Review: 2017

...and we got us a new puppy.

It’s Christmas. 2017 is almost history, and what a busy year it’s been!

I quit an unsatisfying job and took a minor sabbatical. A lot of old stuff was deleted, sold, thrown out, or upgraded. December’s me is certainly not the same as the one in January. On a personal level, 2017 was the most exciting year in a long time. This is great.

It started off with 49 people getting shot by a terrorist in a Turkish nightclub on New Year’s Eve. Also in 2017, a truck bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia killed at least 512 people. A bombing attack in Manchester, England killed 22 people and injured over 100 as they left an Ariana Grande concert. Three islamists ploughed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, then ran around stabbing random others with kitchen knives. Eight people died; the perpetrators were shot dead on the spot by police within minutes. This is good.

Crashing cars and trucks into crowds of people or buildings seems to have become the new vehicle for expressing public dissatisfaction, many of the acts written off as “terrorism” (Barcelona, Charlottesville, London, Manchester, Melbourne, New York, Stockholm).

Refugees have taken to knifing random civilians across Europe. This is not good.

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My mother? Let me tell you about my mother…

Why is that, Leon?

2017 is a year filled with anniversaries.

2017 happens to be the “incept date” of Leon Kowalski, the above replicant in the original Blade Runner movie from 1982. This year is also the one where fans would finally be treated to the unnecessary sequel, Blade Runner 2049.

Furthermore, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing.

It was 35 years ago that she took me along to see Blade Runner. She had a knack for horror and science fiction, and through means which remain unexplained by conventional scientific methods my mother passed it on. My mother was cool.

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Windows Phone is dead

Nokia Lumia 930 (green)

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone.

The iPhone would go on to revolutionise mobile communications in ways few could have foreseen – yet these mobiles have since become commonplace to all and sundry. The first commercial Android device was released a year later; today Android has the largest installed base of any operating system in the world.

In 2010 Microsoft also heeded the call with the ill-fated Windows Phone 7 (based on Windows CE). “Too little, too late”, one might say, nor was there an upgrade path to 2014’s superior Windows 8/8.1 generation (now based on Windows NT).

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reBuy, revisited

CD player (Bruno Glätsch via Pixabay)

A few days ago I found more stuff to get rid of. I returned to reBuy.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I checked the status of a random item I had sent in the last time. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this CD-single appears to be quite “in demand” today.

Remember that this was some random, hitherto unknown Swedish dance-pop act (based in Germany) who released two instantly forgettable tunes. It’s safe to assume that the group was dissolved before their announced debut album made it to market. According to Discogs and some casual research, it was finally put out — by a Russian label a year later.

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Statistics, analytics and trends

On February 1st, 2017 my first website finally went 404.

Its host,, shut down. The site hadn’t been maintained since 2008 in any case.

It was a personal and interesting learning exercise (archived) although, in the grand scheme of things, an insignificant little site. Nonetheless, in its 15 years online the site allowed me to observe a shift in online users’ behaviour and trends.

Thanks to StatCounter, I could see that visitors came from many places, both in linkage and geography. They arrived using the browsers of the day; at first it was IE that ruled the roost, then Firefox took the lead in certain territories. Konqueror, Brave, Opera or Safari (let alone mobile browsers) barely registered on the scale. Spiders have always made up a small percentage of hits. SERPs were the main draw before the dawn of social media.

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Career Crossroads

Time to emerge from the shadows of obscurity

I am currently finding myself at career crossroads.

I quit my job.

There, I said it! I finally got it off my chest.

I was brought up to think that a person who finds himself at this station is considered a loser. I grew up in a society which dictated that you finish school, find a job, then climb the corporate ladder and rise to the ranks of a supervisor or a manager — or whatever it was that you’re supposed to shoot for.

This is how “success” is measured, they said.

Well, I’ve actually done that. I was even called a “high flyer”.

But I shrugged off the accolades, emigrated and started at a lower end of the food chain elsewhere. Even after the dot-com bubble burst I jumped back on the hamster wheel and laboured on; at no point did I doubt that the telecommunications/IT industry was anything but the most exciting sector to be in.

Yet here I am, suddenly finding myself at an intersection.

Is this where I wanted to be when I grow up? How did I get here?

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It’s all on video

Nick Berg's final moments alive

I’ve recently been clearing out a bunch of old files. Many were video clips.

There were movie trailers, accidents, parodies, interviews, news events, “banned adverts”, risqué music videos, and a lot of other deviant material you wouldn’t show your mother. Most were collected around the turn of the millennium and kept for reference, you know… as evidence and for “historic reasons” should we forget that these incidents ever happened or in case nobody else believed that they did — because this was before everyone and their grandmother were online.

Back then there was no streaming. There was no such thing as YouTube.

To see the clips, you’d have to download them and watch them off-line using QuickTime or the horrid RealPlayer; the majority had accumulated in the days before YouTube and Liveleak (both of which launched in 2005 only). Accordingly, the quality of the clips is appalling by today’s standards because bandwidth was also at a premium.

Those early sources included luminaries such as,,,,,, and a host of other pioneers of free expression and public mockery. They often broke “news” before the traditional networks did; one might even call them precursors to social media as we know it today. Indeed, many were so-called shock sites but the archives also include perfectly wholesome material featuring furry felines long before those became a mass market phenomenon (although the clips worth archiving had big cats doing the decidedly unfunny acts of snacking on humans).

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The first experience with reBuy

Logo (image via reBuy)

reBuy is a German web-based service that allows you to sell your unwanted media and electronic gadgetry.

They accept books, CDs, DVDs, tablets, phones, cameras, wearables, Apple devices, software and, as of recently, even brand watches. There is obviously some acceptance criteria (condition, presence of EAN/ISBN, market demand etc.); they won’t take just any old torn book or scratched CD because they, themselves, evaluate and re-sell the stuff for profit. It’s a business. There are many sites like it.

When reBuy first came to my attention some years ago, I pecked in a sequence of digits to see what some random junk was worth: I was dismayed to find that if it wasn’t worth peanuts, they didn’t accept it at all due to low demand, or they simply couldn’t find my exotic CDs in their database to begin with. And if a product or book has no EAN or ISBN, then fuhgeddaboudit! Shelve the idea for now.

A few weeks ago some unwanted stuff emerged during spring cleaning. I again entered a sequence of digits and found that certain items were indeed worth more than just a few cents. One specific two-disc mini-series DVD, for instance, is always highly in demand – usually hovering around the 4€ mark. Other items were worth as little as 15 cents! The trick here is to exceed a total sales value above 10€ because only then reBuy foots the postage bill — which spares me the hassle of selling and posting near-worthless stuff as individual items and having to deal with end customers.

This could be an interesting little experiment. Even if the items were in good condition, I can suffer their loss if the deal goes sour. Let’s do this.

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