Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Getting Started with Ethereum

It has become clear that Cryptocurrencies are not so much about using the currency as a means of saving or speculation, more about using their key features on which to build a platform that has value and doing so in a more secure, flexible and inexpensive way than were possible without the technology.

The result of this is that, while you still see many people mining Bitcoin, stashing it and praying for the value to increase back to the glory days, there are many more services that buy and re-sell bitcoin almost instantaneously in different markets, using the technology as a way of transferring value around the world at the speed of light.

But still, Bitcoin was a currency. Ripple, Stellar and their spinoffs moved this forward by being an asset trading platform. The ripple and stellar currencies were merely the oil for the machine, the value being the incentive for miners to keep the wheels of the processing nodes turning.

Stellar has some excellent features. Automatic exchanges can be set up - and peer exchanges - anybody who deals in two assets may propose exchange rates - and the best will win. But at the end of the day, they are still rigid systems and you need to build a system to take advantage of them.

A couple of years ago there were (if you will pardon me for saying it) ripples in the ether. A paper had been written proposing what were called "smart contracts".

Smart contracts are small programs inserted into a blockchain which get run every time somebody wants to interact with them. People who want to use a smart contract have to pay for the privilege because thousands of people worldwide are expected to offer computing power to run these programs. The programs themselves are ultimately very flexible - written in languages similar to Javascript or Python.

At the time of writing Ethereum, the result of all this work, is starting to take the crypto world by storm. While still officially in Beta, people are using it to manage all kinds of things - from auctions and trading systems to online gambling.

OK, I hear comments. That is a huge amount of verbosity. What's the point?

The main point is that I am exploring Ethereum and have been doing a bit of coding. Some of it digs quite deep into the Ethereum source Code.

In the process, I am building some useful libraries which I will be sharing in a way that allows us to explore the power of Ethereum.

Expect to hear from me soon.