We’re running a new and very exciting one day course on Blockchain and Ethereum on the 9th of May. The trainer for the day is Ben Evens who is extremely experienced with financial tech – having specialised in this field for 15 years. Ben is a highly respected author, speaker, consultant and educator.
During his five years at Morgan Stanley, Ben worked on a series of high profile projects including Google’s IPO and Morgan Stanley’s revolutionary proprietary single dealer platform, Matrix. Ben has completed extensive work with blockchains and related tech and he has published original research on how to implement smart contracts.
He is co-founder of jClarity, a performance tools startup. He helps to organize the London Java Community and served for 6 years on the Java Community Process Executive Committee, helping define new Java standards. He is a Java Champion, 3-time JavaOne Rockstar Speaker and the Java Track Lead (commissioning editor) at InfoQ.
Ben authored “The Well-Grounded Java Developer”, “Java: The Legend”, the new edition of “Java in a Nutshell” and the brand new “Optimizing Java”. Ben is a regular speaker and educator on topics such as the Java platform, systems architecture, security, performance and concurrency at companies and conferences all over the world.
Blockchain and the Hype
There’s a lot of talk and hype in the media at the moment around blockchains – with some pretty wild and overblown claims. Extensive media coverage has come from the massive rise in the price of Bitcoin recently.
On the back of that, there’s been some excitement generated around this for developers as big companies such as IBM and Microsoft have made announcements that they are developing blockchain technology. However, for a lot of ordinary developers, it can be hard to cut through the noise and hype and really find out what this new thing is all about and what it can do for you and when it can be implemented.
Ben is going to demystify some of the hype so that participants can get a taster of the technology and make an informed decision as to whether this is something either you or your developers need to up-skill in. Here’s an opportunity to find out where it is going to be useful and where it is not relevant. It’s not a one size fits all tool, but on completing the course participants will have a greater understanding of when it is the correct tool to use.
Participants will get a real understanding and have the knowledge to think critically as to whether they should be looking to invest in blockchain development or develop the capability to use it.
Here’s a bit more about the two key areas Ben will cover on the blockchain course…..
Part 1 – Blockchain
Fundamentally Blockchain is really just a data structure and a technique for processing and handling data and based on cryptographic techniques – including elements such encryption, hashes and public and private keys. It’s a bit more modern and a bit more complex than some other data structures but by no means rocket science.
In the first part of the blockchain course, participants will learn how to build a blockchain from scratch, what the fundamental building blocks are, how you make one and examine what properties it has – for example, it’s tamper free – lots of different people could be writing to it but don’t necessarily know each other or even need to trust each other.
Ben will be teaching the basic computer techniques and the morning session will focus on building and implementing a very simple blockchain from scratch, so don’t forget your laptop!
Once you build the blockchain you’ll see that the properties you want it to have magically appear just from writing the code. It is impossible to actually tamper with it, you can’t go back and change the history of the blockchain and alter the records. If you try to do this, it basically damages the blockchain in a way that is immediately obvious. Think a tamper proof seal on a food container – if someone breaks it you know instantly that it has been tampered with.
At the end of the lab, participants will go and try and taper with another students blockchain so that the results can be seen clearly.
That wraps up part one!
Part 2 – Ethereum
Bitcoin was the first publicly available blockchain – and is fine for what it does which is to really maintain a big ledger which is distributed right across the world which determining who owns which bitcoins. You can use your key to prove that you are who you say you are and authorise a transfer of bitcoins from one account to another and the ledger is updated. Ethereum goes much further than this……
Ethereum does all of the above but also has the ability to manage smart contracts. So, if someone wrote a simple computer program and signed it with their key that they will promise to pay for that program to be run on the network. You can use your funds to run real computer programs within the Ethereum network itself.
This can be used to create smart contracts. For example, you can create a contact to try and raise a certain amount of funds to work on a project – if the target is met you can withdraw the funds and begin your project. However, if not enough people submit and the target is not met, the funds will be returned to those that have contributed safely – without the funds being withdrawn.
The ability to write these smart contracts is the key differentiator. The language that is used to write these smart contracts is ‘Solidity’. It’s an interesting programming language because it looks a bit like Java Script or Java but is different and has been written specifically to work over the Ethereum network. You can’t run one of these smart contracts outside Ethereum. Some of the concepts are not found in Python or Java etc – so there’s some new interesting things to be learnt.
Participants will learn how to write a simple smart contract, find out how to use them and cover some of their limitations.
Finally, there’ll be a good discussion on how you integrate applications with Etherum.
That’s it for part 2 – time to mingle and chat with your fellow attendees……
Registration is now open for the one-day course however, places are filling up quickly, so we suggest completing an application as soon as possible to secure your place.