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Observer II

Time for a rethink ?

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Assuming we come out at the other end of the current crisis,  there will be an opportunity to re-examine our social and economic lifestyles, their risks and effects on our local and global environment.   Since the lockdowns came into force;  the canals of Venice now look cleaner and fish are returning;   most cities and regions are experiencing 50% less pollution from road vehicles;  people are working from home, so less dependency on transport systems.  International travel and flights have diminished radically.   So, after the dust settles,  will it be a case of back to business as usual, or will we reassess our dependency on globalism and international connectivity, on global supply chains etc ?

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There must be many jobs that will still be able to be done from home. Just as the computer has revolutionised shopping it can do the same for the world of work.

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It's impossible to think that the world will not be a different place when this is behind us.  I think that most important it will be an improvement, like a change of attitude in Iran.  But the most basic and beneficial advance will be that maybe in the future people will wash their hands after a crap, that should make a tremedous difference in Wal Mart cart handles disease alone!

Got to say though, if it wasn't for the Corona Virus, United would have caught Liverpool and won the league, of course I may be a little biased.

I am a happy, optimistic person, but I must say that all of this bad news is affecting my golf game - haven't broken 80 this week!  So, I'm not going to watch the news again for at least a month and concentrate more on getting the club on a more consistent inside path!

Hot off the presses, the golf course grill can now only serve breakfast on a takeaway basis, will this terror never end !

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Just been corrected by my wife, apparently I've been referring all along to a beer virus not the deadly one!  I've drunk Corona for so long it was a natural mistake.   Think of all those poor Mexican brewery workers now being maligned !

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My business is small, only employing 12 staff but the technology allows us to work 100% from home, however working from home does have its downsides not least the social isolation it creates.

Before I set up my business, I spent two years locked away in a small room developing a product and other than meals or an occasional cuppa, I didn’t see or speak with anyone. I used to joke about it being like a prison without bars on the windows. I eventually realized that having no proper interaction with people wasn’t great, I hardly spoke with the wife and the postman used to drop the mail and run. This was self-imposed isolation but none the less it brought home to me the problems of working from home and the importance of getting out and interfacing face to face with others.

Before this crisis, my staff were already working remotely from home but were asked to try and come to the office at least a couple of days each week to maintain a sense of teamworking. The more local lads seem to prefer to come in most days and I think this shows that working from home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Current situation is everyone works from home and I just call in every few days to check for any mail.

 

Bill 😊

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One of my neighbours is working from home.

Told he will be tarmacking the lounge tomorrow.....🤣

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Guess it will still be crowded and most will be smoking their heads off -  don't do as we do, do as we say.     Just wonder if the millenials will change their globetrotting ways after this lot ?   Many have been trapped abroad, with HMG pulling out all the stops to bring them home - tested or not.

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In this context, I guess the private car scores maximum points here while mass transport gets a big fat nul points.

 

Bill :)

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Interesting piece on Countyfile tonight, about a possible US trade deal and the issue of food standards.   UK food production standards are clearly superior to the US, hence US food imports would be cheaper than home produced, although in the case of their chlorinated chicken only by 7%; and provided it's labelled clearly it would be a matter of consumer choice.  But this issue of food standards, makes me wonder if we'll absorb any lessons from Wuhan ?

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On 3/20/2020 at 6:02 AM, Bill said:

My business is small, only employing 12 staff but the technology allows us to work 100% from home, however working from home does have its downsides not least the social isolation it creates.

Before I set up my business, I spent two years locked away in a small room developing a product and other than meals or an occasional cuppa, I didn’t see or speak with anyone. I used to joke about it being like a prison without bars on the windows. I eventually realized that having no proper interaction with people wasn’t great, I hardly spoke with the wife and the postman used to drop the mail and run. This was self-imposed isolation but none the less it brought home to me the problems of working from home and the importance of getting out and interfacing face to face with others.

Before this crisis, my staff were already working remotely from home but were asked to try and come to the office at least a couple of days each week to maintain a sense of teamworking. The more local lads seem to prefer to come in most days and I think this shows that working from home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Current situation is everyone works from home and I just call in every few days to check for any mail.

 

Bill 😊

Out of curiosity what is your business?

As an ex truck driver, I am used to being socially isolated, not just because of the amount of time I spent on my own but the attitude to trucks and truck drivers. No where to park for the night, crap facilities, weight limits because people buy houses on A roads then don't like trucks using them, haressed by councils who put in loading/waiting restrictions and by police who enforce them.

Suddenly there is a crises and these truck drivers are essential workers, restrictions are being lifted and driving/working hours are becoming flexible so truck drivers can gewt back to base

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Milky.

It’s basically a technology-based company that I’ve had for the best part of thirty years now and provides automation to the taxi trade. It’s rather like a UK version of Uber (but we pay our taxes) and most staff are either software engineers or provide technical support, all of which can be done online.

As for people not appreciating what others do, I understand that. We do a good job, don’t rip people off (which we could easily do) and don’t make huge profits (which we could) and yet the general view of the taxi driver is that we just sit on our bums all day (which we do) and charge them too much for doing it. But when the internet or mobile networks hiccups at three in the morning and they can’t work, they demand an immediate fix. So then we’re the good guys for a short time at least.

I’m retired now but rather than fishing and golf, I sit here spending even more hours than I did at work doing electronic firmware development. It’s something I love doing, a bit like the artist who loves to paint but doesn’t stop just because he’s retired.  

 

Bill :)

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On 3/23/2020 at 8:56 AM, Bill said:

Milky.

It’s basically a technology-based company that I’ve had for the best part of thirty years now and provides automation to the taxi trade. It’s rather like a UK version of Uber (but we pay our taxes) and most staff are either software engineers or provide technical support, all of which can be done online.

As for people not appreciating what others do, I understand that. We do a good job, don’t rip people off (which we could easily do) and don’t make huge profits (which we could) and yet the general view of the taxi driver is that we just sit on our bums all day (which we do) and charge them too much for doing it. But when the internet or mobile networks hiccups at three in the morning and they can’t work, they demand an immediate fix. So then we’re the good guys for a short time at least.

I’m retired now but rather than fishing and golf, I sit here spending even more hours than I did at work doing electronic firmware development. It’s something I love doing, a bit like the artist who loves to paint but doesn’t stop just because he’s retired.  

 

Bill :)

Taxis, now I remember 

I understand the enjoyment of doing such work, I used to love DOS programming, sadly never managed to get a job in computers  :(

 

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Well it’s ok, but sitting on your bum in front of a PC all day doesn’t keep you very fit and the lack of social interaction makes for short conversations that tend to dry up pretty quickly unless they want to talk about interrupt latency or Fourier analysis.  But social isolation is the way that much of life is going these days even before all this virus thing.

I think that being older gives us a different perspective, that younger generations can’t possibly understand as a such big part of their life revolves around interfacing with a handheld device that don’t demand any social skills or manners. I watched my grand children being brought up by parents who are both enlightened by today’s technology. They’re both excellent parents but so different than those that brought me up. They’ve lived where they are now for about ten years and other than a passing “hello” with the immediate neighbours, they don’t seem to have any local friends or know anyone on their road. They shop online, socialise online, order takeaways online, control the lights online see who’s at the door online but don’t have a brush in the place relying instead on a robotic vacuum controlled online of course.  The kids don’t play out with others and spend most of their time on iPads which to me seems so wrong but to their parents it’s perfectly normal.

At least in the future when we’re all forced to work from home due to losing all immunity through social isolation and where life exists solely for internet clicks, they’ll be well prepared.

 

Bill 😊

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I just found this on Facebook this morning. It shows how one of my staff has partially converted his kitchen into an office to allow him to work full time from home. The taxi trade has been hit hard but we're working flat out  to relocate taxi offices to home locations so that they can at least continue some of the more important work.

Homework.jpg

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Just think of all the road repairs that could going on with the roads so quiet....🤫

Not seen one mention of gridlock in Warrington since this lock-down started.

On the plus side Warrington air purity rating will go up.

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7 hours ago, Bill said:

I just found this on Facebook this morning. It shows how one of my staff has partially converted his kitchen into an office to allow him to work full time from home. The taxi trade has been hit hard but we're working flat out  to relocate taxi offices to home locations so that they can at least continue some of the more important work.

 

Excellent work Bill. Have you told them not to use OLED TVs as the status display so they avoid burn-in on what will presumably be domestic sets.

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They do burn in slightly because they're all constantly displaying the same basic layout 24/7. Displays in key areas though are generally replaced anyway every two years for preventative maintenance and because they're so cheap, people don't argue when we do this. The older screens just get relegated to less important positions.

I've been using some very small OLED displays on my current little project and I did read somewhere that the life expectancy could be measured in hours if they're run too hard but nearly twelve months on and they're still as sharp as a pin.  

 

Bill :)

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1 hour ago, Bill said:

They do burn in slightly because they're all constantly displaying the same basic layout 24/7. Displays in key areas though are generally replaced anyway every two years for preventative maintenance and because they're so cheap, people don't argue when we do this. The older screens just get relegated to less important positions.

I've been using some very small OLED displays on my current little project and I did read somewhere that the life expectancy could be measured in hours if they're run too hard but nearly twelve months on and they're still as sharp as a pin.  

 

Bill :)

That is reasonable, however if someone presses a domestic TV into use the effect will be noticeable when the emergency is over, sorry the point wasn't clear. Needless to say some brands are worse than others. So, out of interest, what are you working with the Pi, Arduino or something else ?

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Confused

Ah I see what you mean. The wall board you see there is simply showing our own phone activity. Most of the larger taxi companies would normally have one of these big screens in their main office but they only need a standard P.C. and monitor while working remotely. 

As for my project, I'm developing a real time voice recognition using an ESP32 and it seems to be going quite well at the moment. I did the early stage development using an AT-Mega  device and the Arduino IDE simply because I've always worked in assembler and never with C++ and at my age, working with a new processor and a new language is a bit of a challenge.It took a while but I managed to get it all going well. Here's a picture of my 1st prototype.

VR Project.jpg

Several bits don't appear on the rendered image (including the small OLED display) The case was done in Autodesk then 3d printed.

Apologies to others if I've hijacked this thread.

 

Bill :)

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1 hour ago, Bill said:

Confused

Ah I see what you mean. The wall board you see there is simply showing our own phone activity. Most of the larger taxi companies would normally have one of these big screens in their main office but they only need a standard P.C. and monitor while working remotely. 

As for my project, I'm developing a real time voice recognition using an ESP32 and it seems to be going quite well at the moment. I did the early stage development using an AT-Mega  device and the Arduino IDE simply because I've always worked in assembler and never with C++ and at my age, working with a new processor and a new language is a bit of a challenge.It took a while but I managed to get it all going well. Here's a picture of my 1st prototype.

 

Several bits don't appear on the rendered image (including the small OLED display) The case was done in Autodesk then 3d printed.

Apologies to others if I've hijacked this thread.

 

Bill :)

That is excellent. The case especially beats the hell out of what gets used for amateur radio projects. Nifty. I could make guesses as to what level of IVR you are attempting but I hope it is a limited vocabulary with driver voice training which seems to be within the capability of the current libraries. The board looks good too and actually identifies the components, not that  there are that many of them. I too used assembler most of the time I was allowed near programming. I try c# occasionally but find the way my lad can use it to be just daunting he does it for fun, in a professional way. He used a more dated language at work, and no not Cobol!

End of subject

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End of subject? nah to heck with forum etiquette, I'm fed up with Corona virus so I'm officially hijacking this thread. :)

You don't come across many people with assembler skills these days, you must be older than I thought. Actually, my project as I call it, started off as a simple interface to detect the state of the taximeter and panic switch, then transfer that via Bluetooth to the PDA. But there was so much capability going unused in the processor I thought I’d have a look at making some use of it.

One of down sides to using a mobile device is that it’s perceived as a phone and we’ve had issues with the police and customers not understanding this. We’ve done everything humanly possible to try and make things as safe as possible, but a driver still takes eyes off the road while touching the screen. Given the PDA is web connected, the simplest way would be to use Google’s voice services to interpret voice commands and I’ve seen several devices that use this method.

Two big drawbacks however are speed and cost. We need the response to be instant, but experience has shown us that latency and invisible disconnects would make this far from ideal. Then Mrs Alexa sends a whole raft of possible meaning that would need parsing. On the cost side of things, the increased data throughput required for doing this would be prohibitive as currently, each vehicle only has a data allocation of 50mb per month. Then there's Google services that are free to most people but to use it commercially as we do with their mapping, the monthly fees would really rack up.

Anyhow, that’s what I’m trying to address and produce a product that works well at a price that the taxi trade won’t balk at. The first prototypes seemed to be faster and more accurate than any similar device that I’ve seen online but it was maxed out on both memory and processing time. I believe with this new device, I can improve it even more, almost to the point of detecting the words before they’ve been spoken.

Are you / were you a radio ham at some point?

Enough. I feel the need for halcohol 😉

 

Bill 😊

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All fascinating Bill, and I love watching YouTube videos of tech experts talking about their expertise and explaining things to us lesser mortals, but perhaps a new thread for geeks would be in order? Just a suggestion 🤥😉

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