Weekly Project Highlight: meltingice
This week I was able to talk with Ryan LeFevre, known among the community as meltingice! He has been a staple in the community, created an awesome block explorer, and has worked on a variety of projects surrounding Nano.
Where did the name “meltingice” come from?
I’ve been using the “meltingice” nickname for a long time. Honestly, must be about 15 years now. I randomly came up with it before playing a game of SOCOM II on PlayStation 2 at a friends house, which was one of the first games I remember playing multiplayer online. Not sure why it stuck with me, but it did.
What is your background? What got you into cryptocurrency, and more importantly, how did you hear about Nano?
I’m a software engineer by trade. I started teaching myself web development when I was in high school by reading books about HTML, CSS, and PHP. I originally went to college for an electrical and computer engineering degree, but once I realized that Computer Science was my true passion, I switched majors and never looked back.
Before I graduated college, I began work at Twitpic, which was the largest photo sharing website for Twitter at the time. I was 1 of 3 engineers working on the site, which was one of the top websites in the world with respect to traffic. After Twitpic, I moved to LayerVault, which was a service that provided version control for designers. Unfortunately, LayerVault ran out of money and I ended up working at North Technologies, which was an app incubator started by Kevin Rose. About 4 months after I joined, we merged with a company named HODINKEE (https://www.hodinkee.com), which is where I’ve been working for the last 3 years. We’re an online and print magazine where we provide in-depth reviews, stories, and breaking news in the world of wrist watches. We also have an online store where we sell new and vintage watches, as well as many different accessories for them.
I first got into crypto in 2013. Bitcoin caught my attention when it started its bullrun at the time, and I started looking into it more. I checked out BTC-e.com and eventually Coinbase. Thankfully I avoided losing any coins on Mt Gox, but as a novice trader and someone unsure of the future of Bitcoin, I bought 1 BTC at $1000 and sold it at $500 to cut my losses. During this time of discovery, I also came upon Ripple and Stellar. I signed up for both of them as a developer so that I could be a part of their airdrops, but forgot about them for a few years. Thankfully I saved my keys for both :)
The way I discovered Nano was similar. It sparked my attention during the bull run at the beginning of 2018. I loved how it was both super scalable and feeless, especially since this was after Bitcoin fees had skyrocketed to $50 per transaction and the average transaction time was upwards of an hour or more.
You’ve been getting a lot of positive attention for your custom block explorer — What made you decide to make your own explorer?
I was already running a Bitcoin node to help out the Bitcoin network at the time, so I wanted to do the same for Nano. Once I discovered that Nano has a fairly straightforward API, I decided that I wanted to start experimenting with it. My original idea was to simply build a node monitor dashboard, since the Nano node doesn’t have one built in. Getting that up and running was a fairly simple process, but I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to expand upon it. From there, the project basically grew on its own until it reached a point where it was possible to explore the whole network.
Since Nano uses a delegated proof of stake system, I wanted to really highlight all the people that were spending their own resources to run nodes in order to maintain the Nano network. I added Nano Node Ninja integration in order to highlight people running representative accounts. Since a different project called nanoNodeMonitor had begun to get traction, I wanted to see if it was possible to automatically discover people running it by going through all of the peers my node was connected to. It turns out, you can pick up a lot of node monitors that way, and thus the network status page was born.
I wasn’t entirely happy with the block explorers that existed at the time (I found them to be relatively daunting to inexperienced users), so I wanted to make my explorer as simple to understand as possible. While exploring the Nano network is obviously still a technical task, and I don’t really see any way around that, I did my best to explain all of the data as clearly as possible. This especially become important with the introduction of state blocks. There are a lot of components to state blocks, many of which change depending on the action that was performed by the user. For example: https://nano.meltingice.net/explorer/block/CB2B2222B8AD6A2606BD0596F851B0682D3F540E117BC7201441C411E59C6FC5. Instead of simply listing all the fields in the block, I attempted to explain what each field actually means. This helps me whenever I use my own explorer, because I don’t always remember what each field does in a state block myself.
Once I heard about the Banano fork, I also worked to adapt my explorer to their network. Since it uses the same RPC, doing so was relatively easy. Since then, I’ve generally tried to develop new features for both coins at the same time. Sometimes a feature starts off in the Nano version and makes its way to the Banano version, and sometimes vice versa.
You’ve also been pretty active in the Node and Rep support group, and instrumental in some of the projects there — Which project is currently your favorite that you’re involved in?
I’m definitely a big fan of nanonode.ninja, which provides a lot of the representative node data as mentioned above, as well as some overall network data. I’ve made contributions to nanoNodeMonitor as well. I’ve also made some contributions to the Nano node code itself. Nothing big, but I fixed a few bugs that I noticed while working on my own network explorer and developing some stuff for Banano. Other than that, I find it fascinating monitoring and debugging the Nano network as a whole. I’ve met some great people that are also running nodes, as well as some of the core Nano team, and it’s been a blast getting to know them.
PS: this is where your friendly, neighborhood meltingice Nano node is hosted — from my laundry room! Or should I say, money laundering room ;) Please don’t send the cops though, I swear I’m not doing anything illegal.
Anything you’re working on that isn’t public, that you’d like to leak here?
I’ve started work on a new Nano-related project recently called Kitepay. We’re an innovative new payment processor that aims to give merchants a comprehensive range of payment gateways for their online checkout process, all while providing excellent merchant tools to help them run their business. Nano is the first cryptocurrency merchants will be able to accept through Kitepay, with more on the way. We also help you accept credit card payments in order to cater to all of your customers, some of which may still be foreign to cryptocurrency. We’ll have a lot more news to come, so keep your eyes peeled!
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