Report: Microsoft Australia DX hackfest (July)

An important part of being a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft is continuously upskilling and playing with different technologies. Taking 2 days out a month to sit down together and hack, gives us a chance to learn from each other. For example Simon briefly mentioned that he was playing with Xamarin Forms & Android development, but was having issues with the Intel Android emulators, so I was able to quickly show him the new Visual Studio ones that run on Hyper-V. Conversely I was having issues with NodeJS that Simon & Elaine were able to help me out with.

And of course, we took the time out for our usual #TacoTuesday DE--sUTUAAAmwLR.jpg

Like our previous hacks, the Melbourne team were hosted by Frank Arrigo out at the Telstra Innovation Labs https://davidburela.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/report-microsoft-australia-dx-hackfest/. While we also had Azadeh joining in remotely from Sydney, and Hannes remotely from New Zealand. 20170718_152147(0)

David (Me) – Meme classifier

I decided to make a system that could automatically classify Internet Memes. There are whole subcultures on Reddit dedicated to them, one of my favourites being https://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/. I wanted to use the new Custom Vision service https://CustomVision.ai/ to train it on the different meme types, and be able to upload a meme and be told which category it is.

Training the custom AI was easy, I uploaded samples that I got off Reddit and clicked train. Testing it with other images correctly identifies them. Creating and training only took 10 minutes, I spent way longer browsing Reddit looking at memes ^_^;;

custom vision trainingcustom vision test

Next I wanted to build a chat bot and allow people to upload an image, and have the AI return back the category, and send a link to the correct page on Know Your Meme e.g. Success Kid. I decided it would be a great time to try out the Microsoft Bot Framework for NodeJS. I have used NodeJS & npm to download and use Blockchain toolchains, but never developed directly on it.
I have enough time to fully build out the chat bot, but I learned HEAPS about using VS Code and debugging NodeJS apps using VS Code. Lots of little gotchas when developing with NodeJS for the first time.

 

Azadeh (remote from Sydney)

I wanted to solve the first world problem that most of us have! have I turned off my hair iron strengthener?
It turned out there are lots of people have the same problem, please read http://www.ismyhomesafe.ca/did-you-forget-to-turn-off-your-hair-straightener/ and https://www.honeywell.com/newsroom/news/2014/12/new-research-uncovers-fear-of-leaving-on-appliances-is-a-major-worry
to solve the problem I used wemo switch. I created two recipes/applets in ifttt for turning on and turning off the wemo switch. Basically, I got two endpoints for turning on and off the switch.
To make it more user-friendly and accessible, I used azure bot service and created a chat bot that can get commands to turn on and off the switch.
I used LUIS to understand intents and call the proper endpoint based on the command.
I hosted the source code on github and set continues integration to make sure after every push to master, the new code got deployed to azure bot service and updates the bot.
source code: https://github.com/Azadehkhojandi/WemoBot

 

Rian

I used Azure Cognitive Services Text Analytics to analyse Star Wars subtitles tracks. Topic Detection and Sentiment Analysis both seemed like good candidates.
Key Learnings:
1) Topic Detection doesn’t work well with many ‘documents’ of very small size (e.g. lines of subtitles), of as little as one word. A better approach was to approximate scenes and aggregate lines into larger documents.
2) Sentiment data is very noisy. A naive prediction is that such a sentiment analysis would track the cadence of the film. This is not at all the case, as you can see in the graph of the sentiment of the Phantom Menace.
3) Slang/ colloquialisms break topic detection, e.g. Jar Jar Binks’ lines like ‘mesa in trouble’. These should be excluded from the Topic Detection algorithm using Stop Words or Stop Phrases field in the request.

The plot below tracks sentiment across all pseudo-scenes throughout the film. You can see the data is highly variable and does not seem to follow the cadence of the film. A further research question might be to vary the size of pseudo-scenes (i.e. to aggregate lines into variable sized batches), and run sentiment analysis on all these pseudo-scenes. The result may better approximate the cadence of the film.

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Hannes (remote from NZ)

hannes hololens.png

The app is made using Unity, and the HoloToolkit.
You can see how far along progress currently is in this video.
The idea is to bounce a table tennis ball on a paddle that you drag around with your hand. It has a scoreboard that tracks your high score for the session.
When you open the game, you are presented with a paddle and a ball hanging in the air above it. To start the game, you simply tap and hold on the paddle, which starts the ball falling. Keep the paddle under the ball to make it bounce. You get a point for every time the ball bounces on the paddle. Releasing the paddle resets the position of the ball.

 

 

 

Report: Microsoft Australia DX hackfest

An important part of being a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft is continuously upskilling and playing with different technologies. Each of us are usually off speaking to different customers or attending developer events, so to give us a chance to work together as a team and learn from each other we decided to set up a regular internal hackfest.

Last month we had our first, and the Melbourne team were hosted by Frank Arrigo at the Tesltra Innovation Labs. It is an awesome space, and we plan on hosting a LOT of future hackfests there. We also had our remote team mates working away and keeping in touch during the event.

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Each of us hacked away on our own experiments, which gave us a chance to check out the latest toolchains and APIs. But it was great being able to just ask each other for advice.
At the end of the 2 days we all jumped onto a conference call and showed off what we were able to throw together. The valuable thing was just hearing the learnings from each person on the “gotchas” they discovered when working with the tools/tech.
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Here is a little summary of what each of us worked on and learned:

David (me)

I wanted to build a little utility that utilised the Microsoft Graph https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/. The idea being that you want to compare what distribution lists you and your peers are on, as it may make suggestions on ones that you should join (like Azure insiders). I worked through the graph documentation and used the graph explorer https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/graph-explorer/ to figure out the set of queries I would need to pull out the data I needed:

https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/memberOf  – lists distribution lists that I am on
https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/manager – gets my manager
https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/users/<manager email from above>/directReports – returns who my peers are
https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/users/<peer email>/memberOf – loop through the returned list of peers, and get each of their DL subscriptions

I’d then be able to compare the DLs that I’m on, with the ones that my peers are on. And flag which ones we have in common, and which ones we don’t share as suggestions.
The next step was to build a web app to do this. I jumped onto the Microsoft Graph quickstart https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/quick-start to generate a skeleton app as my starting point. This required registering my app on https://apps.dev.microsoft.com/ which would allow my to request permissions from the user, to access the graph on their behalf.

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I was able to get my application to authenticate, and query details about myself and my manager. However to retrieve what DLs other people are on requires the Directory.Read.All delegated permission, and because that can potentially leak sensitive information about your organisation, only Admins can great that permission. This meant I was stuck as I don’t think the Microsoft Admins will grant me permission for my dinky little utility to run on the corporate tenant 😉
But it was still a good exercise as I was able to see each of the pieces working, and got some basic queries working.

Azadeh

Wanted to learn more about how to use Unity (as a lot of our customers are using it now for things like Hololens). She built a 2D Tetris Game, by following the tutorial at https://noobtuts.com/unity/2d-tetris-game

Tetris

Elaine

Wanted to play around with Conversations as a Platform and learn more about what is possible with bots.

On day 1 lost a fair bit of time with some visual studio 2017 issues. These seemed to be related to having a pre-release installed side by side with VS 2015 and then installing the full release version.
I intended to test more .Net core items but with the time lost I pivoted on to an area I was comfortable I could rapidly progress.

Further tested this github project which I have contributed to for generating a bot and tab for Microsoft Teams https://github.com/wictorwilen/generator-teams
I
used this to generate a Tab and Bot and deploy it to one of my development O365 tenancies. 
This included hosting the Bot and Tab an Azure tenancy and deploying via a local Git repository (via this https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service-web/app-service-deploy-local-git  ). This was a nice simple option that I hadn’t used before as had previously only used VSTS and full GitHub. This was exactly as easy as expected to get running so was a nice option to tick off the list.

As part of the testing of the Tab I confirmed that I could get the Tab Theme switching working (as per https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/richard_dizeregas_blog/2017/02/07/microsoft-teams-and-custom-tab-theme/ ).
This worked quite well although on a slow internet connection the event firing was delayed hence there would sometimes be a several seconds of the tab showing before it changed colours to match the teams client.

Also included Office UI Fabric (https://dev.office.com/fabric ) to check if that would have any issues working in a tab inside teams. I only had time to test a few elements including the spinner but these all worked well on the Tab. The main consideration is the theming may not  automatically flow through to these elements as the Teams Style sheets have very specific classes that they target hence things need to be wrapped in the elements for them to be able to change colour when needed.  This is especially important if you want your tab to work on the high contrast setting.

Finally I tried to extend the bot via  some deep linking scenarios following this https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/deeplinks , however was not as successful.   Asking the bot to send the url taken via manually grabbing a deep link for the tab worked well but that had a different format to the article.

default themedark themecustom theme
Screenshots of playing with the themes

Simon

Simon being Mr. DevOps, wanted to explore combining VSTS with chat bots. Whenever a build was kicked off in VSTS, he wanted to report back if the build was successful or not, and allow users to instruct the bot to trigger Release Management to push the successful build to different environments.

He was able to get the chatbot reporting new events in a Microsoft Teams channel, and having the bot trigger certain things back on VSTS.

Reghack “Down Under” event roundup

Reghack was a 3 day hackfest that ran in Melbourne, Australia https://reghack.org/

The problem statement asked:
Do you have an interest in helping solve regulatory issues in the Financial Services and the Energy Sector in Australia?
How do we use RegTech to make regulatory compliance a strategic advantage that’s a win for the regulator, market participants and the consumer?

The focus of the event was to try and invigorate local innovation in the energy & financial services sectors, by allowing people to come together and explore how Blockchain could be utilised in these areas. The event was the brainchild of Chami Akmeemana https://www.linkedin.com/in/chami1/ who is a director of ConsenSys, the largest Blockchain focused consulting company in the world. Chami came to Melbourne and asked for local community support to help him organise and run the event. I was lucky enough to be tapped by Chami and invited to assist. I helped out by providing sponsorship for the meals via Microsoft, and delivered training to help upskill the community beforehand (more about that below).

The event had around 90 participants, with many more volunteers on the day. In the end 14 teams pitched their ideas which ranged from energy trading systems, ways to authenticate documents, to ways to eliminate GST during B2B transactions.
A big thanks to Chami for organising it all, and to all the volunteers that helped make the event a resounding success.

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Note: The roundup of the teams pitches are at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading

Build 2017 keynote day 1

Highlights:

My main takeaways:

  • serverless computing and the CosmosDB are going to allow you to quickly create new ultra scalable applications.
  • AI, cognitive services and Cortana skills will allow you to build some real Sci-Fi things.
  • Microsoft graph is improving and adding more features that will allow you to build more personal apps.

Continue reading

Videos and notes of my Blockchain presentations at Microsoft Ignite Australia

As I previously mentioned, I was scheduled to deliver 2 talks at Ignite Australia. The talks both went well, and I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback about them. Now that the dust has settled and the content is all online I thought I should share the media to make it easier for other to watch and learn from them.

Saved image from Tweetium

Blockchain 101 & Azure Blockchain as a Service

Chris Zhong & I covered off an introduction to Blockchain 1.0 & 2.0. Covering off how Blockchain 1.0 technologies like Bitcoin are able to store state. But the rise of Blockchain 2.0 technologies like Ethereum, is what has gotten people’s attention as they are able to store state and embedded logic within “smart contracts”. I had heaps of fun with this session as I spent days putting together a scenario showing how multiple DApps (Decentralised Apps) could be linked together via on chain smart contracts, to build up an ecosystem of Blockchain apps that are able to leverage each other seamlessly.
A thanks to Chris Zhong for putting together and presenting the section on “Azure Blockchain as a Service”.

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Blockchain Development on Azure Blockchain as a Service

Going into Blockchain development blind can leave you stumbling around on the net not knowing where to even begin to look. The purpose of this session was to take the knowledge I’ve picked up from doing Blockchain projects, and the months and months I’ve spent replacing and refining tools down to the easiest development experience, and distil it down for the audience. It was an awareness session “these are all the tools, here is why I use these ones, this is how you create a skeleton of a Blockchain app, interact with it, test it, etc.”. It wasn’t as clean as I would have liked, and subsequent repeat presentations have been smoother, but it is still a great starting point.

Blockchain summit report: Day 2

Final day. I’m tired from 6 days of sessions, and many of the sessions today were more high level “we are a bank / enterprise that are looking into what the cloud can do for us”. So I skipped taking notes for a lot of them.

Sessions

Factom. Blockchain Technology tools for net gen asset systems
Most of old asset records are paper based, difficult to update.
Databases are too easy to modify. Blockchain is a happy medium.

They have a way to do document tracking on Blockchain.

Zcash
Issue is privacy on the Blockchain. It is a giant shared database, everyone can see what you are transacting. Like trading securities.
Possible solutions: Private chain, restricted read access.

Could try to do it off chain and put hash on chain, but then the blockchain is just a timestamping service.
Encryption can hide the values, but not the people.
Ring encryption can hide the people.

Zero-knowledge security layer. Enables private transactions. Supports “Selective disclosure”.

What the 2 parties see: Alice sells 1,0000 MSFT to Bob at USD 97.123

What the trade repository aggregator sees (selective disclosure): <blank> sells 1,0000 MSFT to <blank> at USD 97.123

What everyone else sees: <blank> sells <blank>  to <blank> at <blank>

Internet has a security encryption layer (SSL).  Cryptography (SSL) was required to let the Internet grow.
Blockchain needs a security layer (ZK security layer)

Plans on releasing their zCash Blockchain on Oct 28

Bloq
http://bloq.com/
Bringing Enterprise to Blockchain
Trying to be like Redhat for Blockchain. Enterprise support 24/7, security fixes, monthly subscription.

“Blockchain operating system”. On-premises software stack.

Open Bazaar
https://openbazaar.org/
Open distributed trade market. With no fees.
Ebay & Taobao are C2C (Consumer to Consumer) trade platforms.
Has an escrow style payment system. Buyer puts money into escrow, merchant sends, buyer releases from escrow.

Ebay is completely centralised. Every communication goes through Ebay and you pay them for the privilege.
Open Bazaar is distributed, you talk direct to each other.

Challenges of Building Decentralised markets: P2P software more complex than standard websites. Designing incentives to encourage users to act responsibly. Ensuring software is secure & reliable. Translate difficult tech into mainstream user experience.

Benefits of buying & selling on OpenBazaar: sell ANYTHING you want, anywhere (some things just aren’t available for purchase in that country). No buyer or seller fees. No data collection by 3rd parties. No restrictions on how you operate your business. Market of moderators that compete to provide quality dispute resolution.

Can purchase weird things like hot sauce, and North Korean cigarettes.

Version 2.0, you can purchase digitital goods (music, videos) and get it delivered instantly. Great for sellers as they will get to keep all the revenue, and not lose the 30% cut that iTunes takes.

Chronicaled
A turnkey solution to securely connect physical goods to a Blockchain.
Blockchain benefits for IoT are incresingly recognized by developers and enterprise, and hundres of potential physical world use cases have been identitifed.
The lack of a turnkey solutoin to securely connect and engage with assets with assets on chain is a huge barrier to development.

Turnkey solution: Ethereum smart contracts. BLE & NFS microchip inventory. Custom, secure chip firmware. Registration & authentication SDK. Open registry explorer. Tamperproof form factors so people can’t functionally remove the chip.
Device sends a challenge to the chip. Private key securely stored in the chip signs the challenge.
Signed challenge is compared to public key stored on Blockchain.
Has an open registry explorer (blockchain explorer)

Use cases: Authenticity & provenance. Handbags, fine art, wine, collectible sneakers, event ticketing.
Atomic financial transactions. New sharing economies. Micro & peer to peer insurance. Collateral & security. Physical world affiliate networks.
Machine to Machine interaction. Drone with a chip flies to a garage, it is recognised as being whitelisted, the garage door opens.

Everledger
Provenance means “the history of something”. It’s life story. Is very important for luxury items like artwork.
You may have the expensive thing, but may have misplaced the certificate of authenticity.
Digital global ledger to track items of value.
Currently tacking diamonds (write its unique dimensions, physical properties, faults, etc. gives it a unique ID).
Later if they are stolen and tried to be sold elsewhere, then can grab them.
Currently 98,000 diamonds tracked on their Blockchain.

Can track provenance to track origins of rough diamonds, through to polished stone. To ensure that they don’t come from conflict areas.
Can have IoT enabled diamond analysis devices, that can auto get the properties and look up its authenticity in the Blockchain.

Augur
http://Augur.net
Prediction platform built on Ethereum.

Would be cool to ask Siri/Cortana a generic question like “who will win the US presidential candidate will win the US presidency?”.
Predication market works by creating a market on a question. You purchase a share in the prediction, then if you predicted correctly, you get your share of the pool.
“wisdom of the crowd”. The average answer that comes out of a crowd is usually consistently better than an expert.

Stellar
International remittances of money transfers are expensive, with long delays. Legacy payment systems are expensive, complicated and slow.

Used to be unreliable to send email to each other, needed to manually specify routes. But SMTP made it a simple open protocol that anyone could use. Why hasn’t this been adopted for payments?

Bitcoin allowed sending money as a single network.
They want Stellar to be the protocol to send money from any 2 points, through any payment network. Like Alice pays Bob, but it goes through Bitcoin network, through Dash, then pays Bob in Doge.

Blockchain summit report: Day 1 – “Enterprise cloud”

 

Event details

Today was day 1 of the 2 day “International Blockchain summit” presentations.
On every seat was a little bag that had 3 books about the Blockchain! Unfortunately they were all in Chinese.

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Presentations summary

Whereas DEVCON2 was all about development, and leveraging the network effects of leveraging other projects in the ecosystem, the presentations today were VERY high level talks.

There was a massive stark difference between “the old guard” in the Fintech space, and the disruptors that are shaking things up.

Take a look at the BOC (Bank of China) and ChinaLedger presentations. They talk about how Distributed computing is dangerous. ChinaLedger go on to say that they need the power to be able to go in and halt transactions, modify smart contracts on the fly, liquidate accounts when they need. While also saying that they will make sure they will do everything to help privacy and use encryption… which only the Government can unlock (“Golden keys”?). It was the most centralised “Blockchain” I have ever heard of.

On the flip side I was inspired by the forward thinking of the Consensys presentation, and their long term vision for where to drive the Ethereum platform. They are helping to create open tools and platforms that will be leveragable by a multitude of projects (as demonstrated with Ujo and BHP project “Rai stones”).

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The Consensys ecosystem

After the Consensys presentation, my 2nd favourite presentation was by Wanxiang labs “10 years to build a city”, talking about how they plan on taking some land and creating from scratch a smart city powered by the blockchain and electric vehicles.  While the other old guard are squabbling about how it is going to impact their “business as usual” profits, there were the new projects out there envisioning and disrupting.

The BHP presentation was also pretty cool, a great implemenation of using Blockchain to improve a business process.

Presentations

New Finance: Technical & Legal rules – BoC
He is from bank of China.
Entire presentation was him being scared and trying to justify why current Blockchain tech is an unregulated wasteland, and why there needs to be regulation from banks and government.

For Fintech they think Blockchain will not be successful without proper regulations
Blockchain finance – it is distributed.
Storing all of the transactions will take a lot of storage space. What to do once the transaction rates exceed what can be processed.
Thinks that public distributed transactions will not be more than a toy like with Bitcoin. For real FinTech they need something different for a high frequency.
Thinks that decentralisation should not be the core feature of Blockchains (due to transaction limit).
Thinks it should be decentralised, not distributed.

Should be done with private consortiums.
Needs legal rules and technical rules.
They think that self rulemaking currencies (Bitcoin) can not be regulated. So need to stop them, to prevent bad things like money laundering. This is showing the loopholes brought about by Bitcoin.
So when using digital currencies, they need certifications and tracking.

“We need more regulations and rules to facilitate the healthy development of this space. Only with support of regulations can new technology take off”.

Me: I totally disagree… (if not already apparent)

Blockchain futures & realities – CSDC
China Securities Depository and clearinghouse

He was much more open minded and forward looking. Is a pep talk for “things are going to change”, how are we going to use these new things. He said that he recorded it into English that should be able to be downloaded, would be worth watching if you are into this space.

Summary: Genie is out of the bottle, we need to embrace this and think how we are going to put the requirements of securities (“real name transactions”) in a decentralised way. And the registration and tracking of assets to real names.

People have ideals because they are not happy with reality. Due to this dissatisfaction, people are passionate about trying to make that dream a reality.
Need to play by the rules, or the market will be chaos. So now we have facilities law, regulations, etc. This forms the framework of China economic. This is very different from Blockchain. This is at odds to the distributed systems.
Seems like we are dissatisfied with this, so trying to reconcile these differences.

All securities transactions need to follow “real name” transactions, but want to do this in a decentralised manner.
Market cap is 54 trillion (of something in China).
GDP is over 70 million

They are researching Blockchain, but not just in the lab. Need to find potential applications and use cases for it. If we want to implement Blockchain technologies, we need to see what the hurdles will be, so we can get closer to the ideal.
As BoC speaker said, the number of transactions per seconds is HUGE. Daily may reach 10s of millions at its peak. How are we going to handle this with a theoretical framework.
Need to start from the reality of China. And the reality is it is a giant country with a huge population, which depends on the capital market. If you just implement within a lab it is okay. But if it is going to be put into the industry, then we need to work with the government. We can’t just get rid of the government, it is impossible (REVOLUTION!!). So need to focus on key senarios to tackle, as you can’t just apply Blockchain everywhere simultaneously. Or all your efforts will fruitless.
How to complement it initially, not replace it.

Ten years efforts to build a city (Wanxiang Labs)
Me: I reallly liked this presentation. I’ve been keeping notes for months around building this type of innovative city in Australia. I plan on rewatching this one again later.

Going to build a city in 10 years. An energy gathering city in HangZhou 10KM2.
Their US company is starting to build new energy vehicle.
900m RMB? 90k people.
Deploy the city into the cloud. Intelligent life, traffic & services. Everything will be connected. IoT, Internet, smart living, smart transport.
Once this is successful, they plan on launching it across the world. Will publish their learnings.
Launching incubators and accelerators. Their own cloud Blockchain as a Service.
Many scenarios in this smart city that could utilise Blockchain. Distribution for Solar power. ID & Vehicle registration. Intelligent community services.
Can promote a sharing economy throughout the community.
Partnering with Microsoft, IBM, Consensys, Ethereum foundation, WeBank, AliCloud

Vitalik Buterin keynote
Talking of the progress China has made in Blockchain innovation in such a short period of time. He visited China 3 years ago and visited a number of Bitcoin companies and was impressed on the scale of what China had, much more than what was happening in USA.
But all the focus was just on cryptocurrencies, not Blockchain technologies, Just mining.
2nd time, he saw some kind of experimentation happening with interesting things (like coloured coins?)
3rd time saw more interest in Blockchains.
4th? time, he did a hackathon with Wanxiang labs (event sponsor), and there were ~30 projects. The growth since then has been rapidly growing. The scale of projects we couldn’t have imagined 3 years ago. Was just theoretical, now a lot of ideas are almost reality. e.g. Self-sovereign identity, instant settlement.

Hyperledger
https://www.hyperledger.org/
Goals. Build an opensource dev focused community of communities to build a hyperledger based solution. Create a family of “etnerprise grade” open source blockchain framework, platform & libraries.

Because it is an enterprise opensource project, they need to track contributions, patent details, etc. Is part of the Linux Foundation, which has 16 years of providing governance stucture support for major open source projects.
80 project partners. IBM, Intel, Accenture, JP Morgan, Airbus, ANZ bank, Cisco, etc.
20 of the 80 project partners, are based in China. Apache license v2.

A world or many chains. There will not be only one blockchain. There will be many public chians and millions of private chains. Each may use different consensus mechanisms.

 

Major projects are:
Fabric: Developed by IBM. PBFT, moving to Raft and other pluggable consensus mechanisms. Written in Go.
Sawtooth Lake: Proof of Elapsed Time. Runs on secure enclaves. Written in Python.
Hyperledger explorer: GUI for navigating Fabric & swatooth lake.
Fabric-py SDK. (Java proposed later).

Future:
Smart contract engines.  Portable identities.
Will never see a “HyperCoin”. It is about making Hyperledger a standard, and a governance group.

IBM keynote – IBM Blockchain & Hyperledger
Today if you want to do something in your business on Blockchain it is difficult. Hard to scale, issues with privacy.
No Enterprise support.
Need tools to write tests for smart contracts. Need good solution patterns.
Difficult to scale up, especially around transaction rates.

Built Fabric to support “serious business”
Permissioned blockchains can’t scale. Every node shouldn’t execute every transaction.
The 2 peers that are interacting are the only ones that should execute.
IBM has implemented this internally to resolve invoice disputes with their suppliers.

IBM
All the slides were in Chinese. Difficult to follow unfortuantely.
The (original) Silk Road was important for trade. Blockchain may be just as important for trade in the future
People are debating the need of distributed systems being  an important thing of Blockchains, is it really necessiary? Blockchain should instead be focused on unblocking instead.
IBM will provide an IBM certified docker container.
IBM Blockchain. http://www-31.ibm.com/ibm/cn/blockchain/index.html
Has a concept of a “shadow chain”?

Blockchain Platform @ Microsoft (Bletchley)

At Devcon1 Microsoft announced Blockchain as a Service. Rolled out DevTest Labs to allow you to spin up public, private, permissioned, and consotrium blockchians quickly. Provisoin with 1 click. Mix & match from best available blockchain tech.

Bletchley: Open infrastructure, Enterprise capabilities.
Microsoft is not building their own Blockchain.

Blockchain has some missing parts (identity, privacy, key management lifecycle, tools). Asked our partners what are the missing parts.
A database in itself isn’t an application.

(re)Announcing: Bletchley v1.
2 parts. Distributed infrastructure layer (Blockapps, R3, bitpay, parity, Eris). There isn’t going to be 1 Blockchain to rule them all, so allow you to leverage any of them.
Lots of customers were taking a long time trying to spin up private consortiums, and trying to secure them correctly. Used to take 3 weeks, now down to 8 questions and 5 minutes. Spins up a private Ethereum consortium. 4-100s of nodes.

Distributed middleware “fabric” layer. Tools that can work across many blockchain technologies.
Cryptlets are a way of doing offchain processing. Receive market data based on an event (market price daily closing, CRM event).
Need to have trusted execution of the logic, to attest that it was not tampered with.
Secure IP protected algorithms. Scale an algorithm for max performance by running it off blockchain in a secure & attested way in the cloud.
Oracles may be malicious, or they may be intercepted during transmission.
Cryptlets run on a secure host with a secure communication channel in a trust envelope.
Marketplace for publishing the cryptlets into a market for others to consume.
Azure cloud is twice the size of Amazon & Google COMBINED.

Bletchley Cryptlet Fabric. Supports Ethereum, will support more Blockchains. It is middleware that will support many.
Secure execution on demand. Standard way of publishing and accessing external resources.

BaaS roadmap.
DevTest labs, will continue to onboard more.
Bletchley v1.
Kinakuta to help improve security.
Bletchley SDK

Longer range implications of Ethereum & other decentralising technologies (Consensys)
LOVED this presentation.

Simplest view: Next gen database. Blockchain based, maximal replication,  Prevents rogue actors
Force for universal disintermediation, will distrupt every industry.
Previously it was mostly just Bitcoin. Future projects were “BitCoin 2.0”, instead of “Blockchain 2.0”.
So Ethereum project built the most powerful and capable Blockchain platform, both public (permisionless) and private (permissioned)
Deeply secure, non-repudiable shared source of truth.
Dapp is a set of smart contracts. And a user interface to interact with it.
Was important to get an initial version of Ethereum out into the hands of devs, to start thinking how to start building decentralised applications.
Ethereum has a vision for scalability, which includes sharding and state channels.
Privacy, state channels is one option. Zcash/zk-Snarks is another way.

Currently building out an ecosystem of decentralised applications.
Building core components: Identity/persona (uPort, metamask). Wallet (uPort wallet). Registries (Regis, ENS). Token Factory.
Do private enterprise Blockchains make sense? Yes, large entities can have a complex internal mix of business units, having a shared source of truth can help.
If enterprises have their own private consortium Blockchains, will be a harder target to infiltrate and modify databases.
Business processes emboided as state transition graphs.

If you plan on building your own tools or technology on top of Blockchain tech (public or private), build it on Ethereum so it can be reused in many different places by other entities running their private chains
Developed “Balance” for real time compliance, accounting auditing and monitoring. Real time dashboard for companies & regulators. Organisations using certified software wil not be able to break or bend any financial accounting rules.

The Blockchain will last for years or decades giving a persistent database. Gives a chance to do persistent portable identity. uPort self-sovereign identity.

Blockapps Announcement
Is Ethereum for Enterprise.
Partnered with Microsoft to announce Blockchain as a Service (BaaS). Over 1k projects have used it, over 300 customers.
Being released in Azure China datacentre (mooncake), and other Chinese clouds : Alibaba cloud, tencent cloud, Wancloud.
Initial China projects: Minsheng insurance, Wanxiang smart city, Qianhai smart city, Shanghai smart city.
China is going to be the country leading the world in Blockchain projects.

The Rise of Blockchain Consortia: Uniting the Banking World
One of the largest banks in Spain.
Banks are just a ledger (a very large ledger).
Each bank has its own ledger. They don’t trust each others. Which is why you need clearing houses and things like this.
What if there was a shared ledger trusted by all banks. “It’s not about the coin, its about the ledger.

New development of ChinaLedger: Forging a powerful tool for Chinese capital market in the FinTech era
Was literally the most centralised blockchain I have ever heard of. Please excuse me as I rant inline.

ChinaLedger is a consortium.
11 founders established it. Chinese financial institutions and Wanxiang labs.
“we created our own Blockchain and tools”.
Will come up with their own custom software and implementation. Will create a whitepaper and create reference architecture.
Partners will use the network to do transactions.
Need facilities to be able to freeze or take over acounts, and get access to all data. A need to be able to halt or freeze a transaction or smart contract. A need to be able to halt or freeze a transaction or smart contract. and the facility to liquidate an account or smart conract or manually change the state of a smart contract
We need to be able to stop the trading of certain stocks. Let regulators control things.
Will be fully in control of the gas.
Wants to support 100k/s and 1 ms latency.

Then ironically says tries to say they are going to put privacy into this. “Everything will be encrypted and private. Except that CCP & regulators who will have ability to read everything”. I’m SURE that won’t be abused…

you keep using that word.jpg
Blockchain, distributed ledger, privacy, encryption

 

Re-imagining Global Payments (For business)
Banks make a LOT of money from bank wires. So they have no incentive to come up with anything better.
The person sending the money needs to give 26 pieces of information. Don’t know when you’ll get the money, what the rate will be.
About $20 to send, $20 to receive, plus lose a few percentage through the conversion.

Their solution (for business payments). Register for an account, can use online. No fees. Transparent FX rate. Can track the payment. Uses Bitcoin in the middle.
Before international calls used to call many $s per minute. Now with VoIP (Skype) you can do it for cents.
Same thing will happen to international money transfers.

Enabling Global P2P Cash Transfers with Abra (For consumer)
https://www.goabra.com/
http://www.coindesk.com/abra-remittance-app-us-launch/

Nowadays you can send an IM to anyone else in the world instantly for free. Why can’t you do the same thing with money?
Can do it locally in some domestic markets, like paytm (india, WeChat pay (China), mpesa (Africa). But not for cross border transactions.
iOS & Android. Real digital cash wallet. Send & receive globally. No FX risk. Add cash via bank or in person.
As private as paper cash. Abra tellers earn $$ (as a percentage fee).
The wallet is stored locally on the phone. So you “physically” control it. (need to back up your private key).
Use an Abra teller (someone else using the app) to exchange buy/sell cash for digital cash. Anyone can be a teller. Tellers charge a fee. Teller & user rate each other.
When 2 people send money each other via Abra, happens instantly, . No FX volatility.

Awaking the Sleeping Giant: The Natural Resource Industry and the Blockchain
Note: The presentation was in English, but I thought it was extremely considerate that he had his slides translated into Chinese as well. Every slide had simultaneous English & Chinese descriptions so that the attendees using the live translation headsets could follow along easier. If I ever present in another country again, I’ll try and plan ahead like he did. Was very thoughtful.

Why is BHP interested in the Blockchain?
They are the largest mining company in the world (natural resources mining, not Bitcoin mining. Hehe)
They are a global distributed organisation. So a distributed Blockchain

Project Rai Stones. Sample tracking of geological samples. They are highly valuable resources. Some of the wells cost $100M, and you only get 1 chance to take the sample. They currently only track the samples manually through emails & spreadsheets.
They are working with Consensys & Blockapps. Runs on Ethereum & IPFS, on top of Microsoft Azure.
1 node at BHP, 1 at their collaborator, 1 at their regulator.
3 roles in the business flow, BHP out in the field, the analysis team, and BHP corp.
They create/register a smart contract on the network for each sample.
When the person collects the sample, they go to the dashboard, click the checkboxes to say they acquired, that updates the smart contract.
They ship it off, so they put in the details of which analysis office it is being sent to, updates state from collected to shipped.
Analysis team can log in, see what samples are in transit to them to be analysed. They receive it, give it a unique Id based on their internal process.
They get trusted tracking of samples, and real time updates.

What if they could automatically operate machines, they could help avoid bad combinations of machines operating at the same time. Like a crane operating on an oil rig, when a helicopter is coming in.
Disable a piece of machinery if it is past its allowed usage before routine preventative maintenance. Disabled until it is tested, and certified as okay on the Blockchain.
Stop unqualified people from using a tool or vehicle.

Ore gets mined and put onto shipping freighters. Need to track Provenance, custodians, entire supply chain.

Need to give regulatory data to the regulators in each country the operate in. All the mines in the industry need to submit this public data to gov, it all gets aggregated, and disseminated. But it costs HEAPS to do this. What if they built a consortium chain. They can all publish the public data, ready to be analysed instantly by peers. Could make the entire industry more effienct and transparent by making the consortium not just for the 1 country, but a public one. Give a global transparent view of the entire industry.
Would help drop costs of compliance.

They started on Ethereum Mainnet & Testnet. Now they are seeing the emergence of many private chains. They will see the bridging between chains.
Seen that Ethereum plans on sharding (many chains). Forsees that there will be a global mesh of these Public & Private chains all supporting each other.

Cotricity – “a prosumer to business”- virtual energy market on the Ethereum blockchain (Consensys)
https://co-tricity.com
Energy meets Blockchain
Joint venture between Consensys & an energy company in Germany.
Energy sector is changing rapidly. Prosumer is someone with generative capacity (eg. Solar panels & battery storage).
Normal smart meter collects usage about production & consumption. Tracked on Ethereum. Matches up Prosumers to local community things like Schools. The local environmental and economic benefits of keeping it in the local community.

Mechanism design, “reverse game theory”.
Goal is to effectiveise the energy market and reduce costs. Means creating incentives such that the optimal strategy for every participant results in the realisation of this goal.
e.g. Help to smooth out the peak in the morning, give a small reward for not using energy in the morning