and footfalls for an even more unique cinema experience? On to the next film , the next wave of path breaking innovations & cool insights!


Published by Kanika Saini on 23 Jun 2018