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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.