Archive for January, 2010

A Better Cup of Cappuccino – And For Less

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I stumbled on a new interesting site via The Old New Thing.

Economist Tim Harford writes an advice column called Dear Economist for the Financial Times. But instead of applying economic theory to economic problems, he applies economic theory to personal problems.

It’s my productivity nightmare come back to haunt me — Tim Harford has been writing for years and there are lots of interesting articles.  I’d hate to miss any.

This is one that resonated with me:  Starbucks economics

Here’s a little secret that Starbucks doesn’t want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why.

You can read the story yourself if you want the secret  😉


3-D Movies at Home?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I’ve had several conversations recently about the new technology in 3D movies.  Modern 3D still requires you to wear glasses, but they aren’t the red-green cardboard deals, and the viewing experience is much better.  The second conversation point is always where it will go next – when do we get 3D at home?

3D depends on different images being sent to each eye.  That’s how we see 3D, and I just don’t see any way around that requirement.  The old projectors overlapped “red” and “green” images on the screen, and the glasses filtered out either green or red for each eye.  I think the new system uses a special screen that polarizes the overlapped images (e.g. one vertical and one horizontal), and the lenses of the glasses filter out one direction or the other.  (note to self: take my polarized sunglasses in to the next 3D movie I see).

The requirement to project a different image onto each eye is the limiting requirement.  It limits the theater experience (how do you separate the eyeballs in an audience without glasses?).  It limits the home experience (how do you project separate images?)

Well, it seems somebody found a solution.  I wonder what it is?

LG introducing 3-D TVs in May; no exact price yet – Yahoo! News

LAS VEGAS – LG Electronics says it will introduce its first 3-D-capable flat panel TVs for the U.S. market in May.

Other major TV makers are expected to join the Korean company with announcements of 3-D TVs later Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The industry is making a major push to get 3-D into the home while consumers are still excited by 3-D movies in theaters.

Prices for the new LG sets have not yet been announced. But Tim Alessi, director of product development at LG Electronics USA, said the TVs will likely cost about $200 to $300 more than comparable sets without 3-D functions.

Another technology under consideration years ago used time-separated images.   In this scheme, the projector/monitor/television would display the left and right images in alternate frames.  The user would wear a pair of glasses, synchronized to the display, that would alternately block the left and right eyes.  This scheme sounds like a poor choice for home TV viewing, because you would need a (probably expensive) powered pair of glasses for every viewer.

More likely, these TVs will be using a polarizing layer that alternates between frames, coupled with passive glasses like those you use in today’s theaters.