[GUIDE] Make your own Turtle Dock

plan1First of all, I would like to thank everybody for the kind words,
I received a lot of emails concerning the dock and since I get a lot of questions, I finally decided to write a step-by-step guide.
What I’m posting here is a reply I wrote to one reader, hoping it will help some of you guys out:

It would be my pleasure to try and help you out.
I don’t want you to pay me, but thanks for offering.
Instead, Send me some pics of your dock if you get around to making one! :)

English is my second language so If I’m not clear about a certain point, let me know.
see attachments: I have drawn a quick plan, unfortunatly I don’t have the original one.
The measurements are there for reference only. do not use those as this needs to be custom to your tank.

There are basically 5 pieces needed for the job.
I used a sheet of 1/4″ PlexiGlass (Acrylic) and cut* the necessary pieces.
Though I have to say, I wish I did the base a little thicker as it start to bow down from the weight of my fat turtle hehe.

First of all, I took the measures of the top opening of my aquarium. (the top is separated in 2, and I choose the left side because is was better with the aquarium location but could have been the other side)
Now, it is important to measure the inside of the opening but not inside the little lip on witch the cover normally sits on. that will assure you that the box will never slide off or move from side to side.
This will be your base.
Note: I subtracted about 2 inches from the back to be able to put my filter tubes and other stuff. but if you have a drilled tank, you may not need that opening.

This measurement is the base. (say, #Piece1)

I have lights that sit on the aquarium so I couldn’t use all of that space to make the dock. I measures the depth of my fixture and subtracted that to the base.
This gives you the measurements for the actual closed off dock. (#dock) But again, if you have lights that hang from the ceiling, you can use the whole surface.

Now, the idea is to make sides for that. you will need 4 pieces. (2 small ones for the sides and 2 long ones for the front and back.)
Use the (#dock) measurements for the length of your long pieces and choose the desired height. (in my case, 6″)
Take the same height for the side pieces, *but don’t forget to subtract the plexi’s width from the dock’s measurements.* since the sides will be glued inside/between the front and back.
(for my 23″x10 closed dock, the sides are 9.5″…not 10″)

To make the ramp, you only need take the Base (#Piece1) and the cut a strait line from one side edge to about the middle of the platform. maybe a little less. depends on your tank.
The width of the ramp is up to you but if you have a large turtle, make sure it’ll fit haha. Also. I almost forgot… you need to shave off the width for the aquarium lip, from the front side of else it won’t fit.

The rest is pretty easy.

You have to heat up the plexi where the ramp will start bending (#bending line). I used a propane torch but there are ways to do that in the oven or maybe event with a heat gun…may take a while though.
Don’t heat it too much or it will bubble, mine did a little. as you can see on the following pictures, I used the side of a table at the right spot to bend the ramp. you don’t need force. If you have to force it, it’s not hot enough.

Once the ramp is bent into shape, let it cool a few minutes. and you’re ready to glue the sides. I say glue but it’s more like welding. you have to use acrylic cement. (Weld-on 16 or Weld-on 4) and clamp them in place.
Be sure to “weld” the pieces ONTO the base, with the sides inside the front and back wall.
Let it dry overnight.

You can then use silicone, around all the inside edges. I don’t think this is mandatory but I did it.
I also ended up drilling a few small holes in the base just to help water dry / drain from the fake grass.

The next step is pretty obvious, I bought fake grass, cut it to size and dropped it in place. I didn’t glue it of anything because I want to be able to wash it once in a while.
I used plastic mesh (found in crafts stores…You can also use gutterguard) to make some sort of GRIP on the ramp because acrylic alone was to slippery for my turtle.
I originally siliconed it in place but it was a pain to wash.
it is now held in place with small aquarium magnets, I have yet to find a better solution.

That’s about it.

*Actually, I had the acrylic cut by a small company, they charged me 25 bucks I think.
I tried cutting it my self but didn’t have the right tools and the plastic was melting on the blades. it was a mess.






I know this is going to look like a sponsored post, but it’s not. (well… not really)
I purchased from them a couple months ago and it was a great experience.

The shipping fees (to Canada) was a little pricy but I ordered 12 t-shirts and 4 pairs of sunglasses. Each item ended up costing me under C$10 shipped so in perspective, I still saved money.

Anyways, as I was browsing their site recently, contemplating my next order, I clicked on the affiliate link and read the basic infos.

I know I have no fan-base (or readers for that matter), but I figured, why not. I’ll try it, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work; at the end of the day, I’ll still learn more about how that type of program works and the whole point of having my domaine and blog was to have my @alexplesz email adress make tests and learn more about the inner workings of the web.

SOOOO yeah, let’s all, and by all I mean me, say hello to the new ad on the right for 6dollarshirts.com

(hint, if you click the banner/link and buy something, good things will come.)
By good things, I mean your shirts… by mail.
10 tees for $50. Just saying.
ok bye

My cat knows that “FancyFeast” means feasting time!

I took a couple of videos showing the reaction I get from my cat when I say the words “FancyFeast”. It’s pretty funny.

I don’t really have anything to say about it; just posting the vids.

DIY turtle dock

EDIT: click here for a step-by-step guide

Here’s a couple of pics of the finished product, “installed” on the aquarium.
I made a couple of holes on the base before putting the plastic-grass on it so if the turtle brings a lot of water it’ll drain easily.

basking platformbasking platform
basking platform

I tried putting the turtle on it but she ran back in the water right away. After a few minutes, half hour maybe, she started to lean against the ramp but didn’t climb up.

I then tried to make her climb by putting food on the edge of the platform. I know they have to eat in the water but it kind of worked.
see videos:

I’m making a Turtle Dock

turtle basking
Turtle basking in a dangerous position

I’ve had a turtle for … 2 years I guess, in my office where I spend most of the day.
It’s a female Ouachita Map turtle. It was about 3inches long when I got it and was in a 20 gallon tank. A few weeks ago, I had to upgrade the tank because Contre-Indication (that’s the turtle’s name) is now about 9-10 inches from head to tail.

Since upgrading to a 90 gallon tank, I’ve watched a lot of videos about aquarium setups and DIY projects for decoration and accessories.

Long story short, I decided to take a couple of acrylic scraps from work and create an “over tank dock” for the turtle. That way, I can fill the entire aquarium with water and have a safe basking area.

(I had a store bought floating dock and it worked great but I think an over the tank dock is much better)

here’s a few pics from the making of.
The acrylic cement and silicone are still curing so it’s not ready yet. I have to clean it, remove the remaining protective paper from the acrylic and heum… I think I’ll add some fake outdoor-grass-carpet thing on it so the bottom is not clear. It will create a more -zen garden- look.

I’ll post pictures of the finished product once I’m all done and it’s “installed” on the tank.

I have to thank Joey Mullen from diyfishkeepers.com for his numerous tutorials.
If you are interested in aquariums, filtration and DIY stuff. I highly recommend his youtube channel.

Facebook’s new “cover” on the Timeline

my facebook timeline design

I recently (well.. today) did the little developer thing on Facebook in order to have access to the new timeline beta.

I read everywhere it was supposed to go public September 29th but… here we are, October 2nd. When I first used it there was a dialog box saying that if I didn’t publish anything it would go live Saturday. (Oct. 8th)… oh well.

I’m not gonna list all the changes but I’m going to focus on one thing.

THE BIG PICTURE. Not as in… the expression “seeing the big picture” but I mean.. the actual big picture that will be on top of your timeline.

(Timeline is the new profile page I guess…)

That picture is called a cover. You can choose one of your pics or upload a new one to fill the spot. It gives a little flavor or personality to your FB profile.

The really cool thing about this though, is that your profile picture overlaps that “cover” so you can create a custom “2window” design.

here’s a few really good ones to help you understand what I’m saying and to inspire you:  10 facebook timeline designs that will blow you away

For mine, I decided to go with an iOS icon theme…or an iPad theme…. Either way, My profile pic is “an app” (..of my face) and it’s surrounded by a few basic Apple apps and the popular social networking apps.
Let’s say the word app another time.

Anywho, here it is:

my facebook timeline design


If you “install” the timeline, remember that as long as it’s not “officially out” no one sees your “cover”. Your friends will only see your profile pic (unless they too have it enabled). If you don’t put that into consideration, you may confuse a lot of people depending on the design you chose.

I hope it goes public soon hehe. …oh well.

Here’s the instructions on how to install the Timeline Beta  (from Lockergnome.com)

If you want to create your own timeline cover design you can download this little JPEG template I found at cheechingy.com .
(click here to learn more about timeline and the new features)

Puddle shaped like the Batman logo!


I took this pic a couple years ago in some hospital’s parking lot. (I was just walking by). The funny thing about this is, (believe me or not) a friend and I spent that entire evening looking for a place where we could rent every batman movies.

The Dark night was about to come out in theaters and we wanted to do a “batman’s movie day” if you will before seeing the new one.
We went to Walmart, different Video stores and I subscribed to a few “dvd-o-matic” thingies (dvd-machine dispenser?) , and couldn’t find any of them.

When we were getting back, we saw this puddle teasing us. We ended up seeing the Dark Night without having our little batman day. ..oh well..

I know the story sucks. it’s a boring post but I’m still doing tests and I wanted to see how pictures show up in my posts / options I have for them etc. so here you go.

Learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone

Learning a new language can be very tricky but there’s always a few methods and tips that will ease the process.

I was born and raised in a french speaking family (I’m french Canadian) and learned english when I was a kid; mostly by watching tv, movies, reading stuff in magazines, on the internet or by hearing people around me.

I am pretty satisfied with my writing and listening skills but speaking it in everyday situations make me a little uncomfortable; So I don’t unless I really have to. Don’t really know why..I guess the french accent annoys me and makes me feel self conscious.. And since I don’t practice, I look like a douche everytime I talk with an Anglophone. Anyways, the fact is, I didn’t make any efforts to learn English so even though I already have acquired  a second language, I’m a complete newbie at learning a language.

I recently decided to try and learn spanish, (mostly for fun) and wanted something that would make me practice the “speaking” part.

Then I found Rosetta Stone, Here’s how it works.

The method they use is “immersion”. You basically have to associate a series of images, words (or sentences) and sound clips. Sometimes, you have to read out loud a word or complete a sentence (using a Mic).

I think it’s a fun non-cramming process. It looks a bit childish at first but it’s very efficient; There is no translation so everything you learn is by association. They don’t make you learn.. They make you understand. (I don’t know if what I just said makes sense but… meh)

After a few days (they recommend about 1h/day) you can already name objects, colors and food products very easily without thinking about it. the Pronouns, verbs and stuff come a bit later. By chapter 2 you start making sentences.

I’m really happy with the Software. The only “negative” thing I can say is that it may feel a little redundant some times. (Then again… that’s probably what makes it work so I can’t complain)

Here’s a few things I’m currently doing (other that Rosetta Stone) to “immerse” myself even more.

  • I switched my Facebook language to Español;
  • I loaded my iPod with Mexican music (I know there’s a lot of Spanish bands and singers, but I really like Mexican style music)
  • I picked a couple of DVDs that I’ve seen a couple of times. (favorite movies or shows) and switched the audio option to Spanish.
  • I also try to watch real Spanish-speaking movies but with English subtitles.
  • Spanish web pages; don’t understand much but when I “try to read” stuff (move eyes over text), I can already associate some words and see the resemblance between English-french and Spanish words or sentence structure.

It’s not much. I’m not saying this is the Ultimate way / fastest way to learn a new language but it seems to work for me. I never felt like I was STUDYING or taking classes. I’m learning through entertainment.

Any of you have other tips or experience you want to share about learning a foreign language?

Google+ thoughts

I feel strange on this whole Google+ will destroy Facebook thing.

When I heard Google+ was in… let’s say “restricted testing”, I searched my friends/contacts for an invite and was pretty curious about it.

Since ..hum, yesterday, I wasn’t a big “active user” of social networks but I mean, I know my way around facebook and even though I don’t update my status, and “like” everything I see.. I spend quite a lot of time on it.

Twitter, meh. Tried it. I follow people and stuff but never really got on the wagon.

Before that, I’ve tried and used a couple, (smaller) ones but for a limited period of time. whether it was forums or networking sites… I have more -inactive- accounts on the web than ( I just waited 5minutes trying to think of a good thing to say but… you get the idea.. I created accounts on lots of sites)

Back to the subject,
I got my Google+ account and started to mess around. Found it quite awkward at first. I didn’t know where things were, what they meant, how to do this and that; I was completely lost. Didn’t give up though, and after a few hours spent on it, I started to resent Google. Not because I don’t like it. It seems really great and useful but I had the same feeling as when DVDs came out and realized my VHS collection would end up in the trash. Get what I’m saying?

I really have mixed emotions towards G+. Example; I think it will balance out the social “monopoly” that facebook had but at the same time… I love the fact that everyone is on facebook.

Remember when Myspace was the other big one? You’d be telling a friend “oh add me on facebook” and get the “I use myspace” response. how annoying.
Facebook is now a household name and is used by kids, teenagers, adults and elderly. How many facebook users will switch?
I find it absolutely normal and ..in our best interest (I guess), to have more than 1 giant in the social industry and Google+ is the only website I saw/tried that would even qualify against FB.

But at the same time, it only complicates things doesn’t it?
..What do you think?
(lol. If I get a comment I will pop a champagne bottle.)

So yeah, just to round it up,
I like the features, the look, the feel (now that I understand a bit more what and where things are) I am curious about the announced “Brand pages” and how it will compare to “Facebook pages” so I will definitely stick around just to see the evolution and the popularity increase but I can’t say I WANT to switch or use both. It’s still pretty early to make a strong opinion about it, as they are still changing things due to all the feedback they receive so I’m gonna leave it to that.

transfering big files via usb / mac mini = omg fml!

Today I bought a really cheap WD 3TB external hard drive to back up 2 single 1TB hard drives that are on my TV’s Macmini. (the Macmini being…basically, my media player).
The 3tb was so cheap I couldn’t resist. Downside is, it doesn’t have Firewire… but then again… it’s for backup. The purpose of this HD was not to hold and stream my “media files” if you will, but only to save me from shitting my pants if one of the other ones I use crashes; I decided to buy.
It’s been a long time since I’ve used USB (probably 2 but not sure…maybe 1.0..my Macmini is old) to transfer big files; I took everything I had on my first drive and dragged it to the new one.
860 something Gb copying….
approx. 15 hours!
That is some serious time! but whatever. Sometimes they predict a 20 minute transfer and it only takes 2 so… meh.
4 HOURS-IN, the Macmini freezes.
the end.

I know there’s no real point of my posting this but I’m still testing WordPress so might as well take this off my chest.

PS. I love WD Hard drives. The computer freeze has absolutely nothing to do with the drive itself. I know they are great, all my external drives are WD (..except one).
I don’t regret buying it, it will be very useful and I paid a ridiculously low price for it.


This is my first post….or should I say my first “test-post” if you will. I’m new to this. Don’t know the real purpose of the site alexplesz.com yet besides learning, sharing and… well, time wasting really..