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Blockchain & Crypto Analysis

Substratum Releases Open Beta v0.3.0

Friday, May 11, 2018

Earlier tonight, Substratum released their highly anticipated open beta of SubstratumNode. The release is designated v0.3.0, and is essentially the CLI utility packaged with a simple GUI for non-technical users.

Here’s what the GUI looks like.

The installation process was pretty simple. After installing the SubstratumNode package, the only thing I had to was change my DNS to 127.0.0.1 (localhost). SubstratumNode requires this step because network traffic needs to routed inward to SubstratumNode before going to Substratum’s decentralized network.

There isn’t too much else to report on at the moment, except that SubstratumNode does work. The juicy features will come in future releases.

  • CORES neighborhoods will come in v0.4.0.
  • SUB staking rewards will come in v0.5.0.

More information regarding the open beta, along with installation links and instructions, can be found on Substratum’s official website. SubstratumNode is available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It’s great to finally see a MVP from Substratum, and I look forward to running the full node.

Platform Coins & Substratum

Friday, January 12, 2018

In 2017, we saw the meteoric rise of several platform coins.

  • ETH from $7 to $800.
  • ADA from $0.02 to $0.5.
  • NEM from $0.0001 to $0.9.
  • NEO from $0.14 to $70.

Why is so much money flowing into platform coins?

The crypto market is insanely speculative at the moment, and platform coins are multipurpose by nature. This means people will be able to build apps and services on top of these platforms to cater to different markets. Thus, there’s a higher chance for a platform to go mainstream.

This is why I believe Substratum will be THE platform coin of 2018.

Take a look at the Top 50 coins on CoinMarketCap, and you can see a lot of platform coins – Ethereum, Cardano, NEM, NEO, QTUM, Lisk, Waves, etc. The list goes on and on.

The strength in a decentralized network is… decentralization. In order for that to happen, more nodes need to go online. In order for more nodes to go online, more people need to set up nodes. In order for people to set up nodes, they need to be incentivized.

That’s the problem.

Crypto fanboys love setting up nodes, and they seem to think the majority of the world’s population shares this mindset. That could not be further from the truth. The average person is NEVER going to set up an Ethereum or NEO node to contribute to the network. It doesn’t matter if you try to explain running a NEO node and staking NEO can earn you GAS dividends. The truth is running a node does not contribute to most peoples’ lives in an immediately tangible way. The average person expects technology to have an easily understandable and positive effect on his or her life.

This is why I believe Substratum has the best chance of going mainstream.

Humans have a few basic needs, and two of them are communication and entertainment. Throughout history, our forms of communication have changed drastically, but the underlying principle has not. We crave connection with and affection from others of our kind.

In today’s world, these two principles have been severely limited. The Internet is now the most common and convenient form of communication, yet it’s severely limited for so many people around the world. In countries like China, Russia, Indonesia, and Thailand, people are constantly using VPNs to get access to what they want. Unfortunately, VPNs can be easily identified and blocked. The Chinese government is even looking to have telecom companies block all VPN traffic in 2018. It’s time for a better technology to emerge, and Substratum is the answer.

Like I said earlier, most platform coins give zero incentive to the average user for setting up a node. They have nothing immediately tangible to gain. “Contributing to network decentralization” means NOTHING to them.

However, when you tell someone in China they’ll be able to use Substratum to watch cat videos on YouTube without having to worry about switching VPN providers all the time. Well, that’s honestly life changing, and that’s how the network effect starts.

Now, think about all the more important use cases for Substratum in addition to getting access to cat videos 24/7. Using Substratum, people will be able to bypass censorship in their search for the truth. They’ll be able to communicate with who they want, whenever they want. They’ll be able to get access to a free Internet, and all the knowledge that comes with it.

Substratum is a solution to two of our most basic needs – unfiltered communication and entertainment. Once the network effect takes over, developers will start building apps and services on top of Substratum. Decentralized web hosts, “VPN” services, and truly anonymous messaging platforms are only the beginning.

Substratum Misconceptions & FUD

Monday, January 8, 2018

Here’s a collection of misconceptions and FUD about Substratum.

Substratum is a scam. They don’t even have a working platform.

Substratum has been in private alpha testing for a while now. They’ve even made a video with updates after the first alpha test. Here it is.

Secondly, there has been a lot of development discussion about the alpha tests on the official Slack channel. Do you really think the Substratum team has made a bunch of fake Slack accounts to make it seem like they have a working platform? If they were actually interested in doing the typical ICO exit scam, they would’ve done so a LONG time ago.

Substratum’s beta launch is happening this month. V1 will come shortly after in January 2018.

Substratum requires extra software to use the network.

This is a very popular FUD point being spread by Substratum’s competitors. Viewing websites hosted on Substratum DOES NOT require any extra or special software. You can use any web browser including Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and even Internet Explorer.

If you are interested in running a node or becoming a web host on the network, then you’ll need to download the Substratum software.

SUB has crazy inflation. It will never go up in value.

This is just plain FUD. SUB is not an inflationary token. In fact, the team has been doing coin burns to stop any fear of a developer coin dump. The next coin burn of 60-100 million SUB is scheduled for a few days after listing on Bittrex.

The only thing that can even be remotely misunderstood as inflation is the following…

Should the market ever reach 90% saturation, the network will create 10% additional tokens and separate them into an account that is only used to fuel the network. These will not hit the exchanges and will only be available for transactions within the network.

This statement can be found in Substratum’s official white paper. If you’re a FUDer who didn’t score high in elementary school level reading comprehension, the above statement confirms that any additional tokens will only be used for network maintenance. They will NOT be available for trading on exchanges, thus there is no circulating supply inflation.

Substratum is not open source because the team wants to scam people.

The Substratum team has chosen not to open source the project until proper internal security audits have been performed. This is not a Blockchain project where people can adopt kittens. Substratum will be used by people around the world to battle censorship and to transmit and receive personal information. Security is of the utmost importance.

Keeping the project closed source for now enables the team to focus on patching any potential network-destroying vulnerabilities before mass adoption. The team has stated many times that they will be open sourcing parts of the project as needed in the future.

Lastly, keeping the project closed source for now prevents competitors from stealing and cloning the source code. There is no scamming going on.

Substratum – A Decentralized VPN

Friday, January 5, 2018

A VPN (virtual private network) is a service that allows users to connect to the Internet through another server in a different geographical location. Contrary to popular belief, VPNs don’t provide complete anonymity. However, they are often used to enhance privacy, geo-spoof internet services, and gain access to blocked or censored websites.

When you connect to a VPN server, the destination will only be able to see the VPN server’s IP address. Thus, if you’re trying to access a website or service that’s blocked in your country, a VPN could be a potential solution.

For example, countries like China and Russia have a pretty strict policy when it comes to web censorship. By using a VPN server located outside the country, users are able to access Google, YouTube, NY Times, etc.

The VPN Market

According to this study, the global VPN market was worth approximately $40 billion in 2014 with expected growth to $70 billion by 2019.

Check out this awesome graphic courtesy of Comparitech.

As you can see, VPN usage for many people in Asia and Eastern Europe is a way of life. They rely on VPNs for access to the kind of entertainment they want, news from government-censored news sites, and services to communicate with family and friends overseas.

If you’re reading this right now, you probably share the same opinion as me – free access to the Internet should be a basic human right in 2017. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Thus, it’s extremely important to have a reliable tool that can bypass these government-imposed restrictions.

The Downsides of VPNs

VPNs, while useful, also have many downsides.

Government Intervention

The most obvious downside of VPN services is the threat of government intervention. Most VPN services are structured as centralized companies, and can be easily shut down by governments. Some governments, like China’s, are also capable of forcing telecommunication companies to completely block all VPN traffic.

VPN Identification

VPN traffic has a unique packet signature, and is easily identifiable. This makes it very easy for ISPs to block and filter VPN traffic.

Cash Flow

VPN companies operate physical servers in expensive data centers. Like any other business, they need cash flow to keep the lights on. If you’re the owner of a VPN company, and the government is constantly blocking your IP addresses…how long are you going to put up with that before it’s not worth the trouble anymore?

What is Substratum?

Substratum is a new blockchain-based platform that decentralizes the Internet. The platform is comprised of two main pieces of software – SubstratumHost and SubstratumNode.

SubstratumHost lets users contribute computing resources to host websites on the network. Anyone can host content on Substratum, and be paid for their contributed resources. SubstratumNode acts as a mesh network that routes traffic through Substratum’s network.

Using Substratum as a VPN

Even though SubstratumNode wasn’t designed to be a VPN replacement, it effectively does the job even better than a VPN. Traffic on the Substratum network is disguised as generic HTTPS traffic, and doesn’t contain any easily identifiable packet signatures. Secondly, each request on the Substratum network is sent through a different route stack. This makes it very difficult for ISPs and other services to implement any kind of effective IP blocking. The only way to fully block Substratum is to simply shut off a user’s Internet connection. I don’t think ISPs will go that far…

Unlike traditional VPN companies which own many servers and IP addresses in data centers, Substratum is completely decentralized. There’s no centralized office that the government can shut down. The “VPN” will live on thousands if not millions of private computers around the world. Since Substratum doesn’t need to worry about the logistics and risks of maintaining centralized servers, they are free to focus on improving the software for users around the world. This model has been shown to work… Uber, a transportation service that doesn’t own any vehicles. Airbnb, a property rental service that doesn’t own any property. Substratum, a web hosting and Internet service company that doesn’t own any servers.

Lastly, I just want to state the obvious when it comes to the economics of using Substratum. Traditional VPN services require a monthly fee. Using SubstratumNode is free, and you even get paid in SUB for forwarding requests. What are you going to choose? An inferior tool that you have to pay for, or a superior tool that pays you to use it?

The Substratum team is extremely ambitious. Their vision is to completely decentralize the Internet. In the meantime, however, I think they should push SubstratumNode as a superior replacement to VPNs. By doing so, more users will be brought on to the network, which results in more decentralization and increased network performance and anonymity. This would also be great news for SUB token holders. Like I said earlier, the VPN market will be worth approximately $70 billion in 2019. If SubstratumNode manages to capture even 5% of that market, SUB holders will be very happy.