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November 18th, 2009 - Bric-a-brac

Rather than resort to conventional photography for this post, I thought I would remind you, gentle reader, that it is possible to scan three-dimensional objects with an ordinary flatbed scanner. And what's more, it's fun!

Of course the flatter the object the better, as a flatbed scanner is designed to scan flat objects well, however it is not limited to scanning two-dimensional objects. Actually, the more you play with them, the more you will see they are like big cameras, with a surprising amount of depth-of-field, and with the added aspect of 'time' as the scanner 'records'. More on that in a sec. Pardon the pun.
Okay, let's scan stuff. We'll start out fairly flat and work our way up. How about a flat pick? (Also known as a 'plectrum')
Makes sense to me. We can't decide if this Haight pick belongs to me or Sharon. Or Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane, or Big Brother & The Holding Company...

Here is definitely one of my picks with a fair amount of 'pick drags' showing on the edges. You have a black Kramer guitar, you have to have a black pick. One of my friends said never to buy a black guitar because those are the ones the manufacturer messes up and has to paint them all black to cover it up. Hmmm. That thing never did stay in tune very well.

It may look like a little paper envelope, but no! It's yet another innovative idea for people on the go! Bottoms up!

This is classic. I may have gotten these with the paper drinking cup. I was travelling to Europe once and I bought this "Travel Kit" at an overpriced airport shop containing a disgustingly plaid inflatable neck pillow (still have, use it all the time) a disgustingly plaid snap-on elastic uni-goggle for sleeping on the plane, and one pair of yellow foam ear plugs. Also included in the kit were these stickers, with a set of "DO NOT DISTURB" stickers on the back. I always wanted to snap on my goggles and put one "PLEASE WAKE UP FOR MEALS" sticker over one eye, and one "DO NOT DISTURB" sticker over the other, just to see what the stewardess would do.
I need more of these for when I retire.

Another piece of classic innovation that never quite caught on. Someone really put some serious thought into this one. What you did was slip this plastic piece behind your guitar strings on the proper fret, and looked at it sideways in front of a TV set. You could then see the vibration of the strings with a sort of 'strobe-effect' and begin to tell when they were in tune as the strobing was eliminated. Note: "begin."
We're going back, back, back...
It's the 'Nixie tube'!
Before Plasma displays, before LCD's, before LED's, even before clocks with flipping metal plates with numbers on them were known as "digital", we lived in the domain of the Nixie tubes. By hitting one of the wires on the bottom with about a jillion volts of electricity, you could make one of the cathodes shaped as numbers from 0 - 9 inside the tube light up with a dim orange glow.
Keen! See, we have evolved.
You can imagine a how hot a calculator as big as a desk became after running eight digits of these babies all day. I scanned this by laying it on the scanner, putting a wad of toilet paper over it and pointing a flashlight at it while the scanner bar went by. Hey, we're gettin' all three-dimensional now.

And what bric-a-brac shelf would be complete without: "The Pink Hand Grenade...!"
I love this thing! Such symbolism. So graphic. And, it squeeks! Loudly!
Make pink hand-grenades, not war.
So here's where the 'time' thing comes in. Say you put an object on the scanner. Say you set the scanner to like 50 dpi so it scans pretty fast. Say as the scan bar moves down the scanner, you move the object along with it, at relatively the same speed.

You begin to 'stretch' the object because the scanner is recording as you are moving over time. Cool no?
I have also heard of people opening up their scanners and putting them on their speakers while their favorite song is playing to 'see' what the music 'looks' like.
I wish I had thought of that.
That's all for now, see ya!
Have fun scanning!

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