Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How To Remove a Stuck Light Bulb

Friday, January 8th, 2010

I have a bulb that won’t come out.  To make it worse, it’s in a fixture over the stairs and I need a special ladder to get any leverage.

Lot’s of people have this problem, and you can find Many solutions.

Unfortunately, most of these solutions are about getting  more leverage on the bulb (I had enough leverage on the bulb to break the fixture, thanks) and many talk about what to do if the bulb breaks.

I ended up breaking the bulb, and using a needle nose pliers to mangle, then extract many small bits of lightbulb base.
Here’s my lesson.  Maybe somebody will find it.
If you have to break the bulb on purpose, wrap it in duct tape first.

That makes it kinda hard to break,  but it transforms a huge mess into a little gray bag-o-glass.  Neat.

3-D at Home Redux

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I jumped the gun with the last post.  It appears that 3D got lots of attention at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  3-D in the home has been possible for a few years now, and manufacturers are finally ready to test the market.

Of course, 3-D television is no secret, so if one manufacturer is going to make a 3-D set, they are all going to try.   But what will we watch?

According to a MSNBC article, 3-D gets ready for its close-up,

  • ESPN and Discovery plan to launch 3-D networks this year.
  • DirectTV plans to start America’s first 3-D HDTV channel.
  • The NFL has been experimenting with 3-D coverage.
  • Blu-ray Disc Association has approved a technical standard for 3-D Blu-ray.
  • Several manufacturers are working on a way to convert 2-D programming to 3-D on the fly.

And it’s not just for movies and television programming – video games want a piece of the action too.  Acer released a 3-D gaming laptop several months ago.

3M has a 3-D optical film to offer “true stereoscopic 3-D viewing” without the need for glasses.  This is supposed to give you a 3-D experience on your cell phone, gameboy, or iPod.

Panasonic has announced the “World’s first integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder“.

stereo camcorder

And what about the glasses?

Most of the new TVs use special glasses to produce the 3-D effect.  It is necessary to deliver distinct images to each eye. This generally means glasses,though the quality has improved.

Tim Alessi, director of product development for LG Electronics USA, says “We use the ‘active (shutter) type,’ which alternately shut on and off the left and right eye in sync with the picture,” he said. “That’s how it splits up the image so that’s how you get the 3-D effect.”

This particular technology has existed for at least two decade in research labs.

“There are other types of glasses, and manufacturers will vary on which they choose to work with their sets. Costs of the glasses range from under $1 apiece for some polarized lenses to more than $100 for those by XpanD, a company whose glasses incorporate battery-powered shutters.”
TV makers ready to test depths of market for 3-D is less enthusiastic.

This is supposedly the year 3-D television becomes the hot new thing: Updated sets and disc players are coming out, and 3-D cable channels are in the works. But it’s not clear the idea will reach out and grab mainstream viewers.

Besides having to spring for expensive new TVs, people would have to put on awkward special glasses to give the picture the illusion of depth. That limits 3-D viewing to times when viewers can sit down and focus on a movie or show.

It’s one thing to put on 3-D glasses in a theater, but “at home, you’re with other people in the living room, running to the kitchen and doing other things,” said Greg Ireland of the research firm IDC.

Your glasses will limit how you watch TV (though I’m sure you will always have the option of viewing in 2-D mode).

You’ll have to buy a pair of glasses for as many people as you expect to attend your Super Bowl party.

… and watch out for the “3-D ready” sets (meaning you have to buy separate devices and glasses for 3-D viewing.

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  😉

(more…)

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.

The Best Christmas Ever (needs Muppets)

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I just stumbled on some Muppet Christmas stuff I’ve never seen before. It’s simply amazing. I really thought I had seen all of it.
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas. (make sure you click through to see the videos)

Ringing of the bells

Ode to Joy

12 Days of Christmas (with John Denver)

A Muppet Family Christmas
This is the best Christmas special ever.
It looks like you can watch the whole thing on YouTube too.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Another excellent production. It’s Muppets, and a fine telling of the story as well.
Somehow, the pirates have made it available on YouTube, bit by bit.
Finally, a bonus video. It has nothing to do with Christmas, but it made me laugh out loud in front of people.
Bohemian Rhapsody

Ghost Comments

Monday, December 14th, 2009

If you pay as much attention to this site as I do, you may have noticed that a few of the posts have a comment listed, but the comment is AWOL.  I finally had enough of it and looked into the problem.  I’m using an anti-spam plugin that requires you, the reader, to solve a simple math problem – to prove you are a human.  It turns out that the version provided by my ISP is old and has a bug that causes ghost comments when a submitter fails the math test.  I ran through it myself a couple of times, and I found that omitting the answer or entering the wrong answer also loses your comment text!  That’s a bummer.

I’ve removed the filter  until I figure out how to get an updated version.

Be ready for more work than you expect

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

This should be the easiest part of my bathroom project.

I want to install a recessed medicine cabinet into an exposed wall where I get to choose all the framing.  That’s too much choice to swallow all at once.  I don’t have the vanity yet and I don’t have the cabinet.  I can search online and at least get the expected dimensions for the hole in the wall, right?

I appreciate the warnings given on this first site I found with instructions:

Be ready for more work than you expected!

Installing a recessed cabinet, such as a medicine cabinet, wall safe, or ironing board, can be fairly simple and straightforward or may require the services of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, structural engineers, and, worst case… witch doctors!

I would add that you must be ready for more work than you expect, even if you have already taken this rule into account.  Software engineering is even worse.

Got To Get My Stuff Done

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I wanted to write a real post tonight, but I need to get to sleep so I can get up early tomorrow to get my stuff done.

Freebord Tetris

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Live-action reenactment of old video games has become a whole genre on YouTube.

I stumbled across this one via one of those circuitous routes typical of web surfing.  It uses freebords – a nifty variation of the skateboard I’ve never seen before.

This is one of the originals:

A Horserse?

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Another picture I stumbled across.

PhotoshopDisasters: Oslo Grand Prix: Horserse

Can you spot the error?

Yep.  There’s something wrong with the reflection, isn’t there.