Making and Catching Up

Yesterday I spent three hours cleaning up and organizing in the garage. A lot of the worked centered around putting away all of the spare aquarium supplies and equipment back into their proper places on the shelves. Then, I took the time to finally break down a ton of cardboard boxes and put them into the recycling bin in preparation for next Monday. Because of COVID challenges, Hillsborough county has moved our recycling pickup to every other week for now. That means all cans and plastic containers need to be smashed down flat and all cardboard needs to be cut up to smaller pieces so we get efficient, compact usage of the bin. Anyway, I also put away and re-organized several tools and finally did a big cleanup of the workbench area.

One of the little organization things I’ve been wanting to do is to get my drill bits into a “first order of retrieval” state. This required getting them out of their store-bought, pocket sized holders and into something that could be mounted on the pegboard over the workbench. Last year I found these holders on Thingiverse and printed out the 1/16 thru 3/16 and 13/64 thru 1/4 blocks. However, I had some other odd sized bits and a plumb-bob I wanted to also fit into the this format. Yesterday I finally created those two blocks, printed them, and got them into the garage, completing that project.

A screenshot of one of the drill bit blocks in Tinkercad.

Sunday I went to Lowe’s and picked up all of the materials for the front yard flower box. I’ll begin working on that soon.

I received HackerBox 0057: Safe Mode. I’m still organizing how I want to tackle all of these outstanding kits. I have boxes 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 54, 55, 56 as well that all need to be completed. I also bought an ESP8266-based weather station kit last year and am including this in the pile of kits to build. This one might be the first, actually.

The Invisible Man (2020) and Scoob! went into the library this week.

And finally, an inexpensive book stand arrived last Wednesday and I started reading some aviation magazines I’m behind on.

Weekend Loose Ends, Scheduling

I added Marriage Story to the library today and fixed the cover art to Jojo Rabbit.

We completed assembling and populating the new fish tank and I was able to put the surrogate 10 gallon tank and all the supporting tools back into the garage to dry out over the next few days until I can properly put them back on the shelves.

I went through the hard drives of my old PC and cleared off all of the data I might need and put it on my new machine.

I have a lot of projects I want to complete and have decided to start properly planning them out and putting them on a schedule. This basically means that I’m going to take all of my non-day-job time and divide it up and organize it so I can start to get things completed. Once I figure this out, I may post a calendar on the site here.

I’ve also been thinking alot about how much content I’m consuming and whether or not I want to slow that down. I’ve unsubscribed from several YouTube channels and have brought my weekly viewing down from about (on average) 7h 17m to about 4h 00m. I need to do the same with podcasts as well and trim all of the fat.

New PC

I’ve finally had time to build out my new PC, and I’m writing this from it. It’s really nice to have such a fast machine. I think I’ll end up being a lot more productive in the long run. Most of my day-to-day software has been installed. Dev tools, 3D printing software, and games are still pending (well, I did install Minecraft and tested it – wow!).

A nice side-effect of building the new computer is that I’ve been able to clean up the office a lot. All of the boxes are now gone and my desk is no longer an assembly area anymore.

We’re on day 3 of the Monte Carlo seeds in the aquarium. Still no visible germination.

I ordered some Dewalt folding workbenches to augment the workspace in the garage. I think these will help m a lot with some upcoming projects.

Speaking of garage, I’m going to go in there now to do some cleanup while Visual Studio 2019 installs.

Balancing Projects

The replacement motherboard for my new computer arrived yesterday. I haven’t unboxed it yet as I need to perform some initial setup tasks on the aquarium.

I plan to begin growing a bed of Micranthemum Tweediei (more commonly known as Monte Carlo) in the tank, which requires no standing water and a greenhouse effect to be in place for about a week. Once that takes root (pardon the pun), then I’ll add water and relocate the fish from the 10 gallon tank. While the Monte Carlo grows, I can focus on building the new computer.

Bucket o’ Updates

I really need to get back on board with blogging. It’s been so long…

I’ve re-enabled my subscription to HakerBoxes. So far, I’ve received boxes 54 (Smart Home), 55 (High Roller), and 56 (Demon Seed). I’ve created some project pages on my internal wiki, but have made no progress toward assembling the kits.

I have a large box of unpainted D&D minis sitting here next to me that were originally intended for a campaign I created for a bunch of friends. Of course, this was all before the COVID-19 craziness. We haven’t played yet, but I do want to start chipping away at painting all of these. Eventually we will use them.

About a month ago my main PC crapped out. I decided to do something I’ve never done before; spec out a high-end machine and order all new parts. I did such, and got all of the components from NewEgg, however the motherboard arrived with damage. I got a return RMA but, because of COVID-19, the RMA took a long time. I should be getting the new motherboard this Monday.

The main 37-gallon fish tank needed a thorough cleaning, so Cari and I took it into the garage and emptied it last week. I’ll be spending a good chunk of time today cleaning everything. I suspect that the tank will be back in place this weekend. Currently, the fish are is a surrogate 10-gallon tank.

Still working on the DeLorean model monthly. I received a special-order package of several mods for the kit. More to come on this.

Movies added to the library this week:


I recently lost all the fish in my 37 gallon tank and it lay dormant for a couple of months. Then, after being tired of seeing all that equipment sit unused, I spent some money and rebuilt the aquascape entirely, using sand instead of small gravel. And by adding a large piece of real driftwood, smooth stones, and large sandstone pieces as structures instead of a fake coral “hotel” for the fish, there has been a new sense of quality. Lastly, I added new plants to keep everything fresh and add some color.

For about a month I only had a black and a white snail keeping everything clean while I tried to figure out my strategy of buying fish. After a little toil, I decided to buy a brand new 10 gallon tank as a “staging” area for all new fish. Here’s the logic: Five to seven fish at a time will be put into the 10g, and I will gradually adapt the 10g over three weeks’ time to the same pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels as the 37g. Then, once the 10g has leveled out and is stable (and is fully cycled), I will transfer the fish from the 10g to the 37g. Making changes to the smaller tank is much easier and faster in acclimating the fish to my environment. It also adds the additional bonus of being a quarantine tank incase the new inhabitants have any illness.

So, about four and a half weeks ago I bought the new 10g with all the bells and whistles, and got it running, water balanced, etc. One week later, I bought five Neon Tetras, the first of the new fish destined for the 37g. After a couple of days, I lost one of the Neons to Ich. This past Sunday, three weeks after putting them in the 10g, I transferred the remaining four Neons into the 37g and they have been very happy in their new home. And today, I bought seven more Neons and put them in the 10g. In three weeks, if everything goes well, they’ll make it into the big tank too, joining their brothers.

Life, Work, and Fun

So, a lot has been going on lately. I’ve been working a decent amount (yeah, big surprise there), but I’ve also been getting organized in a lot of ways on the personal front too.

We went through a new logo redesign for Suncoast Studios a few months ago and recently we’ve printed up new business cards as a result. The next step is to do a website redesign, which is (kinda) underway right now. Actually, I’m building a development server, which is a first for SCS. Normally I make changes to the live server, but since this is going to be an entire redesign, I didn’t want to potentially mess up the live box. The dev environment should be complete this week, and the goal is to have the new site live by November 1.

I’ve also been making headway on app development. I’ve recently signed up to be an iOS/OSX developer, and have managed to get a new Mac Mini (i5/2GB RAM/500GB HD) to write XCode on. I’ve created a little app for the iPhone to play around with, and will eventually be working on a real project.

And speaking of projects, I’ve been working on a new lighting system for the fish tank. Arnold and I have been brainstorming on a new LED lighting system that incorporates fiber optics, as well as a micro-controller that contains a web server that allows you to configure the lights. More on this to come.

Oh, and speaking of fish tanks… It’s currently empty. I had a system mishap a few weeks ago where I woke up one morning to find all the fish dead. The water temperature was 110 degrees, and come to find out the heater shorted out and the thermostat never turned off all night. All the fishies died. 🙁 So, I have some work to do to the tank now, including getting new pets.

And lastly, I’ve decided to get healthy. For the next two months, I’m going to be on a juice fast to lose weight, reboot my metabolism, and get a huge amount of energy.


Well, I lost the red-tailed shark last night. Two nights ago he decided to find his way into the inside of the fake white rock. I thought he might just be exploring or hiding for some reason, but I think he got stuck in there. I finally got concerned last night and got him out, but he was looking rough. His tail fin was really shabby – about half the length it used to be, his color was washed out, and there was a large white rash on his side. I tried to feel him, and noticed he had trouble swimming, and would rest on the gravel a lot which he never did before. Around midnight, I noticed he wasn’t moving any more, so he got the Royal Flush treatment.

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Guess I need to find a way to plug up that big opening in that rock so no one else gets stuck.

The Move-In

I re-tested and the tank is now at a good 7.0 pH, so I decided to move everyone in. All 33 inhabitants are now testing out the new crib. The current roster is:

  • (1) Snail (*Unknown species)
  • (2) Dalmation Molly
  • (1) Lg White Molly
  • (2) Sm White Molly
  • (5) Neon Tetra
  • (1) Lemon Tetra
  • (2) Lg Plecostomus
  • (5) Cory Catfish
  • (1) Lg Red-Tailed Shark
  • (5) Serpae Tetra
  • (7) Orange Tiger Barb
  • (1) Indigo Betta

I also planted the 2 Sword plants and the 5 Money Wort plants.