V4Vapp Updates about the Bitcoin Lightning Network and Podcasting 2.0

It's been a crazy couple of weeks since Hive Fest so I haven't updated but that needs to be fixed.

HBD instead of Hive

converting sats

I made a decision in the last few days over what to use for payments when converting streaming sats. I was using Hive but with the sudden jump to over $1 Hive, it makes more sense to pay in HBD. Part of the reason is because when dealing with small sat amounts (like 8 sats) trying to send a suitable amount of Hive causes rounding issue which will get worse as Hive keeps going up (to the moon!). If you receive HBD and want Hive, you can easily kick off a conversion.

Issues

Almost everything from streaming payments to podcasters on Hive through the conversion of Hive and HBD into Bitcoin Lightning is working perfectly...

Successful streaming payment

... but with one exception.

Muun wallet failures

I'm having problems with users of the Muun Lightning wallet. Two users, both in Mexico I believe, have experienced repeated failures when trying to send sats to a Muun wallet. The specific error I receive is "no_route". However, when I use the Muun wallet and send to myself, I succeed but probably only 50% of the time.

This is one of the frustrations with the entire Lightning system and I'm now working with Muun wallet to see if we can figure out why these failures are happening so regularly.

Umbrel and Lightning

When I started learning what the Lightning network was and how I could use it, the first thing I did was buy a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 Megs and an external 1TB SSD with a USB case. This is the basic hardware you need to run your own Lightning node.

At the time (about 8 months ago) I looked around for the easiest ways to get up and running and found Umbrel. At that time the Umbrel Node had a very simple setup process with flashing an SSD, putting it in your Pi and leaving it alone for a few days. That worked except owing to me still having relatively slow ADSL at the time and some other issues with version of the Umbrel software, it took almost 2 weeks to get working.

Umbrel Disk Usage

Before your Lightning node (with Umbrel's software) can work properly it needs to download and confirm the entire Bitcoin history and then store the entire chain. Today that means my Umbrel has used 56% of its 1TB SSD. It needs to be an SSD because, especially during the initial sync, fast disk access is essential. It seems that with the current version of Umbrel, on a Raspberry Pi with a fast Internet connection and an SSD it takes around 2 days. This can be faster if you use a machine with more memory and cpu speed.

The Umbrel App Store

When I first started with Umbrel it had an "App Store" which allowed you to install a few very useful Lightning management tools like Ride the Lightning (RTL) and Thunderhub. That was essential and really easy. As I came to understand, Umbrel is all built on Docker containers and adding new apps just downloads and runs a new Docker container on your machine.

Today the app store is growing into a complete home server system but I have very mixed feelings about this.

Umbrel App Store 29th Nov 2021

Just to remind you, I'm using Lightning because it is the method by which we distribute streaming payments of micro amounts (20 to 100 Sats per minute) from listeners to the creators of podcasts. This is all part of Podcasting 2.0 and @podcastindexorg's work.

So my use of Lightning is to receive payments on behalf of all the creators on 3speak and then batch and send these payments on to them as Hive transfers. In order to send and receive Lightning payments I have to tie up Bitcoin in "Channels" between my node and other nodes on the system. The Bitcoin in these channels is then shuffled backwards and forwards like beads on an abacus.

Within the entire Lightning all this invested Bitcoin provides the liquidity for the system to work. This also means that my node currently has a few thousand USD's worth of BTC tied up on it.

Building my App

Right now I'm not running any part of the Hive <> Lightning gateway directly on the same Raspberry Pi I use for my Lightning. I have another machine, on the same LAN, which accesses the Lightning node via various API calls. None of this travels across the Internet.

My plan is to learn how / pay someone to package up what I've built ready to run directly with the Lightning Node which moves what I've built closer into the territory where anyone can run this kind of gateway.

Umbrel Security

What bothers me a little about the direction Umbrel is taking is that any of these apps can have pretty much unfettered access to the Lightning funds on the Node. It would be completely trivial to drain a Node of all the BTC stored within the Lightning side of the wallet and probably any BTC also stored on chain.

For this reason I've decided to drastically curtail my impulses to try out new things on this Umbrel. I love what Umbrel are doing making a whole lot of cloud apps which you can run yourself easy to use, but I question the wisdom of co-locating these with a Lightning node and Bitcoin wallet! If you plan to use Lightning for anything beyond pocket money, I'd urge you to get a second Umbrel to play with other things like shared calendars and cloud data.

Next Steps

Podcasters!

I've got a lot of explaining to do, I'm well aware of this! @threespeak is now a fully fledged video podcast host with the ability to be listed in Apple's Podcast app and pretty much every podcast app in the world. I haven't made a big enough deal out of this yet but that's coming in the next week or so.

If you have a 3speak channel it will be up to you to explain Value 4 Value to your audience and see if you can drive adoption. Everything is in place for this now and there will be more help to get people using it over the next few days and weeks.


Support Proposal 188 on PeakD
Support Proposal 188 with Hivesigner


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