Monday, 6 August 2018

Why I'm ditching all my startups

I wrote this in 2017 but never published it.  Not for any real reason but just because it wasn't finished and I forgot about it.  In August 2018 I'm resurrecting it and publishing it.  Just in case it helps someone. 


A few weeks ago we shut down 99interns 😢 after a few years in the market and good market recognition.  I shut down oddswop a couple of years ago (well kinda shut down.  I still need to deregister the company and finalise all the tax stuff).  But I still had New Home Review which was setup relatively recently and BadgerMe which was a couple of years old.  But even those are being shut down.  The BadgerMe back end was closed out last week and New Home Review, I've advised Ciaran and other people working on things that I'm shutting it down as well.  Because...

I'm going all in on one startup.  Yes ONE.  And it's not even mine.  Well it is mine but I won't be the Founder.  I'll be the co-founder.

It's definitely been a super busy time for me but also a time where due to the pressure my ideas and values have been made clearer.  I've been super busy with work and moreso with GovHack.  GovHack has been a gig I volunteered for and really enjoying but finding that I'm doing a lot more than I expected to.  I would easily be spending 30+ hours on it.

But it's the energy and flow from working on GovHack which has made me realise that I need the right sort of person to work with on a startup.  It's not something that I can carry alone.  All my previous startups, I've had a co-founder because I was told I should.  Or I thought it may be a good idea.  But I need to have that energy inherent in the organisation before I get there.  I can't bring it by myself.  As much as I get passionate about things I'm an empath so I tend to reflect others.  I need someone super committed and I'm happy to reflect that back.

When I met my now co-founder I was knee deep (or maybe neck deep?) in GovHack.  We found the time to talk startups and form a deep bond -- despite the fact we haven't met in real life (IRL)!  Which is kinda ironic as the new startup -- GoPlatnm.com now called HazTime so visit haztime.com -- is about IRL connections.  My co-founder was enthused but it was only after we decided to go for an accelerator that we really had to get our skates on and get something going.  So having met in May 2017 it's now early July and we've incorporated, built the site and are gearing up to apply for the accelerator all whilst being super busy everywhere.  My husband unfortunately doesn't even get to see me as I'm usually on conference calls in the evening or fixing or building or creating something for GovHack or talking strategy with my new co-founder or closing stuff down!

But here's to a new era, where I focus on the one startup.


Things which have changed since I first wrote this... I've deregistered Oddswop, my husband and I split up 😢, Platnm had a name change to HazTime, I've moved home to Hurstville, I didn't do GovHack this year so I could focus in on HazTime.  

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Mind Hacks and No Sugar and No Wheat

I spent about a month with minimal added sugar and wheat.  And this is what happened... I'm sure that sounds familiar.  Maybe some clickbait type headline? 

I've been wanting to reduce my wheat and sugar intake a bit and do some experimentation.  But needed a good way to force or convince myself to do it.  A mind hack. 

Mind Hacks

I love a good mind hack.  To me it's something I setup as a quasi constraint (ie a constraint totally made up by me!) that helps me towards a goal or something I want to achieve.  It's like setting artificial deadlines. 

Fasting

One of my major mind hacks is fasting.  Some of you may know that I've been doing my version of 5:2 where I fast two days a week and eat normally on the other 5 days.  Usually a 5:2 diet will allow up to 500 calories on the fasting days.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays (or days starting with "t"), I fast.  This doesn't include any coffee or tea or hot chocolates even!  And every so often I'd have a banana or yoghurt in the evening if I felt I needed it.  I've been doing this well over a year now.  And it's fairly easy.  I love the binary nature of it.  And I must have saved a tonne of money as I eat a lot less.  And a lot more time is saved as I don't need to cook and clean up those days!  But there was one stage where I would overeat ice cream and chocolate on my days where I wasn't fasting.  Not good.  The fasting is somewhat for weightloss but mainly because I'm trying to do little things that can help me not get cancer.  My mum and dad have had cancer.  So genetically I'm pretty screwed.  But there are things I can do to minimise my chances of getting cancer.  Fasting is one of them. 

Not so good things about fasting:

  • bad breath!  Maybe due to ketosis?
  • feel cold.  I think the lack of food makes my body just feel cold on the days I fast.
  • can get tremors -- I use to get this and feel really weak.  Makes sense if I'm not eating that I feel that so often I will just a small something that day to tide me over.  I'm not super strict as you can see.  But I would say I'd only break a fast once every 4 fast days.  
Good things about fasting:

  • Save money and time on the days I fast!
  • mental clarity during the days I fast
  • generally I feel my health is better (more later)
  • I realise just how little food I need!  Get a good sense of how much we generally overeat.
The big question I'm sure many people have when they hear I fast 2 days a week is if I have lost a tonne of weight.  No.  Whilst I will lose weight on those days when I fast I have pretty much stayed the same for ages.  And yes I'm still overweight.  ☹️⚖

Dry July

Since I've been feeling that I overeat on the days I can and that I have a small ice cream addiction I wanted to try and break the habit.  In May I decided that I would tell everyone that I would do "Dry July" by having no sugar and no wheat.  That would eliminate things like ice cream and chocolate but also cakes.  It's just too easy to snack on things or accept that piece of cake that is on offer.  Normally people give up alcohol in July but since I don't drink giving up sugar and wheat seemed like a good idea.  

The 'rules' were no sugar, no wheat and no sugar substitutes.  So basically no 'sweet' food.  Again I'm a non extremist so if there was a bit of sugar in a dish when eating out I would still eat it.  But I would not seek it out.  I was already such a foodtard I didn't want to make things worse for myself.  

Thank goodness my work colleagues are foodtards too and tend to understand the crazy food options we all have eliminated from our diets.  Our smallish team has an autoimmune diseased meat eater, a self induced vegan, a semi-vegan, a few dairy intolerant peeps, and a smattering of other special food needs.  

The start date was also shifted to be 2nd July as the Sunday before hand I was going to a baby shower with lots of yummy sweet things!  And I ended on 30 July.  The 31st was a Tuesday when I was meant to be fasting which should be easy but in the evening I went out with Richard after work to Newtown and had a couple of tacos (that's OK) but then wanted to try the vegan ice cream place.  Probably not worth it but at least I know I've tried it now.  (The ice cream is fine but since I'm not that lactose intolerant and Messina is down the road...) 

So all up I ended up doing no sugar, no wheat for 29 days!  Yay me!

No Sugar No Wheat -- was it worth it?

So what do I think?  I think it was a success!  I felt a lot better not eating wheat.  I'm not sure why.  I don't know if it's the wheat or the yeast that was eliminated from that side of things that made me feel better.  I know I did feel better for it.  More that I didn't feel bloated.

As for the sugar, I'm glad I did it because it broke a bit of an addiction.  How do I know?  Well I went to ALDI and didn't feel compelled to buy all the chocolate or ice cream!   During July I also had a heap of fruit.  I could tell that the lack of sweet foods was having an affect when I had to give away my pineapple to someone else because it was too sweet.  Before it was just apples that would do that to me.  But now pineapple too.  

I don't know how long this control over sugar and wheat based products will last.  But it's been a good experiment and I think I will try and incorporate it every so often if I feel that I'm getting addicted again or having excessive amounts of either sugar or wheat.  

But to the ladies out there... you should try it out.  Why do I say this?  because I had the best red week ever!  3/4 days.  Unheard of.  And not heavy but not spotting either.  I believe the culprit is sugar and not the wheat as much but I am not sure.  All I know is that I do pretty much what I do normally but with a cup of raspberry leaf tea for the first two days of my period.  But that's the only other 'different' thing I would do compared to normal.  I have been on my other supplement regime for over 2 months so that wasn't it.  Must be the sugar/wheat thing. 





Monday, 25 June 2018

Magic Mirror - IKEA frame hack

Somehow I stumbled on the Magic Mirror project and of course I wanted to build it.  Forget that I was in the middle of another mirror project (still not finished) but this one is now built!

Here is the finished product (still a bit messy as I put a small console type table under the mirror): 

The console table was added... as I needed to hide the power point from my dogs who like munching on power cables if too accessible.  Before I mounted it on the wall I had it propped up on a dining room chair... 


There are plenty of resources on how to get the magic mirror tech side of things done.  The key resource is the Magic Mirror site: https://magicmirror.builders/  
I've also used Google a lot and Jayen helped me a lot too on various bits and pieces.  

The main thing that is different is the way I put the frame/mirror component together.  Here are the high level details (oxymoron?):
1. bought mirror tint from Aliexpress https://www.aliexpress.com/item/50x100cm-Window-Film-One-Way-Mirror-Silver-Insulation-Glass-Window-Film-Solar-Reflective-Home-privacy-Decoration/32658438220.html less than $5
2. bought monitor from MSY (and ended up using that as my monitor and using my old monitor for the magic mirror.  Note I didn't strip it to just a screen but just mounted the IKEA picture frame onto the monitor with a combination of sticky tape! (special mirror sticky tape!) and screws.  Samsung monitor 21.5" was $127.50 (for the new one).  
Don't get this monitor (Samsung 21.5" (LS22F355FHEX/XY) 1920x1080 5ms HDMI D-DUB VESA LED Backlight LCD monitor) for your project... you want one where the buttons and power outlet are not on the back... 
3. bought a monitor wall mount from Target with an arm.  https://www.target.com.au/p/target-full-motion-tv-wall-mount-small-to-medium/59877820  I needed to do this as otherwise there isn't enough space in behind the monitor to put cables etc.  $29
4. bought a right angle cable for power - probably around $10
5. bought a right angle cable adapter for the HDMI cable - probably around $10
6. Raspberry pi (local supplier), case (Aliexpress), PIR sensor (Aliexpress), jumper cables (Aliexpress).  Btw if you want jumper cables I now have 17 spare.  (Needed 3 for the PIR sensor connection)
7. IKEA Viserum frame https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/30268907/ - I got the 61 x 91 cm version

I think they are the main things I needed to build the physical mirror... I may have missed bits and pieces.

The main steps was to
1. add tint to frame 'glass' 
2. put the monitor as flush as possible against the tinted 'glass'
3. add black cardboard around where the monitor screen is not... this adds to the mirror illusion
4. attach the monitor to the frame
5. mount the monitor to the wall mount
6. have the wall mount work
7. have the pi attach to the frame somehow

I also wanted to make it easy to remove/just have a normal mirror in that same spot if needed... (not as a back up plan in case I totally stuffed up of course!)

Mirror Tint application
So the key thing for me to build it initially was to cover the plastic / glass from the frame (plastic in this case!) with the tint.  This was mirror tint so it would look like a mirror on one side and could have light show through to the other side.  My tip to those who haven't tinted before is to not crinkle the tint and to use an old credit card to smooth things over.  I didn't have any special formula so just used detergent and water mixed into a spray bottle.  I didn't use distilled water.  My first few attempts looked awful.  But that's because I was using a shower squegee.  Don't do it.  Use the hard edge of a credit card.  Ideally get someone to help you so that the tint goes on in one go.  

Attach the frame to the monitor
This was relatively easy.  But I still felt like Macgyver when I found the screws with the big 'edge' and the 'edge' on the monitor!
You'll see my bodgy Macgyver skills here... I have the monitor 'sitting' on a timber brace that is attached to the frame.  Then the screws just lightly hold the screen against the frame.  I also have some mirror sticky tape on the monitor to help it stick to the frame.  




I've also just 'stuck' the Pi case using the 3M hooks for picture frames.  This makes it almost like velcro but not quite.  This worked better than expected!

You will see the monitor mount (VESA) on the back of my monitor and the 'right angle' cable and adapters I used.  

TV Mount on wall

I cheated.  I used the wall anchors for plasterboard.  As I couldn't find the battens in the wall.  (Yep add your eyerolls here!!)  



This is a side on view of the mirror -> wall.  As you can see there is a significant amount of space between the wall and the frame.  That's because I wanted to keep the monitor as whole as possible.  


I was very excited when I could finally mount it on the wall!  The project didn't take long.  Could definitely do it as a one day (a few hours?) project.  As long as you have all the bits.  The tint took ages to get to me only because the post office didn't notify me of it and was sitting there for weeks.  


So magic mirror... with newly installed PIR which is not placed optimally... who is the fairest of them all?  (most likely Pepper... or Sprocket!)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Android Head Unit for Honda Jazz

I recently bought a car!  Yay me!  It's a second hand 2008 Honda Jazz VTi Manual.


I bought the car via Carsales from a lovely lady based in Thornleigh.  And dragged Patrick from work along with me to test drive the car.  (Thanks Patrick... esp since we were stuck in traffic for such a long time!)  It's my first car in a long time as usually the car ends up in W's name and I don't actually enjoy driving so... it's really not my call as to what car to get.  But I was happy with my purchase.  It put me back $6200 (was listed at $6500).  I'm sure I could have probably gone down to $6000 but I don't like bargaining when it's for the sake of it.

The car however didn't have things like reverse sensors or Bluetooth for hands free calling.  So I could get both of those things installed or go the whole hog and get something a bit fancy.  I had been spoiled as I was driving my mum's Mazda 2 with all the bells and whistles which had a heads up display, nav, reversing camera and more.

My actual car interior
After investigation I thought to get myself an Android Head Unit.

This was installed on 23rd December 2017 by someone I found on Gumtree (yes I'd recommend him!)  I had contacted him ages ago to work out how much it would cost to install.  I had at one stage thought about installing it myself (thanks to YouTube) but was brought back to my senses by my work colleagues :)  The quote in getting a headunit installed with mic and reversing (back up) camera was $200.  And he would come to me!  (Another quote I had was for $160 but wasn't going to be available till after 5 January.)

All in the installation and the bits including head unit was less than $600.  Breakdown below with suppliers detailed.

This is what it looks like after being installed.  Looks and works great!
The stock standard stereo unit looks like this:


I like the fact it had a CD slot although I haven't listened to a CD for years.  And years.  And years. 

So to make a 2 din (ie takes up 2 standard stereo units of space) work it needed a fascia.  Then I found out that I would also need a wiring harness.  I also wanted to include a reversing camera.  So shopping was required.

The components and prices (in AUD) I ended up with are (none of the links are affiliate links or anything like that -- it just saves me from answering questions :) ):
Joying Android Head Unit (Quad Core, 2GB and Android 6.0) at $283.66 - link to the product on Aliexpress.
Reverse Camera via Aliexpress at $12.85 - link to the product on Aliexpress.
Fascia / Trim Kit for Honda Jazz GD RHD at $51.12 - link to the product on Aliexpress.
Cables/Harness Kits totalling $35.99 via eBay. I got the following items 1. Car Side Iso Connection Harness Wiring Loom, 2. Antenna Adapter To Suit Honda Jazz (Fit) Gd 2002 - 2008, 3. Head Unit Car Stereo Iso Loom Connection Harness.  I used link to the seller on eBay.
Installation was $200 - link to the service on Gumtree

Note the prices I listed above are what I paid (late 2017).  YMMV as they are often affected by exchange rates or discounts I may have received.

The reason I selected that head unit against so many others?  The reviews always influence me.  Then I wanted Android 6.0 plus to make sure I could run Android Auto (although I have since switched back to the 'standard' nav product -- more below) and I wanted to change the backlit colour...

And how did I know what cables to order?  A lot of googling and reading and watching YouTube.  But to save you some trouble I listed what I needed above.  If you happen to have and want the same setup :)  If you have a different model / make car I am sure you can just use the same terms and your make/model.

Installation

Anthony came and installed my unit after I contacted him on the 22nd... he was ready to install it at the pre-quoted price of $200 the following day!  Booyah!  He did a great job.  None of the bits I got included any additional stickers (except an NFC one which wasn't installed).  But it meant all the old stickers needed to be reused.  I didn't think it was going to be a problem as all the dials etc stay the same but I assume it was because they need to be removed and readded back... so can get damaged in the meantime.  The only thing that doesn't work quite as expected is my air cond LED no longer lights up.

Navigation

Just a note about navigation or the head unit and components themselves.  The reverse camera works a treat and is quick to bring up.  I thought I'd mention it as my neighbour who I demo'd it to was surprised at how quick it was as he had an aftermarket reverse camera installed and he thinks it takes 20 seconds to come up!  I also have the reverse green, amber, red zones.  This was demo'd to me after the installation was done so I realised how close the red zone is.  Basically I can never use the red zone!  The installer reckons the camera is a really good one.  Great $12.85 spent I say!  I chose this one over the blocky square ones that looked like they could fall off too easily. There are a lot of options on Aliexpress... so I'd suggest reading the descriptions and reviews.

As for the navigation itself that was also something the installation guy was impressed with.  It's the iGo app.  When I first drove off there were all these strange beeps that would come up and the volume levels for music vs navigation were all over the place.  And the onscreen display didn't have all the things I wanted.  But over the last few days I've tailored the settings to suit.  

The beeps were warnings.  Warnings about 40km speed zones (don't get me started on speed zone data!!  *grrrrrr*), warnings about red light cameras and speed cameras.  To stop the beeping I just need to tap the screen on the warning.  It's pretty good.  Also it warns me when I'm speeding.  And it's obvious.  It actually says "You are over the speed limit".  It's quite sensitive too.  3-4kms over and it triggers it!  

I've been using the radio (thank goodness I got the radio antenna thing!) a lot.  Bluetooth music works but seems flakey but it could be just due to some other notification that is happening on my phone.  I also transferred some music to the Head unit via a USB key.  That works OK but for now I think I'll use the radio.  It's my dose of reality.  Or "reality".  

I installed Android Auto as well as Waze.  I haven't booted up Waze yet but I did try Android Auto.  It's was my goto when I was recently in Melbourne and used it on my phone.  But you know what?  The iGo app is more feature rich.  I now have estimated arrival time, a clock, speed zone I am in as well as direction and the map etc.  And I can have the radio running in the background.  I'm not sure what it does on a normal phone or a tablet but if you are curious this is the Play store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nng.igo.primong.igoworld&hl=en

So for less than A$600 do I think it's worth it? Yep!  Approx 10% value of the car but well worth the cost to have in car nav and handsfree phone calling!  I've yet to work out if things like notifications work or anything else but I'm happy with what I've seen so far.






Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bread baking - my hacks to make it super easy!

Since we got back from our latest holiday/vacation I've been baking bread.
I'm  not sure what caused my need to bake bread.  Certainly I have tried it in the past but for whatever reason didn't really continue.  Maybe it was because I was using a bread maker before... and maybe it's because it really isn't this hard... and I'm getting encouragement from colleagues and friends about how good the bread is.  And it's not just empty flattery.  Even I think the bread is good :)

It started with me watching this video on the plane:
The key words "no sugar bread" were probably the reason I watched this one rather than another one.  That and the promise (or advertising) of 8 minutes of prep time!

The day we got back I was trying to stay awake so thought to bake the bread.  It was pretty amazing.  Especially for attempt one!
Bread in oven on pizza stone

Baked bread.  Looks and smells so good!
The issue with this first one was that... the sesame seeds fell off.  But by the second loaf I had Googled a trick.  Somehow I was to dip the dough in water and then dip it in sesame seeds.  But since then I've found an even easier way.

The video indicated to make a batch of dough of 8 cups of flour.  I don't have a "big homestead" so 4 cups or a half batch should be plenty.  For the first batch I used the following quantities:
4 cups of flour
2 cups of warm/hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet of yeast

Otherwise I followed the way shown on the video.  Put all the ingredients together and mix.  I used a dough hook and my food processor.  That was ok until the food processor started smoking!  Since then (just finished 3rd batch of dough) I think I've perfected the recipe and method.  Or at least gotten it good enough for me!

The number of steps looks scary but honestly this is so easy.   Watch the video and then look at my modified steps as I make it easier than the video!

Ingredients
4 cups plain flour (I used the Woolworths brand that looks like White Wings)
2 cups of warm water (I used one cup off the boil water and 1 cup cold out of the filtered water tap)
2 teaspoons of salt (even I think it needed more flavour than my first batch!)
1 teaspoon instant yeast (I bought the Lowan brand which can just go in the fridge)

Method
1. In a large rounded container I mix all the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.  The 4 cups of flour, the 2 teaspoons of salt and the 1 teaspoon of instant yeast.
2. I then add the almost hot water.  It was explained the water should be hot but at a comfortable level so you can dip a finger in and it shouldn't be too hot.  I did the 1 cup hot almost boiling water to 1 cup cold water and it was fine.
3. Mix with the wooden spoon until it all holds together in a ball
4. Put the lid on the container loosely and let the dough rise (1 hour+ ).  If your house is too cool just put it in the microwave -- no not to heat it.  But you could heat some water first so the cavity is warm and then just put the tub in the microwave just to have a warm spot to put the dough.
5. Have a look to see if it's all risen up and I just punch it down.  I may give it a bit of a 'stir' with the wooden spoon.
6. Stick the lid on again tightly and put it in the fridge until you want to bake.
7.  Take the container out and prepare a section of baking paper
8. Take a handful (say about a third of whatever is in the container) of dough out.  You may want to put flour on your hand/s when pulling out the dough.
9.  Smooth the dough into a ball by dragging the dough to tuck in all the extra dough under the ball.  It makes more sense if you watch the video...
10. Put it onto the baking sheet to rise.  Again it's a wait of 40 minutes or so.  I've done it in less... because I'm impatient!
11.  Preheat your oven to over 200 degrees.  I'm never super accurate so just somewhere over 200 degrees C.
12. Spray your now risen ball of dough with water.  With a spritzer.  Then sprinkle sesame seeds (optional!) onto the ball of dough.  I then use the baking paper and fold it over the bread so I can smoosh the seeds into the ball of dough.  Not super hard just enough so the sesame seeds stick!
13.  Slash your bread with 3 parallel lines.  Use relatively deep cuts.  Sometimes my bread listens and uses the slashes.  Other times it doesn't.  I'm not sure why!
14.  Put the bread in the oven.  I've used a pizza stone and a cookie sheet.  Both work equally well.  The cookie sheet is easier to clean.  I just put the whole baking paper which is already on the cookie sheet into the oven.  Makes it easier!
15.  Put a small tray of water in the oven  I just use a small loaf container and put about 1 cup of cold water (just from the tap) into the oven on a lower tray.
16.  Close up the oven and put a timer on for 30 to 40 minutes.
17. Check on your bread.  When it looks brown enough pull it out!
18.  Cool the bread -- ideally on a wire rack.

HOT BREAD.  YUM!

Dough rising in container (for mixing and storing the dough!)

Dough pretty much ready for the fridge - you can use it now as well but I like the fridge step

Look!  It's almost like 'perfect' crumb (the holes and texture of the bread)

smaller rolls don't take so long

one of my rolls which was taken home by a friend and had the following day after rebaking to freshen it up!

I think this is in my tummy already.  Sorry!

I've been pulling the hot bread out of the oven and wrap it loosely in a tea towel to take to work.  And it's been a hit at work!  I've been asked for the recipe and requests for the bread to be brought in again.  I even had a colleague who was not eating gluten (choice only for now!) who indulged in a bit and praised it!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Square Foot Gardening

I've been a fan of square foot gardening for years.  Our first one was in Kellyville Ridge where we had one bed with the squares.  The concept just makes sense.  Break down the spacing based on a 1 square foot square.  In metric terms that's a 30 cm (ish!) square.

This time I bought some garden beds from Bunnings and just used them.  We have finally landed on a design we like incorporating our chicken coop and the 4 garden beds.

This is what we ended up with in the front yard.


One of the garden beds has been in storage so looks very new!  Over time it will age.  Each square is just a tad under 1.2m.  It's actually about 1.140m on the inside.  So each square will be around 28.5cm.

I just bought the equivalent of Mel's mix.  It's expensive!  But worth it as we have tried the mix before and it does work well.

The mix is 1/3 each of vermiculite, peat moss and a mixed compost.

I bought most of the mix from Enfield Produce because they sold 'bulk' sized vermiculite online.  Other places to look are hydroponic shops.  No one in NSW seems to sell the equivalent of Mel's mix premixed although I did find a WA supplier.

For the 4 beds, ideally I needed 1.452m3 of material.  But I've settled for 1200L of material.  I'll top up the rest with compost.  I don't trust our home grown compost just yet so will just buy it in.

I bought:
4 x 100L vermiculite
2 x 200L peat moss
9 bags of mixed compost and another 4 bags of mushroom compost and 2 bags of composted cow manure (total of 400L).
Grand total of 1200L of Mel's Mix.

It should give a height of 23cm.  I am hoping it's enough.  The garden beds are 28cm tall and I was aiming to fill it as much as possible but it looks like it will be around 5 cm from the top.

That's a lot of bed space in any case.  It's just the two of us and soon to be some chooks.  I suspect most of it will be growing Chinese veges like bok choy and Chinese Broccoli.  We've decided to ensure there is space for things like corn in the beds!  Radical I know but where we were growing corn we're making that the main compost bay...

This was the corn patch in 2016 along the back there.... that will become the compost heap.

I suspect the mix will go in next weekend due to the public holiday.  Would be nice to see the material delivered tomorrow.... just unlikely!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A night in a tiny house

I'm big on tiny houses.  I suspect it's a holdover from when I was a kid and loved cubby houses and dreamt of making a usable space out of things like a car (this was when I was really really small!) or a bus or a railway carriage.  Or a shipping container.

In the last 10 years or so the Tiny House movement has taken off.  And I fell in love with the tiny houses being built by Jay Shaffer and Tumbleweed homes.  Jay has since moved on and started Four Lights Tiny House homes.  I've spent many hours looking at the houses, floor plans and investigating what is required to do something similar in Australia and the rules and regulations for building a tiny house.  But it's been a bit of a dreaming only.

So when I saw there was a crowdfunding campaign for a flat packed tiny house in Australia I was in!

Greetings from a flatpacked tiny home!

Articles about the home here:



I contributed to the Chuffed campaign so we could spend a weekend in it and also support the cause.  I'm always for trying to contribute to things I believe in and I know if there was an affordable flatpacked solution to get the shell up that would be the bulk of the work to get something towards a tiny home for most people.  At scale this would work but I'm still concerned that the price point is still high.  Perhaps, as Will has suggested, what is needed is the Tesla model.  Where a high end version is demonstrated all kitted out but the 'from' price is the bare bones flat packed version.

So this weekend (13 - 15 January 2016) Will and I packed our bags to live in the prototype tiny house!  I dropped doggies off to dog sitters in the morning and headed out to Leichardt where the Tiny House was situated. The car was just going to be parked there whilst I went to work.  The 'weekend' stay was going to start Friday evening and we'd checkout on Sunday morning.

This is what I saw in the morning:


It looked tiny from the street.

In the evening I headed in from work by bus to the tiny house to be greeted by Joanne and Alex.  They were still doing some maintenance of the tiny house, clearing up and making a few adjustments.

There was the equivalent of two tiny houses.  One of them was fully built and kitted out and the other was acting as a verandah and deck area.  The verandah makes a big difference to the feel of the house!

Especially Friday night.  Friday night was the hottest night on record (good choice of night to stay in a non air conditioned tiny house... )  It was 30 degrees overnight.  I'm consoling myself that this is the worst it can get in a tiny house.  I must admit the appeal of a tiny house has diminished since we've moved into our Peakhurst home and my thoughts about moving to the Gold Coast in the future!

We went out to grab a bite on Norton St (pretty much the first restaurant we walked past!) and had a delicious meal of pasta... followed by gelato (of course!)

Our evening was spent sweltering in the heat on a fold out sofa bed in front of a Dyson fan.  The breeze from outside was fine but the mosquitoes were very bad.  There was some sort of mosquito zapper plug in thing but I don't think it helped much especially as we had the doors open which had no fly screens.  Both Will and I were up a lot of the evening due to the heat and the mozzies.  We're both prone to mozzie bites so it was fairly unpleasant.  But no worse than camping.  The bedding was comfortable but very hot.

Sofa converts to a bed


Before bed we both had cold showers hoping to cool down.  The shower cubical was surprisingly good.  The water pressure wasn't the best but it was adequate and it was more spacious than I thought it would be.  The storage for shampoos and body wash etc is currently outside the cubicle but there is plenty of space in the cubical to install additional storage.

Whilst we are in the bathroom, the big question about the loo can be answered.  It's fine.  It's good even.  It's a cassette type and the flush is a foot pedal one and works quite well.  No concerns from me except from an environmental cost one.  Alex tells us he just ends up disposing of the waste down another loo.  Which makes sense.  But can't imagine doing that on a long term basis.  They are considering putting in a composting loo system.  I do like a 'flushing' loo so not sure how that would go although the concept is fine.  I wish they made more 'foot' pedal flush mechanisms for normal toilets.

Cassette Style Toilet

The toilet never smelled but there were these enzyme packs helping break things down.
The tiny sink in the bathroom is serviceable but the sink in the kitchen is just as easy to use when brushing teeth and is just outside.

Mini sink in bathroom

There is an exhaust fan in the bathroom which is solar powered.  Which means it doesn't turn on when the sun doesn't shine.  We had to kick start it this morning to get it to start spinning.  I think an operable window would be much better and offer cross ventilation across the tiny house.  There is a good amount of light in the bathroom due to the poly carbonate panel that is exposed.



There is definite need for cross ventilation and more light in the design.  The great thing is that our feedback will help design the product.  This is prototyping at it's best.  Build a prototype, get people to actually live it in and get feedback.  This is a product manager's dream.

When we checked out on Sunday morning, Joanne interviewed us with specific questions and we also provided feedback about our thoughts about the experience and what could be improved.

The kitchen was functional although we didn't really use beyond making tea.  It had a small bar fridge, sink and gas cooktop and even a grill!  There is an electric element also that can be used if for some reason no gas was available.  Given the inverter only allowed up to 800 watts that one element would be the only thing that could be used electricity wise.  Needless to say we only used the gas.  The gas stove worked better than the one we had in Howes Valley.  It was LPG and very quick to take the spark and stayed on.  Also had no LPG fumes into the tiny home.

The space under the stove could be used for more efficient storage although all the essential items were on hooks or on the shelves.  There wasn't much more needed for basic cooking.  The one thing that is missing is an oven.  Or even the (inverter) capability to use something like a turbo oven.

Stove with grill.  Also a small 2.5kg washing machine.

Single sink and bar fridge


Some more photos:
Living space had some shelving built in.  The heights were strange but as a prototype it is easy enough to adjust according to individual needs.

Compact kitchen with stove, hanging storage and shelf storage.


Under the bench height is a hanging rod for clothes

View from the bathroom end down the stove side

View from the door end down to the bathroom on the stove side

Shower cubicle was more usable than expected

Lights are 24V LEDs  Super efficient!  But just a bit too white.

Nik naks on display make it cozy

I do like hanging storage.  

The walls are made from the multiwall product and the insulated bits as well as plywood
Multiwall product.  Really helps with insulation.

Socially aware toilet paper!  (Time to change the roll)


Outdoor living area helped a lot with coping with the heat

The school grounds were a perfect spot to park this prototype home.

The verandah space is a whole other tiny house in the making including a trailer

Breakfast after the hottest night ever.  Tea and fruit cake!

All in all we had a good stay.  There were a few hiccups (like a door getting stuck and the mozzies) but overall it was a great weekend.  We to got to stay in a tiny house so I could get it out of my system.  The problem solving part of me wants to go and work out ways of making it cheaper, better, easier, but the practical part of me is just glad to be at home in air conditioned comfort.

Big World homes is looking for investment, support from local councils and land owners as well as other ways to help people get into a home of their own sooner.  If you want to support them get in touch with Alex and Joanne via bigworldhomes.com.