Javier Solis

1 minute read

Welcome

For those of you who are new to the site, welcome! My name is Javier Solis. This site was formerly know as lifeneteng.com. For the last 20+ years, my day jobs have revolved around Information Technology; from starting as a web content creator, then network administrator, manager, director, sales engineer, and currently a senior product manager. In my current role I get to help build products.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. After work I find myself building other things such as cars, random IT projects, LEGO, and anything to do with home related builds. I have a passion for building things and sharing with others. My wife Ashley @datsunduo helps out too. So we decided to update the site to “It’s All About the Build”

If you love building things at home

check out and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel

You can find us on:
Instagram @javi_isolis
TikTok @Datsunduo

Javier Solis

5 minute read

A career in IT

It all started when I decided to build a PC back in high school. My rig consisted of a super-fast 450Mhz AMD K6 processor with a Voodoo 3dfx graphics card. I couldn’t get enough of games like Unreal Tournament and Starcraft. Connecting gaming PCs during LAN parties brought on further excitement, so I found myself on a career path in computer networking. IT can be fun, but also overwhelming. Don’t fret. In the last two decades, I’ve learned a few things to reduce stress and manage burnout while working in IT.

As soon as I wake in the morning my hand reaches for my phone. Heck, my phone is my alarm. I open up my work calendar, check my personal Gmail, casually browse social media, and slowly get ready for work. That’s unless I have a super early meeting. From there I find myself glued in front of a computer for hours on end. The day I turned 30 I remember feeling like I woke up with new aches, pains, and the inability to stare at the smaller text without experiencing severe eye fatigue. So yes, I’m that guy with the increased font/icon sizes. Technology has embedded itself into our daily lives and the combination of working in IT can be a killer combo. On top of that, the COVID pandemic has only accelerated these effects for us folks working from home.

Manifestation

Burnout can manifest itself in many different shapes and sizes. In some cases, you’re no longer willing to be the friendly neighborhood/family geek squad. I’ll never forget the time my wife told me, “Aren’t you a network engineer? Then why does our home network SUCK?” To my reply, “Just REBOOT the router.” Note: The crappy router with built-in Wi-Fi had to be rebooted at least once a week. In other cases, things can get much worse. Have you ever finished work in a horrible mood only to find yourself fighting with a family member or having a fit of road rage? I’ve been there. More serious effects of burnout can come in the form of depression, severe anger, and/or anxiety. If you’re already feeling that way, please seek professional help. I’m here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. If you had a medical condition arise you would see a doctor and this should be no different.

Lessons and Advice

One of the first things you can put into practice is intentionally blocking time on your calendar. Also, remember to plan and TAKE a vacation. I recently had a college of my remind me of this. You can’t be productive if you’re hangry, dehydrated, or having body aches. Be flexible with your blocks of time and find what works best. Don’t fall into the trap of working 10+ hours a day in fear that you’ll “fall behind”. There’s no such thing. Work will always be there regardless of how much you get done.

Lesson two, find a way to get through your frustrations. I remember reading the Oz Principle a book about accountability and results in the workplace. The book describes, “Falling below the line.” You’re fed up, everything’s a mess, and everyone else is the problem. You may have fallen below the line. Find a positive force you can share your frustrations with. Someone who can lift you up and not tear you down. The last thing you need is fuel added to the fire. My wife is one of my biggest support systems. She constantly reminds me to think of all the positive impacts and interactions I have. If you focus on the negative, you’ll tend to react negatively. I had a high school principal who would give the daily morning announcements and end with this, “If you have a positive attitude, you will have a positive day.” Everyone thought it was funny at the time, but I think he was on to something. Now some situations can arise that do require escalation. No one should ever have to endure harassment, bullying, or any form of abuse in the workplace. So if you find yourself in this type of situation, I’d recommend engaging human resources.

And the best advice I can give is to find a hobby. What do you enjoy outside the workplace? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or find interest in? Sure I enjoy tech, but I also love going on adventures with my wife and kids. I’m also an Adult fan of LEGO and love the fact that LEGO now has “Adult” sets. And I can’t help diving into random automotive projects. Now depending on the hobby or activity, it can become somewhat expensive. My wife and I remember when we worked on cars just because we couldn’t afford to have someone fix them. Now we get to work on cars together for fun. So choose something that fits your budget. The last thing you need is additive financial stress, which is a topic for another day.

So don’t listen to anyone tell you burnout isn’t real, it’s all in your head, or to just get over it. We’re all human, so it’s OK if you hit a wall. It’s all about what we do when we hit a roadblock and not that we’ve hit a roadblock.

Additional Resources

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability Purchase on Amazon.com

As always feel free to reach out any time,

You can find us on:
Instagram @javi_isolis
TikTok @Datsunduo

Javier Solis

5 minute read

Is it possible to build a Datsun Z car for under $5K? So far we’ve been able to stay under a $5000 budget for our 1981 Datsun 280ZX turbo build project car. We thought it would be helpful to created a mini buyers guide with tips on how we’ve managed to stay under $5000 along with a list of places we’ve purchased Datsun parts. We also put together a YouTube video with more details on work we’ve done and plan to do on the Datsun 280ZX Turbo build.

Initial Price of the Z Car

So the first item that will dictate if you can stay under $5k will be the initial price of the car. You’ll have quite a few options on different make and model, so choose wisely. The Datsun Z car comes in a variety of different flavors and the initial cost of the car can vary based on required work. Your model options will be a Datsun 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, or a 280ZX. One of the biggest factors that should also impact price is rust. Lots of Z cars are notorious for forming rust on the unibody frame especially around the weld seams. The first places you should investigate are jack points, wheel wells, and floor boards. The more rust you find the lower your offering price should be. And if the car doesn’t start, make sure you take that into consideration.

We found our Datsun 280ZX locally in town for sale under $2500. However I’d recommend you check out Facebook marketplace, Facebook Datsun groups, Craigslist, or even Ebay for a Z car. Sites like Bringatrailer usually list higher priced Datsun’s that may not need much work. You’ll also more likely to find 280ZX cars for sale as Datsun made and sold more of those models. The 280ZX isn’t a bad project car, but some people prefer the look of the older Z car models. If your patient enough you should be able to find something under $2500. Just be prepared for lots of work to be done.

Drivetrain Investigation

Once you’ve found and investigated the exterior of the car I’d recommend you test out the drivetrain. If you can’t start or drive you won’t know how much drivetrain work will be required, so take advantage of that during negotiations. If the car starts check for leaks. Smoke coming from the tailpipe that’s not normal will be an indicator of work required on the engine. Bluish smoke will more than likely mean the engine has an internal oil leak and white smoke would indicate a coolant leak. These can be time consuming to fix yourself, but you’ll save tons of money on labor costs. Unfortunately when I purchased my 280ZX it didn’t start and we took a gamble. Once it was running, we found that the transmission was dead. We ending up having to replace the transmission with a used one for $250 and our Z car is now drivable.

Some common items that will need repair are ignition components such as the distributor, coil, ignition transistor, and possibly rusted out electrical wiring. You’ll also want to replace vacuum, fuel, and coolant hoses. Other miscellaneous sensors may need to be replaced like the throttle components and/or seals around the intake manifold. Be expected to do some brake work too. The biggest items that you may have to tackle will be any engine, cylinder hear, transmission, and/or rear axle work. Some items can be rebuilt based on your level of experience or can be purchased new, refurbished, or used.

Essential Drivetrain Components

We put together a detailed list of all the parts we’ve purchased or still need to purchase which we track in a Google spreadsheet. I separated the list into different sections and as of now we are under $5000. I’m hoping it stays that way so let’s start with the essential drivetrain components. The goal is to make the 280ZX daily drivable, so essential parts are all the parts to make the car a comfortable daily driver.

(Some links are affiliate links that help support this site)

Part/Description Price Store/URL
Ignition Coil $30.00 Advanced Auto Parts
PRW2 Ignition Transistor Mod $40.00 ebay.com Motors
NGK Spark Plugs $20.00 thezstore.com
NGK spark plug wires $50.00 thezstore.com
Vacuum hoses and lamps $40.00 Advanced Auto Parts
Water temp controller $25.00 thezstore.com
Used Automatic transmission $250.00 vintagezparts.com
Turbo rebuild kit $25.00 ebay.com Motors
Aux air controller $25.00 ebay.com Motors
Space saver spare tire $60.00 ebay.com Motors
Brake Booster $75.00 280ZX Facebook Group
Brake Master Cylinder $55.00 Advanced Auto Parts
NiCopp Brake line & Flaring nuts $75.00 Advanced Auto Parts
Essential Drivetrain Total $770.00

Essential Exterior/Interior Components

The next section covers exterior/interior items that I consider to be essential to safety and/or preventing more damage to the car from weather

Part/Description Price Store/URL
Rear hatch lift supports $85.00 jdm-car-parts.com
Floor pan and floor rails $489.00 thezstore.com
Rear hatch weather seal $89.00 jdm-car-parts.com
T Top glass $100.00 Ebay.com
Essential Cosmetics Total $763.00

Nice to have items

The last section is for nice to have items that don’t necessarily impact daily drivability.

Part/Description Price Store/URL
280ZX Carpet Kit $249.00 thezstore.com
Seat Upholstery Kit $299.00 thezstore.com
Aftermarket Turbo Intercooler $523.00 Ebay.com
Nice to have Total $1071.00

Budget Breakdown

Without the nice to have parts, we made it under $5K. It’s not easy, but you can definitely plan your budget within $5000 for a Datsun Z car. Note that I’m not including any of the personal labor time or tool costs. It wouldn’t be any fun if you didn’t do the work yourself or invested in a few tools for your future builds :)

Totals
Initial cost of the car ~$2500
Essential drivetrain parts $770
Essential interior/exterior parts $763
Nice to have parts $1071
Total cost $5104

Check out our YouTube Video

Building a Datsun 280ZX under $5000 Budget | 240Z/260Z/280Z JDM Buyers Guide w/Cost Breakdown


Javier Solis

3 minute read

YouTube Analytics

So I've been creating and uploading more video content to our small YouTube Channel and YouTube provides some interesting analytics on how your channel and/or video performs over time. During some investigation on view performance, I discovered my YouTube titles needed some work. I'd previously posted a video on how to tune a carburetor on my 1982 Chevy El Camino, but the video wasn't performing well. I was curious if my content was really that bad. So I started digging into the YouTube video analytics engagement section, specifically average view time. Some viewers watched the video till the end,so perhaps my content wasn't that bad after all. Here's a snapshot of my video analytics engagement: As you can see from day zero till day 50 the video had very little views. After day 50 there's an increase in engagement overtime and that's after I made a change.

YouTube Search Results

Why were the views so low even if people watched most of the video? Perhaps my video wasn’t showing up in YouTube “El Camino” search results. So I open up an incognito window in Chrome and searched for 1982 El Camino videos. To my surprise, most of the content for the keyword “El Camino” was for the Breaking Bad - El Camino movie. Initially I named my video title “El Camino - Carburetor Check”. Then I searched on more specific titles such as “1982 El Camino” or “1982 G-Body El Camino” and those keywords did show 1982 El Camino car content. Perhaps I needed a more descriptive title. So I decided to rename my video title to “1982 Chevy El Camino G-Body - Carburetor Idle Check and Test Drive”

After the title change views started to climb. You can see the change in the graph below on number of views since published.

You can also view details on audience retention. At 1 minute, 60% of viewers were still watching and an average of 43% of viewers watched till the end.

The first 15 seconds show about a 40% drop. Perhaps that could be because the video starts off with a talking head. I tend to find that my videos starting with a talking head see a drop right in the beginning verses starting off with an intro teaser.

Helpful Additive YouTube Tool

Another helpful tool that can show which keywords your video is currently ranking for is Tube Buddy. The free version shows keyword rankings within the analytics section once installed:

I currently rank quite well for specific tagged keywords that are part of my title and description. There could be a number of reasons why I don’t rank for some other tagged keywords, but YouTube analytics and Tube Buddy can help you find ways to optimize your title based on what your video is about.

Final Conclusion

There you have it. YouTube video titles do matter. Make sure your title is descriptive and matches the content being delivered. If a viewer starts watching the video and leaves, YouTube will more than likely drop the search rank for your video. Watch time duration, viewer interaction, and a number of other factors also play a role in how YouTube decides to rank your videos. The most important aspect is viewers have to find your content, message, or story interesting. If they do, you’ll grow your audience.

You can find us on:
Instagram @javi_isolis
TikTok @Datsunduo

Javier Solis

2 minute read

Why is the Datsun 280ZX hated?

You’re searching for a Datsun Z car and you start to wonder why you can easily find a late 70s early 80s Datsun 280ZX. You soon realize that the prices aren’t too bad either. As you look closer, you realize that the front and rear bumper are HUGE. Then you tell yourself, I can get rid of those ugly bumpers, but you find that there isn’t a whole lot of aftermarket body kits for the 280ZX. In fact, the more you dig into the Datsun 280ZX you realize no one wants one.

However, research shows the Datsun 280ZX sales weren’t bad at all. Who wouldn’t want a Z car with power windows, power locks, air conditioning, t-tops, and a turbo option? How could you go wrong? But some just can’t get over those bumpers, the additional weight, and a very distinct format change from previous beloved Z cars.

So I picked up a 280ZX myself and realized how the world despised and hated the Datsun 280ZX after the fact. That didn’t stop me though. I was looking to get my 280ZX Turbo to a state of daily drivability and potentially track/shred readiness.

For those looking to rid yourselves of those bumpers, I did some hunting and found some fantastic looking Datsun 280ZX bumper delete designs:

Brandon Wargo’s Datsun 280ZX Custom 2ATZ Build


Skillard Datsun 280ZX Rear Bumper Mod Kit


My ongoing Datsun 280ZX Build YouTube Playlist


You can find us on:
Instagram @javi_isolis
TikTok @Datsunduo