Career change? How about blockchain?


One thing is certain, we all have to work.

Sometimes we grow weary or uninterested in what we spend the lion’s share of our hours doing, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we’ll have ten different jobs before age forty on average. For professional roles, we can expect to change careers 5-7 times, and even more surprisingly approximately 30% of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months!

If you’ve been listening to the Crypto101 podcast for a while, the thought may have already occurred to you: maybe a career move to the blockchain is something I should explore. If it hasn’t until now, join Matthew Aaron for his interview with Luka Horvat — head of talent operations at Toptal. Luka’s agency specializes in connecting programmers and designers with clients searching for expertise in blockchain applications.

Currently there is a surge in the growth of blockchain companies, which Toptal indicates has resulted in a 700% increase in demand for relevant talent. The explosive growth this subset of the technology sector has experienced coincides with a massive influx of investment which supports these projects in their most nascent stages. In other words, it’s an opportune time to enter the field.

New projects are launching daily and require skilled coders to bring concepts to fruition. Just as in the early days of the internet (where people with a working knowledge of HTML were indispensable), blockchain coders have become utterly essential and in high demand.

What do you need to know to become in-demand in this field, however?

Firstly, Luka suggests that a firm grasp of coding fundamentals is necessary. There are many routes to this destination such as traditional university-based study, utilizing self-instruction via online or book-format tutorials or even YouTube videos. Next, a good understanding of distributed systems and cryptography are necessary to cement the foundation on which blockchain coding is built. The key thing to remember is that it is not the method by which this information is obtained but rather that a candidate has a firm grasp and working ability to employ it.

To move beyond the general to the specific, there are several specific blockchain programming languages to specialize in. Among the most utilized (as of the time of this writing) are Hyperledger and the smart contract language Solidity Aspiring coders would also do well to check out the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.

When it comes to these specific areas, there are little to no formal resources to draw from — this technology is extremely new and changes so rapidly that book and course-based forms of instruction simply aren’t able to be developed quickly enough. Those wishing to get their hands dirty will spend their time more productively getting involved with communities that are actively working on projects. It may be wise to make note of the fact that most blockchain development is focused on backend services rather than user interface, and the latter could potentially be an area of particularly profitable expertise.

Luckily, the vast majority of blockchain development is open-source! Developers can be reached and collaborated with, and newcomers eager to assist are usually welcome. Telegram and Github are good resources to find community projects that are ripe for extra help.

The most important aspect in becoming employable in the blockchain field is to find one particular skill area and to become an expert in it. Projects are seeking practical, real-world solutions and functional implementations rather generalist approaches to blockchain.

Once you feel comfortable with the aforementioned, it is time to look for that potential next employer. Topal utilizes a mixture of online exams and live interviews to vet candidates and is able to match competent individuals with up-and-coming teams. Applicants should be prepared to navigate several dozen questions and to submit a final working blockchain project (your choice) to demonstrate the functional application of that skill set.

Finally, Luka astutely points out that paying attention to what large institutional entities are working on to implement blockchain technology with their existing or developing services. These are likely the best prospect for long-term employment due to longevity and resources available to them.

Thanks again to Luka at Toptal for his insights around taking those first steps toward a new career path in blockchain technology. Check out his interview with Matthew on the Crypto101 podcast HERE.



Trading 101


A hallmark each Crypto101 episode has is when a question is posed to the guest: what would you say to the first-time listener – someone entirely new to cryptocurrencies? For me, personally, Carter Thomas of Coin Mastery has already spoken those first words after searching for podcasts on the topic. I was immediately hooked by his reasonable arguments, calm demeanor and most importantly – the humility that I found in the content of his podcast and YouTube videos.

For this latest episode of Crypto101, we have the distinct pleasure of speaking with Carter and getting his perspective on how to begin successfully trading cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Carter is a California​-based entrepreneur​ and a graduate of Bowdoin College who claims past success in creating and later selling his own advertising and marketing businesses. He currently operates Blue Cloud Solutions[4]​, an online marketing service which assists clients with creating mobile apps.


First let’s get oriented with the basics: what exactly is trading? Put most simply, trading is the process of asset appreciation over time. One item is exchanged for another with an expectation of a change in value at a later date.

First, fiat (dollars, euros, pounds) must be traded in for Bitcoin (or, if you prefer Ethereum or Litecoin) with a basic exchange such as Coinbase or Gemini (sometimes referred to as a fiat on-ramps).

Once a base cryptocurrency has been obtained you can choose to trade it back into fiat at a profit, or you can take that newly acquired cryptocurrency to another exchange where more trading pairs are available. Bittrex, Binance and Poloniex are among the most trafficked, but are only the tip of the iceberg as there are dozens upon dozens of exchanges to explore. Many traders utilize more than one exchange.

Rather than trying to time the market, Carter suggests dollar-cost-averaging in his free introductory course to buying your first cryptocurrency. At this phase, accumulation is more important than active trading. He also places a high degree of importance on framing your expectations by keeping a focus on the preservation of capital instead of chasing elusive gains (in other words, striving to keep what you already have instead of struggling for what you don’t).

A good next step is identifying if the assets you wish to trade are currently in a bull, bear or sideways moving pattern. Identifying trends on differing levels of time (hourly, weekly, monthly) is a must-need skill to begin developing if successful trades are to be made.

Trading time frames have differing levels of advantage as well as risk. Carter endorses a blend of both fundamental and technical analysis as well as monitoring market sentiment. Fundamentals of a project include whether it has a legitimate goal of solving a known problem, if its team have a success in previous projects and what progress have they made on their stated road-map.

As for technical analysis, understanding and observation of support and resistance lines are the most basic starting point for a fledgling trader. More complicated indicators such as candlestick patterns, Fibbonaci retracements and moving averages are likely best avoided until an asset’s price action history and support/resistance levels are understood.

Once you are indeed taking positions, be careful to allocate your funds in ways which don’t make you uncomfortable. If you’re continually worrying, you have definitely over-sized your position. Set rules prior to trading: cash-out some or all of your position at specific percentages (whether it works in your favor or not). If you do experience a loss, examine the fundamentals of the asset to justify whether you will continue holding through the low points.

Due to a very high degree of asset correlation, Cryptocurrency trading is generally favorable to the newcomer, but this doesn’t mean every coin will always bounce back. Use periods of price inactivity to do other things and create balance in your life (exercise, read, be creative, socialize, learn more about fundamentals or blockchain technology). Carter espouses the value of networking with other people in the cryptosphere by attending conferences and meetups, searching out chatrooms and other social media outlets as both a source to enhance his fundamental analysis of projects as well as a way to reflect and unload stress with others who enjoy (or sometimes suffer) participating with the trading process.

Follow these well-reasoned guidelines (as I have) and you’ll fare much better than you will blindly stumbling and learning from your own costly mistakes. You could certainly do a lot worse!

Listen to the Crypto101 Interview with Carter Thomas of Coin Mastery HERE

The Price of Admission


My parents always told my siblings and I that we could be or do anything, if only we worked diligently toward our goals. We were supported unconditionally, and discipline was rendered in an authoritative fashion. Everything was firm but fair.

Out we went into the world, our expectation being that the greater forces of authority would maintain this standard of fairness. We were in control of our destiny, so long as we operated within the boundaries of the rules.

This expectation, however, proved to be unfounded. The system was not designed to benefit those who are removed from positions of privilege.

I enrolled in college directly after graduating high school, led into the corral by the expectation laid out by family, the educational system, and society at large. I lacked intrinsic motivation, however, and quickly abandoned the process. Instead, I became preoccupied with a dangerous predilection for consuming intoxicants.

Meanwhile, I secured a position in the machining trade where I worked in a filthy, noisy production environment for over 8 years. I hated it, and grew miserable. I numbed myself continually, and eventually found myself struggling with a futile effort to regain control of the direction in my life. I nearly failed entirely, having skirted death more times than I care to admit.

Fortunately, I was spared the ongoing and compounding dysfunction that substance dependence nearly always delivers. Through a concerted effort, a full recovery of my faculties was regained over the course of a handful of years. A rebirth had taken place, an alchemical conversion of pain into freedom was my claim. The old adage of the phoenix was no longer a cliche.

I made a decision to resume my studies, nearly a decade after dropping out. It was time to rebuild and get back on course – maybe the system could deliver after all.

I knew the profession I was pursuing paid little (in proportion to the always-advancing cost of education in the United States), but I had no other aptitude or interest but to pursue a graduate degree in social work.

Mindful of the cost, I worked throughout this time. I obtained an assistantship for the duration of my accelerated master’s program (netting me a stipend and my tuition costs cut in half). I practiced the values my parents had instilled: work hard and be frugal. I had to – the cost of education had been climbing steadily for years.

It was an investment in my future, but required taking on student debt (misleadingly referred to by many as good debt)Besides, what other choice did I have? To obtain a license to practice the profession, one must have the associated degree.

A second rebirth had occurred, I now no longer had to hold jobs but I could build a bonafide, professional career.

My earning capacity had increased, but the looming cloud of student loan payments encroached as well. Fortunately, I was eligible for a loan debt forgiveness program available to those who work in non-profit and governmental service sectors. If I were only to pay the income-contingent, monthly bill for 10 years, the remainder of debt would disappear.

Through a concerted effort, I payed off all other outstanding debts and planned to begin saving for a home. To accelerate my savings, I worked extra hours. Incorrectly, I assumed my student loan payments were tied to my base salary instead of my gross income. My plan fell apart when the monthly payment suddenly went up – sharply.


As it stands today, the loan debt has 80% parity with my annual income. My monthly loan payments approach 70% parity with rent. My ability to accrue funds for a down payment is stymied.I had played the game, followed all the rules, did what was “right,” and yet here I find myself unable to pursue my current goal because of the commodification of higher education. The system had played me. I was now at its mercy.

Through the temporal displacements inherent in the commodification of debt (i.e. accelerating the repayment schedule for lenders), student loan asset-backed securities serve to reduce financial risk for private lenders, whilst relocating the social dimensions of risk onto student debtors. The neoliberal state plays an integral role in attempting to mediate, discipline, and depoliticize the social fallout involved in the relocation of risk, primarily through regulatory reforms.
Student Loans, Debtfare and the Commodification of Debt: The Politics of Securitization and the Displacement of Risk by Susanne Soederberg

Through the experiences I’ve related above, I have arrived at a belief that systems must adapt if they are to survive. The current financial and educational systems in the United States are no exception.

After becoming acquainted with digital currencies, the concept of trustlessness and the radical transformative potential of decentralization, I have come to believe that the blockchain will significantly alter (or even replace) the aforementioned dysfunctional and predatory systems. Their restriction of freedom in how individuals participate with each other on the global economic plane is unacceptable. Deeply appreciative of the revolutionary nature controlling one’s finances has, I was motivated by the shackles of my student debt to investigate how the cryptoeconomy could help me reach my goal.

I’ve begun to invest in the cryptoeconomy, which by all indication seems well-placed to usurp the stranglehold that over-content middlemen have over our finances. The corrupt connections between our federal government and financial entities are likely to wither in the dawning rays of the shared ledger. Confronted by the immutability of consensus algorithms and the nobility of trustlessness, the old system must adapt or be replaced. The blockchain forces a recognition of the rights of the many, instead of the few, and facilitates a transfer of power and choice back into the hands of common people.

A third rebirth, one into a new degree of autonomy around both yours and my economic health is taking shape.

I’m positioning myself to benefit from this economic revolution, but also committed to the idea of interdependence in the cryptoeconomy. This requires action. I have chosen to put my efforts toward learning about, participating in and educating others about blockchain technology and the cryptoeconomy. I have invested some of my meager resources into cryptoassets, but also chose to assist in eroding the footing on which corrupt middlemen stand: I’m acting as a lender in a peer-to-peer loan using ETHLend.

I have come to firmly believe that blockchain applications and cryptocurrency will empower us to transcend the antiquated practices and systems which require us to submit to unfair circumstances when the exchange of value. The writing is on the wall, it’s just a matter of time, and it is the collective action of great numbers of individuals which facilitate such momentous change.

Please join me in this endeavor. Learn something, talk to someone about it, take action. This is our time, and it is an exciting time to be alive!



The Weird & Wonderful World of Altcoins #1

Internet culture is an enormously complex but very new phenomenon in the grand scheme of human activity. Prior to the advent of the information age, cultural activity was bound by the domains of geography, language, religion and occupational activity. A cross-pollination of these categories (accelerated by real-time interpersonal and group interaction) initiated the rapid rise of a new set of unique macro and micro online subcultures.

Use of emojis and internet slang are now commonplace, but among the most notable of the cultural artifacts produced by people interacting online is that of the internet meme.

One such meme has had a remarkable period of longevity: Pepe the Frog. He first appeared in comics by Matt Furie via Myspace​ in 2005 and has since then experienced an unparalleled number of permutations. Pepe has also represented various (even diametrically opposed) political ideologies over the subsequent years. The tug-of-war over Pepe’s representation of ideas is fraught with intrigue.

The original Pepe

Which brings us to now, where Pepe has been essentially deified in a near-endless series of iterations, many of which have appeared in repost after repost to the extent that specific versions are widely known. This also conversely implies that some Pepes are posited as rare in comparison to their more well-known counterparts. Rare Pepes give a quick wink to the inherent irony of digital images being commonly replicated simply with save-as or copy/paste.

With the advent of blockchain technology, however, the concept of a fixed digital asset has arrived as exemplified by bitcoin, a virtual currency with a finite number of units.

It is the phenomenon of these rare Pepes fusing with the unduplicable nature of bitcoin which brings them to the level of a digital commodity​. Rare Pepes are similar to collectible trading cards​ which are produced in limited quantities to boost their desirability, but rather than producing actual physical cards the limited quantity and ownership of them is validated on the Bitcoin​ blockchain. The purchase transactions are facilitated by a specific cryptocurrency, Pepe Cash. The authenticity of each card “must be certified by the Rare Pepe Foundation,” which succeeds in being as ludicrous at it sounds.

A rare Pepe featuring Doge

Pepe Cash’s early success builds on the legitimacy of Dogecoin​, another meme-based cryptocurrency which has successfully modeled the ability which niche online culture has in finding a real-world use case. The object of using Pepe Cash and trading/collecting rare Pepes is purely for entertainment purposes and in celebrating meme culture, yet, its rise in value has led to others investing in them speculatively for profit.

The official icon for the currency (which is also its own collectible card) depicts Pepe wearing a garish purple hat (consistent with attire synonymous with pimps) and aviator sunglasses while standing near a McMansion​ which has three Lambourghinis parked in front of it – all symbols of new and rapidly acquired wealth (a status many cryptocurrency speculators seek to achieve).​ The caption to the image reads: The Pepe Cash card is useful for buying houses, fast cars and yachts.

Pepe Cash heralds a new level of reification for internet culture. Vapid and intangible meme concepts are manifesting into our everyday lives, and this is accomplished in a truly absurd and hilarious fashion. In keeping with the long-practiced online tradition, Pepe Cash has successfully trolled the concepts of commodity, rarity and commerce itself.

Stand in awe, we’re only witnessing the cusp of dawn on the cryptosphere’s horizon.


Ep. 76 – Humaniq


Let’s be frank: Many in the cryptosphere were lured by the promise of quick or effortless gains, a more secure future or even fantasies of driving previously-unattainable luxury vehicles across the lunar landscape.

While self-interest serves as the initial draw, learning about the blockchain to understand how crytpocurrencies work we begin to also see the potential it holds in transforming the world in other ways. Perhaps to change not only our lives, but of those who aren’t in such privileged financial situations.

The momentum around blockchain technology is ramping up, and global banks have begun looking into its implementation. Current blockchain scalability is ill-equipped to handle their transaction volume, however.

Humaniq plans to use blockchain technology to bypass the traditional top-down approach of large financial entities and instead meet the individuals where they are, via access from smartphones.

So, what is Humaniq? Can I invest in it? When moon???

First, let’s look at what banks actually do. Basically, banks facilitate financial transactions and are custodians of value and assets. Individuals and groups form symbiotic relationships with banks – the capital you ask them to store becomes their temporary investment, generating profit. The aggregate of these individuals, business entities and banks are an interlocking system.

But what happens if you live outside that system? You are unbanked.

Image and data courtesy of Humaniq’s whitepaper

Traditional banking systems fail to reach the unbanked essentially because it is not profitable. There is too great a risk in managing accounts for individuals without any proof of identity and anyway, the interface (whether brick-and-mortar or digital) simply doesn’t exist.

To utilize Humaniq, however, there is only one minor hurdle: an ultra-low-priced smartphone (sales of which are rapidly gaining traction in emerging markets). There’s no need for any kind of pre-existing banking infrastructure.

Humaniq’s goal is to become a banking platform which validates identity, stores value and facilitates peer-to-peer transaction – all in one singular application. With these prerequisite aspects in place, its users may then integrate with traditional banking systems.

How is it done?

Humaniq will utilize three components: the mobile app (which acts as a token wallet and performs identity verification), the Humaniq servers (to connect these identities to the blockchain), and Ethereum smart contracts (which enable the transactions and platform to be built on).

HMQ Digital Passports

Users first create a unique and secure digital identity using biometrics (facial and emotional recognition) and 4-tier authentication.

Poof! A digital asset has just been created.

Data is collected about the user, however its sale is not Humaniq’s goal, it is instead to empower each user by giving them proof of identity.

HMQ token

Following an ICO phase to generate startup capital, the HMQ token will launch. Users will be rewarded immediately with the HMQ token via a minting (rather than mining) process. Whole-number increments are used to accommodate users who lack the understanding of fractional numbers. Further tokens are rewarded for referring others to the platform, and there is a firm limit on the number of HMQ which can be minted for each person. The app includes a chat application which facilitates peer-to-peer communication and transactions.


Each country will have its own blockchain, acting in essence as a microcosm of the surrounding cryptoeconomy. Stability, utility, adoption and scaling are reinforced by an emphasis on incentivizing users with digital identities and a medium of exchange. Humaniq is to absorb the end users’ network fees initially and will support the use of independent nodes in the future.


Cryptocurrency enthusiasts in developing regions will serve to educate and facilitate adoption of Humaniq’s services. This activity will be incentivized by compensation in cryptocurrency, and recruits in several African nations are already in place.

So, will HMQ moon?

Maybe – but maybe that’s not the point. Perhaps the blockchain revolution can transform the lives of the brilliant individuals in developing nations who may otherwise never gain access to the necessary resources needed to develop their skills and improve their quality of life. Humaniq (Human IQ) can, if nothing else, direct our attention to thinking about someone else’s moon – the one we may already take for granted.

Crypto101 interview with Humaniq CIO Hazam Al-Nakib

For more information about Humaniq:

Check out the whitepaper:


Ep. 73 –


If you’ve been trading cryptocurrencies for a while, you’ve probably got a handle on how to navigate exchanges and avoid the various “gotchas,” that nibble away at your gains. You know which coins are available on various exchanges, and you’re able to monitor several simultaneously. Perhaps you even find differences in liquidity and take advantage of the arbitrage opportunities. But, it’s work. GUI problems are a source of simple mistakes or delays in the timing of a trade which can result in a missed opportunity or worse – a crushing loss. Exchange interfaces are clunky, and you can’t customize them much. They’re slow!

Shouldn’t there be a single point of entry to all these markets? Traditional securities and equities traders have had them for decades. Enter XTRADE, which is already hard at work on its goal to bring global cryptocurrency trading up to speed with the high-quality experience available in more traditional markets.

So how will XTRADE do it?

XTRADE will act purely as a technology provider which generates connectivity between exchanges – each of which uses its own API. As it stands today, the exchanges operate not as a whole but as distinct entities. Significant connectivity is not possible (funds may be sent to another exchange’s wallet on your account, but that’s about it).

Data and image via XTRADE white paper

Each exchange has its own level of liquidity, and for some of the newer or decentralized exchanges these levels are remarkably low. Wild price jumps are the norm in low-liquidity markets. For institutional investors making large purchases, the problem of slippage occurs even in the most liquid markets. The net effect is unfavorable and discourages trading – not conducive to the growth of the market as a whole.

Early adopters have shown a willingness to deal with these cirucmstances, but for mainstream adoption – forget it!

XTRADE is poised to remedy these issues by replicating what is already battle-tested in the traditional trading markets: a multi-market interface. Throughout 2018, a series of products will be implemented and build a foundation for each subsequent level:


Firstly, XTRADE will unify the exchanges allowing activity to become coordinated through a common API. Liquidity will become shared, and orders can be spread out among multiple exchanges to ensure the best purchase prices and avoid slippage. Why would any particular exchange abandon their current API in favor of FIX? The shared benefits of one common market are clearly in their best interest.


Next, the implementation of the trading interface (informed by experience both in the use and design of trading systems) XTRADE Pro will dramatically expand the current web-based trading platforms’ capabilities. A robust view of order books, more efficiently executed trades and the ability to handle heavier traffic will foster an accurate and orderly marketplace. A highly customizable trading interface which includes advanced charting, scanning systems (to identify assets with the highest profitability) and user-assignable hotkey functions will facilitate a less frustrating and more profitable trading experience.

Security is also enhanced as access will no longer be through the internet (and therefore avoids DDoS and MITM attacks as well as phishing).

SPA (single point of access)

Through joint venture agreements, XTRADE will facilitate the handling of buy and sell orders, but never hold your funds. Currently XTRADE is partnered only with, but anticipates many more exchanges will join them. XTRADE’s service and interface is the trader’s single point of access to multiple exchanges.

XTRD token

XTRADE will lastly be launching an ERC20 token to facilitate additional revenue for the platform itself, and discounts on trading fees and will be incentivize by users staking the XTRD token.

It’s an exciting time for the cryptosphere, and nascent services like XTRADE hold great promise in bolstering mainstream adoption. The lynchpin will be those joint venture partnership with the exchanges. Hopefully a close eye on those agreements and the debut of the XTRADE Pro platform will signal an entry to a new and more expedient cryptoasset trading experience. Fingers crossed!

For more information, check out their white paper:

or join their discussion on Telegram:

Accredited investors may have their Ethereum wallet address whitelisted and participate in the pre-sale for the XTRD token.

Crypto101 interview with Alexander Kravets