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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