Zcash at 30,000 ft

I’m posting this from somewhere south of Siberia, as I take a flight across the Pacific.

Spending 14 hours in a tin can is fairly boring, so I decided at the boarding gate to test out United’s Wifi service and see if I could claim a Zcash altitude record.

After take-off, I ponied up $16.99 for the wifi and got started.  The connection was flaky at first, with constant service interruptions, but it does work and has improved further into the flight.

I launched Zcash only to find that it couldn’t connect to any nodes.  Perhaps non-standard ports are being blocked?  United’s wifi instructions do mention VPNs, so I’ll give that a try.  No luck, the VPN is operating fine, but Zcash still can’t find any nodes.

So what’s going on?  Well, after checking the Zcash blog, it turns out that I’m running Alpha 3 and a new update to Zcash was released just a few hours ago.  Drats!  The experiment could be over before it’s even begun.

You see, every new alpha build runs on a new testnet which requires downloading a new proving key (used to create zero-knowledge proofs).  Alpha 3’s proving key weighed in at 1.8 GB.  I’m going to have do some serious downloading to get this to work. So with some trepidation I launched fetch-params.sh and was somewhat relieved to see I only had 1,054,896,449 bytes to download.  Via satellite.  On a Boeing 747.  No problem!

Six hours later…

Selection_009

Here we are – synced up to the Zcash Alpha 4 Testnet at 33,983 ft!

Overall, I’ve been impressed with United’s Wifi service.  The connection has been solid for the past few hours, ports are unblocked and the price is reasonable.  My laptop even has 40% battery left, demonstrating that Linux power management on Skylake can be pretty good.  Don’t tell your boss, but if you can dodge elbows, bags and trolleys, long-haul flights in cattle class can be quite productive…

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