Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sheep and Bumble Bee (and Basket)

As planned I taught Nefarious how to play Rummy today, as in the card game, which was fun. Somehow she managed to beat me soundly in three out of five games. There was no problem in picking it up because it’s so similar to the Rummikub tile game. We also used the glue gun to fix the figurines she made out of Super Sculpy (with no involvement on my part) and then painted them with my acrylics (which I did help with)… It was a lot of fun so I think we’ll do some more of them tomorrow after gymnastics.



Stop Motion T-Shirts

This is very cool, and makes me want to do another stop-motion project (here’s one that I did ages ago)… Nefarious and I keep talking about making one with all her dolls and stuffed animals. Maybe we can find a day this week to do that. I think after school we’re going to paint some figures she made out of clay right before we went on our weekend trip.

Jitter 3D

My interest in 3D was renewed recently, after watching Avatar I suppose. I also like optical illusions and general visual trippery, so one method that I really find fascinating is “jitter 3D” in which a stereoscopic image is placed in an animated GIF, causing the two images (one for each eye in theory) to flicker between each other. Amazingly, your brain treats them as if they are the two eye’s image and, at least to my eye, a remarkable illusion of depth is created. In addition to those links, here is a quick pair of badly done photos I just took of the room I’m sitting in:


I couldn’t get it quite right — too much motion — but you get the idea.

I began wondering whether one could actually use this technique in computer generated and animated content, so I wrote a very quick and dirty program to test the theory. For example, here is a screen cap of the program displaying a sphere(ish) object:


I found, as you probably see as well, that with the minimal information presented in an image like this, it’s not really enough to trigger your brain to push much depth into the image. More importantly, it also completely fails once it’s animated — the program can spin the object, and when it does, the effect disappears completely. I’m not sure whether that disappearance is due to the lack of data (textures, robust background, etc.) in the image, which is possible and surely a contributing factor, or whether it is due to your eye needing a few frames to kick in the depth. I suspect the latter is likely, so for example, you couldn’t just tape two cameras together at eye-distance, and then record dual video, interleave the frames, and get depth.

Or maybe you could? I just dug up one of my old 3D graphics tools that is much more powerful than the DIY library I used for test number one, so I will probably see if I can find the time today to re-code a richer test.

Holy Busibodies Batman!

This morning as I was driving home from dropping off Nefarious at school I was driving in the right lane (ie. next to the parked cars). On my left was an SUV that was hugging my lane a little tighter than I liked, so I was keeping an eye on him, and then I noticed that he started actively drifting into my lane, so I laid on the horn and hit the gas as I was honking so I pulled ahead of him. He must have come within half an inch of hitting me. In my rearview mirror I watched him to make sure everything was OK, and he turned on his blinker and then illegally turned right, across the lane that I had just been in. I continued on my way home and sat down to watch a documentary and drink a morning coffee.

The doorbell rang, so I hobbled over to it hoping that I might have a package with something fun. Unfortunately I was greeted by a couple of cops asking me if the truck, which is parked right by the door was mine, and if I’d been driving it ten minutes earlier. I told them yes, and that I had a pretty good idea what they were talking about and described the incident — as far as I was concerned I had nothing to worry about since I was the party driving correctly who had almost been hit by a bad driver, and more importantly, because there had been no collision. I told them I was quite certain that there had been no collision and apologized in advance if he had actually hit me and I didn’t feel it (being clear to always word it “he hit me”). I asked them if the guy was actually saying that we had scraped sides, and they told me he was not — in fact, they didn’t even have a complaint!!!

So why were they there? What had happened is that someone driving behind me, who had watched the incident, had thought that we’d hit, and blamed me for the incident. Apparently they drove behind me, recorded my license plate and called the police to report the so-called “accident”. Nice.

The good thing about my truck being dirty was that it was obvious that there wasn’t a mark on it. If the guy had hit me, there would have been marks on either my fenders or on my tires, and there was nothing. The police confirmed this, and told me that a traffic cop might contact me later, but that they didn’t consider this worth their while and had no concerns that I’d done anything wrong. The best part was when the cop told me that he was a big fan of the truck, and in fact, had taken a photo of it some weeks earlier (on account of the zombie paint job) and currently had a picture of it on his phone!!!

The crazy thing is that a few weeks ago on the same street, but going the opposite direction, I got in an almost identical accident, but this one with a collision. I was again driving in the right hand lane, and this time an SUV tore past me on the left and pulled into my lane. They were about to smash into me, so I honked, but it didn’t stop them and I had to decide between hitting them at full speed and quite likely bouncing them into oncoming traffic, perhaps fatally, or grazing a parked van. I chose to graze the parked van, and my tire rubbed the length of it and then got “caught” under the body. The woman driving the SUV stopped and came back to explain that she was in a rush to get her kids to school and had hit me in her hurry. Neither of our vehicles were hurt, but the van, which actually had someone sitting in it, while not dented, did have some risk of scratches. He was pretty worried because it was a work van and not his own, so the woman and I both gave him our phone numbers and insurance details. I didn’t hear back from him so I’m relieved to assume that any “damage” just wiped off.

Anyway, I’m constantly annoyed and worried by how terrible and inattentive drivers are. I admit that I am an aggressive driver, but I pay very close attention to what I’m doing and don’t put myself or others at risk through my actions. But I think I’m more annoyed at today’s busybody that had some sort of gleeful schadenfreude in their attempt to get someone else in trouble. Sorry buddy, it didn’t work.

Games and Tools and Trips

Nefarious is feeling fine but has a bit of a cough that’s impinging on her getting as much sleep as she needs. Because we have a long weekend planned, flying up to Ottawa to visit my brother and Nefarious’s cousins, I let her sleep in and get some rest, skipping school (although she is at gymnastics class right now). That said, we did plenty of homeschooling today, with a nice math lesson that I think did a good job reinforcing one of the central truths of math — that math is dead easy if you understand the procedure. If you “get” how to solve a math problem, the work of actually doing it is a joke. But if you don’t get it, it’s horribly hard work. Then we did lots of word work — scrambles, finding synonyms and antonyms, missing letters, and so on — to supplement what she does at school.

We also played some Rummikub as well. We’ve fine-tuned the rules a little, as we do with most of the games we play, in order to make a better game. Actually, I really suggest that everyone amend the game in this fashion. In every turn, picking up a tile is enforced (ie. even if you can move you still have to). Also, at the end of every turn you must discard a tile. This tile is placed face up. When a player is picking up at the start of the turn, they can either pick up a single obscured card, or one or more (up to all) of the face up previously discarded tiles. This adds a significant skill and strategy element to the game, and transforms it from a pure game of chance into something much more rewarding to your mind.


If you’re wondering why the indoor hat, it’s because it was just knitted and gifted by Caitlin minutes before and was being proudly worn as a victory hat — we played three games and I think overall I ended up losing by something like two hundred points. Ouch.

Caitlin is also going on her own trip this weekend, so I was copying some movies onto a memory stick for her to watch on the long train ride. In the process I discovered that one of my memory sticks is completely dead, so Nefarious and I dismantled it to see what’s inside, grinding down the casing of the memory chip to find the entirely boring innards. This turned into a bit of tool use and training with the Dremel, as she got to try out different tips and grind away at, carve, and sand different materials such as hard plastic, wood, foam, and lead (from some BBs that were embedded in the plywood target-practise sheet). She had loads of fun, and seems to enjoy power tools just as much as I did as a child.


The sunglasses are for eye protection. Not ideal, but a habit that one doesn’t want to avoid.

Anyway, we’ll be out of town only briefly, returning Sunday… I’m very much looking forward to the trip because I haven’t seen my brother in ages. We actually have adventures planned for many of the weekends this upcoming month, so I think time will pass more quickly in February than it already does.