Download Watch on Youtube

A few weeks ago I did a talk on my Microwave project at linux.conf.au it took me a while to be brave enough to watch myself and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The talk was certainly well received, the feedback was positive and useful, there were about 150 people in the room and the youtube copy has clocked almost 400 views so far. I also got a writeup published by Linux Weekly News.

There is a lot I am taking away from the process, I don’t think I have been so unprepared in my life but managed to get away with it. The response from people was far more favourable than I expected, in particular I was surprised that most of the questions have engaged at the concept level rather than the implementation details. A few people commented that they saw me settle and become less nervous a short way into the talk, in reality I realised I was blowing through the material far too quickly and just tried to slow down, I think I did settle a bit once the questions started flowing though. I also did not understand the realities of a large group practising passive listening, for example people listening while playing with their laptop or phone, rather disconcerting when you look up and feel that nobody is paying attention.

Feedback

Some interesting feedback was people seeing possibilities to use the microwave for things that microwaves are not customarily used for, I confess I had been blind to this. In particular tempering chocolate and sous-vide cooking both require holding the temperature to set level for a prolonged period. Other precise heating processes like heating sugar are also interesting options.

Several people suggested just doing the electronic work and abandoning or delaying the mechanical modifications until the next model. This was something I looked at early on and decided against but the arguments are certainly strong enough that I will be reconsidering it.

At the end of the talk I conducted a price point survey which showed that many people felt the product was worth $500 AUD but baulked and $1000 AUD. Which doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t find sales at the higher level but life is easier closer to $500. These prices include compensation for the increased risk of the kickstarter process.

Discussions on eevblog raised that solid state microwaves are coming. I thought that they would be about ten years out but it looks like it will probably be two to three years, manufacturers are advertising that commercial units will be available at the end of the year. This is interesting and sets a time limit to the project but I don’t feel it is a huge threat at this point. It may actually be a benefit in the long run.

Most of the implementation feedback was positive. One LWN commenter specifically noted that they generally disliked the IOT trend but felt that I was doing in the right way. Other LWN comments talked about how the modifications seemed well planned rather than a trend of adding “smarts” for no real benefit.

And completely unrelated to the talk, I also stumbled across an interesting reddit topic wishing that the microwave could recognise QR or bar codes and they automatically apply the proper heating process.

Next steps

My next step is a review process, one I am rather trepidatious about.

When I started the project I recognised the reality that only 1/10 projects succeeds. In practice the stats only count projects that get fairly big and on the government’s radar, a stage I am not yet at. So success is probably no more than a 1% chance.

Naturally my project is better than those that failed, I have a realistic project, good market etc. etc… factors that I am sure the 99% had in their favour too.

The reality is that like poker it is very easy to let emotions dominate and commit you to play on well beyond when you should fold. To try and counter this I have set up pre-established fold points to step back and review.

This is probably my biggest re-evaluation point so more dry planning posts coming up, I will probably also get some independent evaluation to help distance myself.