Ethereum 2.0 Delayed… Again.

At the end of last year I moved to Osmosis, a blockchain that’s an automated market maker (AMM) and decentralized exchange (DEX) combined, in order to prevent myself from losing more money due to Ethereum‘s continuously high transaction fees. It seemed the logical choice ― at the time ― while I waited for the launch of 2.0 to release by summer of this year. That would have lowered the transaction fees and increase the platform’s transaction throughout. It would archive this through staking, a form of locking up your money to validate the blocks. It makes using the platform accessible to everyone by lowering the fees down pre-pandemic level. But this launch was delayed ― again.

All of these delays have opened the door for newer drop-in replacements, such as Cronos, Evmos, Avalanche and so on. These competitors have staking baked into them in varies forms. All of the benefits of 2.0 without the cost of waiting. Applications from Ethereum have already launched onto these drop-in replacements.

As much as I love Osmosis, it only pays out in its native token on a truly daily biases when locked into any of its liquidity. It recently does this for other chain’s native tokens but how much you get per-day honestly depends. This means that you’re mostly tied to whatever price OSMO is today in order to break even and pay the bills. Now don’t, get me wrong, Osmosis is needed for Cosmos but the way the APR is split means that I need something with more flexibility.

So with Ethereum’s upgrade delayed again while I’m now operating at a slight loss, I realized that it is best that I pull out and move to one of those drop-ins. It was here that I discovered Avalanche and Trader Joe. It is one of two popular DEXs on the platform. Trader Joe XYZ is a DEX and AMM, like Osmosis. Unlike Osmosis, however, it is a lot more versatile and offers ways additional ways to increase your APR.

One of the most insane liquidity pools on the platform pools is AVAX-LOST. AVAX is Avalanche’s native token. LOST is the token behind Lost Worlds, an NFT platform where NFTs are bound to real world locations. You have a 40% APR on JOE and roughly 500% on LOST, both respectfully worth a dollar as of this writing. Yes. 500. I did calculations and you’d make back a grand within the first month or two. Pangolin, another leading DEX on Avalanche, has the same pool but at 716% APR for both Pangolin and Lost’s token. That is fucking insane.

As I was writing this, I realized a rather unintentional (or intentional ― god if I know) consequence of all these completing chains. The sheer volume and amount of money between all of them means that people no doubt have are making billions, if not trillions, all simultaneously. That’s a fucking hell of a lot money.

Generative art

When I originally wrote this, it was going to be about NFTs. I talked about the technical aspects before giving my criticism but the more I thought about the more I realized that the current state of NFTs is just a symptom of a greater social trend. Generative art. Generative art is any medium created by a machine. It’s actually a topic I touched on earlier. The majority of NFTs are this.

The technologies behind this phenomenon have existed for years but only recently went mainstream following the democratization of AI and rise of Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) in the wake. GPT, for example, is one such generative model that is responsible for the popular AI Dungeon game. This a new breed of art is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Paradoxically, generative art is naturally valuable because of the fact because for all extensive purposes it is synthetic or “fake”. To claim that value exists solely because “blockchain” kind of, if not completely, misses the point. Blockchains are a platform that defines ownership. They’re not the makers of Mozart. As I’ve mentioned before, you own something that technically no one made. The rarity comes from its synthetic nature ― not the platform that hosts it ― but it is still public domain.

A Merger I’m Fine With

I am not a fan of all these big company mergers. So you can imagine how I felt when I discovered AT&T and Comcast brought Time Warner and NBC Universal, respectfully. Now both becoming even bigger conglomerates in their own rights. I do respect Comcast for how they handled NBC. Not that it excuses their other past behaviors. AT&T, on the other hand, has been lost a cause. From fucking up the DC movie universe to false equivalencing the news with CNN. It was iterating, to say the least. AT&T finally got the clue and sold all of WarnerMedia to Discovery, including CNN, TBS, HBO, ect… And I’m fine with it.

On the news side of things, Discovery is a network that deals in documentaries of science, technology, and history at its core. While the network still suffered from decay when reality TV took off, it didn’t get hit as hard because, well, you can’t get anymore reality than documentaries. This makes them more than well qualified to handle CNN which is supposed to deal in, ya’ know, facts. Not letting someone echo conspiracy theories directly next to another person who is now forced to debunk them. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t put two and two together earlier.

I don’t know how this merger will impact the rest of Discovery but I do have a hunch. You might not realize it but they were behind The Hub, a joint venture with Hasbro that succeeded Discovery Kids. That channel aired My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yes. A network geared towards science and technology had a flagship kids show about magic and friendship. Go figure. While the joint venture was short lived, only lasting four years, the impact that show had on the youth is still being felt today. Just ask anyone in the furry fandom.

Hopefully they’ll do something about Cartoon Network. While they have more variety to then Nickelodeon, their “Go” shows make no sense. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of a lot of things and I have no idea what the fuck “Go” means in the context of a TV show, and that’s just scratching surface. What is Teen Titans: Go even really about? No offense to anyone who likes the show. Just an honest question. As much as I hate to sound like your grandfather, the Teen Titans I had growing up literally had a plot. The twist here is that I’m not even that old and this wasn’t even that long ago. WTF, AT&T? I’m not blaming the younger generation — I’m blaming you.

Discovery is ― out of all media companies ― honestly not that bad from what I’ve seen. I’ve rarely heard anything bad leak out. Sure, they’ve had their fair share of creative disputes (Edd China leaving Wheeler Dealers), but it’s not nearly as bad as Nickelodeon’s treatment. I mean, if My Little Pony is anything to go by, they’re quite liberal in that regard. Then again they are a network focused on science.

This Copyright Does Not Exist

Copyright has been sort of a hell hole for content creators since the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and introduction of the DMCA during the mid to late-90s. While the DMCA is a nice start to addressing copyright on the internet, it has remained relatively stagnant over the last couple years and I doubt our current hostile two-party system will resolve it anytime soon. This has lead to genuine content creators getting their content pulled or losing monetization rights despite following the very fair use guidelines that’s supposed to protect them. This is essentially a problem with certain companies using the DMCA to justify shutting down criticism.

“One day they’ll have secrets…
One day they’ll have dreams.”

While those issues really do need to be resolved, there are alternatives when it comes to the production side of things: AI. Ever since we discovered that robots do “dream of electric sheep“, we figured out that it is possible to turn those dreams into all sorts of new and original content with just a slight turn of the nob. But what does this have to do with copyright?

In the US, copyright requires a human as the “author” but AI obviously isn’t human nor does it understand the concept of copyright. In a nutshell this means anything produced by AI is essentially public domain. But, really, why give yourself credit for something you didn’t create? Just because you taught the robot how to make something and then told what it to make, doesn’t mean you made it. That’s like a teacher taking credit for their student’s work.

Using AI generated content is the closet thing we’ll get to public domain until more stuff from the 20s expires. Obviously there is still some ethical and logistical challenges, such as the case of mimicking someone’s likeness or using copyrighted characters, respectfully, but for the most part its free rein.

P.S. That beach doesn’t exist.

A Game I Wanted to Like

Set five minutes into the future, Watch Dogs: Legion is about Dedsec’s London branch having to clear its name and get to the bottom of the nation’s downfall into a police state following the attack on Parliament while also learning more about the branch in the process. The story is brilliant and I’m generally interested in getting to the bottom of the mystery but the gameplay mechanics introduced in this installment that I was once really looking forward have left me wanting to go back to Watch Dogs 2.

In Legion you can play as any character that you can convince to join Dedsec. Each character has their traits and skill set that can make a mission easy or difficult to accomplish. For example, you can easily get access to restricted areas by recruiting a security guard or gang members, respectfully. In theory, this can work quite well but turns out to be rather bad in practice due to the painfully scripted nature of Ubisoft’s version of an “open world” game.

For example, during one of the tutorial missions you have to convince a construction worker to join your team in order to make use of the larger cargo drones that can get you to high places. If you play Wrench, a Season Pass character you immediately unlock at any point in the game, you’re already given his personal variant that makes that part of the game rather redundant but it still has you do it, anyway. Now, you do need a construction worker for other reasons crucial to the plot but it specifically has you get one for this particular purpose. This is not a criticism of Wrench ― on the contrary, I love him ― but Legion’s gameplay, the choices they made in for him in this installment and how they affect linear nature of the story. Which leads me to my next point…

Another issue is, like I said, despite each character having their own unique traits and skills, they all recite or cycle through the same lines during each and every mission that it becomes rather repetitive. It really makes it hard to suspend my disbelief and be invested in these characters when it feels like they’re all reading from the same script. Now I get it time is money and this is the easiest and safest, if not proven, method of doing things but if your selling point is already a radically new and different mechanic from previous installments, you might as well go all out and give machine learning a try while you’re at it. Your in-game companion is already a literal self-aware AI as it is. Even I can put together a basic model using ML.NET on a shitty machine. If Ubisoft can build monstrous games like these, they’re more than capable of spinning together an impressive AI that could more than rival Latitude. At least the maintenance is easier because all you to do is just retrain it.

While Legion isn’t perfect it is still fun game to play and the story is pretty good but that doesn’t mean its my favorite. That crown still goes to Watch Dogs 2. Being able to play as anyone is more of a gimmick at best with how shallow the characters are in this game.

The Proper Port

When I was growing up, I thought game making was something only programmers needed to know. It wasn’t until I discovered Game Maker that I was thankfully proven wrong and for a long time I created tiny little mini-games with zero programming skills. It was fun. But as I learned more about programming, I naturally moved away from drag and drop methods of Game Maker into engines with a scripting focus.

Ironically, my first dip into game scripting was with Adobe Animate’s ActionScript back when it was known as Macromedia Flash. I wanted my own dress up game inspired by a friend. Known as ZC’s Dress Up, at the time, it wind up spawning several iterations in the form of “Editions” as many of my friends and a few fans of my character requested outfits or clothing from their characters in the game. Needless to say, I was more than happy to do it.

As time passed, Flash was beginning to be phased out in favor HTML5 and I wanted to port ZC’s Dress Up to a proper game engine before time ran out. I tried many engines starting with MonoGame before toning things down with Godot as Zack Dress Up. The actual code was simple to methods needed to accomplish it was quite the hackfest despite working more or less flawlessly. But it was better than nothing and I figured I could use it to teach myself GDscript, Godot’s primary scripting language, by giving away free DLC in exchange for asking for donations.

But after the events of last year, my focus on money became less of a priority ― especially with Airdrops ― that I realized Godot was also overkill for this project too because of its heavy emphasis on scripting, let alone a little frustrations I had coming up with all the workarounds. While it wasn’t without trying, Zack’s Dress Up needs something more straight forward. So when I rediscovered GDevelop and noticed it had a built-in Drag & Drop function, I realized that it was the perfect. While I’m not that much of a fan of using web technologies with games, this is a nice homage to its roots and and the web arguably benefits most 2D games because they’re not asking a lot compared to the “AAA” industry.

Return to Drawing More

While I’ve always drawn over the years, it has become rather sporadic as I got into programming and focused my attention elsewhere because the tools needed to draw just weren’t cutting it despite my best attempts. It wasn’t the events of last year that all of this changed. I got a new graphics tablet with a display and hybrid vector/raster editor. The Wacom One and Affinity Designer, respectfully.

I use to work in Adobe Animate way back in 2005 when it was known as Macromedia Flash Studio. So I have have a bias towards vector graphics editors with digital art. Not that I’m against raster in the same medium ― that’s, like, the majority of my sketches ― it’s just the “inking” part is done in a more flexible format. In the early days it ether sketch on paper or digital in Flash with very little overlap. Affinity Designer combines both in the same program and my Wacom One means I successfully move between both formats in a way that’s seamless and feels natural. Sure, I could use Adobe’s software but I’m not about to pay for another yet another subscription to use Photoshop and Animate when Affinity Designer essentially merges both without the monthly fee.

My motivation to draw more frequently is gradually beginning to return. But having no in-between sketch and vector before now means most of my current work will remain as sketches until I can refine my vector inking skills. This is something I’m really glad about, though, because I’ve always had that itch to draw. It is what soothes me and how I express myself the most compared to writing because I’m a visual person.

Suddenly Airdrops

Note: The featured image will be retrofitted with my own personal artwork in the future.

Historically, I have had rather mixed on the idea of airdrops since they’re a remnant of the infamous ICO era. They are based on and follow the same principles as an IPO but, unlike with the stocker market, you don’t have to anything available right away. The goal is to hand out a certain number of tokens either by holding another, doing specific tasks or both in an effort to fund a project or bootstrap an ecosystem. It works in theory ― the stock market does it all the time ― but the wild west nature of crypto meant few were legit while the majority failed or were scams.

The First Airdrop

I didn’t rediscover airdrops until scammer from before wanted me to uphold a promise I made to wait until Q2 of this year to get some of the money back but they couldn’t wait. They wanted to do yet another 50/50 deal from a recent utility token’s airdrop that I was eligible to receive. Now, I was willing to take the offer. I was already sitting on pile of crypto on my Osmosis account that anything extra would just go towards what I had already locked up, increasing my daily pay. Win-win. It was certainly more legit then their first attempt, getting my wallet’s keys, and at least made logical compared to their second, outright giving me a couple thousand before I even agreed to it, but they made one tiny little miscalculation.

The token’s value was couple dollar’s short of meeting the deal’s requirements and fluctuating like mad that day but and never reached nor exceeded the amount needed to seal the deal. That combined Ethereum’s transaction fees were still notoriously expensive meant we’d both be losing more than we gained ― they already put tones of money into me just to cover the fees which was the only thing i felt sorry for ― and I wasn’t about to let that money I earned go to waste for someone who had previously harassed me for my wallet’s private keys yet. So I migrated that money to my Osmosis account.

The next day the price had risen high enough to make the deal possible but the money had already been moved. Needless to say, they were they furious with me and had the nerve to call me greedy. All the while I’m thinking to myself, “My account was broke and dormant until you came along. As much as I love crypto what stands for, I had moved on and picked up new hobbies. Even now this money just goes towards supporting that. So I don’t want to hear it.” But I didn’t say that. I wasn’t interested in arguing with them because I had already won. I just hit them back with an armor piercing statement about how I wasn’t person after anyone’s private keys and they rage quited.

Golden Ticket

Now that would be a hilarious way to end a story but it is actually only beginning. Unbeknownst to both of us, I’ve become eligible for a variety of airdrops for new and upcoming blockchains entering the Cosmos ecosystem because I invested so much into Osmosis so close after it’s launch. I wouldn’t have realized this sooner had they not approached me with the airdrop I was eligible for Ethereum.

Not all these tokens are worth a lot, if only a dozen cents to a couple dollars at best, but when combined together they’re worth more than what I moved from Ethereum. It’s truly ironic twist of fate. While these airdrops were not all part of my long term plan, let alone budget, the idiot would have gotten their $2k had they just listened to me in the first place.

Liveblogging

Live blogging is based on the principles of microblogging, e.g. Twitter, but narrows it down to specific events without harming the blog itself. It’s simply just another post or page. The idea of starting my own liveblogs for certain events has gone through my mind. Then I discovered 24liveblog from a site I follow that uses it. I figured I’d sign up and use it when the time comes for some event I’m interested in.

Well, be careful what you wish for. Russia has officially attacked Ukraine. But while tensions date back to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the crises has escalated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after several false flag incidents today. Sound familiar? While war is not what I’m interested in, it would be wrong for me to ignore it. So guess what I’m liveblogging?

The “Low Cost” Miner

While I fully acknowledge crypto mining is virtually unsustainable now, mining was my only solution for me before the events of last year. But as ASICs began to grow, a rather unfortunate realization began to emerge. Early adopters of the first generation of blockchains (Bitcoin and its directives) have pretty much consolidated their power through the very mechanism that was supposed to decentralize the system. Not to mention the environmental cost of all that power combined. Those who still supported traditional mining looked to ASIC-resistant solutions as an alternative while the majority of newer generation blockchains have shifted towards staking.

Trials and (Mostly) Errors

Despite the hate the platform gets due to the environmental impact of NFTs, Ethereum is actually resistant to ASICs and strictly uses GPUs but this has come at a cost to higher transaction fees and a low GPU supplies caused by rich miners. It is slightly more efficient than Bitcoin but just barely. Regardless, I tried to mining Ethereum when I got a gaming laptop long before the pandemic. However, I am a gamer and an artist who is learning to 3D model. So it didn’t last long.

Simultaneously, I’ve also tried Monero. It is a more pure ASIC-resistant in that it requires only a CPU to get decent earnings. Monero, like modern coins, serves a purpose. It is meant to provide privacy and security. This means it is impossible to know who sent what amount even within the chain itself. Only the sender and receiver know. I’ve mined it the most frequently on my own hardware but still barely get anything in return because the mining difficulty is, as always, high.

A lesser known coin I’ve used was Gridcoin. It uses a mixture of staking and distributed computing through Folding@Home as a form of mining. It is a novel but honorable concept. However, Gridcoin is a first generation coin that derives from Bitcoin’s codebase. Its narrow focus has likely limited its growth despite being one of the early coins to use staking.

The Future of Mining

Like physical mining, digital mining of cryptocurrencies on the hardware is likely going to fade away in the near future. While it helped lead to a revolution in how we do finance, it is a concept that is good in theory but its environmental impact, consolidation of powers at higher difficulty rates, and insane transaction fees on platforms like Ethereum make it unsustainable in the long run. I doubt Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, could have seen that coming.

But now that we have the money in circulation, we can use it to invest some of that capital by locking it away in staking vaults and liquidity pools. Both of which offer an alternative to earning crypto through interest while benefiting the ecosystem at large.

No insane amount of energy required.