Friday, August 6, 2010

Are you going to Burning Man this year?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

French Fries Better Than McDonalds

I made them.  From this recipe right here. It says the recipe is based of off reverse engineering McDonald's fries.  The end result is a better fry, particularly if you use fresh high-heat sunflower oil & fresh homegrown potatoes!  Click on photos to embiggen!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Golf Swing (kids, don't try this at home)


Earlier today my friends & I went golfing.  Steve was kind enough to film my swing with my iPhone.  Images are below.  The weirdest frame is the frame right before I hit the ball.  The club appears to be bent forward.  This may the Jello Effect, or it may be because the golf club head is getting ahead of the rest of the shaft.

If it's the jello effect, then it implies that the fastest part of my swing is before I hit the ball.  Not optimal.

If it's the actual club bending, it implies that I slow down my swing midswing, then pick up the pace again by point of contact.  Or that my shaft is springing at the wrong time, or something.

Anyway, check out the images below, and feel free to make suggestions!

Note: Pictures are not evenly spaced through time.  They are chosen for their specific poses.


Monday, May 31, 2010

The Prestige: A really late review

Two of my friends host weekly dinner & movie parties.  Yesterday's was "The Prestige" I loved it, and we all had a great talk afterwards about certain parts of the film.  MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW.

The Movie Itself:
The multiple story lines at different points in time were reminiscentof LOST & Pulp Fiction.  I liked how the Olivia betrayal scene was shot twice, once for each memoir.  Seeing that it was the same director for "Memento" makes sense.

During some points of the movie, I'd almost confuse "The Professor" with "The Great Danton".  This was for several reasons.
1) They were often in disguise.
2) They became a single unit when they locked in as rivals.  It reminded me a lot of Ridley Scott's "The Duelists" The advantage of that film, however, was that the two leads looked very unique in relation to each
3) They seldom *felt* like the actor that portrayed these characters. Very little Batman or Wolverine in them.  In fact, the director went to great lengths to make nearly everyone in the movie appear foreign to the essence of the actors playing the parts.  Bowie was portrayed as short, even more restrained, and curt.  Very staccato.  Andy Serkis acted neither like a cat with a peanut stuck in his throat, or an enormous ape.  Instead, he played a much more garish character; that of a loud and gaudy American.

Huge Freaking Plot Hole:
"What knot did you tie?"
"I don't remember"

Seriously?  OK, I can buy that, with the guilt and panic and all.  But did anyone ever *look* at her hands from the time they broke her out of the water to the time they buried her?  That would clue you in about the knot methinks.  Even if it was halfway undone, I would think one could figure out what it used to be pretty easily.

Post Movie Ponderings aka Beyond Clone Killing Dilemmas:
If Tesla built this machine that *freaking* cloned anything inside of it, why wasn't it put to much better use?
I'm no Tesla, but here's just a FEW of the things I came up with that you could do with such a machine:
1) Replicate gold.  Instant funding!!!  Hmm, I wonder if you can make a copy of a copy.  1 gold bar =  2 gold bars = 4 gold bars = 8 gold bars.  Even if you couldn't make a copy of a copy, you still could generate limitless gold, just slower.
2) Replicate hard to manufacture items.  Like the Mona Lisa.
3) Replicate Tesla.  Imagine a room full of Teslas, working together on a project.  Besides the need for a little more money to house and feed them, think of how much more work they could accomplish.  First invention they could work on: A safe form of suspended animation for humans.  Teslas throughout the ages!  And, it would also be a handy way to ensure that they don't get on each other's nerves.

So, it worked well as plot moving device, provided you didn't put any post movie thought into it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Drafting Table Before & After

I've had my uncle's drafting table since middle school (I think... certainly since high-school)  It has the uncany ability to be a Class-A shit collector.  I finally got around to cleaning it last weekend.

Here's the before & after shots.  1 week later, and it still looks the same :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jonsi 4/10/2010 Concert Review: A letter to the visual designers

I just wrote this letter to 59 Productions.  They are the creative visual force behind Jonsi's current concert, and they created the best visual performance that I've ever seen in a concert in my life.

To whom it may concern,

I wanted to thank you very, very much for the incredible set and visuals at Jonsi's last night's performance at the Showbox Sodo in Seattle, Washington.

Having been to a fair number of concerts, I've never seen such visuals so perfectly integrated with the music.  These effects trump Roger Dean's association with Yes.  And, although it was not as extravagant as a Peter Gabriel show I went to several years ago, (he bounced around inside of a human sized gerbil ball, rode a tricycle upside down, and made his stage crew wear bright orange suits), it was by far the best I've seen.  It didn't seem that you threw money at a problem to solve it.  It looked like everything was very well thought out.

I like how the show started with the color palate of a Brothers Quay film, and ended on some very bright notes.  The overall transition was incredible. 

I have some dated motion graphics experience (not my profession any more).  There were some subtle things that other members of the audience may not have picked up on.  I wanted to compliment you on these technical points, as I know that it required a lot of extra work to do it the way you did.  For me, this paid off immensely.  For everyone else, I'd suspect that subconsciously they were drawn into the performance more, and had a deeper, richer experience.  Thank you for not cutting corners.

For main video sequences, I never saw any loop points.  It looked like you spent the extra time to use full lengths of footage.  If there was a loop, it was seamless.

The window pane in the background:  I liked how you slowly revealed how exactly it was aligned to your video source.  At first, images played over the whole thing.  Then, with the rain/water filling up sequence, it showed how you had some vertical alignment  (I *think* you might have used the same water source, time delayed between parts.  Am I right?  If so, this is a smart example of asset reuse.)  Finally, one song had drum beats causing the shadows of individual panes to bump out on vertical & horizontal lines.  That obviously took more time to set up.  And, I think it was very much worth it.

That last piece made me wonder one thing:  was that 'bump' effect in real-time and synched to the drum mic?  Or was it prerecorded, and the band had to use an in-ear speaker to listen to a metronome to synch up to your graphics?

I was also impressed with the live video with effects overlays in real-time.  Things certainly have changed since I've done this type of work.

So, now for only a few constructive criticisms:

On several occasions, I noticed that the video playback paused for a split second.  It was pretty minor. 
The animal and ant rendering technique was exquisite!  However, their motion (all but the fox/wolf) was a bit stiff.  The ant on the ball was the worst.
The film burn stock footage:  As it burnt, there was still a 'film scratch' footage comped over it.  These all look like pieces from the Artbeats stock footage library, and, well, once the footage get burned up, I don't think there should be any scratches left!  I doubt anyone else in the audience thought about this. 

At any rate, this was a very memorable concert experience, and I'll cherish it for a very long time.

Thanks again,
Troy McFarland

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welding Table Complete!

I just put the (as far as I can tell) finishing touches on my welding table today.

Yesterday, I added two handles, to make it easier to move around.  Here is the best weld from them:

Still a lot of room to improve.  But I feel pretty good about it as the handle is a much thinner metal than the leg that it is welded onto.

I then tilted the table 90 degrees, and welded the bottom part of the handles.  So, this is a vertical weld, where gravity really comes into play.  After botching the first handle by going bottom to top, I tried this one going from top to bottom.  A welding manual said that it's easier but that there isn't as much penetration.  Since the other handle got eaten up by the weld, i figured I should just keep all the settings the same & it would work out OK.

Here's the results:
Not too bad.  I started & stopped several times to 'freeze' the weld puddle to avoid too much heat like the previous error.

Today, I cut a sheet of aluminum (with a 150+ tooth circular saw blade that said "do not use on metal"... maybe I should have read the fine print before buying it)  and fit it into the bottom.  Now I've got a nice shelf for all my welding stuff.  And yes, I do remove the cardboard boxes before welding. I also I move the whole table outside a bit before starting.  Thus the handles & the casters on the other side.  Also note the fire extinguisher on the left.

The next project is going to be to make supports for the fire resistant cloth that I bought as a welding screen, to keep the arc's view out of neighbors' eyes.   It should also work well as a wind breaker, and help me make better welds with my MIG.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Project: Welding Table Complete!

Usually when you look back on a project years later, you see the flaws.  Not so with my welding table.  I could see the flaws *as I was creating it*.  I'm still very proud of it.  I learned a whole lot about my Lincoln MIG welder, as well as constructing a table.

As you can see in this image, the table is desperately needed, to make room for a lot of equipment in an already over-filled garage.

I put casters on one side.  These were the only casters at Pacific Industrial Supply that I could find with a locking mechanism on them.    The narrowest part of the base was 2 1/2 inches.  So, without really thinking (they were getting ready to close) I picked up 2 1/2 inch angle bar for the bottom.  It was very thick, 3/16" (looks more like 1.4").  I could have bolted the casters on, but as I was in a rush, I just welded them on.

Remember that phrase "Measure twice, cut once"? Here's why:

I cut the angle bar in the wrong spot for one of the legs.  Fortunately, I had more, and tacked on a little at the end.  On the plus side, the error that I made, actually made it possible for me to have the table 2" higher, putting it at 3'2", an ideal height for me to work on most projects.  Now, if I had just planned that from the beginning.... This shot also highlights one of my worst welds ever made with my MIG.  Besides the fact that I should have cleaned the metal a LOT more before welding as I'm using gas shielding and not flux-core, the biggest reason I saw bubbles in my welds was due to the fact that it was really windy out.  Even after I increased the gas flow, I still got a few bad welds.  Oh yea, I think this image also showcases a really bad vertical weld.

Just to prove I'm not a total fuck-up, here's a shot of one of the better welds on the table (the one in front).  I'm willing to bet that a pro weldor (i.e. my Dad) would point out some of it's flaws, but it had good penetration, and no bubbles (the two spots are from the wire feed coating that were not brushed off yet)

The one thing I learned during this project was this:  Kerf & metal thickness NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN YOU FABRICATE!!!

Basic stuff for the experienced weldor, I'm sure.  The good news was that the table-top was a bit longer than I measured during my rush at Pacific Industrial Supply  (yup, that mistake again).  The metal thicknesses and some other creative tricks actually made it possible for me to complete the project without having to go back to pick up more material.

At least it's (mostly) level.  Hopefully my projects made on it will turn out better than it did itself. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm crying on the inside

Check out this incredible article on io9

Best line in this article: "The upheavals of war and natural disasters over 2,000 years have probably caused us to lose many more works and wonders that will never be found."

Every time I hear about things like the library of Alexandria being burnt down, or the Parthenon being blown up because the Turks lobbed a cannon ball in there, or the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist artwork, I cry on the inside. Imagine where we could be now if it was not for all of these setbacks.