Historical Yield Spread between the Government of Canada 10-Year Bond and the Government of Canada 2-Year Bond

The chart below represents the historical yield spread between the Government of Canada 10-Year Bond and the Government of Canada 2-Year Bond. I constructed the chart using the data freely available at the Bank Of Canada website and used Google Sheets to put it together.

This is an interactive chart: you can hover your mouse over the line to get the values of the yield spread on a given date. For a more detailed version of the chart CLICK HERE.

The Y-Axis is the  yield spread between the Government of Canada 10-Year Bond and the Government of Canada 2-Year Bond in percentage points. 

The Y-Axis represents time; each data point being a month.

Please, let me know in the comments section if you find this to be useful and I will keep updating the chart as time passes.

Personal Cloud Storage in Canada

I recently started using Sync.com [1] as my personal cloud storage. I decided to avoid the big names mainly because they can scan and read your files. Sync encrypts your files locally prior to the upload to the cloud; all the while your private encryption keys remain only accessible to you: the user. You can read more details in their privacy whitepaper.

Sync servers are located in Canada and as such Canadian privacy compliance is built-in (in addition to that of the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom).

I signed up for the trial version which provides 5GB of free storage with the purpose of evaluating the PC and iPhone apps. Shortly after, I bought the cheapest personal plan that provides 500GB of storage for $49 CAD (plus tax) per year.  For more pricing alternatives read this

For the last two days I have been uploading the files; so far so good. I blame my ISP for the slow upload!

It is early to tell; but so far I don’t have any complaints. Plus I still have 30 days and I can get my money back if get any nasty surprises.

Should you decide to give it a try, I’d appreciate if you use my referral link [1]. Both you and I will get an extra GB of storage after a successful referral. 

Finally, I’ll update this post after my 30-days-money-back-period is expired. I will let you know whether I decided to keep using Sync or if I bailed.

[1] Yanniel's Sync Referral link: https://www.sync.com/?_sync_refer=11e8cf2e0

A Canadian aficionado mining and buying Ethereum

Cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and they walk each day into nosebleed bubble territory. I invest mainly in the mainstream stock market (the one that operates with fiat currencies); nonetheless, I have some appetite for risk and as such I allocate a small percentage of my investment fund into high risk assets.

I acquired some ether units with QuadrigaCX in the spring of 2017 and I have seen my investment multiply by a factor of 7. I bought when ether was priced at about $100USD/eth and now (December 2017) it is trading north of $700USD/eth. 

Time to cash in some profits: I sold half my ether and recovered my initial investments plus 2.5 times the money I initially invested. I still keep the other half invested in the Ethereum network, but even if the price of ether goes to zero; I lose nothing.

My interest in ether is not just about the money. I am a software engineer and I enjoy learning the technicalities of it all. This got me into trying the unthinkable; mining my own ether! :-)

Mining is more of a hobby for me and to my advantage I don’t have to foot an electricity bill (it is covered by my rent). 

Power efficiency was not a concern for me when shopping for mining hardware (I can use as much electricity as I want and pay nothing; it is subsidized by the landlord). 

Physical space is nonetheless a concern. I live in a one bedroom apartment and as you can imagine I cannot accommodate an ugly mining rig in my living room. My wife would freak-out; and the landlord won’t like it either.

But this is the thing. I figured I could achieve great mining performance without a rig; because Ethash, the algorithm to mine ether, is memory bond. Having more GPUs not necessarily means you have a higher chance of mining the winning block. The bottleneck of this mining algorithm is not in the hashing calculations, but in the read operations from the DAG. So, you have an edge when buying high memory bandwidth GPUs

To abstract what I just said? No worries. It is explained in better detail in this article: Ethereum's Memory Hardness Explained, and the Road to Mining It with Custom Hardware.

At the time of writing the GPU with highest memory bandwidth in the market is the NVIDIA TITAN Xp. This graphics card offers a jaw-dropping 547.7 GB/s of memory bandwidth. You can just plug it into the PCI Express x16 slot of your motherboard. You can even install a second Titan Xp card using the NVIDIA SLI technology (for this you need a SLI -ready motherboard and a NVIDIA SLI Bridge). 

If you put together two of these babies you would have created a mining rig of sorts; but the difference with more traditional (ugly) rigs is that it all fits inside the chassis of your personal computer. 

The cards are very expensive; but you don’t need much more to start mining. I am using my 3 years old desktop PC with 16GB or RAM; so I did not have to invest in a mother board, chassis, RAM, etc. 

I bought just one Titan Xp card for now and in addition to that I bought a 600W power supply unit (PSU) with one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI Express supplementary power connectors. I had to buy this new PSU because the Titan Xp card is power hungry and my old PSU was not up to the job.

I tried solo mining so far with no results; but I am thinking of joining an ethereum mining pool. I’ll comment further when I manage to mine my first fraction of ether :-)

So far my investment in ether has been satisfactory. Even if I don’t manage to mine anything with my Titan Xp card, my hardware costs are already covered by the initial profits I made in QuadrigaCX. I recognize the risk of losing money in this enterprise, which is why I did not invest much of my net worth.

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Filing previous years income tax returns in Canada (2016 and beyond)

By law you are only required to file income taxes in Canada if you owe money to the tax man. Nonetheless, even if you are in the clear with the CRA, it might make sense to file a return, because in some cases you can get a refund or credit while doing so.

If you realize that you need to file back a return, simply find a tax filing software for the corresponding tax year and proceed with the filing.

I have used TurboTax for the last 3 years and I can vouch for the simplicity and quality of this software. You can either use the online version or the desktop version. I don’t like the idea of having my tax information stored in a website; which is why I prefer the desktop version.

You can get TurboTax from Amazon or directly from the provider.

If you are in a situation in which you do owe money to the government because you failed to file a prior tax return, then you should consider getting some legal tax advice in order to sort this out with the CRA.

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The cheapest roaming rates for Cuba

The lowest roaming rate for Cuba is the one offered by Digicel. Actually, as far as I can tell this is the only provider allowing you to access data at 3G speeds from your cellphone within the Caribbean island.

Locals can access WIFI hotspots using a service called Nauta; but unless you are a local (or friend with one) this service won’t be accessible to you.

For travelers or tourists the only way I am aware of is the Digicel Cuba Roaming SIM Card. According to Digicel, the card will allow you to access the Internet in all the provinces of Cuba; but you should take this with a grain of salt.

Here’s why? I bought the card myself and I used it with decent quality in Havana City, but when I headed to my home town, San Antonio de los BaƱos, in the province of Artemisa, the connection was choppy making it almost unusable at times.  What I gathered from this experience is that the card works well in some places; but not so much in others.

You might also want to restrict which applications in your cellphone have access to the data. The data available through this card burns fast and you might find yourself with no connection pretty fast. I only used the SIM card for email and reading the occasional Google News; which is why I only enabled the email client and browser to have access to the data.

Finally, you ought to verify that this card is compatible with your phone. To that purpose you simply need to verify that your cellphone is unlocked and SIM compatible.

If you plan on going often to Cuba and using this card, you might also consider buying an unlocked dual SIM card phone; so that you can insert the Digicel SIM card and your own mobile provider card at the same time. No switching of SIM cards required.

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