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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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From Conspiracy to Fact: An analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Information Control, and the New World Order (Appendix includes hundreds of citations) - PART 1

UPDATE: This article is now available as a printable PDF with embedded hyperlinks for navigation through sources. This link will be valid thru July 9: https://ufile.io/4mpkg4x6

PLEASE NOTE: This article may be updated periodically with new information and links as they become available. All referenced information and a whole lot more is indexed and linked in the related appendix posts. Please feel free to crosspost, share, and take from my ideas to build your own. Namaste.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Appendix A | Appendix B

Hello. My name is Chris. I am nobody, really. An average citizen. I am an overweight 42 year old white male from the Midwestern suburbs of the US who has been fortunate enough to live a pretty comfortable life. I used to be a freelance graphic designer with a focus on small businesses, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that that career and part of my life is more than likely over in light of current events. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
I've always been concerned about social injustice and tried to stay politically informed, even dabbling in some activism here and there. At times I've stepped away from paying attention for my own mental health, or due to laziness, defeatism, whatever. But I've never stopped caring, or trying, to fight the good fight and do the right thing.
The news recently has of course swept us all up, and touched all our lives in some way or another. The world has never seen anything like the "Coronavirus Pandemic," and it's clear that our society will be changed forever when we finally come out the other end of this mess. But I've had the luxury of time recently, and in reading the news about things that were going on, I couldn't help but notice the patterns, and that a lot of stuff didn't exactly make sense.
So, here we go, with the "conspiracy theory."
I hate that term, because although it's technically accurate, it's been demonized and weaponized by the media and society at large to take on a bad connotation. Tinfoil hats, alien abductions, crazy people muttering to themselves, etc. You've no doubt got a lot of images in your mind of a conspiracy theorist.
And make no mistake, what I'm going to tell you here is all currently very popular conspiracy theory. However, I think that by removing opinions and conjecture from it, and focusing on facts and things that have already happened, I can present this huge amount of overwhelming, disparate information in a way that makes it less a "theory" and more a "research project." And so that is how I have approached this.
I have spent the last week doing little else besides reading every news and opinion article I could find, saving and organizing hundreds of links, and assembling a coherent, logical outline to organize and present these theories, and more importantly, facts. There are a lot of less-than-reputable sites and publications out there, and I have tried when at all possible to provide sources from verifiable news sites, with a wide range of slants and focuses, to illustrate that what is happening is not part of any one particular political agenda.
I hope that you take the time to check the links, really look into the information presented here, and form your own opinions. Please do not just take my word for it. To that end, there are also a few links mixed in that are labeled as having come from conspiracy. These are well-written and well-reasoned posts from other concerned citizens that I think are worth reading, and relevant to the discussion here.
One last thing - If you are new to most of these ideas, the information presented here is more than likely going to seem overwhelming at first. I encourage you now, and always, to take mental health breaks for yourself, and put down your phone or turn off your computer. The information will be here when you come back. And as you'll soon understand, what is happening is an unstoppable tide, truly a force of nature at this point, and there is nothing you can do to fight it, so try your hardest to relax, put on some chill music, hug your dog, and most of all...
BREATHE.
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If you start researching conspiracy theory, you're going to find a lot of information. Some much better or worse presented than others, and some much more plausible or unbelievable than others. Despite the seeming ridiculousness of some things you might read, I encourage you to always approach new information with an open mind.
That said though, I have one main principle that guides all my beliefs about conspiracy theories, and that is the "Filter of Likelihood." Essentially, you have to ask yourself how possible, how likely, and how feasible a piece of information is. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself what the motivation would be. In many cases, it's quite easy to see how something makes a lot of sense based on other known info, whereas some theories seem rather implausible no matter how you look at it.
I am interested only in the plausible, and where possible, the already actualized. Additionally, there's a lot to be said, and a lot that has already been written on many of these topics, so I will focus on current events and simple concepts.
I will also ask you to open your mind to possibility. Please consider this as you evaluate new information:
  1. Do you believe there are things going on in the world that you don't know about yet?
  2. Do you believe that there is technology and science you've never heard of?
  3. Do you believe that society is progressing at an increasing rate?
  4. Do you believe that as populations grow, we require new societal strategies?
  5. Do you believe that those with power and money want to retain their power and money?
Of course you believe all these things, and none of these are wild or unusual concepts. Rather, these are very basic concepts that apply to everyone, and always have. They are all part of our shared human experience, and undeniable facts of life. Populations grow, societies evolve, technology advances, and the world changes. And most important to our discussion here, people, families, and empires constantly jockey for power and control, while fighting for resources, power, fame, and...
MONEY.
We all hate TicketMaster, right? Who do they think they are, what the hell is this bullshit "service fee," etc. It's something everyone can get behind. But did you know that TicketMaster willingly cultivates that image? That venues, teams, and artists, in their pursuit of more money, raise fees and then let TicketMaster be the bad guy and take the heat so their reputations remain intact?
There are many more people, organizations, and other entities in the world playing that same role for those who really have the money, who really call the shots. And those who call the shots work very hard and spend absolutely unfathomable amounts of money, time, and blood, to make sure that you don't ever realize who's actually taking your money.
They do this in the simplest, easiest way. If you simply control information from the top down, and disseminate it when and where you see fit, you can effect great societal change without lifting a finger.
Please imagine... really, try to imagine... You just read an article, saw a video, whatever, from a very, very reputable source. And it just informed you that an asteroid was 83% likely to impact the Earth next month. What would you do? What would happen in the world?
Hopefully an asteroid will not hit next month, but it's important to really imagine what would happen and why, and how. Because a huge amount of information would be generated and published, people would panic, society would crumble, and the world as you know it would change forever in an instant, the moment you read that headline.
Control of information is one of the most powerful tools known to mankind today. A person living in 2020 can easily encounter as much information in a day as someone in Medieval times might have encountered in a lifetime. And it comes at you from all angles, in all forms, non-stop, 24/7. Much like the water in the pipe, the information is always there, and one needs but turn it on.
Disseminating the information then becomes a practice all its own, and to be sure, information processing accounts for more than half of the US GDP. And the rate at which it's spread, and way it is handled makes a huge difference in the societal repercussions. So a few different techniques are used:
It might be the greatest understatement of all time to say that there has been a lot of information passed around about COVID-19, the "Coronavirus," recently. In fact, there has never been anything like what we are currently experiencing in all of human history, and not by a long shot. And this unprecedented turn of events has caused a lot of people to react in a lot of ways, and say and do a lot of things, for better or for worse.
Full disclosure: In particular, if you look up conspiracy theory, you'll see a lot of stuff suggesting that the "Coronavirus is a hoax." (You'll also find a lot of poorly-written rambling) I want to be clear that I DO NOT believe that. I am 100% sure that there is a Coronavirus, that it is making people sick, that a lot of people are dying, and that our medical professionals and many other undervalued workers are overwhelmed, and breaking their backs every day to do their best to keep their friends, families, and loved ones safe. I am extraordinarily grateful for them and admire the resolve and bravery that so many have shown in the face of this disaster. I do not think it is a hoax at all.
However, I think that literally everything else that is happening surrounding the "pandemic" is.
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The Pandemic
In the first week of January this year, I got sick. Really sick. I know when I got it and who I got it from, and honestly the exact moment I got it (I only was in proximity of the dude for a few minutes). He had warned me that he was really sick, and I blew it off. I started feeling sick a day or two later, and a day or two after that I felt like I was dying. Fever, chills, aches, extraordinary fatigue. And literal, nonstop, 24/7 coughing. I had every single symptom of what we now know as COVID-19. I commented to anyone who would listen that I didn't recall ever feeling that sick before in my entire life. The most memorable part of it though was that after a couple days, I completely lost my sense of smell and taste. Joked a lot about how you could feed me onions and soap cause I'd have no idea. I try to have a good attitude about being sick.
I spent a week sleeping on the couch before I finally went to the doctor. She gave me a Prednisolone steroid pack (which has worked well for me in the past), some Trazodone to knock me out, and Benzonatotate for my cough. As soon as I took the first dose of steroids I started to feel pretty fucking great, and it was more or less a non-issue after that.
I spoke to a lot of people about it then and after, and man, I can't tell you how many stories I personally heard from people I know that said the exact same thing. Then I started reading the same story over and over again on Reddit:
We didn't start really hearing about the Coronavirus in the media until the beginning of March, and we didn't hear about the "Pandemic" until just a couple weeks ago. And what a couple weeks it's been since then. But I am quite certain that it's been around for a lot longer and that I, and a lot of other people I know, had it - and DID NOT DIE FROM IT - way back in January.
We now know that the first documented case in the US was on January 19th, but that word "documented" is so, so important here. That means that we had identified the virus, developed a test, and tested a person with the symptoms that day. It does NOT mean that was when the virus reached the United States. How sick do you have to be before you take a day off work? Before you go to the doctor? With America's healthcare system or lack thereof, it's almost certain that many people had this virus before we determined what it was, and how infectious it really was.
There is also the matter of the statistics of severity vs the regular flu. This is a highly contentious topic and I am no medical expert, and do not wish to make any assertions. However, what I can tell you from my personal experience is this: I had a horrible "flu" in January, got basic medicine, got better. So, either I had the flu, or perhaps I did indeed have the Coronavirus.
We will never know because I was never tested. But the important thing is that it doesn't matter. Either I (and many others) had the Coronavirus and it did not kill us (calling into question the severity of the infection) or we just had a bad cold or flu, but it had the exact same symptoms as COVID-19 (calling into question the extent of Coronavirus diagnoses). But logically, one of those two statements is true.
Furthermore, the data keeps changing, and I don't mean increasing on a daily basis. I mean up and down, back and forth, it is deadly or maybe it isn't, etc. On January 14 the WHO told you it couldn't spread from human to human. But then on Jan 19 we saw the first case of Coronavirus in the United States. Then it turns out that the Wuhan market outbreak began earlier in December. And then it's an "epidemic," but most people will only get mild symptoms. What are you supposed to believe? And it sure does seem to come at you as a firehose, and it's hard to even think about anything because OHMYGODTHECORONAVIRUS!
But let's stop and look a couple basic facts. As a matter of fact, I'm going to let Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi explain this one to you. This is a very informative 10 minute video, watch it:
Sucharit Bhakdi - Very clear math showing that the COVID statistics are being manipulated
So 80% of people only experience mild symptoms, and we're crashing the economy for this? The statistics aren't any more extreme than many other illnesses we've had over time, and we're crashing the economy for this? It doesn't make sense until you consider that there are other factors besides just the virus at play.
Wolfgang Wodard - Explaining how the statistics are being manipulated to cause panic
The media, and society at large is inundating you with terrifying information about the Coronavirus. But if it's not as bad as we originally thought, then why? We don't freak out about every illness that comes along, and we've certainly never in the history of civilization had over 1/3 of the global population locked down under mandatory quarantine.
And then there's the debate about where the virus came from. We believe it came from a meat market in China, under unsanitary conditions. The science behind a coronavirus making the leap from one species to another is well-established and researched, and it is a very likely scenario. There are also conspiracy theories that state that China released it on its people intentionally, or even that the US military released it in China. Again, we will never know exactly where this Coronavirus came from. It may be natural, it may be man made, and there are very plausible paths for both. I don't know what to believe myself. So here I ask you to make your own judgement based on likelihood.
What we do know though is that the state of the world this virus has been unleashed on has played a major factor in its spread. In 1950 the global population was 2.5 billion, and that has exploded to almost 8 billion people in 2020. As a matter of fact, population growth has been exponential since about the time of the Industrial Revolution.
With all these people on the planet there are sure to be many disagreements and conflicts, and there indeed have been. As a matter of fact, 2019 saw global protests on an unprecedented scale, in Hong Kong, France, Syria, and many other countries. Citizens have literally been fighting police and military with rocks, clubs, arrows, and molotov cocktails.
Did you know that? Despite my seeing headlines and pictures every day of the riots in Hong Kong, I have been shocked to learn that multiple of my close friends, intelligent and aware people, had no knowledge whatsoever of the protests even existing. But that is far from a coincidence; rather, it is quite by design.
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Billionaires and Coincidences
Another major talking point over the last 5 to 10 years has been the "1%" - the handful of super-rich individuals who posess and control the vast majority of the Earth's wealth and resources. Where it used to just be a numerical term, "Billionaire" is now a dirty word, and one of the nastiest. We all hate billionaires. They are evil, and profit off the exploitation of the rest of the world.
The "Illuminati" we call them, in pursuit of a "New World Order." Crazy stuff, right? Mysterious symbols and people in black robes doing nefarious things in secret meetings, and running the world from behind the scenes. We love the Illuminati, it's a huge pop culture thing now. The subject of endless speculation, they are made fun of in the media, movies, and now Taco Bell commercials. It's so far fetched it could never really be true. And the fact that you think that is by design as well.
So, we don't know where the Coronavirus came from, but it's certainly here, and there are lot of other things unfolding in the world around it. Many different current events from all different places and fields of study. Some of it seems a little too coincidental. It is certainly very coincidental that this economically destructive Coronavirus entered the world right as there were global uprisings, protests in the street, and a growing public hatred for billionaires.
Well, here are a few other coincidences: Hundreds of CEOs of major companies stepped down from their positions in recent months. Multiple US Senators sold stock right before the market crashed. Even the boss of the New York Stock Exchange sold his own stock right before the crash. Did they know something they weren't telling us?
Here's another coincidence. In 2010, The Rockefeller Foundation published a selection of future-predicting scenarios in the name of "exploring the ways that technology and development could co-evolve." One of these four scenarios, entitled "Lock Step," eerily predicts a global viral pandemic and the resulting hypothetical consequences, which almost exactly mirrors the COVID-19 pandemic we are in the midst of today.
Also coincidental: The first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in China on November 17th, 2019. Literally one month earlier, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. In this exercise, they discuss the potential implications and consequences of a novel Coronavirus, including an economic crash, martial law, and of particular interest, the control of information. (You can view some published highlights here)
The World Economic Forum is comprised of the richest of the rich. The 1%. The Billionaires. CEO's, politicians, business owners, and many other powerful and influential figures. They meet regularly to discuss topics of global concern, and strongly control the dissemination of information. And of primary concern to many of them is maintaining their wealth and power in a rapidly-changing world.
And finally, here's one more coincidence: At the exact same time as the Event 201 exercise, The World Military Games was held in Wuhan, China, Oct 18-27, 2019. It was the largest military sports event ever to be held in China, with nearly 10,000 athletes from over 100 countries competing in 27 sports. Wuhan China was, as we now believe, the source of our current global COVID-19 outbreak.
Whether you think it is a "conspiracy" or not, that is all certainly coincidental, to say the least.
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"Why didn't I hear about any of this?"
That's an excellent question, and one that likely has multiple answers. For starters, how much do you really pay attention? Where do you get your news from? Do you research things you hear or just accept them on hearsay? Critical thinking skills are paramount in making sense of the chaos unfolding all around us.
As I mentioned before, I can tell you that I personally know multiple people who had no clue whatsoever about the riots in Hong Kong last year. As you read this, you may be one of them. And it may seem like something that is happening far away, and "could never happen here." Or you may have been aware of it but just that it was happening. But please, consider for a moment: millions of average citizens risked their lives and safety in the streets of Hong Kong for months on end, fighting police and military, and transforming the city they lived in into a warzone. WHY? Why would people do something like that? Regardless of their motivations, that many people were banding together to fight for something they believed in. And that is worth considering.
It's not really your fault though that you may not catch wind of all this news. The "mainstream media" that you hear about all the time deliberately controls information - downplaying threats and overreacting to silly things - in order to make sure that you hear the version of the news that they want you to hear.
Did you know that only 6 corporations control 90% of the media In America? That number is reduced from 50 companies in the 80's. And literally all the news you see on TV, at the very least, is 100% owned and controlled by these companies. Lately, distrust is growing for cable news networks, and many people turn to their local hometown station for trusted news. The problem with that though is that your hometown station is probably owned by Sinclair Media, one of the most powerful broadcast networks in the country that you've never heard of.
Please watch this very brief video, illustrating the chokehold that Sinclair Media maintains over your nightly local news broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLjYJ4BzvI
Of course, not every piece of news is pre-programmed but a lot is. The real news is out there, but sometimes you have to look a little deeper than the infographics on TV news. Even if information is being directed from the top down, the boots on the ground tend to be passionate people with a variety of interests and agendas, and they are still doing their best to do real journalism despite corporate oversight.
Think of those who are directing the information as steering an impossibly massive ship with a rudder. You can slowly adjust the course of direction, however it is slow to react. If you want to stop, you have to start thinking about stopping wayyy ahead of time. And similarly, once it gets underway, it is then influenced by an inertia all its own. Micro controls and adjustments aren't really possible.
Our society is this giant ship. There are 8 billion people on this earth - that is 8000 million. An incomprehensible number that grows rapidly every day. As civilization grows and advances, so does our medicine, our technology, our cultural norms. These are all natural processes that are necessary to manage an increasing number of societies all around the globe. And many of the advances we're making have exciting potential benefits for humanity, although as with all tools, they also inherently possess the potential for abuse.
Here are some other things happening in society right now, some you may be aware of and many you may not:
There is an interesting chicken or egg relationship between science fiction and real world science. Sci-fi writers are inspired by the real science of the day, then they apply their creativity to imagine what might be in the future. Young scientists encounter these fantastical ideas and think they are worth pursuing, and then set about to make them a reality, and the cycle continues.
Futuristic concepts are then preempted and introduced through the media to the conscious mind, as we include them in books, movies, TV, video games, and more. Eventually we start seeing headlines of these new technologies and developments happening in other places, usually Japan and China first due to their prevalence in the industrial and technological sectors of our global economy.
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Continue to Part 2

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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

PDQ Deploy packs v69.0.0 (2020-02-06)

Background

This is v69.0.0 (v68.0.0, v67.0.0, v66.0.0, v65.0.0, etc...) of our PDQ installers and includes all installers from the previous package with old versions removed.
All packages:
  1. ...install silently and don't place desktop or quicklaunch shortcuts
  2. ...disable all auto-update, nag popup and stat-collection/telemetry "features" possible
  3. ...work with the free or paid version of PDQ Deploy but do not require it - each package can run standalone (e.g. from a thumb drive) or pushed with SCCM/GPO/etc if desired. PM me if you need assistance setting something like that up

Download

Primary:
Download the torrent.
Secondary: Download the self-extracting archive from one of the repos:
Mirror HTTPS HTTP Location Host
Official link link US-NY SGC-Hosting
#1 link link FR mxmod
Tertiary:
Plug one of these keys into Resilio Sync (formerly called "BT Sync") to pull down that repository:
- BTRSRPF7Y3VWFRBG64VUDGP7WIIVNTR4Q (Installer Packages, ~2.15 GB) - BMHHALGV7WLNSAPIPYDP5DU3NDNSM5XNC (WSUS Offline updates, ~12.00 GB) 
Make sure the settings for your Sync folder look like this (or this if you're on v1.3.x). Specifically you need to enable DHT.
Quaternary: (source code)
The Github page contains all scripts and wrapper files used in the pack. Check it out if you want to see the code without downloading the full binary pack, or just steal them for your own use. Note that downloading from Github directly won't work - you need either this provided pack or go manually fetch all the binaries yourself in order to just plug them in and start working.

Pack list

Installers:
(Updates in bold. All installers are 64-bit unless otherwise marked)
  • 7-Zip v19.00
  • 7-Zip v19.00 (x86)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC v19.021.20058
  • Adobe AIR v32.0.0.125
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.321 (Chrome)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.321 (Firefox)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.321 (IE / ActiveX)
  • Apple iTunes v12.5.1.21
  • CDBurnerXP v4.5.8.7128
  • CutePDF v3.0 (PDF printer) (x86) // REMOVED; Since Windows natively supports PDF printing now there's no reason to keep this in the pack
  • FileZilla Client v3.46.3
  • Gimp v2.10.14 (x86)
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v80.0.3987.87
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v80.0.3987.87 (x86)
  • Google Earth Pro v7.3.2
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231 (x86)
  • Java Development Kit 11.0.6
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231 (x86)
  • Java Runtime 10.0.2
  • KTS KypM Telnet/SSH Server v1.19c (x86)
  • LibreOffice v6.4.0
  • Microsoft .NET Framework v3.5.1 SP1 (x86)
  • Microsoft Silverlight v5.1.50918.0
  • Mozilla Firefox v72.0.2
  • Mozilla Firefox v72.0.2 (x86)
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.4.2
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.4.2 (x86)
  • Mozilla Thunderbird v68.4.2 (x86) (customized; read notes)
  • Notepad++ v7.8.4 (x86)
  • Pale Moon v28.8.2.1
  • Pale Moon v28.8.2.1 (x86)
  • Spark v2.8.3 (x86)
  • TightVNC v2.8.27
  • TightVNC v2.8.27 (x86)
  • UltraVNC v1.2.2.4 (x86)
  • VLC media player v3.0.8 (x86)
  • WinSCP v5.15.9 (x86)
Utilities:
  • Clean Up ALL Printers (purge all printers from target)
  • Clean Up Orphaned Printers (remove non-existent printers from the spooler)
  • Empty All Recycle Bins (force all recycle bins to empty on target)
  • Enable Remote Desktop
  • Install PKI Certificates
  • Reboot (force target reboot in 15 seconds)
  • Remove Adobe Flash Player (removes all versions)
  • Remove Java Runtime (removes JRE versions 3-11 using all means necessary)
  • Remove Microsoft Silverlight (removes all versions of Silverlight)
  • Temp File Cleanup
  • USB Device Cleanup. Uninstalls non-present USB hubs, USB storage devices and their storage volumes, Disks, CD-ROM's, Floppies, WPD devices and deletes their registry items. Devices will re-initialize at next connection

Instructions

  1. Import all .XML files from the \job files directory into PDQ deploy (it should look roughly like this after you've imported them).
  2. Copy all files from the \repository directory to wherever your repository is.
  3. All jobs reference PDQ's $(Repository) variable, so make sure it's set in preferences.

Package Notes

  1. Read the notes in the PDQ interface for each package, they explain exactly what that installer does. Basically, most packages use a .bat file to accomplish multi-step installs with the free version of PDQ. You can edit the batch files to see what they do; most just delete "All Users" desktop shortcuts and things like that. changelog-v##-updated-.txt has version and release history in addition to random notes where I complain about things like Reader DC and how much of a pain it is to build packages for.
  2. Thunderbird:
    • Thunderbird is configured to use a global config file stored on a network share. This allows for settings changes en masse. By default it's set to check for config updates every 120 minutes.
    • You can change the config location, update frequency, OR disable this behavior entirely by editing thunderbird-custom-settings.js.
    • A copy of the config file is in the Thunderbird directory and is called thunderbird-global-settings.js
    • If you don't want any customizations, just edit Thunderbird's .bat file and comment out or delete all the lines mentioning the custom config files.
  3. Microsoft Offline Updates - built using the excellent WSUS Offline tool. Please donate to them if you can, their team does excellent work.

Integrity

In the folder \integrity verification the file checksums.txt is signed with my PGP key (0x07d1490f82a211a2, pubkey included). You can use this to verify package integrity.
If you find a bug or glitch, PM me or post it here. Advice and comments are welcome and appreciated.

Donations

These packs will always be free and open-source, although donations are of course appreciated since all work done on them is in my spare time for free. If you feel like giving away your hard-earned cash to random strangers on the internet you may do so here:
Patreon
Bitcoin: 1Bfxpo1WqTGwRXZKrwYZV2zvJ4ggyj9GE1
Monero (preferred):
46ZUK4VDLLz3zapDw62UaS71ZfFBjH9uwhc8FeyocPhUHHsuxj5zfvpZpZcZFHWpxoXD99MVt6PnR9QfftXDV8s6CFAnPSo
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."
submitted by vocatus to sysadmin [link] [comments]

The Day Advances | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - January 2020

The day advanced as if to light some work of mine
Thoreau, Walden
This is my thirty-eighth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal.
Portfolio goal
My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars).
This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent.
Portfolio summary
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $813 282
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 802
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $83 162
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 472
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $178 121
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $34 965
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $272 399
Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 046
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $8 970
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $6 492
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $106 701
Secured physical gold – $17 252
Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $14 755
Bitcoin – $153 530
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $18 365
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 534
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477
Total portfolio value: $1 873 325 (+$94 067)
Asset allocation
Australian shares – 42.8% (2.2% under)
Global shares – 22.6%
Emerging markets shares – 2.4%
International small companies – 3.1%
Total international shares – 28.1% (1.9% under)
Total shares – 70.9% (4.1% under)
Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds – 4.5%
International bonds – 9.5%
Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under)
Gold – 6.6%
Bitcoin – 8.2%
Gold and alternatives – 14.8% (4.8% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio.
Comments
This month saw exceptional growth in the portfolio, with a net increase of $94 000 after a small fall last month.
[Chart]
This is the fastest growth in the past half year. It is also the second largest absolute increase in over three years of measurement.
[Chart]
As the histogram below - which counts the frequency of occurrences in a specified range of monthly value changes (with red denoting losses) - makes clear, this is one of the most positive outcomes in the three year record.
[Chart]
The sources of portfolio growth were generally buoyant global and Australian share markets. Just under half of the growth was also due to an increase in the price of both gold securities and Bitcoin. In addition, even bond holdings increased in value over the period.
Distribution payments from the Vanguard retail funds, as well as the exchange-traded funds VAS, VGS and A200 were made through this month.
These totalled around $14 000 and have begun to be gradually fed back into the portfolio. This is a process which will occur through to June - with new investments twice per month. So far this has led to additional purchases in Vanguard's Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) to maintain the target allocation of Australian equities making up 60 per cent of all equity holdings.
The bond allocation of the portfolio continues to be notionally under its target, but has not yet reached a position where further balancing investments are warranted. Fully excluding the value of Bitcoin, for example, it still sits on its target allocation of 15 per cent of the portfolio.
If the same calculation is done for equities, they sit just above their target, at 77 per cent, and have drifted higher since early last year. Over the past months my position has been to take no portfolio balancing actions based purely on the volatile value of Bitcoin over time, and this remains my approach.
There is no perfect answer to this issue - assigning no value to Bitcoin and ignoring it for asset allocation purposes is inconsistent with its role in the portfolio. Pushing either equity or bond allocations sharply out of target boundaries merely due to short-term Bitcoin movements is also not warranted. Taking a backcast 'moving average' approach might be one statistical solution, but I am not yet convinced it would do more than moderate the appearance of the issue.
While expenditure has been higher over the holiday period, on average the gap between the rolling three-year average of distributions and credit card expenditure continues to close, and sits at just over a $300 per month gap at present.
Flags of convenience - estimating hedging in the portfolio
This month, out of a curiosity carried over from my recent review of my bond holdings, I have found the time to review of the overall currency hedging position of the portfolio.
There are some excellent online research papers (pdf) and blog pieces, such as this one from Passive Investing Australia, for those interested in learning more about some of the associated issues.
Currency risks have never previously been an object of much detailed thought on the journey. Rather, I had tracked a basic measure of broader exposure to foreign assets (including foreign equities, property securities, gold and more recently Bitcoin).
The additional issue of whether my exposure to these assets was unhedged (meaning exposure to gains and losses from the relative movement in the Australian dollar and the foreign currencies) or hedged was not really front of mind.
I suppose I had a dim awareness that some elements of the Vanguard retail funds that have until recently dominated the portfolio were hedged (for example, around 30 per cent of the Vanguard High Growth Diversified funds equity position is currency hedged), and judged that there was likely a well-considered rationale behind the amount of this hedging.
The first step to understanding where any exposures exist is to understand and measure the current state of affairs. As of today, this is broadly as set out below:
The decision to invest in Vanguard's International Shares ETF (VGS), which is unhedged, is a significant event in this regard.
The chart below shows the overall level of currency hedging in the international equity portfolio. Investments in VGS commenced from July 2019, and have started to affect the level of hedging.
[Chart]
As future contributions flow into VGS - absent any other action - a historically quite stable level of hedging will continue to fall. So far this is just a trend I am monitoring, until I have completed more research and thinking on the best approach in this area.
There are many complicated, and some unknowable, issues to consider and balance in hedging decisions, such as the likely denomination of future costs, and the historical and future relationships between domestic currencies and equity markets. None avail themselves of short or easy answers. Until I have thought my way through them more fully, I remain hesitant to make any definitive decisions.
Progress
Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below.
Measure Portfolio All Assets
Portfolio Objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 85.2% 115.9%
Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.9% 141.4%
Total expenses – $89 000 pa 83.3% 113.3%
Summary
This month has seen rapid progress, propelling the portfolio closer to both old and new goals. The portfolio gains this month have already closed nearly half of the additional distance created by increasing my portfolio target at the beginning of the year.
The psychological forward push from distributions performance across 2019 (including, pleasingly, seeing it recognised here) has added to this sense of momentum. Additionally, this month I have also crossed the threshold to the target portfolio size needed to achieve 'credit card FI', a long-standing measure I have tracked.
The long summer break that has just ended in some ways seemed like a foretaste of what some versions of financial independence could feel like. With the minimum of planning there was time to read, rest, exercise and write largely as I pleased.
Returning to work following this has been infused with an unusual sense of being a temporary visitor in a new workplace. There is a greater philosophical detachment, in observing its rituals and rhythms, and less of a desire to seek to shape or resist its minutiae. Rather, what I have focused on is seeking to more deliberately make use of the freedoms it does not constrain, and pursue the best and most interesting use of the time that is outside of work hours.
Through these recent strong Australian and US equity markets, this article has been a useful reminder of the 'survivorship' risks of focusing a FI target too narrowly on past performance.
This excellent recent piece from Aussie HIFIRE has also, from another direction, usefully focused on separating out the decisions that do, and do not, materially matter in planning and executing on a passive indexing strategy over the long-term. For a challenging and entirely heterodox view on the potential long-term movement of equity markets upwards from here, this article has been thought-provoking.
Finally, this month I have been discovering the Jolly Swagman podcast, which has long and fascinating interviews with the ex-head of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and Nobel Prize winning US economist Robert Shiller speaking on bubbles and narrative economics.
During the long restful hours of summer break, the day has advanced. Though clouds may come in time, as the year starts - at least - the way forward looks bright.
The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
submitted by thefiexpl to fiaustralia [link] [comments]

PDQ Deploy packs v68.0.0 (2020-01-11)

Background

This is v68.0.0 (v67.0.0, v66.0.0, v65.0.0, v64.0.0, v63.0.0, etc...) of our PDQ installers and includes all installers from the previous package with old versions removed.
All packages:
  1. ...install silently and don't place desktop or quicklaunch shortcuts
  2. ...disable all auto-update, nag popup and stat-collection/telemetry "features" possible
  3. ...work with the free or paid version of PDQ Deploy but do not require it - each package can run standalone (e.g. from a thumb drive) or pushed with SCCM/GPO/etc if desired. PM me if you need assistance setting something like that up

Download

Primary:
Download the torrent.
Secondary: Download the self-extracting archive from one of the repos:
Mirror HTTPS HTTP Location Host
Official link link US-NY SGC-Hosting
#1 link link FR mxmod
Tertiary:
Plug one of these keys into Resilio Sync (formerly called "BT Sync") to pull down that repository:
- BTRSRPF7Y3VWFRBG64VUDGP7WIIVNTR4Q (Installer Packages, ~2.15 GB) - BMHHALGV7WLNSAPIPYDP5DU3NDNSM5XNC (WSUS Offline updates, ~12.00 GB) 
Make sure the settings for your Sync folder look like this (or this if you're on v1.3.x). Specifically you need to enable DHT.
Quaternary: (source code)
The Github page contains all scripts and wrapper files used in the pack. Check it out if you want to see the code without downloading the full binary pack, or just steal them for your own use. Note that downloading from Github directly won't work - you need either this provided pack or go manually fetch all the binaries yourself in order to just plug them in and start working.

Pack list

Installers:
(Updates in bold. All installers are 64-bit unless otherwise marked)
  • 7-Zip v19.00
  • 7-Zip v19.00 (x86)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC v19.021.20058
  • Adobe AIR v32.0.0.125
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.303 (Chrome)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.303 (Firefox)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.303 (IE / ActiveX)
  • Apple iTunes v12.5.1.21
  • CDBurnerXP v4.5.8.7128
  • CutePDF v3.0 (PDF printer) (x86)
  • FileZilla Client v3.46.3
  • Gimp v2.10.14 (x86)
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v79.0.3945.117
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v77.0.3945.117 (x86)
  • Google Earth Pro v7.3.2
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231 (x86)
  • Java Development Kit 11.0.5
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231 (x86)
  • Java Runtime 10.0.2
  • KTS KypM Telnet/SSH Server v1.19c (x86)
  • LibreOffice v6.3.4
  • Microsoft .NET Framework v3.5.1 SP1 (x86)
  • Microsoft Silverlight v5.1.50918.0
  • Mozilla Firefox v72.0.1
  • Mozilla Firefox v72.0.1 (x86)
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.4.1
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.4.1 (x86)
  • Mozilla Thunderbird v68.4.1 (x86) (customized; read notes)
  • Notepad++ v7.8.2 (x86)
  • Pale Moon v28.8.1
  • Pale Moon v28.8.1 (x86)
  • Spark v2.8.3 (x86)
  • TightVNC v2.8.27
  • TightVNC v2.8.27 (x86)
  • UltraVNC v1.2.2.4 (x86)
  • VLC media player v3.0.8 (x86)
  • WinSCP v5.15.9 (x86)
Utilities:
  • Clean Up ALL Printers (purge all printers from target)
  • Clean Up Orphaned Printers (remove non-existent printers from the spooler)
  • Empty All Recycle Bins (force all recycle bins to empty on target)
  • Enable Remote Desktop
  • Install PKI Certificates
  • Reboot (force target reboot in 15 seconds)
  • Remove Adobe Flash Player (removes all versions)
  • Remove Java Runtime (removes JRE versions 3-11 using all means necessary)
  • Remove Microsoft Silverlight (removes all versions of Silverlight)
  • Temp File Cleanup
  • USB Device Cleanup. Uninstalls non-present USB hubs, USB storage devices and their storage volumes, Disks, CD-ROM's, Floppies, WPD devices and deletes their registry items. Devices will re-initialize at next connection

Instructions

  1. Import all .XML files from the \job files directory into PDQ deploy (it should look roughly like this after you've imported them).
  2. Copy all files from the \repository directory to wherever your repository is.
  3. All jobs reference PDQ's $(Repository) variable, so make sure it's set in preferences.

Package Notes

  1. Read the notes in the PDQ interface for each package, they explain exactly what that installer does. Basically, most packages use a .bat file to accomplish multi-step installs with the free version of PDQ. You can edit the batch files to see what they do; most just delete "All Users" desktop shortcuts and things like that. changelog-v##-updated-.txt has version and release history in addition to random notes where I complain about things like Reader DC and how much of a pain it is to build packages for.
  2. Thunderbird:
    • Thunderbird is configured to use a global config file stored on a network share. This allows for settings changes en masse. By default it's set to check for config updates every 120 minutes.
    • You can change the config location, update frequency, OR disable this behavior entirely by editing thunderbird-custom-settings.js.
    • A copy of the config file is in the Thunderbird directory and is called thunderbird-global-settings.js
    • If you don't want any customizations, just edit Thunderbird's .bat file and comment out or delete all the lines mentioning the custom config files.
  3. Microsoft Offline Updates - built using the excellent WSUS Offline tool. Please donate to them if you can, their team does excellent work.

Integrity

In the folder \integrity verification the file checksums.txt is signed with my PGP key (0x07d1490f82a211a2, pubkey included). You can use this to verify package integrity.
If you find a bug or glitch, PM me or post it here. Advice and comments are welcome and appreciated.

Donations

These packs will always be free and open-source, although donations are of course appreciated since all work done on them is in my spare time for free. If you feel like giving away your hard-earned cash to random strangers on the internet you may do so here:
Patreon
Bitcoin: 1Bfxpo1WqTGwRXZKrwYZV2zvJ4ggyj9GE1
Monero (preferred):
46ZUK4VDLLz3zapDw62UaS71ZfFBjH9uwhc8FeyocPhUHHsuxj5zfvpZpZcZFHWpxoXD99MVt6PnR9QfftXDV8s6CFAnPSo
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."
submitted by vocatus to sysadmin [link] [comments]

PDQ Deploy packs v67.0.0 (2019-10-22)

Background

This is v67.0.0 (v66.0.0, v65.0.0, v64.0.0, etc...) of our PDQ installers and includes all installers from the previous package with old versions removed.
All packages:
  1. ...install silently and don't place desktop or quicklaunch shortcuts
  2. ...disable auto-update, nag popup and stat-collection/telemetry "features" possible
  3. ...work with the free or paid version of PDQ Deploy but do not require it - each package can run standalone (e.g. from a thumb drive) or pushed with SCCM/GPO/etc if desired. PM me if you need assistance setting something like that up

Download

Primary:
Download the torrent.
Secondary: Download the self-extracting archive from one of the repos:
Mirror HTTPS HTTP Location Host
Official link link US-NY SGC-Hosting
#1 link link FR mxmod
Tertiary:
Plug one of these keys into Resilio Sync (formerly called "BT Sync") to pull down that repository:
- BTRSRPF7Y3VWFRBG64VUDGP7WIIVNTR4Q (Installer Packages, ~2.15 GB) - BMHHALGV7WLNSAPIPYDP5DU3NDNSM5XNC (WSUS Offline updates, ~12.00 GB) 
Make sure the settings for your Sync folder look like this (or this if you're on v1.3.x). Specifically you need to enable DHT.
Quaternary: (source code)
The Github page contains all scripts and wrapper files used in the pack. Check it out if you want to see the code without downloading the full binary pack, or just steal them for your own use. Note that downloading from Github directly won't work - you need either this provided pack or go manually fetch all the binaries yourself in order to just plug them in and start working.

Package list

Installers:
(Updates in bold. All installers are 64-bit unless otherwise marked)
  • 7-Zip v19.00
  • 7-Zip v19.00 (x86)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader DC v19.008.20071
  • Adobe AIR v32.0.0.125
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.270 (Chrome)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.270 (Firefox)
  • Adobe Flash Player v32.0.0.270 (IE / ActiveX)
  • Apple iTunes v12.5.1.21
  • CDBurnerXP v4.5.8.7042
  • CutePDF v3.0 (PDF printer) (x86)
  • FileZilla Client v3.45.1
  • Gimp v2.10.12 (x86)
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v77.0.3865.120
  • Google Chrome Enterprise v77.0.3865.1205 (x86)
  • Google Earth Pro v7.3.2
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231
  • Java Development Kit 8 Update 231 (x86)
  • Java Development Kit 11.0.5
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231
  • Java Runtime 8 update 231 (x86)
  • Java Runtime 10.0.2
  • KTS KypM Telnet/SSH Server v1.19c (x86)
  • LibreOffice v6.2.7 ! -- NEW
  • Microsoft .NET Framework v3.5.1 SP1 (x86)
  • Microsoft Silverlight v5.1.50918.0
  • Microsoft Silverlight v5.1.50901.0 (x86) ! -- REMOVED
  • Mozilla Firefox v69.0.3
  • Mozilla Firefox v69.0.3 (x86)
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.1.0
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR v68.1.0 (x86)
  • Mozilla Thunderbird v68.1.2 (x86) (customized; read notes)
  • Notepad++ v7.8.0 (x86)
  • Pale Moon v28.7.1.0
  • Pale Moon v28.7.1.0 (x86)
  • Spark v2.8.3 (x86)
  • TightVNC v2.8.23
  • TightVNC v2.8.23 (x86)
  • UltraVNC v1.2.2.4 (x86)
  • VLC media player v3.0.8 (x86)
  • WinSCP v5.15.5 (x86)
Utilities:
  • Clean Up ALL Printers (purge all printers from target)
  • Clean Up Orphaned Printers (remove non-existent printers from the spooler)
  • Empty All Recycle Bins (force all recycle bins to empty on target)
  • Enable Remote Desktop
  • Install PKI Certificates
  • Reboot (force target reboot in 15 seconds)
  • Remove Adobe Flash Player (removes all versions)
  • Remove Java Runtime (removes JRE versions 3-11 using all means necessary)
  • Remove Microsoft Silverlight (removes all versions of Silverlight)
  • Temp File Cleanup
  • USB Device Cleanup. Uninstalls non-present USB hubs, USB storage devices and their storage volumes, Disks, CDROMs, Floppies, WPD devices and deletes their registry items. Devices will re-initialize at next connection

Instructions

  1. Import all .XML files from the \job files directory into PDQ deploy (it should look roughly like this after you've imported them).
  2. Copy all files from the \repository directory to wherever your repository is.
  3. All jobs reference PDQ's $(Repository) variable, so make sure it's set in preferences.

Package Notes

  1. Read the notes in the PDQ interface for each package, they explain exactly what that installer does. Basically, most packages use a .bat file to accomplish multi-step installs with the free version of PDQ. You can edit the batch files to see what they do; most just delete "All Users" desktop shortcuts and things like that. changelog-v##-updated-.txt has version and release history in addition to random notes where I complain about things like Reader DC and how much of a pain it is to build packages for.
  2. Thunderbird:
    • Thunderbird is configured to use a global config file stored on a network share. This allows for settings changes en masse. By default it's set to check for config updates every 120 minutes.
    • You can change the config location, update frequency, OR disable this behavior entirely by editing thunderbird-custom-settings.js.
    • A copy of the config file is in the Thunderbird directory and is called thunderbird-global-settings.js
    • If you don't want any customizations, just edit Thunderbird's .bat file and comment out or delete all the lines mentioning the custom config files.
  3. Microsoft Offline Updates - built using the excellent WSUS Offline tool. Please donate to them if you can, their team does excellent work.

Developer Contact & Pack Integrity

If you find a bug or glitch, PM me, post it here, or you can reach me anytime on Keybase. Advice and comments are welcome and appreciated.
In the folder \integrity verification the file checksums.txt is signed with my PGP key (0x07d1490f82a211a2, pubkey included). You can use this to verify package integrity.

Donations

These packs will always be free and open-source, although donations are of course appreciated since all work done on them is in my spare time for free. If you feel like giving away your hard-earned cash to random strangers on the internet you may do so here:
Patreon
Bitcoin: 1Bfxpo1WqTGwRXZKrwYZV2zvJ4ggyj9GE1
Monero (preferred):
46ZUK4VDLLz3zapDw62UaS71ZfFBjH9uwhc8FeyocPhUHHsuxj5zfvpZpZcZFHWpxoXD99MVt6PnR9QfftXDV8s6CFAnPSo
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."
submitted by vocatus to sysadmin [link] [comments]

From Conspiracy to Fact: An analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Information Control, and the New World Order (Appendix includes hundreds of citations) - PART 1

PLEASE NOTE: This article may be updated periodically with new information and links as they become available. All referenced information and a whole lot more is indexed and linked in the related appendix posts. Please feel free to crosspost, share, and take from my ideas to build your own. Namaste.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Appendix A | Appendix B
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hello. My name is Chris. I am nobody, really. An average citizen. I am an overweight 42 year old white male from the Midwestern suburbs of the US who has been fortunate enough to live a pretty comfortable life. I used to be a freelance graphic designer with a focus on small businesses, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that that career and part of my life is more than likely over in light of current events. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
I've always been concerned about social injustice and tried to stay politically informed, even dabbling in some activism here and there. At times I've stepped away from paying attention for my own mental health, or due to laziness, defeatism, whatever. But I've never stopped caring, or trying, to fight the good fight and do the right thing.
The news recently has of course swept us all up, and touched all our lives in some way or another. The world has never seen anything like the "Coronavirus Pandemic," and it's clear that our society will be changed forever when we finally come out the other end of this mess. But I've had the luxury of time recently, and in reading the news about things that were going on, I couldn't help but notice the patterns, and that a lot of stuff didn't exactly make sense.
So, here we go, with the "conspiracy theory."
I hate that term, because although it's technically accurate, it's been demonized and weaponized by the media and society at large to take on a bad connotation. Tinfoil hats, alien abductions, crazy people muttering to themselves, etc. You've no doubt got a lot of images in your mind of a conspiracy theorist.
And make no mistake, what I'm going to tell you here is all currently very popular conspiracy theory. However, I think that by removing opinions and conjecture from it, and focusing on facts and things that have already happened, I can present this huge amount of overwhelming, disparate information in a way that makes it less a "theory" and more a "research project." And so that is how I have approached this.
I have spent the last week doing little else besides reading every news and opinion article I could find, saving and organizing hundreds of links, and assembling a coherent, logical outline to organize and present these theories, and more importantly, facts. There are a lot of less-than-reputable sites and publications out there, and I have tried when at all possible to provide sources from verifiable news sites, with a wide range of slants and focuses, to illustrate that what is happening is not part of any one particular political agenda.
I hope that you take the time to check the links, really look into the information presented here, and form your own opinions. Please do not just take my word for it. To that end, there are also a few links mixed in that are labeled as having come from conspiracy. These are well-written and well-reasoned posts from other concerned citizens that I think are worth reading, and relevant to the discussion here.
One last thing - If you are new to most of these ideas, the information presented here is more than likely going to seem overwhelming at first. I encourage you now, and always, to take mental health breaks for yourself, and put down your phone or turn off your computer. The information will be here when you come back. And as you'll soon understand, what is happening is an unstoppable tide, truly a force of nature at this point, and there is nothing you can do to fight it, so try your hardest to relax, put on some chill music, hug your dog, and most of all...
BREATHE.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If you start researching conspiracy theory, you're going to find a lot of information. Some much better or worse presented than others, and some much more plausible or unbelievable than others. Despite the seeming ridiculousness of some things you might read, I encourage you to always approach new information with an open mind.
That said though, I have one main principle that guides all my beliefs about conspiracy theories, and that is the "Filter of Likelihood." Essentially, you have to ask yourself how possible, how likely, and how feasible a piece of information is. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself what the motivation would be. In many cases, it's quite easy to see how something makes a lot of sense based on other known info, whereas some theories seem rather implausible no matter how you look at it.
I am interested only in the plausible, and where possible, the already actualized. Additionally, there's a lot to be said, and a lot that has already been written on many of these topics, so I will focus on current events and simple concepts.
I will also ask you to open your mind to possibility. Please consider this as you evaluate new information:
  1. Do you believe there are things going on in the world that you don't know about yet?
  2. Do you believe that there is technology and science you've never heard of?
  3. Do you believe that society is progressing at an increasing rate?
  4. Do you believe that as populations grow, we require new societal strategies?
  5. Do you believe that those with power and money want to retain their power and money?
Of course you believe all these things, and none of these are wild or unusual concepts. Rather, these are very basic concepts that apply to everyone, and always have. They are all part of our shared human experience, and undeniable facts of life. Populations grow, societies evolve, technology advances, and the world changes. And most important to our discussion here, people, families, and empires constantly jockey for power and control, while fighting for resources, power, fame, and...
MONEY.
We all hate TicketMaster, right? Who do they think they are, what the hell is this bullshit "service fee," etc. It's something everyone can get behind. But did you know that TicketMaster willingly cultivates that image? That venues, teams, and artists, in their pursuit of more money, raise fees and then let TicketMaster be the bad guy and take the heat so their reputations remain intact?
There are many more people, organizations, and other entities in the world playing that same role for those who really have the money, who really call the shots. And those who call the shots work very hard and spend absolutely unfathomable amounts of money, time, and blood, to make sure that you don't ever realize who's actually taking your money.
They do this in the simplest, easiest way. If you simply control information from the top down, and disseminate it when and where you see fit, you can effect great societal change without lifting a finger.
Please imagine... really, try to imagine... You just read an article, saw a video, whatever, from a very, very reputable source. And it just informed you that an asteroid was 83% likely to impact the Earth next month. What would you do? What would happen in the world?
Hopefully an asteroid will not hit next month, but it's important to really imagine what would happen and why, and how. Because a huge amount of information would be generated and published, people would panic, society would crumble, and the world as you know it would change forever in an instant, the moment you read that headline.
Control of information is one of the most powerful tools known to mankind today. A person living in 2020 can easily encounter as much information in a day as someone in Medieval times might have encountered in a lifetime. And it comes at you from all angles, in all forms, non-stop, 24/7. Much like the water in the pipe, the information is always there, and one needs but turn it on.
Disseminating the information then becomes a practice all its own, and to be sure, information processing accounts for more than half of the US GDP. And the rate at which it's spread, and way it is handled makes a huge difference in the societal repercussions. So a few different techniques are used:
It might be the greatest understatement of all time to say that there has been a lot of information passed around about COVID-19, the "Coronavirus," recently. In fact, there has never been anything like what we are currently experiencing in all of human history, and not by a long shot. And this unprecedented turn of events has caused a lot of people to react in a lot of ways, and say and do a lot of things, for better or for worse.
Full disclosure: In particular, if you look up conspiracy theory, you'll see a lot of stuff suggesting that the "Coronavirus is a hoax." (You'll also find a lot of poorly-written rambling) I want to be clear that I DO NOT believe that. I am 100% sure that there is a Coronavirus, that it is making people sick, that a lot of people are dying, and that our medical professionals and many other undervalued workers are overwhelmed, and breaking their backs every day to do their best to keep their friends, families, and loved ones safe. I am extraordinarily grateful for them and admire the resolve and bravery that so many have shown in the face of this disaster. I do not think it is a hoax at all.
However, I think that literally everything else that is happening surrounding the "pandemic" is.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Pandemic
In the first week of January this year, I got sick. Really sick. I know when I got it and who I got it from, and honestly the exact moment I got it (I only was in proximity of the dude for a few minues). He had warned me that he was really sick, and I blew it off. I started feeling sick a day or two later, and a day or two after that I felt like I was dying. Fever, chills, aches, extraordinary fatigue. And literal, nonstop, 24/7 coughing. I had every single symptom of what we now know as COVID-19. I commented to anyone who would listen that I didn't recall ever feeling that sick before in my entire life. The most memorable part of it though was that after a couple days, I completely lost my sense of smell and taste. Joked a lot about how you could feed me onions and soap cause I'd have no idea. I try to have a good attitude about being sick.
I spent a week sleeping on the couch before I finally went to the doctor. She gave me a Prednisolone steroid pack (which has worked well for me in the past), some Trazodone to knock me out, and Benzonatotate for my cough. As soon as I took the first dose of steroids I started to feel pretty fucking great, and it was more or less a non-issue after that.
I spoke to a lot of people about it then and after, and man, I can't tell you how many stories I personally heard from people I know that said the exact same thing. Then I started reading the same story over and over again on Reddit:
We didn't start really hearing about the Coronavirus in the media until the beginning of March, and we didn't hear about the "Pandemic" until just a couple weeks ago. And what a couple weeks it's been since then. But I am quite certain that it's been around for a lot longer and that I, and a lot of other people I know, had it - and DID NOT DIE FROM IT - way back in January.
We now know that the first documented case in the US was on January 19th, but that word "documented" is so, so important here. That means that we had identified the virus, developed a test, and tested a person with the symptoms that day. It does NOT mean that was when the virus reached the United States. How sick do you have to be before you take a day off work? Before you go to the doctor? With America's healthcare system or lack thereof, it's almost certain that many people had this virus before we determined what it was, and how infectious it really was.
There is also the matter of the statistics of severity vs the regular flu. This is a highly contentious topic and I am no medical expert, and do not wish to make any assertions. However, what I can tell you from my personal experience is this: I had a horrible "flu" in January, got basic medicine, got better. So, either I had the flu, or perhaps I did indeed have the Coronavirus.
We will never know because I was never tested. But the important thing is that it doesn't matter. Either I (and many others) had the Coronavirus and it did not kill us (calling into question the severity of the infection) or we just had a bad cold or flu, but it had the exact same symptoms as COVID-19 (calling into question the extent of Coronavirus diagnoses). But logically, one of those two statements is true.
Furthermore, the data keeps changing, and I don't mean increasing on a daily basis. I mean up and down, back and forth, it is deadly or maybe it isn't, etc. On January 14 the WHO told you it couldn't spread from human to human. But then on Jan 19 we saw the first case of Coronavirus in the United States. Then it turns out that the Wuhan market outbreak began earlier in December. And then it's an "epidemic," but most people will only get mild symptoms. What are you supposed to believe? And it sure does seem to come at you as a firehose, and it's hard to even think about anything because OHMYGODTHECORONAVIRUS!
But let's stop and look a couple basic facts. As a matter of fact, I'm going to let Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi explain this one to you. This is a very informative 10 minute video, watch it:
Sucharit Bhakdi - Very clear math showing that the COVID statistics are being manipulated
So 80% of people only experience mild symptoms, and we're crashing the economy for this? The statistics aren't any more extreme than many other illnesses we've had over time, and we're crashing the economy for this? It doesn't make sense until you consider that there are other factors besides just the virus at play.
Wolfgang Wodard - Explaining how the statistics are being manipulated to cause panic
The media, and society at large is inundating you with terrifying information about the Coronavirus. But if it's not as bad as we originally thought, then why? We don't freak out about every illness that comes along, and we've certainly never in the history of civilization had over 1/3 of the global population locked down under mandatory quarantine.
And then there's the debate about where the virus came from. We believe it came from a meat market in China, under unsanitary conditions. The science behind a coronavirus making the leap from one species to another is well-established and researched, and it is a very likely scenario. There are also conspiracy theories that state that China released it on its people intentionally, or even that the US military released it in China. Again, we will never know exactly where this Coronavirus came from. It may be natural, it may be man made, and there are very plausible paths for both. I don't know what to believe myself. So here I ask you to make your own judgement based on likelihood.
What we do know though is that the state of the world this virus has been unleashed on has played a major factor in its spread. In 1950 the global population was 2.5 billion, and that has exploded to almost 8 billion people in 2020. As a matter of fact, population growth has been exponential since about the time of the Industrial Revolution.
With all these people on the planet there are sure to be many disagreements and conflicts, and there indeed have been. As a matter of fact, 2019 saw global protests on an unprecedented scale, in Hong Kong, France, Syria, and many other countries. Citizens have literally been fighting police and military with rocks, clubs, arrows, and molotov cocktails.
Did you know that? Despite my seeing headlines and pictures every day of the riots in Hong Kong, I have been shocked to learn that multiple of my close friends, intelligent and aware people, had no knowledge whatsoever of the protests even existing. But that is far from a coincidence; rather, it is quite by design.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Billionaires and Coincidences
Another major talking point over the last 5 to 10 years has been the "1%" - the handful of super-rich individuals who posess and control the vast majority of the Earth's wealth and resources. Where it used to just be a numerical term, "Billionaire" is now a dirty word, and one of the nastiest. We all hate billionaires. They are evil, and profit off the exploitation of the rest of the world.
The "Illuminati" we call them, in pursuit of a "New World Order." Crazy stuff, right? Mysterious symbols and people in black robes doing nefarious things in secret meetings, and running the world from behind the scenes. We love the Illuminati, it's a huge pop culture thing now. The subject of endless speculation, they are made fun of in the media, movies, and now Taco Bell commercials. It's so far fetched it could never really be true. And the fact that you think that is by design as well.
So, we don't know where the Coronavirus came from, but it's certainly here, and there are lot of other things unfolding in the world around it. Many different current events from all different places and fields of study. Some of it seems a little too coincidental. It is certainly very coincidental that this economically destructive Coronavirus entered the world right as there were global uprisings, protests in the street, and a growing public hatred for billionaires.
Well, here are a few other coincidences: Hundreds of CEOs of major companies stepped down from their positions in recent months. Multiple US Senators sold stock right before the market crashed. Even the boss of the New York Stock Exchange sold his own stock right before the crash. Did they know something they weren't telling us?
Here's another coincidence. In 2010, The Rockefeller Foundation published a selection of future-predicting scenarios in the name of "exploring the ways that technology and development could co-evolve." One of these four scenarios, entitled "Lock Step," eerily predicts a global viral pandemic and the resulting hypothetical consequences, which almost exactly mirrors the COVID-19 pandemic we are in the midst of today.
Also coincidental: The first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in China on November 17th, 2019. Literally one month earlier, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. In this exercise, they discuss the potential implications and consequences of a novel Coronavirus, including an economic crash, martial law, and of particular interest, the control of information. (You can view some published highlights here)
The World Economic Forum is comprised of the richest of the rich. The 1%. The Billionaires. CEO's, politicians, business owners, and many other powerful and influential figures. They meet regularly to discuss topics of global concern, and strongly control the dissemination of information. And of primary concern to many of them is maintaining their wealth and power in a rapidly-changing world.
And finally, here's one more coincidence: At the exact same time as the Event 201 exercise, The World Military Games was held in Wuhan, China, Oct 18-27, 2019. It was the largest military sports event ever to be held in China, with nearly 10,000 athletes from over 100 countries competing in 27 sports. Wuhan China was, as we now believe, the source of our current global COVID-19 outbreak.
Whether you think it is a "conspiracy" or not, that is all certainly coincidental, to say the least.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Why didn't I hear about any of this?"
That's an excellent question, and one that likely has multiple answers. For starters, how much do you really pay attention? Where do you get your news from? Do you research things you hear or just accept them on hearsay? Critical thinking skills are paramount in making sense of the chaos unfolding all around us.
As I mentioned before, I can tell you that I personally know multiple people who had no clue whatsoever about the riots in Hong Kong last year. As you read this, you may be one of them. And it may seem like something that is happening far away, and "could never happen here." Or you may have been aware of it but just that it was happening. But please, consider for a moment: millions of average citizens risked their lives and safety in the streets of Hong Kong for months on end, fighting police and military, and transforming the city they lived in into a warzone. WHY? Why would people do something like that? Regardless of their motivations, that many people were banding together to fight for something they believed in. And that is worth considering.
It's not really your fault though that you may not catch wind of all this news. The "mainstream media" that you hear about all the time deliberately controls information - downplaying threats and overreacting to silly things - in order to make sure that you hear the version of the news that they want you to hear.
Did you know that only 6 corporations control 90% of the media In America? That number is reduced from 50 companies in the 80's. And literally all the news you see on TV, at the very least, is 100% owned and controlled by these companies. Lately, distrust is growing for cable news networks, and many people turn to their local hometown station for trusted news. The problem with that though is that your hometown station is probably owned by Sinclair Media, one of the most powerful broadcast networks in the country that you've never heard of.
Please watch this very brief video, illustrating the chokehold that Sinclair Media maintains over your nightly local news broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLjYJ4BzvI
Of course, not every piece of news is pre-programmed but a lot is. The real news is out there, but sometimes you have to look a little deeper than the infographics on TV news. Even if information is being directed from the top down, the boots on the ground tend to be passionate people with a variety of interests and agendas, and they are still doing their best to do real journalism despite corporate oversight.
Think of those who are directing the information as steering an impossibly massive ship with a rudder. You can slowly adjust the course of direction, however it is slow to react. If you want to stop, you have to start thinking about stopping wayyy ahead of time. And similarly, once it gets underway, it is then influenced by an inertia all its own. Micro controls and adjustments aren't really possible.
Our society is this giant ship. There are 8 billion people on this earth - that is 8000 million. An incomprehensible number that grows rapidly every day. As civilization grows and advances, so does our medicine, our technology, our cultural norms. These are all natural processes that are necessary to manage an increasing number of societies all around the globe. And many of the advances we're making have exciting potential benefits for humanity, although as with all tools, they also inherently possess the potential for abuse.
Here are some other things happening in society right now, some you may be aware of and many you may not:
There is an interesting chicken or egg relationship between science fiction and real world science. Sci-fi writers are inspired by the real science of the day, then they apply their creativity to imagine what might be in the future. Young scientists encounter these fantastical ideas and think they are worth pursuing, and then set about to make them a reality, and the cycle continues.
Futuristic concepts are then preempted and introduced through the media to the conscious mind, as we include them in books, movies, TV, video games, and more. Eventually we start seeing headlines of these new technologies and developments happening in other places, usually Japan and China first due to their prevalence in the industrial and technological sectors of our global economy.

Continue to Part 2 >>

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