My tryst with Ethereum private messenger
ICQ or “I Seek You”, released in 1996, was the first widely used online messenger service. It was made by an Israeli firm. Since that time, a lot of online messaging services appeared and disappeared but all of them contributed to the growth of the industry. AOL instant messenger was extremely popular in the early 2000s. With the advancement of smartphones, online instant messaging started to replace SMS. Can you remember when you chatted with someone over SMS last time? That era is gone. WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook messenger is the preferred medium of instant messaging now.
I use a few instant messaging apps. All are flooded with good, bad and ugly messages. The abundance of information is also a problem. It becomes difficult to understand what to pick and what not to pick. Often I heard that privacy and security are issues in many instant messaging apps. I really don’t trust these. Last year, WhatsApp filed a complaint against Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies for targeting a lot of WhatsApp users across the world maliciously. According to WhatsApp, NSO group reverse-engineered WhatsApp app and developed a program to attack targeted users. What the hell! Is it so easy? WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application in my country. To my surprise, they started taking a local backup of my chat logs at a stipulated time. I got to know from the media that, they were doing that as per the changed law of the land. Technically, my government can access my chat logs if they wish. Holy hell! The governance of the government is the most unpredictable subject and wish of the government is the darkest chapter.
Last year, I started experimenting with blockchain instant messaging apps. Initially I thought that it would be like distinguishing melancholy with sadness. But No! I was impressed. Since then, I’m using Sense Chat, built on EOS platform. It is really a cool DAPP. The so-called EIDOS attack almost killed maximum EOS DAPPs. Sense Chat also couldn’t survive properly due to CPU issues. The app still exists with a nominal user base. I always wanted something like Sense Chat on the Ethereum blockchain. Yes, I don’t deny that I’m an Ethereum fan.
I interacted with Jordan Last, an active Ethereum community member from the United States, virtually over the internet some days ago. Jordan is a full-stack software developer focused on the web, distributed systems, blockchain, security and open-source codes. Earlier this talented guy has made projects like btconethereum and usdonethereum. Jordan has recently launched a project called ethereumpm, an instant messaging service on Ethereum blockchain. I was lucky to take part in the testing of the DAPP. Ethereumpm currently runs on Testnet Ropsten (ETH). I followed the below-mentioned steps to interact with Jordan by private texts:
I created a new ether address using Metamask mobile for testing the DAPP. Never use your original ether address for such experiments. It takes 10 seconds to create a new address. My new public address used for the experiment: 0x5B2692a405BF4EA051f6eedb3AA3C4D2d8b55B17
Now I select Ropsten Test Network. Please note that the DAPP isn’t running on Ethereum mainnet.
Well, my system is ready for testing. But my wallet balance is zero. I need testnet ETH. I got 2 ETH from metamask faucet using the web3 browser of Metamask. Yes, it is free testnet ETH.
I sent one test transaction. This step is necessary as it allows ethereumpm to derive the public key from that transaction. My test transaction got executed after 4 hours. It is testnet guys! It takes time. No, it doesn’t cost a single penny. All free.
Now I access ethereumpm. This is the DAPP. I put my private key and Jordon’s public address as recipient there. Wait a moment. It is testing phase. Never put your original account private key in any such DAPPS. Then I typed the message and pressed the ‘send’ button. Oh! It’s gone.
My private message is sent
You can view the transaction on Etherscan.
The recipient (here it is Jordon) receives the message and replies me. You can view the transaction on Etherscan. Now how did I retrieve the message from the transaction hash? I viewed the Input data as UTF-8.
It gives me a link to ethereumpm now. When I click the link, I get to see the reply inside the DAPP.
The reply from Jordon
Hey! It works. Remember that everything is happening here in testnet. I’ll be very happy if blockchain-based instant messaging DAPPs replace today’s popular shitty messaging apps. Blockchain can provide the ultimate privacy with end-to-end encryption and powerful Ethereum can be the best platform to build such DAPPs. Most probably Jordon will launch it on Ethereum mainnet soon. Ethereum 2.0 is going to be launched in H2 and it will be based on POS (proof of stake). We should be able to send instant messages with nominal fee considering the recent development of Optimistic or ZK Rollup. Ethereum is not designed to be feeless but ethereumpm is not designed to be a general-purpose chat application. It is designed to have a secured chat. Sounds awesome! And remember, the switch to Ethereum 2.0 is going to be an engineering accomplishment as it is like changing tires of a running bus. The total DAPP ecosystem will easily migrate from POW to POS chain. Ahh! I’m waiting for the day. Till that time, let Jordon work towards the development of his DAPP.
Note: The images (if not cited) are generated by the author from the screenshots. My experimental public Ethereum address is mentioned in the post. You can have some fun by sending me a private text over Ethereum blockchain (Ropsten Test Network). I should be able to reply.