Announcing Parity – Fastest and Lightest Ethereum Implementation in Rust

08 February 2016

Update from Ethcore Founder, Dr Gavin Wood

Here at Ethcore we believe that the blockchain is here to stay. We believe that IoT is here to stay. We believe that decentralization and empowerment are here to stay. The digitization of assets, contracts and identity will help individuals, businesses and governments do what they need to do faster, better and cheaper. That’s why we’re building the best technology for running the best blockchains in the world.

Ethcore is a new venture built by many of the people who brought Ethereum from an initial whitepaper to the first global smart-contract network administering over $200m of value. Founded by Dr. Gavin Wood (Co-designer of the Ethereum protocol and the EVM, and Inventor of the Solidity language) together with Dr. Jutta Steiner (Chief Security Manager, Ethereum, and Co-founder, Provenance), Dr. Aeron Buchanan (Head of Operations, Ethereum), Kenneth Kappler (Communications Manager, Ethereum) and TJ Saw (CEO, OxLegal), Ethcore will be working with trail-blazing startups and global industry leaders alike to help unleash the immense potential of the Ethereum protocol throughout key verticals such as energy, IoT, finance and asset-tracking.

Exactly 2 years after the initial public release of the trailblazing C++ Ethereum client, Ethcore is proud to announce its flagship blockchain technology suite, Parity. Parity is a fully compliant Ethereum client built from the ground up for the IoT and enterprise environment. We’re combining open standards, cutting-edge technologies, the best practices of software development and unsurpassed in-house expertise to create a low-footprint, high-performance, ultra-reliable, developer-friendly, secure and modular blockchain technology set. Parity is the first in a series of scheduled releases which will, over the course of 2016, usher in various optimizations and functionality to make the Ethereum protocol more relevant to both IoT and enterprise.

Ethcore will take an aggressive position in the pursuit of Free software and open standards. We will continue to work closely with others in the Ethereum and blockchain community. As much as possible of our software, including our Parity product line, will be made fully open under the popular Free software licence GNU GPL, exactly the same as the Linux kernel on which we expect Parity to run, allowing everyone to benefit from the success of our vision.

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Google Is Finally Killing Picasa

picasa-google-photos It hasn’t made sense for Google to continue to invest in two separate photo storage and sharing applications, as it has been doing with the newer Google Photos and the dated software Picasa. And now the company is finally going to do something about that: Google announced this morning that it will no longer support the Picasa desktop application as of March 16, 2016. In addition, it… Read More

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Pinterest open-sources Teletraan, a tool for code deployments

Among the things a developer worries about most, deploy is near – or at – the top of the list. A deployment is often the first time a new code change runs in the production environment. A dependable and straightforward deploy tool is a crucial part of any developer’s arsenal.

A deploy system should support the following functionalities:

  • Rollback. This is the most important feature of any deploy tool. Having a time machine to go back to a certain previous state is priceless.
  • Hotfix. There are times when rollback is either impractical or hard, and so a hotfix is easier to perform and faster to deploy with higher priority over the regular ones.
  • Rolling deploy. Deploy shouldn’t interrupt service, but if absolutely necessary, the impact has to be minimal. It’s important to halt the deployment if a certain number of servers have failed to upgrade or a service SLA is violated.  
  • Staging and testing. Deploying to production directly has higher risks than deploying to a staging environment or canary to verify things work first. Often times engineers don’t follow this best practice because of the overhead of creating a staging environment and integrating it with their tests. A good deploy system minimizes such overhead.
  • Visibility. Make sure it’s easy to find out which code changes are available to deploy and the number of hosts running new and older versions. It’s also important to easily track which code change was introduced when and by whom, as well as the critical metrics and alarms status during a deployment.
  • Usability. A simple user interface is key for the above functionalities.

Introducing Teletraan

Teletraan is our internal deploy system for supporting all of the above functions (named after a character from the famous Transformer TV series). It was built by a small group of development tools engineers on the Cloud Engineering team that drives reliability, speed, efficiency and security for the site and infrastructure.

Design overview

Teletraan follows the traditional client-server model with MySQL as the backend data storage.

Deploy agents are daemons running on all the hosts and interact with Agent Service periodically to get the latest instructions. During a deployment, an agent downloads and extracts service build tar along with specific deploy scripts, and executes them. These deploy scripts include PRE/POST-DOWNLOAD scripts, PRE/POST-RESTART scripts and the RESTART script itself, and are responsible for stopping and starting services.

Teletraan Workers perform jobs in the background, such as transitioning deploy states based on deploy progress and performing auto deploys based on schedule.

Teletraan Service provides APIs support for Deploy Board and any RESTful calls. It’s responsible for most deploy-related actions, including deploy and rollback. It also creates and maintains service deploy configuration, answers deploy and agent status queries, enforces permission control and more.

Advanced features

In addition to the core functionalities listed above, Teletraan also supports several advanced features:

  • Pause and resume. It comes in handy when a developer wants to double check  something before the code is fully deployed to the cluster.
  • Qualification. Once configured, a successful deploy will trigger an acceptance test to qualify it. An accepted deploy could be used for future promote or auto deploy to the next stage
  • Auto Deploy. Automatically promote builds from one stage to another whenever a new build is available or based on cron job-like schedule settings. An auto deploy could be paused, rollbacked or overridden by the system automatically upon failures.

Teletraan has helped us move faster and ship code easier. We want to share these deploy tools with the world, and are planning to open-source Teletraan later this year. Keep an eye on the blog for updates.

Baogang Song is an engineering lead on the Internal Development Tools team, which is part of the Cloud Engineering team at Pinterest.

Acknowledgements: Teletraan was built by Jinru He, Nick DeChant and Baogang Song from the Internal Development Tools team.

For Pinterest engineering news and updates, follow our engineering Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Interested in joining the team? Check out our Careers site.

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Never forget a task or billable hour with this cloud-based time-tracking tool

If you’ve been scouring the web for a solid cloud-based time-tracking solution, stop the search. Here’s how to use TrackingTime on your Chrome device.

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Transitioning from SPDY to HTTP/2

Last year we announced our intent to end support for the experimental protocol SPDY in favor of the standardized version, HTTP/2. HTTP/2 is the next-generation protocol for transferring information on the web, improving upon HTTP/1.1 with more features leading to better performance. Since then we’ve seen huge adoption of HTTP/2 from both web servers and browsers, with most now supporting HTTP/2. Over 25% of resources in Chrome are currently served over HTTP/2, compared to less than 5% over SPDY. Based on such strong adoption, starting on May 15th — the anniversary of the HTTP/2 RFC — Chrome will no longer support SPDY. Servers that do not support HTTP/2 by that time will serve Chrome requests over HTTP/1.1, providing the exact same features to users without the enhanced performance of HTTP/2.

At the same time, Chrome will stop supporting the TLS protocol extension NPN, which allows servers to negotiate SPDY and HTTP/2 connections with clients. NPN has been superseded by the TLS extension ALPN, published by the IETF in 2014. ALPN is already used 99% of the time to negotiate HTTP/2 with Chrome, and the remaining servers can gain ALPN support by upgrading their SSL library.

We are looking forward to HTTP/2 continuing to gain adoption, bringing us an even faster web.

Posted by Bence Béky, Network Protocol Engineer and HTTP/2 Enthusiast

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Online legal publishers squabble over the right to copyright the law

Two big-name legal research companies are battling in federal court over the right to exclusively publish the law—in this case, the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations.

The lawsuit (PDF) comes as states across the nation partner with legal research companies to offer exclusive publishing and licensing deals for digitizing and making available online the states’ reams of laws and regulations. The only problem is that the law is not copyrightable—or so says one of the publishers involved in the Georgia litigation. In this instance, District of Columbia-based legal publisher Fastcase wants a judge to fend off a cease-and-desist demand from rival Virginia-based Lawriter, which has been designated as the exclusive publisher (PDF) of Georgia’s compilation (PDF) of the rules and regulations of its state agencies. The lawsuit says:

The Georgia Regulations are binding law—a broad-ranging collection of rules and regulations governing areas from consumer protection to banking to elections. The Georgia Regulations are promulgated by public agencies of the State of Georgia, and published for the benefit of the public by the Georgia Secretary of State, as required by O.C.G.A. § 50-13-7. Defendant Lawriter purports to have exclusive rights to publish the Georgia Regulations. Consistent with this claim of exclusive rights, Lawriter has sent Plaintiff Fastcase a demand that Fastcase remove the Georgia Regulations from its legal research service, which is provided as a free member benefit to members of the State Bar of Georgia. The Georgia Regulations are public law published under statutory mandate and are in the public domain. Defendant cannot claim any exclusive right in, to, or in connection with, the Georgia Regulations. Thus, Fastcase seeks declaratory judgment that Lawriter has no basis from which to prohibit Fastcase from publishing the Georgia Regulations in its subscription legal research service.

Fastcase also says Lawriter “cannot claim a valid copyright or an exclusive license to a valid copyright. It is well established in American law that state laws, including administrative rules and regulations, are not copyrightable, and must remain public as a matter of due process.”

In Lawriter’s demand letter, Lawriter says Fastcase has been illegally offering its customers access to the “Georgia Administrative rules and Regulation Electronic Files.”

“According to Lawriter’s records, however, Fastcase has not entered into a subscription with Lawriter for the Electronic Files and therefore appears to be offering the Electronic Files without Lawriter’s consent or authorization, and in violation of Lawriter’s legal rights.” The demand letter (PDF) requests that Fastcase cease the online publishing of Georgia’s law or “purchase a subscription.” The letter also demands “Fastcase immediately provide a written response substantiating its rights to its use of the Electronic Files.” Instead, Fastcase sued.

Fastcase CEO Ed Walters told Ars by e-mail: “This case deals with a small library, but the issues are larger and very important. The law is the last, great walled garden on the Internet, at a time when access to justice is a greater problem than ever. From here, things could go either way. This could be the beginning of an age of open government—or states could partner with private publishers who copyright or paywall the law. We’re not going to sit back and watch this happen. When Lawriter threatened to sue us for using public law, it was time to stand up.”

Georgia has already defended its right to license the law and is suing legal rebel, based in California, for publishing the Peach State’s laws. That case is pending.

“It’s a big deal,” Carl Malamud, who runs, said in an e-mail to Ars. He said the Fastcase-Lawriter litigation “presents the same issues as our case: Can you speak the law without a license from the state? We say anybody can read and speak the law in America because the people own the law.”

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Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to Be Fully in Sync with Debian,Without Ubuntu Specific Patches

If Martin Pitt and his team of skillful developers will manage to fully sync the repositories with upstream, without the need of hacks and workarounds, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will become the greatest release ever made.

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How to make yourself a DIY data scientist

TechRepublic has used big data and social media as a lens to understand the 2016 US presidential race. You can use our simple method to gain deep insights from social media for your business.

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