What to look for in 2019?

It’s now time of the year to look back on the former year, take a slow breath, reflect on yourself and come up with new plans for a fresh start. 2019 is expected to be a year of new experiences and surprises but not forget to mention: new challenges. But before that, let’s take a glance on what I achieved in 2018

  • Got chosen as a valedictorian in ESL program

Last year, I was honoured to be the one giving a speech on the year-end party. This was such an exhilarating experience to stand in front of people and share my feelings and thoughts about my journey in ESL program. An unforgetful speech in my studying-abroad time.

  • Traveled to Taiwan:

Went on a short trip to Taiwan with my family, adding up to 6 countries I have been traveling to so far. This summer trip also widens the map of my cultural exploration. I have to admit traveling is great way to expand my horizon of knowledge, reflect on myself and enrich my experiences.

  • Built a WordPress site

Until now I am still happy with my decision of launching a website for my own. Being inspired by some micro-influencers about establishing a personal page and boosting personal branding, I started to blog and published 3 articles in 2018 (a fine amount for a newly kick-off personal site *wink emo*). Hoping that I will be able to produce more posts and gain more readership in months of 2019 to come.

  • Participated in Toastmaster.

This is by far one of the bravest decisions I made in my first year of school. Being aware of limitations of my speaking skills, especially impromtu, I pushed myself forward to participate in a public speaking club with a fervent hope to become more confident in presenting in front of the crowd. And I’m so ready to get “roasted” in this process. “Roasted” makes strong speaker right? 😀

  • Read 9/20 books in Goodreads’s challenge (not even half of the goal Lol)

Despite having not reached the set goal, I was fortunate to read some light-hearted stories, amazing journeys as well as valuable lessons from various authors. The more I read, the tinier I feel about myself. That’s why I always tell myself to be actively in search of new knowledge to stay relevant in an ever-changing age. Following my reading pattern, 2019 will be an anticipated year to “unbox” a brand-new package of intriguing stories and undiscovered information.

  • Dive into the crypto’s world

2018 was a year of great curiosity and eye-opener. I was drawn into the world of cryptocurrency and did several researches on my own. So passionate did I write an article about Bitcoin and decided to invest in several cryptocurrencies. Not a prosperous year as expected for digital money, but the potential to grow is still promising.

Here are specific goals for 2019

  1. Complete Toastmastet’s pathway and obtain a certificate
  2. Read 20 books (I’m sure to achieve the reading goal this time ;))
  3. Get at least 3.5 GPA this year
  4. Build more healthy connections
  5. Be proficient in Python (at least at intermediate level) and probably Solidity
  6. Write at least 5 more blogs (this might be one of the toughest ones)
  7. Upgrade to be a lower-intermediate French speaker

I’m eager to embrace a fruitful year ahead for the sake of becoming better version of myself 🙂

Johan Nguyen,                                                                                                                                              Toronto, 04/01/2019

 

Into the francophone world

Salut! Je m’appelle Johan. Enchanté!

The way I started to learn French was unintentional and spontaneous. Since every undergrad at Ryerson is required to take 3 lower liberal courses in their first 2 years, I was stuck choosing one that interests me. One of my friends all of a sudden asked me to join in a French class with her. Having no plan for myself, I decided to enrol in FRE101 with her since having someone goes with you in a class is less lonely than by myself. But thing is not as easy as it sounds. My friend dropped the course due to the conflict of her schedule. Leave alone me continue with the French class. Lazy to switch to another course, so I just went with the flow and let it be.

At that moment; however, I came to realize that I didn’t want to just complete a lower liberal course, got a credit done and nothing gained. I expected that once I devote my time and effort in a course, I would at least accrue something or gain a return on investment (ROI, Lol); otherwise I would waste my energy. Moreover, French is the second official language in Canada, so it is purposeful to adopt French. And the journey of learning the third language began. I took French seriously and set a learning strategy to master the language.

Besides enrolling in a full-time course at school, I downloaded Podbean app to my phone, and I chose Pimsleur as a learning source to improve my listening skills. So basically, all I do is just plug in my earphones, listen to French conversations, follow the instructions and repeat after them. It has been almost constant that I listen to the Pimsleur’s playlist every morning. And I find the most effective time to learn French is to utilize the dead time I commute on the bus or subway. Whenever I take a bus and subway to school, I get plugged in and play the audio for around 15 minutes. Just as simple as that. Listening to French audios every morning enables me to form a regular morning routine. After 3 months of active listening, I am able to ask for direction, introduce myself and describe a person both appearance and personality in basic French. At the time I wrote this blog, it had reached 100-day mark since I learned French, and it is still counting onward. Momentum is a great app that I used to keep track of my French-learning habit. I suggest everyone should use this app for habit tracking as well (Strides is also a perfect alternative).

IMG_7946

Le Francais est super!

To ingrain a brand-new foreign language, we need to be immersed ourselves into that language’s surroundings. That being said, I try to set up the environment around me so that I can be exposed to French as much as possible. I started off with Instagram, an app that I spend most time on recently, and followed pages that post contents about French vocabulary and speaking phrases. Every time surfing the new feeds and seeing recent photos, I can learn new French words right at that moment. It is an engaging way to spend time on studying and enjoy exquisite and stunning photos while doing so :).

Instagram est un bon professeur

Books are also great materials that I find them useful to expand large amount of vocabulary as well as absorb expressions used naturally in daily basis. For that reason, I bought two books to develop my reading comprehension. I got Short stories in French which gives series of succinct and entertaining stories with explained key words that help me to understand the vocabulary deeper in particular contexts. Another one is Le petit prince – a widely famous French children book around the world. Though I haven’t gone through the book due to high-level vocabulary (at least it’s challenging for me at my current beginner level), I’ll try to get back to it when my French level is adequate for the book. I do believe reading stories, especially children story, is a stimulating approach to derive inspiration for language learning.

Honorable mentioned: Duolingo – a wonderful app to acquire a new language. You can easily find hundreds of recommendations here and there on the Internet about how beneficial the app is. Duolingo develops an innovative method called Gamification in which learners can learn a foreign language as if they are playing game. They can earn points, increase their level and trade virtual currency “lingot” in their learning process. I used to learn Spanish on Duolingo for a few days (not even reach a week haha), and I can say that the experience is fresh and enjoyable in general. I will try to apply this learning method on my French education as well.

Toronto is a bilingual city as its core, so it is impossible to catch a single French word in daily life. Road signs, restaurants’ menu or even on food labelling are embedded with French subtitles. Since I started my French learning, I began to observe the French availabilities around me and try to assimilate new information instantly every time I encounter them.

And…. That’s it. That’s what I did in the past 100 days. I will sure stick with those strategies and might experiment several fresh ways to ‘conquer’ French proficiency. There is a long way to become a trilingual, and I’m excited for the adventure ahead.

Thank you for reading/ Merci d’avoir lu

À la prochaine. Bonne journée!

BITCOIN in a digital world

Bitcoin- a term that has been ubiquitous on mass media ranging from the internet-based channels to traditional means, and it is now unavoidable in daily basis unless you have been living under a rock. This emergent invention has sent shock waves to financial markets around the world. Its significant increase has gone beyond general expectation of many financial experts as well as acclaimed monetary economists. Starting at $131 CAD in 2013, it had cracked $24,000 CAD mark in December 2017 and reached an incredibly high record at 18,200% point, which has never happened before in any blue-chip and gilt-edged bonds or stocks. Although Bitcoin price has plunged sharply in recent months, and widespread rumours ridiculed that the crypto bubble has finally burst and reach its end. One guaranteed thing is that Bitcoin is and will be evolving nonstop to against criticisms and polarization, becoming more invulnerable and more resilient pieces of software around to ultimately eliminate cash-based society. That being said, the price of Bitcoin will eventually increase in long term, and reaching six figures in value might just only a matter of time.

So why is this digital currency important? And why people should care more about Bitcoin? In this blog, I won’t talk about what Bitcoin is (you can simple google numerous well-explained definitions on Internet) but mostly mention about the fundamental role of blockchain-based money in the equity-oriented world.

Bitcoin 1

 Will Bitcoin’s price bear a resemblance to Gold’s explosive growth in the past?

Everything digital

Everything has increasingly revolutionized into digital form. We take the advantage of redundant resources and utilize it to be more useful and more effectively to economize scared resources. Here are some examples:

Unlike newspaper and any printed journals, Facebook– a sharing platform allows everyone to write and post contents on their own wallpaper, generating absolutely zero tangible publications.

Uber– the largest peer-to-peer ride sharing and transportation network company is basically owning no vehicles and gradually transforming the entire taxi industry.

Airbnb– an online lodging service that allows people who are owning houses or cottages to rent out to guests, owning no physical properties. Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality industries and shown substitute attribute in long term since its entry to the market.

Bitcoin on the ride of future currency

So what do all the inventions have in common? They all serve a special purpose: decouple the monopolistic power of conventional central firms and share equal opportunities to everyone, so that people can become their own authorities and have power to raise their voice, spread their ideas and increase their wealth creation.

And now come to Bitcoin. We have one of the greatest inventions that has ever seen before, holding no physical cash and enabling users to transfer money across border without the need of intermediaries. Bitcoin show no discrimination to users. Everyone is capable of having access to it regardless of age, gender, employment, social status and financial ability. Every person connecting the Bitcoin network is able to receive and spend money at any amount almost instantly without queuing in a long line at financial services and being questioned by any third parties. Basically, sending Bitcoin is like sending an email. Fast and convenient. It was something previously unheard of. Moreover, Bitcoin is controlled by no one, even the government. Its value is completely determined by supply and demand, in short, the MARKET. And only MARKET can decide the fate of Bitcoin. In other word, your value of labor power is completely dependent on mathematical formula and market acceptance, not centralized bodies.

Admittedly, this money will shrink and redistribute power. We don’t have to depend on the notes released by government anymore. We are entirely detached from physical objects and third parties. In a cashless-based society, we will conceivably change from “In God we trust” to “In Open-source we trust” or “In Blockchain we trust”

“I think the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the roles of government. The one thing that’s missing but that will be soon be developed is a reliable e-cash” – Professor Milton Friedman, a winner of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Concerns about Bitcoin

New market often comes with multiple concerns. Listed below are the common concerns that people usually question about

Virtual money

People disregard the potential of Bitcoin because it is…unconventional and ambiguous. It’s different with what they were taught in school or textbooks. The only money they know is the one released by the central bank and government.  For them, money is an asset that can be held on their hand. They said Bitcoin is a virtual currency and is intangible, so it doesn’t have any intrinsic value. However, Bitcoin is not the first digital money ever created. Up to 90% of the money we are using is stored as digital form. So how can you ensure it is more real than the other? Let’s break it down a little bit here.

How can you tell the difference between the note you are holding and the white sheet? They are all paper. So why one is more valuable than the other? Because the government make you believe that the note in your bank account is worth of exchange, and everyone is all agree with it. It’s about BELIEF. Same thing to a diamond and a coal. They are both composed of carbon, but diamond is much worthy than coal. Because everyone all admits one is worth of money than the other –> BELIEF. Let’s bring back to paper money and Bitcoin. The party holding power forces you to believe that their printed money is worthwhile. People all accept it and have been using for centuries without questions until the creation of Satoshi Nakamoto arrived.

Fiat currency is backed by gold and armies whereas Bitcoin is backed by global networks of anonymity. One is issued by government, one is predetermined by mathematical rule, and Bitcoin is LIMITED. Only 21 million Bitcoin are available on the market. As the result, it holds the objectivity and consistency and its value is stable if not to say increases over time. Table below is well-explained about the critical distinction between Fiat money and Bitcoin.

Bitcoin 2.jpeg

Comparison of different forms of exchanged propertyLink: http://www.thrivenotes.com/the-extropy-of-bitcoin/

Money laundering

Money laundering is one of the major concerns when it comes to Bitcoin. It is believed that Bitcoin will facilitate illicit activities by enabling criminals to move a large amount of illegal money across border without being traced. With its absolute security, personal identity is not linked to Bitcoin remittances and there are no central record-keeping systems to track. As a result, it is believed to be the perfect tool for tax evaders, money launderers and terrorist financiers to defeat the efforts of law enforcement. However, it’s just a temporary problem. New technology is always one step ahead of institutions. By the time Bitcoin is approved as an official currency, government will have imposed laws to tighten cryptocurrency circulation on the market. Moreover, history of every transaction is visible on public ledger so that users can see others’ exchanged activities. As a result, it will place major constraints for illegitimate money-moving activities.

The table below shows money laundering endeavors associated to financial preferences regarding to HM Treasury in the UK. Noticeably, banks and cash are the major methods for monetary violations, accounting for the highest structural risk level compared to digital currencies.

Bitcoin 3.png

Link: https://twitter.com/FEhrsam/status/667036635029045248

Electricity consumption

It is true that mining actions cause a considerable volume of electricity which makes regulators frown upon its expenditure. It is also called environmental disaster. Proportionally speaking, however, the mining cost is just a small cog in a large wheel compared to annual economic costs. Below data describes a bigger picture of the concern.

Bitcoin 4

System shutdown

It is interesting that my brother once mocked that Bitcoin system will soon collapse in the future, but he has no clue to prove how :D. In fact, Bitcoin is operated by the presence of Internet. If government, let’s say, want to eliminate the threat of Bitcoin, the one and only way for them to do so is to shut down the entire Internet, globally. It is highly unlikely to happen, right?! Even so, the amount of Bitcoin you own when the Internet goes offline is still available on the blockchain system, it doesn’t disappear. When the global Internet resumes, you will be able to access to your Bitcoin again. Interestingly, if worldwide computer network outage were the scenario, not only Bitcoin blockchain would be shut down, but you have to expect all the Internet services and Internet-based titans (e.g Facebook, Amazon and Google) would be fell down as well. That’s would be a horrifying catastrophe. That’s being said, cryptocurrency should be accepted as parts of the human evolution. It is inescapable.  Collectively cohabit or fall apart together

Speculative asset

I am not totally convinced when people think Bitcoin is a financial tool for speculation and gambling. Not just any digital currency, any properties such as stocks, housing and even FOREX can be used as a tool to predict the prices for speculation and gambling. I believe that Bitcoin in general should not be viewed as a speculating creation since it might form a misleading perception for people at the first place. Instead, this encrypted currency needs to be genuinely embraced as a disruptive technology that has within it the promise to unbank the banked and distribute the power of financial authorities to people’s hands.

Wrap up

The Bitcoin Bull will inevitably come back, there’s no doubt. Bitcoin will likely become a commonly used currency on a global scale. If you want to build a spaceship, you have to build a strong foundation first. There is no short cut. Bitcoin is still in the early stage and is in many laborious testing and tough challenges from the SEC and the market. Only time will answer this. But now we know that the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and WEB 3.0 are the future of economic development, and they are progressively built by various receptive, tech-savvy and passionate entrepreneurs who will be the major lead of the industry. Besides the volatile price and fraudulent activities in ICO arena, people should focus on the fact that this new technology will carry out an unprecedented revolution and transform the surface of financial institutions all around the world. It’s just the start of the future of transactional economy.

Blockchain – the future technology of belief

The opportunities associated with blockchain technologies are remarkable. Global corporations are more likely to start to implement the new technology in their systems. The blockchain has the potential to change the financial sectors in a sustained way due to its disruptive potential. The future presidential elections could be protected from hacking via blockchain. Moreover, agreements with employers, governments or companies directly and the registration of rights on ideas, inventions or digital goods are also possible with the technology. Distinguished by high transparency and a decentralized system, the blockchain is one of the most innovative developments in recent years, and it will conceivably change the world to the new heights.

Blockchain04

Despite the new science, the potential of blockchain in the future is enormous. It will likely to transform the traditional transactions and shift towards a simple, paperless way to build ownership of money, information and objects. It is impossible to add, remove or change data within the blockchain thanks to its sophisticated algorithm. Essentially, this new invention is capable of solving fundamental problems in terms of privacy protection and efficient payment. Each transaction between sellers and buyers will be recorded and time-stamped, then it combines other transactions on the network into a block. After that, a complete block will be sent out across the network, where it is joined to the chain of blocks. The link between each block is then strengthened by a bit of cryptographic math that makes it virtually unbreakable. Additionally, the new trading alternative helps reduce errors, delays, added costs and unnecessary risks by applying smart contracts. A smart contract, which is a piece of computer code, can connect to multiple blockchains and track multiple assets in order to exchange those needed assets to carry out the transaction. By that way, it verifies the availability of the wanted assets and the payment, and then it executes the trading.

Originally, blockchain was created as part of the cryptocurrency; however, it is also being used in a wide range of applications such as cross border payment services and supply chain tracking. Blockchain has recently been applied in agricultural supply chain, where suppliers and customers can make a good deal without being processed via intermediate steps. A basic agro supply chain model involves several complex interconnected processes such as producer, insurance, logistics, bank, manufacturer and importer. With the appearance of blockchain, it makes supply management and requirements traceability much easier for both parties by eliminating the third party; also, it establishes credibility amongst participating stakeholders.Blockchain05

Simply put, blockchain will be widely used in a variety of applications, and this development will likely to set up an absolute trust amongst users as it is not tied to any centralized bodies where people are reluctant to put their trust on its transparency. Being said that, blockchain is a wise investment for the future.