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August 9th, 2018

market stereotypes

Dewey Plaza, by South Station, has a farmer's market on Tuesday and Thursday. It's supposed to open at 11:30. But today I noticed that one stall was already doing business at 10:45, and swarming with little old Chinese ladies. Chinatown is a block away. I found myself amused but unsurprised. I imagine many were out for a second run, having already done the daily vegetable shopping at the local C-Mart, which is great for a dozen varieties of bok choy you've never heard of, or cheap scallions (note to self, need scallions), but not so much for varieties of lettuce or tomatoes. I'm not sure they even have lettuce

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blockchain skepticism

Kinnami's business model involves publishing a daily master stamp. First on Twitter and Facebook, then (after some weeks of annoying work) on the Ethereum blockchain. What I've learned:

* Once you have some money on the chain, being able to easily send it somewhere else is indeed a heady experience.

* Documentation is kind of shoddy and out of date. Part of the official docs has bug reports saying "this is no longer accurate" from a year ago -- still unfixed.

* Congestion is a huge, huge, huge problem. Ethereum has two 'currencies' associated with it. Ether is the main one, analogous to bitcoins; it's been somewhat volatile in dollars, going between $400 and $1000. But there's also 'gas', which pays for computation and transactions on the blockchain; a transaction includes a gas limit and a gas price (how much Ether you'll spend for an amount of gas.) And *that* price has been crazy volatile, ranging between 1 and 200. A couple days ago it was 1-2 -- which, you know, by normal standards is already hugely volatile, x2 variation -- and today it's around 60, apparently due to some Chinese app or maybe botnet.

Ethereum advocates keep talking about scaling solutions that don't materialize. They've been doing this for some years now.

* There's a family of systems using delegated proof of stake instead of proof of work: BitShares, Steem, EOS. They apparently support far higher transaction rates -- like 30,000/second instead of 3/second. Steem is used by some blogging platform; EOS is a distributed VM like Ethereum that just launched a couple months ago. Possibly I should look into switching to it.

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Damien Sullivan

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