Understanding Bitcoin Mining – The New Currency Frontier
Understanding Bitcoin Mining – The New Currency Frontier
Bitcoin Mining for Dummies - How Bitcoins are Mined ...
Bitcoin: A Simple Explanation
What Is Bitcoin: Explanation for Beginners in Simple Terms ...
What is Bitcoin Mining and How Does it Work? (2020 Updated)
New to Bitcoin? Confused? Need help? You've come to the right place.
Bitcoin is an internet based decentralised currency. Similarly to Bittorrent, but Bitcoin uses a public ledger called the blockchain to record who has sent and received money. It's very new, and for many very confusing. BitcoinHelp aims to rectify this. Whether it be explaining how it works, how to use it, how to buy Bitcoins, how to integrate Bitcoins into your business. Sharing your successes as well as failures in order to help others is also gladly received. Ask away!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ0OzrkHvXA I made this video to try and explain how Mining really works in as simple terms as possible. I did some quick coding at the end to show how a you could try mining your own blocks if you wanted to. I hope it all makes sense, and that I didn't move too quickly.
Why Osana takes so long? (Programmer's point of view on current situation)
I decided to write a comment about «Why Osana takes so long?» somewhere and what can be done to shorten this time. It turned into a long essay. Here's TL;DR of it:
The cost of never paying down this technical debt is clear; eventually the cost to deliver functionality will become so slow that it is easy for a well-designed competitive software product to overtake the badly-designed software in terms of features. In my experience, badly designed software can also lead to a more stressed engineering workforce, in turn leading higher staff churn (which in turn affects costs and productivity when delivering features). Additionally, due to the complexity in a given codebase, the ability to accurately estimate work will also disappear. Junade Ali, Mastering PHP Design Patterns (2016)
Longer version: I am not sure if people here wanted an explanation from a real developer who works with C and with relatively large projects, but I am going to do it nonetheless. I am not much interested in Yandere Simulator nor in this genre in general, but this particular development has a lot to learn from for any fellow programmers and software engineers to ensure that they'll never end up in Alex's situation, especially considering that he is definitely not the first one to got himself knee-deep in the development hell (do you remember Star Citizen?) and he is definitely not the last one. On the one hand, people see that Alex works incredibly slowly, equivalent of, like, one hour per day, comparing it with, say, Papers, Please, the game that was developed in nine months from start to finish by one guy. On the other hand, Alex himself most likely thinks that he works until complete exhaustion each day. In fact, I highly suspect that both those sentences are correct! Because of the mistakes made during early development stages, which are highly unlikely to be fixed due to the pressure put on the developer right now and due to his overall approach to coding, cost to add any relatively large feature (e.g. Osana) can be pretty much comparable to the cost of creating a fan game from start to finish. Trust me, I've seen his leaked source code (don't tell anybody about that) and I know what I am talking about. The largest problem in Yandere Simulator right now is its super slow development. So, without further ado, let's talk about how «implementing the low hanging fruit» crippled the development and, more importantly, what would have been an ideal course of action from my point of view to get out. I'll try to explain things in the easiest terms possible.
else if's and lack any sort of refactoring in general
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is why refactoring — activity of rewriting your old code so it does the same thing, but does it quicker, in a more generic way, in less lines or simpler — is so powerful. In my experience, you can only keep one module/class/whatever in your brain if it does not exceed ~1000 lines, maybe ~1500. Splitting 17000-line-long class into smaller classes probably won't improve performance at all, but it will make working with parts of this class way easier. Is it too late now to start refactoring? Of course NO: better late than never.
If you think that you wrote this code, so you'll always easily remember it, I have some bad news for you: you won't. In my experience, one week and that's it. That's why comments are so crucial. It is not necessary to put a ton of comments everywhere, but just a general idea will help you out in the future. Even if you think that It Just Works™ and you'll never ever need to fix it. Time spent to write and debug one line of code almost always exceeds time to write one comment in large-scale projects. Moreover, the best code is the code that is self-evident. In the example above, what the hell does (float) 6 mean? Why not wrap it around into the constant with a good, self-descriptive name? Again, it won't affect performance, since C# compiler is smart enough to silently remove this constant from the real code and place its value into the method invocation directly. Such constants are here for you. I rewrote my code above a little bit to illustrate this. With those comments, you don't have to remember your code at all, since its functionality is outlined in two tiny lines of comments above it. Moreover, even a person with zero knowledge in programming will figure out the purpose of this code. It took me less than half a minute to write those comments, but it'll probably save me quite a lot of time of figuring out «what was I thinking back then» one day. Is it too late now to start adding comments? Again, of course NO. Don't be lazy and redirect all your typing from «debunk» page (which pretty much does the opposite of debunking, but who am I to judge you here?) into some useful comments.
This is often neglected, but consider the following. You wrote some code, you ran your game, you saw a new bug. Was it introduced right now? Is it a problem in your older code which has shown up just because you have never actually used it until now? Where should you search for it? You have no idea, and you have one painful debugging session ahead. Just imagine how easier it would be if you've had some routines which automatically execute after each build and check that environment is still sane and nothing broke on a fundamental level. This is called unit testing, and yes, unit tests won't be able to catch all your bugs, but even getting 20% of bugs identified at the earlier stage is a huge boon to development speed. Is it too late now to start adding unit tests? Kinda YES and NO at the same time. Unit testing works best if it covers the majority of project's code. On the other side, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you decide to start refactoring your code, writing a unit test before refactoring will help you to prove to yourself that you have not broken anything without the need of running the game at all.
This is basically pretty self-explanatory. You set this thing once, you forget about it. Static code analyzer is another «free estate» to speed up the development process by finding tiny little errors, mostly silly typos (do you think that you are good enough in finding them? Well, good luck catching x << 4; in place of x <<= 4; buried deep in C code by eye!). Again, this is not a silver bullet, it is another tool which will help you out with debugging a little bit along with the debugger, unit tests and other things. You need every little bit of help here. Is it too late now to hook up static code analyzer? Obviously NO.
Say, you want to build Osana, but then you decided to implement some feature, e.g. Snap Mode. By doing this you have maybe made your game a little bit better, but what you have just essentially done is complicated your life, because now you should also write Osana code for Snap Mode. The way game architecture is done right now, easter eggs code is deeply interleaved with game logic, which leads to code «spaghettifying», which in turn slows down the addition of new features, because one has to consider how this feature would work alongside each and every old feature and easter egg. Even if it is just gazing over one line per easter egg, it adds up to the mess, slowly but surely. A lot of people mention that developer should have been doing it in object-oritented way. However, there is no silver bullet in programming. It does not matter that much if you are doing it object-oriented way or usual procedural way; you can theoretically write, say, AI routines on functional (e.g. LISP)) or even logical language if you are brave enough (e.g. Prolog). You can even invent your own tiny programming language! The only thing that matters is code quality and avoiding the so-called shotgun surgery situation, which plagues Yandere Simulator from top to bottom right now. Is there a way of adding a new feature without interfering with your older code (e.g. by creating a child class which will encapsulate all the things you need, for example)? Go for it, this feature is basically «free» for you. Otherwise you'd better think twice before doing this, because you are going into the «technical debt» territory, borrowing your time from the future by saying «I'll maybe optimize it later» and «a thousand more lines probably won't slow me down in the future that much, right?». Technical debt will incur interest on its own that you'll have to pay. Basically, the entire situation around Osana right now is just a huge tale about how just «interest» incurred by technical debt can control the entire project, like the tail wiggling the dog. I won't elaborate here further, since it'll take me an even larger post to fully describe what's wrong about Yandere Simulator's code architecture. Is it too late to rebuild code architecture? Sadly, YES, although it should be possible to split Student class into descendants by using hooks for individual students. However, code architecture can be improved by a vast margin if you start removing easter eggs and features like Snap Mode that currently bloat Yandere Simulator. I know it is going to be painful, but it is the only way to improve code quality here and now. This will simplify the code, and this will make it easier for you to add the «real» features, like Osana or whatever you'd like to accomplish. If you'll ever want them back, you can track them down in Git history and re-implement them one by one, hopefully without performing the shotgun surgery this time.
Again, I won't be talking about the performance, since you can debug your game on 20 FPS as well as on 60 FPS, but this is a very different story. Yandere Simulator is huge. Once you fixed a bug, you want to test it, right? And your workflow right now probably looks like this:
Fix the code (unavoidable time loss)
Rebuild the project (can take a loooong time)
Load your game (can take a loooong time)
Test it (unavoidable time loss, unless another bug has popped up via unit testing, code analyzer etc.)
And you can fix it. For instance, I know that Yandere Simulator makes all the students' photos during loading. Why should that be done there? Why not either move it to project building stage by adding build hook so Unity does that for you during full project rebuild, or, even better, why not disable it completely or replace with «PLACEHOLDER» text for debug builds? Each second spent watching the loading screen will be rightfully interpreted as «son is not coding» by the community. Is it too late to reduce loading times? Hell NO.
Or any other continuous integration tool. «Rebuild a project» can take a long time too, and what can we do about that? Let me give you an idea. Buy a new PC. Get a 32-core Threadripper, 32 GB of fastest RAM you can afford and a cool motherboard which would support all of that (of course, Ryzen/i5/Celeron/i386/Raspberry Pi is fine too, but the faster, the better). The rest is not necessary, e.g. a barely functional second hand video card burned out by bitcoin mining is fine. You set up another PC in your room. You connect it to your network. You set up ramdisk to speed things up even more. You properly set up Jenkins) on this PC. From now on, Jenkins cares about the rest: tracking your Git repository, (re)building process, large and time-consuming unit tests, invoking static code analyzer, profiling, generating reports and whatever else you can and want to hook up. More importantly, you can fix another bug while Jenkins is rebuilding the project for the previous one et cetera. In general, continuous integration is a great technology to quickly track down errors that were introduced in previous versions, attempting to avoid those kinds of bug hunting sessions. I am highly unsure if continuous integration is needed for 10000-20000 source lines long projects, but things can be different as soon as we step into the 100k+ territory, and Yandere Simulator by now has approximately 150k+ source lines of code. I think that probably continuous integration might be well worth it for Yandere Simulator. Is it too late to add continuous integration?NO, albeit it is going to take some time and skills to set up.
Stop caring about the criticism
Stop comparing Alex to Scott Cawton. IMO Alex is very similar to the person known as SgtMarkIV, the developer of Brutal Doom, who is also a notorious edgelord who, for example, also once told somebody to kill himself, just like… However, being a horrible person, SgtMarkIV does his job. He simply does not care much about public opinion. That's the difference.
New England New England 6 States Songs: https://www.reddit.com/newengland/comments/er8wxd/new_england_6_states_songs/ NewEnglandcoin Symbol: NENG NewEnglandcoin is a clone of Bitcoin using scrypt as a proof-of-work algorithm with enhanced features to protect against 51% attack and decentralize on mining to allow diversified mining rigs across CPUs, GPUs, ASICs and Android phones. Mining Algorithm: Scrypt with RandomSpike. RandomSpike is 3rd generation of Dynamic Difficulty (DynDiff) algorithm on top of scrypt. 1 minute block targets base difficulty reset: every 1440 blocks subsidy halves in 2.1m blocks (~ 2 to 4 years) 84,000,000,000 total maximum NENG 20000 NENG per block Pre-mine: 1% - reserved for dev fund ICO: None RPCPort: 6376 Port: 6377 NewEnglandcoin has dogecoin like supply at 84 billion maximum NENG. This huge supply insures that NENG is suitable for retail transactions and daily use. The inflation schedule of NengEnglandcoin is actually identical to that of Litecoin. Bitcoin and Litecoin are already proven to be great long term store of value. The Litecoin-like NENG inflation schedule will make NewEnglandcoin ideal for long term investment appreciation as the supply is limited and capped at a fixed number Bitcoin Fork - Suitable for Home Hobbyists NewEnglandcoin core wallet continues to maintain version tag of "Satoshi v0.8.7.5" because NewEnglandcoin is very much an exact clone of bitcoin plus some mining feature changes with DynDiff algorithm. NewEnglandcoin is very suitable as lite version of bitcoin for educational purpose on desktop mining, full node running and bitcoin programming using bitcoin-json APIs. The NewEnglandcoin (NENG) mining algorithm original upgrade ideas were mainly designed for decentralization of mining rigs on scrypt, which is same algo as litecoin/dogecoin. The way it is going now is that NENG is very suitable for bitcoin/litecoin/dogecoin hobbyists who can not , will not spend huge money to run noisy ASIC/GPU mining equipments, but still want to mine NENG at home with quiet simple CPU/GPU or with a cheap ASIC like FutureBit Moonlander 2 USB or Apollo pod on solo mining setup to obtain very decent profitable results. NENG allows bitcoin litecoin hobbyists to experience full node running, solo mining, CPU/GPU/ASIC for a fun experience at home at cheap cost without breaking bank on equipment or electricity. MIT Free Course - 23 lectures about Bitcoin, Blockchain and Finance (Fall,2018) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUl4u3cNGP63UUkfL0onkxF6MYgVa04Fn CPU Minable Coin Because of dynamic difficulty algorithm on top of scrypt, NewEnglandcoin is CPU Minable. Users can easily set up full node for mining at Home PC or Mac using our dedicated cheetah software. Research on the first forked 50 blocks on v1.2.0 core confirmed that ASIC/GPU miners mined 66% of 50 blocks, CPU miners mined the remaining 34%. NENG v1.4.0 release enabled CPU mining inside android phones. Youtube Video Tutorial How to CPU Mine NewEnglandcoin (NENG) in Windows 10 Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdOoPvAjzlE How to CPU Mine NewEnglandcoin (NENG) in Windows 10 Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHnRJvJRzZg How to CPU Mine NewEnglandcoin (NENG) in macOS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj7NLMeNSOQ Decentralization and Community Driven NewEnglandcoin is a decentralized coin just like bitcoin. There is no boss on NewEnglandcoin. Nobody nor the dev owns NENG. We know a coin is worth nothing if there is no backing from community. Therefore, we as dev do not intend to make decision on this coin solely by ourselves. It is our expectation that NewEnglandcoin community will make majority of decisions on direction of this coin from now on. We as dev merely view our-self as coin creater and technical support of this coin while providing NENG a permanent home at ShorelineCrypto Exchange. Twitter Airdrop Follow NENG twitter and receive 100,000 NENG on Twitter Airdrop to up to 1000 winners Graphic Redesign Bounty Top one award: 90.9 million NENG Top 10 Winners: 500,000 NENG / person Event Timing: March 25, 2019 - Present Event Address: NewEnglandcoin DISCORD at: https://discord.gg/UPeBwgs Please complete above Twitter Bounty requirement first. Then follow Below Steps to qualify for the Bounty: (1) Required: submit your own designed NENG logo picture in gif, png jpg or any other common graphic file format into DISCORD "bounty-submission" board (2) Optional: submit a second graphic for logo or any other marketing purposes into "bounty-submission" board. (3) Complete below form. Please limit your submission to no more than two total. Delete any wrongly submitted or undesired graphics in the board. Contact DISCORD u/honglu69#5911 or u/krypton#6139 if you have any issues. Twitter Airdrop/Graphic Redesign bounty sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/L0vcwmVi8c76cR7m1 Milestones
Sep 3, 2018 - Genesis block was mined, NewEnglandcoin created
Sep 8, 2018 - github source uploaded, Window wallet development work started
Sep 11,2018 - Window Qt Graphic wallet completed
Sep 12,2018 - NewEnglandcoin Launched in both Bitcointalk forum and Marinecoin forum
Sep 14,2018 - NewEnglandcoin is listed at ShorelineCrypto Exchange
Sep 17,2018 - Block Explorer is up
Nov 23,2018 - New Source/Wallet Release v1.1.1 - Enabled Dynamic Addjustment on Mining Hashing Difficulty
Nov 28,2018 - NewEnglandcoin became CPU minable coin
Nov 30,2018 - First Retail Real Life usage for NewEnglandcoin Announced
Dec 28,2018 - Cheetah_Cpuminer under Linux is released
Dec 31,2018 - NENG Technical Whitepaper is released
Jan 2,2019 - Cheetah_Cpuminer under Windows is released
Jan 12,2019 - NENG v1.1.2 is released to support MacOS GUI CLI Wallet
Jan 13,2019 - Cheetah_CpuMiner under Mac is released
Feb 11,2019 - NewEnglandcoin v1.2.0 Released, Anti-51% Attack, Anti-instant Mining after Hard Fork
Mar 16,2019 - NewEnglandcoin v22.214.171.124 Released - Ubuntu 18.04 Wallet Binary Files
Apr 7, 2019 - NENG Report on Security, Decentralization, Valuation
Apr 21, 2019 - NENG Fiat Project is Launched by ShorelineCrypto
Sep 1, 2019 - Shoreline Tradingbot project is Launched by ShorelineCrypto
Dec 19, 2019 - Shoreline Tradingbot v1.0 is Released by ShorelineCrypto
Jan 30, 2020 - Scrypt RandomSpike - NENG v1.3.0 Hardfork Proposed
Feb 24, 2020 - Scrypt RandomSpike - NENG core v1.3.0 Released
Jun 19, 2020 - Linux scripts for Futurebit Moonlander2 USB ASIC on solo mining Released
Jul 15, 2020 - NENG v1.4.0 Released for Android Mining and Ubuntu 20.04 support
Jul 21, 2020 - NENG v126.96.36.199 Released for MacOS Wallet Upgrade with Catalina
Jul 30, 2020 - NENG v188.8.131.52 Released for Linux Wallet Upgrade with 8 Distros
Aug 11, 2020 - NENG v184.108.40.206 Released for Android arm64 Upgrade, Chromebook Support
Aug 30, 2020 - NENG v220.127.116.11 Released for Android/Chromebook with armhf, better hardware support
2018 Q3 - Birth of NewEnglandcoin, window/linux wallet - Done
2018 Q4 - Decentralization Phase I
Blockchain Upgrade - Dynamic hashing algorithm I - Done
Cheetah Version I- CPU Mining Automation Tool on Linux - Done
2019 Q1 - Decentralization Phase II
Cheetah Version II- CPU Mining Automation Tool on Window/Linux - Done
Blockchain Upgrade Dynamic hashing algorithm II - Done
2019 Q2 - Fiat Phase I
Assessment of Risk of 51% Attack on NENG - done
Launch of Fiat USD/NENG offering for U.S. residents - done
Initiation of Mobile Miner Project - Done
2019 Q3 - Shoreline Tradingbot, Mobile Project
Evaluation and planning of Mobile Miner Project - on Hold
Initiation of Trading Bot Project - Done
2019 Q4 - Shoreline Tradingbot
Shoreline tradingbot Release v1.0 - Done
2020 Q1 - Evaluate NENG core, Mobile Wallet Phase I
NENG core Decentralization Security Evaluation for v1.3.x - Done
Light Mobile Wallet Project Initiation, Evaluation
2020 Q2 - NENG Core, Mobile Wallet Phase II
NENG core Decentralization Security Hardfork on v1.3.x - Scrypt RandomSpike
Light Mobile Wallet Project Design, Coding
2020 Q3 - NENG core, NENG Mobile Wallet Phase II
Review on results of v1.3.x, NENG core Dev Decision on v1.4.x, Hardfork If needed
Light Mobile Wallet Project testing, alpha Release
2020 Q4 - Mobile Wallet Phase III
Light Mobile Wallet Project Beta Release
Light Mobile Wallet Server Deployment Evaluation and Decision
What is really happening in the bitcoin mining process?
April 30, 2020 | There’s more than just the sound of thousands of vacuums It is very easy to just silo the arcane bitcoin mining process as just a bunch of machines computing mathematical algorithms. Although for the most part this is true, and the veracity of this is not far off from the real truth, but what we see on the surface is not identical to what we see below the surface. Understanding bitcoin mining goes beyond the USB enabled ASIC miners we are accustomed to see on every thumbnail article we come across related to this industry. It’s easy to understand why newbies halt their understanding of bitcoin mining to just state-of-the-art supercomputers with cool flickering neon green lights. The following below is taken from the masterpiece of a novel, “Mastering Bitcoin”, by the great Andreas Antonopolous. As elegant as it sounds, its best to restate Andreas’ explanation of emergent consensus. “Satoshi Nakamoto’s main invention is the decentralized mechanism for emergent consensus. Emergent, because consensus is not achieved explicitly — there is no election or fixed moment when consensus occurs. Instead, consensus is an emergent artifact of the asynchronous interaction of thousands of independent nodes, all following simple rules. All the properties of bitcoin, including currency, transactions, payments, and the security model that does not depend on central authority or trust, derive from this invention. Bitcoin’s decentralized consensus emerges from the interplay of four processes that occur independently on nodes across the network:
Independent verification of each transaction, by every full node, based on a comprehensive list of criteria
Independent aggregation of those transactions into new blocks by mining nodes, coupled with demonstrated computation through a proof-of-work algorithm
Independent verification of the new blocks by every node and assembly into a chain
Independent selection, by every node, of the chain with the most cumulative computation demonstrated through proof of work”
The following is a scenario taken from the book as well which excellently demonstrates what is going on with a mining node and its corresponding connected miner machine: “A mining node is listening for transactions, trying to mine a new block and also listening for blocks discovered by other nodes. The arrival of this block signifies the end of the competition for block 277,315 and the beginning of the competition to create block 277,316. During the previous 10 minutes, while Jing’s node was searching for a solution to block 277,315, it was also collecting transactions in preparation for the next block. By now it has collected a few hundred transactions in the memory pool. Upon receiving block 277,315 and validating it, Jing’s node will also check all the transactions in the memory pool and remove any that were included in block 277,315. Whatever transactions remain in the memory pool are unconfirmed and are waiting to be recorded in a new block. Jing’s node immediately constructs a new empty block, a candidate for block 277,316. This block is called a candidate block because it is not yet a valid block, as it does not contain a valid proof of work. The block becomes valid only if the miner succeeds in finding a solution to the proof-of-work algorithm. These specialized machines are connected to his mining node over USB. Next, the mining node running on Jing’s desktop transmits the block header to his mining hardware, which starts testing trillions of nonces per second.” That is essentially the process of what a miner machine and a mining node is going through each every second it is hooked up to the network. Of course this is just a high level overview with a bland taste but one could go more in depth by reading the book mentioned. Source: 1.Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies 1st Edition, by Andreas M. Antonopoulos, O’Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 20, 2014)
[Table] IAmA dark web expert, investigative journalist and true crime author. I’ve met dark web kingpins in far flung prisons and delved the murky depths of child predator forums. I’ve written six books and over a dozen Casefile podcast episodes. AMA (part 1/2)
Source | Guestbook Note: Some answers were repetitive, but were not edited out.
Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..." Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself?
I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.
As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.
I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)
the below is a reply to the above
Why did homeland security want to talk to you?
They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else
Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work. Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible?
I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.
One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy
the below is a reply to the above
But how does everyone participate in those illegal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illegal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught?
they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.
I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there
Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc. As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be. Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing?
I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.
I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course). I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail. Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks.
It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.
Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withhold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children
the below is another reply to the original answer
So daisy's destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth
Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.
The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.
However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative!
I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.
An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled
How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks!
I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.
I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quickly change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!
How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort?
There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.
The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead
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By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies.
FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia. Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead
What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that AREN'T all shady and nefarious?
We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.
Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.
Other than that, there are just forums, where you don't have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something
After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point? Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide? I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts.
I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not fazed by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.
I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.
For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.
One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)
I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldn't imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point.
I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.
When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)
What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you?
By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.
It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.
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Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!
are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible...
The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!
There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death
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The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually...
I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere
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Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity?
A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog
Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing! I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics?
I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.
As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through
Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive?
I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.
I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)
Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all.
DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)
Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ?
So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.
One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.
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Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins?
His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial
The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows
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Book/movie clubs on the silk road?
Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time
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Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question?
They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night
You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done.
lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy
What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online?
I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.
Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer
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You're doing the Good Work my man. I'd give you one of those awards if i knew how
What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe?
It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.
If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernames and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.
If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.
Has Covid affected the Dark Web in any real way? Also I just read through all of the post comments, what incredible story’s. I would totally buy a book about the Silk Road or Yaru!
re covid on the dark web, here's some notes I made for an interview I did recently:
* when Trump first hyped hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19, drug dealers on the dark web seized on the claim.
* Listings quickly popped up on the most popular darknet markets
* A vendor on Whitehouse Market sells 100 Pills for $90, calling it a “Miracle Drug For Coronavirus” and suggesting buyers purchase in bulk to sell at a mark-up locally.
* Another makes the dubious claim “This drug will help people to beat Corona Virus” There are 11 listings on Empire Market currently, although more than half are from the one seller, who is a well-known and trusted vendor on the site.
* There were also people claiming to be selling infected blood or plasma of recovered COVID victims
* The infected blood stuff is just bullshit IMO Just because something is listed doesn’t mean it is genuinely for sale
* There's been some claims to be selling vaccines
* At the beginning there were also loads of listings for PPE
* some just used it as a marketing tactic - “fight off the virus with edible cannabis” or “relax with Xanax” and others as an excuse to raise their prices
* However, sales are low compared to sales of other drugs on the site, so it is difficult to say whether it’s something that will really catch on
* It didn’t take long for complaints to come in and market owners to clamp down on anything claiming to be a miracle cure or vaccine
* users were discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic and requested markets provide health and safety information
* All the major markets forbid anything being sold as a cure for COVID. They flagged keywords and vendors would be told to take any listings down. They also put out PSAs telling people not to buy
* Monopoly: threatened to ban and.. “You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet - under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle already questionable goods”
* It was a business decision. They don’t want anything that will attract attention or that might cause desperate people who wouldn’t normally use the DNMs to find their way there
* The idea behind DNMs generally is educated and responsible drug use. They really don’t want people dying - bad publicity and no repeat custom
* However the dark web is rife with scammers and people willing to prey on the desperate so there are still scams out there
* The only way I could ever see it becoming a thing is if there is a well-known potential cure/vaccine that is not being made widely available and could plausibly find its way onto the black market
Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you.
I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey
Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back?
i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly
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To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios?
Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.
I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there
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Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits?
Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.
As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.
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Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt.
Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)
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More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there?
It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D
Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt? I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."
No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining
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I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"?
It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.
The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)
I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite?
After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive
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Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him.
Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.
And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong
Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you
Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage
As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author?
I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.
I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.
I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget
is it true that most of the internet is in the "dark web"? if so about how much percent is it?
By far the biggest myth is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.
The statement that 90% (or thereabouts) of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.
The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.
The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.
Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist. Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web?
There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.
(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web
What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away. did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program? what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke. are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76
1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place
2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him
3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots in hell
4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!
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Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama. Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop.
I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)
This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc? If yes, what was the most memorable bit?
There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts
I have Insomnia so I summoned The Sandman to help me sleep.
NoSleep. Ironically, I am posting this to NoSleep. You are here to read stories so scary that they will keep you up all night, I am here because I can’t fucking sleep. I haven’t slept in 3 days, and I can’t even remember the last time I got real sleep. The kind where you go to sleep and stay asleep. The kind where you naturally drift off to a relaxing sleep and not your body forcibly shutting itself down against its own will. So I am sorry if I ramble some, but I can’t help but laugh at the irony of this being on no sleep. Is that funny to you too, or just to me because I am too tired to be rational? I have real insomnia. The kind where people think you are insane, and to be honest, they aren’t wrong. I have had it since I was in college, but it has only gotten worse and worse. I can't even remember the last time I slept. Wait? I told you that already. I’ve been to a sleep specialist. I’ve been on every sleeping pill you can think of. Melatonin, no caffeine, no naps, Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, silenor, antidepressants, Seroquel, Ativan, benzos, you name it, I have taken more than they recommended. Still no relief or sleep. I know, you are not reading this to read the ramblings of a madman who hasn’t slept in days. You are here because you want a scary story. I’ve got one for you. I think it is real. To be honest, when you haven’t had a real night's sleep in months, dreams and reality start to become one big blur. The story starts about 6 months ago, maybe? It was still winter and the virus was not a big deal yet. I remember that much for sure. I had been up for days when a commercial came on for an over the phone psychic reading. If a doctor couldn’t help, maybe a spiritual advisor could. No, I didn’t need a psychic, what I needed was a hypnotist. You have seen them before, they can just snap their fingers and you fall asleep instantly! This is the answer to all of my prayers. It was a scam. They had me lay down and close my eyes, then they softly started talking while I tuned out. When I woke up, she said when I go to sleep at night to relax and listen to a youtube channel that softly plays music and tells you to relax. It didn’t work at all except that every time I listen to soft background music I get the strong urge to make a grilled cheese sandwich, which is weird because I had not had one since I was maybe 9. I think she just hypnotized me to crave grilled cheese. She probably invests in the Big Cheese Industry and makes money by making people crave grilled cheese. What a waste of money. So much for that idea. The next night I still couldn’t sleep. I decided to watch my feel-good movie: Back to the Future. During the movie, Marty goes back in time to 1955 and there is a part where a song comes on, you hear the unmistakable BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUMMMMMMM! MR. SANDMAN! BRING ME A DREAM! (That song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I’m not sorry.) When I heard the song, I started to boil over in rage. Maybe it was from the lack of sleep, or maybe I am just insane, but I picked up the remote and threw it into the LED screen breaking the tv. I screamed, “THAT IS THE MOTHER FUCKER WHO HAS CURSED ME! THE FUCKING SANDMAN! I AM GOING TO FIND HIM AND KILL HIM!” This went on for longer than I am willing to admit, but you get the point. The Sandman was my enemy. The one who is supposed to deliver us into sleep every night had decided to stop visiting me. What had I ever done to him to make him skip me every night not allowing me to sleep? The Sandman was to blame. The Sandman was going to have to answer for these wrongs. I was determined to find a way to confront him and give him a piece of my mind. I just had to figure out how the hell you could find or trap it. At this point, I don't care if The Sandman is God himself, I was going to find him.. I thought about it for a while and decided based on movies and books, the way to call a god to you is to summon it. Sounds simple enough, Let’s do it. Another long story short, putting candles in a circle and yelling I SUMMON YOU SANDMAN! Doesn’t work. Again, I was back on the internet looking for someone to help me. After talking to someone I was given the email of an African Witch Doctor named Mrs. Fatima. I emailed her and she agreed to help me if I send her bitcoin. She even offered to come out for more money, but screw that, I can do it myself. Why the hell does everything have to be so difficult? Can’t people just take a credit card like the rest of the world? Always extra steps for some weird-ass digital currency crap. Screw it, I am willing to try anything at this point. I sent her the bitcoin. Whatever the hell that is. It is expensive, I can tell you that much. After she got the money, she replied to my email with detailed instructions and a warning. She could help me summon The Sandman, but advised against it. Summoning a dead person is dangerous, summoning a demon is disastrous, summing a God is deadly. I thought about it for less than a moment and decided to do it. What is the worst that can happen? I die and am in an endless uninterrupted sleep for eternity? Sounds like heaven to me. Under her instructions, I waited until 2 am the following night. You can do it anytime, but the barrier between the spirit realm and the mortal world is the thinnest in the early morning hours when people are sleeping. She advised to go somewhere secluded like in the middle of the woods since it would be desolated and more likely to work. I am doing it in my bedroom, it gets the same amount of girls in it as a desolated forest. Lucky for me, I also need the blood of a virgin, so I got that covered too! Just joking, I don’t need blood. The first thing I needed to do was draw a large circle in chalk. The circle had to be complete and above all else, not broken. The circle is the doorway between realms, if it was not complete it would not work. It also acts as an invisible wall to keep the spirit contained once you summon it. Keep the circle complete at all times. I drew a circle on my hardwood floor. Easy. The next step was to light 5 red candles drawing a pentagram star. They have to be red because the devil is red and we are practicing devil magic, that’s my explanation, not hers. Inside the circle, I was to fill it with sand. If you are summoning The Sandman, you need sand? That was all I needed. Some chalk, candles, a secluded spot, and sand. I was closer than I thought earlier. Next, the hard part, summoning a god. The first step is to clear your mind and meditate. Most people have a hard time with this, but I have been meditating for years. They said it would help me sleep, it doesn’t. Don’t waste your time. The next step is to concentrate on the circle, opening the pathway in your mind. Like imagining it disappearing or opening it like a door? When your mind is clear, envision the one you are summoning. Do I just imagine what I think he looks like in my head? It’ll have to work. When you feel the energy start to peak, only then can you summon the spirit into the realm. Call out to the spirit you desire and demand it’s presence. Do not ask. Demand it. This is your world and you must stay in control at all times. If you give up control, the spirit will be able to take control and possibly hurt or kill you. If you do everything right, you will have summoned the spirit. Let’s do this. I have a bone to pick with that asshole Sandman. The circle is drawn, the candles are lit, and sand is in the circle. I turned off the lights for good measure, it wasn’t in the instructions, but it makes for a better dramatic effect. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind. I imagined the circle in my mind as an empty white space, a void, a door, then I imagined a portal like in the video game with a blue glowing loop. Next, I imagined The Sandman. Was he a human figure who carried sand, or a God made of sand? I kept trying back and forth, and everything in between before I finally settled on a spirit outlined in the sand. I held my concentration on The Sandman and the opening of the portal. It felt like nothing was happening when suddenly everything changed. My eyes were shut but I could feel the energy start to build in the room. It felt like a strong storm was blowing on the outside of the house. I couldn’t physically feel the force, but I could feel the pressure growing and growing. Finally, I felt the energy reach its crescendo like something was trying to push itself through the circle into my room. It’s time to open the gate. “I OPEN THE PATHWAY AND DEMAND YOUR PRESENCE SANDMAN! THE DOOR IS OPEN AND I ORDER YOU TO APPEAR BEFORE ME! I felt resistance trying to pull energy back from the door, not wanting to obey. “SANDMAN! APPEAR BEFORE ME NOW!” The energy in the room seemed to explode out of the circle. I opened my eyes to see the sand turning in a tornado inside the circle high above my head. I gasped in shock, wondering if I was dreaming. This couldn’t be real. Suddenly the tornado dissolved and the sand formed into a figure with red eyes staring down at me. “WHAT MORTAL DARES TO SUMMON ME!” He roared. “WHO HAS MADE SUCH THE MISTAKE TO SUMMON A GOD!” I may have made a mistake. The thing is, spirits and especially Gods, do not like it when mortals summon them. They have to come if you summon them, and that pisses them off. They are over there doing ghost and god stuff and get interrupted by people who can’t even walk through a wall. So if you do ever try this, just expect the ghost or demon or god to be in a pissy mood when they come. It is understandable when you think about it. I looked up at the god, not backing down, and responded “I did.” Sand swirled around The Sandman as he looked at me in disbelief. “You are The Sandman, right?” I yelled at him. “You are the god of sleep, the god of dreams, right?” “I am,” it growled. “Then why the fuck can I not sleep?” I said. “It has been years and I am stuck awake for days at a time. Why have you done this to me?” A deep laugh came from the circle. “You think I care about you, mortal? Do you think I waste my time on someone as insignificant as you or your kind? I am a god. A GOD! I don’t have time to waste being here talking to you. Release me!” “I am not going to release you until you give me what I want.” The sand settled down and it was quiet. I waited for it to respond. “You want something from a God? What do I get out of the deal? What do you have that I could possibly want?” “Give you something?” I asked. “You are the asshole who won’t let me sleep.” “I am feeling generous. We can make a deal,” it said. “I will give you the ability to sleep anytime you want” “What is the catch?” “Ahhh! The catch. Smarter than you look.” He said. “I am the God of Sleep and Dreams. You can sleep, but I will control your dreams.” ”Can’t you do that anyway?” You are the God of Dreams” “Do we have a deal or no? Answer me before I change my mind.” Damn it. I know he is playing me as a fool. Fuck it, I’ll solve my sleep problem now and worry about the catch later. “We have a deal, Sandman.” “A deal it is” he laughed. “Anytime you wish to sleep just say Mr. Sandman, Give me a dream.’ And you will be asleep in less than a minute.” “You gotta be kidding me.” “My game. My rules.” He said. “Now release me.” “You are released.” “See you in your dreams!” The energy that had filled the room evaporated into thin air, the sand fell back into the circle, the candles went dark, and The Sandman was gone. Was that real or am I hallucinating again? And damn! What even happened there? I was ready to cuss him out and he somehow took control of the encounter. Shit! Mrs. Fatima warned me it could be deadly if he took control. Then again, he made a deal and I can finally sleep. What is done is done. I blew out the candles and decided to put our deal to the test. He will allow me to sleep anytime I want, real sleep, he will just be controlling my dreams. I’ve had nightmares, what happens in the dream world is all a dream. Nothing can hurt me there. Right? It was 4:15 am. I turned off the lights, turned the fan on high, and put on some calming music and prepared to lay in bed awake for hours on end. I said the magic words As soon as I closed my eyes, I was out like a rock. The dream started. I was back five minutes earlier saying “What happened in the dream world is all a dream. Nothing can hurt me there, right?” There was an echo repeating the same phrase back to me. That isn’t a good start. I laid down in bed, just like before and closed my eyes trying to sleep but this time no sleep came, like always. I sat there for hours trying to sleep. I meditated, listened to calm music making me crave grilled cheese, and tried to will myself to sleep. My dream self was exhausted and on the verge of tears from being unable to sleep. The Sandman’s idea of a joke is to give me insomnia in my dreams so I couldn’t escape it. Funny joke, but as long as I wake up refreshed I don’t care. I looked at the clock and it was 7:45 and the sun was up or would be if I didn’t have the windows blacked out. Too exhausted to get up I laid in bed and prayed for sleep. A moment later, the red candles flickered to life in a star pattern, the room went cold, then the sand started to swirl up into the air. The Sandman appeared in the circle. My body stiffened, I couldn’t move a muscle, not even to close my eyes. Is this what sleep paralysis feels like? I thought back to my email with Mrs. Fatima and remembered as long as the circle was complete he would be stuck inside. “That is only true when you’re awake. You’re in my world now,” he laughed as he floated across the circle to my bedside. “You brought me to your world, now I have you in mine. A deal is a deal.” Ah shit. I knew taking his deal was a bad idea. Never negotiate with a god. You will never come out ahead. I tried to answer him but I was still paralyzed. “Do you know the legend of The Sandman? The original story? The real story?” He stood over me. Everyone knows the legend. He comes at night, sprinkles sand in your eyes so you will sleep well and have good dreams. You wake up with sand in your eyelashes. “Wrong!” He yelled. “That is a story told much later after I left the mortal world to stop people from fearing me. You are about to find out the real legend of The Sandman. I laid in bed unable to move, my eyes held open by some imaginary force, staring at him in fear. He held out his hand in front of my face and blew. I felt the wind on my face followed by the sand. The awful awful sand. Unable to close my eyes the sand blanketed my eyes. I could feel every grain of sand stick to my eyes. Finally, I had control of my eyes again and started to blink uncontrollably. Each blink the sand grinded deeper and deeper into my eyeballs and eye socket. Each blink felt like shards of glass cutting my eyes. My eyes became watery and started to tear up but it wasn’t tears but blood leaking down my face. The pain engulfed my face but I couldn’t move, only involuntary blinking trying to clear the sand from my eyes. Each blink the sand cut farther and farther into my eyes. The pain became excruciating like someone had stuck a red hot fire poker in each eye. I wanted to scream out but nothing else worked on my body. Then the pain disappeared. I assumed I had blacked out or went unconscious but that doesn’t happen in dreams and I wasn’t that lucky. Instead, I felt a weird sensation on my eyeballs then the feeling of water being poured into my eye. When it stopped, my vision started to appear again, blurry at first but clearing. I could see a sandy palm and fingers like I was being carried in The Sandman’s hand. “The legend of The Sandman isn’t that he comes to put sand in your eyes to help you sleep, he comes to put sand in your eyes to steal eyeballs of kids who stay up too late.” He said. “I’m making an exception for you.” He opened his palm and I could see my lifeless body, still in bed, not moving, the face covered in blood with empty holes as eye sockets. I am seeing myself from my own eyeballs. What the fuck, even for a dream this is fucked up. Luckily the pain had stopped, for now. “Do you know what happens next in the legend? Do you know what I do with the eyeballs I steal” He asked like I could to respond. I didn’t know the answer but I knew I was about to find out. “Right you are. Close your eyes, It’’s a surprise.” He laughed. “Get it? You can’t! You have no eyelids. Hahaha” Excuse me for not thinking the joke is funny, being the butt of the joke. “He pointed my eyes toward the moon and asked, “Do you like The Dark Side of the Moon?” What the hell does the Pink Floyd album have to do with anything? Who doesn’t like it? “Great. Let’s take a trip there. You’re dreaming so we can be there in, what would you say, a blink of an eye?” Fucking funny. A moment later, we were on the dark side of the moon. It looked like the moon, but dark. He walked into a crater and I started to hear cries. Not like human cries, more like an animal cry. Not just one animal but a bunch. The cries got louder and louder. Even in a dream, I knew something bad was about to happen. We finally arrived at what I would call a nest. Not your typical earth nest, but an enclosure that held a bunch of giant ugly bird-like featherless babies. Not dinosaur big, but big enough. Each bird-like creature was lifting its beak up in the air crying for its parents to bring it back food. What the fuck kind of food was available on the moon or in space is beyond my understanding, but that’s exactly what my eyes were seeing. “After I steal the eyeballs, I bring them back here and feed them to the birds. In your world, you may throw bread out to the birds for a treat. In my world, I feed them your eyes.” Fuck. Can I wake up now? I really don’t feel like being eaten by a giant alien baby bird thing. “The legend says I fed them to my children, but that is the part they got wrong.” He said. “Sweet dreams, prince.” He tossed my eyes into the air into the waiting mouth of one of these creatures. I saw it’s beak close as my eyeballs exploded into a gooey mess. The dream ended and I woke up in a panic. I tried to open my eyes but they were sealed shut. I lifted my hands, happy I could move again, and felt my eyelids crusted over with sand. I cleared them the best I could but needed a warm compress to clean all the salt out. When I finally opened my eyes, they hurt. Everything had happened in the dream, but somehow my eyes felt sore. I thought back to what I said and heard in my dream, “It is just a dream, nothing can hurt me there.” It is true, I wasn’t really hurt, but I’ve never woken up feeling pain I got from a dream. What is going on? Still, If I dreamed, that means I slept! A nightmare isn’t so bad if I get real sleep. The dream felt like it lasted hours, a few more nights of this and I will have a somewhat normal sleep schedule and feel rested. I looked at the clock to see it was 4:30. I slept 12 hours and 15 minutes. Amazing! I opened the door to my room and walked into the kitchen and it was still dark. That can’t be right. It should be 4:30 pm, the middle of the afternoon. Did I sleep for 24 hours straight? I looked at my phone and saw the date. My heart dropped. I had only slept for 15 minutes. It is like dreams take place in another dimension where time doesn’t exist. The Sandman was able to torture me for hours in dream time while allowing me to sleep for a few minutes. I cried. Seriously, I cried like a baby. He held up his end of the bargain, I can fall asleep any time I want to, except now I am afraid to go to sleep. Everytime I fall asleep, he takes me away to his realm and gives me nightmare after nightmare. Every dream is one where he does something horrible to me and my dream self feels every bit of excruciating pain. And he never allows me to sleep more than an hour at the most. I eventually accepted my fate. He is going to torture me, but it is all a dream. I will wake up feeling mostly normal. Then things changed. It is like he knew I had stopped fighting, so he found a new way to hurt me. Instead of hurting me in my dreams, he started to make me watch him hurt people I loved in their dreams. I didn’t think it was real until I heard from my sister about how my niece has been having terrible nightmares and refusing to go to sleep. When she described her dreams, I already knew, because I was there too. That has been my life for the past however many months. Instead of trying to take medicine or listen to music or having The Sandman put me to sleep, I try to use my insomnia to stay awake for as long as my body will withstand it. I drink coffee and energy drinks, I take adderall, but eventually sleep always comes, even if for short periods. No matter how hard you fight it, your body will always sleep, and the Sandman will be there waiting on me.
Earning Online with Cryptocurrencies: "LarvelFaucet"
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This article is written by the CoinEx Chain lab. CoinEx Chain is the world’s first public chain exclusively designed for DEX, and will also include a Smart Chain supporting smart contracts and a Privacy Chain protecting users’ privacy. longcpp @ 20200618 This is Part 1 of the serialized articles aimed to explain the Tendermint consensus protocol in detail. Part 1. Preliminary of the consensus protocol: security model and PBFT protocol Part 2. Tendermint consensus protocol illustrated: two-phase voting protocol and the locking and unlocking mechanism Part 3. Weighted round-robin proposer selection algorithm used in Tendermint project Any consensus agreement that is ultimately reached is the General Agreement, that is, the majority opinion. The consensus protocol on which the blockchain system operates is no exception. As a distributed system, the blockchain system aims to maintain the validity of the system. Intuitively, the validity of the blockchain system has two meanings: firstly, there is no ambiguity, and secondly, it can process requests to update its status. The former corresponds to the safety requirements of distributed systems, while the latter to the requirements of liveness. The validity of distributed systems is mainly maintained by consensus protocols, considering the multiple nodes and network communication involved in such systems may be unstable, which has brought huge challenges to the design of consensus protocols.
The semi-synchronous network model and Byzantine fault tolerance
Researchers of distributed systems characterize these problems that may occur in nodes and network communications using node failure models and network models. The fail-stop failure in node failure models refers to the situation where the node itself stops running due to configuration errors or other reasons, thus unable to go on with the consensus protocol. This type of failure will not cause side effects on other parts of the distributed system except that the node itself stops running. However, for such distributed systems as the public blockchain, when designing a consensus protocol, we still need to consider the evildoing intended by nodes besides their failure. These incidents are all included in the Byzantine Failure model, which covers all unexpected situations that may occur on the node, for example, passive downtime failures and any deviation intended by the nodes from the consensus protocol. For a better explanation, downtime failures refer to nodes’ passive running halt, and the Byzantine failure to any arbitrary deviation of nodes from the consensus protocol. Compared with the node failure model which can be roughly divided into the passive and active models, the modeling of network communication is more difficult. The network itself suffers problems of instability and communication delay. Moreover, since all network communication is ultimately completed by the node which may have a downtime failure or a Byzantine failure in itself, it is usually difficult to define whether such failure arises from the node or the network itself when a node does not receive another node's network message. Although the network communication may be affected by many factors, the researchers found that the network model can be classified by the communication delay. For example, the node may fail to send data packages due to the fail-stop failure, and as a result, the corresponding communication delay is unknown and can be any value. According to the concept of communication delay, the network communication model can be divided into the following three categories:
The synchronous network model: There is a fixed, known upper bound of delay $\Delta$ in network communication. Under this model, the maximum delay of network communication between two nodes in the network is $\Delta$. Even if there is a malicious node, the communication delay arising therefrom does not exceed $\Delta$.
The asynchronous network model: There is an unknown delay in network communication, with the upper bound of the delay known, but the message can still be successfully delivered in the end. Under this model, the network communication delay between two nodes in the network can be any possible value, that is, a malicious node, if any, can arbitrarily extend the communication delay.
The semi-synchronous network model: Assume that there is a Global Stabilization Time (GST), before which it is an asynchronous network model and after which, a synchronous network model. In other words, there is a fixed, known upper bound of delay in network communication $\Delta$. A malicious node can delay the GST arbitrarily, and there will be no notification when no GST occurs. Under this model, the delay in the delivery of the message at the time $T$ is $\Delta + max(T, GST)$.
The synchronous network model is the most ideal network environment. Every message sent through the network can be received within a predictable time, but this model cannot reflect the real network communication situation. As in a real network, network failures are inevitable from time to time, causing the failure in the assumption of the synchronous network model. Yet the asynchronous network model goes to the other extreme and cannot reflect the real network situation either. Moreover, according to the FLP (Fischer-Lynch-Paterson) theorem, under this model if there is one node fails, no consensus protocol will reach consensus in a limited time. In contrast, the semi-synchronous network model can better describe the real-world network communication situation: network communication is usually synchronous or may return to normal after a short time. Such an experience must be no stranger to everyone: the web page, which usually gets loaded quite fast, opens slowly every now and then, and you need to try before you know the network is back to normal since there is usually no notification. The peer-to-peer (P2P) network communication, which is widely used in blockchain projects, also makes it possible for a node to send and receive information from multiple network channels. It is unrealistic to keep blocking the network information transmission of a node for a long time. Therefore, all the discussion below is under the semi-synchronous network model. The design and selection of consensus protocols for public chain networks that allow nodes to dynamically join and leave need to consider possible Byzantine failures. Therefore, the consensus protocol of a public chain network is designed to guarantee the security and liveness of the network under the semi-synchronous network model on the premise of possible Byzantine failure. Researchers of distributed systems point out that to ensure the security and liveness of the system, the consensus protocol itself needs to meet three requirements:
Validity: The value reached by honest nodes must be the value proposed by one of them
Agreement: All honest nodes must reach consensus on the same value
Termination: The honest nodes must eventually reach consensus on a certain value
Validity and agreement can guarantee the security of the distributed system, that is, the honest nodes will never reach a consensus on a random value, and once the consensus is reached, all honest nodes agree on this value. Termination guarantees the liveness of distributed systems. A distributed system unable to reach consensus is useless.
The CAP theorem and Byzantine Generals Problem
In a semi-synchronous network, is it possible to design a Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol that satisfies validity, agreement, and termination? How many Byzantine nodes can a system tolerance? The CAP theorem and Byzantine Generals Problem provide an answer for these two questions and have thus become the basic guidelines for the design of Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocols. Lamport, Shostak, and Pease abstracted the design of the consensus mechanism in the distributed system in 1982 as the Byzantine Generals Problem, which refers to such a situation as described below: several generals each lead the army to fight in the war, and their troops are stationed in different places. The generals must formulate a unified action plan for the victory. However, since the camps are far away from each other, they can only communicate with each other through the communication soldiers, or, in other words, they cannot appear on the same occasion at the same time to reach a consensus. Unfortunately, among the generals, there is a traitor or two who intend to undermine the unified actions of the loyal generals by sending the wrong information, and the communication soldiers cannot send the message to the destination by themselves. It is assumed that each communication soldier can prove the information he has brought comes from a certain general, just as in the case of a real BFT consensus protocol, each node has its public and private keys to establish an encrypted communication channel for each other to ensure that its messages will not be tampered with in the network communication, and the message receiver can also verify the sender of the message based thereon. As already mentioned, any consensus agreement ultimately reached represents the consensus of the majority. In the process of generals communicating with each other for an offensive or retreat, a general also makes decisions based on the majority opinion from the information collected by himself. According to the research of Lamport et al, if there are 1/3 or more traitors in the node, the generals cannot reach a unified decision. For example, in the following figure, assume there are 3 generals and only 1 traitor. In the figure on the left, suppose that General C is the traitor, and A and B are loyal. If A wants to launch an attack and informs B and C of such intention, yet the traitor C sends a message to B, suggesting what he has received from A is a retreat. In this case, B can't decide as he doesn't know who the traitor is, and the information received is insufficient for him to decide. If A is a traitor, he can send different messages to B and C. Then C faithfully reports to B the information he received. At this moment as B receives conflicting information, he cannot make any decisions. In both cases, even if B had received consistent information, it would be impossible for him to spot the traitor between A and C. Therefore, it is obvious that in both situations shown in the figure below, the honest General B cannot make a choice. According to this conclusion, when there are $n$ generals with at most $f$ traitors (n≤3f), the generals cannot reach a consensus if $n \leq 3f$; and with $n > 3f$, a consensus can be reached. This conclusion also suggests that when the number of Byzantine failures $f$ exceeds 1/3 of the total number of nodes $n$ in the system $f \ge n/3$ , no consensus will be reached on any consensus protocol among all honest nodes. Only when $f < n/3$, such condition is likely to happen, without loss of generality, and for the subsequent discussion on the consensus protocol, $ n \ge 3f + 1$ by default. The conclusion reached by Lamport et al. on the Byzantine Generals Problem draws a line between the possible and the impossible in the design of the Byzantine fault tolerance consensus protocol. Within the possible range, how will the consensus protocol be designed? Can both the security and liveness of distributed systems be fully guaranteed? Brewer provided the answer in his CAP theorem in 2000. It indicated that a distributed system requires the following three basic attributes, but any distributed system can only meet two of the three at the same time.
Consistency: When any node responds to the request, it must either provide the latest status information or provide no status information
Availability: Any node in the system must be able to continue reading and writing
Partition Tolerance: The system can tolerate the loss of any number of messages between two nodes and still function normally
https://preview.redd.it/1ozfwk7u7m851.png?width=1400&format=png&auto=webp&s=fdee6318de2cf1c021e636654766a7a0fe7b38b4 A distributed system aims to provide consistent services. Therefore, the consistency attribute requires that the two nodes in the system cannot provide conflicting status information or expired information, which can ensure the security of the distributed system. The availability attribute is to ensure that the system can continuously update its status and guarantee the availability of distributed systems. The partition tolerance attribute is related to the network communication delay, and, under the semi-synchronous network model, it can be the status before GST when the network is in an asynchronous status with an unknown delay in the network communication. In this condition, communicating nodes may not receive information from each other, and the network is thus considered to be in a partitioned status. Partition tolerance requires the distributed system to function normally even in network partitions. The proof of the CAP theorem can be demonstrated with the following diagram. The curve represents the network partition, and each network has four nodes, distinguished by the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. The distributed system stores color information, and all the status information stored by all nodes is blue at first.
Partition tolerance and availability mean the loss of consistency: When node 1 receives a new request in the leftmost image, the status changes to red, the status transition information of node 1 is passed to node 3, and node 3 also updates the status information to red. However, since node 3 and node 4 did not receive the corresponding information due to the network partition, the status information is still blue. At this moment, if the status information is queried through node 2, the blue returned by node 2 is not the latest status of the system, thus losing consistency.
Partition tolerance and consistency mean the loss of availability: In the middle figure, the initial status information of all nodes is blue. When node 1 and node 3 update the status information to red, node 2 and node 4 maintain the outdated information as blue due to network partition. Also when querying status information through node 2, you need to first ask other nodes to make sure you’re in the latest status before returning status information as node 2 needs to follow consistency, but because of the network partition, node 2 cannot receive any information from node 1 or node 3. Then node 2 cannot determine whether it is in the latest status, so it chooses not to return any information, thus depriving the system of availability.
Consistency and availability mean the loss of the partition tolerance: In the right-most figure, the system does not have a network partition at first, and both status updates and queries can go smoothly. However, once a network partition occurs, it degenerates into one of the previous two conditions. It is thus proved that any distributed system cannot have consistency, availability, and partition tolerance all at the same time.
https://preview.redd.it/456x2blv7m851.png?width=1400&format=png&auto=webp&s=550797373145b8fc1471bdde68ed5f8d45adb52b The discovery of the CAP theorem seems to declare that the aforementioned goals of the consensus protocol is impossible. However, if you’re careful enough, you may find from the above that those are all extreme cases, such as network partitions that cause the failure of information transmission, which could be rare, especially in P2P network. In the second case, the system rarely returns the same information with node 2, and the general practice is to query other nodes and return the latest status as believed after a while, regardless of whether it has received the request information of other nodes. Therefore, although the CAP theorem points out that any distributed system cannot satisfy the three attributes at the same time, it is not a binary choice, as the designer of the consensus protocol can weigh up all the three attributes according to the needs of the distributed system. However, as the communication delay is always involved in the distributed system, one always needs to choose between availability and consistency while ensuring a certain degree of partition tolerance. Specifically, in the second case, it is about the value that node 2 returns: a probably outdated value or no value. Returning the possibly outdated value may violate consistency but guarantees availability; yet returning no value deprives the system of availability but guarantees its consistency. Tendermint consensus protocol to be introduced is consistent in this trade-off. In other words, it will lose availability in some cases. The genius of Satoshi Nakamoto is that with constraints of the CAP theorem, he managed to reach a reliable Byzantine consensus in a distributed network by combining PoW mechanism, Satoshi Nakamoto consensus, and economic incentives with appropriate parameter configuration. Whether Bitcoin's mechanism design solves the Byzantine Generals Problem has remained a dispute among academicians. Garay, Kiayias, and Leonardos analyzed the link between Bitcoin mechanism design and the Byzantine consensus in detail in their paper The Bitcoin Backbone Protocol: Analysis and Applications. In simple terms, the Satoshi Consensus is a probabilistic Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol that depends on such conditions as the network communication environment and the proportion of malicious nodes' hashrate. When the proportion of malicious nodes’ hashrate does not exceed 1/2 in a good network communication environment, the Satoshi Consensus can reliably solve the Byzantine consensus problem in a distributed environment. However, when the environment turns bad, even with the proportion within 1/2, the Satoshi Consensus may still fail to reach a reliable conclusion on the Byzantine consensus problem. It is worth noting that the quality of the network environment is relative to Bitcoin's block interval. The 10-minute block generation interval of the Bitcoin can ensure that the system is in a good network communication environment in most cases, given the fact that the broadcast time of a block in the distributed network is usually just several seconds. In addition, economic incentives can motivate most nodes to actively comply with the agreement. It is thus considered that with the current Bitcoin network parameter configuration and mechanism design, the Bitcoin mechanism design has reliably solved the Byzantine Consensus problem in the current network environment.
Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance, PBFT
It is not an easy task to design the Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol in a semi-synchronous network. The first practically usable Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol is the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) designed by Castro and Liskov in 1999, the first of its kind with polynomial complexity. For a distributed system with $n$ nodes, the communication complexity is $O(n2$.) Castro and Liskov showed in the paper that by transforming centralized file system into a distributed one using the PBFT protocol, the overwall performance was only slowed down by 3%. In this section we will briefly introduce the PBFT protocol, paving the way for further detailed explanations of the Tendermint protocol and the improvements of the Tendermint protocol. The PBFT protocol that includes $n=3f+1$ nodes can tolerate up to $f$ Byzantine nodes. In the original paper of PBFT, full connection is required among all the $n$ nodes, that is, any two of the n nodes must be connected. All the nodes of the network jointly maintain the system status through network communication. In the Bitcoin network, a node can participate in or exit the consensus process through hashrate mining at any time, which is managed by the administrator, and the PFBT protocol needs to determine all the participating nodes before the protocol starts. All nodes in the PBFT protocol are divided into two categories, master nodes, and slave nodes. There is only one master node at any time, and all nodes take turns to be the master node. All nodes run in a rotation process called View, in each of which the master node will be reelected. The master node selection algorithm in PBFT is very simple: all nodes become the master node in turn by the index number. In each view, all nodes try to reach a consensus on the system status. It is worth mentioning that in the PBFT protocol, each node has its own digital signature key pair. All sent messages (including request messages from the client) need to be signed to ensure the integrity of the message in the network and the traceability of the message itself. (You can determine who sent a message based on the digital signature). The following figure shows the basic flow of the PBFT consensus protocol. Assume that the current view’s master node is node 0. Client C initiates a request to the master node 0. After the master node receives the request, it broadcasts the request to all slave nodes that process the request of client C and return the result to the client. After the client receives f+1 identical results from different nodes (based on the signature value), the result can be taken as the final result of the entire operation. Since the system can have at most f Byzantine nodes, at least one of the f+1 results received by the client comes from an honest node, and the security of the consensus protocol guarantees that all honest nodes will reach consensus on the same status. So, the feedback from 1 honest node is enough to confirm that the corresponding request has been processed by the system. https://preview.redd.it/sz8so5ly7m851.png?width=1400&format=png&auto=webp&s=d472810e76bbc202e91a25ef29a51e109a576554 For the status synchronization of all honest nodes, the PBFT protocol has two constraints on each node: on one hand, all nodes must start from the same status, and on the other, the status transition of all nodes must be definite, that is, given the same status and request, the results after the operation must be the same. Under these two constraints, as long as the entire system agrees on the processing order of all transactions, the status of all honest nodes will be consistent. This is also the main purpose of the PBFT protocol: to reach a consensus on the order of transactions between all nodes, thereby ensuring the security of the entire distributed system. In terms of availability, the PBFT consensus protocol relies on a timeout mechanism to find anomalies in the consensus process and start the View Change protocol in time to try to reach a consensus again. The figure above shows a simplified workflow of the PBFT protocol. Where C is the client, 0, 1, 2, and 3 represent 4 nodes respectively. Specifically, 0 is the master node of the current view, 1, 2, 3 are slave nodes, and node 3 is faulty. Under normal circumstances, the PBFT consensus protocol reaches consensus on the order of transactions between nodes through a three-phase protocol. These three phases are respectively: Pre-Prepare, Prepare, and Commit:
The master node of the pre-preparation node is responsible for assigning the sequence number to the received client request, and broadcasting the message to the slave node. The message contains the hash value of the client request d, the sequence number of the current viewv, the sequence number n assigned by the master node to the request, and the signature information of the master nodesig. The scheme design of the PBFT protocol separates the request transmission from the request sequencing process, and the request transmission is not to be discussed here. The slave node that receives the message accepts the message after confirming the message is legitimate and enter preparation phase. The message in this step checks the basic signature, hash value, current view, and, most importantly, whether the master node has given the same sequence number to other request from the client in the current view.
In preparation, the slave node broadcasts the message to all nodes (including itself), indicating that it assigns the sequence number n to the client request with the hash value d under the current view v, with its signaturesig as proof. The node receiving the message will check the correctness of the signature, the matching of the view sequence number, etc., and accept the legitimate message. When the PRE-PREPARE message about a client request (from the main node) received by a node matches with the PREPARE from 2f slave nodes, the system has agreed on the sequence number requested by the client in the current view. This means that 2f+1 nodes in the current view agree with the request sequence number. Since it contains information from at most fmalicious nodes, there are a total of f+1 honest nodes that have agreed with the allocation of the request sequence number. With f malicious nodes, there are a total of 2f+1 honest nodes, so f+1represents the majority of the honest nodes, which is the consensus of the majority mentioned before.
After the node (including the master node and the slave node) receives a PRE-PREPARE message requested by the client and 2f PREPARE messages, the message is broadcast across the network and enters the submission phase. This message is used to indicate that the node has observed that the whole network has reached a consensus on the sequence number allocation of the request message from the client. When the node receives 2f+1 COMMIT messages, there are at least f+1 honest nodes, that is, most of the honest nodes have observed that the entire network has reached consensus on the arrangement of sequence numbers of the request message from the client. The node can process the client request and return the execution result to the client at this moment.
Roughly speaking, in the pre-preparation phase, the master node assigns a sequence number to all new client requests. During preparation, all nodes reach consensus on the client request sequence number in this view, while in submission the consistency of the request sequence number of the client in different views is to be guaranteed. In addition, the design of the PBFT protocol itself does not require the request message to be submitted by the assigned sequence number, but out of order. That can improve the efficiency of the implementation of the consensus protocol. Yet, the messages are still processed by the sequence number assigned by the consensus protocol for the consistency of the distributed system. In the three-phase protocol execution of the PBFT protocol, in addition to maintaining the status information of the distributed system, the node itself also needs to log all kinds of consensus information it receives. The gradual accumulation of logs will consume considerable system resources. Therefore, the PBFT protocol additionally defines checkpoints to help the node deal with garbage collection. You can set a checkpoint every 100 or 1000 sequence numbers according to the request sequence number. After the client request at the checkpoint is executed, the node broadcasts messages throughout the network, indicating that after the node executes the client request with sequence number n, the hash value of the system status is d, and it is vouched by its own signature sig. After 2f+1 matching CHECKPOINT messages (one of which can come from the node itself) are received, most of the honest nodes in the entire network have reached a consensus on the system status after the execution of the client request with the sequence numbern, and then you can clear all relevant log records of client requests with the sequence number less than n. The node needs to save these2f+1 CHECKPOINTmessages as proof of the legitimate status at this moment, and the corresponding checkpoint is called a stable checkpoint. The three-phase protocol of the PBFT protocol can ensure the consistency of the processing order of the client request, and the checkpoint mechanism is set to help nodes perform garbage collection and further ensures the status consistency of the distributed system, both of which can guarantee the security of the distributed system aforementioned. How is the availability of the distributed system guaranteed? In the semi-synchronous network model, a timeout mechanism is usually introduced, which is related to delays in the network environment. It is assumed that the network delay has a known upper bound after GST. In such condition, an initial value is usually set according to the network condition of the system deployed. In case of a timeout event, besides the corresponding processing flow triggered, additional mechanisms will be activated to readjust the waiting time. For example, an algorithm like TCP's exponential back off can be adopted to adjust the waiting time after a timeout event. To ensure the availability of the system in the PBFT protocol, a timeout mechanism is also introduced. In addition, due to the potential the Byzantine failure in the master node itself, the PBFT protocol also needs to ensure the security and availability of the system in this case. When the Byzantine failure occurs in the master node, for example, when the slave node does not receive the PRE-PREPARE message or the PRE-PREPARE message sent by the master node from the master node within the time window and is thus determined to be illegitimate, the slave node can broadcast to the entire network, indicating that the node requests to switch to the new view with sequence number v+1. n indicates the request sequence number corresponding to the latest stable checkpoint local to the node, and C is to prove the stable checkpoint 2f+1 legitimate CHECKPOINT messages as aforementioned. After the latest stable checkpoint and before initiating the VIEWCHANGE message, the system may have reached a consensus on the sequence numbers of some request messages in the previous view. To ensure the consistency of these request sequence numbers to be switched in the view, the VIEWCHANGE message needs to carry this kind of the information to the new view, which is also the meaning of the P field in the message. P contains all the client request messages collected at the node with a request sequence number greater than n and the proof that a consensus has been reached on the sequence number in the node: the legitimate PRE-PREPARE message of the request and 2f matching PREPARE messages. When the master node in view v+1 collects 2f+1 VIEWCHANGE messages, it can broadcast the NEW-VIEW message and take the entire system into a new view. For the security of the system in combination with the three-phase protocol of the PBFT protocol, the construction rules of the NEW-VIEW information are designed in a quite complicated way. You can refer to the original paper of PBFT for more details. https://preview.redd.it/x5efdc908m851.png?width=1400&format=png&auto=webp&s=97b4fd879d0ec668ee0990ea4cadf476167a2948 VIEWCHANGE contains a lot of information. For example, C contains 2f+1 signature information, P contains several signature sets, and each set has 2f+1 signature. At least 2f+1 nodes need to send a VIEWCHANGE message before prompting the system to enter the next new view, and that means, in addition to the complex logic of constructing the information of VIEWCHANGE and NEW-VIEW, the communication complexity of the view conversion protocol is $O(n2$.) Such complexity also limits the PBFT protocol to support only a few nodes, and when there are 100 nodes, it is usually too complex to practically deploy PBFT. It is worth noting that in some materials the communication complexity of the PBFT protocol is inappropriately attributed to the full connection between n nodes. By changing the fully connected network topology to the P2P network topology based on distributed hash tables commonly used in blockchain projects, high communication complexity caused by full connection can be conveniently solved, yet still, it is difficult to improve the communication complexity during the view conversion process. In recent years, researchers have proposed to reduce the amount of communication in this step by adopting aggregate signature scheme. With this technology, 2f+1 signature information can be compressed into one, thereby reducing the communication volume during view change.
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