The situation we have at the moment creates a lot of anxiety, and with a lot of people being told to isolate or social-distance, it's a difficult to feel part of a group. I'd like to kick off a discussion on our very own awesome element14 Community to highlight some tech, tips and projects that I think are really cool, uplifting, and show how technology & a great community can make a huge difference. I'm not writing on behalf of the company, the views are my own.

 

WFH

 

Like many other big companys, our staff across the world have been asked to work from home until further notice. This isn't too much of a big deal for the element14 Community teams - who are split between Leeds in the UK and Chicago in the US - so we're already very comfortable using remote working tools, just not for extended periods of time.. apart from when my wife broke her ankle last year, and I was wfh for 2-3 months to look after her and help with the kids.. so that was my test run!

 

We have the usual VPN access, but you might be interested to know we use Microsoft Teams.. that's a brilliant tool for keeping in contact with everyone and feeling like a team, even when you're all remote.

 

We have the standard work-related channels, but others which are more social/fun, like;

 

Chit chat - for discussing non-critical stuff like the weather

Happy room - for funny memes, pictures of pets, etc

Epic fail - for funny (or not so funny) fails

 

We'll also meet daily on a video call for our 'stand-up' .. having video for this is fantastic.. look how happy we are

As well as discussing any issues, we'll have a good chat about whatever else is going on!

 

 

It's worth noting that Discord (which is very much like MS Teams) have temporarily increased their free tier for video streaming from a cap of 10 people to 50. This is a brilliant idea.. schools could use it for streaming classes, as well as local groups/clubs.

https://blog.discordapp.com/helping-out-where-we-can-3a5fb7bac77a

 

Other video platforms are doing similar adjustments. And I've heard that some ISPs are relaxing their bandwidth caps too.. nice!

 

The BBC has published an article about staying in touch with older relatives & lists a bunch of devices which can help; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51933618

 

Are there any other tools you find essential when you're working from home.. maybe to help with your focus, or to remind you to take breaks?

 

Project Ideas

 

There's an interesting thread which was started by Rod, which is well worth a read. There are some great ideas for projects in here.

Projects That Fight Germs

 

I was personally wondering whether a 'Phone Soap' project which uses UV light to clean your gadgets would be straight forward to make? That kind of device is on Amazon and costs upwards of £30, but looks simple enough to make to me.. especially if you don't bother with a charging option or having it portable. There are UV LEDs in the Farnell / Newark stores, but are they suitable for this kind of thing? ... if you know, let us know in the comments, and if you've built one, I'd be interested to see how you've done it.

 

 

With so much data out there, it's good to see how this University is presenting it in a very nice dashboard. From what I can see it's hosted in Microsoft's Azure platform;

https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

 

 

Are there other data-visualisation projects you've seen which are useful? Let us know in the comments!

 

Helping Out

 

Folding@Home has recently added Covid-19 to their projects, so that your unused CPU/GPU cycles can help find a cure.

https://foldingathome.org/2020/03/10/covid19-update/

 

 

If you'd like to join in, we've created a element14 Community folding@home team, which you can join: enter this team ID - 240845. More details about this are in Chris' post here; Set your Processors to ANALYSE for the COVID-19 virus with Folding@Home

 

The BBC has an article on a 3D printing project where they helped a hospital in Italy who had run out of life-saving respirator valves; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51911070

 

Tips

 

The BBC showed how to safely clean your phone/devices - harsh chemicals can damage the grease-resistant coating of the phone/tablet so follow their advice here;

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51863924

 

Do you have any projects, tips, tech or ideas to help get through this?