TFA - The Factoid Authority

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
Greetings

A little correction to our application:
We answered the question on Testnet nodes, by submitting TFA-Authority Set.pdf. This was actually about our MainNet nodes.
We will continue to run Testnet nodes. 5 or more if required.
 
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David Chapman

Factomize
Thank you for the application.

A. Your financials doc says you are looking to run 3-5 Auth Nodes. Do I correctly assume this was just an artifact leftover from a previous version?
 

David Chapman

Factomize
C. Have the USA members of your team consulted with experts to discern how offshore incorporation will potentially affect them, especially with the ratification of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017?
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
A. We understand that initially there will not be a possibility to run more than 2 servers, but if the Authority Set deployments for a time opens up for hosting more than 2 we'll be pursuing up to 5 for a limited amount of time (in a longer time perspective we expect this to go down to 1).

B. We are presently operating as Logic Ethos Ltd in the UK, which is providing hosting facilities, and finance. All the paperwork required to incorporate in Singapore is ready, and will be executed within days of a successful application. Logic Ethos Ltd will be a minority non-voting shareholder of the new company, with the remaining shares equally divided amongst our members.

C. Yes we acknowledge Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and after advice and our own research we are happy with any implications.
 

Matt Osborne

Go Immutable
Exchange Working Group
Legal Working Group
There are several examples of such opportunities that could be funded by the grant system, such as core protocol enhancements for multisig wallets, identity management, voting systems, digital asset management, and client side smart contracts. For these and other significant topics, the TFA will seek to spearhead coordination and collaboration amongst several entities to successfully implement and deploy.
Some of these are huge endeavors. What previous experiences will you be able to fallback on that will enable you to execute the more ambitious projects in the above?
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
We believe some of those projects in question are crucial to the adoption of Factom and should be developed sooner rather than later. Possessing Factom core experience, we believe we are among few entities who possess the knowledge to execute them in their entirety; To quote Paul Snow, “I will say that the ramp time to come up to speed with Factom development, and contribute usefully towards the security and distribution of the protocol oh, that's a long long time.”


We are confident that we can develop many of the projects mentioned in-house, which should be apparent from TFA's previous contributions to Factom-core and related development from three members of our team. We possess the necessary Development experience, Project Management, General & Administrative Management and Financial Management to effectively complete these projects or manage them to completion.


Development

Steven implemented the identity system in the Factom protocol and is capable of extending it or creating external tools around it (such as voting systems).

TFA plans to contribute to protocol level enhancements such as multisigs; Steven has not only the experience with implementing protocol features, but also has working-relationships with other Factom engineers, whom TFA would have to coordinate with for some of our plans. Some of the challenge is not only implementing the features inside the protocol but creating the external tools and documentation to interact with said features. That is where TFA plans to contribute a lot of resources too, especially with wallet support of multisigs and parsing identity information for use outside factomd.

For client-side smart contracts, we are specifically referring to contracts such as erc20, not necessarily a general scripting language. This is much easier to develop on Factom vs Ethereum, as the scripting is done client-side, allowing for code updates and even soft/hard forks of a Factom erc20 token. Therefore, the development can be an iterative project and is less prone to contract destroying bug such as the parity "hacks" and DAO bug that caused losses of millions of dollars.

Dennis & Stuart are also both developers who have contributed to various Factom related apps & resources and they will be able to contribute a great deal to many of these projects.


Project Management

Dennis and Stuart (TFA) have extensive experience in technical project management and leading teams of developers (Stuart 20+ years project managing a number of small development teams & Dennis is currently in charge of managing 11 physicists & software engineers, while executing contracts upwards of $3m); they have the industry contacts to bring in additional resources and engineers and the technical expertise to ensure projects are on time and completed. Logic Ethos can provide the finances to kick-start projects as required.


General & Administrative Management

Tor has demonstrated vast managerial skills, from first proposing the Factom Community Test-net to onboarding 80+ servers. He has had to collaborate with both Factom Inc and individual members to effectively guide the test-net from fruition to where it is now. We believe he has the necessary skills and connections to coordinate required tasks from several (if not all) entities and has a great relationship with most of them. His documentation writing and handling skills will be a great asset to any large project we propose, as well as his ability to inform the community of progress.

Financial Management

Ben has the ability to effectively manage the financials of projects, he has extensive experience in project management & budgeting after working for such companies as Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd & Air New Zealand. As well as looking after the financials for TFA, he would be looking to manage collaborative efforts as well. He has already built some useful tools to ensure our projects are on track and every dollar accounted for.

It's also important to stay in context; TFA acknowledges that for these ambitious projects that we will require collaboration from other entities (or third-parties) and if we are adding something fundamental to the protocol, we would want input from others with vested interest. For instance, although we could manage the multisig alone, we may want to team up with Factom Inc or include other entities if capable of making a contribution. It's important to consider, while we have the necessary (and fundamental) expertise to accomplish many of these projects, our resources will not be extensive. What's important is that we have the expertise to lead and coordinate these important projects, which we believe are core to the progression of Factom.
 
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David Chapman

Factomize
D. Let's say you get an Authority Node. How it performs will be easy to monitor. However, as part of your campaign you also discuss additional development work which is important since your single node Efficiency is set at 25%. The Standing Parties will likely want to see what progress you're making since it was part of your campaign. My questions are:

1. How would you communicate with the Standing Parties. Examples would be blog, twitter, Discord, Reddit, etc.
2. What would you communicate and how often?
3. What metrics should be used to gauge your development progress and success?
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
Thank you for your application. Love the level of details and the amount of work you guys put into the application :)

NK01)
Could you elaborate why you mostly rely on node income to fund your development and desire for more than 2 nodes? You mention grants in your application for some projects. Have you considered a more substantial role in your financials for grants?
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
NK02)
Like mentioned by fellow guides, you list some projects that are big endeavours

Given your projections are based on node income, how would you provide accountability for the projects you are running to the standing parties?
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
Short tech question. Nice ledger S integration for SSH :). How long is the ledger S usable for auth after having entered the pincode?
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
NK03)
Could you provide some insight in any firewalling you are applying? On of the really few things I missed (or overlooked) in your application.
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
NK04)
We will also operate our servers with best security practices followed by governments and industry;
You mention hardening the servers using puppet; Could you elaborate a little about the above claim?
 

Niels Klomp

BI Foundation
Core Committee
Governance Working Group
NK05)
What actions will you take to make sure your system administration is of the highest quality and mostly a repeatable process?
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
DC Question D:

We would like to make it clear that with 1 server our capacity to do internal development work may be limited at lower Factoid prices; even with efficiency set at 25%, some team members may be part-time. Internal development will continue under any price scenarios, though the speed at which projects are completed is FCT price (and number of servers) dependent.


Our financials have been structured such that we will budget our tasks monthly to accommodate a potentially volatile FCT price. Each of our tasks will have their own cost center assigned to them. This will allow us to accurately track the effort we expend on each project on a monthly basis (this method of tracking will extend to our grant projects as well). At the end of each month we will evaluate our budget for our internal projects and based upon FCT price projections establish a working budget for the following month (please refer to our Financials document, which details how we handle variable expenses). While this technique will make deadlines somewhat of a moving target, it will allow us to accurately track our cost expenditures in relation to the technical advancement on each project.


It’s our opinion that internal projects should be treated slightly different to grants, given that they depend on our internal budgets determined by FCT price and so we would expect slightly less scrutiny around timelines. Nevertheless, we believe transparency is key and we would demonstrate our accountability for spending accordingly.

With that said, to address your questions:
  1. How would you communicate with the Standing Parties. Examples would be blog, twitter, Discord, Reddit, etc.
We would communicate via our website Factoid.org and other Factom related channels - Discord, Reddit & Factomize
  1. What would you communicate and how often?
Similar to a publicly traded company, we will generate quarterly reports that will provide some insight into the health of our business, highlight progress on internal projects and provide status of any grants we have received and/or are sponsoring. Additionally, we are likely to informally update the community on our projects through these channels.
  1. What metrics should be used to gauge your development progress and success?

  • We will estimate Milestones and project completion by hours. From the hours we record internally, we will track completion %
  • We will track internally our budgeted hours vs actuals
  • We will aim to provide rough timelines for Milestones, keeping in mind this is difficult with volatile FCT prices

  • We will seek community feedback as a measure of success. Willing community members will be vital for testing and bug-reporting




Notional Example: Paul Snow Super Bowl Commercial

As an example of how we would arrive at the percent complete on a project, we took a project from factomize.com/proposals and decided to expand the project into inchstones and milestones. Please note, this is a high level description of the task, not a complete work-breakdown structure (WBS) of the effort. Also note, for simplicity, we chose to keep cost units in FCT.


Total Cost Estimate: 65,900 FCT Duration: 15 MonthsHour Budget: 1380 Hours

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Stuart

The Factoid Authority
NK01: Could you elaborate why you mostly rely on node income to fund your development and desire for more than 2 nodes? You mention grants in your application for some projects. Have you considered a more substantial role in your financials for grants?

In short, yes; we’ve always intended for grants to play a significant role as a means of financing our plans. We will look to utilize the grant system for most of the projects we have proposed and hope to be looking to it as a resource for collaborations with other entities.

For clarity, here are some of the projects we will be pursuing through grants:

· C# .NET Factom Client Library
· FactomDB
· Ledger wallet development & advanced features
· Node Bootstrap Service
· Factom Light Node
· Factomizing large data sets e.g Star Catalogues
· Factom API Assist
· FactomGPS
· Factom gRPC or Websocket
· Steamr Integration
· Factom Smart contracts like erc20



It’s important to note, we are not pursuing more than two servers in this initial round and we hope this doesn’t detract from our application by any means. Nevertheless, we are happy to justify our thinking and future position as we would only be pursuing more than two servers for a short period of time, to alleviate some of our concerns that follow:

1. There are many uncertainties surrounding the grant system and we have no indication of when it might be deployed. We believe in the short-term well positioned entities should have direct access to funds to develop or add value rather than deferring to the pool. This could be accomplished with temporary additional servers until such a time the grant system is operational. In this case, we could look at taking on some of the projects listed above internally.

2. Factom Inc have indicated that there is some development that needs prioritizing and so hard-coded grants will be necessary. We have identified additional development, which we think should also be given priority. Factom Inc’s core focus is the protocol, and their resources are dedicated to core protocol features such as sharding. These efforts will occupy most of Factom Inc’s effort, however a successful platform needs much more than just performance. It needs a streamlined api, documentation, developer tools, etc. TFA has the team needed to contribute to any and all of these efforts. All of our proposed projects are aimed at expanding Factom’s reach to enable developers. The quicker we can bring developers onto Factom, the quicker it will be adopted.

3. We are proposing to develop the Factom Explorer, which due to the nature of it will have to be closed source and so developed in-house.

Factom Explorer – The current Factom explorer serves the most basic use case, data. It is missing a large chunk of the protocol, and it’s not planned to be thoroughly expanded. TFA wants to enable developers and educate those interested in Factom, therefore we plan to expand the explorer to include more data (some data on current explorer cannot be reached easily such as pairing commits to reveals), and more insight into the core mechanics of the protocol; identities, process list information (block being built), authority response time, and more. We also plan to have a set of APIs available from the explorer to allow for some light scripting without needing a factomd node (read only). There is currently no api available for reading identities, authorities, or any control related protocol features. TFA’s explorer intends to change that, which will become more valuable as guide related duties transition to being autonomous.

4. We have been as transparent as possible in regard to sharing our financial projections, under our Financials document you can see our average salaries at different FCT price points, despite most of us working full-time we will not be compensated as such at current prices. We acknowledge that there will be opportunities to obtain additional revenue through grants, but it’s not guaranteed and as mentioned previously it may be some time away.

5. Our efficiency increases with more servers and so would our contribution to internal projects (please refer to our Financials document). Once you factor in our total contributions (PTP and internally), from a value-for-protocol standpoint, we believe it makes sense in the short-term to have more servers under single entities. In the medium to long-term we acknowledge that decentralization is much more important and we would expect the grant system up and running by then.

We don’t want this to be considered as a pitch of any kind but simply some insight into why we mentioned pursuing additional servers, as it stands we would be very effective with two servers and our capacity to further the protocol would be largely through grants. We will also look to collaborate with entities for internal work, which will bring in additional resources.
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
NK02 Like mentioned by fellow guides, you list some projects that are big endeavours Given your projections are based on node income, how would you provide accountability for the projects you are running to the standing parties?

We touched on this in our previous response, we acknowledge that we have proposed some big endeavours and we will not be looking to fund these entirely with node income, at least not with two Authority Servers as we simply would not have the capacity at most FCT price points. We would require grants and collaboration with other entities to execute them in any kind of reasonable time frames. For the Block Explorer, which will certainly be developed in-house and prioritized by us, we may reach out for collaboration and so it’s possible we have additional resources available.

However, your question is not redundant as we do have some ambitious projects to develop (and/or could develop) in-house. We believe we have given a detailed answer to Dchapman in regard to providing accountability and progress reports to standing-parties on internal work. You can find the response here https://factomize.com/forums/threads/tfa-the-factoid-authority.99/post-821

Please let us know if this answer is satisfactory, if not, or you want us to elaborate further, please don’t hesitate to ask.
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
NK03 Could you provide some insight in any firewalling you are applying? On of the really few things I missed (or overlooked) in your application.

We use iptables, to DROP packets for unused ports. SSH Access is moved to a non-standard port (and a different IP address where we are using docker with 'maclan').

Logic Ethos Ltd, developed their own dynamic firewall technology for the UK's Breakdown Recovery Industry. We may conciser deploying that in the future, but it will need redeveloping for this application. This rate-limits, or blocks bad actors.
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
Short tech question. Nice ledger S integration for SSH :). How long is the ledger S usable for auth after having entered the pincode?

Until you unplug the Ledger. You can also have an additional password set. It's better than the yubikey's in that regard.
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
NK04
You mention hardening the servers using puppet; Could you elaborate a little about the above claim?


Puppet has a series of administration, monitoring, security, scripting, and deployment tools. Their website boast that 75% of the fortune 1000 companies use it, as well as used extensively within US military facilities (one of our members has personal experience of this), to secure and manage computer systems within their network. Another of our members use it on their government systems.

One of the many nice features of puppet is the OS hardening capability to ensure nodes are properly secured by disabling unnecessary services and properly configuring services that are needed such as ssh and enforcing those policies in a consistent manor across all systems. One may think that that a server OS is secure out out of the box. However, this is usually not the case. Puppet can also scan and report and close vulnerabilities based on your set policy For example, on a CentOS 6 system I had setup previously, puppet revealed almost 2000 potential security vulnerabilities requiring attention. Puppet allows for security policy can be set through the configuration scripts and deployed uniformly to all nodes on your network. These scripts can be customized for the Factom use case with guard nodes and authority servers. Puppet enforces the policy on your nodes and also provides an auditing capability of each system that can be used to detect attacks on the system. The puppet enterprise product offering also allows for monitoring of each node and has the ability to ensure important updates are applies to keep system secure.
 

Stuart

The Factoid Authority
NK05 What actions will you take to make sure your system administration is of the highest quality and mostly a repeatable process?"

Writing scripts for common tasks. We will define and document processes where applicable, and utilise the Ledger login system to make scripts available to our admins though its menu system.
 
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