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Langston Thomas

2 months ago

A Simple Guide to NFT Blockchains

More on Web3 & Crypto

Protos

Protos

4 months ago

StableGains lost $42M in Anchor Protocol.

StableGains lost millions of dollars in customer funds in Anchor Protocol without telling its users. The Anchor Protocol offered depositors 19-20% APY before its parent ecosystem, Terra LUNA, lost tens of billions of dollars in market capitalization as LUNA fell below $0.01 and its stablecoin (UST) collapsed.

A Terra Research Forum member raised the alarm. StableGains changed its homepage and Terms and Conditions to reflect how it mitigates risk, a tacit admission that it should have done so from the start.

StableGains raised $600,000 in YCombinator's W22 batch. Moonfire, Broom Ventures, and Goodwater Capital invested $3 million more.

StableGains' 15% yield product attracted $42 million in deposits. StableGains kept most of its deposits in Anchor's UST pool earning 19-20% APY, kept one-quarter of the interest as a management fee, and then gave customers their promised 15% APY. It lost almost all customer funds when UST melted down. It changed withdrawal times, hurting customers.

  • StableGains said de-pegging was unlikely. According to its website, 1 UST can be bought and sold for $1 of LUNA. LUNA became worthless, and Terra shut down its blockchain.
  • It promised to diversify assets across several stablecoins to reduce the risk of one losing its $1 peg, but instead kept almost all of them in one basket.
  • StableGains promised withdrawals in three business days, even if a stablecoin needed time to regain its peg. StableGains uses Coinbase for deposits and withdrawals, and customers receive the exact amount of USDC requested.

StableGains scrubs its website squeaky clean

StableGains later edited its website to say it only uses the "most trusted and tested stablecoins" and extended withdrawal times from three days to indefinite time "in extreme cases."

Previously, USDC, TerraUST (UST), and Dai were used (DAI). StableGains changed UST-related website content after the meltdown. It also removed most references to DAI.

Customers noticed a new clause in the Terms and Conditions denying StableGains liability for withdrawal losses. This new clause would have required customers to agree not to sue before withdrawing funds, avoiding a class-action lawsuit.


Customers must sign a waiver to receive a refund.

Erickson Kramer & Osborne law firm has asked StableGains to preserve all internal documents on customer accounts, marketing, and TerraUSD communications. The firm has not yet filed a lawsuit.


Thousands of StableGains customers lost an estimated $42 million.

Celsius Network customers also affected

CEL used Terra LUNA's Anchor Protocol. Celsius users lost money in the crypto market crash and UST meltdown. Many held CEL and LUNA as yielding deposits.

CEO Alex Mashinsky accused "unknown malefactors" of targeting Celsius Network without evidence. Celsius has not publicly investigated this claim as of this article's publication.

CEL fell before UST de-pegged. On June 2, 2021, it reached $8.01. May 19's close: $0.82.

When some Celsius Network users threatened to leave over token losses, Mashinsky replied, "Leave if you don't think I'm sincere and working harder than you, seven days a week."

Celsius Network withdrew $500 million from Anchor Protocol, but smaller holders had trouble.

Read original article here

Olga Kharif

2 months ago

A month after freezing customer withdrawals, Celsius files for bankruptcy.

Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius, speaks at Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon. 

Celsius Network filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a month after freezing customer withdrawals, joining other crypto casualties.

Celsius took the step to stabilize its business and restructure for all stakeholders. The filing was done in the Southern District of New York.

The company, which amassed more than $20 billion by offering 18% interest on cryptocurrency deposits, paused withdrawals and other functions in mid-June, citing "extreme market conditions."

As the Fed raises interest rates aggressively, it hurts risk sentiment and squeezes funding costs. Voyager Digital Ltd. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month, and Three Arrows Capital has called in liquidators.

Celsius called the pause "difficult but necessary." Without the halt, "the acceleration of withdrawals would have allowed certain customers to be paid in full while leaving others to wait for Celsius to harvest value from illiquid or longer-term asset deployment activities," it said.

Celsius declined to comment. CEO Alex Mashinsky said the move will strengthen the company's future.

The company wants to keep operating. It's not requesting permission to allow customer withdrawals right now; Chapter 11 will handle customer claims. The filing estimates assets and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion.

Celsius is advised by Kirkland & Ellis, Centerview Partners, and Alvarez & Marsal.

Yield-promises

Celsius promised 18% returns on crypto loans. It lent those coins to institutional investors and participated in decentralized-finance apps.

When TerraUSD (UST) and Luna collapsed in May, Celsius pulled its funds from Terra's Anchor Protocol, which offered 20% returns on UST deposits. Recently, another large holding, staked ETH, or stETH, which is tied to Ether, became illiquid and discounted to Ether.

The lender is one of many crypto companies hurt by risky bets in the bear market. Also, Babel halted withdrawals. Voyager Digital filed for bankruptcy, and crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy.

According to blockchain data and tracker Zapper, Celsius repaid all of its debt in Aave, Compound, and MakerDAO last month.

Celsius charged Symbolic Capital Partners Ltd. 2,000 Ether as collateral for a cash loan on June 13. According to company filings, Symbolic was charged 2,545.25 Ether on June 11.

In July 6 filings, it said it reshuffled its board, appointing two new members and firing others.

Vitalik

Vitalik

8 months ago

An approximate introduction to how zk-SNARKs are possible (part 1)

You can make a proof for the statement "I know a secret number such that if you take the word ‘cow', add the number to the end, and SHA256 hash it 100 million times, the output starts with 0x57d00485aa". The verifier can verify the proof far more quickly than it would take for them to run 100 million hashes themselves, and the proof would also not reveal what the secret number is.

In the context of blockchains, this has 2 very powerful applications: Perhaps the most powerful cryptographic technology to come out of the last decade is general-purpose succinct zero knowledge proofs, usually called zk-SNARKs ("zero knowledge succinct arguments of knowledge"). A zk-SNARK allows you to generate a proof that some computation has some particular output, in such a way that the proof can be verified extremely quickly even if the underlying computation takes a very long time to run. The "ZK" part adds an additional feature: the proof can keep some of the inputs to the computation hidden.

You can make a proof for the statement "I know a secret number such that if you take the word ‘cow', add the number to the end, and SHA256 hash it 100 million times, the output starts with 0x57d00485aa". The verifier can verify the proof far more quickly than it would take for them to run 100 million hashes themselves, and the proof would also not reveal what the secret number is.

In the context of blockchains, this has two very powerful applications:

  1. Scalability: if a block takes a long time to verify, one person can verify it and generate a proof, and everyone else can just quickly verify the proof instead
  2. Privacy: you can prove that you have the right to transfer some asset (you received it, and you didn't already transfer it) without revealing the link to which asset you received. This ensures security without unduly leaking information about who is transacting with whom to the public.

But zk-SNARKs are quite complex; indeed, as recently as in 2014-17 they were still frequently called "moon math". The good news is that since then, the protocols have become simpler and our understanding of them has become much better. This post will try to explain how ZK-SNARKs work, in a way that should be understandable to someone with a medium level of understanding of mathematics.

Why ZK-SNARKs "should" be hard

Let us take the example that we started with: we have a number (we can encode "cow" followed by the secret input as an integer), we take the SHA256 hash of that number, then we do that again another 99,999,999 times, we get the output, and we check what its starting digits are. This is a huge computation.

A "succinct" proof is one where both the size of the proof and the time required to verify it grow much more slowly than the computation to be verified. If we want a "succinct" proof, we cannot require the verifier to do some work per round of hashing (because then the verification time would be proportional to the computation). Instead, the verifier must somehow check the whole computation without peeking into each individual piece of the computation.

One natural technique is random sampling: how about we just have the verifier peek into the computation in 500 different places, check that those parts are correct, and if all 500 checks pass then assume that the rest of the computation must with high probability be fine, too?

Such a procedure could even be turned into a non-interactive proof using the Fiat-Shamir heuristic: the prover computes a Merkle root of the computation, uses the Merkle root to pseudorandomly choose 500 indices, and provides the 500 corresponding Merkle branches of the data. The key idea is that the prover does not know which branches they will need to reveal until they have already "committed to" the data. If a malicious prover tries to fudge the data after learning which indices are going to be checked, that would change the Merkle root, which would result in a new set of random indices, which would require fudging the data again... trapping the malicious prover in an endless cycle.

But unfortunately there is a fatal flaw in naively applying random sampling to spot-check a computation in this way: computation is inherently fragile. If a malicious prover flips one bit somewhere in the middle of a computation, they can make it give a completely different result, and a random sampling verifier would almost never find out.


It only takes one deliberately inserted error, that a random check would almost never catch, to make a computation give a completely incorrect result.

If tasked with the problem of coming up with a zk-SNARK protocol, many people would make their way to this point and then get stuck and give up. How can a verifier possibly check every single piece of the computation, without looking at each piece of the computation individually? There is a clever solution.

see part 2

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Tim Soulo

Tim Soulo

2 months ago

Here is why 90.63% of Pages Get No Traffic From Google. 

The web adds millions or billions of pages per day.

How much Google traffic does this content get?

In 2017, we studied 2 million randomly-published pages to answer this question. Only 5.7% of them ranked in Google's top 10 search results within a year of being published.

94.3 percent of roughly two million pages got no Google traffic.

Two million pages is a small sample compared to the entire web. We did another study.

We analyzed over a billion pages to see how many get organic search traffic and why.

How many pages get search traffic?

90% of pages in our index get no Google traffic, and 5.2% get ten visits or less.

90% of google pages get no organic traffic

How can you join the minority that gets Google organic search traffic?

There are hundreds of SEO problems that can hurt your Google rankings. If we only consider common scenarios, there are only four.

Reason #1: No backlinks

I hate to repeat what most SEO articles say, but it's true:

Backlinks boost Google rankings.

Google's "top 3 ranking factors" include them.

Why don't we divide our studied pages by the number of referring domains?

66.31 percent of pages have no backlinks, and 26.29 percent have three or fewer.

Did you notice the trend already?

Most pages lack search traffic and backlinks.

But are these the same pages?

Let's compare monthly organic search traffic to backlinks from unique websites (referring domains):

More backlinks equals more Google organic traffic.

Referring domains and keyword rankings are correlated.

It's important to note that correlation does not imply causation, and none of these graphs prove backlinks boost Google rankings. Most SEO professionals agree that it's nearly impossible to rank on the first page without backlinks.

You'll need high-quality backlinks to rank in Google and get search traffic. 

Is organic traffic possible without links?

Here are the numbers:

Four million pages get organic search traffic without backlinks. Only one in 20 pages without backlinks has traffic, which is 5% of our sample.

Most get 300 or fewer organic visits per month.

What happens if we exclude high-Domain-Rating pages?

The numbers worsen. Less than 4% of our sample (1.4 million pages) receive organic traffic. Only 320,000 get over 300 monthly organic visits, or 0.1% of our sample.

This suggests high-authority pages without backlinks are more likely to get organic traffic than low-authority pages.

Internal links likely pass PageRank to new pages.

Two other reasons:

  1. Our crawler's blocked. Most shady SEOs block backlinks from us. This prevents competitors from seeing (and reporting) PBNs.

  2. They choose low-competition subjects. Low-volume queries are less competitive, requiring fewer backlinks to rank.

If the idea of getting search traffic without building backlinks excites you, learn about Keyword Difficulty and how to find keywords/topics with decent traffic potential and low competition.

Reason #2: The page has no long-term traffic potential.

Some pages with many backlinks get no Google traffic.

Why? I filtered Content Explorer for pages with no organic search traffic and divided them into four buckets by linking domains.

Almost 70k pages have backlinks from over 200 domains, but no search traffic.

By manually reviewing these (and other) pages, I noticed two general trends that explain why they get no traffic:

  1. They overdid "shady link building" and got penalized by Google;

  2. They're not targeting a Google-searched topic.

I won't elaborate on point one because I hope you don't engage in "shady link building"

#2 is self-explanatory:

If nobody searches for what you write, you won't get search traffic.

Consider one of our blog posts' metrics:

No organic traffic despite 337 backlinks from 132 sites.

The page is about "organic traffic research," which nobody searches for.

News articles often have this. They get many links from around the web but little Google traffic.

People can't search for things they don't know about, and most don't care about old events and don't search for them.


Note:

Some news articles rank in the "Top stories" block for relevant, high-volume search queries, generating short-term organic search traffic.

The Guardian's top "Donald Trump" story:

Ahrefs caught on quickly:

"Donald Trump" gets 5.6M monthly searches, so this page got a lot of "Top stories" traffic.

I bet traffic has dropped if you check now.


One of the quickest and most effective SEO wins is:

  1. Find your website's pages with the most referring domains;

  2. Do keyword research to re-optimize them for relevant topics with good search traffic potential.

Bryan Harris shared this "quick SEO win" during a course interview:

He suggested using Ahrefs' Site Explorer's "Best by links" report to find your site's most-linked pages and analyzing their search traffic. This finds pages with lots of links but little organic search traffic.

We see:

The guide has 67 backlinks but no organic traffic.

We could fix this by re-optimizing the page for "SERP"

A similar guide with 26 backlinks gets 3,400 monthly organic visits, so we should easily increase our traffic.

Don't do this with all low-traffic pages with backlinks. Choose your battles wisely; some pages shouldn't be ranked.

Reason #3: Search intent isn't met

Google returns the most relevant search results.

That's why blog posts with recommendations rank highest for "best yoga mat."

Google knows that most searchers aren't buying.

It's also why this yoga mats page doesn't rank, despite having seven times more backlinks than the top 10 pages:

The page ranks for thousands of other keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. Not being the "best yoga mat" isn't a big deal.

If you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic, re-optimizing them for search intent can be a quick SEO win.

It was originally a boring landing page describing our product's benefits and offering a 7-day trial.

We realized the problem after analyzing search intent.

People wanted a free tool, not a landing page.

In September 2018, we published a free tool at the same URL. Organic traffic and rankings skyrocketed.

Reason #4: Unindexed page

Google can’t rank pages that aren’t indexed.

If you think this is the case, search Google for site:[url]. You should see at least one result; otherwise, it’s not indexed.

A rogue noindex meta tag is usually to blame. This tells search engines not to index a URL.

Rogue canonicals, redirects, and robots.txt blocks prevent indexing.

Check the "Excluded" tab in Google Search Console's "Coverage" report to see excluded pages.

Google doesn't index broken pages, even with backlinks.

Surprisingly common.

In Ahrefs' Site Explorer, the Best by Links report for a popular content marketing blog shows many broken pages.

One dead page has 131 backlinks:

According to the URL, the page defined content marketing. —a keyword with a monthly search volume of 5,900 in the US.

Luckily, another page ranks for this keyword. Not a huge loss.

At least redirect the dead page's backlinks to a working page on the same topic. This may increase long-tail keyword traffic.


This post is a summary. See the original post here

Scott Stockdale

Scott Stockdale

2 months ago

A Day in the Life of Lex Fridman Can Help You Hit 6-Month Goals

Photo by Lex Fridman on YouTube

The Lex Fridman podcast host has interviewed Elon Musk.

Lex is a minimalist YouTuber. His videos are sloppy. Suits are his trademark.

In a video, he shares a typical day. I've smashed my 6-month goals using its ideas.

Here's his schedule.

Morning Mantra

Not woo-woo. Lex's mantra reflects his practicality.

Four parts.

Rulebook

"I remember the game's rules," he says.

Among them:

  • Sleeping 6–8 hours nightly

  • 1–3 times a day, he checks social media.

  • Every day, despite pain, he exercises. "I exercise uninjured body parts."

Visualize

He imagines his day. "Like Sims..."

He says three things he's grateful for and contemplates death.

"Today may be my last"

Objectives

Then he visualizes his goals. He starts big. Five-year goals.

Short-term goals follow. Lex says they're year-end goals.

Near but out of reach.

Principles

He lists his principles. Assertions. His goals.

He acknowledges his cliche beliefs. Compassion, empathy, and strength are key.

Here's my mantra routine:

Author-made screengrab

Four-Hour Deep Work

Lex begins a four-hour deep work session after his mantra routine. Today's toughest.

AI is Lex's specialty. His video doesn't explain what he does.

Clearly, he works hard.

Before starting, he has water, coffee, and a bathroom break.

"During deep work sessions, I minimize breaks."

He's distraction-free. Phoneless. Silence. Nothing. Any loose ideas are typed into a Google doc for later. He wants to work.

"Just get the job done. Don’t think about it too much and feel good once it’s complete." — Lex Fridman

30-Minute Social Media & Music

After his first deep work session, Lex rewards himself.

10 minutes on social media, 20 on music. Upload content and respond to comments in 10 minutes. 20 minutes for guitar or piano.

"In the real world, I’m currently single, but in the music world, I’m in an open relationship with this beautiful guitar. Open relationship because sometimes I cheat on her with the acoustic." — Lex Fridman

Two-hour exercise

Then exercise for two hours.

Daily runs six miles. Then he chooses how far to go. Run time is an hour.

He does bodyweight exercises. Every minute for 15 minutes, do five pull-ups and ten push-ups. It's David Goggins-inspired. He aims for an hour a day.

He's hungry. Before running, he takes a salt pill for electrolytes.

He'll then take a one-minute cold shower while listening to cheesy songs. Afterward, he might eat.

Four-Hour Deep Work

Lex's second work session.

He works 8 hours a day.

Again, zero distractions.

Eating

The video's meal doesn't look appetizing, but it's healthy.

It's ground beef with vegetables. Cauliflower is his "ground-floor" veggie. "Carrots are my go-to party food."

Lex's keto diet includes 1800–2000 calories.

He drinks a "nutrient-packed" Atheltic Greens shake and takes tablets. It's:

  • One daily tablet of sodium.

  • Magnesium glycinate tablets stopped his keto headaches.

  • Potassium — "For electrolytes"

  • Fish oil: healthy joints

“So much of nutrition science is barely a science… I like to listen to my own body and do a one-person, one-subject scientific experiment to feel good.” — Lex Fridman

Four-hour shallow session

This work isn't as mentally taxing.

Lex planned to:

  • Finish last session's deep work (about an hour)

  • Adobe Premiere podcasting (about two hours).

  • Email-check (about an hour). Three times a day max. First, check for emergencies.

If he's sick, he may watch Netflix or YouTube documentaries or visit friends.

“The possibilities of chaos are wide open, so I can do whatever the hell I want.” — Lex Fridman

Two-hour evening reading

Nonstop work.

Lex ends the day reading academic papers for an hour. "Today I'm skimming two machine learning and neuroscience papers"

This helps him "think beyond the paper."

He reads for an hour.

“When I have a lot of energy, I just chill on the bed and read… When I’m feeling tired, I jump to the desk…” — Lex Fridman


Takeaways

Lex's day-in-the-life video is inspiring.

He has positive energy and works hard every day.

Schedule:

  • Mantra Routine includes rules, visualizing, goals, and principles.

  • Deep Work Session #1: Four hours of focus.

  • 10 minutes social media, 20 minutes guitar or piano. "Music brings me joy"

  • Six-mile run, then bodyweight workout. Two hours total.

  • Deep Work #2: Four hours with no distractions. Google Docs stores random thoughts.

  • Lex supplements his keto diet.

  • This four-hour session is "open to chaos."

  • Evening reading: academic papers followed by fiction.

"I value some things in life. Work is one. The other is loving others. With those two things, life is great." — Lex Fridman

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 month ago

How Much I Got Paid by YouTube for a 68 Million Views Video

My nameless, faceless channel case study

Photo by Sanni Sahil on Unsplash

The Numbers

I anonymize this YouTube channel.

It's in a trendy, crowded niche. Sharing it publicly will likely enhance competition.

I'll still share my dashboard numbers:

YouTube

A year ago, the video was released.

YouTubeYouTube

What I earned

I'll stop stalling. Here's a screenshot of my YouTube statistics page displaying Adsense profits.

YouTube

YouTube Adsense made me ZERO dollars.

OMG!

How is this possible?

YouTube Adsense can't monetize my niche. This is typical in faceless niches like TikTok's rain videos. If they were started a while ago, I'm sure certain rain accounts are monetized, but not today.

I actually started a soothing sounds faceless YouTube channel. This was another account of mine.

I looped Pexels films for hours. No background music, just wind, rain, etc.

People could watch these videos to relax or get ready for bed. They're ideal for background noise and relaxation.

They're long-lasting, too. It's easy to make a lot from YouTube Adsense if you insert ads.

Anyway, I tried to monetize it and couldn’t. This was about a year ago. That’s why I doubt new accounts in this genre would be able to get approved for ads.

Back to my faceless channel with 68 million views.

I received nothing from YouTube Adsense, but I made money elsewhere.

Getting paid by the gods of affiliate marketing

Place links in the video and other videos on the channel to get money. Visitors that buy through your affiliate link earn you a commission.

This video earned many clicks on my affiliate links.

I linked to a couple of Amazon products, a YouTube creator tool, my kofi link, and my subscribe link.

Sponsorships

Brands pay you to include ads in your videos.

This video led to many sponsorships.

I've done dozens of sponsorship campaigns that paid $40 to $50 for an end screen to $450 for a preroll ad.

Last word

Overall, I made less than $3,000.

If I had time, I'd be more proactive with sponsorships. You can pitch brand sponsorships. This actually works.

I'd do that if I could rewind time.

I still can, but I think the reaction rate would be higher closer to the viral video's premiere date.