nullchinchilla’s blog

About

◊Pollen source

This is the personal blog of Eric Dong, otherwise known as “nullchinchilla”.

I am a computer security researcher and entrepreneur especially interested in the potential of using technology to resist centralized power. On this blog I will discuss a wide range of subjects, but in particular the higher-level ideas behind the projects I work on.

Currently I am working on two major projects, Themelio and Geph.

Themelio: a radically immutable blockchain

Themelio is a new “layer-0” public blockchain designed for radical immutability. Its thesis is simple and bold—existing blockchains miss out on most of the potential of blockchains by targeting the wrong layer of the application stack. Both Ethereum-type “application platforms” and Bitcoin-type “vertically integrated blockchain apps” are far too close to the application layer, causing tight coupling with the unstable and fickle trends of app development. This leads to frequent community spats and protocol upgrades that shake the very “code is law” foundations of blockchain security.

Themelio instead aims to be a low-level, IPv4-like narrow waist for a decentralized Internet that can last decades without changes to its core protocol once the 1.0 version stabilizes. This of course requires very careful design and engineering, as well as a minimal protocol that “does one thing and does it well”, but the reward is completely sidestepping the notoriously tricky problem of “blockchain governance”.

We currently are developing the network with funding from Polychain Capital. Stay tuned for a feature-complete beta-quality network by summer 2021, along with bridges to Ethereum’s DeFi ecosystem in the fall.

Geph: anti-censorship VPN

Geph is the world’s most censorship-resilient commercial VPN. In harsh censorship environments like that of China or Iran, most VPNs and anti-censorship tools are trivially blocked, and the ones that work generally rely either on luck or collaboration with censors. Geph, on the other hand, uses state-of-the-art techniques to actually be virtually unblockable and has survived multiple serious attempts at blocking by the Great Firewall of China. It also uses a unique authentication scheme based on blind signatures that makes it impossible for Geph’s servers to connect usernames with browsing activity, eliminating the additional privacy risks inherent to user authentication and payments.

Currently, I am running Geph as a self-funded freemium service. Unlimited usage at low speed is free, and high-speed accounts are €5/month.