Celebrating our 2 year anniversary we take a look a quick look at what has driven the development of the project and what changes we have in store for the next release to address the concerns of the community.
For 27 minutes the TurtleCoin blockchain was dead on the table. We shouted at it, poked it with sticks, it was muerto.. Difficulty went from a healthy 2 Billion-ish area to 1, not 1 Billion, but 1, a single digit.
Reminder to upgrade your software tonight!
We get asked a lot about our community roles, what they mean, and how to earn them, so we wrote a guide!
There’s a person named Teacup on Discord who makes these delightful TurtleCoin pics we like to use in the chat and in the roundup. A day or two ago Teacup gave us this collection of pics amassed from an illustrious tenure as resident meme artist, so I figured it’d be best to put it somewhere that gets the respect it deserves, right here on our blog!
In this article, we will look at the some of the goals of the TurtleCoin project, the concept of centralization, where the project stands, and what the project is doing to remain true to itself by maintaining its commitment to the community.
One of the things that has been most requested of us is a mobile wallet. In the past we've always pointed mobile users to our web wallets, but a brave turtle came forward and put together a cool android wallet and we're pretty stoked about that, so here's an interview with the creator!
A lot of you out there have questions about how pools work and what goes into running a successful one. Today we’re checking out an interview with FunkyPenguin who runs probably one of the coolest setups I’ve seen so far with all of the pools I’ve seen. Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I have a big appreciation for the way he’s doing things.
You’re gonna love this one!
Thanks again for agreeing to the interview. The purpose of this interview is for us to highlight smaller pools that have unique things about them. Giving exposure to smaller pools is important in diversifying the hashrate. I hope today to hear about you, your pool, your history in mining and what a user might find unique about your pool.
Your pool is a cool one, and I think the miners as well as developers will appreciate the unique qualities to it. You first came on my radar with some of the interesting infrastructure work you were doing behind the scenes. I’d like to get in to that soon, but first, tell us how you got involved in TurtleCoin, and what led to you running a pool.
(I’ve documented this here: https://www.funkypenguin.co.nz/opinion/what-is-turtlecoin-and-why-do-i-care/), but here’s the off-the-cuff version
I was opportunistically looking for coins to mine after the Monero Cryptonight v7 fork, so I spent some time on cryptunit.com. Every so often, I’d see “TurtleCoin”, and laugh at what a silly name it was, and how ridiculous the crypto space had become.
Somewhere (maybe Reddit) I saw the headline for the BlockZero (Kevin Rose) podcast featuring TurtleCoin, and the name triggered some brand recognition. The level of respect that Kevin had for the project, and the way “community” was highlighted, changed my initial skeptical opinion, and I jumped into the Discord
I felt that I wanted to be more than another opportunistic miner, and that a “baby” cryptocurrency was a good place to start learning. (There was no NZ mining pool)
I’d already spent 6-8 months building my Geek’s Cookbook (a collection of self-hosted apps running within Docker Swarm), and wondered whether I could build a TurtleCoin mining pool. I figured I should start with a testnet, so I started asking some questions in #dev_general, and @SoreGums pointed me in the right direction. I ended up submitting a PR for a testnet Docker instance of the TurtleCoin daemon which could be used to create a testnet in total isolation from mainnet.
Having built a testnet, I started working on the mining pool, learning about wallet/daemon/redis/pool, and how they interrelate. I wrote up the Docker Swarm design (a bit outdated now).
There were some interesting challenges re how the pool components talked to each other, some of which lined up very well with the “one-process-per-container” model of Docker. I sort of fell into it from there, started mining in my pool, discovered that I could advertise in #mining , posted my pool to r/TRTL a few times, and enjoyed the process of mining “together” with other geeky crypto enthusiasts
It’s great that you’ve documented your journey the whole way, and as a microservice nerd in my own life, I feel a personal respect for what you’ve done.
(To be honest, I also want to profit from crypto, and I figured I’d leverage my systems experience to build pools to amass some coins, rather than strictly mining-and-selling-and-hodling)
You’ve got a cool frontend on your pool, and as I remember, you were one of the first to have the new-style interface. What are some of the unique qualities of your pool that would be interesting to a miner looking to diversify their hashrate some?
I polled my miners on this question, asking “what features does a miner really care about?”. The best response was from @slashatello, who said “miners care about.. BLOCKS”. I was interested in the telegram/email notifications from https://github.com/dvandal/cryptonote-nodejs-pool, which remain my favourite feature. Here’s an example:
That looks cool, break it down for me- what’s going on in that pic?
11:57 : The pool restarted (I’m running turtlecoind-ha, that’s another story), my rig connected
12:04 : The same again (this happens when the daemon gets stuck, it sometimes takes a few goes to restore stability)
12:07 : One of the miners finds a block. Yay! Now we wait 20 min to confirm it’s not an orphan
12:11 : Yes, daemon restarts again
12:29 : Block is not orphaned, now is the first time (based on these notifications) we see what our effort was (43%). Unlike the original turtle-pool software, lower % is better, so we “found” this block in 43% of the time we’d statistically expect to (we were lucky)
<by this time, the wallet has received the block reward. Redis calculates how much each miner is due, and payments are prepared>
12:31 : The pool sends the miners their portions of the block reward (minus my 0.0987654321% fee), everyone is happy
(the fee is a funny story actually – when I first setup the pool, I looked at the list of pools and saw someone else’s pool listed as 0.0987..%. I thought it was a clever attention-grabbing move, so I adopted it for myself. I think I read later that it was just a math bug!)
That’s pretty funny, actually! Thanks for giving us the play by play. That’s a pretty intricate setup. So you’ve made a pool, and you’ve written guides and Dockerfiles for us, what don’t you do?! You’re awesome! What do you have planned for the future, and what are you interested in learning right now?
Thank you Well, this daemon restarting thing is a bit of a PITA, and the original platform I ran my swarm on was heavily contended at times, so I’ve just finished migrating the pool to a Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) cluster. I still have the occasional daemon issue (as evidenced above), but we seem to recover from a stalled daemon with a few quick restarts.
I overspeced the GKE cluster when I built it (I’m only using 22% of my resources for Turtle/Moneytips pools), so I’m currently playing with autoscaling the cluster, as well as using a “tainted” nodepool running (cheap) pre-emptive node instances for doing CPU-heaving stuff like syncing new coins blockchains. The fact that they’re pre-emptive means that Google could turn them off at any time, but the GKE engine would just spin me up a new one in a few min, and for the purposes of an initial blockchain sync, I don’t need to maintain any sort of availability
So I’m enjoying learning more about the world of Kubernetes / Terraform. I’m also continuing to build the Geek’s Cookbook community, the Discord gets quite busy at times, and there’s now enough geeks on board that I don’t end up answer every question myself, which is great to see.
I’ve dabbled with “livestreaming”/”livecoding” – last night I had an audience of 4 geeks watching me configure Lidarr with NZBHydra – thrilling stuff!
Oh, and my new darling, Prometheus/Grafana – I’ve been building on the “swarmprom” stack , adding prometheus exporters for nvidia GPU stats, Emby, Nginx, etc
I’m planning on doing Geek’s Cookbook Vol II – The Kubernetes Edition, although how I combine this all into the same content structure is YTBD.
One of the challenges with either Swarm or Kubernetes is that it’s very hard to have the original source IP of the miner visible to your pool, because of all the layers of load balancing and NAT that applied. This means that you can no longer ban bad/misconfigured miners by IP address (because you don’t have their IP address). I haven’t found a failsafe solution for this yet, but I have an open bounty for providing a way to ban miners based on TRTL address, rather than IP address. I also had to add a workaround to the pool software to bypass the IP-address-check which you’d normally have to pass, in order to enable/disable email notifications.
If you had to make an appeal to miners out there wanting to spread out the hashrate some, what would be an advantage of choosing your pool?
While I originally tried to “corner the market” on an NZ / AU pool, truth is that the latency to NZ has no impact on blocks found, in real world observation. 90% of our pool hash (@Slash-atello) is from the US. So I’d appeal to TRTL miners (worldwide) who are also into microservices / homelab / self-hosting (and LEGO, high-fiving @bruceleon) to not just mine with us but come and “geek out” with us in Discord at http://chat.funkypenguin.co.nz
I think I’ve got everything we need, is there anything you wanted to add that I may have missed?
Probably yet (yet another) acknowledgement that the “secret sauce” in TRTL, which stands out from other coins, is the focus on community and fun. Thanks for welcoming me
Thanks for being a part of this experience!
I never want good content to go to waste, and I’m sure you guys would love to read it, so here’s the interview with a member of our core team, SoreGums.
This will be the last “Out of the Shell”, but it is far from the last interview, enjoy!
How’d you first learn about TurtleCoin?
I first learned about it via the Kevin Rose podcast BlockZero: #003 – TurtleCoin – The next Dogecoin?.
What was it about the coin that drew you in. Why are you involved in TurtleCoin as opposed to the other coins out there?
I listened to that episode during the 1st week of Feb 2018, then joined Discord. For the first 48hrs checked out everything and sat in #help and assisted others finding their way. Poked around the dev channels and ended up with contributor access to the Meta repo to help with issues there and got a dev-role tag as well. This level/kind of openness in projects is uncommon. I was also involved in discussions and liked the atmosphere and am now here for good. Other projects in this field pretty much have an agenda, and the dev teams don’t encourage outside involvement. I don’t like writing code; I can, I’m not great at it (as measured by speed and regurgitating things from memory – like on a whiteboard). My skill set is figuring things out (know how to find what is needed, be it tools, utilities, platforms, etc. and then put them together) and providing a way forward. I also like writing documentation. I very much enjoy supporting teams rather than being the star or leader.
Also, TurtleCoin is very much a currency application which runs on the TRTL Network. This distinction is relatively new (June 2018), however, has been in the roadmap from the start, see the Karai milestone. The appeal here then for me is getting in amongst it at a level that requires a fundamental understanding of how this all works. Primarily a learning opportunity, I am a believer in continued learning/development is essential for avoiding depression and being “happy” (to put it in simple terms).
How long have you been interested in crypto?
First got into it April 2011, bought 3x AMD GPUs to start mining Bitcoin. It seemed like it would be a thing. Would have been great if I believed that with conviction, haha.
So you gave up early?
About HODL. Always been following. Been moving around a lot, electricity vs reward at the time etc. I’m a member of the “if only” club of 2017 (BTC price surge etc.). I traded in 40BTC for an Amazon gift card to buy eBooks etc. Still worth it, however, in hindsight, 40*20k is a large number, that would have been nice. Now, 7yrs later it’s visible traditional central banking will be impacted. Blockchain genie is free, an energy-efficient application of it will need to be figured out long-term though.
Have you been involved in any other crypto project before TurtleCoin?
Not like with TurtleCoin. On BitcoinTalk, I was pretty vocal in the Coino Coin project, which died due to the core dev team being two people and real life got in the way. It was also a fast block project, ran into problems with that and the size of the blockchain database. It is funny, Dash, Digibyte, Coino all started around the same time. The core idea of fast blocks and what that enables is why I am so interested in TurtleCoin.
I’m as involved in TurtleCoin as I am because of how the project works and the people attracted to this way of working. I’ve been able to engage in discussions and contribute some value, that is accepted. Then the reason this is a thing is that the project has a focus on the platform as a tool, rather than a way to get rich quick (funny how incentives dictate actions/behaviour). Which leads to the people, we seem to be evenly distributed across the globe teaming up as it were on common end-goal objectives. Everyone I’m actively involved with comes at the work via the collaborative, open, straightforward, humble, mindset.
You’ve mentioned being interested in fast block times a few times. What about fast block times interests you and what do they enable?
Everyday transactions, the only way any cryptocurrency is going to become “the way everyday transactions are conducted” is if they are instant or close enough. In Australia/New Zealand they have self-service checkouts at the supermarket, NZ has self-service petrol pumps, a financial transaction needs occur to complete the sale as it were. So fast block times matter, no one is going to adopt a new way that requires them to stand around for more than 5secs before they can go. Thus immediate responses from the network are essential (fundamentally there doesn’t need to be fast block times, however as a building block it is a logical place to work from/at). Bitcoin is getting instant transactions via technology like lighting network, which briefly means people between the purchaser and seller guarantee amounts are moving from purchaser to seller instead of the network directly (over-simplified, general idea).
So practically how all this works is like this. A transaction broadcast to the network is the equivalent of authorisation in the current visa/card networks. This authorisation is saying “these funds have been allocated FROM this account TO this other account”, allocated means on the way to the destination, (privacy coins, of which TurtleCoin is one, only the sender and receiver know the FROM and TO parties) and is instant. In the visa/card networks at this point the sale is, and everyone moves on, the purchaser has their items, and the seller is confident they’ll receive the funds/the transaction will settle (funds show up in the clear in their account, arrived at destination), eventually as guaranteed by legal contracts etc. In the blockchain world, this is a little bit tricky as there is no guarantee by anyone that these broadcasted transactions will ever be settled/confirmed.
Settlement in blockchain tech comes in the form of included transactions in blocks, fast block times mean these blocks, and thus transactions being confirmed happens fast. Each time a block is produced from when the transaction was first included in the blockchain is an additional confirmation that the funds moved from one account to another. For TurtleCoin the target time for block production is 30 seconds. This means within 20 minutes a seller can be confident they will have the funds (technically they have the funds within 30 seconds). Contrast this to the Visa/card networks the seller needs to be cautious because the funds could be taken back up 90 days or even more depending on the card network and agreements etc., for various reasons. It is challenging in the blockchain world for a purchaser to take back the amounts they have sent as the confirmations continue to accumulate, there is no authority to turn to mediate on their behalf.
That is a super long answer however it is not often explained in detail for everyday people to make the connection between block times and how Visa/card networks operate. TRTL Network has attracted a lot of regular people due to how the community and project members interact with each other, so perhaps someone will find the above details useful.
Having code that enables fast block times isn’t the only factor that would lead to actual real-world adoption of TurtleCoin. What do you think needs to happen beyond the code for this to take off?
Utility. It is the answer to all blockchain adoption. TurtleCoin has it as a premise, however, in practice, it is still in the infancy stages. Once the TRTL Network Spec is defined, it’ll allow anyone to write any code that speaks to all nodes in the network. Said another way, the current TurtleCoind daemon can be replaced by some system that works perfectly for the people writing the code, and they will be able to interact with the TRTL Network just fine.
As for specific things that could promote real-world adoption, supplement all transactions that happen via cash with TurtleCoin transactions. It is going to take business relationships of the community to make that happen. One thing that will help any of those conversations is the access to reliable APIs, so the barrier to entry is as low as possible. I am talking about web wallets or platforms that act like web wallets. Just so happens that one such platform is under development by Fexra (GitHub/Discord). Fexra is building out a web wallet platform that enables merchants to integrate with the TRTL Network without having run, own and operate independent infrastructure and at least in the beginning, and this is needed. As the TRTL Network project progresses and standard tools are developed and released under the “Turtle Pay” heading, being able to find TurtleCoin and then be offering it the next day as a way to exchange value, this is what encourages adoption: ease of use; security; etc.
What do you do IRL? Career? Student?
I’ve been in IT since leaving high school in 2002. My predominant occupation is taking care of my son; he’s 1yr old. So am blazing my path doing different things here and there, IT related.
What are you doing in Vietnam?
I’m supporting a tourism company to attract foreigners, via native English website. They are a successful Vietnamese domestic tourism company.
What’s your favorite pizza?
Italian, from Italy; a bit of sauce, some fresh cheese, something green. Loved visiting there a few years ago, missed it immediately when we crossed the border to France. French delis are amazing, eating out of a deli all the time while possible, would not be ideal.
Any particular projects or initiatives you’re working on right now where you’re seeking community input?
I’m an analyst and details focused type of person that can also zoom out to verify the big picture as well. As such infrastructure and breaking down how things work has me focused on developing the project Krang. It is a Blockchain Automation Testing Suite, which means standing up infrastructure automatically and running tests on it, measuring results and creating reports. Said in plain language, turning on multiple computers, installing all the needed software for the blockchain network to function and checking how things run and writing about/reporting on it.
Krang will work for TRTL Network first, then move onto other blockchain projects. There are a bunch of goals that get covered by the above being real. It means we can automatically test releases before pushing them out. We can check for regressions in performance or even benchmark to figure out where we could make performance improvements. It enables us to test the theoretical parts with ease. It allows us to test different network attack scenarios with ease and assist in developing mitigations.
It is considered a massive project regarding what it enables. There will be a fair amount of code created to package all the standard tools and even more documentation written to allow others to use Krang or further extend it. The actual work to be done though is standard practice in organisations that prefer measured/ correct results, rather than guesses.
So if the above appeals to you, ping me on Discord. One other fellow in Australia is also involved and enjoys working on the infrastructure puzzle.
Now that TurtleCoin has been listed with CoinMarketCap what do you think that increased exposure might mean for TRTL.
I think it mostly signals a validation of the work being done. The group of contributors to the project is expanding each week. For them to be seeing that the project is getting positive attention will help with the positive feedback loop. For the users of the network and future users, it is also a positive signal.
There is a dark side to CoinMarketCap in that their timing on information updates has been shown to be self-serving and would encourage people to seek alternative data points instead of relying solely on CMC. One such site is CoinGecko.com, since TurtleCoin’s inception, the project has climbed up the developer ranking there and now (2018-09) TRTL is ranked 26. Slow and steady is the TurtleCoin motto, we’re here for the long term. The openness of TurtleCoin in terms of accepting contributions is great and wide, the project might be viewed at first glance as being a bit of a lark with its meme coin start, however, it is serious about the technology and the utility it is seeking to enable.
One of the projects primary objectives is to educate anyone interested in blockchain technology, either as a user or as a developer. As such the more exposure we get the more people we’ll be able to impact and give people a real handle on what this technology is all about so they can feel empowered and be an active participant in this new world. Like how the internet has connected everybody on the planet, it was the realm of the nerds when it started, blockchain technology needs to have some of the nerd transformed and made accessible for everyone.
Also…When you’re not working or hanging out in the TurtleCoin discord, what do you like to do for fun?
Go to the movies, went to see Deadpool 2 the other week. The first one was best, the second was good fun and entertaining as well, it is based on a comic series though, and well, it’s a bit hard to “out original” the original.
Travelling, reading, learning, visiting family, going out for the day, playing chess with my wife are some other things.