The trip to Melbuorne was great and it was really helpful to meet the loki team. Everything was inverted, people walked on the opposite side of the sidewalk so I have to turn off my autopilot in the morning when walking to get coffee. Overall it was a good trip.
During the trip progress did grind to a halt but lots of new ideas came about as a result of being in an office with other smart and hard working individuals. One of the ideas was hidden service topic tags, effectively you can now discover hidden services on the network by tag, as 16 byte string they set with a topic (opt in), you query the DHT for a topic tag and get back a list of IntroSets (hidden service descriptors) that claim that tag. This functionality is used in the loopback test network to automate testing. The test network spins up 100 nodes, half of them service nodes, the other half are clients. The clients each host 1 SNAP (hidden service) with the tag "test" and do a tag prefetch for hidden services with the tag "test". This made implementing the hidden service traffic much more straight forward as I could test it all on loopback without having to spin up servers on the internet and guess why things dont work. I can have a bird's eye view of my test network and truly be able to debug it as a whole.
Topic tags will not be exposed to the end user to reduce the complexity and are currently only used in the loopback testnet. They will remain in the code and be usable on the main network but I don't know of any real use for them in practice, outside of maybe bittorrent DHT bootstrap or other SNAP bootstrapping.
I have an IRC channel on freenode, join it if you want to join it say hi it's
#llarp I will also soon be making an irc channel for loki (eventually) so people who do not wish to use discord can chime in with insights.