In July's episode of Tech We Like, we take a moment to appreciate the good old, multi-purpose USB that we take for granted every day. Plus, we’re introduced to a free piece of software that uses artificial intelligence to screen out background noise from your video calls! If you see anything you like the look of, below this video is our ‘Link Library’ to direct you to the different products.

We chat all things ‘Tech We Like’ in July

Link Library for July’s Tech We Like

Papercut

UK Windmill Locator

Windmill World

Wyze Night Light

Automatic Cars

Board Game Trade Maximizer

Github

Krisp.ai

USB

Upwork


Transcript

Chloe 00:00 It is July's session of Tech We Like. Another month has gone by and hopefully a lot more cool things are going to come out of this Tech We Like. So it's just anything that you've seen over the past month that you like the look of, that you've started using that's made your life easier that you'd just like to share with everyone. So, let's start with Ben.

Ben 00:21 Hello. So I'm going back to proper developer type land for my tech this time round. It's a little application called Papercut and it gets round the problem of when you're developing an app that needs to send out emails, a lot of the time, obviously you don't want to be sending real emails out to real people so you either have to set up a bunch of fake accounts that you have to keep logging into everywhere, or you have to kind of resign yourself to not being able to see the emails 'cos they just kind of vanish into nothingness. So Papercut is a little application that just sits on your own local machine and hoovers up all the emails that get fired at it and allows you to see them and browse through them and pick through, make sure that they're looking as you'd expect and above all just make sure that things are actually getting sent in the first place.

Chloe 01:16 Nice.

Ben 01:17 If I do a quick share so you see, just sits down here on your bar. When you send an email it'll ping up to tell you and then you can flick through it and for us tech types you can also look at the raw version of it and make sure that everything in there is how it could be. And that's also useful if you've got things that are displaying weird, you can look at the actual code behind the email and see if you can pinpoint exactly what it is that's causing that. So, that is mine.

Chris R 01:48 Can it simulate different email providers or, kind of, deliverability?

Ben 01:53 No. No, it is purely it's own thing and it displays them in its own, yet another way of rendering and formatting emails. So, unfortunately it can't, no, simulate how it might look displayed in Gmail vs. Outlook vs. Thunderbird vs. everything else. (laughter) There is definitely, I'm sure there's something out there that could do that because that's such a useful thing to be able to do. Somebody must have come up with it.

Chloe 02:25 But, I guess, it's just a way for you to see, like you say, what emails there are and, kind of the -.

Ben 02:33 Exactly.

Chloe 02:34 raw email as such, not how they'll look in different providers, so.

Ben 02:39 That's right, yeah. It's mainly to allow me to -. You can then, when you're working on your own machine, you can use any email you like in the world and safe in the knowledge that not only is it not going to bounce back because it's not a real email, but if it is a real email and some poor soul on the other side of the planet is going to receive some crazy test data.

02:59 (laughter)

Ben 02:30 You've sent out.

Chloe 03:01 Yeah. Cool, well thank you very much. Okay, Myke next.

Myke 03:06 Hello there. So, as you may or may not know, my wife has a borderline unhealthy obsession with windmills and visiting them. And so she drives around for a living and often goes to places and then she comes back home and she's like, "There were so many windmills that I didn't know they were there at the time and I've missed, you know, I could have gone and visited them, but I didn't know about it." So I built a little thing. I'm gonna share my screen really quickly. So I made this.

03:44 (laughter)

Linda 03:45 Woah! Oh my gosh.

Chloe 03:47 Wow.

Myke 03:48 It's all of the windmills in the UK.

03:51 (laughter)

Chris R 03:52 Where did you get the data?

Myke 03:54 Now that was the tricky part that I won't go into detail but long story short, I did not get it from Google Maps.

04:00 (laughter)

Linda 04:01 Wow.

Chloe 04:02 That is so cool.

Myke 04:03 So you can zoom in, click on them, they've got links to Windmill World which is, this is actually where I got all of the data from.

Ben 04:12 Screen scraped Windmill World.

Myke 04:14 Pretty much, Ben, yeah, pretty much.

04:16 (laughter)

Chloe 04:17 Wow.

Ben 04:18 Have you got in touch with Windmill World to offer a reciprocal link?

Chloe 04:23 Connect, yeah!

Myke 04:24 Yeah, I've reached out to thank them because it's an incredible resource, but there are a lot more windmills than I expected. There's over 1000.

Ben 04:35 Yeah, far more inland as well.

Myke 04:37 Yeah.

Chloe 04:38 Wow, very cool. How long did that take you?

Myke 04:41 Just a couple of hours.

Chloe 04:42 Hmm.

Myke 04:43 Yeah, no effort at all. Actually, no. Getting the data in the first place took most of the time, yeah.

Chloe 04:49 Mm, I bet.

Myke 04:50 Making the render, easy peasy.

Chloe 04:53 Oh wow, very cool. Hm, thanks very much. Okay, Linda.

Linda 04:58 Mine is a gadget. It's called a Wyze. I don't know if you pronounce it Wyze 'w' 'y' 'z' 'e' and it's a night light and it works on a sensor, motion detection which is great for us because we can't plug it in or have wires outside because the walls are too thick and there's too much for wiring. It has a battery that's rechargeable. Up to 3 months. And it's easy to install. So you don't have to have any wires or anything and down the steps at the back at night, yeah, it makes it much safer. And you can link up to 10 night lights together.

Chloe 05:39 Mm.

Linda 05:40 So you can have them either all coming on or not. So I'll send a link to it.

Chloe 05:45 Yeah, that sounds good. So is that outside the back of your house?

Linda 05:49 Yeah, but you can have them inside as well, yeah you can have them going up the stairs or, you know, at the top of the stairs, you know, if, like, you want to go to the bathroom in the night, you don't have to turn the light on and as you walk past it, it lights up. Yeah.

Chloe 06:04 Cool, ooh I like that.

Linda 06:06 Yeah.

Chloe 06:07 Very good, yeah, thank you. Okay, I'm going to go next and mine is a really basic thing again, but after travelling up to see you guys a couple of weeks ago, I am so thankful for my automatic car. Being stuck in traffic and the journey taking about 6 hours in total, it was so nice to just not have to do anything apart from accelerate and brake and, obviously, steer. So yeah, that's my Tech We Like for this month. I just realised how grateful I am. And I'm a little bit concerned because I'm going on a motorhome holiday next month and I'm driving and I'm a little bit concerned about what I'm going to be like with a gear stick. So, we'll see how that goes but yeah, that's mine for this month.

Linda 06:58 20-minutes and you'll be fine.

Chloe 06:59 Yeah, I hope so anyway. I'm a bit worried about not having a reversing camera as well. How I'm actually going to reverse without it. I've become reliant on it which is -.

Linda 07:08 Yeah.

Chloe 07:09 So yeah, that's mine. Automatic cars. Next we'll go to Chris.

Chris R 07:19 Mine is something called Trade Maximiser. I've not use this myself, but my friend was telling me about it and I thought it sounded really cool and good for this. So, it's an algorithm or a little application that some guys written, to do what they call is a math trade. So if you want to trade something, so say, I don't know, you've got a, in this case it would be using it for board games. You've got a board game, you've played it, you're bored of it and you want a new one, you think oh I'll sell it on eBay and get some cash for it and put it towards buying a new one, but obviously that's not very efficient, or you can just swap it with someone. But rather than just swapping one person, this brings a whole load of people together and everybody says what they've got, what they're prepared to swap for and it assigns values to it all.

Chris R 08:01 So it does this, kind of, massive automatic trade and works it out so everybody gets the best possible deal for their items, so you get a lot more than you would've done that if you'd just swapped it with one individual. And it handles duplicates and all sorts of things. It's pretty, it's pretty interesting. It's basically uses like a stock market style, kind of, trading algorithm but for swapping board games, which I thought was quite a cool little thing really, yeah. I mean you could use it for other stuff as well, that's just what this particular use was. You can use it for, you can probably use it for, if it was back in the 90s and we're all, like, still or early 2000s, you could probably use it for trading Pokemon cards or something as well.

Linda 08:39 Can you use it for jigsaws then?

Chris R 08:41 Yeah, yeah. Anything like that you could do. People organise them and just, I mean, it is obviously based on trust because you've got to, kind of, trust that people are actually going to send you the thing that they've been told to but you have no idea, you just get told where to, who to send your, the things that you're trading to and then you will receive it from someone completely different and there will be a whole load of trades that have happened in between.

Chloe 09:02 Wow.

Chris R 09:03 Yeah, so I thought that was quite interesting.

Linda 09:06 Yeah.

Chloe 09:07 Have you had a look at it yet?

Chris R 09:11 It's, I've not -. I've had a look at the site for the tool and it's people just running it themselves, so it's quite, it's quite a, sort of, develop-ery thing. You download it from, like, Github and then someone runs it, but yeah, it's got a whole load of rules and it's quite, kind of, heavily maths based, possibly slightly beyond my GCSE maths knowledge.

09:30 (laughter)

Chris R 09:31 But, yeah, it seems like a, it seems pretty clever.

Chloe 09:35 Mm very cool, hm nice. Okay, Ed.

Ed 09:44 Mine is a little piece of software which actually came to me via a targeted ad which I thought was quite amusing.

09:52 (laughter)

Ed 09:53 It's called Krisp with a 'K' and it is, it uses artificial intelligence to screen out background noise from your video calls and audio calls. So, for something like Zoom, it works with loads of other video clients. Let me just share my screen so you've got something to look at. It basically just, sort of, passes the audio from your microphone and also the audio signal that you receive as well, so it helps with other people if their audio's really noisy.

Chloe 10:38 Ooh.

Ed 10:44 So that removes background noise and, I mean, I can't really demonstrate it because I've got no-one in here to make any noises for me.

10:52 (laughter)

Ed 10:54 You just turn it on here and it's, so in Zoom, for example, you choose the Krisp, sort of, microphone and then the Krisp speaker as your, sort of, output and the input. And it's, kind of, detecting my voice and, yeah, it works really well sort of, from what I've tested but, it's really good.

Chloe 11:19 So that, it, kind of, negates the need for you to buy any, kind of like, snazzy microphones or anything like that for, like, the standard you or I, as such?

Ed 11:32 I guess so, I mean, I don't know really whether you'd get the performance of, you know, proper hardware, but certainly for things like noise cancellation, probably would do a good job. And it's completely free. You get -.

Chloe 11:49 I was gonna say is it free, yeah?

Ed 11:51 240 minutes I think. A week which isn't loads but, yeah.

Tom 11:57 Most people at home are -.

Linda 11:58 Yeah.

Myke 11:59 That's awesome, yeah, I can think of a couple of people I want to send it to who just, obliviously, join meetings and they sound like they are inside of a jet engine.

12:08 (laughter)

Linda 12:09 It's really annoying.

Chloe 12:14 That's really cool. Yeah, I like that one. That's gonna be a really really helpful one to a lot of people I think, actually, so cool, thank you. And, yep, Pez.

Pez 12:28 Mine is the good old-fashioned USB and its various protocols. The fact that it can do just about everything. Can be used for, like, peripherals like your mouse, your keyboard. It can be used for data transfer, it can be used for plugging in external hard drives, can be used from a Wi-Fi adaptor, USB-C coming along now, can make it used for monitors, HDMI and stuff like that. It can just about do everything. Charge your phone, charge your devices.

Ben 13:05 I was gonna say, everything you can think of can be USB powered. There was that fad a few years back having all sorts of desktop gadgets that were USB powered. Lights, coffee mug warmers, USB little foam missile launchers.

Chloe 13:23 Whaat?!

Ben 13:24 That were USB -.

Pez 13:25 There was a point where a mouse and keyboard came with their own special connections and, well…

Ben 13:30 Yeah.

Pez 13:31 Now that's not necessary anymore, so…

Ben 13:33 Because it's USB. Not to mention they've, thankfully, sorted out the whole massive phone charger proprietary cabling that happened around the 2000's when pretty much every brand of phone had its own charger, plug and connector.

Linda 13:48 Yeah.

Ben 13:49 And you couldn't mix and match.

Chloe 13:50 No, but with the new iPhones and things like that you can't, because their little adaptor bit is tiny, isn't it?

Ben 13:57 Oh, of course, yeah. Apple's still going their own way, of course, yes.

Chloe 14:03 Yeah, obviously, yeah.

14:05 (laughter)

Chloe 14:06 Cool, yeah. That's something you don't think about, you probably take for granted everyday. A USB.

Myke 14:12 Always amazes me that traditional USBs only have, apart from power, they only have two data pins. Data in and out.

Chris R 14:21 Yeah.

Pez 14:23 They're also incredibly fast nowadays.

Chris R 14:24 Yeah.

Pez 14:25 Yeah 'cos my Wi-Fi, I get 300 MB down and I use a Wi-Fi adapter and I get the full 300 MB down from a USB adaptor, using it in a USB 3.0 slot, which is crazy.

Chloe 14:37 I mean, that's just gone straight over my head.

Linda 14:42 I was just gonna say the same!

14:42 (laughter)

Chloe 14:43 I have no idea what you're talking about!

14:45 (laughter)

Linda 14:46 Need a lesson on USB, Pez!

Chloe 14:47 I know, yeah!

14:49 (laughter)

Chloe 14:49 Cool, thank you. Tom.

Tom 14:50 Mine's, it's not very futuristic but, it struck me while I was using it that 10 years ago, in the olden days, it would have seemed incredibly futuristic. It was just a website called Upwork where you can find freelancers and we needed someone, at fairly late notice, to do some work for a very short period of time. So, like, a normal contractor wouldn't really, you know, work because he can't offer, like, normally it would be a month or 3 month contract. So anyway, on Friday we decided that's what we're gonna do and then by Friday afternoon we'd got someone lined up who was perfect for us and we had a chat and interviewed a couple of people, and they started on Monday morning.

Tom 15:28 And, like Myke mentioned him earlier in our positive focus of being great, doing really good work and they're a good egg. So I just thought, you know, in 10 years ago or even maybe 5 years ago, you'd have been calling up people going, "Do you know someone who can do x, y and z?" and, like, scrambling around trying to find someone and, like, hoping that they'd, for the best and that you'd be -. I remember those days where you're, kind of, trying to, you have to have your network of people you know and those were very, this, kind of, negates that. You've just got this huge network of the entire universe.

Chloe 15:57 Yeah, that's true.

Tom 15:58 You can find people and ask them to look at your job ad or, you know, you stick it on and people start applying and, hey presto! So it makes life a lot easier when you need to plug in some specific resource with some -.

Chloe 16:11 Yeah, yeah.

Tom 16:13 It's really been very useful.

Chloe 16:15 Nice, very cool. Yeah, like it. Brilliant. Well, thank you very much everyone. Another good set of bits and bobs.