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The Irregular Newsletter of Z/Yen Group Limited

Catch up with current projects, new ventures and see some very bad puns (Editor: bad metaphor) via Z/Yen's blog or the eagerly awaited newsletter.

To receive your copy electronically, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We were delighted with the reception of the press release – “Researchers Bring Atomic Clock Timestamp Precision to Stock Market Trading over Distributed Ledgers”.  This was the culmination of many months work by Professor Mike Smith, Ben Morris, Bikash Kharel, Xueyi Jiang, Marc Morris, and Alan Simpson.  And that was just the Z/Yen team.  The project required much aplomb, “self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation”, because of the complexity of the software and the hardware, both cutting-edge, as well as the data volumes, exceeding 20 million transactions in just a single hour on a single node at one point.  We’re particularly pleased that this demonstrates the ability to exceed 1 trillion transactions per day comfortably if the need and resources are there.  Below is a photo of the quantum timing it’s all about, a crystal oscillator fed by atomic clocks at the National Physical Laboratory disseminated by NPLTime®:


Here are links to some of the various mentions in the press:

Researchers Bring Atomic Clock Timestamp Precision To Stock Trading Over Distributed Ledgers Finextra
Blockchain 'Atomic Ledger' Experiment Records 20 Million Timestamped Stock Trades International Business Times
Researchers Bring Atomic Clock Timestamp Precision To Stock Market Trading Fintech Finance
Researchers Bring Atomic Clock Timestamp Precision To Stock Market Trading Over Distributed Mondovisione

However, we had hoped for a slightly different ‘ribbon cutting ceremony’.  We had ribbons and scissors and headed over to the Interxion data centre on Brick Lane.  Here is the Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, our dear friend Michael Stewart, who genially came over to lend some ‘gravitas’ to the event on precision timing.


And here’s our group photo, kindly, but amateurishly, shot by security (sic). 


From left to right: Professor Michael Mainelli wearing his Senior Warden badge of the Worshipful Company of World Traders, Michael Stewart wearing his Past Master badge of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, Daniel Broby of Strathclyde University. Alan Simpson of Hyperneph and Z/Yen, Mark Parsons of TMX, Neelesh Seetul of ICE.

Having sent these to Tom Goddard of Interxion, he showed real aplomb and knocked up the one below.  Now & Z/Yen readers might just understand why that was the one to go with the press release.

When Now and Z/Yen was young, popularity charts were simple affairs. Some were for singles, some were for albums, but basically they were about music.

No more. Now there are charts about almost everything, even Blockchain Influence – click here.   

Back in the mists of crypto-time – a few weeks ago - July 2017 – Z/Yen’s very own Michael Mainelli was languishing at 98 in the Blockchain Influence charts, but then something happened. At the start of August, Michael leapt up the charts, a massive 88 places, “highest riser” into the Top 10 at number 10. A couple of weeks later, Michael was still going up in the charts - Number 8 at the time of writing.











Here, at Now & Z/Yen, we have been scratching our heads to understand why Michael has suddenly stormed up the charts. We can only attribute his success to Z/Yen’s recent publication of Responsibility Without Power? The Governance Of Mutual Distributed Ledgers (aka Blockchain)

Sponsored by The Cardano Foundation, the paper clearly sets out a framework for governing Blockchain-type ledger systems and is generating much interest. Yet, strangely, Michael is not credited with that paper; Bob McDowell and Simon Mills authored it. Meanwhile, the charts describe Michael as a “scientist financier trying to promote societal advance through better finance and technology”. Michael would not choose to describe himself as a financier - not in the sense of him giving away or loaning large sums of money – nor in the sense of a small nutty cake, come to think of it.

But then, even in the pop music charts in days of yore, artistes were often dischuffed with their labelling. Ian Dury, for example, did not like being pigeon-holed as punk or new wave.  But at least Ian Dury’s associates, The Blockheads, got a mention in the chart listing.  

“Blockheads” would be a good contemporary term for associates of Blockchain Influencers. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Ian Dury And The Blockhead’s biggest hit, could be recast as “Hit Me With Your Encrypted Memory Stick” for the modern blockhead era. But the ‘B’ Side of that massive Ian Dury hit single is perhaps more appropriate for those Blockchain Influencers – click here and have a listen – it should raise a smile or laugh.

Joking apart, do take a look at the Responsibility Without Power paper – it is an influential paper and is a darn good, surprisingly easy, read.

Security Forward-Risk and Intelligence Forum’s summer meeting ar was held at Furniture Makers Hall in the City of London on 13 July 2017.  Our first guest speaker was Victor Madeira, who is a Senior Fellow at The Institute for Statecraft and focuses on the historical roots of Russian deception and subversion.  His talk was entitled "Russian Subversion: How Did We Get Here & Where Are  We Headed?"  Of particular interest was Victor’s analysis and description of national approaches to behavioural and cultural conflict, and how Russia has been deeply influenced by history and the geopolitics of both the Eurasian and Western Hemisphere.  The cultural psychology of Russia needs to be understood and taken into account when dealing with the ‘Bear’.  Indeed Victor’s latest work is entitled "Britannia and the Bear: The Anglo Russian Intelligence Wars", a signed copy of which was given to all participants.  Following his presentation there was an extended discussion and debate with a very interactive group of attendees.

Our second speaker was Brigadier John Deverell CBE MPhil, who is a former British Officer and spent most of his career very much at the sharp end of the action.  In the British Army he was responsible as a senior commander for a third of all personnel across the Army.  Earlier in his career he operated in the jungle, the desert, tanks, infantry, submarines, and in Special Forces. John’s talk was entitled "Providing Livelihoods In Support Of Security" and generated an extremely thoughtful and perceptive discussion.  John spent some time in Palestine reporting to an American General and was most informative as to the challenges faced in that part of the world.  There was an informed discussion about Libya at the end of his talk as we had much expertise around the table. J ohn was unable to join us for dinner as he was on an early flight out to Mogadishu the next morning.  We were extremely lucky to have such a knowledgeable and informed speaker.

Our final speaker of the day was our own ‘In House Resident Speaker’ Lt Colonel Crispin Black MBE MPhil who delivered his talk in two parts as we had such a full programme.  Crispin gave a presentation, "Military - Civilian: Where Is The Front Line Now?"  He argued that the distinction between soldiers and civilians is a recent invention more honoured in the breach than the observance.  In ancient times, and even in the early modern Europe of the 17th Century, few acknowledged the difference.  By the time of the Second World War and the era of massive air attacks directed primarily at civilians the distinction was dead.  It has become of concern once again in the aftermath of Islamist terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere which appear indiscriminate - but which are often, pradoxically, precisely targeted at concentrations of so-called 'infidels'.  In any case, the casualties from terrorism in Europe have been, relatively, low.  More importantly, the front line for those seeking to inflict serious harm on Western countries seems to be moving towards the cyber sphere.  Equally, the front line in counter-terror seems to be moving away from the days of 'kill or capture the terrorist' to a more long-term approach combining legal action, border control and attempts at re-education. 

Following our traditional cocktail interlude, this time a Kir Royal as Crispin reckoned us all royalty rather than civilian, we also dined at The Furniture Makers Hall.  Having quite a few new attendees resulted in the usual networking opportunities and exchanging of cards.  One after-event email noted, it was "quite a while since the participants had heard such an in depth account of strategic security issues given by people so well informed".

Future Meetings are scheduled for 9 October 2017, 11 January 2018 and 22 March 2018.

For several years, the traditional fixture for the annual Z/Yen visit to Lord’s has been a Middlesex v Surrey match, ever since the Z/Yen Awayday during which Garry Sobers watched the Z/Yen team play cricket – click here for Ian Harris’s account of that story; most years the T20 game.

But this year, several key people were unavailable for the Middlesex v Surrey T20 fixture whereas, unusually, most people were available on 3 August for the Middlesex v Hampshire game.

Linda arranged the food. Following the success of Xueyi’s Chinese picnic choices last year, Linda had returned to Xueyi’s recommended place and mostly stocked up with delicious Chinese nibbles.

There was a good crowd at the match and a very jolly atmosphere. Unlike last year’s good close match, Middlesex, a depleted side by this stage of the tournament this year, didn’t put up much of a fight.   

Indeed possibly the most interesting moment on the field of play was towards the end, when a fox invaded the pitch. In St John’s Wood, at Lord’s of all places. How frightful.

The weather smiled on us; a mixture of sun and clouds, but no rain. The Lord’s experience is always charming and special – and because we chose to come a bit later in the season than usual, Z/Yen people got to see Lord’s properly under lights when it got dark, which is differently special.

Some super photographs by Alexandra and a slightly extended version of this Now and Z/Yen piece can be found on Ian’s Ogblog – click here.