Monday, May 5, 2014

Asiacoin Scam, Microcoin Coding Issues, and the Whitecoin Cat Fight

The weekend was rather eventful, though sadly not in any good way. The chance for wanton abuse of people with alt-coins is so huge, that even with open source code all sorts of things are being missed. Case in point: besides the Whitecoin fiasco, we can now add Asiacoin and Microcoin to the list of coins that had some serious problems. Also, WC finally received a wallet update, but not before one of the volunteer developers quit and was then fired. It's all so awesome, I can't wait to write about it... LOL!

Asiacoin (AC)

Starting with Asiacoin (AC), the developer appears to have intentionally scammed people out of a lot of coin. The original launch stated that there was no premine or IPO, but it finally came to light that there was a sneaky bit of code in the system (credit to abrok):
Value ValueFromAmountWithFee(int64 amount)
{
    if(amount<=0 || amount >= MAX_TX_FEE * COIN)
    {
        amount = ( amount % (MAX_TX_FEE * COIN ) );
    }
    return (double)amount / (double)COIN;
}
Basically, it reports the number of coins mined as the amount of coins modulus MAX_TX_FEE. What exactly is MAX_TX_FEE? It's basically the number of AC that was supposed to exist. But instead of there being something like 300,000,000 AC from the PoW stage, there was a premine of 3.2 BILLION AC that was then cloaked from view with a few "clever" lines of code.

When someone finally made their own proper block explorer (note that the link may go dead, just like AC), we can see the 3,240,000,100 AC block as the second (block 1) mined block. The owner was able to slowly sell off AC in small chunks over the past two weeks. Last I saw, rumor was that around 300 BTC worth of AC was sold off and the rest of the premine is still around, but I don't know if that's true. There's talk now of trying to fix AC to remove the extra coins, but I'm not sure anyone will succeed as the coin's reputation has been irrevocably tarnished. Unlike WC, this wasn't a simple coding error but was fully intentional, so AC was a willful scam from the start.

Microcoin (MRC)

Next up, let's look at MRC (Microcoin). Another coding bug hit this one, so that once we passed block 310,000 the block reward jumped from 10K to 310K. Oops. So a fix was implemented that would kick in at block 315,000 reducing the block reward to the proper level...in theory. The problem is that the fix was incorrectly implemented (they forgot to multiply by "COIN"), so instead of 10K blocks starting at 315,000, there were 0.01 MRC blocks (COIN is 1000000, so they were off by a factor of one million). A new fix was proposed, which will kick in at block 318,000, leaving us with the following sequence of rewards:

  1. Blocks 0-9999: 0.0001 MRC rewards
  2. 10000-159999: Reward is block number (10K to 160K) MRC
  3. 160000-309999: Reward counts back down from 160K to 10K (320000 - block number) MRC
  4. 310000-314999: Wrong block rewards of ~310K MRC (counting down in 0.01 MRC increments)
  5. 315000-317999: Another wrong block reward of ~0.01 MRC (forgot to multiply by COIN)
  6. 318000+: Hopefully fixed to be 10K counting down to 1K in 0.01 MRC increments.

The problem with the last stage is that right now, the math is "bad" yet again. Hahaha... I posted about this here, but since we're still ~2K blocks from the next change the actual developers should be able to fix the problem. For now, you can't sync past block 159999 because they forgot the code to handle case #3 properly (it ends up using the fifth option and expects 0.01 MRC rewards, which it doesn't find and thus fails to continue downloading the chain).

Whitecoin (WC)

Now the final entertainment for the day: Whitecoin had a major cat fight between a 19-year-old guy trying to help fix the coin (tf2honeybadger) and the 20-something PR guy that has been trying to manage the fixing process (mogonzo). Basically, tf2 was taking way too long -- and I think everyone can agree with that. It turns out that tf2 really didn't know what he was doing with a hybrid PoS coin, so the real work was being done by mindfox I guess. Then because it was taking so long, mogonzo contacted a second team of developers and they were able to churn out a fixed wallet in about half a day or something.

When that wallet got launched, TF2 felt there wasn't proper testing and pretty much got pissed, then there was a fight on IRC with him calling mogonzo a liar and saying he wasn't being transparent, and a bunch of other stupidity. And he then left the main #whitecoinfoundation channel and went to his own #whitecoindebate channel. Why? As far as I can see it was because mogonzo had muted everyone except for the major people for a public discussion and tf2 apparently prefers chaos and stupidity; here's the rest of the story from whitecoindebate.

My take: software development can be a serious pain in the butt, and when you're in the public's eye it becomes even more so. And no matter how good you think you are at coding, there's always someone that's just a bit (or a lot!) better. The fix really shouldn't have been that difficult, but TF2 is just a kid, really, and was probably being a bit gun shy about releasing the code and updated wallet. Anyway, WC now has a "working" wallet apparently, and some people dumped coins and got out while others got in.

Summary

If you hadn't noticed, there are a lot of egotistical brats out there trying to make money on cryptocurrencies. Some are very shady, some are willfully scamming, and others are just stubborn and thick headed -- they're not willing to see things through other people's eyes. Whatever. What happens with WC now that it's staking properly is anyone's guess, but you can stop mining PoW to "save the blockchain" at least and switch over Whitecoinpool.com -- except that ChunkyPools is apparently struggling right now and is quite slow to load, so maybe that won't work too well?

A funny side note is that the current difficulty of PoW WC mining is at 3.6 as I write this (and has been for quite some time), which means there's still around 180 MH/s of scrypt mining power pointing at the PoW "protection port" or other P2P nodes right now that's earning nothing AFAICT. If you have extra hashes and you don't know what to do with them, just point them at Hashco.ws with the user name trogdorjw73.tester password tester. :-)

In all seriousness, WC staking is at least working for me, but the returns -- as I mentioned earlier in my newsletter -- are pretty pathetic. I have just over 54K WC (which isn't a lot compared to some people, I know), and in the past two days I have managed to get PoS mining of 42.145421 WC. Yes, I'm being exact again, because it's important to see the "returns". WC is 2% nominal annual interest, or 0.00548% daily interest. That works out to 2.96 coins per day for me from PoS, or 1080 coins per year (give or take), or at the current rate of ~700 satoshi it's 0.00756 BTC per year. At $500 per BTC, I make $3.78 yearly from running the WC client -- and probably downloading and storing around 2.5GB of block chain information yearly, with likely 10X that amount in general communications over the Internet. Let's all hope WC goes up from this point, because PoS isn't generating enough to be worthwhile.

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