Thursday, August 05, 2021

FIRST Programs - FLL Explore and FTC 2021-22 are on!

My family has been involved with FIRST related STEM programs from FLL to FTC for past couple years. It was for my son Rushil. And this year we have my younger one Aarini join in starting her first FIRST Lego League Explore season. It will be fun and i will be mentoring both their teams. 

Here are the season teasers for 2021-22 season for,

FLL Explore:


Book Review: The Sentence is Death (Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery, #2) by Anthony Horowitz


The Sentence is Death (Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery, #2)The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is second book in the Hawthorne and Horowitz series. The story is as exciting as the first one and very well told. Its written in the same vein as Sherlock holmes and Dr Watson where Ex-DI Hawthorne plays Sherlock and the author plays his biographer Dr Watson. The story starts with the murder of a divorce lawyer Richard Pryce. Hawthorne solves it in the end after having interviewed all persons involved with the dead lawyer in his last days. Waiting for the next one in the series - A Line to kill.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

FIRST Tech Challenge Season 2021 - Ultimate Goal

 We (the team Skyrise robotics) participated in the FIRST tech challenge 2020-21 season last year. 

Following are some of the videos of the robot we made.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Travel: Road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This year we did a road trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park during the July 4th weekend. 

Day 1 - We started from Austin on 2nd late afternoon and stopped over at Amarillo for the night. 

Day 2 - At Amarillo, we saw the Cadillac ranch and kids did some spray painting. After that on the way in Trinidad Colorado we saw the Art cartopia

Later that evening we reached Denver. We stayed at a hotel in the downtown which was walking distance from malls at 16th Street

We walked to Union Amtrak Railway Station and took a free mall ride bus on our way back to the hotel. At the Union station we saw some ads for the upcoming MLB All stars baseball game. A huge baseball was at display right at the entrance of the Union station where we took some pictures.

Day 3 - We started on our way to Estes Park but first we went to see the Denver Botanic Gardens which was also located near downtown. On our way we saw the city capitol building as well. Denver Botatnic garden was pretty nice and took us some 2 hours to explore. We reached late afternoon at Estes Park where we stayed at walking distance from Lake Estes. Estes park is a small city and is very scenic with Rocky mountain views from wherever you stay.  After dinner we walked in the city by the lake. 

It was July 4th so shops closed early and we were back to the lake Estes and sat down near it for fireworks show at 9.30pm. It was a fun evening and a great fireworks show will lasted for 30 mins.

Day 4 - We went to the Rocky mountain national park at 8am. We parked at the Park and Ride stop and took the free shuttle to the Bear Lake corridor. There we hiked to the bear lake, nymph lake, dream and emerald lakes

Then we decided to do a harder hike to the Bierstadt lake which was 2 miles up and then 2 miles down. The path was bit hard on the way up the hill but coming down was easy and very scenic. Kids had fun doing the hike. All the while i was worried about seeing some animal on the way as we were the only ones on the hike for the most part and will only get to meet few others at times. But fortunately we did not see any animals other than the marmots, squirrels and some mountain birds.

Day 5 - We saw the Stanley hotel where The Shinning movie was shot (and the book by author Stephen King is based on). Then we entered the park to take the Trailridge Road to Grand Lake. Trailridge road is very scenic and we used the Gypsy app to get a guided tour while we drove. We stopped at the Fall River trailhead and did some hiking then reached Grand Lake later afternoon. We had enough time to get a small fishing boat rental (from the Grand Lake Marina) for an hour and went boating on the Grand Lake. Grand Lake is much smaller than Estes park and shops close pretty early. 

Day 6 - We started from Grand Lake to Colorado Springs. On the way we took the Georgetown Loop Railroad ride and their mine tour. It was educational and fun for kids. You do need to book the ticket in advance during peek season so do it before you make the trip there. Later that afternoon we arrived at Colorado Springs and went to see the Garden of the Gods.

Day 7 - Next day in Colorado Springs we visited Pikes Peak early morning. Driving up and down this high mountain was pretty scary but the views from the peak make it worthwhile. After pikes peak we went to see the Seven Falls. It took more time than we had expected. There is a long wait from parking to take the free shuttle and go to the seven falls and then a wait to come back to parking. But it was very scenic and worth all that waiting.

Day 8 - We visited the Royal Gorge Park and took the zipline ride there. Then at 3.30pm we took the lunch train ride at the Royal Gorge Railroad which was close by. The Royal Gorge has Arkansas River where we saw folks doing river rafting which seemed fun but we did not plan for it this time. Again you need to do the reservation in advance for it. We started on our way back to home the same day and made a stop at Lubbock city that night.

Day 9 - We arrived back home by evening.

We needed more time to do more hikes in the RMNP. There are so many trails suitable for all ages. Weather in summer time is great to visit the place. We packed winter clothes but never needed those. A light jacket and a poncho are needed for the hikes. It rained when we hiked and thankfully we did pack a poncho with us. They sell it there in the park too. Overall the road trip was very enjoyable, roads are in great condition and driving was safe and comfortable.
Please note: The pictures above were taken with Nikon D7100 with the default lens that comes with the camera and mostly in auto mode (as i have not yet tried learning the different non-auto options that the camera has). Some of the pictures can make a very good wallpaper (feel free to use it) and it is not because of my good photography but because the place is so beautiful that you just cannot go wrong. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Book Review: Graphic Classics: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Barron's Graphic Classics) by Fiona MacDonald, Penko Gelev, Jules Verne

Graphic Classics: Journey to the Center of the EarthGraphic Classics: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Fiona MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Got this from our local library. It is a nicely done graphic novel that summarizes the story and also presents a short biography on the author Jules Vernes' life at the end of the book.

About the story - An archaeologist Prof. Lindenbrock and his nephew Alex together with a friend Hans embark on a journey to the center of the earth through the mouth of a dormant Volcano in Iceland. Professor believed that the earth is hollow and has a different world inside - they find an inland ocean, with monsters that were extinct on the earth's surface. They find long extinct giant trees and prehistoric men who are 13 feet tall. They kept going deeper and were eventually thrown out with a volcanic eruption on the surface of the earth. Jules Verne was one of the early science fiction writers and this story is one of his famous works together with Around the world in 80 days and 20 thousand leagues under the sea.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1)The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first Agatha Christie’s book.. the plot is thick and suspense is kept until the very end of the book. Now on to my next one of Monsieur Hercule Poirot’s mystery.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Passed Certified Kubernetes Application Developer exam

Wrote CKAD test on Sunday 10/18/20 at 11am. Exam has 19 questions of which I could attempt 17. I have been using kubernetes in oracle cloud for almost a year now and have been practicing for CKAD for some time so I think being able to attempt all 19 questions is difficult. Some questions required more time than others. I don't think there is equal weightage to all questions. 

You can take the test from home. We can use an external monitor with the laptop (which i did) and we need to share both the laptop and the monitor's screen with the proctor. We also need to share the camera so proctor can watch while we take the test. The initial setup with PCI (test taking company) is bit involved and may take 15-20 mins so plan accordingly. In my case i could not write the test first time where the web terminal was unable to connect to Linux Foundation's server. Proctor tried with me for almost 1.5hrs and finally needed to reschedule. The next attempt was smooth but still setting up for the exam does take about 15mins. 

At the beginning of each question you are given a command to connect to the right cluster. There were 4 such clusters. For the questions i attempted, only 2 of the 4 clusters were used. Also the questions are grouped together by the cluster you need to connect to in order to minimize the changing between clusters. Also there are parts in the question that can be clicked on and copied and then pasted in the terminal. The terminal is a web terminal so you can see it side-by-side with the question on the same web page. You can have one more tab open for So it is an open book exam but speed really matters so you need to know what to look in the docs and where to look in it. 

Grading of the exam may take up to 36 hrs after which the result of pass/fail is known. 

I will update the post once i have the result.

I failed my first attempt - scored 60% and pass score is 66%. 

I attempted my re-take today 10/25/20 (Sunday) at 11am CST. This time i realized that each question has a weightage mentioned in percentage. Like some were 2% whereas some were 7%. I also flagged 3 questions to come back to later and moved on. So by the time i was on 19th question i had 32 mins left. I did get sufficient time this way to at least look at all questions. Of the 3 i had marked to return back to later, i only could attempt 1 of them. But they each were 2% weightage so most likely my score wont be impacted by much. Lets see how i fair this time. I will update again tomorrow evening once i receive my result.

An easy to install local single node k8s cluster is microk8s from Ubuntu. I had used this and OLCNE clusters for my practice but microk8s is the easiest option.

Received result for my CKAD exam - i scored not too high (67% only) but still could clear the exam successfully. I plan to write CKA sometime down the line. I think to clear this exam one needs to be quick with typing linux commands. I think 80% or above is a very  good score for this exam. But anyway now that i am past it i will rather focus on learning more at this point. Waiting for the Marko Luska's Kubernetes in Action 2nd Edition book to be published and in the meanwhile will be ramping up on other Cloud Native stuff - like service mesh, functions, API gateway, streaming services and monitoring stacks (ELK, Prometheus, Grafana) etc.

Following are the materials i used to prepare:

My study notes on CKAD exam prep is available at

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great mystery series by the one and only J K Rowling or Robert Galbraith. This is the first book in the series of Cormoran Strike and his good assistant Ms Robin Ellacott. Robin has just moved to London city from country side and has joined temporary placements agency which places her to be assistant to one Mr Strike who is a private eye. Robin brings good luck to Strike as one her very first day there comes a client Mr John Bristow who wanted Strike's help in investigating the death of his sister Lula Landry, who was a supermodel and whose death was considered a suicide thus far. From there on Strike interviews all possible folks who came in contact with Lula in her daily life and finally he and Robin solve the mystery and find the killer. A nice whodunnit book by one of my favorite authors.

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FIRST Programs - FLL Explore and FTC 2021-22 are on!

My family has been involved with FIRST related STEM programs from FLL to FTC for past couple years. It was for my son Rushil. And this year ...