I often surprise myself by being fascinated by things that, had you told me I would be fascinated by them, I would tell you you’re out of your mind. I blame PBS’ This Old House for making me like this.
You see, for three years or so I worked for a fleet tracking/stolen vehicle recovery service called Teletrac here in the Detroit area as part of the graveyard shift. It was part tech support and part service job. Not only did I keep the computers that ran the system up and running, but when calls came in or a car was stolen I was the person who interacted with the customers and police. The system was pretty stable and calls were infrequent so there was a lot of downtime where my job consisted of breathing and trying to stay awake.
Fortunately we had a TV available to us. Unfortunately it was only over-the-air broadcast capable and at 3AM there wasn’t a whole lot on the big four networks worth watching. Hence my first real appreciation for PBS in general and TOH in particular. Keep in mind, this is a good 30 years before I would actually own a house and I and my co-worker had no real home maintenance experience, but it wasn’t long before we were offering our critical takes on the floor tile choices the people on the show were making. I don’t make a point of watching the show anymore, but when I did I really enjoyed it.
Which brings me to this YouTube video by the folks at My Mechanics which I stumbled across over at Boing Boing. It’s simply 26 minutes of some guy who bought a nasty old metal coffee grinder refurbishing it to pristine quality. That’s it. No real narration other than the occasional bit of text.
In this video i’m restoring an old coffee grinder. A few weeks ago I bought an old bench grinder to restore on eBay. The guy who sold it was actually selling more antiques, he had a room filled with old items. I took a look at his other stuff and this unique coffee grinder caught my attention right away. So I ended up buying it for $35. The one thing that really impressed me on this coffee grinder was the metal body, usually they’re made of wood. I also liked the colour very much. The restoration itself turned out to be a lot more challenging than I first expected. I’m very happy with the final result of this coffee grinder. I really like how the handle turned out.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have neither the know-how or the patience to do something like this that makes it so fascinating, but I watched the whole thing and was impressed with the results. The video doesn’t cover every single second, but it does appear to cover every step and meticulous is definitely a good word to describe the process. There is a part of me that wishes I could to this sort of thing, but another part that knows it’s not something I’d actually enjoy. Watching someone else do it on YouTube? Yeah, I can get into that because what was likely days — if not weeks — of work was compressed down into a mere 26 minutes. Me doing it myself? Probably not a good idea.
This commercial for IKEA beds is pretty impressive:
What’s even more impressive is the work that went to making it possible.
The “Beds” protagonist, Max the dog and many of the beds were hung from cranes and suspended over buildings during the 3-day shoot in Johannesburg.
The VFX team at MPC (Moving Picture Company) collaborated with film director Juan Cabral and advertising agency Mother London to create a detailed matte paintings, adding CG beds and embellishments and compositing elements including the NASA rocket and plume.
Led by 2D Creative Director Bill McNamara, MPC’s 15-strong team utilized the innovative filming techniques – which captured a great deal of the action in-camera – to then create the VFX and embellish the shots. In order to build the bed staircase, Ikea beds were filmed against green screen on the ground.
I love Amazon Prime. We signed up for it a year and a half ago and it’s been worth every penny. Between the large collection of TV shows and Movies we can stream for free and/or rent and the free two-day shipping, it’s paid for itself in a matter of weeks. Now Amazon has made it even better with the launch of Prime Music.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can now listen to over a million songs, without ads, on almost any device, at no additional charge. You can even download the songs to your mobile device to listen in places without Internet access. I think the only thing you can’t do with them is burn them to a CD, but if you want to do that it’s pretty easy to purchase the MP3 you just listened to.
This won’t completely replace Pandora for me because the point of Pandora is to be exposed to stuff I might like that I don’t know about and Prime Music doesn’t appear to offer a similar function. Still, it’ll come in handy when I decide that I really like some group I’ve just been newly exposed to and want to hear a whole album from them. Plus I can make playlists of stuff I haven’t gotten around to buying yet. If you’re a Prime member you should check it out.
That seems to be the question being answered in the video B E A U T Y by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro. In it he takes many famous classical paintings and animates them with the results being both lovely and creepy. You will definitely want to watch this one full screen and in HD. Note: There’s some amount of nudity and violence in this so consider it NSFW:
One of the things that occurred to me as I watched this is that a lot of classic paintings have some pretty twisted subject matter to them that’s really highlighted when you animate it. Granted, the animation in this is somewhat limited, but even the small amounts that are done are impactful. You can find the full list of all the paintings used here.
The folks at It’s OK to be Smart have a cool little video up on YouTube that talks about snowflakes, how they’re formed, and whether or not it’s true that no two are exactly alike:
One of the things I love about snowflakes is that they’re a great example of order and complexity from chaos. Just a few simple rules of physics produces the amazing variety of patterns a snowflake can take on. All from a bunch of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that bonded together and then bumped into each other.
It all started with syncing Christmas lights to music and the past couple of years it’s migrated to Halloween much to the delight of the folks trying to sell Halloween colored Christmas lights. It’s the sort of spectacle that I’d love to do myself if A) I had a house and B) I had the talent, neither of which I posses. Still, they’re fun to watch.
FIrst up is the Thomas Halloween 2013 show featuring one of my current favorite songs Sail by AWOLnation:
Or, if you prefer, something a bit more in-line with the season This Is Halloween from A Nightmare Before Christmas:
Not to be outdone, here’s Thriller by Creative Lighting Displays out in California:
The Hallett’s light show isn’t as elaborate as some others, but does feature some cool projected animation in addition to a 10 foot singing skull:
One more light show that incorporates a touch of projection mapping as part of the show:
It’s really amazing how much this has taken off over the past several years. There’s a lot of people out there devoting a massive amount of time and effort in designing and setting up these light shows. Whole house projection mapping appears to be the next big thing, but I couldn’t find any good examples from this year.
One of the best examples from last year is Bates Haunt’s 2012 show which runs a good 20 minutes:
The folks behind Bates Haunt have tutorials on their site showing how they do it for those of you interested in trying your hand at it.
If you’ve seen some cool Halloween displays this year, even if they’re just static, leave a comment and tell us about it. If you can link to pictures or a video that would be even better.
As of next month I will have been with my current employer for three years. First as a double contractor, then a single contractor, and finally as a direct hire. The people I work with are great and I come home each day with a sense of accomplishment. That’s a large part of the reason I love my job, but there are other, smaller reasons that factor in as well.
For example, there’s a wall near the front lobby where we have pictures of every employee grouped by department in a simple org chart. Each department has a header on it letting you know what it is, but for some reason whoever put it together never got around to making one for the IT department.
So we took it upon ourselves to make our own:
It seemed the logical choice.
We put that up on the board over a year ago and it’s been there ever since. It’s a good feeling to know that the company you work for has a sense of humor. It makes me smile every time I see it.