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Thomas Jestopher | Connect the World

Building towards a more sustainable Lightning Network

This week, in Episode 19, we talk with Thomas Jestopher, the co-founder of Amboss Technologies. They created the Lightning Network Explorer Amboss.space!
It all started with the idea to create a better, more private and user-friendly Lightning Network explorer. Together with technical co-founder Anthony Potdevin (from Thunderhub.io) they combine all P2P gossip information, history data and statistics from community projects on an astonishing website with an amazing-looking user interface!

 

We talk about a lot of promising developments to reach the same goals in the future: Connect the World with Lightning! The next step is more education to help novice users and creating antifragile communication networks. We would like to see the Lightning Network become sustainable and support innovations.
Do you have a Lightning Node? And are you a developer?
All these things don’t matter! Because the Lightning Network belongs to everyone! And everyone can dig into it! 

Watch or listen to the full interview or start reading below! Enjoy!

Lightning

What was your first experience with the lightning network and do you still know what you did/saw at that moment?

Feeding chickens with pollofeed.com

What distribution are you running on your node? LND or C-lightning? And why did you choose that?

I use LND for my node and Amboss. Good support and apps. Lightning Labs works really hard to deliver new features. There isn’t an easy way for us to get a C-lightning node service running currently.

If we take you a year back in time and look at what has changed, what do you think matters most in terms of lightning adoption? / which event do you think had the most influence in terms of lightning adoption?

Raspiblitz for developing the tinkerer community, Umbrel for marketing it to a broader audience, and Plebnet for developing the “pay it forward” attitude and wiki.

Are you still impressed by the number of users who come from the Netherlands and what is your view on how Europe is doing with the adoption of the lighting network?

The visiting countries go US, Germany, and the Netherlands over the past 6 months. The community presence is phenomenal from the Dutch. https://amboss.space/community

We ‘’Connect The World’’ and you with ‘’amboss’’ have a bit of the same mission, we both try to increase the lighting nodes in the world and to let connect them as much as possible to create a strong and big global payment network, how can we help each other to be even more productive in what we do? What’s the next step for initiatives like ours?

Education, sharing hardware, creating anti fragile communication networks. Amboss will provide information to aid in coordinating the network. We’d like to see the network become sustainable and support innovations.

In episode 10 of Connect the World we had a news update about you teaming up with anthony potdevin and contribute to the Thunderhub repository. What is exactly your contribution?
#Sidenote: Why do you think it is important within the Lightning Community to work together?

apotdevin is the wizard behind Amboss and Thunderhub and I get the honor of talking to you about it! I only fixed a spelling error on Thunderhub, but I do business development, strategy, and marketing for Amboss.

With a lot of guests we talked about what will eventually happen with the smaller Lightning Nodes on the network. Do you think there will always be a place for those nodes to keep existing?

Yup! There are tons of uses for a network of globally-distributed, finance-enabled servers, regardless of how many sats they have. They are sovereign.

Security on lightning network is at the moment one of the biggest topics at the moment. What are at the moment the biggest issues?

Good practices. Keeping a seed phrase backup and static channel backups. We can help with this! Keeping a UPS.

Some time ago there were some concerns about security issues with Lightning Nodes running Umbrel in combination with Thunderhub and Tor. To reach more adoption it’s important to educate a lot of people and also to help the non tech-savvy node operators to run their nodes in the most secure way possible. What security developments are still needed?

Lightning needs more adversarial testing, code audits, and education. It’s not okay for novice users to be reusing passwords and not understanding what information needs to be protected, like an onion address.

The use case of Lightning is off course being able to make payments. Do you think there is enough focus on the onboarding of merchants? Or do we still need more development on the LN core, for example Bolt12?

There’s no need for consensus on Lightning, so we can move in both directions at once. As a merchant, bolt 12 would be great. I think merchants need stablecoins for a major increase in lightning adoption, which is coming soon.

What do you see as the most important feature for the Lightning Network that is currently missing?

Good communication about where liquidity is needed, especially for merchants. They really shouldn’t have to think about inbound liquidity.

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Amboss.space

When did you come up with the idea to start amboss and maybe more importantly why do you think it was needed?

Anthony potdevin from Thunderhub.io reached out to team up. We both thought 1ML could be much better, more private, and more user-friendly.

Amboss provides a lot of different kinds of statistics and data, can you take us with you in how you exactly collect all the data?

Amboss displays mostly public information that is transmitted over the P2P gossip between nodes. We maintain a database of the history and add metrics from community projects.

We love the community part of Amboss.space. Do you think that this social part of the Lightning Network will stay in the future? How will it evolve, do you think?

We love the community part of Amboss.space. Do you think that this social part of the Lightning Network will stay in the future? How will it evolve, do you think?

19.135 nodes and 3.857 nodes are verified. More than 20% of the nodes are verified. Why do you think the other nodes have not been verified yet? Can we state that the verified nodes are almost all participating in a Lightning social community?

Many nodes aren’t directly controlled by humans. A lot of services haven’t claimed their nodes yet, but they manage to participate in the network whether or not on Amboss.

We all love applications to be graphic and appealing! I saw a couple of requests about Amboss.space these last weeks. For example to enhance the preview graphic for community invitations with more info about the invite. And also to make the Amboss previews for a transaction and address url dynamic and re-cached. What UX updates are you working on right now?

We’re focusing on adding new microservices at the moment to support the node ecosystem. Backend development has been a priority for us and we’re in the process of making our first hire to support this. Anthony Potdevin, Amboss’s technical co-founder, will then resume leading front-end and UX development as soon as possible to capture the community feedback that we get.

We saw you are looking for a backend developer at the moment. What are your plans for the future with Amboss.space or another project perhaps?

There is an incredible amount to build, both on the community side, User Experience on the site, and other services that we can incorporate to help the network.

Amboss does also have its own node. What is the role of that node and how does it work?

The primary purpose of the Amboss node is to receive payments and listen for network updates. It’s on Voltage.

On Amboss.space you can sign in with your node by signing a message. There are developers who think about possibilities of signing in on certain websites with your own node as a way to prove your identity. Do you think this will become reality someday?

Your node is a form of hardware-based identity with it’s own form of proof-of-work through proof of reserves or a social endorsement with a channel.

What’s the biggest difference between Amboss and 1ml ? How is it possible that numbers are different between these sites ?

The active development, the privacy – Google vs Plausible analytics. Every node has a slightly different view of the network and there is no consensus.

What’s the biggest problem you encountered with building amboss ?

Basic company problems: regulations, accounting, hiring, and not being able to build fast enough to keep up with the innovations. There’s something new every single day on lightning!

I heard that you found investors that believe in Amboss and your vision. Is Amboss.space profitable at the moment?

Amboss is not profitable and won’t be for several years. The lightning network will need to disrupt remittances for Amboss to have a good chance at being a profitable company.

How many people work for Amboss.space? And do they all work remotely?

It’s just Anthony Potdevin and I! I’m based in the US, while he’s based in Germany.

Extra

Your own node Satbase.org. I understand that you run this in the cloud at Voltage? Can you tell us what the advantages are for you running a Lightning Node in the cloud?

For one, I don’t have to worry about power outages! I’m able to travel and access my node from anywhere.

If someone were to start right now with building and running a Routing Node. What advice would you give him or her?

Experiment! Choose a challenging path so you learn as much as you can. Try to break some new features; the developers appreciate users to test.

You’ve been a teacher on one or more episodes of the Bitcoin Kindergarten podcast. The whole Kindergarten concept made me think about the educational side of Bitcoin and Lightning. For the Lightning Network to reach critical mass, do you think it’s important to educate pre-coiners even more?

Yes and no. Some people aren’t ready to learn, but for those that are, I want to leverage my time to create an ecosystem for the masses.

Do you believe we will get into a Hyper Bitcoinized world? And if so, what will the Lightning Network look like then?

I’m over 100% committed to the idea of hyperbitcoinization. The lightning network will still just be a network. The world will be reshaped around to mirror its network of contracts between individuals.

Do you play lightning games such as sarutobi or thndr bay ?

I play way too much THNDR bay and bitcoin bounce. I’m very excited to learn about their next games and about areas where we can collaborate with the THNDR team.

Do you use services like satsback.com or lollie ?

I like satsback services including the Fold card and Strike, but haven’t had success with Lolli or used satsback.com.

You live in USA, do you use the lightning network in your daily life for example buying goods with your bitcoin?

I use Strike to make purchases through Purse.io so I don’t have an aneurysm from the cap gains tax calcs. I settle bills with friends using btc, but retailers often don’t know that I’m using bitcoin to purchase their goods.

What management tool do you prefer to use with your node and why?

Thunderhub without question. We’re building more Amboss services into Thunderhub to deliver the superior node management experience there.

Do you think the total amount of nodes will continue to grow in the coming years? And in which parts of the world will be the most growth visible?

Drivers for growth are node cost and services available: current growth is about 2% per week. Node cost is dropping and services are growing exponentially. I’d imagine El Salvador will grow rapidly in terms of nodes.

Do you think Bitcoin and Lightning can be a solution for the problems today with increased inflation?

Yes.

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