Top 10 Qtum New User Questions — April 22, 2018

Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal — Questions — Arco da Rua Augusta

AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS BLOG IN DECEMBER 2018 WITH UPDATED LINKS AND COMMANDS, IS AVAILABLE HERE.

Below are the top 10 questions and answers for new Qtum users, but first an update on Qtum Mainnet Performance and Network Weight.

Your correspondent is an independent blockchain researcher who enjoys the online Qtum Community, more recently as a moderator for some of the social media channels. I appreciate the technical guidance from the Qtum Team and hope to chat with you all online soon.

Data sources for the analysis below come from screen scraping the blockchain Explorer, logging from the qtumd server wallet, and encrypted Telegram messages from A Ginjinha in Lisboa.

Network Weight

New users standby — this is some more detailed analysis of the blockchain performance — you can skip to the Q&A section below.

The wallets calculate an estimate of network weight used for giving the average time to a block reward. The wallet algorithm is short-term and has some variation. Network weight is derived from the difficulty to win the next block reward, which adjusts with every block in Qtum Proof of Stake. Here is a chart of the estimate of Network Weight as calculated by the wallet for all the blocks from April 15–21:

Wallet estimated network weight calculation, blocks 135,871–140,046

Regular readers of this blog know I calculate my own estimate of network weight over a longer time frame than the wallet, with many more data points. For April 15–21, big wallets with known balances of 3.26 million won 684 out of 4,207 block rewards, giving a network weight of 20.0 million.

A network weight of 20.0 million means an annual return of 4.4% for Qtum wallets participating in Proof of Stake mining [Reference 1]:

Block Spacing

Block spacing for Qtum averages around 144 seconds, or 600 blocks per day. Block reward difficulty is adjusted to keep this average spacing, but there is some variation in block spacing caused by the random lottery algorithm which selects the block reward winner. The histogram chart below shows the number of block spacings grouped in 16-second buckets for April 15–21, for those block spacings from 2 seconds to 256 seconds. For this period, there were two block spacings greater than 20 minutes, and the longest block was 138,226 at 26:55.

Block spacings for 2 to 256 seconds, April 15 to April 21

Telegram Translation

The Qtum Community on the social networks has worldwide members (just as there are Qtum nodes worldwide). Qtum Telegram has channels for English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Russian language. To help communication you can use Google Chrome with the Telegram Web-version, and let Google Translate improve your language skills:

right click on the foreign language text and select “Translate to <Your preferred language>”

If you are translating Telegram note the usernames will also be translated, which can give some interesting results. Click on the Google Translate icon on the far-right hand side of the Chrome browser address bar and select “Options” to manage the translation.

For security reasons, you should always enter a Username for your Telegram account, which will be unique across all Telegram channels worldwide. Also, if I could request that Telegram users enter a Profile Photo, just to make it more interesting. It doesn’t have to be Instagram quality but put in your pet, favorite travel beauty spot, etc. You can even put in multiple photos, and show your personality, for example, see my second photo 😉.

Top 10 New User Questions

Welcome to Qtum! Cryptocurrencies welcome new users to their communities. New users mean growth, adoption, new ideas and new questions. The only stupid question from new users is the unasked question. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain 2.0 is such a fast-growing technology and there is so much to learn that active users a few months senior to you appear to be experts. As a new user, I hope this Q&A will accelerate your knowledge about Qtum, and in a few months, you can be an expert too. If you are brand new to Qtum, the glossary in the references below may help with the terminology.

Q 1.

How many QTUM do I need to stake? How do block rewards for staking work? Are there masternodes?

You can stake with as little as 1.0 QTUM in your wallet but will need more for a realistic probability of winning a block reward. With Qtum Proof of Stake, block rewards are given in a random lottery process where the odds of winning depend on the number of coins in your wallet vs. the total number of coins being staked on the network. Every Qtum Core wallet is a decentralized full node on the network; there are no masternodes.

The more coins you have staking, the more often your wallet will win a block reward of 4 QTUM. Staking will give block rewards of a few percent return per year. For an estimate of the average time to a block reward, check the stake calculator. This estimate is the average time to a block reward, Qtum block rewards do not accrue or accumulate like pool mining, and your block reward could come earlier than the estimate or much later. In staking, splitting your coins into different wallets or different addresses will not change your odds of winning; there is only one way to improve your odds: buy more QTUM!

Q 2.

What wallets can be used for staking?

Only the Qtum Core wallets (qtum-qt the Desktop GUI wallet, and qtumd the server wallet) can be used for staking. These wallets run a full node on the Qtum network, secure the network by validating all the transactions/blocks in real time and receive block rewards as an incentive for this work. Staking wallets should be run 24/7 because they can only win block rewards when they are online. The examples below focus on qtum-qt, the desktop GUI wallet which is great for beginners, but you can also use qtumd with a command line interface.

You can download the latest Qtum Core wallets from the Qtum Website:

Qtum Core Wallets

Here the “More” button will take you to the Qtum Project GitHub releases page with all the wallet distribution packages.

For the direct installation downloads select

qtum-<version>-osx-unsigned.dmg for Mac

qtum-<version>-win32-setup-unsigned.exe for 32 bit Windows

qtum-<version>-win64-setup-unsigned.exe for 64 bit Windows

Q 3.

What other wallets are available?

In addition to the Qtum Core wallets, Qtum offers a Web wallet (like MyEtherWallet) which supports the Ledger hardware wallet, the Electrum wallet which supports the Trezor hardware wallet, and the Android mobile wallet. Get these wallets at qtumeco.io/wallet.

The Web wallet — such pretty!

Q 4.

My QTUM has gone missing. The Blockchain Explorer says my balance is too low, wtf? [Reference 2]

This is perhaps the most common problem that newbies encounter (don’t ask me how I know, but a tip of the hat to Earlz who answered this question for a newbie during the early Testnet days), especially if you are new to the blockchain, or coming from a blockchain with an account architecture.

Qtum uses the Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) model to store value, same as bitcoin. This means when you send a QTUM transaction, your wallet will select a previous transaction or transactions with more than the amount you are paying and send those transaction(s) in their entirety. Your wallet will also provide a “change address” where the change will be returned.

Think of it like this. If you wanted to buy a coffee for €3 and gave the coffee shop a €5 note, they would return €2 in change. This is exactly what the wallet does using the change address (unless you enable the coin control feature).

Your wallet will show a total balance for all addresses it manages, including the change address, but the Explorer can only show the balance for a single address at a time. Both the Explorer and wallet present the correct balance of QTUM from their perspective, but it can be confusing unless you know how UTXOs work using the change address.

Keep in mind that technically there are no actual QTUM “coins” (or QRC20 tokens) stored in your wallet. “Coins” are really stored as transactions in the blocks of the blockchain, and “coins” are really a sum by the wallet of the unspent values for all the previous transactions for your wallet addresses. The wallet does have the critical job of storing and managing private keys, and the wallet is essentially a blockchain browser that lets you manage your “coins” and tokens which are actually stored on the blockchain.

Q 5.

I used to get regular block rewards for staking, but not so much recently. How can I check that my wallet is setup correctly for staking?

Keep in mind that with organic growth and deployment of commercial DAPPs involving staking wallets, the trend for network weight is going up, which means the time between block rewards for wallets of fixed size is also going up. Rising network weight is a good thing for the Qtum ecosystem: it means a bigger, stronger, more secure network. You can check your expected time for a block reward with the stake calculator.

To determine if your Qtum Core wallet is staking correctly check these things:

1. Syncing to the latest block, hover over the little checkmark icon in the lower right-hand corner of the wallet.

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2. Unlocked for staking only, hover over the little padlock icon (which will show the hasp slightly open for “unlocked for staking only”).

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3. Computer clock set within a few seconds of correct time. Check using the “getinfo” command and see question 9 for entering commands. Here the computer time and Qtum network time are synced (“timeoffset” is zero seconds).

Provided your wallet has this configuration, you just have to wait for the block reward, which due to the random nature of the block reward lottery could come in the very next block (but very unlikely) or up to 5 to 9 times the expected time.

Q 6.

My wallet is not syncing. What can I do?

To participate in staking or even see your balance correctly for recent transactions, your wallet must sync properly with the blockchain and load the latest blocks. Here is a troubleshooting list, but please make sure you understand these steps and reach out on the social medias for help if you have any questions.

If your wallet is stuck on “XX weeks behind from Sept. 6 2017” this means the wallet is not even starting to sync (and Happy Birthday to Qtum — Sept 6, 2017 is the date Qtum Mainnet launched) so suspect port connectivity problems in step 3 below.

1. Install the latest version of Qtum core wallet from https://qtumeco.io/wallet or for more choices see https://github.com/qtumproject/qtum/ releases

2. Exit the wallet. Make multiple backup copies of the wallet.dat file. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT — IF YOU DO NOT HAVE GOOD BACKUPS OF THE WALLET.DAT FILE, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR QTUM.

3. Make sure the wallet applications can communicate through your firewall/router, add an exception for port 3888 TCP in/out (port mapping or forwarding) if needed. The wallet should be able to make connections to at least a few peers, up to 8 active connections after running for a while. Sometimes it helps to add the first node using the addnode command, such as:

addnode 35.197.138.163:3888 add

See question 9 below about entering commands.

4. Make sure the computer time zone is set correctly, and the computer clock is set accurately. Check the time with the getinfo command as shown in answer 5 above.

5. Do this next step only if you have good wallet.dat backups. With the wallet stopped, delete the blockchain (folders: blocks, chainstate, database, and stateQtum — in the same “Qtum” folder as the wallet.dat file). This will cause your wallet to reload the entire blockchain when you restart. Don’t worry, the blockchain holds your coin/token balance, with copies of the blockchain in all the nodes worldwide. This step is effective if your wallet gets stuck syncing part way through the blockchain.

6. Make sure there is at least 2 GB of disk storage free.

7. Reboot your computer. Run the wallet again. Good luck!

Q 7.

How can I see QRC20 tokens in my wallet?

QRC20 tokens are associated with your wallet Q address. You can see QRC20 tokens and send those tokens only after you add that token to your wallet — tell the wallet you want to manage that specific token by “adding” that specific QRC20 token to your wallet. To add QRC20 tokens to your Qtum Core wallet, see this guide.

Q 8.

How can I keep my wallet safe?

Please don’t be texting and walk in front of this truck

There is much risk in life, you could succumb to the Mac Truck Syndrome tomorrow (getting run over by a Mac truck). There are also many risks in crypto: exchanges getting hacked, scammers, smart contracts blowing up, oh my. Based on what I have seen troubleshooting in the Community the primary risk to your coins is human error by the human reading this blog.

There are two ways guaranteed to destroy your QTUM: 1) losing the wallet.dat file for the core wallets, 2) losing the password/passphrase/seed words. For core wallets, the wallet.dat file contains the private keys for your wallet. If you lose this file because you don’t have good backups, your QTUM will be lost forever. Likewise, if you lose the password/passphrase/seed words for your wallet, your QTUM will be lost forever. There are some very narrow corner cases where you can recover from a forgotten passphrase/seed words. Passphrases and seed words must be entered exactly right, character for character, with upper case/lower case correct, no extra blank spaces, etc. In crypto, there is no password reset, no charge backs, disputes or things like that, and if you are not comfortable with the personal responsibility for your coins, then crypto is not for you.

Please don’t take my seed words

For general security, hardware wallets such as Ledger Nano S and Trezor are the best approach. If you will be running a core wallet for Qtum staking, a best practice is to stake from a dedicated computer that is not used for email or surfing the Web (why? because you can get malware from surfing the Web and phishing emails).

If you hold any value in QTUM, you should read, understand and implement the excellent advice in these blogs: QTUM wallet usage best practices and this unofficial guide to Encrypting, Backing-Up, and Restoring Your Qtum Wallet.

Q 9.

How can I enter commands to see more information about my wallet?

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In the menu bar select “Help”, then “Debug window”

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On the Debug window select “Console”

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At the bottom of the Console, you can enter a command, a good command to start with is “help”

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Q 10.

Where can I find out more about Qtum?

Here are some good references:

The Qtum Usage Guide

The Qtum wallet best practices

Unofficial staking guide by Cryptominder on Seemit

News and announcements on the Qtum Blog

Twitter feeds for Qtum Official and PatrickXDai

Social media Qtum Telegram (English), Qtum subreddit, Qtum Discord.

We finish he blog today in Lisbon. Portugal was known for global exploration in the 1400s and 1500s based on their naval prowess. Portugal is home to four Qtum nodes and has a unique history and culture on the Iberian Peninsula. In Lisbon, you can enjoy the rich history, streetcars, delicious pastéis de nata, and fado (soulful blues).

Obrigado e fique seguro online,

Jackson

Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, built 1501–1600

References

1. Annual Return in percent = (100 x 600 blocks/day x 365 days x 4 QTUM/block) / Network Weight in millions

2. “wtf” is a technical acronym meaning “What is the Technical explanation For this behavior”. For more on “wtf”, see this description by Catalan DJ Sak Noel — Loca people NSFW.

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3. Such beautiful Lisbon drone video. DJI Mavic Pro, watch in 4k.

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4. Goodbye Avicii, RIP. Music for new user research, Norwegian DJ Kygo — Stargazing. Notice how the music video director uses darkness and reveals the orchestra.

And for a little more energy, an Amsterdam DJ with this.

5. Qtum Glossary

Block rewards — the reward for Qtum Proof of Stake miners, currently pays out 4.0 QTUM every ~two minutes in a random lottery process.

Earlz — Jordan Earls, Qtum co-founder and lead developer, blockchain architect, and sporting the best beard in crypto.

Mainnet or Mainnet Ignition — The public Qtum blockchain, launched on September 6, 2017.

Patrick — Patrick Dai, Qtum co-founder and CEO, globetrotting evangelist and frontman for the Qtum Project.

PoS — Proof of Stake, the Qtum blockchain consensus algorithm, based on the SHA-256 hash algorithm.

QRC20 — The digital asset token for the Qtum blockchain, modeled on the Ethereum ERC20 token.

QTUM — The Qtum Mainnet blockchain coin, used to power Qtum smart contracts.

Qtum Foundation — The nonprofit foundation registered in Singapore, overseeing the Qtum platform.

Testnet — The Qtum network for test and development, see the Testnet Explorer.

5. See my previous blogs on Medium.

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Blockchain researcher, occasional blogger

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Jackson Belove

Jackson Belove

Blockchain researcher, occasional blogger

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