This post is in 3D!

On July 31, 2010, in Disney, Disneyland, Photography, by John Giaconia

Traditional 3D Methods (Passive)

There are many ways to create an image that will fool your brain into thinking a 2 dimensional surface has 3 dimensions.  Years ago, all we had were Red/Blue blocking 3D glasses a lá Match from Back to the Future. This technology involves filming in stereo where the camera has 2 lenses spaced apart to record video just like how your eyes see.  It’s kind of like looking through a periscope on a submarine but instead of bouncing the light down the tube with mirrors, it is bounced through time on film. Your left eye should only see what was recorded by the left lens and your right eye should only see what was recorded by the right lens. Your brain then uses all kinds of fancy geometry to assemble these two images back into one 3D view of the world

Match from Back to the Future

Similar technology is used these days with digital projection where you have polarized lenses where each lens is designed to block/permit light that is polarized in a certain way.    Whatever the left lens blocks is permitted to go through the right lens and vice versa. The easiest way to demo this is if you have a pair of leftover glasses from your last movie theater 3D outing,  put them on, look at yourself in a mirror, and close one eye.  You won’t be able to see your other eye behind the glasses in the reflection because the light that passes through the glasses has been fully blocked, neat huh? When you are in the movie theater, the projector swaps between polarization for the left and right eye something like 120 times a second (as opposed to a normal projector which only needs to flash frames at 29.97 frames per second to prevent flickering as detected by the human eye/brain).

Modern Polarized 3D Glasses

Older polarizing 3D attractions at places like Disneyland use a similar technique, but I have a feeling they use two separate projectors rather than just switching back and forth on one projector.  That’s why sometimes when one projector isn’t as bright as the other you get this really wonky effect where it feels like you can’t see through one eye and you think the glasses are dirty.

DCA Midway Mania 3D Glasses Pickup

3D Stereo Photography via “Jiggle Effect”

Another way to do it is by switching back and forth between two static images taken slightly apart from one another. You can see a bunch of cool examples of this method here. When I was going through the pictures from my recent Disneyland trip, I came across a couple pictures in a row that seemed by a jolly accident to work with this effect.

If you click to embiggen the image, the effect is easier to see.

Avast Matey's I'm in 3D

 

Friday Bacon: Bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf sandwiches

On July 30, 2010, in Bacon, Cooking, by John Giaconia

Cookin’ bacon with Skinny Al Roker

So if you’ve been trying to cut down on Beef consumption and can’t get away from the meat candy that is bacon, this cooking video is for you.  “What tastes better than pork on top of pork?

Below you can watch the full video with chef Matt Gennuso

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Recipe: Bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf

Chef: Matt Gennuso

Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. ground pork shoulder
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbls. bacon fat
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tblsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 tsps. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsps. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tblsps. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps. fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. pre-sliced bacon
Baking Directions

It is best to prepare this dish a day in advance of serving.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. No need to mix at this time, just place into the refrigerator until later.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, add the bacon fat and allow to melt. Once melted add the onions, cover and allow to cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and continue to cook for two more minutes.

Next add the chopped herbs and cook for another minute. Once herbs have been added, be sure to stir frequently so that they don’t burn. Now remove the mixture and allow to cool thoroughly in the refrigerator. Once the onion-herb mixture is cool, combine completely with the pork and place back in the refrigerator while you line the molds with bacon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

How to Line the Loaf Pan with Bacon: At one end of the loaf pan, place the narrow part of the bacon on the bottom edge of the pan where the side and bottom part of the pan meet. Run the bacon across the width of the pan and up the edge, overlapping on the other side. Then take your next slice of bacon and reverse, having the narrow edge of this piece meet the bottom edge of the other side (the side that your first piece made its way up the edge), and again have it come across the bottom of the pan and up the other side, almost like ribbons coming out of a box. Continue this process until you reach the end of the pan. This will provide the wrapping for the meatloaf.

Once the molds are lined with bacon, place your meatloaf mixture into the mold. You should fill the mold ¾ to the top. Now take your overlapping bacon and use it to cover the top of the meatloaf. Place the meatloaf into a water bath and then into a preheated 350-degree oven and cook for 1½ hours or until it reaches 150 degrees.

Remove the meatloaf from the water bath and place into a refrigerator until fully cooled. It is best that it sits over night before slicing.

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This picture was taken during my trip for Disneyland’s 55th anniversary weekend. While waiting to get onto the Matterhorn (which took quite a bit to convince my dad that it didn’t flip or have any crazy drops to make him lose his stomach) along came Monorail Blue. It’s amazing how much quieter the Mark VII monorails are than previous models.

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Opening Day At Disneyland

On July 24, 2010, in Disney, Disneyland, by John Giaconia

B&W and Color Footage

While visiting Disneyland for its 55th Anniversary last weekend, one of the special things they did to commemorate the day was to replace the B&W Mickey and Minnie Cartoons in the Main Street Cinema with Disneyland Opening Day footage.  Some of the footage is black and white and some is in color. There were a few different reels they had playing, and I did my best to grab a few. This is the first reel that I captured.  I added some audio to the silent films and I hope you enjoy these seldom shown recordings.

Opening Day At Disneyland from John Giaconia on Vimeo.

Black and White and Color footage from the Main Street Cinema at Disneyland. On July 17th, 2010 they replaced the standard Mickey and Minnie B&W cartoons with opening day footage of Disneyland. Here’s one of the video loops with some added audio.

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A Purely Bacon Burger?

On July 23, 2010, in Bacon, by John Giaconia

The Great Bacon Odyssey

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for BACON NEWS!  Today your weekly bacon is brought to you from Wired.com The author has also included detailed instructions in case you’d like to try this one at home, kids.  After seeing the results, I think it might be better to make a 1/4 or 1/10 pound burger rather than shooting for the stars with a  1/3 pound (post cooking weight) patty.

Pictures

After you’ve read the full story about this sacred Geek Quest, make sure to check out the flickr set too!
Out of the oven

Ready to eat!

Video

And what bacon burger experiment would be complete without seeing all the work come to fruition in video form?

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Photo Tuesday – Snowy Egret

On July 14, 2010, in Photography, by John Giaconia

Photo Tuesday – Snowy Egret

Taken Saturday July 10th at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, California.

DSC_0832

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Disneyland’s 55th Birthday

On July 10, 2010, in Disney, Disneyland, by John Giaconia

The Emerald Anniversary

Next week, on July 17th, Disneyland will be celebrating it’s 55th Birthday.  Today, the Disney Parks blog announced the schedule of events for commemorating Disneyland’s anniversary including a dedication ceremony at noon, a birthday sing along at 4:15, special Retro-designed park maps,  and a special set of Mickey Ears available only on July 17th that reads: “D 55th,” July 17, 2010.  I was there last year for the 54th Anniversary and I recorded a somewhat shaky video of the commemorative ceremony with The Mayor of Mainstreet, the Disneyland Band and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

As you can see, the festivities were rather simple, but special none-the-less.  It seems like they do a bigger deal when the anniversary mod 5 = 0. :)  Or, in non-engineer speak, anniversaries that end with a 5 or a 0.  During the 50th Anniversary, they celebrating for 2 years and we ended up with the wonderful fireworks show called Remember… Dreams Come True as narrated by Julie Andrews.  I absolutely adore Julie Andrews — for me, listening to her speak is like a warm voice-hug. The 50th anniversary also brought us the Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams once again, narrated by Julie Andrews. Both of these  were strongly imbued with Walt’s touch when they chose to include audio recordings from his Original Dedication of Disneyland Speech.  If there ever was a time you could feel Walt’s presence up above the Firehouse, it’s listening to Walt’s Dedication on the Park’s anniversary.  And the Park never looked so beautiful as when it was all decked out with Mickey 50’s.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle - 50 Anniversary

Shooting Expo - 50th anniversaryTrain Station - 50 anniversary

May you always stay young at heart. And may your Dreams continue to be inspired by imagination. And may you forever treasure this very special day at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Bacon Donut Cheeseburger (NYC)

On July 9, 2010, in Bacon, by John Giaconia

Bacon Friday

It’s Friday! And Friday is BACON DAY!  This Friday I bring you the Bacon Donut Cheeseburger from the Crave Shack in NYC.   Not for the squeamish, this dish is called the Crave Doughnut Burger and includes a 1/4 lb beef patty, with cheese and “crave sauce” served on a toasted glazed donut.   It’ll run a very reasonable $6.50. The only cop-out is that it is Turkey Bacon. So then I suppose that classifies it as a health food, right?

You can add a Happytizer or two such as Onion Rings, Nuggets, Jalepeño Poppers or Nachos.  What about fries you say?  Well donchya know they have a number of options including Frenchie Fries – “Cuter than your average fries” (with or without cheese) or Seasoned Fries which are reported to be “Loads of fun.” The dessert and shake and float menu looks pretty enticing as well.

I’ve never been to the Crave Shack, but I’ll see if I can swing by next time in in NYC and feeling like I could use a little cardiac lubrication.

Crave Shack – the home of New York’s First Donut Burger – can be found at:

25-47 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11103

You can read more about the Crave Shack on the NY Daily News


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Fetching Lyrics in iTunes

On July 4, 2010, in Apple, iPhone, iTunes, by John Giaconia

Back when people bought CDs they came with liners that typically had lyrics in the liner notes. because yes kids, we  didn’t always have iTunes, the Amazon MP3 Store or even a bay filled with anti-ninjas. Every song in your iTunes library has something called an ID3 tag — it’s where all the information about the song is stored such as track name, album name, artist name, etc. There’s also a spot in this tag for song lyrics. The iTunes store populates several fields in the ID3 tag when you purchase a song but it mysteriously leaves a big blank hole for lyrics.

Gimme Some Tune – The previous solution

In the past, there was an automatic and rather instant way to add these lyrics as each song played in iTunes with a program called Gimme Some Tune. It’s a great app for adding some cool functionality onto iTunes, but the lyrics fetching no longer works because the wonderful folks at the RIAA have decided they can’t allow a useful service like LyricWiki to exist if they don’t make money of it. You can read the Gimme Some Tune developer’s blog entry here from yesterday – July 3rd, 2010.  It sounds like an updated version is still quite a ways out.

iLyrics – Automatic method

The alternative I’ve come across is called iLyrics and runs as a widget on OSX. You can download and install it from http://www.creativecrap.com/ilyrics-widget-itunes under the “Downloads” section. The current version I am working with is 2.4.1

It also has the ability to run as a daemon and also update songs on the fly as they play in iTunes. Keep in mind that since this is a widget, you have to enable and disable it from always running in the widget settings (see next paragraph). Also, when it is running and successfully finds and updates lyrics, you’ll notice about a 2 second pause right after a song starts playing — iTunes needs to briefly stop the audio in order to update the ID3 tag. Just like tingling hair conditioner “That’s how you know it’s working.”

To change the settings (after it has been installed) bring up your dashboard to see your widgets (hit f4 or click the Dashboard icon).  In the lower right corner there is a grey dot  that’ll appear when you hover over it.  When you click the dot it’ll flip the widget over to show settings for the widget. Here you can tell it to auto-check for lyrics and auto-save if the song has no lyrics.  Click Done once you’ve set it up.

You might even want to give iLyrics a try with Needle Drop. You can let it run overnight with iTunes on mute.  Needle Drop allows you to play a short chunk from every song in your iTunes library — if you set it to about 5 or 10 seconds, it should provide enough time for iLyrics to query the internet for lyrics and then update the file before moving on to the next one.

iLyrics – Manual method

If you prefer to update songs manually and not leave the widget running all the time, I’ve outlined it below as a simple 3 step process.

Step 1:

Start playing a song with no lyrics. You can right click a song and choose Get Info to bring up the window shown below. Remember to Close the Get Info window once you see that it has no lyrics… The widget can’t update the lyrics if you have the ID3 settings open for edit.

Step 2:

Launch your Dashboard Widgets — to do this, hit F4 or click the Dashboard icon, or you can also set an active screen corner for it under System Preferences -> Exposé. You’ll notice the new widget knows what is playing in iTunes and shows the ID3 info it knows about.

Step 3:

On the very bottom of the widget you’ll see a drop down list with an option to Save to Song…  Click that and BOOM you’re done!  It’s like Magic!  Unfortunately lyrics won’t be available for every song you try.

An Added Bonus

When you play the song on your iPhone / iPod / iPad it can display the song lyrics.

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The Muppets: Pöpcørn

On July 3, 2010, in D23, Disney, Muppets, by John Giaconia

Looks like the folks at The Muppets Studio are keeping busy after Beaker claimed their Webby Award last year and another win this year presented to Animal and Floyd Pepper.  They just released a new video today starring my favorite culinary expert and movie projectionist: The Swedish Chef.  And it comes with Closed Caption subtitles! It’s written all phoenitetic, phennotic, fein… Oh you know, when you write it down the way it sounds. :)

More thoughts after the video…

I’ve yet to see a video come out the Muppet Studios in the last few years that wasn’t what I would consider to be a hit.  Personally, I am hoping this is all leading up to The Muppets returning to ABC.  I would love to see them show up on Friday Night at 8pm.  I think it’d be about the perfect time slot.  Kids and families tend to be home on Friday nights. You can’t aim for the same demographic as Monday through Thursday nights because they’re a lot less likely to be at home watching TV on a Friday night.

Since acquiring the rights to …employ… Kermy and his Muppetational pals, Disney has put The Muppets into the theme parks (even sneaking them into the Parade at Disneyland).  The Disney Parks 2010 “Give a Day Get a Day” volunteering promotion starred the Muppets in every single commercial.  Bob Iger even saved them as the Surprise Guests over Teri Hatcher and James Denton when they launched the program.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the Muppets live on stage, I can’t really describe the experience.  If you immediately dismiss the idea as a sock puppet with some guys hand up their crack, I think you’re missing that the actors which perform the characters are every bit as talented and famous as any other TV or  movie star.  I’d almost argue they are more talented because they must remain in character at all times while ad libbing and maintaing both the voice and persona of the characters.  I was fortunate enough to see The Muppets perform three songs live on Stage at the D23 Expo last year (including Rainbow Connection).  I was immediately 5 years old and started feeling misty. If you watch the video to the end, you’ll see Johnny Depp saunter over to Dick Cook (fully in character as Captain Jack Sparrow mind you) and you can hear him asking the audience “Did you see the Frog? The singing frog!”. Then, while Dick Cook asked him about doing more Pirates movies, he went on for a bit about how amazing the Singing Frog was.

Considering what passes for kids shows on TV today, I can’t see how The Muppets could fail.  They’ve already used the internet to get a buzz going.  They’ve got a new movie coming out (at D23 Expo they teased that the title would be “The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made” — a story about The Muppets being bought but a giant company and forced to work for them… Hrmm, that sounds familiar…)

Many of us that were kids when The Muppet Show was originally on (and the Muppet Babies) now have kids of that are likely to be in the exact target age group — and can you imagine a crazy idea like parents and kids watching a show with values together? I don’t think anything could be more sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational. So come on ABC, It’s time to get things started. Why don’t you get things started?  It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights… I think it’s time to raise the curtain on The Muppet Show Tonight  – Season 6. What do you think?

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