Proof of Work #53

Hi from a plane en-route to SFO! Why is JetBlue’s so so much faster than Uniteds? Is one ground-based and the other satellite?

Friends of the newsletter Sharon Goldberg and Ethan Heilman launched something cool this week, a trading protocol called Arwen that could be summarized as “lightning, but for trading” on testnet. Arwen allows traders to securely trade cryptocurrencies at a centralized exchange, without ceding custody of their coins to the exchange—BTC, LTC, BCH, ZEC as well as Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens.  Today's testnet launch is for BTC, BCH, and LTC.  A full protocol description is in their whitepaper. They have a partnership with KuCoin, which strikes me as a great first partner (decent liquidity, still mixed reputation and not somewhere big traders want to keep a ton of coins at risk.)

Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day. I grew up in a household that was extremely left-wing but had a bunch of guns “because the ones who had guns at least got to fight back in Warsaw.” There’s a kind of sad understanding among Jewish people (especially the grandkids of survivors) that every few decades some government loses its mind and starts slaughtering an ethnic or religious minority that lost the dice toss. There’s a sad tendency among some Jews to insist on the unique badness of the capital H Holocaust over other holocausts and genocides, but unfortunately it was just one especially awful instance of a relatively common phenomenon.

One thing that gets lost in our rush to paint the Nazis as pure evil beyond any rational understanding is the financial motivation that was such an important driver of the Holocaust. At the highest levels, the Nazis were driven by the idea that they were “reclaiming” wealth that the Jews of Germany had “stolen” from honest, hard working Aryans. The campaign to rob the Jews of their wealth was astonishingly broad; the Nazi government worked with domestic and international banks to freeze accounts, with insurance companies to seize policy payouts, worked with real estate brokers to find and force to be sold at below-market prices land parcels own by jews, and instituted incredibly high exit taxes on the lucky (?) Jews that fled before things got really awful. The number of people who left with just a tiny bit of gold sewed into the linings of their coats was so high that it’s become a cliché. Of course, soon after that many of their friends and relatives wouldn’t even be allowed to keep the gold in their teeth.

When faced with an atrocity on the scale of the Holocaust, many of us have an impulse to turn away, to seek a simple explanation, to crack an inappropriate joke—anything to not have to think about one group of people systematically stealing everything from another group, and then murdering them in specially designed camps, men, women, and children. But that’s what happened, and similar things will happen again if we don’t address the root causes. These causes are diverse and I don’t wish to make it sound as though crypto is anything like a panacea for stopping genocides. But the financial aspect is truly underappreciated by most non-historians, and it is there that crypto truly shines.

Forget ICOs, forget allocating digital resources, forget gaming. The use case for which crypto is so insanely well-suited that it would take a fool to miss it is as a seizure-resistant easily transportable store of value. At mass adoption, this is a game-changer, as it will be well known that most people have a type of wealth that is deniable, anonymous, and extremely difficult to confiscate. But even way before we get anywhere near mainstream adoption, it will be worthwhile to try and get cryptoassets into the hands of the people who need them most, whether through airdrops, mining, or just enabling easy buys with fiat.

When I tweeted about this, I got a bunch of horrible DMs, but also some extremely moving ones from the survivors of genocide. I also got this really interesting reply:

Making it much easier for people to make the decision to leave is something that can save lives—its very very hard to go from “you own things” to “leave everything behind, or die.” This is the core reason I’m excited about crypto, and if any of you are working on things that make this use case more robust, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Bitcoin & Friends

David from Sia

  • 1 Nebulous repo was updated. 9 issues were created, 20 were closed. 8 MRs were merged.

  • GitLab users lukechampine, ChrisSchinnerl and MSevey had code contributions merged into Sia.

  • ChrisSchinnerl implemented a method to recover file contracts associated with the recovery seed of the user. This feature is the key component for the file recovery from a user backup of the metadata, that 1.4.0 will feature, and the full file recovery from seed that 1.4.2 will include. This method retrieves contracts as long as the wallet is unlocked: (link). Additionally, he added the API endpoint renter/initrecovery for triggering a re-scan of the blockchain that retrieves contracts on demand: (link)

  • MSevey continued working on the file repair revamping. Now file repairs are triggered to the folders with lower redundancy instead of on a file-by file basis: (link). He is also currently improving the routine that detects and repairs file chunks that are stuck in the repair process: (link).

  • Lukechampine made additional progress on the RPC protocol upgrade (the communications channel between hosts and renters).

  • The completion of the Release Candidate of version 1.4.0 approaches, with a few items remaining to be tackled: a bug in the repair process and 2 methods of the RPC protocol.

Daniel from Grin

Aviv from Spacemesh

JZ from Decred

  • We're nearing final release of the Decred Android wallet, v1.0.0-RC3 has just been cut and pushed to the Play store for mainnet and testnet. Our mobile wallet uses true SPV through the P2P network as opposed to relying on centralized servers, making it pretty unique. As always bug reports are welcome.

  • Speaking of bugs, we're happy to announce that we just launched the Decred Bug Bounty program and we'll be paying up to $25,000 USD (in DCR) for discovered vulnerabilities. Degeri, who is running the program has described the rationale behind the initiative.

  • Since 51% attacks seem to be in vogue, Richard has published a piece outlining how Decred's multi-factor consensus (hybrid PoW+PoS) protects from this attack vector.

Johnny from Stellar

  • Stellar please send me updates, I and everyone reading this want to know what you all are up to.

  • Someone in our private telegram chat said you guys hired Graydon Hoare.

Izaak from Coda

  • No update.

Privacy coins

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

  • We created an “Encouraged Community Work” GitHub board for things that the Company can’t get to in the next 4 months that people in the community are likely to have the context t o work on.

  • This week Least Authority released details about the Private Periodic Payment Protocol, or P4, which aims to define the way in which subscription services can be funded using end-to-end private cryptocurrency payments. P4 incorporates the use of Zcash shielded transactions for private payments and leverages the Tor anonymity network’s onion services to radically reduce the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) available to merchants. In addition, P4 introduces periodicity to cryptocurrency payments by bootstrapping a secure channel between customers and merchants (using the SPAKE2-based "magic-wormhole" library) through which invoices can be delivered and paid.

  • More detail here.

Diego and Riccardo from Monero

  • No update.

Beni from Beam

Smart contracting platforms

Evan from Ethereum

  • No update.

Myles from EOS

Zaki from Cosmos

Kate and Dean from Agoric

  • Mark Miller will be speaking at the Stanford Blockchain Conference on Agoric’s smart contract platform, including eventual-sends. Eventual-sends provide a solution to the reentrancy vulnerabilities that have been plaguing smart contracts.

  • We made good progress on one of the remaining security bugs for SES.

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

  • Improved stability of our transaction history on expo. Data is now pulled directly from blockchain events

  • Added a new stats endpoint to expo

  • Hiring for Design & Engineering roles full-time in SF

Brendan from Dharma

  • Rolled out new functionality to Dharma Lever Alpha Partners, including updated borrowing features and event-based notifications

  • This week's interest rates on Dharma Lever will start at 2% for ETH and USDC. If you are interested in joining the closed Alpha, email

  • Hiring on our engineering team for a Jr. and a Sr. Full-Stack Engineer. Check our our roles and apply here

Coulter from MakerDAO

  • Coingate added Dai as their first stablecoin to the platform. Meaning users of Dai can now use it at over 4,500 merchants!

  • The CES panel featuring Maker President & COO Steven Becker has been shared for those that couldn't make it in person. 

  • imToken introduced 12,000 of their users to CDPs, leading to 762 new CDPs being created. On top of that, we're excited that 5 of 6 of involved users were Chinese, helping expand our international growth. 

  • KyberSwap is rewarding anyone that opened a CDP in December $5 coupons, exchangeable for Dai or MKR. 

  • In a phenomenal use case, user ProgrammableTx used CDPs to help pay off his mortgage. Read more on our (new!) blog

  • VANTA is holding a presale, and by accepting Dai, they're pioneering a strategy to protect against volatility. 

Lazar from MARKET Protocol

  • No update this week.

Robert from Compound

  • Completed version 2 of an updated protocol whitepaper

  • Began the Ethereum design process for version 2 of the Compound protocol

  • Completed technical diligence to add WBTC to Compound

Layer two and interoperability

Tieshun from Namebase

  • Namebase ported it’s private beta to testnet3 and started KYCing beta users so that they can get early access to the mainnet exchange. New users can register for the next batch of beta invites at

  • The Namebase chrome extension has been updated to work with Testnet3

  • Some scoundrel sniped Namebase CTO Anthony’s favorite domain (turbomaze/) and is currently redirecting it to this site! Although all evidence points to Eric, he insists it wasn’t him [ed note: seriously not me. mystery! the fact that no one knows who did this is a pretty good advertisement for Handshake, though]

Paul from Veil

  • No update.

Rahul from 0x

  • Announcement of some smart contract dev tools for broader ETH ecosystem, along with new extension contracts like Dutch Auction + Multi Asset Proxy and python Standard Relayer API client

  • 0x Roadmap by Will. Three 2019 priorities for 0x are data, DeFi, and liquidity. Introducing ZEIPs 

  • Relayers: Veil announced funding round from Sequoia and others, BoxSwap launches for trading NFTs, Mobidex launches as a mobile first DEX, Ambo acquired by MyCrypto. For more info read Relayer Report #17

  • New team members Brent Oshiro (community), Marc Savino (technical sourcer)

Mo and Sirong from Celer

  • We finished all CelerX features

  • We finished ERC20 integration in Gomoku game

  • We are preparing internal test release for next week


  • We have finished enhancements and bug fixes for the upcoming release and cGomoku tournament 

  • We made significant progress on the implementation of OSP multi-server scalability to reach production-grade scalability

  • We are working on the new OSP off-chain communication protocol and support for channels with optimistic concurrency locking

  • We began work on the websocket-based SDK for javascript .

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

Application infrastructure

Doug from Livepeer

Ryan from FOAM

  • Released a General Update on radio development and Developer Update #5 with notes on recent Purescript and Chanterelle changes and new features added to the FOAM Map. Additionally this release contains new API documentation and an updated developer portal. 

  • Hosted a community call on dynamic Proof of Location demonstrating radio time synchronization tests and the tendermint based consensus engine 

  • Published a new post on the "Anatomy of a Zone", unpacking questions like What is a Zone? What does a well formed Zone look like? How can a Zone be trusted? and What is the incentive to be a Zone operator?

Michael from Loom


Martin from Tezos

  • Tezos Stack Exchange Site has successfully reached all required parameters to launch its beta site!

  • Tezos Commons is excited to announce Tezos Capstone, a free self-paced training program that focuses OCaml, dAPP development for Tezos. Top participants in Tezos Capstone program will earn an all-expense paid trip to NYC for the Tezos Global Conference

  • Study, work, and learn with Nomadic Labs, an independant Tezos development team, is opening it doors for students around the world to join its internship program. Nomadic labs is looking for master’s students interested in many research and practical projects ranging from parallel programming using hardware accelerators, to verification of Michelson contracts, creation of ReasonML/Michelson decentralized applications and privacy analysis of the Tezos network

  • Tezos Wallet App is now available to download on Ledger Live for the Nano S

  • Introducing the Tocqueville Group: TQ is a new entity established to advance and support Tezos. TQ will be focusing on 3 key areas, creating open-sourced smart contract tools, providing support to projects and companies building on Tezos, and connecting the global Tezos community.

  • Join Tezos Protocol Amendment #1 discussion on Kialo. This space will allow the broad community to discuss, provide pros & cons for the upcoming Tezos proposal. More information can be found here. To get started, read a simple guide about the first Tezos amendment.

Ari from Decentraland

  • Released CLI version 2.2.3 including security updates and fixes for usability issues

  • Made some open source contributions to the webRTC go library 

  • Continued work on Client UI, added audio and text APIs to the SDK, and added boundaries and limitations checks to the Unity Client

  • Continuing to transfer Estate ownership to each District leadership team

  • The bidding smart contract for the Marketplace is ready, we’re now preparing for the audit and are working on an improved UI

  • The Builder now includes a camera, a project setup page, movement, dark mode, and some helpful metrics!

Sam from OpenBazaar

  • No update this week

Martín from Zeppelin