Cross-posted from Boris’ blog: https://blog.bmannconsulting.com/hello-spade/
Cross-posted from Boris’ blog: https://blog.bmannconsulting.com/hello-spade/
All of the presentations were great, and lead to good Q&A in the room, and extended discussions in hallways and over meals. Being the first one, we had a bit of the “wall of presentations” issue — where after EIP0 and EDCON and this 9am to 8pm day — the people in the room just had full brains from processing so much stuff. The key lesson: more whiteboards and discussions, less front of room lecturing.
Lots of opportunity to do more deep dive Working Groups in all areas going forward. There are so many meta-problems at various levels of the Ethereum ecosystem that projects are grappling with individually, but need a high level of coordination to solve. The Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) process is one way to do this — but we do need to get to interoperability of implementations, which means working together on buckling down and writing lines of code.
My experience at WalletConf and other meetings around EDCON has led to me joining the forum that represents the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians, a community group dedicated to improving the technical excellence of the Ethereum platform.
This is a primarily technical group, whose vision is stated as:
The Goal. To keep Ethereum The Best It Can Technically Be.
The Mission. To Nurture Community Consensus on the technical direction and specification of Ethereum.
The Work. Primarily, high-quality Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), accepted by a consensus of the Community.
The full proposed mission statement makes for good reading to understand what the Fellowship is.
I realize for a community that is just booting up, and setting itself very hard goals about remaining decentralized with no central leader or lead organization, that I can contribute some of my community learnings, event organizing skills, and reflection on how we might do things differently this time around.
It’s great to see that the Smart Contract Security & Audit community is already well on its way to organizing their first Working Group session, which will take place in September alongside ETHBerlin.
I’m now volunteering with the Magicians to help organize the Berlin Council in mid July – the second of planned Tri-Annual meetings to gather the Magicians together in person (and via Livestream) to have the face to face discussions that lead to “Rough Consensus and Running Code”.
If you’re interested in community & technical excellence, join the forum, and join us in Berlin for extended discussion.
Or, since we’re decentralized – organize your own local meetup, Working Group, or other event to make the Ethereum community better.
I’m spending the summer in Berlin. Rachael and I both needed a bit of a reboot, and Berlin is a great city for both us: lots of tech activity and seemingly the center of a ton of Ethereum activity for the next little while, and great arts & culture scene for her.
I’m doing research on the local Berlin community and events that are happening on the Frontier Community under the ‘berlin’ tag.
I’ve been introduced to a number of people already and am looking forward to learning more about the local community. If you’re in Berlin, or have connections or tips, please leave me a comment or edit my Berlin Research wiki.
Cross-posted from the Frontier Foundry blog
On the way home from Bowen the other day, we needed a late lunch and stopped before getting home to our temporary place in Yaletown.
There is a Vietnamese noodle place just around the corner that we decided to try.
I’m not entirely sure why the menu says Pho Gold Train and it says 24 Train Express Noodle House on the outside.
There is pink and blinking lights and so much other stuff crammed in.
The menu is big. I like to have the “special” pho most places – with tendon & tripe & beef balls & rare beef – just to get a baseline around their broth flavour and quality.
Here, I noticed Pho Sate which I had never heard of before. When ordering, I got asked “coconut or lemon grass” – I didn’t know what I was in for so picked coconut.
The bowl is pictured at the top of this post. Yum!
Researching it now, an old Chowhound post describes Pho Sate:
Pho Sate is a variation on Vietnamese Pho soup. The difference is that Pho Sate has a spiciness and heartiness from the addition of some sort of chili-peanut paste. When done correctly, it’s heaven on earth… the most satisfying soup in existence. My sources from my favorite Winnipeg Pho spot (Thanh Huong) tell me that it’s a specialty of Northern Vietnamese cooking and that there are moslty southern Vietnamese in Montreal, thus the lack of Pho Sate on menus.
It very much reminded me of a Singaporean laksa soup (which has coconut milk & curry).
A simple quick lunch, cheap and tasty. Now to explore the lemon grass version and where else in Vancouver I can try Pho Sate.
On Foursquare »
For my mid March 2018 Bowen Weekend, I spent Saturday afternoon making a beef short rib stew.
The short ribs were two packages of frozen organic beef short ribs from Famous Foods. One package had bones, the other was giant chunks of mostly meat. I put some olive oil and salt and pepper on them, and stuck them in a 400F oven on roast.
While the ribs browned I prepped my mise.
A chopped onion and three cloves of garlic. Frozen tomatoes picked last summer in Lillooet by my mom. A couple of green peppers. A couple of zucchini. A half bag of spinach. A handful of mushrooms. A plan to put in a couple of spoons of pesto.
Browned! About 15 minutes or so. Since they started frozen, I pulled them apart and flipped the non-browned bits down. Another 10 minutes in the oven.
Next I set the meat aside, leaving the beef fat and oil in the pan. I sautéed onions & garlic, added two fresh Bay leaves, and two Tablespoons of pesto. I let that simmer on low heat for 10 minutes then added the tomatoes.
Worked the tomatoes around until coated in oil and pesto and then put the lid on and let it simmer and thaw for a bit.
Then the spinach, mushrooms, and green peppers. I wanted the spinach to melt, but the zucchini would be too mushy so I left it until later.
Also 2 cups of red wine and salt and pepper.
I put the lid on and stirred it occasionally on the stove top until everything was mixed and melted. Very technical, I know! I added a Tablespoon of tomato paste to get the umami to bring out the beef flavour.
I put the browned ribs back in at this point and put the whole thing in the oven, covered, at 300F. After 30 minutes, here’s what it looked like.
Going for our afternoon walk, I left this covered on the stove top, then came back and cooked for an additional 2 hours at 300F, covered. I put the zucchini in for the last 30 minutes.
No pictures of the final production! Served with rice in deep plates, and some baguette to dip into the sauce as well. The meat was super tender. There was a little salt missing, and the pesto flavour didn’t really come through at all. Next time I would skip the pesto completely.
I walk to work from our temp place in Yaletown. This is the pedestrian part of Robson, the art gallery, and green roof of Hotel Vancouver with some amazing clouds.
At the end of the day, hurrying over to the first stop of the Horseshoe Bay Express 257 bus, I really liked the evening light. Perhaps Daylight Savings time is good for something? Looking south up Burrard with Hotel Vancouver from the other side.
Once you are on the ferry you can start leaving the mainland behind. This end of day view of coming into Snug Cove on Bowen Island is something I’ve carried with me for my whole life.
I do lots of cooking when I’m home. Lovely to have fresh eggs from neighbours behind my parents’ place, with such green colours too. And sun!
One of the things Rachael said about coming over this weekend was that she needed to go visit the forest. Our temp adventure in a Yaletown condo has been interesting, and it’s lovely to be close to the seawall, but we feel farther away from green.
This is Rachael at the edge of Killarney Lake, and then a view in each direction from the bridge by the Meadows.
We met a lovely black and white cat walking back from the lake.
I could put in a half dozen photos of a beef short rib stew, but we’ll leave that for a separate cooking post.
With the sun out, fitting in two walks is a must. A short trip to “my” beach, Pebbly. The tide was up and there are lots of winter storm logs. The sun is out, but the wind is whipping the waves and through our coats.
A couple of crazies at the beach.
The magnolias are coming.
Today is Sunday and is much more gray. I’m sipping my third cup of coffee and writing this post. Slowly we’re thinking about what ferry to catch, and errands we need to run for the week.
Hi Bonnie — thanks for the kind words. Small in quantity, High in Quality has definitely always been the goal. Or put more simply, curation.
To answer your question, we tested those ideas in the format of the investment dinner series, and didn’t see much changes.
As we ran events, we came to see investors as our customers. After year 1, we charged membership fees to investors, and increased those fees in subsequent years. We conducted interviews with members and did some yearly surveys on member investments and feedback.
“We” are looking for other people to test/validate further ideas. So we are open to other suggestions on what path Open Angel should follow.
At our year end 2017 board meeting, we kicked around a number of refresh ideas for 2018. One of the hypotheses was that the core mission — “Connecting founders & funders” — had absolutely been met. The social connections of investors and different sets of founders was/is valuable.
We brainstormed a bit what it might look like on getting leads/syndicates to attend, to have larger events — potentially with no investment presentations, but rather investing/company building topics. What would 100 person events look like? What follow up could be done? How would we measure success? (we really hate “bums in seats” as a metric)
We also looked at potentially doing more with mentorship and facilitation, as we saw no correlation between companies attending any of the local incubator programs and being investable / successful. But even doing “mentorship light” is a ton of work as a volunteer organization.
We have also in the past kick around various side car funds or pre-committed funds as an option to solve the lack of leads problem: having the first cheque already be in place for, say, half the companies that presented. Probably something that would work, but better run by a for-profit entity.
Personally, I (Boris) felt that new investors was a thing we could do more of. What does it mean to have “young” investors? Could there be a format where founders invest in each others’ companies, to teach angel investing early?
I have some other thoughts that indicate that the model of the last 15 years of early-stage angel investing in tech companies may be at an end, but that’s a whole other post. If we focused on IndieVC-style convertible loans, this might be a much better path to “some” companies becoming venture sized, but many more becoming sustainable businesses. And solve the number one issue for many angels — liquidity and capital available for investing.
A couple of weeks ago we sent out an email to our members and angel investors letting them know that the February 2018 Open Angel investment dinner would be the last one. We opened the doors and invited everyone to attend, including many previous presenting companies.
Ed and Boris have been running the event for almost 4 years. It’s been a good experience but Ed and Boris both have other, increasingly demanding commitments, from Ed’s travel to Uganda to support Ensibuuko, to Boris’ new company Finhaven.
We originally created Open Angel because of the prevalence of pay-to-pitch (which still didn’t result in cheques written), or pitch theatre (startup presentations without any serious investors in attendance) events. As many of you know, we focused on “cheques written” as our sole measure of success.
We do feel proud of having run a high quality event that curated both presenting startups and investors, without charging startups to present. Many local investors stepped up and bought annual memberships, or paid to attend individual events.
Open Angel Canada is a BC non-profit society. It has 5 directors — Ed, Boris, Justin Young from Osler, Amy Rae from Vanedge, and Alan Albert. It has a website, a contact & mailing list, and a bank account. It is a member of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).
The board has been a “working board” — meaning that much of the work has been done by board members directly. Except, of course, for our Progra Manager Shawna Quinton, who has been instrumental in helping run things smoothly for the past couple of years.
We also have a number of supporters we’ve called the “Unterboard” — a core group that we ask for feedback on new ideas and support in getting the word out.
Lastly, there have been a number of volunteer facilitators — mentors that were assigned to each presenting company ahead of the investment dinner pitch event. They met with the teams, workshopped the pitch deck, and helped explain what investors are looking for. Thanks to all of you that have helped out.
For now, we aren’t shutting down the society, but we are shutting down the investment dinner series.
We seem to have a pretty good process for picking companies from the last research we did, but we haven’t seen an increase in the number or size of cheques written. We haven’t seen new angel investors step up. We have seen the creation of professional angel investment funds (Chris Bissonnette’s Pallasite Ventures in particular) that have had huge impact, but that has nothing to do with Open Angel.
Our sense is that, at best, we have redirected some of the existing investment dollars into the companies we curate. But we didn’t move the needle on seeing more deals funded or larger investments made, so we don’t think we changed the amount of early-stage angel investment risk capital in Vancouver.
We don’t know why, but we have some opinions:
The biggest issue we saw — especially since Open Angel isn’t a group that manages investments directly — is a lack of deal leads.
Of our members and attendees, few felt comfortable going first / negotiating the deal. More often than not, we see first-time founders being the ones who issue a term sheet, often a SAFE, and at best getting a few small $10K — $25K cheques from individuals.
There are some family offices (Conconi) and seed funds (Vancouver Founder’s Fund) who are great leads & were often attendees. These funds don’t necessarily work to broadly syndicate their deals, they tend to invest a little later, and they aren’t necessarily changing the number of deals they are doing so this doesn’t move the needle on deals in Vancouver.
Many of the companies that presented at an Open Angel investment dinner told us that it was a pivotal moment for them. Their connection to the facilitation process and experience of the event “woke them up” for what investors needed to see.
These companies went on to get accepted into TechStars and other premium accelerator programs. And yet, they would often accept this funding, go through the program, and raise money on Demo Day without any Vancouver area investors participating.
This is an area which could be improved across Canada. Angel investors could invest into companies as they went into top-tier accelerator programs, and they would see a lift in valuation across the portfolio of companies by Demo Day. It would also keep ties back to home for those companies, rather than “losing” them to the US ecosystem.
Should Open Angel or some other group keep tabs on this or run a broad syndication program to invest in all Canadian startups going to foreign tech accelerators?
Before we started Open Angel, a common refrain amongst angel investors was that they would invest more if there were better companies to invest in. Our research shows that this just isn’t true.
If we have learned one thing from our efforts it’s that raising the bar for the companies that pitch doesn’t lead to more investment. There are a handful of professional angels who are genuinely looking for the best deals, but in cash-short Vancouver they don’t need a pitch event to find deals — everybody just comes to them.
The rest of the angels seem to prefer to source their own deals and don’t worry too much about whether or not those are the best available deals.
Many people have approached us saying they want to help, or perhaps take over, the investment dinner series, or to help reboot Open Angel in some way.
We are inviting people to come to an information sharing session on Wednesday, March 21st, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, at the SFU VentureLabs space. We’ll share information, answer questions, and see how people want to move forward. Please register on our site if you’re going to attend→
We’ll ask that interested parties prepare a one page intention or vision document of what they want to do going forward, and submit that to us by the end of March. We’ll review it as a board, and see what’s next.
Thanks to everyone for your support and participation. We look forward to what’s next for Open Angel in Vancouver.
— Ed, Boris, Shawna
 Technically the first co-working space in Canada was community run in Charlottetown, PEI, before the term became popularized. I’ll stick with WorkSpace as the first commercial co-working space for sure.
I’m in Victoria for a couple of days and I’ve been exploring the city. I went past a hemp clothing store and saw a sign for a Bitcoin ATM and decided to try it out.
A good point to make is that while I am working on a company that deals with blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies, I personally don’t really hold much crypto, other than to experiment with. I don’t have “trader” mentality so I focus a lot on the technology and the community. The bitcoins I sold I mostly got from Earn.com.
Here’s the BitBrokers sign that explains a bit of background.
I probably should have taken a photo of the whole machine. It’s a big box that has a number of different slots and printers and cameras.
This is the welcome screen. I picked Sell Bitcoins.
I found this next screen very confusing. “For how much cash you want to sell?” isn’t the correct way to say this. I knew how much BTC I had, how much would the machine give me?
Maybe “How much cash would you like to withdraw?” might be better wording.
I finally figured this out and thought I’d take out $80CAD.
I did try the “Buy Bitcoins” option as well just to see. That green “Preview” box is a live camera view for scanning QR codes. Crypto wallets are one of the apps that have really taught people that QR codes are a thing again.
Back to the flow of selling BTC for CAD.
I skipped photographing several screens here.
One prompted me to enter a phone number for SMS updates. This was a great idea, but either I typed my phone number in wrong (the touchscreen double entered numbers and was hard to backspace) or it didn’t work at all.
The other screen displayed an address and a QR code of the address I should send BTC to. As noted above in the final screen, I needed to do it within 60 minutes.
The machine also printed out a ticket, again with the QR code that I needed to send to. This made it easy to open my crypto wallet and scan the address to send to.
On my end, I hit send and then my crypto wallet gave me updates on confirmations. Unfortunately, the store was closing and the transaction didn’t confirm by the time I had to leave.
The next day I came back and selected “Redeem Ticket”. This meant aligning the QR code of the ticket with the Preview box until it scanned. Having been folded in my pocket overnight, this took some doing.
Finally, success! The machine spat out four $20CAD bills.
In case you’re wondering, I turned it into meat & beer for a delicious birthday dinner ;)
I need to sit down and figure out all the fees I was charged and what the conversion rate actually was. I paid a lot to go from BTC>CAD.
But, if the store had been open longer, I could’ve completed the whole transaction within about 10 minutes. Too slow for an ATM use case, very fast for an investment account to cash withdrawal.
Usability was terrible. The touchscreen was bad, the UI was not clear/badly written, and the camera and how to use it was both bad and unclear. So I guess this is a novelty? Or no competition?
In emerging markets, regular ATMs are rare. But everywhere there are agents that take in mobile money and hand out cash, or take in cash to turn it into mobile money. I can see SMS or USSD interfaces working peer to peer, or for smartphones, a direct model with QR codes shown on screen / scanned with camera on the phone. I’ve been handing out Dogecoin using the iOS dough wallet and it’s been working great.
Merchants taking crypto directly is most interesting. I have some thoughts on “regional tokens” that I think builds the right kind of community and usage.
Hi Matthew Unger — great to hear from you!
I agree, we are unlikely to need a completely separate token standard. ERC20 has been widely used and has broad interoperability for the last 18+ months. ERC721 has rapidly become the standard for non-fungible tokens / digital collectibles. As I mentioned in the original article, ERC777 has some good upgrades but is backwards compatible with ERC20 which is what the whole industry will likely need to keep supporting as the ecosystem is so young.
The reason for pursuing a standard is to have the discussion in public and find other people to cooperate and interoperate with. If all we do is develop single, non-decentralized front ends to security tokens, we are just re-implementing the way security exchanges need to be setup per country.
We’ll be writing more about this next week, but here is our draft ERC around validating tokens for a variety of business logic needs. We want something that is broadly accepted and interoperable, and are drafting in public and holding community meetups so we can work with others around the world. The Harbor team created a repo for their R-Token, which we think is very similar to our thinking.
Will the EIP process be the best place / way to create interoperability? Not sure, but that’s what we’re starting with, and we think it’s a more “shared space” than forcing people to only come into “our” Github repo.
Totally agree that identity / KYC is an evolving area. Along with privacy of individual peoples’ details, I don’t know if it’s feasible to create decentralized KYC — so people don’t continually need to re-KYC themselves. I do want Finhaven to work with all sorts of identity providers and standards, and meet the needs of different regulatory bodies.
Hope to continue the discussion in person in Vancouver!
Back in October 2016 I had explored what my next machine after my Macbook Air 11" might be. Back then, I didn’t replace my machine, but bought a very cheap Chromebook to experiment with. I was pleasantly surprised by the options available in installing Linux, but it was such an under-powered machine that I would find opening too many tabs in Chrome crashing it completely.
This past week, I decided to buy a more powerful, full featured Chromebook, specifically one that supports installing Android apps & recommended by The Wirecutter, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302. The price was $670 Canadian after taxes, import fees, and shipping. The list price is $449USD.
I documented my adventures so far on Twitter:
If you review the thread, you can see I spent several hours cursing the fact that my main (personal) Google account is an “enterprise” account tied to bmann.ca, and “my” user kept being prevented from enabling installation of Android apps, or switching into developer mode.
Once I got past that and started poking around, I’ve been super pleased to see that I can use Android apps, and that this more powerful machine is well built and easy to use.
I briefly considered dual-booting GalliumOS, a Linux distribution that is tuned for Chromebooks. But if I were dual booting, I should just run Linux. And I got a Chromebook because worst case scenario, I’ve got a stable and secure browser / OS combo that I don’t have to configure and will just work.
Chromebooks do run Linux underneath, and actually expose the ChromeOS Shell, aka “crosh”, by just hitting Ctrl-Alt-T, and then typing in shell. However, since we’ve got a nice big screen and window management, you’ll want to install the following two Chrome apps. The Chrome Secure Shell is an SSH client, but more importantly a configurable terminal. I don’t use it directly at all, it’s just a pre-requisite for running Crosh Window, which is one click access to crosh in its own window, so that various Control key shell command sequences don’t get picked up by Chrome.
Since I last tested a cheap low end Chromebook, it’s clear that ChromeOS itself, especially when paired with Android apps, can do a bunch of things directly without installing Linux or anything else.
(and specifically, crouton — Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment — is what you can use to run Linux side-by-side with ChromeOS)
In particular, Chromebrew brings a similar interface to Mac OS X’s Homebrew to crosh, letting you easily install various command line packages.
I’ve started installing various things to crosh directly and will see how far I get. Much like the Linux-underpinnings of Mac OS X, this may be the perfect balance of stable graphical interface plus full command line access.
With Android apps available, there are now three ways to have apps on Chromebooks:
I don’t have a long list of apps to recommend. Anything you already run will likely run as a Web App or Android App, and since there are relatively few apps that are tablet optimized, the desktop browser version often runs better.
I will be exploring Android apps that work in touchscreen / tablet mode, and happy to get suggestions from people.
This was one of the original things that made me want to see if a relatively cheap Chromebook could do something like gaming. For the Christmas season, I had a little bit of downtime and signed up with Parsec to stream Windows games from my Steam account to my old Mac Mini, my mom’s ancient iMac, and my MBAir 11". Parsec streamed to all of them beautifully. And I saw that they had an “experimental” APK for Android.
Short answer: it works great! I haven’t connected a wired mouse or gamepad to this Chromebook yet, but I assume that might even go OK.
Underneath, Parsec uses Paperspace, which provides the cloud servers that run your instance. I have full access to the Windows machine, so I could install anything.
My $169 development Chromebook details not enabling developer mode to keep the security of verified boot. Instead, it recommends using Termux as a user-space full Linux environment. This looks really promising, and I will experiment with this, even though I did have to enable developer mode in order to run the unsigned Parsec APK.
Coding on a Chromebook goes through multiple options and apps, including more details on crouton. The author also maintains a build of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code that runs on Chromebooks, sitting on top of a crouton-powered install. The Chrome app editor mentioned, Caret, is what I had used previously, and it is a decent programmer’s text editor.
I haven’t run into any issues. It’s a solid machine that is 1/3 the price of a Macbook, and 1/2 the price of a Macbook Air 13".
I mean, don’t be like me and join your machine to your enterprise account. And my work account, which I signed in with as a second user, again can’t install Android apps. So, I’m using my personal account and then also logging in to various work Google accounts, but that won’t be different than how many people run their desktop computers.
With both Android apps and Chrome browser windows, window management feels a little strange, but the “show all windows” command does tile both Chrome windows and Android apps, and Alt-Tab cycles between them too. I do find that many Android apps expect you to be using the touchscreen.
I’ll be using it as my primary machine and see what pops up.
Chromebooks, especially with Android apps, are a viable every day computer. Adding streaming and a cloud-hosted machine means you can do basically anything you need.