COVID-19

covid-19

We are now almost 4 weeks into the UK “lock down” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are a software developer, it seems to largely be business as usual albeit remotely. This is also showing how many jobs can be continued in a home office with a good internet connection and a webcam.

Software

Communication

In order work remotely your minimum requirement is likely to be a microphone and speakers. Webcams are in short supply at the moment, but they can still be ordered albeit with a slightly longer delivery time than before.

The world seems to have settled on Slack, Zoom, Webex, MS Teams and Skype as the main communication platforms.

Presentation

When it comes to broadcasting yourself into these meetings, if you are demonstrating things, you need to be a little more imaginative.

One of the best options is OBS. This allows to set up multiple scenes that are a set of layered sources. By mixing static images and a video source, it is entirely possible to broadcast yourself as if you were a TV news presenter. Using multiple scenes you can switch between webcam and desktop capture easily.

To hook OBS into your communication software of choice on Windows or Linux, install the “virtualcam”, which makes the output of OBS appear as another webcam on your PC. Finally, set your communication software to use the virtualcam instead of the real one.

OBS also allows you to not only live stream yourself, but obviously record yourself as well. This means you can easily create short videos and tutorials for work colleagues.

Networking

Most companies that are not “start ups” are likely to be using a VPN. Things in the VPN world have become a little more interesting recently with the inclusion of WireGuard directly into the Linux kernel.

A very honourable mention is for tailscale that leverages WireGuard in user-land (via Go) and can quickly and simply create virtual private networks of your devices.

Hardware

My internet connection has dropped to about a third of its usual speed. That is still 100Mb/s though which is much faster than many of my colleagues.