Thomas's blog

Digital versus Electronic Finance

In the 90s, the UN thought a lot about e-commerce and the Internet. Unlike most, they had a place to start from.

(Warning: Hacked together reductionist allegorical history ahead.)

Contracts are Chat Logs

Here is, in the author’s opinion, the simplest smart contract we can write in Solidity that has any use as an agreement or contract.

Tokens as Commodities, Not Money

A while ago I was in a group discussion about how to make gold a decentralised currency on the internet. Ultimately we couldn’t find a structure which accommodated decentralised issuance while remaining a fungible currency.

Private Blockchains Considered Harmful

Like the much maligned GOTO statement, the private blockchain, as a means to data privacy or tighter governance, should be considered harmful. (Although like the GOTO statement, it might still sometimes be a lesser evil.)

Why? Because the security properties of blockchains (and many other distributed data structures) rely on all transactions being visible to all participants. Once a system has enough participants to be useful, at least one of those participants will have included a compromised device.

Privacy Angels

This is a proposed blockchain powered online privacy standard. It came from discussions I had with Simon Deane-Johns [our lawyer at Zopa and a contributor to the Midata initiative]. The nicer legal wording is to his credit; any design errors are to mine.

Blockchains, Determinism, Monads, Agents and Functional Reactive Programming

(I am going to assume the reader is a software developer who's interested in programmable blockchains. If you feel confused by smart contracts etc, go read Programmable Blockchains in Context by Vinay Gupta, who explains them far better than I do!)

Blockchain Presentation @ 32C3

I gave a little talk on Ethereum at the Bitcoin Assembly at the Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg this year. Mostly because I was surprised not to see it covered. Not sure about my delivery, but people asked questions afterwards so I guess I didn't do to badly :-)

OP_RETURN in Java: A bitcoin Gist

For everyone who's trying to work out how to pop a hash into the bitcoin blockchain.

Written with the help of this article and a lot of browsing the bitcoinj forums.

Security Analysis for Start-up/Real Organisations

And it's not that frightening. The main reason to sit down and get a handle on your security is to stop worrying about it. Almost all attacks in real-life involve following a single weak seam through an organisation. Not zero-days, not brilliant ruses, no NSA, no black magic. Just twisting one small mistake into another. Take the HBGary hack from a few years ago. HBGary was a high-end security consultancy in contact with both the NSA and Interpol. One of the founders literally wrote the book on infecting Windows machines.


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