Goodreads – 2019

I’ve been using Goodreads for several years to track my reading. It’s been interesting to see what a few of my friends are reading, and more generally what people as a whole think of the books that I’ve been reading. The other thing that appeals to me as I’ve switched heavily into reading ebooks, is that it gives me a sense of ‘collecting a shelf of books’ – without the actual books. I’ve also become a big user of the local library (and it’s lending of ebooks).

In 2019 I read 50 books, this is actually fairly typical for me, but I don’t always manage 50 a year. This is why I set my goal to 35, a number I’m certain to get to (in 2017 I only read 37). Breaking the goal gives me that sense of over-achieving and avoids me stressing at the end of the year.

You can also visit my Goodreads profile.

My reading is almost exclusively science fiction or fantasy.  It appears that the reading challenge shows the titles in reverse order, as the 1st book I read last year was The Martian (I was re-reading it actually). I’d recommend the book, and the movie, both are very MacGyver.

The Cosmic Trilogy was a physical book that I dragged through at the cottage over several visits. It was terrible, I should have just stopped reading it, but I finally finished it. Do not read this book! Certainly the worst book I read in 2019.

I will call out a few great reads. Atemis by Andy Weir. The Legend series by Marie Wu (another re-read). I really enjoyed the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, very steam punk.

I’m already into my 2nd book of 2020, and I’ve got some great titles waiting for me to get to. It should be a good reading year.

First sale on eBay

It is not uncommon to have purchased something from eBay, I’ve had an account for several years and tend to buy something every couple of months.  Most of the items I buy on eBay are low cost and generally hard to find locally.  I’d often thought about selling stuff on eBay but just never got started.. until now.

What started this off was a sweep through some of the gadgets and whatnot that we’ve got cluttering up our home office.  This stuff has to go, and if it has value let’s sell it – otherwise its time to eCycle it.  I initially thought I’d start by selling some N64 games, but the game values (<$5) far outweigh the shipping costs.  So I figured I’d move onto the iPod that was no longer being loved ever since the iTouch arrived.

I used eBay to research what the going price was for an iPod in the condition mine was, and priced it on the lower end as a starting point.  I set a $10 USD flat rate for shipping since if I shipped to California it would be around $8 shipping + $2 for the bubble mailer.  Had someone in Vancouver bought it, I would have lost money on the flat rate shipping (about $4)!  Shipping is the first real hurdle you need to get over as a seller, and I think it is worse for Canadians (both as sellers, and buyers).

Lucky me, as a first time seller my first 5 listings are fee free!  Cool.  Of course, it took nearly 24hrs for my item to appear in any search results (trust me I tried).  No worries, it was a 7 day listing so lots of time for people to find it and bid.

Days passed.  I watched several broken iPod’s get more bidding activity and a higher price than my item.  I could see from the eBay dashboard that after 6 days, only 5 page views of my item had happened (2 which were mine!).  Then on the 6th day, the watchers arrived – 8 watchers tracking my item – there is hope.  The number of views rapidly climbed.

With less than 6 hours to go in the auction the bidding started.  My $30USD start price, jumped up rapidly.  17 bids later it sold for $76USD + $10USD shipping, the winning bid was made in the last minute of the auction from a bidder with no previous bids on my item.

After that it was smooth sailing.  Payment was via PayPal (who take a small percentage).  A quick trip to the post office and the iPod is on its way to the winner.  It has been an interesting experience, one I plan to repeat.


Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I decided to sign up with twitter.  Aside from Linked-In, I’ve avoided mostly all of the social networking sites (fads?) thus far.  Who knows, maybe I’ll break down and get a Facebook page soon.

Living in North America, and (oh my, I”m actually going to say it..) especially people of my generation don’t tend to use text messages (SMS).  There are a few friends at work and I who do text each other, but I generally use less than a handful a month.   I’d like to change that, and I think twitter may be the catalyst.

There are lots of way to use twitter, but at the moment I see it as a way to get that hallway conversation feeling across the wire.  I’ll likely use it to give mood updates, vent my frustrations and as a place to put my half baked thoughts that I don’t feel are worth a blog posting.  You might laugh, but I tend to spend about an hour or more on each of these blog entries – I’ll probably spend about 30seconds thinking about a tweet.

While a large part of my waking day I’m in front of a computer, there are times when all I have with me is my phone – a Nokia 5310.  Sure I have internet on my phone, but without a data plan it gets expensive fast ($13 for 460kb last month).  SMS is a natural fit for twitter’s short updates, too bad the Canadian cell providers aren’t twitter friendly. [edit: see comment below, seems that Canadians can twitter vis SMS as of very recently.  This makes my plan in the next paragraph basically just a neat idea, I’ll likely not do it.]

My plan is to build my own SMS gateway to twitter.  I can use SMS to send an email and there is a way to send a text message via the web to my phone, so I’ve got a two way conduit.  Now I just need a daemon to sit on my server and respond to events.. more on this once I figure out exactly what I’ll do.

Of course, twitter is a lonely place with no friends.  It turns out many of my friends are already out there on twitter (ok, so I’m a late adopter).  What did surprise me was that I started to follow some friends, and then suddenly I had followers!?  Well it turns out [obvious] that by default you get email when someone friends you, so two way connections shouldn’t be a surprise.  What was a little odd was that a few friends found me without me friending them, within hours.  Neat, I feel popular.

Now in terms of a client – there is always the web, but I wanted to play around with some of the twitter specific apps.  On Windows I installed Twitterlicious which has some quirks, but seems to do the job – I may later try twhirl.  On Ubuntu I’ve tried and failed so far to use gTwitter but will persist.  The neatest client I’ve tried so far is DSTwitter, turning my Nintendo DS into a twitter client.

So how do you use twitter?