19 Traits of Excellent Social Workers

The role of a social worker is to provide vulnerable people the help they need during tough times. They work with families and children dealing with life issues such as financial difficulties, substance abuse, and domestic violence. In a social work career, there are a number of fields to specialize in, depending on your skillset and education. With a human services degree, you can go on to start a career in childcare, criminal justice, schools, and many more.

The role isn’t one for just anyone – the job is extremely demanding and deals with many emotional situations. Due to the sensitive nature of this career, certain traits are necessary to succeed. If you are interested in becoming a social worker, then here are the 19 traits you’ll need to excel.

1. Brilliant Organization Skills

Many social workers tend to deal with a large number of patients throughout the day, which means high organization skills are crucial. When moving from patient to patient and from area to area, you will need to manage your time wisely and be able to prioritize tasks.

If you’re working towards becoming a social worker, you should practice your organization skills as soon as you start your human services degree. Show up on time to all classes, hand your work in on time, and check-in with your tutors often. Getting into good habits early on will help you keep them throughout your career.

2. Well-Educated

Education is necessary for all social workers, so make sure you excel when studying for your human services degree. You should build excellent relationships with your tutors and make friends with your peers, as they will help you on your journey.

Like with any degree, you must put a lot of effort in and be passionate about the subject you are learning. Choose a human services degree if you are dedicated to bettering people’s lives and helping communities improve.

3. Open-Minded

As a social worker, you will be dealing with a large variety of people and circumstances, so you must keep an open mind. There will be situations that seem black and white, but you must stay impartial. Be open-minded with every patient you deal with and avoid judging people. While judgment is a natural part of human nature, as a social worker, it is your job to keep it inside.

4. Empathetic

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama.

Empathy is probably the most important trait of anyone who holds a human services degree. Your job each day is to bring people peace, and you can only do that if you can truly understand their perspective. Even if their lives are vastly different from your own, you should step into their shoes and understand their actions.

Being an empathetic person comes naturally to some, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn it. Not only will it help you succeed in your human services degree and your social work career, but it will also better you as a person.

5. Trustworthy

With patients relying on you, you must be completely trustworthy and dependable. This means always showing up on time and keeping to your word. If you mess up time and time again, then your patients will no longer see you as a rock in their lives, and you won’t be able to help them.

Make yourself a person who can be trusted by all, both inside and outside of your career. Not only will it get you respect, but you will also find it easier to improve your patient’s lives.

6. Patient

As a social worker, the patients you work with will not always be easy to manage. You will be working with people who have mental health issues and abuse substances, which can be difficult at times. To manage during those situations, you must keep your emotions under control and show unwavering patience.

Patience is a trait some people have naturally, but if you lose your temper quickly, you should work on that while doing your human services degree, so you are prepared once you begin work.

7. Flexible

Not everything will go according to plan, and you might find some days completely shift around. Being flexible will help you deal with these situations.

Social work isn’t for someone who likes a rigid schedule and knowing exactly what the day will bring. With the variety of situations that you will come across, you can never predict what is going to happen, making social work a career for flexible people.

You should begin getting used to flexibility while studying for your human services degree. Be open to any changes that will occur during your studies, and learn how to adjust quickly.

8. Community-Driven

Social work is all about creating a better community for everyone by focusing on the areas in need. The best social workers are those who are passionate about lifting a community.

If you have a passion for bettering communities, then social work will allow you to do just that. You’ll be helping vulnerable individuals turn their lives around, improving not only their lives but also the lives of those around them.

9. Professional

While there will be times where you can joke around and have a laugh with your patients and co-workers, at the core, you must always keep a strong level of professionalism. Social work is a job with a lot of responsibility, and when dealing with such sensitive issues, it’s important to be confident, ethical, and competent. Remember, you are providing vulnerable people with a strong figure to rely on.

Strive to be as professional as you can from the moment you start your human services degree. Get used to taking the job seriously and acting in a professional, responsible manner at all times.

10. Caring

A social worker will not get far without a caring attitude. Even when dealing with situations you cannot understand, you must still be understanding and caring. This means more than just nodding your head and smiling – you should listen intently to your patient’s worries and come up with solutions that will actively help them get out of negative situations.

You might not show care even when you feel it, so work on your body language and speech to make your patients feel as comfortable as possible.

11. Passionate

The best social workers in the world are those that are truly passionate about the work they do. They get up in the morning with a drive to go to work and help the people of the community. When they do not feel their best, they have their unwavering passion to motivate them.

You will know whether or not you are passionate about social work as soon as you start your human services degree. If you hand your work in on time, attend every class, and feel genuine excitement to learn, then you are the kind of passionate person to make a brilliant social worker.

12. Able to Look After Themselves

Great social workers don’t just focus on others; they also make sure that their health is up to scratch. This means engaging in self-care, eating a healthy diet, and exercising often. If you are not healthy yourself, then you won’t be able to give others the proper care they need.

A proper diet and the correct amount of exercise is crucial for your overall health and energy levels. When you are dealing with such an intense job, it is important to have enough energy to get through the day and feel OK at the end of it.

Many people who work in social care feel burned out at one point or another, and a way to combat this is to perform self-care. Some ideas for this are:

  • Taking a bath
  • Having a few days off
  • Taking a trip
  • Meeting up with friends
  • Visiting family

Make a proper effort to look after your own body and mind from the moment you start your human services degree. Not only will it benefit yourself, but it will also benefit the patients you work with.

13. Great Communicators

Throughout the day, you will communicate with a number of individuals, so your communication skills must be high. Not only that, but you should be able to change your tone and speech depending on who you are speaking with. For example, if you are talking to a co-worker, then you will not use the same tone and language you would use when speaking with a vulnerable person.

Communication isn’t all about speaking; a large part of it is listening. A large part of your job will be listening to your patients, and you must listen with every ounce of your attention. They depend on you, so you must take in all the information they have in order to help them.

14. Experienced

No matter how many soft skills you have, to be an excellent social worker, you must have enough experience. You will most likely be offered work experience while studying for your human services degree, and you will build up your expertise once you get your first role. Each day will bring something new, and over time, you will become an expert at handling whatever people throw at you.

15. Objective

As a social worker, when dealing with personal situations, you must be able to remain
impartial. There is no room for taking sides when you are work, so it takes being objective to
thrive in social work. You will learn this while studying for your human services degree –
when working with individuals, you are not there to judge them, only assist.

16. Positive

Social workers work best when they remain positive. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as it sounds, especially when dealing with sensitive situations like domestic violence.

Being positive does not mean skipping to work and smiling even when things are dark; it simply means being able to keep a positive outlook no matter what the day throws at you.

If dealing with a sad situation will make you feel unhappy for a number of days, then there is a chance that social work is not for you. Don’t worry – there are other roles you can go into to help others. Attaining a human services degree isn’t just for social work; there are plenty of other careers to pursue upon attainment.

17. Conscientious

Your work as a social worker must be careful, deliberate, and well-considered. Being a conscientious person makes doing that much easier. The time you spend working each day must be used efficiently so you can deliver as much help to vulnerable people as you can.

During your studies, make sure you show your conscientiousness by performing well and taking your time in each section. Rushing through is not adequate when it comes to a human services degree!

18. Strong-Willed

No one will tell you social work is easy. There will be days where you wish to be able to go home and hide away from all the hard-hitting issues you face, but what makes an excellent social worker is staying resilient in those times. By being strong-willed, you won’t only get through each working day, but you will also excel.

19. Understanding

Most of all, you must have at least a little understanding of what your patients are going through. If you are completely sectioned off from them, then your aid won’t be as helpful. This doesn’t mean you have to have literally walked in their shoes, but that you are able to see things from their point of view.

If you believe you have the necessary traits to become a social worker, you will need to attain a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and your license. There are a variety of specialties to go into, so keep in mind what stands out when pursuing your human services degree, whether that be mental health, medicine, or child welfare.

How To Relax After A Stressful Day At Work

There will always be stressful days at work. Even if you are someone who loves what they do for a living, that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard work sometimes – or all of the time – and that stress can manifest in many different ways if you don’t do something about it.

Allowing stress to build up is bad for your mental health; stress itself is a mental health condition, and it is often associated with depression and anxiety. Plus, stress is bad for your physical health. It can cause heart problems, high blood pressure (which can lead to a stroke), ulcers, insomnia, and much more.

It makes sense, then, to ensure you know how to relax when you’re feeling stressed, and especially so when it’s stress caused by work. You don’t want to have to go back to work the next day without having de-stressed, or the problem will only get worse, and you’ll be extremely unproductive. Read on to find out what you can do.

Do Nothing

The idea of doing nothing could be very challenging to some people, especially those who are most stressed and who feel they need to be busy at all times to get anything done. However, doing absolutely nothing at all is one of the best ways to relax, even if it can be a hard thing to master.

You only need 10 minutes of doing nothing to make a big impact on how stressed you are feeling, and the results can be life-changing. You simply need to sit or lie down and close your eyes, and that’s it. Your body will start to relax, and although your mind might be active at first, with practice, it will slow down to give you a truly de-stressing experience.  

Play Online Games

If you can occupy your mind completely and concentrate on something fun and exciting, your work worries won’t have space to make themselves known. Once you have finished what you are doing, even if those work worries return, they won’t seem quite so problematic, and you should be able to solve them much more easily (or at least not stress about them quite so much).

One way to ensure this happens is to play online games. There are lots to choose from, so heading to Online Casinos (www.onlinecasinos.co.uk/blog/best-payout-online-casino.htm) could be useful to give you more of an insight into what to look for if you want the chance to win some real money. There are plenty of different types of games to play that will stop you from worrying about anything else and help you de-stress completely.

Write A To-Do List

Surely writing a to-do list is just putting all your stresses in one place? How can it be relaxing? It can be relaxing because you are getting organized and ready for the next day. Once you’ve written everything that needs to be done on a piece of paper, in a notebook, on your phone, or perhaps even emailed it to yourself, you don’t have to think about those things anymore. You’re not going to forget to do them, and if you’ve written the list in order of priority, you don’t even have to take any time to work out what to do first. You can just get right on with your work, knowing exactly what you are meant to do.

5 Best Places to Visit in Canada for College Students

Canada is one of the top places for international students who are looking to study abroad. Since it is home to some of the most renowned universities in the world, scholars from all over the world choose this northern scenic country as their destination. While there, not only do students get to experience the breathtaking landscapes and the Canadians’ affinity towards ice hockey, but they also get hold of an education system that is extensive and well-equipped to prepare students for the future. However, as with all learning processes, going to college and working on your academic pursuit can be overwhelming, which is why international, and local college students, need a break sometimes!

Taking a vacation is a great idea. However, one must keep in mind that one of the main travel planning points for students is to complete all college assignments in advance so that nothing distracts them from their trip. Conversely, not all trips are well-planned, and some vacations are so spontaneous that one doesn’t have the time to complete their due papers. You need not worry because you can choose Canadian service for your task so that you don’t have to stress over your unfinished work. This essay writing service assures that your custom papers, written by Canadian writers, are up-to-date, and you can enjoy your trip guilt-free.

How to plan a student journey to Canada 

Now that your assignments are well taken care of, here is a list of the coolest places to go in Canada. Plan your trip or go on a spontaneous vacation to the best part of Canada to visit and we assure you, you will come back with a rejuvenated mind! Depending on where you are, you may have a short car trip with your best buds. However, if you are in the mood to travel further, taking a flight may be best as it helps save your time and you won’t spend too much time commuting. 

Best places for college students to travel  

1.     Niagara Falls: 

The Niagara Falls is not only an attraction that is famous among locals but is an internationally acclaimed natural attraction. No wonder it attracts thousands of visitors every year. When there, it is definitely one of the good places to visit in Canada. Niagara Falls is located in Ontario, and you have the option to ride the Maid of the Mist boat to get as close as possible to the falls and experience the joy of the water hitting your face. There are other places too to enjoy while there, such as the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, where you can find several hiking trails!

2.     Jasper National Park:

If you look up the top 10 places to visit in Canada, Jasper National Park will definitely be on everyone’s list as this is one of the best places to travel to while in this beautiful nation. There are several activities that the place has to offer. Scholars can spend their mornings hiking through Maligne Canyon, or you can get of the Jasper SkyTram to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the scenic landscapes! The Jasper National Park is home to a wide range of mammals that include cougars, black bears, and bighorn sheep, and you may be lucky enough to witness one in its natural habitat while traveling through. You can also choose to go whitewater rafting on the Athabasca River.   

3.     Quebec City: 

Quebec City in Canada is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since it boasts a beautiful city full of old picturesque buildings and rich history. While there, the scholars can take a trip down the Quartier Petit-Champlain, a marvel of cobblestone streets that behold the ambiance of Paris. Montmorency Falls Park is also an attraction that includes a 272-foot-tall waterfall.

4.     Banff: 

Whether you love hiking or you are more of a luxury-seeking person, chances are you will revel in what Banff has to offer. This mountain town situated in Alberta is home to the Banff National park, where one can spend hours hiking through the beautiful landscapes. The city also boasts several other attractions such as Moraine Lake and the Columbia Icefield that are both a must-visit attraction. 

5.     Toronto: 

Last on our list is Toronto, a cosmopolitan city that boasts skyscrapers and a culturally rich diverse city. Most of the residents here were born elsewhere and as such, they speak over 140 different languages. There’s a little bit of everything: from Little Italy to Greektown. The CN Tower, an internationally popular attraction is also located here.

We’ve all heard the quote: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!” If you’re feeling a little too stressed out, make sure you plan out your next trip and make it one of the most memorable ones you’ve ever experienced. 

Best Commercial Devices for Mobile Gaming

Gaming around the world has taken different shapes over the years. From the arcade to your personal computer, to the console you needed to have, and even down to your tablet and right in the palm of your hand on your smartphone. The smartphone has taken over handheld gaming in a big way and the device in your hand could be more equipped to run games than your laptop. With games ranging from sports, first-person shooter, Virtual reality, and even online casinos. Below you’ll find some of the most common phones you could easily buy online or at your local smartphone dealer.

iPhone 12 Pro

When looking at the device specifications, you’ll see that the iPhone 12 Pro is the best iPhone out there, when it comes to graphics and gameplay, aside from the other great features for everyday use. The iPhone 12 Pro is built with a 6.1-inch display that makes for an optimal gaming experience. It is also backed by plenty of storage space and a powerful process that makes sure your games run smoothly, whether it’s a downloadable app or online through an internet browser. The game options are near-endless and easily accessible through the App store. The iPhone Pro will not disappoint you with games such as Shadowgun Legends, Call of Duty, and Riptide GP: Renegade running smoothly.

OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus brand has grown significantly when compared to the basic specifications it was previously built with to allow users the simplest smartphone experience. Even though the brand might not be known to many, the specifications and performance of this smartphone will speak for itself. Boasting a 6.78-inch screen, 12GB of RAM, and 4,510mAh battery that will keep you gaming for longer. You will be able to enjoy games such as Dead Trigger 2 and Alto's Odessy without a hitch.

Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20 Plus

The top of the Samsung range has never been a brand or a product to fail mobile gamers. The smartphone is not just riding the brand’s popularity. It comes with powerful processors and 8GB of RAM that will see you completing your in-game missions with ease and no lag. The crisp viewing experience is due to the QHD+ screen and the battery power will see you playing some of your favourite mobile games for hours on end. This is irrespective of whether you are downloading apps like Johnny Trigger or popping into your favourite online casino to play games Casimba roulette online or Casimba online slots. Speaking of which, we noticed that online slots play on the Samsung Galaxy S20 doesn’t have any shortcomings in terms of graphics and speed. We suppose that online casino companies take their time to develop such games for mobile play and it’s evident on the way it operatoes on smaller screens.

LG V60 ThinQ + Dual Screen

Finally, LG’s flagship model ushering you into a spectacle of entertainment. The dual-screen will have you playing games and maybe even streaming a TV show or movie at the same time. The LG V60 ThinQ offers a game mode as well, turning the second screen into a touchpad, so no fingers get in the way of your gaming experience. It is powered by a powerful processor and both screens equipped to Full HD+ specifications. The 8GB of RAM and huge storage will allow you to get plenty of games to enjoy as well as a 5,000mAh battery to keep you going. One of the smallest details may even be one of the best features, the 3.5mm headphone jack, a rare sight indeed.

AdEx

Standing for Advertising Exchange, AdEx (ADX) is a decentralised platform in which online publishers and advertisers can meet and negotiate contracts for advertising online through they’re portal. The AdEx Project allows users to clearly define which adverts they would like to have published on their sites and also manage all their privacy and data, which is very important in these regulated times.

A Decentralised Advertising Portal

AdEx is emerging in an industry which is already quite saturated, there are a number of well-established ad agencies also using blockchain technologies, such as Basic Attention, Bitclave, Token, qChain and adChain. So what’s going to make AdEx stand out from the crowd? AdEx are offering a platform that is fully transparent for both advertisers and publishers, unrestricted access and no fees for using their services.

At the moment AdEx is a relatively unknown project, they successfully completed their ICO token sale, which has given them funding to launch a beta version of their platform.

The State of the Ad Industry

To understand AdEx’s place in the world it is important to understand the current state of the advertising industry.

Over the last few years, online advertising has finally surpassed all over forms of advertising, including TV, Print and Radio, in terms of revenue. Infact, online advertising now accounts for 40% of all advertising spending.

With technologies and internet speeds continuing to advance at an alarming rate, you are now seeing a shift from mainstream television providers, who are also offering their content online, and the trend towards online media is growing evermore.

Meet the Middleman

The advertising industry are rife with agencies, whose job is it to seed your advertising content out to the general public. An online example of this would be Google’s Adwords advertising platform. They use a bidding mechanic, to determine the price of a particular advert, on a cost-per-click basis and they make money, everytime someone clicks on an adverts. So is 100 people click on an ad spot that costs $1 a click, Google makes $100 and the advertiser spends 100 dollar. There are lots of different types of online advertising structures, such as CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions), CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), and so on. But the ultimate goal is to make money by connecting advertisers with publishers.

Transparency

Overall there is little transparency in the advertising industry. Google’s adwords won’t tell you why they charge $10 a click for an advert relating to dogs, but will only charge $5 when it’s related to rabbits. A lot of the time, it’s based on trends, time of year, algorithms, etc, but good luck trying to get agencies to reveal their pricing structure.

Sadly, this makes it quite difficult when it comes to auditing the success of an advertising campaign, It can also mean it can be difficult to measure the quality of traffic and leads coming from publishers. Some publishers have been known to spoof their traffic, in order to gain more money for the adverts being on their site.

Ad blocker and Ad blindness

When a user opens an app or surfs the internet, they are bombarded with advertising from the word go. Frustration has become so apparent, it gave birth to the beginnings of ad blocking extensions on web browsers such as firefox and chrome.

Blindness and disinterest in adverts have also become apparent, where ads are regularly avoided or skipped immediately. For ad agencies and publishers, this becomes a problem. It’s trying to be tackled by social media platforms such as facebook and instagram, by their ability to allow advertiser to target their users through their mountains of data.

How AdEx Solves the Problems

AdEx is looking to implement a solution, which consists of three user stories, the publisher, the advertiser and the user. Each of these stories, addresses the challenges of advertising online from a new perspective. Let’s look at how these three elements are managed.

Publishers

Often known as bloggers, content creators, youtubers, instagrammers, etc, they are digital media owners that users often visit. These publishers can host advertisements on their media and get paid for those particular ads.

Click Verification

Some publishers are only out to make money, so will defraud the ad agency with spoofed traffic to display the adverts too. When running advertisements with AdEx, each impression and click is verified to make sure it’s authentic. This eliminates the fraudsters from the system and overall protects the authentic publisher. AdEx will audit incoming impressions and false clicks will be punished, driving up the value of authentic impressions and ultimately helping publishers make more money.

Advertisers

Advertisers will have their site displayed on thousands of websites and they have no control over what website displays their ads, this can cause problems for the advertiser, especially when they are paying money for displaying their ads.

Target Audience

Similar to Facebook, and other social media platforms, AdEx promises to provide a high-level of customisable target audiences for advertisers. This will allow the advertiser to be able to further target their chosen demographic, ultimately bringing a better return on investment, this feature is what’s making AdEx truly unique. However, the company has limited data to target users from, but collecting more data and developing user profiles is top priority for them.

ADX Tokens

When advertisers pay for an ad placement, they will pay in ADX tokens. However to facilitate this, AdEx are implementing a direct exchange with fiat. When the user cashes out their ADX tokens, they will return into circulation.

This is another challenge for AdEx, both from a legal standpoint and a logistical position. Fiat gateways require fluidity and regulatory compliance.

Users

The final element to AdEx’s development plan are the users. The company will look to implement a portal for the average user, this gives them the option to determine what advertisements they will be able to see from publishers hosting their ads. This will also allow AdEx to develop a more unique look at their users data.

Smart Contracts

As a decentralised app, AdEx is based off the ERC-20 currency. While AdEx was originally based off the Ethereum blockchain model, they are looking to move over to NEO.

The dApp will also look to host a token exchange, which will be used for bidding and advertising space. This will also include messaging channels for direct interaction between advertisers and publishers.

Contract management and negotiations can take place off the blockchain, however all settlements will need to be finished on the dApp.

AdEx wallets

Since the AdEx (ADX) currency is based off Ethereum’s ERC-20 you will be able to store it on all Ethereum wallets, such as MyEtherWAllet. You are also able to store them on hardware wallets such as Trezor or Ledgers.

Bytom

Bytom (BTM) is a blockchain developed exchange, used for the transfer of financial and digital assets. Using Byton, individual and enterprise users are able to use the protocol to register and exchange various financial assets, such as digital currencies, such as bitcoin, but traditional assets as well, such as social security information, bonds and even intelligence data.

A real-world problem

The problem is, assets in the real world are becoming more tokenized as ownership records and exchange ledgers move towards the blockchain protocol. From a digital level, currently there is no unified way to record and map out any of those physical or digital assets. Beyond data recording, there still needs to be flexibility between the digital and the physical assets, this is to help create one cohesive ecosystem and bring it all back into alignments. Bytom are aiming to solve this tokenized world.

Bytom’s Plan to Solve This

The mission of Bytom is “to bridge the atomic world and the byte world, the build a decentralized network where various byte and atomic assets could be registered and exchanged.”

Bytom’s have described the three assets as:

  • Income Assets: These include, what is known as non-performing assets. These include government investments, and crowdfunding campaigns on places such as kick starter.
  • Equity Assets: These assets require an investor for verification of transfer. Things such as private company equity, as well as shares of a non-public investment.
  • Securitized Assets: These are known to have a predictable cash flow. Good examples of this can include loans such as car loans or mortgages, and debts such as credit card.

With Bytom, you twill be able to trade all of these assets through their dApp (decentralized application), and this will have a number of benefits. Recording the exchange of assets on the blockchain creates a much more efficient and secure protocol than what is currently available in the real world.

Bytom will remove a lot of the bloat, that middlemen organizations create in record keeping and asset transfer. Removing that bloat can lead to faster transfer times and lower costs. This also has the added benefit of giving the user full control of their assets. A user no longer has to trust a middleman to accurately keep records, as they are stored on a secure, public ledger. And because of this, asset records are broken up into block asn distributed all across the world, through individual nodes. This means there is no-longer a single point-of-failure, which malicious users can use to access or manipulate data.

Bytom also has the ability for what is known as cross-chain transactions, through side chains. As a developer you must create a smaller version of the main chain and call the main chain API through smart contracts, which verifies the network activity on the main blockchain. By doing this, the calls allow you to transfer different assets between different chains and even distribute dividends through the side chain.

The Bytom Architecture

The architecture of Bytom has been separated into three layers, Application, Contract m and Ledger. Here we will go through each layer and explain how they work together.

Application Layer

The application layer, is what the end-user uses to interact with the Bytom protocol. The dApp includes mobile and web versions, what the user can work on to manage all of their assets, physical and digital. Interacting with this layer triggers smart contract calls on the next layer.

Contract Layer

The contract layer actually consists of two sub-layers. The first is known as the Genesis Contract, this issues and audits all other smart contracts on the blockchain. Most importantly, it makes sure that all the current assets using the Bytom protocol adhere to the standardization rules set in place.

The 2nd sub-layer of the Contract Layer is known as the General Contract. This has two, similar functions, firstly is facilitates the trading of assets between the dApp users, secondly it sets up and verifies and dividend distributions. If you want to deploy a new asset through the general contract, it must first go to the genesis contract for verification and approval.

Ledger Layer

The ledger layer is the foundation of the Bytom protocol. This is where Bytom will connect to the blockchain. Since this blockhain is permissionless, it will use a Proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm. Unlike other PoW projects, you are able to t use ASIC to mine on the network.

The Bytom Token (BTM)

BTM, has three main uses in the Bytom protocol

  • Transaction fees
  • Dividends
  • Asset Issuance Deposits

Currently the are 987 million BTOM tokens in circulation, with a total supply of 2.1 billion, which will enter the ecosystem through mining. The Bytom team distributed 30 percent of the BTM supply to ICO participants, 33% will go to mining rewards and the remaining gets distributed to members of staff, founders, private investors and business development.

BTM Wallets

If you wish to store your BTM outside of the trading platform, you are able to do this through Bytom’s official wallet. This is available on Windows, OSX and Linux operating systems.

At this moment in time, BTM is being converted to ERC-20, so you will soon be able to store them on hardware wallets such as Trezor or Ledger.

Conclusion

Bytom is creating an ecosystem where the atomic meets the bytesize and it looks to be the future. The team is lead by some of the earliest blockchain evangelists and they’ve been progressing through their milestones steadily since founding in 2017.

If Bytom is successful, we will see a new era or asset management in a tokenized world, with digital asses representing anything from company shares to government intelligence. Although it is too early to tell how the project will pan out, the future looks promising based on their current workload the Bytom team have completed thus far.

Decentraland (Back to the Iron Age)

Welcome to the Brave New World of Decentraland!

If you have been paying any attention to the cryptocraze happening at the moment, you no doubt have realized that the blockchain has moved past just being a platform for cryptocurrency transactions.

The tech community has found a myriad of possible uses for blockchain.

Enter Decentraland.

The founders of Decentraland have seen the future of what can be possible by using the blockchain infrastructure. They created a virtual reality platform using the Ethereum blockchain to support a metaverse of the people and by the people.

They believe that the crypto market has evolved.

To scale this economy, there needs to be a low cost, direct way to make payments between content creators and users. They created Decentraland to act as a decentralized market to facilitate a new way for ecommerce to operate.

In this way, their crypto, MANA, is not just a currency to trade, but the land within the metaverse also acts as currency. Creating a system where land is scarce and MANA can be used to pay for goods and services means that they are forging a virtual economy rather than just a tradable commodity.

What is Decentraland?

While drawing inevitable comparisons to Second Life, (a sort of VR social network complete with your unique avatar) and the Sims, Decentraland aims to enable a shared virtual world based on a peer to peer network.

Within this platform a user can create many varieties of content and applications, either for fun or for profit. The entire world consists of plots of land for sale through MANA, where this content is published.

This land is permanently owned by the community and through a blockchain based ledger, the landowner can control what content is created on it. This content can be anything from a 3D virtual house to a casino, gym, store or anything within the users imagination.

Unlike Second Life and social networks like Facebook, the platform is totally decentralized.  There is no single authority to decide on what kind of content is created, enact rules on the use of the software, or, how it can be monetized. Nor does any exchange of currency have to go through this authority for a fee.

In other words, a Libertarian paradise!

The people behind Decentraland come from various backgrounds but have the same vision about where blockchain can potentially go.

The major players in the organization are Technical Lead Esteban Ordano, co founder of Zeppelin Solutions. That group created Streamium, the first app that implemented payment channels.

 The project lead and face of the company is J. Phoenix, the founder of Understanding Data, a big-data company whose product helps power data engineering services for tech companies. He is basically the data man, as he has had a lot of success in analyzing data for lots of tech companies.

How Does Decentraland Work?

As previously mentioned, the Decentraland platform runs on the Ethereum blockchain.

But, what exactly does that mean?

Well, for one, unlike the Bitcoin blockchain which only handles transactions, Ethereum’s blockchain can handle transactions and store programming logic.

In addition, you can execute smart contracts with Ethereum’s blockchain.

A smart contract is created on the blockchain in which a ledger of ownership of a land parcel is maintained.

Within that ledger are the coordinates (x,y) of the parcel, as well as a reference to the contract description file. In other words, something like a deed with reference to what you are doing with the parcel.

Any application or content that a user builds upon that parcel will connect to the Ethereum network for updates to the land and the contract.

Since the platform works with a peer to peer connection, there is no need for a big, expensive central server. For now a Bittorrent network stores the link for each parcel, eventually to be replaced with the Inter-Planetary File System.

 This puts the world within the users’ hands and enables a censorship resistant environment free from a central authority to regulate what happens within it.

What Can You Do In Decentraland?

This is where things get interesting and is why users are calling Decentraland the fun crypto.

Once you have your land, paid for with MANA, you are free to build whatever you like on it. What you do with it depends on what your intention is.

If you are looking for a social network to interact with others in a virtual world, then you may just want to build a gameroom, as an example, where friends can come and hang out with you. With the peer to peer connection, you can voice chat with whoever shows up on your land.

For those with a more entrepreneurial spirit, you may want to build a business on your land. What kind of business? Well, anything that you may find in the real world would be a good business idea. A casino, a store, a bar with live music. There is no limit to what you can do.

You can offer your services for a fee. If you are a 3D artist, you could make a studio where others come for you to build them bespoke items that they want to use within Decentraland.

If you are just looking for a passive way to make money from cryptocurrency, you could even just buy up a parcel to sit on while you wait for the neighborhood to develop and then sell it at a tidy profit. If you can imagine a virtual Las Vegas building up around your plot, you can see the possibilities for investment without needing to actually interact within the virtual world. Scarcity of land supply makes this a possibility.

The land is also adjacent, so plots are all sold contiguously. This helps neighborhoods to form which, when the plots are developed, will make it easy for people to find interesting content and also, potentially, sell their goods and services.

Who is Decentraland For?

In the words of the creators, it is for gamers, artists, students and online communities.

But, it shouldn’t be seen through such a limited prism.

Sure, gamers will love Decentraland. They can have a Minecraft like experience by building within the metaverse. Or, they can find places within that world where they can enter and have just about any kind of gaming experience they are looking for.

Same goes for artists that want to set up a virtual gallery in an up and coming neighborhood where they can sell their artwork, whether virtual or actual.

Students can find libraries within this world or attend lectures.

Beyond all that, entrepreneurs can find a very business friendly environment to make money. Either by investing in land or MANA, or by setting up a business.

The barrier to entry for many businesses within Decentraland is very low. For the meantime, at least. Anybody with a business idea that seems out of reach in the real world may want to consider buying a plot of land to develop.

Content marketers could also have a field day in Decentraland. Within this virtual world they may find the perfect avenue to build a brand.

And of course, investors that are looking for a different kind of cryptocurrency to get behind. Forward thinkers will see the possibilities here that may go over many crypto traders’ head.

What Is the Future of Decentraland?

The future of VR in general is very bright. Currently there are roughly 60 million people worldwide who play virtual reality games. And among those people, there are many who are already making money in some of those games, through mining, ecommerce and more.

As VR technology gets better, and by using the blockchain, the team behind Decentraland believe that more and more people will be making virtual reality an indispensable part of their daily lives.

By being among the first to create a virtual reality metaverse completely owned by its users, they are strategically positioned to leverage their position to being the principle platform for people to engage. They envision limitless possibilities in community building, commerce, and content creation.

 Virtual reality technology still needs to catch up with this vision. Within the next few years, however, Decentraland could be a dominant player in not only the virtual reality sphere, but in social media. Possibly even pushing aside a giant like Facebook.

Conclusion

Decentraland is very intriguing, both from an investing standpoint and as a possible next generation of social network.

As an investor, getting in on the ground floor of something so different compared to other cryptocurrencies, makes for a very interesting opportunity.

As an entrepreneur, the ability to scale a business from the ground up is very tempting.

And as somebody who uses social media for a good portion of the day, the possibility to use virtual technology to connect with others just seems like a lot of fun.

This is unlike any currency out there as its value is really in what the users perceive it to be. In other words, it may take a while for this thing to really come into its own and an economy to really develop.

What’s most exciting about Decentraland is it could herald what the future of the internet looks like.

And that might be worth quite a bit more than just a dollar figure.

Ethlend

With blockchain uses going beyond just trading cryptocurrency, it didn’t take long for somebody to see the potential in creating a lending platform.

Ethlend is quickly becoming a major player in the peer to peer lending arena.

With a free market, decentralized ethos to lending, Ethlend is quickly garnering a lot of attention for the possibilities it presents.

In their attempt to teardown institutionalized lending, they are beginning to make waves within the industry.

If you are only just learning about what is possible with Ethlend, then this article will help you understand how Ethlend works, what are some possible case uses and give you enough information to decide for yourself if Ethlend is right for you.

What is Ethlend?

Simply put, Ethlend is a new, decentralized peer to peer lending platform on the Ethereum blockchain. The founders, so and so, have arrived at this project after years in the fintech industry.

Before we continue, we need to be clear about what Ethlend is not. Ethlend is not a lending institution. They merely facilitate lending between users of the decentralized application. Ethlend allows for secured, trustless loans by way of smart contracts on the blockchain.

The founders of Ethlend are convinced that the future of blockchain technology will enable a more democratic way for people to borrow money, and for ordinary people to become their own lending institution.

Lending on Ethlend is done between ordinary people who act as their own lending institutions.

This opens the possibility of a truly global lending market.

How Does Ethlend Work?

By using Ethereum’s blockchain, a smart contract can be made between a lender and borrower.  The interest rates, premium and terms of the loan are decided on by the two parties.

Why use the Ethereum blockchain?

The Ethereum blockchain deals with more complex transactions than merely sending and receiving value. There is also the possibility to add, store data and perform complex requests and calls. This makes it an ideal solution for storing smart contracts.

Since it is completely decentralised, the loan process is trustless, transparent and immediate. Once a loan is transacted, the funds are available within minutes.

The borrowers are pledging Ethereum-based ERC-20 compatible digital tokens (ERC-20 Tokens) or Ethereum Name Service domains (ENS domains). This is the collateral for the loan and gives the lender security that the loan will be repaid.

Once the loan terms are agreed upon by the participants, a smart contract is placed on the blockchain. Once this transaction is on the chain, it cannot be changed by anybody including Ethland. To reiterate: Ethlend is completely decentralised and cannot dictate to the users how they should proceed, or change the terms already agreed upon.

All transactions, therefore are open to review by anybody. This access seriously levels the playing field in terms of lending and creates a global marketplace.

Since there is no central institution, a borrower in Ghana can request a loan and somebody from Argentina can supply it. There is no inflation to consider, no exaggerated interest rates determined by a government agency and no liquidity issues caused by cross border lending.

There also is no credit agency involved to assess how risky a borrower may be. This may seem like a red flag, but since collateral in the form of tokens has to be presented by the borrower to secure the loan, there is less risk of a default.

What happens if a borrower doesn’t repay the loan?

The tokens used as collateral will be given to the the lender if the loan is not repaid. The borrower also has a 0 rating and will not likely see more loans in the future as lenders will deem him to be too risky.

 Of course, even with the collateral, a lender must do his due diligence.

How To Use Ethlend

To lend and borrow on Ethlend, the first thing you will need is some LEND, the tokens used to send the loans.

To do this, you will need to use Ether to buy some LEND.

Using Ethlend requires Google Chrome. If you are not already using Chrome, you should download it and get it set up.

Next, you need to install a Chrome Extension called MetaMask. This plug in will facilitate setting up your smart contract on the blockchain.

As a borrower, before you submit a loan request, you will need to assess the value of your tokens and collateral. To do this you need to take the price of the ERC-20 from the exchange. Once you know the price of the ERC-20 you can then deduce what a lender would be willing to lend to ensure they are repaid.

Now, you simply need to go to MetaMask, the decentralised app, or dapp, that you added to Chrome and fill in all the criteria pertaining to your request. For instance, how long the terms will be, what the collateral is, the price of the ERC-20 token, etc.

At this point you will need to wait for a lender to find your request and the rest of the terms agreed upon.

As a lender, you will also need to have LEND tokens as that is what will be transferred to the borrower.

Next, search through the loan requests and try to find a suitable one for you. Both in terms of how much you are being asked to lend and as to whether you like the looks of the collateral.

Once you have found a suitable loan request, click on it and confirm when the MetaMask asks for the confirmation.

Once confirmed, a ledger with all of the loan information is set up in a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain.

This all sounds very simple, and the execution of it is. However, it must really be stressed at this point that knowing how lending and borrowing works will ensure your success as either a lender or borrower. The process might not be complex, but, finance certainly can be.

Possible Use Cases of Ethlend

Below are some of the possibilities when using Ethlend to either borrow or lend funds.

Participate in different ICOs 

            When dealing in crypto, liquidity is a very common issue. To get around this, many borrowers are seeking out solutions like using Ethlend to finance their purchase of tokens and altcoins.

            Since you may not wish to cash in your currency, be it fiat or crypto, you can take out a loan that pays you in minutes to exploit a volatile market where time is of the essence.

Getting Unbanked

            As more and more people are tiring of the mega banks, they seek to add more control into their lives. Using a peer to peer lending platform effectively cuts out the middleman.

            With crypto wallets keeping your savings, and using decentralised blockchain technology for loans, you are able to save money and time. All the while, keeping your data safe from hacking and changes to government monetary policy.

Long Term Holding

            If you are in the crypto world and thinking long term, then being a lender can pad your wallet even in the short term. Without needing to risk trading your favorite currency, you can still be making some money by interest generated by lending.

Traditional Loans

            Of course, for time immemorial, people have been taking out loans from financial institutions for personal and business reasons. Ethlend is no different.

 If you are having cash flow problems and want to expand your business, then taking a loan without needing to sell off precious crypto has obvious benefits.

Other Uses For LEND

In addition to funding your loans or putting up collateral, there are other reasons to use LEND.

  1. Receive 25% price reduction on platform fees (Loan request fee and Loan funding fee) compared to paying with ETH.
  2. Rewarding active lenders and borrowers with airdrops. ETHLend will use 20% of the decentralized application fees (loan request fee and funding fee) to purchase LEND from the market and airdrop the LEND for all the lenders and borrowers on ETHLend.
  3. Rewarding Introducers with LEND, basically EThlend’s affiliate or referral program. Send a friend to Ethlend and receive some benefits in the form of LEND tokens.
  4. Featured functions that are accessible only with LEND tokens. With LEND, you will be able to get your loan request higher in the rankings for better visibility, pay for credit assessment bots and enter into email marketing campaigns for new listings.

Conclusion

Ethlend believes Capitalism works best when the barriers by large institutions are removed, and more control is put into the hands of regular people.

Creating a global lending market can help grow local economies all over the world which benefits everybody.

Take a borrower in India, for example, that previously might have needed upwards of 12% to secure a loan to expand his business. With lower interest rates and an immediate payout, he can keep his investment in crypto and still set himself up for success in his business.

Taking inflation out of the equation has obvious benefits, as well. In this scenario, everybody is equal. As long as a borrower has the collateral, then they can get a loan and negotiate the terms themselves instead of being at the whim of a bank.

Trustless, secure and decentralized lending between peers may be the way of the future. Time, of course will tell, but for now many people are benefiting from a more democratic system of finance thanks to Ethlend.

ICON

Scalability, if you have been keeping up to date with blockchain technology then you have heard this word a lot.

It is the major obstacle that everybody involved in blockchain development is trying to solve.

The most ambitious among the groups trying to find a way to best scale the blockchain has to be ICON Republic. The group behind ICON believe the best way forward is to go big and make a huge network that can bring together the various blockchains in a way that they can integrate with each other.

In their own words they want to Hyperconnect the World.

What is ICON Republic?

ICON is a South Korean group that is trying to implement a network that can connect various blockchains together.

By using smart contracts and a loopchain, different blockchains will be able to communicate with each other. A network of communities is how they describe it.

Calling it a Republic belies the fact that there is no central authority. The way the network is set up is simple.

There are groups of nodes on a blockchain called Communities or C Nodes. Each Community can govern itself any way it sees fit. However they wish to validate blocks and create consensus is totally up to them. ICON Republic won’t be telling them how to do it.

A community can be made of of different institutions like banks, insurance companies, hospitals, etc. They can work together in the community or even individually. But, the main point being connectivity means that it is hoped that nodes will be occupied by institutions that need to streamline how they communicate.

A C-rep is a representative that is voted on by the Community to represent that blockchain within the Republic. That representative can vote on governance of the network within the Republic.

The Republic, then, is the group of representatives from the different communities.  The ICON Republic functions as a communication channel between communities, and does

not affect the governance of the communities. So, again, the name Republic implies that it is a central authority, but the reality is that is is totally decentralized.

Why Form a Network of Blockchains?

The way things work right now with a central server that needs to connect with other servers to communicate between institutions is becoming unwieldy.

Blockchain technology is developing at just the right time for these transactions to become more streamlined and efficient. That works for the institutions themselves to save money and manpower and for the consumers and users of the institutions, as well.

Let’s take an example from the ICON whitepaper on how things work now and how it may look later.

They made the example of somebody buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks with their credit card. Once a card is swiped, it has to go through many different channels for the money to transfer from your bank to Starbucks. Passing through many different servers, communicating and sharing information to make that simple transaction insanely complicated.

What ICON envisions is that same transaction happening within a network of blockchains. With the bank, your credit card company and Starbucks communicating with smart contracts, this takes all of the complication of different servers needing to transact with each other. Cutting out the middleman is efficient, economical and safe.

Can this type of network work?


Well, it already is. It is being implemented with the Korean healthcare industry, for example. A patient can have their entire health history including DNA stored in their own smart contract. This sensitive information can only be shared with others that have access to the contract. This makes for a secure distribution of medical information through blockchain.

In addition, banks, insurance companies and universities are already on the network and able to seamlessly communicate with each other.

 On a level that is interesting especially to cryptocurrency investors and traders is the Decentralized Exchange, aka DEX. This exchange can take the wait out of trading crypto for crypto currency as different blockchains will be able to communicate with each other. Bitsquare and Bitshares work within the same principle, but since they require somebody to always be online they have limitations that DEX won’t. All transactions can be processed in real time.

How Will the ICX Coin Work?

As is the case with other blockchains that are looking to enable more real world applications, ICX tokens will be used to pay for transactions and incentivize voting and governance of the network.

In other words, ICON is a Delegated Proof Of Stake network.

ICX tokens entitle its holder to cast one vote for the delegate of their choice. Transactions will be confirmed and rewarded with ICX tokens and delegates will have more weighted votes based on how many tokens they possess.

How much value the token has will rise with the number of users in the network. The more users, or C-Nodes, the more transactions, the more transactions, the more ICX gets spent and the more ICX that gets spent, the higher the value of the tokens.

With blockchain development happening rapidly, it will be interesting to see how this Republic can grow. It seems to have tackled the issue of scalability by allowing blockchains to communicate and connect. It is already a proven model at the stage where it is now. But, as we have seen time and time again, there are always unforeseen circumstances that develop, and develop quickly, that can sidetrack a blockchain’s development.

 But, isn’t that what makes it so interesting?
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