Friday, August 25, 2006

3-D Revisited

I entered a conference room in Manhattan and a woman on the TV tossed a handful of rose petals out of the screen, where they floated in the air before my eyes.

At least, that's what I saw. In truth, the image resided on a perfectly flat, 42-inch LCD screen. But the 3-D illusion was fully believable, and I didn't have to wear a dorky set of polarizing glasses.

A new line of 3-D televisions by Philips uses the familiar trick of sending slightly different images to the left and right eyes -- mimicking our stereoscopic view of the real world. But where old-fashioned 3-D movies rely on the special glasses to block images meant for the other eye, Philips' WOWvx technology places tiny lenses over each of the millions of red, green and blue sub pixels that make up an LCD or plasma screen. The lenses cause each sub pixel to project light at one of nine angles fanning out in front of the display.

A processor in the TV generates nine slightly different views corresponding to the different angles. From almost any location, a viewer catches a different image in each eye.

Providing so many views is key to the dramatic results. Sharp Electronics makes an LCD display that projects just two views, requiring an audience to sit perfectly still in front of the screen. With the Philips technology, viewers can move around without losing much of the effect -- one set of left/right views slips into another, with just a slight double-vision effect in the transitions.

The TV can also display standard two-dimensional images, close to HD quality.

The uncanny 3-D illusion stops people in their tracks, as it's meant to. Philips is initially selling the 42-inch screens -- which debuted at the Society for Information Displays conference in June -- to retailers who will create 3-D ads to grab the attention of passing shoppers.

Casinos are interesting in the screens -- the mesmerizing effects may help patrons part with more of their money. Holland Casino just announced plans to install the screens throughout its locations in the Netherlands.

Finding content for home users is more of a challenge.

One nearly ready-made source of content is modern video games, which actually generate three-dimensional objects internally, then flatten the images into 2-D representations for standard monitors. Philips has developed hardware and software that can extract the original depth information from the game engine and use it to create 3-D images on a WOWvx display.

In New York, the company demonstrated the technique with the first-person shooter Call of Duty. It looked almost perfect, except for a little shimmering around the edges of objects, which Philips says will be fixed in the coming months.

The company also has plans for video. The ultimate hope is that studios will produce more 3-D content, like the recent 3-D version of Sony Pictures' Monster House that screened in 162 U.S. theaters. But Philips is developing software to convert standard video to 3-D by analyzing movement to determine the original depth position of people and objects.

A standard laptop running Philips' software was able to convert the DVD The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King into 3-D in real time and display it on Philips's new 20-inch "3D 4YOU" LCD monitor -- a retail-kiosk implementation of the 3-D screen.

The result looked vaguely 3-D, though it was marred by some blurriness and double images.

"I think for consumers this is simply not good enough," said Philips executive Rob de Vogel. "But the progress in the past year is amazing." He expects the company to show a better version of the conversion software to the public in the coming months -- possibly at the next Consumer Electronics Show in January 2007.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How to Taste Dark Chocolate

[migrated from myspace blog]

Disclaimer: What follows is not an original work of my own. I was browsing through and found what I consider to be one of the most absurd things I've ever read and felt compelled to repost it instead of just posting a link. As far as I know there's not a copyright to it, but I believe whoever wrote it to be completely serious, which is what makes it so funny. Enjoy the flavor...

How to Taste Dark Chocolate

The actual flavour compounds found in dark chocolate exceed that of red wine, and detecting all these notes can be an extremely fun and educational endeavor. The following will serve as a guideline so that you can extract the fullest flavor potential from dark chocolate.


  1. Find a location free from background noise, such as television, music, a crying baby, etc. Being able to concentrate as intently as possible will facilitate flavor detection.
  2. Clear your palate. This means that your mouth should not contain residual flavors from a previous meal. Eat a wedge of apple or piece of bread if necessary. This is crucial in order to taste the subtleties of chocolate's complex flavor.
  3. Make sure that the piece of chocolate is large enough to accommodate full evolution of the flavor profile. A piece too small may not allow you to detect every subtle nuance as the chocolate slowly melts. The important thing to remember is that flavor notes gradually evolve and unfold on the tongue rather than open up in one large package. So remember, don't think small here. 10g should be a minimum starting point.
  4. Allow the chocolate to rest at room temperature before tasting. Why? Cold temperatures will hinder your ability to detect the flavor. Sometimes it is advised to even rub the chocolate briefly between your fingers to coax the flavor. This procedure is optional.
  5. Look at the chocolate. The surface should be free of blemishes, such as white marks (called bloom). Observe the color and manufacturer's job at molding and tempering. Does the chocolate appear to have been crafted carefully or slovenly? The bar should have a radiant sheen. Chocolate comes in a multifarious brown rainbow with various tints, such as pinks, purples, reds, and oranges. What do you see?
  6. Smell the chocolate. The aroma is an important component of flavor. Inhaling the fragrance will prime the tongue for the incoming chocolate. It also gives you a chance to pick up the various nuances of the aroma.
  7. Break the piece in half. It should resonate with a resounding "SNAP!" and exhibit a fine gradient along the broken edge. This is quality stuff!
  8. Place the chocolate on the tongue and allow it to arrive at body temperature. Let it melt. This step is crucial, for it allows the cocoa butter to distribute evenly in the mouth, which therefore mutes any astringencies or bitterness of the chocolate.
  9. Observe the taste and texture. As the chocolate melts, concentrate on the flavors that are enveloping the tongue. Melting will release more volatile compounds for you to smell. Close your eyes, take notes, enjoy this moment of bliss, and bask in contentment. Revisit when the time comes.
  10. Chew if you so desire. However, do not chew more than three times. After all, we're tasting and not eating!
  11. Now the chocolate is nearing its finish. How has the flavor evolved? Is the chocolate bitter? Heavy? Light? Was the texture smooth or grainy? Do any changes in texture and flavor occur? Take note of how the chocolate leaves the palate. Is there a strong reminder lingering in your mouth, or does it quickly vanish?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

1024 x 768 = 786,432

[migrated from myspace blog]

So I'm not sure what the most popular setting is these days for computer monitors. The only reason I bring it up is that I cropped and sized my background image for my page so that it fills the screen when set at 1024 x 768. I have no idea how to make it look the same for every setting, but the background image was repeated in larger screen settings and it looked kind of stupid, so I took it off repeat. Anyway, I doubt anyone but me cares because my page doesn't really look all that cool anyway, but I think it looks a lot better when it fills the monitor completely.

BTW, anyone who doesn't buy Leigh Nash's new CD (out today) is depriving themselves of some quality songwriting by an amazing singer. Such an incredible fall for music. New releases from Starflyer 59, Jeremy Enigk, Leigh Nash, mewithoutYou, and Fair (already out). Fingers crossed for a solid date on Richard Swift.

"Stay away from whores." - Dwayne 'Dog-The Bounty Hunter' Chapman

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A New Way to Watch Movies

[migrated from myspace blog]

I just got back from seeing Monster House in digital 3-D. No more red and blue glasses, here. Two polarized lenses allow each eye to see only one of a doubled image on screen without changing the colors. The effect is mind-blowing. It's not about a lot of objects coming out into the audience as a gimmick, like the Hitchcock 3-D movie at Universal Studios. Instead what you get is a deeper, richer, more realistic film world. The difference is similar to watching Toy Story after only having seen Snow White or Bambi. The screen, instead of a flat surface, becomes a deep stage full of actors and sets, but not limited to one position or point of view. This is the way to watch a movie as far as I'm concerned. And since it's a digital process, things don't have to be shot with double cameras the way they used to do in the 50's. They're taking previous 2-D movies like Nightmare Before Christmas and converting them to 3-D for theatrical re-release. And my understanding is that this isn't limited to animation, but fully usable with live action films as well. So expect to see lots of re-releases of popular movies, but now in 3-D. Probably Star Wars...hopefully The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Or maybe I'm completely wrong, but I thought I read that somewhere.)

The only downside...$2 extra on the ticket price. You do get to keep the glasses, but no word on whether that'll save you $2 when the next Real D movie comes out or not.,,14931-2305620,00.html

Friday, August 11, 2006

World Trade Center

[migrated from myspace blog]

If you think you can handle the emotions inherent in the viewing, you owe it to yourself to see this movie. Visually, the movie is flawless, seamless. There's not a single shot that looked like an effect or computer generated. Of course, the real accomplishment is telling the stories of heroes and their families. Only 20 people were found alive in the rubble when we were expecting hundreds. This film stays with two police officers who were buried together. Both as a film, and as a reminder, the movie excels.

"We will never forget"

Saturday, August 5, 2006


[migrated from myspace blog]

I'm so completely digusted right now. Two young sisters were visiting the house this morning when the 4-year-old decided to take a handful of saliva (do you even realize the amount of effort it takes to create a handful?!) and wipe it from my bare knee down to my ankle. I think that's about enough to put me off having kids.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I'm a Hunk

[migrated from myspace blog]

I'm sorry, I misspelled that. I meant Hulk. And here I was hoping for Batman. I guess I'll have to work on my martial arts skills.

You are Hulk

Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.