Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Air Quality in Sydney atm is awful and the affects

I know I know.  The bushfires are terrible and here I am worrying about air quality. 

I'm really affected by the poor air quality.  Probably a bit more so than others.  I know I am already sensitive to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) - you know the 'new car smell' that other people love?  Well I don't love it.  At all.  It makes me ill.  I get a headache and actually feel like vomiting.  Poor air quality affects me the same way it seems.  Not to the extent of VOCs but it definitely makes me feel not so well.  Maybe I feel it more now that I've felt so good mentally on a ketogenic diet?  Not sure.  Regardless I get a headache and the tip of my tongue feels tingly when air quality is bad.  And the air quality we have is based on bush fires and not on pollution so it is 'better' in some ways I suppose?  I can't recall feeling bad when I'm next to an open fire (camping or at an outdoor space in a pub/restaurant) so I'm not sure if it needs to be a particular level for me to feel bad.

The air quality has prompted a few things.  Firstly the building of an Air Quality level map.  I was sick of looking at the NSW Environment site on my mobile which isn't responsive or friendly to a phone. So we put it on a map.  We want the data anyway to mash together with other data points in the future to provide alerts through GARP.  It's pretty cool although somewhat limited due to the lack of air quality meters in NSW and around me.  

air quality map by Datascout International

Certainly I feel that I get a better gauge about the air quality by just looking out on the balcony and seeing if I can see Sydney.  Here's the contrast from my balcony.  One pic was just a 'normal day' in November.  The other was New Years eve - 31 December 2019 when there were many bushfires blazing.

I've also been wearing a mask when I feel the air is bad.  It's not the best mask in the world but does have a PM2.5 filter it in.  The bad air can still get in the gaps but due to my inability for handling VOCs I can't go the whole apocalyptic mask like Richard can!  

As much as a feel a bit weird in the mask it's still better than having a headache and goodness knows what it's doing to me if I feel it as a headache!

I've also bought air filters for the office (a Breville Smart Air Purifier) and for home (a Ionmax ion390).  It's better when it's on and when I have my doors closed and air conditioning on but I wish someone would tell Sprocket that.  He still likes sitting and sleeping on the balcony in the bad air!  And that means I leave the door open for him to go in and out.  Yesterday when it was very smokey and hot I had my air conditioning going and the air filter and went out into the apartment corridor and felt the difference in air quality almost immediately.  Urgh.  (Today I went outside to visit my mum and had to double back to get my mask due to the smoke outside!).

I'm doing what I can do reduce the affects of smoke for immediate affects but I do wonder about the affects longer term for everyone with this bad air... there have been some articles indicating that bad air quality can affect health in the longer terms :(

What else can we do.  We can't all move to Tasmania 😆.  So air filter and mask it is!

Friday, 6 September 2019

Is it Keto?

The keto diet

I have been eating in a ketogenic way since October or November 2018 (I've been saying October but think it's actually November!).

The main reasons are for general health given my mum and dad have both had cancer... and my mum and grandparents have/had diabetes.  It also helps that generally the advice from many influencers whom I follow on social media and podcasts have adopted a ketogenic or low carb diet.

I've been on this way of eating for quite a few months and yet it still intimidates friends and family who ask what I can eat and still think "a bit of flour" is keto (cornflour or other flour in cooking).  Or the other evening when my friend organised "pork ribs" which was precooked and prepared and COVERED in BBQ sauce.  (Read the post I put up on Is it Keto about what to serve a friend if they are keto). 

You may be aware I set up my Keto 4 Asians site as I wanted to adapt to eating foods I like but with a ketogenic mindset.  It's not too hard to adapt but there are still substitutions or elimination of some ingredients.  But recently on talking with a friend we decided to create a "Is it Keto?" site.  Because often it's a phrase used to check if something is suitable to the ketogenic diet.  "Is x keto?" we ask often. 

So I put together a website - Is it Keto?

I even added capability to easily add extra entries into the database... as I had forgotten to add tofu to the list.  (doh!).  Anyone can contribute -- it creates a draft post for me to add in and the option for a link to the keto person's site or social media location.

If you are wondering - yes I still eat keto after 10 months or so.  I haven't lost a heap of weight (boo!) but I feel great and my mental state is a lot better.  I don't feel as tired and am able to take on a 30km hike without dramas! 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Best Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in an app

I found one of the best examples of a privacy policy and terms of service in an app in a long time!

I downloaded and installed a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) app on my phone this morning and whilst the app won't work for me (more on this below) I was very impressed with their implementation of the terms of service and privacy policy.  During the onboarding it was very clear what Terms of Service were as it was in simple plain English and not legalese.  It was short and concise in a dot point format and clearly made sure that it was clear that they were going to use your data but it was still owned by you.

It was short enough I actually skimmed / read the Terms before pressing the Continue.  Surprisingly there was no easy option to not continue.  I suppose for me the phone back button would have been the option.  

The next step was the Privacy Policy which was almost as easy to review as the Terms of Service.  Again the summary was clear as to what the privacy policy was about.

I wish all app developers who are collecting data for use would simplify their terms and privacy policies.  I'm sure there were more detailed versions of both somewhere on the Elite HRV app site and in app although I didn't attempt to read any more.  

I can't understand the ridiculousness of expecting users to 'read' and agree to the terms when there are pages and pages and pages of information.  Why bother?  I wonder what percentage would have even gone past the first "page" of the terms of things like when you first load up an iPhone?  I know they have the option of emailing the terms to yourself but you have already agreed at that point even if you do end up reading the 100+ (app) pages of terms! 

Often called "clickwrap" there is the implication that you have read it if you click the button (in this case the "Continue" link.  

We, as everyday users, have to rely on the good will of the organisations that build the app.  What about the Face App (the one that creates an "older" version of people) which seems to have terms indicating they can store and use the data - even after you have long deleted the app -- and the developers are based in Russia?!  Eeek!  I got wrapped up in that too.  

If everyone had to create simple English terms which were agreed to it would make the app world a better place!

One of my gripes about the user experience of the Elite HRV app which is where the above Terms and Privacy Policy are from is the 'compatibility" which indicated that as a Samsung Note 8 user it would be compatible (assuming that was going to be using the camera on my phone to measure my heart rate... ) and yet when I was trying to get a reading wanted to connect to a Bluetooth... something!  (assume a heart rate monitor).  Their site needs to be clearer that Android devices maybe compatible with ANT+ and other heart rate monitors but you still need the heart rate monitor to work!

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Bathing in Vitamin C and Water Dechlorination in an Apartment

In the past I have had a home which had a whole of house filter.  To filter out all the chlorine in the home and even the fluoride for drinking.  Since I've moved to an apartment things have to be a bit different as the water that comes into the apartment for hot water is already hot.  Which means any "whole" of apartment filter needs to be able to cope with hot water too.  It's not that there isn't such a thing just that it was too hard to get the right plumber in for the job who knew what they were doing.

So I decided to just get an over the sink kitchen filter for drinking water (and cooking and cleaning fishtanks and watering plants) and for my shower I just got a shower filter.  And I worked out that I could buy special vitamin c tablets to dechlorinate my bath water. 

I've been using the dechorination tablets for over a year (you get about 20 tablets per tube and I got 5 tubes) when my mum was telling me about how she's going to start having baths again (since she moved into a new place).  So I gave her a tube to try.  She LOVED it.  She raved how wonderfully it felt and how it meant her skin was no longer flaking and dry.  That's a huge wrap from her!  I had given her a new brand of tablets which I had bought from Amazon.  Unfortunately getting them here in Australia was super expensive (as Amazon forces you to get it from Australian Amazon).  So something that was A$18.99 became A$70!  I ended up getting a set from US Amazon and sending it to a shipment fulfilment service.  I paid a lot for the shipping but I think I still ended up slightly ahead (maybe $4...)

So this post is very much just sharing that I think Vitamin C tablets for a bath are great and does stop the flaky skin and the feeling of dry skin. 

Now I'm wondering if just buying vitamin C powder will have the same effect as I think that will be a lot cheaper than buying tablets.

I'll post back after I give it a go :)

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Transitioning to Apartment Living

I've now moved to Hurstville into a 1 bedroom apartment... with 2 dogs ... from a house for a year.  And LOVE it.

In this post I talk about some of the things I love about apartment living.  I also cover some of the gotchas and what I don't like about it.

1.  Security

I love the secure feeling of living in this particular apartment block.  I know it's not universal with all apartments but one of the things I was seeking was a feeling of security (or rather a lack of not feeling safe.)  I live on a high floor which helps too.  If I had all the same features but was on the first or ground floor I don't think it would be the same at all.
My apartment block has a swipe card/fob access for the lobby door and then a further swipe is required to get to any floor on the lift.  My apartment door then has a normal lock although I've seen other people install an additional lock I don't feel the need for this.  My floor only has a handful of apartments so well seem to recognise each other.

2.  Garbage Chute

I love, love, love having a garbage chute.  What is this magical thing?  Well it's a handle box thing which you pull open, throw your garbage (in a garbage or plastic bag please!!) close the box thing and voila... garbage is no longer in your life.  Ever.  (Don't throw out anything you want because goodness knows where it goes and I don't think you will ever see it again!)  It's very cathartic.  I believe there are lots of people who are watching the Marie Kondo Netflix series... and any decluttering person will tell you that you should not let your stuff own you.
The garbage chute is inside a garbage room which has space for me to put my recycling.  When I first moved in I had a lot of IKEA boxes.  And I mean a LOT.  The room was chockers full with my recycling and the next day I opened the door (probably to put more IKEA boxes into it!) and it was *poof* gone.  I mean magically.  It was an amazing feeling.  And our apartment block has cleaners who keep the room nice and clean and tidy.  It never smells funny or is left dirty.

3.  Storage Cage and Parking Spot

In my last house, we had a double ++ garage.  It was huge and we also had roof space and under house space where we could store stuff.  I thought I would miss having a garage where my car was kept safe and away from the other 'stranger' cars.  But the car space system works fine.  It's good to have enough space on either side of the car to get in and out and good to know that all there is space for is the car.  Once I get down to the car space I'm in the car and away!  (but I do have to go up 4 ramps and two security doors before I can get out but I do have a remote opener so it's not too bad).

The storage cage is also good.  It's good that it's far away in a sense and I do have enough storage in my apartment for most things so only the large things that I don't have space for or need for on a day to day basis goes down there.  Things like suitcases and not yet used potting mix or dog food or if anyone is going to Costco and buying toilet paper!  Mainly I put my suitcase and half worked on projects (I'm looking at you Big Mirror Project!) and my trolleys for big items.  Oh and that giant rug I still hang onto cos I love it but my apartment is too small for.  (I really should give it away... )

I lock the storage cage with a lock with chain - similar to a bicycle or motorcycle lock.  People are able to see into my cage and I don't have anything special in there so I don't expect there to be any theft.  It's good as it's not very dusty down there nor is it damp and it is well lit so all in all I think it's an improvement to most sheds or garages.

4.  Low maintenance (although high costs)

Living in a small apartment is great!  Dusting and vacuuming is minimal (well compared to a house!) and no lawns need mowing.  I only have one bathroom to clean and I clean as I go (as in I don't have a dedicated cleaning schedule).  My balcony is undercover so a sweep and mop is good to keep it clean even though I have two dogs.

The strata for the building is expensive especially since the only 'special' things is the two lifts our building has.  But cleaning and maintenance isn't free so each of us have to pay our share.  Having said that I believe maintenance for a house (time spent mowing, mowing, cleaning gutters etc) can add up over a year so for the < $5000 I pay per annum I think it's an OK trade.

5.  Mod cons (modern conveniences)

I live in a fairly new apartment so have a lot of the modern conveniences.  I installed an air conditioning unit when I moved in but probably only used it 10 times in the last year either for heating or cooling.  But it's good to know it's there.  The apartment comes with appliances such as the dishwasher, microwave and dryer (although I've had to replace the dryer).  The place also comes with an intercom for security and access.

It's hard to think of anything that this apartment needs.  Maybe one of those 3 in 1 things in the bathroom for winter.

I did replace all the halogen downlights with LEDs but as they were easily replaced.

6. Convenience

There's little not to love about my apartment!  The convenience most of all.  The ability to lock up and go is great and the location makes it super handy for me to get public transport around Sydney and also in Hurstville I get access to a Westfields as well as lots of restaurants and banking services.

7. Views and breeze

How can I forget one of the selling points of this apartment?  The view!  The view from this apartment is phenomenal!  And with it comes the breeze.  I'm fortunate to have an east facing apartment.  I originally looked at getting a north facing apartment but I actually think this is better!  Views of the ocean, airport and city... sunrises that are so magical.  Moon rises too!  And all whilst being protected on the north and south by neigbour's properties!  So I get a cooling breeze without the gale force winds.

Things which are a little annoying:

Lack of bathroom window for air - the compact size means both my laundry and bathroom are "internal" and have no windows to the outside.  Actually in my apartment I have NO windows!  But I have two massive stacker doors that lead out to the balcony.

Noise from upstairs - the noise from neighbours can be annoying if they are stomping around in the middle of the night but I think that my neighbours above must be away most of the year as I only occasionally get a few nights of noise.  And then silence for the rest of the year.  So I'm happy when they are all away!

Waiting for a lift - if you are in rush this could be annoying.  With two lifts servicing the building there are some times where you need to be patient and wait for the lift.  Unfortunately you can't rush these things.  If desperate there is always the stairs (although I have yet to work out how to get into the stairwell from downstairs).

Keys! - don't forget them! - every time I go out I double check for keys.  Unless I'm holding the keys in my hand when I'm about to leave my apartment I don't walk away.  The door self locks so I'm always worried one day I'll lock myself out.

That's it.  I can't think of any other things that don't work for me.  I'm sure there are small things but overall I just love it!  Yay to apartment living!

Startups - I can multitask right?

One of my co-founders of CrowdQuests / HackSauce has rightly pointed out that my last post was saying I am only focusing on one Startup.  Well I was.  But then we did GovHack 2018... and started up a new startup CrowdQuests which is something I find we at Transport for NSW need and I'm sure other data hungry organisations also need.  We've often talked about getting data more accurate and crowdsourced to keep costs low.  So now there is such a company and app that does that.  CrowdQuests :)

So CrowdQuests is the product and HackSauce is the organisation that has the four founders attached to it.  I say attached as we have it currently as a partnership with the 4 companies that each of the founders is a sole director of as partners.  I know confusing, right?  But it works for us and we are likely to incorporate HackSauce to make things a bit easier when submitting tenders and quotes and proposals.

More about CrowdQuests and what we are doing in a different post when I have a bit more time... but I also started a new blog which may or may not become a 'thing'... because I've been following a ketogenic diet for the last couple of months.  The blog is Keto4Asians.  It's a resource for me to share my keto stuff and knowledge.  And will obviously have a bent towards Asian related foods.  But I just blog about whatever.  I've also set up a matching Twitter and Instagram account.  Let's see what happens with it but it's meant to be a low effort (mainly because of my interest) activity and also helps me keep motivated in following the keto-esque diet.  I am doing what they call "lazy keto" as I am not tracking much except estimating in keeping my net carbs under 20 grams. 

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 -- now called HazTime so visit -- 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. 


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.