In June’s episode of Tech We Like, we manage to have a conversation about a bread knife (it doesn’t get much techier than that, does it?!) and there is controversy between team members. Will the keyboard live on? 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 June

Link Library for June’s Tech We Like

Bread knife

MEATER Meat Thermometer

Parallels for Mac

Camo app

3D Ergonomic Eye Mask

Oculus Quest

Oculus Air Link

Virtual desktop Oculus Quest

GPT-3

Sketchup 3D design software

Blender 3D creation suite

Unreal Engine 3D creation tool

The Mandalorian (filming with VR headsets)

ASOS fit assistant

Psion 5mx

HP Jornada

Poqet PC


Transcripts

Chloe 00:00: Morning everyone, it is our third session of Tech We Like now. I feel like they come round quicker and quicker every time they happen, but this is just a chance for us to chat through some cool stuff that we've seen or that we've used that we like the look of so yeah, let's start with Chris Rhodes.

Chris R 00:26: Right, bear with me on this one because it's gonna sound really stupid to start with, but the piece of tech that I like right now is a bread knife. Okay, so that sounds completely ridiculous but…

Linda 00.38.5: Sounds good to me.

Rick 00:39: It's not!

Chris R 00:40: We moved house a couple of years ago and in the move, we lost a bread knife. And for some reason we just never got round to buying another one, so we've been making do without it for all this time like trying to slice bread with a carving knife basically, and then I finally remembered when I was in the shop the other day to buy one and it has revolutionised my kitchen again. And it's just, like, a good example of how you can make do with, kind of, okay tools.

Rick 01:03: The wrong tool.

Chris R 01:04: But if you've got the right tool for the right job, it makes, it really really works. So, it's not exactly high-tech but I think it's just a little example of, like, using the right tool for the right job. Meaning that I get nice decent crusty bread rather than the, kind of, squashed flat loaf that I've been hacking away at (laughter).

Linda 01:19: (laughter) Yes.

Chris R 01:21: So yeah, slightly weird that one but it just popped into my head this morning when I was making breakfast. So…

Chloe 01:26: To be fair though, this week, actually, my husband was using a knife that wasn't a bread knife, and I said to him "What are you doing because that just looks so difficult?!"

Chris R 01:36: Yeah!

Chloe 01:39: We've got one in the drawer, just use it! (laughter) So, yeah, that actually is a very good one, I have to say.

Linda 01:47: Yeah (laughter)

Chloe 01:48: You can actually tell the difference. Okay, thank you. Next we'll go to Rick.

Rick 01:56: Well, mine's food related actually. So I was recently bought a gift and it is a thing called a 'metre', spelt M-E-A-T-E-R and it is a thermometer that is Bluetooth enabled and so what you have is the – for some reason I've forgotten to bring it with me. I shall fetch it to show you at the end, but

Rick 02:14: So what you have is you have a probe that you put into whatever meat you wanna cook, so if it's chicken, a roast, a roll but whatever you're cooking. And you leave half of it out and half of it, in so that it can monitor the outside air temperature and it can monitor the meat temperature. Now here's the brilliant part. You get an app that comes with it, that I will show you now. That is connected to the device and then when you select your cook, so I can look at my recent cooked here. So I cooked, on Saturday, I cooked a Porchetta in the barbecue, but with a lid over.

Rick 02:57: And basically side heated, so it would just smoke very slowly for about 6 hours and this is the chart of the temperature within the meat during that time. The cook, when it started, what the duration is and what happens is when you start a cook, it will show you when connected to it, it'll show you the temperature outside, the temperature inside the meat and then it'll show you underneath what time that meat will reach the target temperature which it has recommended to you based upon FDA temperature guidelines for rare, you know, medium or whatever you want.

Rick 03:35: It, I thought, was an over-engineered nightm-. Well, like, surely this seems too much. Looking at it seemed to work for me for years, but the reality is, I just don't look at it and therefore I can go and do other things and not think about it and just pull my phone out and think "Oh right, hang on a minute, the temperature has dropped a bit. I need to go and put some coals on it or I need to-. It's not a problem and it is a joy to use. There is one slight sidekick with this and that is that in order for their Bluetooth to reach outside of a metal oven, they have definitely boosted the power on it so that it is creating quite an interference pattern around.

Rick 04:18: People wearing Bluetooth headphones walking past the device, directly past get a little (click) knock out as it goes "Woah, hang on a minute" because it's a very powerful signal to be able to lock something in a steel oven and still get the Bluetooth out, but it is a great device. They also make them for restaurants where there's 5 of them so that you can be putting them into lots of different joints, but all monitored on one device, so they can say this joint will be ready then, this joint will be ready then and this-. So, yeah, it's technology but I love it. It works well.

Tom 04:48: Cool.

Linda 04:49: Can you bring it when we do the barbecue, please?

Rick 04:51: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Linda 04:53: Because, yeah, that's the bit I was panicking about.

Rick 04:57: I could bring the smoker as well if you want and we can just, like, put things on for longer.

Linda 05:01: (inaudible) -with you on that one.

Rick 05:02: And things like that and just leave them for hours.

Chloe 05:06: That's next level, like, stuff for cooking.

Rick 05:10: Mmhm.

Chloe 05:11: And when you first say it I think "Ooh, like, do you really need that?" But then when you talk about why it's useful, I'm instantly like "Oh yeah, actually that sounds like a really good idea."

Linda 05:20: Yeah.

Chloe 05:21: And I'm sold straight away.

Rick 05:23: To be honest, if you use a meat thermometer at all anyway, then, or have used one, it it's just that but better because you haven't got to open the oven and release all that heat and there's a number of issues where you really don't want to be opening and looking, and opening and looking. But also, if you are cooking, like, something, a big piece of meat, the, you don't want to be serving something up and suddenly going "Oh my god, this is undercooked."

Linda 05:49: Yeah.

Rick 05:50: You know.

Linda 05:51: That's what I was worrying about!

Rick 05:52: Whereas if you can already know that it's exactly at the recommended temperature for it to be safe to eat and everything else, I think it's a benefit.

Linda 05:59: Yeah.

Chloe 06:00: That's amazing, I love that. Okay, we'll go to Perry next.

Perry 06:06: Mine is work related and it's good. It's, it is Parallels for Mac which is, essentially, a virtual machine for Windows so I can run Windows on my MacBook. But Parallels is really good in how well it integrates back with the Mac ecosystem. They all share the same filesystem, so if I have files on my Mac and files on the Windows, I can use them both at the same time while running both machines at the same time. So there's a lot less messing about with file transfer, there's no need to switch on and off the computer and all that stuff and you can even break out the windows out of virtual machines so you don't have to view the window within the-. So if I open a program in Windows, I don't have to view it within the Windows virtual machine, I can pull it out and have it on my Mac desktop as if I was just, if it was just any old Mac application.

Rick 07:09: It is great, isn't it?

Perry 07:11: Yeah it is, it's really smooth.

Chloe 07:12: What would you do if you couldn't do that and you had to run some things on Windows?

Perry 07:19: Either use Bootcamp which is me turning on and off the computer to run it, completely, run Windows separately and then I'd have to turn it on and off again to get back to Mac. Or have a second computer! (laughter)

Chloe 07:31: Wow.

Chris R 07:32: It's like 5-minutes+ disruption every time isn't it if you need to switch-.

Rick 07:36: Mm.

Chris R 07:37: (inaudible) Otherwise it's a right pain.

Perry 07:38: And messing about with two different file systems as well where your files aren't in the same place.

Rick 07:44: You'll be glad to know there's an M1 version that I've been testing, it's actually very very good as well. So you'll be able to run all those old maps on M1 silicon really easily.

Perry 07:54: Nice.

Chloe 07:55: Cool, thank you. Okay, Tom.

Tom 07:58: Well my one, it occurred to me last night, I thought, I don't think anyone's done this so it's probably old hack to us because we've all talked about it before, but I just want to give a shout out if anyone's watching for the Camo app which converts your phone into a webcam. So I'm just going to demonstrate it by flipping back to my in-built Mac HD camera. From what we've got on now and this is what it looks like with my built-in-.

Linda 08:26: Yeah!

Tom 08:27: Another gizmo but the quality is-. You can see it's, like-. I think the licence is, like, 30 quid for a year or 60 quid for a lifetime licence. And you just hook your phone up to the computer and get a bit of software installed. And then hey presto, you've got a really slick looking webcam! And it makes such a massive difference and it just, yeah, it looks more professional, makes it easier to see you and, just, if you've got bad lighting it, you just adjust the lighting really nicely. It's got this portrait mode that's focused on me here and just softening the background so you can focus on me.

Tom 09:01: And, yeah, it's just-. I'd kind of forgotten about it and then it just came up in conversation the other day and I thought oh god, I've got used to using it now but it's really really cool. And definitely worth doing if you're using webcams at home. It's better than any other webcam I've ever used.

Rick 09:16: They're not cheap either, other webcams.

Tom 09:18: No, exactly. You, say, you spend 100 quid on a Logitech one and it's not as good as this. So, bit of a no brainer, it's good.

Rick 09:26: Most of them don't have built-in LIDAR either.

Tom 09:27: No.

Chris R 09:29: It's also got loads of really pointless filters on it as well so you can…(laughter)

Chloe 09:33: Ooh, I didn't know you could do that!

Rick 09:34: Yeah, I've never really -.

Chris R 09:36: Apparently, and then there's a synth wave 1980s one appar-. Ooh crikey.

Linda 09:39: Woahh!

Chloe 09:40: Yeah, I like that.

Chris R 09:41: Right, I'm gonna get rid of that. (laughter)

Chris R 09:44: So yeah.

Rick 09:45: Wow, it took a while for your white balance to return as well.

Linda 09:47: Yeah.

Chris R 09:48: Yeah, yeah, that was slow. (laughter)

Chloe 09:52: Cool, yeah thanks Tom. I think Camo's definitely one that I love.

Tom 09:56: Yeah, it's good.

Chloe 09:58: Okay, Linda.

Linda 10:01: Mine is, I found, it was a Kickstarter project and it's a 3D ergonomic eye mask which is built up in six different layers and you're able to blink behind it rather than it just be, you know, stuck on your head. And it fits all faces, shapes and sizes, so I'm going to order one.

Chloe 10:27: Wow.

Linda 10:29: Yeah.

Chloe 10:30: What would be like, for that, what would be the purpose of..Do you mean, like, an eye mask when you go to sleep?

Linda 10:37: Yeah, yeah! When you go to bed or you know, like, if people are doing yoga and meditation and stuff like that, yeah. A lot of them they just, like, stick around your head and you can't move your eyes, but you're able to blink with it. It's made up of 6 different layers of material. So it stands off your face and it's comfortable apparently.

Chloe 11:00: Wow, yeah 'cos I was gonna say you wouldn't need to blink if you were wearing it to bed, obviously…other uses like yoga and meditation and things like that, it makes sense so… Cool, I like that. Very good.

Tom 11:12: Nice.

Chloe 11:13: Okay, Chris Foster.

Chris F 11:18: Yeah, mine's related to the Oculus quest which I've got up here which The Tech Dept™ kindly bought me. It's, like, a VR headset With these kind of controllers. Which is like a, yeah, the thing I'm looking forward to trying out, which I've not tried out yet, is the recently introduced, something called Air Link, which means that you can -. 'Cos there's like a, the Quest has, kind of, a little computer built in so a lot of the games are, kind of, limited to the graphics that are capable on the device itself.

Chris F 12:05: Previously people had been connecting to the PC via cable cable to get better graphics. On the games, but they've just introduced, well, it's been around for a couple of months but I've not had time to try it yet.

Rick 12:20: You'll be glad to know it works quite well, Chris. I tried it the other week.

Chris 12:23: Is it?

Rick 12:24: Yeah.

Chris F 12:25: Hopefully my WiFi's good enough because it's -.

Rick 12:27: Ahh.

Chris F 12:28: It's being able to stream the thing straight from the PC to the headset without having the cable. I'm looking forward to trying that out.

Chloe 12:38: So, do you have controls that you hold as well?

Chris F 12:44: They've got the, it comes with these, like, hand controls but they've also got a feature in there where it can pick up on your hands without the controllers. It doesn't work particularly well but -.

Rick 12:56: No, not yet. I wouldn't use the hand tracking in particular, but one of the interesting things they've just added as well is there's a new desk mode whereby you can define an actual in real-world desk so you draw out where that desk is and it can see it and it locates it and then you can also target a keyboard. So you put a keyboard in front and it will recognise the keyboard and track the keyboard so that when you go back into virtual reality you can now have a keyboard in virtual reality so therefore you can throw like a 60-inch screen to the left and the screen to the right and make a massive screen in the middle and you can have your desktops on those and type away on a keyboard that exists in virtual reality. Now that's the beginning of their next phase for trying to integrate the two and that's where AR will step in. But this is kind of like a halfway step towards AR working.

Chris F 13:50: It's very strange trying to type without there being a keyboard there. (laughter)

Rick 13:54: Yes.

Chloe 13:56: How weird is that?!

Linda 13:57: Yeah!

Rick 13:58: Yeah, if your fingers are comfortable enough to just rest in the right places it's surprising. You can actually pull it off.

Chloe 14:05: Not sure I'll prefer doing that over having the keyboard. But it's gonna become normal isn't it, that's the thing. It's gonna be what everyone -.

Rick 14:13: Well, hopefully keyboards will disappear. I've been wanting them to disappear for a long time. But we've not got conversational AI's that can understand a thing yet.

Chloe 14:23: I can't, I can't imagine it. I really can't. Although, to be fair, the technology changes that have happened in my lifetime already, I shouldn't be surprised.

Rick 14:31: Well there's a thing called GPT3 which has been trained as an AI to allow people to conversationally ask the AI to build software. It's quite intriguing. It's been trained in about six different languages so far and people are building things by talking to the device and saying I would like something that looks like this that does that and then it does the programming to make it happen.

Chloe 14:55: Wow.

Rick 14:56: I don't think we need to worry about our jobs quite yet. But…

Linda 14:59: Yeah (laughter)

Chloe 15:00: Yeah, don't be scared everyone (laughter).

Rick 15:01: It's an interesting…

Chris F 15:02: Yeah, what I've been looking forward to doing was, I've spent some time drawing up some garden plans in SketchUp on the computer.

Rick 15:10: Brilliant.

Chris F 15:11: But I want to be able to walk through it on in VR. And there's a few different ways of doing it. It's quite hard to, kind of, downscale what you've drawn, so it's capable to work on the Quest but with this Air Link, it should, I shouldn't have to do that. I should just be able to, I'm not quite sure how I'm gonna do it yet, but just be able to have a walkthrough which is streaming from the PC without having to convert it to…

Rick 15:47: If you need a hand, Chris, I've done, I've actually done it.

Chris F 15:49: Have you?

Rick 15:50: So, yes, I did a fly round with the Drone on the house to try and do a photogrammetry scan and then I put that into Blender and then did an Air-, not an Air Link at the time. At the time it was cable link, to put it on and then view it.

Chris F 16:06: Oh yes.

Rick 16:07: But it's really good.

Chris F 16:08: Is that built straight into Blender then?

Rick 16:10: Well, what I actually did was exported it from Blender into Unreal because Unreal has built-in VR, like, you just press play on your Unreal environment and the VR headset's immediately available. You can even do editing in VR on Unreal now, so you can just go in and see it and scale it and move it around and then walk through it. It's very, yeah, it's good.

Chris F 16:32: Yeah, I think the real thing's gonna come when people are able to do the 3D modelling with, in VR -.

Rick 16:40: Yes.

Chris F 16:41: With their hands rather than having to do it all with the -.

Rick 16:44: It is starting to happen. If you look at the new Unreal 5 demo's because they, I think to do film set production in Unreal 5 and therefore they're having teams of people working virtually in the same space moving stuff and doing set lighting and things like that, so yeah. And Star Wars, The Mandalorian, was filmed in VR as in the film crew were wearing VR headsets that they could see the virtual environment that they were filming in.

Tom 17:13: Wow.

Chloe 17:14: I feel like every time it comes to me it's after such a, like, cool conversation and then I've got mine to give to everyone. So mine is, this week, I'm gonna go next…I was shopping on ASOS and they've got lots of different brands on there which means different sizing, things like that. So I'd seen a pair of jeans that I liked that were a brand I've never bought from before and I had no idea what size to buy. But what they actually do is walk you through a process where you put in a few details like your height, your weight, what other brands you wear and in what size, and then it calculates what size it thinks you should have in that brand, that specific pair of jeans.

Rick 18:02: That's very smart.

Chloe 18:03: Yeah, and I thought, and I, when I first, I thought well they're not gonna have the brand of jeans that I have 'cos they're just Topshop, they're nothing -. You know, not like Levi's or anything like that. And they had such a long list of branded stuff. And it turns out that I'd actually already ordered the pair of jeans before I found this out and I'd ordered the size too big and the size that they told me to buy was the right size, so I was annoyed that I'd seen it too late but, yeah, I just thought it was a really cool I've never seen anything like that on any, you know, fashion online stores before and just really helpful in terms of knowing what size to get so, yeah, I thought it was really cool.

Tom 18:49: Useful, isn't it?

Rick 18:50: Yeah. It's an area of technology that's being developed quite heavily at the moment is the issue for selling clothes online and sizing and people being able to try, virtually put things on, that's an area they're really pushing. But not a lot of people want to do a personal body scan.

Linda 19:08: No.

Rick 19:08: Some companies are even offering that. You stand in a booth and it does a laser scan of the body and then you leave that with them and they can tell you which clothes fit when because they've got an exact three-dimensional scan of you, assuming you haven't put any weight on in the meantime.

Linda 19:22: Yeah! Can they do it for shoes? Because I never get the right size shoes!

Chloe 19:27: Yeah.

Linda 19:28: When I'm ordering online.

Rick 19:29: If you have a half shoe difference, you know there are websites where you can trade with other people who have the opposite foot, half size for instance. So that you can pair up with people and buy shoes together. Yeah, and so you buy shoes together. You buy two pairs, right, but one of the half size difference between the two and then one of you take each of the one that's correct for the two of you.

Linda 19:48: Right.

Rick 19:49: There's nothing the internet doesn't try to solve.

Chloe 19:52: I know, honestly. You know everything. Every conversation we have about anything you know something else.

Linda 19:57: Yeah.

Chloe 19:58: I just think, how do you know so much?!

Rick 20:01: Why do you think I look this tired? (laughter)

Chloe 20:06: Okay, And I think then, lastly, Myke.

Myke 20:10: Hello there. I probably should just mention, I got these new glasses and used one of those, kind of, online 'try-on' systems. It takes a quote unquote "3D scan of your face" and, kind of, maps the glasses out and it was pretty good because it's like, I always forget that when you go to Specsavers or wherever, soon as you put the pair of glasses on and look at yourself in the mirror, you can't see anything because they don't have -.

Rick 20:40: They don't have the right lens' in, yeah. (laughter)

Myke 20:41: They don't have the right lens' in. I'm quite short-sighted these days so I need, like, a, I need to know in advance how good they look. But, yeah, that wasn't what I was going to talk about. I was going to, well, I was basically going to disagree with Rick and say that I really like keyboards and I hope they stay around for a long time.

Chloe 21:01: Oooh, controversial!

Myke 21:03: I know, I know. I've got, you won't be able to see, but behind me I've got a very modest collection of clamshell computers.

Rick 21:12: Ahh, nice.

Myke 21:13: These, kind of, old things.

Rick 21:14: Yup.

Myke 21:15: This is a Psion 5 MX from the late 90s and this is a HP Jornada.

Rick 21:22: Had one of those. (laughter)

Myke 21:23: Yeah, yeah. They're very old and…

Rick 21:26: Thanks.

Myke 21:27: …Were very expensive. (laughter) You know, compared to modern computers.

Chloe 21:30: I don't think I've ever seen them before, sorry!

Myke 21:32: Ah, they're so cool, they're so cool. And, quite an elusive model is the Poqet PC from 1989 and it's probably the original device in this kind of form factor and, it is, it's impossible to get hold of really for me because they're about as expensive as they were when they came out, even now. They're quite rare and the fascinating thing about them which I read recently was that their power optimisation is so aggressive that it literally stops the CPU between keystrokes, right.

Myke 22:17: So what I mean by that is the only processing it ever does is during the time that you press a key down, just for those small instances which is crazy. I've never heard of anything like that. So the battery life, reportedly, lasted for months. Months.

Rick 22:37: Amazing.

Chloe 22:38: What could you do on them as well, what?

Myke 22:42: They were IBM PC compatible so you could type Word documents essentially and save them to your computer.

Chris F 22:51: We used to develop things, for those sorts of things for and connect them up to laser scanners and…

Rick 22:58: Mm.

Chris F 22:59: …You could control the scanner.

Rick 23:01: I had one of the early, was it HP? A Compaq. The Compaq, first ones of the touchscreen and the little pen and I, just blew my mind at the time. Well, I'd had a Palm-Pilot and other things which were moving things forward from where we were before but yeah, some of the early clamshell design devices they were just, they were hugely expensive but they were really cool.

Myke 23:28: Yeah, I mean, you could connect to the internet on a lot of these things and you could send emails, you could do spreadsheets, you could do calendars, diaries, you know, you could organise your jetset business person's life very easily.

Rick 23:42: Mm.

Myke 23:43: But then obviously smartphones came out and they had died.

Rick 23:46: Killed it. (laughter)

Myke 23:47: Exactly, yeah.

Rick 23:50: Yeah, they were the inspiration for the smartphone really.

Chloe 23:53: Yeah, I was gonna say like, for me, it seems like an earlier version of what I would've had as a BlackBerry. Is that, is there any resemblance?

Myke 24:04: Yeah, pretty much but just with an absolutely joyous keyboard. I mean, this Psion is a British company that fell off the face of the Earth.

Rick 24:14: That was the best [inaudible] keyboard ever made if you ask me.

Myke 24:17: It's great. It's great.

Chloe 24:19: Yeah, all hail the keyboard. Long live the keyboard. (laughter)

Chloe 24:24: Brilliant. Well, thank you very much everyone. Another great session so yeah, thank you very much. I always learn new things every time I talk to you guys, so it's great.

Rick 24:35: Great stuff.

Tom: 24:36: Thanks Chloe.

Chloe: 24:37: Thank you. See you later.

Linda 24:37: Thank you.

Rick 24:38: Cheers, bye.

Chloe 24:40: Byeee.