July 18, 2022
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Caralie Chrisco
Principal, Developer Fund

Stacking Quarters & Beautifying Bitcoin with Jarol Rodriguez

Stacking Quarters & Beautifying Bitcoin with Jarol Rodriguez
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Jarol Rodriguez is a Bitcoin Core Developer and one of Superlunar’s 2022 grant recipients.

Jarol’s path to bitcoin began with a stack of pre-1965 silver quarters. 

As a little boy, he’d ride to work with his father and frequently stop at a small cafe en route. One day a cashier lamented how they needed more quarters for the register but only had “weird silver ones'' and gave them to Jarol. 

He became fascinated by the fundamental differences between the familiar silver quarters and more modern clad coins. The value of one was measured by the rarity of its silver makeup and the other from a government promise. This sparked a personal journey of digging into the U.S. monetary system by reading about the Bretton Woods Agreement, studying the Coinage Act of 1792, and taking a deep-dive into fractional reserve banking.

Money represents our labor, our energy, and our lives.”
- Jarol Rodriguez

Jarol witnessed first hand how inflation can erode this storage source of labor. The inherent problems with money “backed by the full faith and credit” of a government were evident in his parent’s story of saving for a home in the Dominican Republic. When they finally had enough to afford a down payment, the value of their money had been grossly depleted. 

Jarol’s family then immigrated to the US and landed in New York City. He relished in being an inner city kid learning alongside those with different backgrounds. His education promoted curiosity and focused on the importance of philosophy at an early age. His teachers encouraged exploring rabbit holes so it was fitting that he’d eventually go down the many that exist within bitcoin. 

In college, Jarol studied Computer Science and Philosophy. During this time his general curiosity of the monetary system began to narrow in on bitcoin. He noticed that within the current financial system there are footprints left so the metadata remains there. With the ability to identify what you like and what you buy, the government can use that to censor. 

In his dorm room, he set up a mining rig to put the “free” electricity to good use and score some spending money. The mining side gig ultimately reinvigorated his interest in bitcoin as a privacy driven, censorship resistant technology. The gears really started to turn after he read Mastering Bitcoin

“Money has created civilization in many ways and it's really important for it not to be censored. As long as bitcoin exists, we can preserve that freedom.”
- Jarol Rodriguez

From Curiosity to Career Path

Jarol was still in college when the pandemic hit so he focused completely on bitcoin and took the first iteration of the Chaincode seminars. Going through the curriculum really solidified that working on bitcoin open source software aligned with his values and he wanted to continue to work on it full time.

It’s a common theme from current contributors that the space can feel exclusive. It can be such a challenge to identify the individuals behind some projects that the community appears unwelcome. Jarol accredits educational initiatives like Chaincode’s seminars and Summer of Bitcoin for opening up the gates to open source. He feels that learning alongside others has empowered him to bring his ideas to a mature state rather than just being something he was interested in reading about. 

“Bitcoin became this magical, alluring phenomena. I felt a calling to be a part of that magic.”
- Jarol Rodriguez

Current Project

Jarol is currently working on Bitcoin Core (Core) to build out a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) client based on QT Modeling Language (QML) with other developers and the Bitcoin Design Community. For more context, Core is the most audited code base and is currently the consensus for connecting to the Bitcoin Network. There's a security assumption with Core that isn't true of all softwares so users tend to choose it to validate transactions and secure their bitcoin with Core. 

The GUI is a person’s first interaction with Core and Jarol believes it’s important to have features with intuitive user flows to enable broader adoption. He wants people to use it so he’s trying to create something even his parents could navigate. The current Core GUI has gathered enough technical debt and hacked on features to warrant a rewrite. The rewrite would also enable Core to run on mobile devices and tablets. Jarol is looking forward to the eventual ability to restore with bip44 pass phrase and derivation path in the wallet as part of the descriptor.

Looking ahead, Jarol will continue to work on projects that enhance the GUI and its functionality. He is also focusing on the integration project of a cmake build system that is being spearheaded by hebasto as well as the integration project of Hardware Wallet Interface (HWI) by achow. He is excited to remain active in the bitcoin educational space as a mentor while he continues to make the bitcoin user experience more beautiful.

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