Heymatt: I’ve gotten to wondering, how does 3D TV work? I’ve never seen it, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how it would work. — Bob S., Tierrasanta
Bob S. has been bathing in the big pot of simmering questions on the back burner of Grandma’s stove in the luxurious Alice corporate offices here on the 85th floor of the WorldWideProfits building. But recently I noticed that he had leapt to the top of that hot brew, calling, “Answer me! Answer me! Me! Me! Me!” You know how there are moments in time when a magical nexus appears? When man meets machine and our lives are transformed? Now, today, this magical hour is one such moment. You cannot avoid the bright light on the horizon, the waves of excitement that suddenly wash over us. Consider: Wonderment No. 1: Toshiba announces the release of a dorkglasses-less 3D TV! Wonderment No. 2: The Jackass franchise announces the release of the Jackasses in 3D! Coincidence, you say? I think not.
Technology has to create 3D with a lot of algorithms and circuitry and lenses, imitating what our own eyebones create naturally. Our eyes are set equal distance off a center line so each eye sees a slightly different view of whatever’s in front of us. Our brains lay one view over the other and — Bob’s your uncle — 3D. With the type of 3D you can see only through dork glasses, two images are created behind the TV screen, each to be viewed through one lens of the dork glasses. Again, brain overlay and Bob is again your uncle. Triple-D technology, specifically Toshiba’s 3D Rezga TV, requires more algorithms and a couple of small but powerful computers inside the machine to take each 2-D frame and simultaneously create nine images from each frame. Each image is projected in a slightly different direction, creating a sort of spraylike array that produces three-dimensionality in our brains without the use of dork glasses.
I’m sure you early adopters already have your tickets to Tokyo, the only place you can buy Toshiba’s new baby. And you’ll have to squint at either a 12- or 20-inch screen, the only sizes on the market. There’s a prototype 56-inch model, with no plans to make more. Reviewers say the Rezga technology is pretty good if you’re just watching talking heads, but a Chargers game would be a bit smeary. And if you’re sitting on the couch with your sweetie, don’t tell her, but try to grab the spot most directly in front of the screen when you sit down. Unfortunately, Sweetie might not be able to see the effect unless she’s sitting on your lap; the 3Dness of it all disappears when you move off dead center, especially bad with those small screens. And, hey, while you’re at it, get Sweetie to help you move the couch. You know how close your kids sit when you tell them to move back because they’ll hurt their eyes? That’s apparently how close you have to sit to Rezga TV to get the full benefit. But maybe you’ll like the price.
Howdy, Matt: My mom says that when she was a teenager she worked as a carhop. She said she wore roller skates for her job, but she couldn’t tell me why she was called a carhop. Where did the name come from? — Marsha Levin, via email
Not very hoppy on skates, for sure, Marsha. But in the earliest days of carhopping, they actually did hop on cars. It goes like this: Apparently, within hours of the first Fords rolling off Henry’s assembly line, we decided that a really good thing to do in this new contraption is eat something. America was absolutely batty about driving. Zipping along the carriage-rutted roads of our land, with our heads out the window like a retriever, drunk on the freedom of the open road. By the early 1920s, restaurants that catered to these hordes popped up all over. The servers were men, each dressed like a waiter in a fancy-dress joint: black pants, white shirts, bow ties, and white aprons. Unfortunately, nobody was paid a wage. They were paid in tips. The more you served, the more you made. This put a premium on grabbing a new customer as soon as possible. When a new car rolled in, the waiters would rush it, and the one that hopped on the car’s running board claimed the transaction. Sounds like an entertainment the Romans might have enjoyed, what with the risks of being hit and killed. Of course, the waiters soon became “carhops” and the name stuck. I assume your mom didn’t have to re-enact a roller derby scrum for her job. Things eventually became more polite once the hops got wages.