Replaced Fuel Filter on the Ford F-150

Since I got the truck back in business, I’ve been driving it regularly. Over the last two weeks I noticed the vehicle seemed to have a hard time getting fuel. I suspected an issue with the fuel supply but wasn’t 100% sure. Every now and then when I came to a stop the truck seemed like it wanted to stall. As I continued to drive, every now and then it seemed like it was not getting the fuel despite the fact I did not let up on the gas pedal.

I did some research on google and a lot of threads recommended changing the fuel filter. I did additional searches to get an idea of how to replace the filter and could not believe how easy it is to access and replace. The local repair shop quoted me about $75 to replace it. I bought the part at AutoZone for $9.74 which is a savings of $65.26 had I taken it to the shop.

After everything was all said and done the test drive was very smooth. There was no sense of stalling when I came to a stop and as I was driving I did not feel any hesitation. The best part is that the truck starts up right away and I no longer need to keep my foot on the gas pedal to keep it running to warm it up. All this time I thought it was just an issue with the engine being cold. You live and learn!

Working with Sketch3

First off let me start by saying that this is a very easy to use and affordable editor. I actually learned about Sketch3 (developed by Bohemiancoding.com) from attending courses by BitFountain.io. I signed up for a few iOS development courses and the Sketch3 design courses. I started dabbling with it to get familiar with the interface and ran into a snag.

I was able to correct it by deleting the affected portion of the image then I copied the left-top portion of the image, flipped it and put it in place of the deleted one. I sent a tweet to both @Bohemiancoding and @Khari to see if they could shed some light on what I did wrong. Hopefully it will be something silly and not an actual bug in the software.

I figured I did something wrong so I stepped through the entire process again and suspect I had a mishap when I joined some of the images together. Turns out I did and scaling is working as it should.

Replaced the alternator in my 1990 Ford F-150

1990 Ford F-150

I’ve had this 1990 Ford F-150 since April 2014 and I’ve known there was an issue with either the battery, alternator or there was a parasitic draw that would kill the battery within 18-24 hours. I haven’t had the time to really look into it until now. I’ve done some research to get a few ideas of what to check for. I had a hunch it was the alternator after I replaced the battery and the next morning it wouldn’t even crank.

The reason that sparked this adventure was that my 2007 Nissan Frontier wouldn’t start either. I figured since I needed to head over to Auto Zone, I better make good use of my time and kill two birds with one trip. I took both batteries over and they tested them both. The battery from my Nissan turned out to be bad but the Ford’s test results were positive, so I left the battery with them overnight to fully charge it.

The afternoon of (Super Bowl XLIX) I mustered up the energy to tackle the alternator. Mind you, I am no mechanic but I managed to remove the alternator with ease. Of course I took a lot of photos to document the connections, bolts, etc… to make sure things go back the way they were removed. I also documented the socket sizes to remove the guess-work for the next time I have to perform this task. The tension and bottom bolt for the alternator used a 5/8 socket and the top bolt for the alternator used a 9/16 socket. Then there was the 8 socket for the battery brace.

The entire process including the removal of the alternator, the trip to Auto Zone to pick up the battery (left overnight to charge), purchasing and installing the new alternator took less than an hour. It cost me a grand total of $95.29 just for the part. I got a quote from a few local auto shops and it would have cost me around $375 – $440. So I saved myself around $279 – $344. A little elbow grease, a little research mixed with willingness and a can-do attitude equals big savings.

20150201_224742095_iOS_edited

Saving for an emergency

6355836713_0fbe511113_o_lgCreative Commons Money on Money” by 401(k) 2012 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Emergencies happen when you least expect them so it’s better to plan ahead and tuck away money into an emergency fund to be better prepared. Like Dave Ramsey said, “Once you have your emergency fund in place you tend to stop having emergencies.” So the goal is to prepare and build up your emergency fund to accommodate at least three to six months worth of your expenses.

To help keep me aligned with my goals I opted for an online interest checking account. I considered an money market account (MMA) but those are limited to six withdrawals. I don’t expect to have more than six emergencies arise in the course of a month but this gives me peace of mind knowing that there is no limitation. In the event I do have more than six emergencies I know I won’t incur any penalties for additional withdrawals.

I setup two automatic drafts to pull a specified amount from my primary checking to my online checking account. I carefully scheduled the drafts around my the time I receive my direct deposits. At the end of the month once I have gone through the budget I manually transfer another said amount to my online checking account. The automatic drafts are more of “out of sight out of mind”. My employer doesn’t have the option to split my direct deposits into two transaction otherwise I would have opted for that route. I also have it setup that any bonuses will direct deposit to the online checking. The same goes for any tax returns.

I have the online account for two specific purposes. One obviously is for the emergency fund and two a short term savings. The savings is to tackle my $55K Sallie Mae note which I anticipate paying off by July of 2017. With the money I save from paying off my school note I’ll roll that into the contributions I make to my online checking account and build up the funds to pay off my mortgage which should be approximately three years later. The interest generated isn’t significant but some is better than nothing and every bit helps.

They key is to stay motivated so I have written down the emergency fund total on a dry erase board along with the date that in which it should be fully funded. This hangs near my bed so I see it every day. I drafted a spreadsheet with dates, savings contribution amounts, rolling totals and the target dates which is accessible on my smartphone. I use a lot of methods to help keep me focused and they serve as daily reminders of the bigger goals ahead of me.

Taxes have been filed

I’m one of those people who likes to address tax season as soon as I have all my ducks in a row. I don’t like to let it linger to far into February if I can help it but by the end of January is my primary target. Thank goodness that a lot of companies have switched to paperless delivery. This makes being organized that much better. Being on a first name basis with your tax accountant doesn’t hurt either. As soon as I had all the documents, receipts, spreadsheets, etc… I merely emailed them to Rita and by the end of the day on Friday all I needed to do was to show up and sign.

I switched up the way I deal with our withholding. Before, like many others, I would contribute the max which would later yield a sizable tax return without bearing interest. Being a bit more smart about money in general and knowing the power of compound interest I aim to break even at the end of the year. A small return is better than having to pay so I work with my account to make sure my tax goals are aligned before the end of the year. This makes more money available on a monthly basis which allows me to take advantage of interest benefits from other investments. I see it as some interest made is better than none at all.

Back with a new agenda

It has been a while. Many things have changed. Priorities, interest, life, focus. I was so caught up in the technical field that I let a lot of other interesting and rather important topics slide by. I’ve since undergone a rebalance and decided to expand my horizon a bit more.

I’m still a SQL Server DBA but I’ve also been neck-deep in family, finances, aquaponics, aquaculture, micro-farming, health, fitness, food, real estate, ios development while trying to keep up with taxes and investments. It’s pretty exhausting at the end of the day but it feels more complete.

Since my last post I’ve moved on from food industry to the health industry and it’s been an interesting learning experience. Very high paced, privacy intensive but I’m doing more than typical database administration. I’ve done a bit more with SSIS development and it’s been a great experience that I wish to continue.

With the use of YNAB I’ve been hitting the budget, reviewing our spending and making life changes to align us with financial freedom. A lot of eye-opening discoveries once you have the big picture of where your money is going every month.

My personal studies on investing leads to late nights but gives me more of a better understanding when it comes time to rebalancing. Something I never did before. This gives me more control over what I am investing in. Got to build a better nest egg.

Thanks to BitFountain, GangplankHQ and the iOS community I’ve been learning iOS development and have a few projects underway to better me in my journey. Nothing fancy but realistic applications. Hoping to have something in the apple store soon.

I’ve kicked up my gardening skills a bit. Implemented a good size aquaponics system that will perpetually feed a family of four. With aquaponics I am able to raise fish (for consumption) that provide a fertilizer for my fruits and veggies. Many dishes have been served with organic goodies from the aquaponics system.

Our little micro-farm now has five free-range, egg laying hens that are a year old. We collect 4-5 eggs a day from these gals. Our seven pecan trees produce about 200 lbs every year and our orange tree is cranking. We will be converting our old stored into a 12’x22′ greenhouse. This will hold our new aquaponics system which will be twice as large which will incorporate a fish farming setup.

Lots of things happening so it’s never a dull moment.

Consolidate multiple records into a single row

I worked on a restore script that had to consume values from the network share and produce a restore statement. This database happened to be striped to eight files. I needed a way to construct the restore statement into a single row and I was able to achieve the desired results using the following syntax.

DECLARE @temp TABLE
(
	id INT IDENTITY(1,1) PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
	,colors VARCHAR(30)
)

INSERT INTO @temp (colors)

VALUES ('Red')
,('Blue')
,('Green')
,('Yellow')
,('Brown');


SELECT colors

FROM @temp


SELECT 'Colors' = 'RESTORE ' + 
(SELECT colors + ';'

FROM @temp 

FOR XML PATH (''), type).value('.', 'varchar(max)')

Here’s the end results.

results