At the Point of Sale

Thornleigh Farm is open 24/7 via our online Store. We also open for walk-in sales for during pickup times.

Until now, we have been making these sales by using a printed price sheet, and only accepting cash. That doesn’t quite cut it in 2018.

 

Enter Square. We’ve now got a fancy Square Stand. We can accept contactless cards, Apply Pay, and Google Pay. Phew!

It gets better. Previously, we had to manually track inventory changes from cash sales. This busywork sucked time away from more important tasks like actually growing food.

Square stays in sync with our web store, offering the same products

All that busywork is now gone. We have integrated Square with Minnie: Our friendly farm management robot. Minnie and Square talk to each other via the Square Connect API, automatically managing stock levels across physical and online sales.

This is when technology is at its best: Saving busywork, freeing us to do valuable things.

Need For Speed

The march of technological progress is relentless. In April 2015, Thornleigh was connected to the internet via a satellite link. This was a Big Deal™ at the time, opening up opportunities that mainland residents take for granted. Now, just over a year later, a new connection has been made.

Thornleigh Lord Howe Island NBN Satellite
Ariane 5 flight VA 226 launches from French Guinea carrying the NBN Sky Muster satellite. Via ArianeSpace

On September 30 2015, an Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana. Onboard were two satellites, one of which was “Sky Muster.” Sky Muster was lofted into a geostationary orbit 35,000 km above the Earth, at 0° North, 140° West, putting it on the equator just north of Papua New Guinea.

NBN Sky Muster
The approximate location of Sky Muster’s “Ground Track,” and the position of Lord Howe Island

Sky Muster is part of the Australian Government’s “National Broadband Network” project. It is intended to provide subsidised internet connectivity to parts of Australia that commercial operators have difficulty servicing economically.

NBN Sky Muster Lord Howe Island
An NBN Co rendering of the Sky Muster satellite

A new satellite dish has been installed at Thornleigh to allow the property to connect to Sky Muster. Until now, Thornleigh’s internet connection was provided by commercial operator Telstra via capacity on an older satellite. The difference in speed and cost is staggering.

NBN Sky Muster Activ8me Telstra
The price difference between NBN Sky Muster and Telstra’s older service

For 40 gigabytes of data per month, the price drop is $1,233, or 95%! This huge difference will free up cash flow for other investments on the farm, and allow us to push vastly more data to and from the mainland.

The difference in theoretical speeds between Telstra and NBN Sky Muster
The difference in theoretical speeds between Telstra and NBN Sky Muster

Theoretical upload and download speeds are approximately five times faster. Under real world testing, the Thornleigh connection is able to sustain 25Mbps, and 1Mbps up. The old Telstra connection was able to sustain 3Mbps down, and 0.3Mbps up.

Thornleigh Lord Howe Island
The new NBN Co satellite dish in the foreground, and old Telstra dish in the background

None of this should be construed as a slight against Telstra. Back when their service was installed, there was no government-subsidised NBN Sky Muster satellite in orbit. Their connection has been reliable come rain, wind, and shine, and the customer service from their Satellite Support Team impeccable and friendly.

Without Telstra, Thornleigh would have had no internet connection at all throughout 2015, and most of 2016. This very website would not have existed!

In the words of a Lord Howe Island resident, the NBN Sky Muster satellite ‘allows us to keep up with mainland folk.’ This is not an exaggeration. The internet is a pervasive, critical component of modern life and business. The business opportunities afforded by this new connection are vast: Thornleigh has entered a new era!