I am Bear Grylls

Dedicated readers remember my lack of success while fishing. I am glad to say that after 7 months and dozens of trips, I was able to finally catch my first fish!

Me and my first fish!

For my friend’s birthday we decided to spend the day on the lake. Loch Lomond located in Felton, CA is a great place for anyone who wants to fish, hike or have a day in nature with the family. If you have a driver’s license, boat rental is $15/hr. With that you get a flat bottom boat big enough for 8, oars, and an electric trolling motor that’ll last all day.

This was actually my second time on the lake, with no success the first time I attended. We arrived at 9am and left at 3:30pm. Interestingly enough, all the fish our group caught was caught within the first 2 hours of our arrival. Seems like fish are morning people!

Loch Lomond

The successful technique was to troll along the shoreline, with Kastmasters dragging about 100ft behind the boat. Going slowly, we could feel the nibbles and when we felt something bite, quickly set the hook. This is how I got my very first fish, a Bluegill!

I’d say that although it was nice, I realized that catching a fish was never a requirement for me to have fun fishing, being in nature with the peace and quiet is a form of passive meditation that I enjoy. Hopefully now that I’ve broken the seal, I’ll be catching more!

Until next time,

Jerame

DIY RC Truck Bed liner

Dedicated fans remember that I am a proud owner of an Axial SCX24 Chevrolet C10, a 1/24 scale RC Crawler. Recently I wanted to add more scale realism so I have decided to paint my truck bed.

In real trucks, the bed of the trucks are protected to prevent the metal underneath from wearing out prematurely or creating rust. Bed liners are a convenient solution that protect the bed and make it easy to clean. Most trucks are equipped with plastic bed liners but some are equipped with nicer spray-on bed liner that is both more rugged and better looking.

Plastic Drop-In bed liner
Spray On bed liner

I decided that my little truck could do with some spray on liner.

Below is the equipment that I used for this DIY

  • Black Plasti Dip
  • White Plasti Dip
  • Glossifier Plasti Dip (Optional)
  • Plastic Bags
  • Blue Painters Tape
  • Razorblade/Exacto Knife

1. Remove and Clean Body

Remove the body from the truck and clean with warm soapy water. Then wipe the painting surface with rubbing alcohol to remove any residue.

2. Mask off Painting Surface

Using the blue tape create a sharp edge around the bed of the truck. After the first layer of tape has been placed, mask off the rest of the body with the plastic bags.

Masked off body

Sidebar: How to Paint with Plasti Dip

Plasti Dip is a spray on rubber/plastic whose application is similar to spray paint. The main benefit is that the rubber layer can be peeled off as long as the coat has been applied thick enough.

  • Shake can thoroughly
  • Have a test surface ready and spray it one time before painting to remove debris from nozzle
  • Point can 8-10in away from the painting surface
  • Start spraying off of the surface, steadily move your arm across and stop spraying off the surface.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes in between coats

3. Tack Coat

The first layer is the Tack-layer and is the layer that the rest of the paint will stick to. Use the black Plasti Dip, spray as instructed above. Make sure this coat is nice and thin, while covering all of the painting surface. Aim for about 30% coverage

4. Remaining Layers

Spray layer by layer with your desired color. Alternating between white and black gives the bed liner a brighter overall color.

White and Black layers

5. Add Texture (Optional)

To add more texture to the surface, add a single heavy coat and sprinkle some fine dust onto the wet Plasti Dip. This will give the surface a texture. Seal the dust in by adding regular coats.

6. Finish the coat

Once the Plasti Dip is thick enough to not scrape with a fingernail the paint job is done. Optionally add Glossifier to give it a shiny texture.

7. Remove Tape

Use an Exacto Knife to cut between the body line and the tape line. This will allow the tape to come off without peeling the Plasti Dip off.

Masking tape being peeled off

Final Results

If you followed all the steps yours should come out looking nice and scale. The rubber will stick and be a great protective surface while also being peelable when you get tired of the look!

In the Grass!

Hopefully yours will turn out great. Let me know how it works!

I am not Bear Grylls

I have concluded that if I were to live off the land and fish for my food, I would probably starve within a couple weeks. Since this break I have gone fishing an additional 3 more times. Overall, I would say that I have spent over 40 hours fishing, and I have only caught what is called “bait fish”. This essentially means I haven’t caught anything to eat or even to display, only stuff that is usable as bait ot catch real fish.

Thankfully I don’t have to fish for my food because my friends can catch fish!

My Friend with a small Surf Perch

On January 2nd we took a whole day trip to fish the Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz area. The trip was a success with 5 fish being caught, four of the surf perch (all larger than the ones pictured above) and one smelt. Although there was 4 of us in total, only one of us caught all of that fish, despite us all having the same gear and fishing in the same spots.

Regardless we were able to participate in a catch n cook. We were able to clean and gut the fish, cook them in butter and eat them, right on the beachside. This process is also completely legal as long as the participants catching the fish are all properly licensed.

I am slightly disappointed that I haven’t caught anything of real size yet but that doesn’t deter me from fishing. I know that with time I will be able to catch something and at this point, I am assuming it will be large since I haven’t caught anything so far.

Finally, I leave with a photo of my Dad fishing in the same spot we were at for 4 hours. In the fishing community its rude to tell people where you fish and is known as “burning as pot” but if you can recognize this beach (in Santa Cruz County), it is ripe for surf perch on the rightmost side.

My Dad and a beautiful coastline

My SCX24

A silent hobby that I pursue is RC Cars, specifically RC Crawlers. Very few of my friends know I have this hobby and I participate in it solo. Although it seems childish its another outlet for me to tinker with my hands while simultaneously being able to play with a car (albeit a mini version) .

For reference a RC Crawler is a scaled-down version of an off-road rock crawling car. In the real world rock crawlers move very slowly and are equipped to have high-travel suspension and navigate over rocky, boulder filled terrain. Their specialty is having high amounts of torque and with the long travel suspension, they’re equipped to make it over boulders and up the sides of mountains. See here for an example.

Because I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars of disposable income nor do I have the time to trailer a rock-crawler to a legal crawling spot, I do this on a much smaller scale, 1/24th scale specifically.

Chevrolet C10 At the Beach

Just like any other hobbyist I’ve spent more money in this than I’d like to admit but here’s a list of what parts I have installed on my mini-truck.

  • Axial SCX24 Chevrolet C10 Mini-Crawler
  • RC4WD Stamped Steel Wheels (Looks nicer and allows installation of aftermarket wheels)
  • RC4WD Falken Wildpeak Tires (For more grip)
  • Front and Rear Brass Differential Covers (Lowers the center of gravity)
  • Magnet Body Mount (Replacing pins)
  • Emax MA2 Steering Servo (Increases steering accuracy and strength)
  • Hot Racing Aluminum Steering Links (Removes possible flex from steering system)
  • PNRacing 90T Ball Bearing 130 Motor
  • PNRacing 41T Alloy Spur Gear with Delrin Pinion
  • PNRacing Motor Mount

Overall this truck performs much better than its stock counterparts and most importantly it is suited to my tastes. For anyone who is looking to work with their hands and have a taste of what off-roading is like, take a look at RC Crawlers!

Mini-Truck vs Mighty Mountain

How to create a basic EC2 instance

In this post I’ll outline how to create a basic EC2 instance. This instance will host a webpage with some extremely simple HTML. This tutorial is made under the assumption that you have an AWS account up and running already.

Additionally, we will be using the free tier to allow anyone to follow this tutorial.

Lets get started!

Setup

Use the search bar to find the EC2 dashboard.

At this point you will see a dashboard with all available instances. There should be none.

Start by clicking the button in the top right “Launch Instance”


Step 1

Here we will choose the template (operating system) that the instance runs off of. We will be using Amazon’s flavor of Linux.

Step 2

Here we will choose an instance type. You can prioritize your instance based on memory, storage or capacity. In this case we will use the free tier eligible “T2.micro”. This is not prioritized towards anything but it is a decent all around type. Most importantly it is free.

Step 3

Here we can do the real customization of the instance. In this case ignore everything and scroll to the very bottom where you can add this basic code.

#!/bin/bash
# Use this for your user data (script from top to bottom)
# install httpd (Linux 2 version)
yum update -y
yum install -y httpd
systemctl start httpd
systemctl enable httpd
echo "<h1> Hello world <h1>" > /var/www/html/index.html

This code just sets up your environment and starts an HTTP server instance. It will display html code. Feel free to modify the text in between the h1 tags.

Step 4

Here you can specify storage types and sizes. Leaving the defaults is the best. Here you can rack up unknown costs quickly by trying to get more storage than you need.

Step 5

Add tags to identify your instsance here. In our case we will give it a “name” attribute with the value of whatever you want to name the instance.

Step 6

Here we will add a security group to specify what kind of incoming or outgoing traffic the instance will accept.

In this example, add a new Rule and select the type of “HTTP”. The rest of the information will fill in and in this case we will be allowing anybody to view the website.

Step 7

Here we review our instance and if you did everything I said above, your instance should be setup correctly. Make sure you have your key-pair that was created at the initialization of your AWS account and then continue.


Congrats! You just deployed your first EC2 instance. After a couple minutes it should completely be deployed and you can use the provided Public IP address to access the website!


Now that you’ve deployed your first EC2 instance you may now put it in your resume. If you have any issues with this, don’t be afraid to contact me and I can help with some basic setup instructions. Happy Backend Bashing!

Hiccups

This week was kinda weird in terms of everything. I didn’t realize November had even started until the 3rd and I think that’s mostly cause this year we didn’t have any trick-or-treaters. When I was younger the neighborhood used to be filled with them, but over the last 10 years as house prices have reached an unreachable high for no good reason, young families just can’t move in. Over the last few years we’ve seen fewer and fewer kids until this year where not a single one came.

I was extremely disappointed because I usually do all the decorating for my house as Halloween is my favorite holiday. Additionally we’ve always given out full sized candy bars but now I’m stuck with a box of candy that I would’ve much rather given away!


This week our capstone team meeting on Monday was a little weird because apparently Europe and North America do Daylight Savings on different weeks. While we all had agreed on our usual meeting time, our Denmark group partner was actually still in class! This wasn’t a issue but just something weird to note.

We have divided up our project and have all had access to the separate portions and are starting development. I’m excited as In my free time I’m slowly learning more and more AWS.


My favorite food is pizza so for the first time this week I made some of my own and it turned out horrible! When making pizza dough you have to add yeast to make it rise, which I did. I used a bag of yeast that was already opened and we had clipped and put into a Ziploc bag. Turns out this yeast had DIED. My pizza was flat and more like unleavened bread than anything resembling dough. Here’s a photo of my abomination.

Figure 1: A pizza that looks good but really isn’t

Working on it

Got my hands on AWS this week. Using my own AWS account, I was able to learn and experiment on the free tier without needing to ask for the extra permissions from our sponsor.

I was able to create multiple IAM roles which entails creating roles and permissions for any users who need to access certain services. IAM roles are unique to each service and can allow many users who have the same security level to access or not access services being used by others.

Secondly, I was able to learn Docker, create images and containers to run simple scripts. In essence Docker is a very lightweight VM that doesn’t need an OS like a traditional VM would need. Docker allows the user to run specific applications in certain containers with no overhead, the benefit being it defines an environment that allows anyone to run it from their own machine. We will end up using Docker to upload images into containers and then those containers into the AWS service ECR.

Third, I learned how to upload that Docker image into an ECR and then used the image in the ECR to create in EC2 instance. ECR is a registry for holding images on AWS while EC2 is an AWS cloud computing platform. In EC2 you get access to a terminal and a complete VM to run whatever you want with certain limits on processing power and memory usage. It allows you to run things somewhere else under AWS’s dime.

Fourth, I was able to manage multiple EC2 instances under a single ECS cluster. An ECS cluster allows for Load Balancing and Auto Scaling which would automatically change the source server for the instance, allowing for redundancy. Basically if the Amazon-west-1 server goes down, it will automatically shift our traffic to Amazon-west-2, or another server, so that our application can always be on and have backups. This also allows for constant uptime while testing new versions of the website in production. You would have an old version running, then use the load-balancer to work on the new version then immediately switch it on with no downtime.

All of this was done entirely on the Free Tier and that is what we will be using for this project.

Although it seems like I’ve done a lot I really haven’t, and there are many many services that AWS provides that I don’t know what they do.

Figure 1:
Favorited are services I have used and somewhat know what they do.

Not favorited are services that I don’t know how to use yet and as you can see there are many many

Good progress!

This week we were given a bit more structure on our project from our sponsor. I initially thought that we would have to craft the high level architecture and outline ourselves, but our sponsor gave us a bit more structure and specific deliverables based on feedback from the other group.

Figure 1:
A basic outline of the separate portions of the ETL pipeline

Along with this outline, our sponsor also setup a Github organization along with relevant sections. We have been added to each section and in our next meeting we will be able to assign ourselves to different parts of the project so we can get going.

Although it seems that a large amount of work was done, this is just a clarification and gives us the same amount of autonomy in which direction the project is going.

This week I was also able to start playing with AWS. Our role permissions prohibit us from actually being able to do anything currently so I opened up my own account to start testing. As was mentioned by our sponsor, it is really easy to rack up costs unknowingly, so I understand the hesitation for full access. I set up my own account and ran one single Lambda function and for the next coming weeks I will be playing around with AWS, smashing my head against it to learn whatever I can.

Looking forward the project looks good and we’re finally getting going. Our sponsor is very helpful in teaching us and wants us to develop skills for the real world and real working market. All of this is new to me since I’ve never had a job or internship in the industry, and I’m grateful that someone is taking time out of his day to help us become better developers!

Starting Point

So far this week we have been able to flesh out our project and start our lines of communication with each other. Our sponsor is from HP and is interested in us learning and using AWS for our project. Our general project idea is centered around this diagram provided to us by our sponsor.

Figure 1:
This Figure shows a basic data pipeline and some features we want to implement.

The overall project plan includes creating a program that can serialize and standardize data from two separate open source data sources and combine them together to create a data set that can show possible relations between the two sets.

This program was initially my idea and my group members and sponsor liked it so we have decided to use it for our project idea moving forward. My initial thought process was trying to make a project that harnesses AWS by using two existing open source data sources.

I came up with a bunch of ideas including all of these.

After the last idea I realized that I was trying to relate any data with each other to find a correlation. Although any of these would’ve been a fine final project, I wanted something both scalable and difficult. I decided to take a step back and abstract the idea. By generalizing it to relate any set of data to any other set, I finally had a problem that I felt we could tackle over a 9 month period.


Currently our project is within a scope that we can finish. Ideally I want to be able to store and reference each open source data source at all times instantly. This step of the project is something that will happen outside of schoolwork and will be a challenge that we face individually.

My end goal with this project is to be able to give any layperson the ability to look through sets of data and see if there’s some kind of relation, then use that curious personality to look deeper. Ever wonder if local elevation has any relation on mental health? Even 10 years ago before any large studies were done I had my suspicions, but I had no way to check. Now we know that suicide rates increase at the same level that elevation increases.

Hopefully this project will be a cornerstone of my portfolio and a great start into the world of backend development.

Let’s Go!

Finally got assigned to a project and I couldn’t be more excited. Along with my other group members we will be working on the project titled “Data; Data; Data: Extraction; Transformation; and Load in the Cloud”. Currently I have no background in neither cloud technology nor the ETL Pipeline. But I’m excited to get going.

The knowledge I have of AWS is light. But with 1/3 of the internet running on AWS, there is no way that you don’t interact with it on a daily basis.

So far the only technical hiccup that I’ve encountered is the difference in time zones between our team and one of our members. The time difference is 9 hours which makes it difficult to meet up. Currently as we’re setting up our communication channels it is extra difficult because even though I have set up a Discord server and sent invites, our other partner won’t be able to see it and open a line of instant communication until tomorrow.

Hopefully once we get rolling the communication channels will be more thorough.


In personal project updates I was able to throw a patch on top of an existing patch in my tire.

For backstory I’ve had this bike for about 5 months now and within the 3rd week of riding it I slashed the sidewall on a booby trap set by the rail road. The slash was large enough that bike shops didn’t feel comfortable repairing it but I wasn’t about to be out of a $130 tire after only a handful of rides.

I patched it up myself and it held for about 2 more months before it tore again. This weekend I placed another patch in the hole that was in the initial patch as shown below.

The white stuff you see pooled inside the tire is a tire sealant, meant to clot any small punctures in the tire, but as seen in the above photo this is no small puncture. Pictured inside the orange rectangle is an orange and black circle, which is the new patch on top of the old patch.


Hopefully next week there will be more progress and information on our project and this blog can really get going!