How do I contribute to Bitcoin Core? Bitcoin Tech Talk Issue #174

One of the biggest strengths of Bitcoin Core is the quality of the developers. The bar for contribution is high and there’s a lot of review on all code that goes into the software. The downside is that it’s seen as a very difficult thing to contribute to.

Amiti Uttarwar has written a must-read piece on contributing to Bitcoin Core that changes this perception. Her insights, particularly with respect to low-hanging fruit available and how she got into the whole thing are encouraging.

the world is so big and i am so small / how could i possibly contribute anything that matters

But more than that, the piece provides step-by-step guidance on how to get a Pull Request merged into core. It’s extremely practical for the would-be core developer and she’s very thorough in describing all of the steps needed. If contributing to Bitcoin Core is on your bucket list, you no longer have an excuse. Do as she did and get started!

Bitcoin

A group of anonymous developers wrote three different emails regarding some choices made for Taproot. The first questions whether Taproot is preferable to the original MAST proposal. The second proposes a more conservative step-by-step approach to deploying the various Taproot technologies. The third proposes an optimization for the NUMS (nothing up my sleeve) point in Taproot. The NUMS point is necessary if the Taproot tree has no “everybody agrees” public key branch.

The fact that these developers chose to remain anonymous is interesting and I’ll be following this discussion closely as it has some interesting suggestions I hadn’t considered.

Speaking of Taproot, I read through Taproot BIP 342 this past Wednesday. Here is the whole playlist if you missed the read-throughs. Suffice it to say that Taproot will add a lot of new capabilities to Bitcoin that enhance privacy and usability, particularly for Lightning.

Hodlhodl has released a full API for use with their marketplace. For people around the world that no longer have access to localbitcoins, this is the main alternative. The API should make it much easier to create markets on top of their local peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading service. This leverages the networking effect of a single service with the localization of region-specific apps. This seems like a no-brainer for any aspiring technical Bitcoin entrepreneur who wants more Bitcoin liquidity in their region.

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BitPay finally cried uncle on trying to get the Bitcoin ecosystem to adopt BIP70. Their implementation of BIP70 2 years ago was a big surprise to most of the industry and caused all sorts of headaches as most wallets didn’t support the standard. Many felt that BIP70 was terrible for privacy and some wallets like Samurai outright refused to support it. The market has spoken and BitPay has essentially reversed their decision from 2 years ago and no longer uses BIP70 for payments. Is it too little, too late? BTCPay, in the meantime, has gained a ton of traction in the merchant processing game.

Lightning

Besides closing a $10M series A round, Lightning Labs has announced a beta of Lightning Loop. Lightning Loop is a submarine swap service, or a way to move on-chain Bitcoin to Lightning channels and vice versa. The main improvement versus other submarine swaps is that they’re batching all the Bitcoins moving in and out of Lightning channels to make the swaps cheaper. This has the potential to be a nice revenue stream for the company as they can charge for this service.

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There’s a new paper on a different routing algorithm (Ant Routing) which is supposed to maximize anonymity. Most lightning wallets route to minimize fees or use a third-party to route (called trampoline routing), so alternate approaches that optimize for privacy are definitely welcome.

In case you missed it, my show last week was on Strike and how that will change how Lightning is used.

Economics, Engineering, Etc.

Speaking of lightning, remember Plasma? The Ethereum lightning implementation that was supposed to scale to billions of users? It’s pretty much dead. Dragonfly Research has published a thorough analysis of why and how Plasma died. It’s a tale of complicated design combined with poor software implementation leading to complicated technical bugs that were papered over with more complicated technical “solutions” which in turn caused more complicated technical bugs. When people ask me why I have such a low opinion of Ethereum, it’s the lack of common sense software design. It’s like it was designed by a 19-year old with no real world software engineering experience.

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Kraken has written on general op-sec about new “investment opportunities” in the crypto space. These are common sense steps everyone should take before investing in anything crypto-related. Sadly, too few people took these steps in 2017, will the next bull market cause a proliferation of scams, too? Let’s hope articles like this help the new people coming in.

BSV hard forked on Monday and the chain split due to a bunch of miners that didn’t upgrade. This is what happens when you have hard forks, not everyone follows the dictates of the central authority. And make no mistake, any coin that schedules hard forks is as centralized as the US dollar.

An interesting analysis of price vs. Reddit mentions seems to show the predictive ability of crowds. There’s probably a deep connection between stock-to-flow and demand spikes as evidenced by Reddit mentions.

Podcasts

I did a show with Fintech News Network talking about the value proposition of Bitcoin. I also talked to chaintalk about Bitcoin as well. Both are fairly basic, but may be good listening for someone that’s not familiar with Bitcoin.

Hong Kong Trip Cancelled, Las Vegas Soon

I was originally scheduled to go to Hong Kong for Token2049, but due to Coronavirus, the event has been delayed to October. As such, my seminar venue and dates have changed to San Francisco for March 25-26. This is going to be right before Bitcoin 2020, where I will be speaking.

The seminars in Las Vegas (Feb 20-21) and Antwerp (Apr 23-24) have not changed. Scholarships are available for all three.

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Finally, I’ll be in Las Vegas next week for Unconfiscatable. I’ll have some books with me or if you already have one, please bring it and I’ll sign it for you.

Fiat delenda est.