Category Archives: Daniel Jones

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Exclusive Interview With Burst Developer Daniel Jones

Listen to the exclusive interview with Burst Developer Daniel Jones on the 18 October 2018 edition of the Daily Podcast did an exclusive interview with Daniel Jones, one of the Burst developers. Burst began in 2014 as a fork of NXT, which is itself a fork of Bitcoin. NXT uses Proof of Stake, but the original Burst developers modified the code and implemented a unique new protocol called Proof of Capacity. Jones says “Proof of Capacity is a consensus algorithm based on the idea of how large of a plot, or size, or space that you have to contribute to the network”. Mining with Proof of Capacity requires negligible electricity, making it one of the very few cryptos that can be profitably mined on personal computers.

Burst has a market cap of USD 16.5 million, placing it at #248  out of 2,105 listed cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap as of 19 October 2018. Long-term, Burst has been rising in price relative to Bitcoin, and generally when altcoins rally Burst rallies more than most other altcoins. Jones attributes this to the real people and real development behind the Burst network. Jones compares Burst to the early days of Bitcoin, saying “Burst is like the early days of Bitcoin, having been involved since 2009 I saw this happen once before, and I’m seeing it happening again, and this is exciting to me. For me, Burst represents a better way of being able to mine, and being able to participate in a globally distributed network. The bar is so low anyone can get involved, allowing anyone to participate which makes the network stronger”.

Proof of Capacity is based on how much hard drive space each user has, making Burst mining highly decentralized since hard drive space is relatively cheap and easy to acquire versus Bitcoin mining rigs. With Proof of Capacity, a 1-time hashing cycle is done in a process called plotting, which proves the capacity of the hard drive being used for Burst mining. Burst uses Shabal-256, unlike Bitcoin which uses SHA-256 which is not effective for writing to a disk. Shabal-256 writes to the actual nonce, the writeable piece of a disk, on a hard drive. Each plot is unique and depends on system specifications, hard drive space, and the time of writing, which prevents collisions of block answers during Burst mining.

During Burst mining, the plot that is filled with billions of hashes is read to find the answer for a block. The only computationally intensive part of Burst mining is plotting when the hashes are written to the disk. During mining, the plot is read for answers every 4 minutes, which is the average block time for Burst. The answer is compared to everyone else’s answer. The time it takes to read the answer is called the deadline, and whoever has the shortest deadline gets the block reward. Jones says “When you have shorter deadlines you win because you win the actual target”. More hard drive space equals more block answers, making it easier to get a block reward.

Burst mining itself is not computationally intensive and requires negligible energy. This means Burst mining has practically zero electricity costs, just hard drive purchasing costs, making it one of the only cryptocurrencies that can be mined profitably on personal computers or even phones. Jones says “Burst is similar to Bitcoin in the early days, you can mine on it almost anything. People are mining on Android phones, people are able to run it on anything. I’ve seen people running it on a thermostat… I can tell somebody to start mining Bitcoin, but they need USD 1,100, or they could buy an external hard drive and start plotting and start mining Burst. It is a lot easier”. Further, plot files can be deleted and the hard drive can be used for something else if someone decides to stop mining Burst, unlike Bitcoin mining rigs which can only be used for Bitcoin mining.

When a Burst block is found, it is added to the blockchain, much like Bitcoin. The Burst block reward started at 10,000 and decays at 5% per month, and at the time of the interview, the Burst block reward was 769. The maximum supply of Burst is 2.158 billion, and 1.992 billion Burst have already been mined. The limited supply of Burst for mining means Burst inflation is small, which could help increase the price of Burst in the future.

Despite decreasing Burst block rewards, its network capacity is 250,000 TB, after being near 350,000 TB earlier in 2018 when Burst’s price was higher during the 2017-2018 crypto rally. At this time 1 TB of capacity generates 1-2 Burst a day, which is USD 0.01-0.02. For 1 PB of capacity, a miner can produce USD 10 per day. According to Jones 8 TB costs USD 125, so it would cost more than USD 15,000 to buy a PB. Due to hardware costs, it would take a long time to break even, but the upside is there are no electricity costs. The price of Burst will need to go up in the future, and current miners will have to HODL, to make its mining profitable. However, people who have spare hard drive space that they are not using anyways can make pure profit by mining Burst.

Burst has real on-chain storage via Cloudburst, which distributes a file across several transactions, or several blocks if necessary. This stores an immutable record of any file up to 1 MB for a one time cost. The cost of Cloudburst is to pay for transaction fees, since the file data is stored in the transaction data. Jones says “Knowing the transaction ID, and having a node or copy of the blockchain, I can literally extract it from there”. As long as the Burst network and blockchain exists the file is stored immutably, and it is quite likely Burst will be running for the foreseeable future since its community is growing according to Jones.

Additionally, Burst has integrated smart contract technology which can be used to create dApps and launch new crypto assets. There is an exchange built into the Burst wallet where Burst assets can be traded. It only costs 10,000 Burst, about USD 10, to create an asset. Tethered assets are coming out soon on Burst, which will be crypto assets tethered to values of real world things. Additionally, Burst has a Tangle-based Lightning Network built on top of the blockchain which makes it infinitely scalable.

Regarding Burst development, Jones says “This is a labor of love, we are not getting paid. For us, it’s about delivering a usable piece of software because we use it”.

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Exclusive: Daniel Jones on Off-Grid Crypto Transactions with “Proof of Life”

Listen to the interview with Daniel Jones and Tamara, the Proof of Life developers, on the 9 October 2018 edition of the Daily Podcast

Bitcoin users Daniel Jones and Tamara have developed what they call “Proof of Life”, a completely off-grid method to send cryptocurrency transactions using a Raspberry Pi which runs a full node of the Burst cryptocurrency, a solar panel, and a pair of shortwave radios.

Speaking to Bitcoin News in an exclusive interview, Jones and Tamara described their success in completing a cryptocurrency transaction without connecting to the network via usual channels like the internet.

Jones said, “Proof of Life with a chain has been done before… the difference here is this is solar-powered and it uses a device which anyone can obtain, and therefore anyone can do this for a reasonably cheap price”.

According to Jones, Bitcoin itself has been sent with a radio in 2009, 2011 and attempted by businesses in 2014, although the attempts were poorly documented. The technology is already available on code repositories to send Bitcoin over radio, if people wanted to.

However, Bitcoin is not ideal for Proof of Life. One of the points of Proof of Life is it can mine the Burst cryptocurrency on the Raspberry Pi, helping secure the network. Burst uses Proof of Capacity, which just requires hard drive space, while Bitcoin’s Proof of Work needs computer processing power. Proof of Capacity is much less energy intensive than Proof of Work, which is important when using a solar panel as a power source.

Sending crypto without broadcasting one’s location

Proof of Life is a way to send cryptocurrency without connection to a power grid or internet connection, however, a gateway back to the internet is required at some point for the transaction to propagate back to the network and validate. Theoretically, it might be possible to create a cryptocurrency that completely functions on full nodes that use radio, such as in a remote village or in developing economies where infrastructure is limited.

However, sending crypto off-grid isn’t the main point of Proof of Life. Jones says, “This is just for a deadman’s switch in an environment where you don’t want to disclose where you are because if you turn your cell phone on, someone might blow your house up because you’re in Syria”.

In war situations, the internet is often down and there’s no way to contact family without a radio but if it’s a particularly contentious situation, disclosing names and locations over radio can be a risky decision. With Proof of Life, a user can send a crypto transaction with no other info to show that they are alive.

In protracted situations of distress, a user of Proof of Life can keep sending a single transaction periodically to prove that they are alive. Should the transactions stop, it could be a way of alerting family or friends that something has happened and it’s time to go look for them, or time to enact that person’s will and testament. This is the concept of a deadman’s switch. People generate deadman’s switches in their everyday life without realizing it, such as posting regularly on Facebook, or ordering a pizza from the same store at a regular frequency.

Future applications

Asked if this technology could be used for space applications, Jones claims that crypto has already been sent to space and there are satellite nodes. He said, “Wherever you can send a packet (with radio) you can send crypto”. Therefore, crypto can reach space technically but the difficult part is establishing a gateway back to the main internet at the receiving end. Additionally, latency due to the large distances in space is a problem, which would cause crypto transactions to take arduously long to confirm.

Radio laws have some extreme gray areas according to Jones, especially since sending encrypted packets over radio is 100% illegal in the United States. This limits what can be done with crypto over a radio to the most vanilla transactions involving crypto going between public keys, and unencrypted messages attached to the transactions are also allowed. Additionally, conducting business over amateur radio is 100% illegal. Jones sent 1 Burst for the Proof of Life test, and that alone raised some controversy since it’s technically a monetary transaction, although only worth USD 0.01.

Jones says he’s looking into combining the Raspberry Pi, shortwave radio and the solar panel into a single device so people can buy it and be able to conduct Proof of Life transactions. He stresses he is not doing this for business purposes and hasn’t made any money on doing this.


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