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March 2, 2012

Ghent Altarpiece goes interactive — Welcome to the 21st century

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It's happening everywhere you look: things that were once inaccessible to almost everyone on the planet are now open to the world 24/7/365.

I like that a lot.

But I digress.

Randy Kennedy wrote about the interactive Ghent Altarpiece project in a February 24 New York Times story, excerpts from which follow.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about other economies of exchange? And what if the picture is among the most revered in Western art history?

Here is one answer: Hubert and Jan van Eyck's "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb," better known as the Ghent Altarpiece [top], is worth 100 billion pixels. And after you see what this means in practical terms, you might think the painting is worth a few billion pixels more than that.

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A group of American and European art officials announced on Friday that as part of an emergency conservation of the Ghent Altarpiece that has been taking place over the last year, the work has been photographed centimeter by centimeter at extremely high resolution for the first time. And the results are now available to the public at an interactive Web site, "Closer to van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece," that allows viewers to zoom in close enough to see tiny trees and cathedral windows no bigger than the cracks that have marked the altarpiece’s surface since its completion in 1432.

The Web site — a collaborative project of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, Lukasweb and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel — was created with the help of a grant from the Getty Foundation and with support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. As part of the restoration project, the altarpiece, whose home is the Villa Chapel in St. Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, was removed from its glass enclosure and temporarily dismantled. The Web site shows the altarpiece in both its open and closed positions and, besides conventional photography, uses infrared reflectography and x-radiography, allowing viewers to see beneath the work’s surface to its underpainting.

In the nearly six centuries since its creation, the altarpiece has not led a tranquil existence. It was taken apart and hidden twice in the 16th century to protect it from iconoclasts and Calvinists. Two centuries later, it was hauled to Paris as a war trophy. In 1934 thieves stole two of its panels, and during World War II it was seized by the Nazis and kept in a salt mine.

March 2, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Credit card-size scanner


That's pretty amazing.


"Scan business cards in color with notes on back. Scan pictures, ID, articles, notes and more."


"Is that a scanner in your wallet or....?"

Alas, not for Mac: PC only.


March 2, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Love your noises

No, not those noises.

What kind of a site do you think this is, anyhow?

I'm talkin' bout the noises all around you where you live.

Things like a squeaky door that annoys you every time you open or close it, but not enough for you to put paid to it with a spritz of WD-40 or 3-in-1.

Or the high-pitched sound your brakes make when you press on the pedal (mine do that and the guy at Bob's Wheel Alignment, where I take my car every year for its required annual inspection, each time reports that my brakes are fine so he put some anti-squeal stuff on them that oughta solve the problem. It does — for a few months — and then I wait to reenact the dialogue the next time I come in).

How about that spot on the stairs or floor that creaks or groans when you put weight on it?

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

Consider the other side of those sounds, if you will:

• That noisy door will tip you off if someone's in your house who's not supposed to be, giving you time to take a dive out the window to safety.

• Those squealing brakes will alert some idiot who's crossing the street and texting, oblivous to your approach, maybe saving their life and you a lot of grief.

• The outspoken stairs and floor: see noisy door above.

Just a few idle thoughts to put a nice gloss on your sloth in dealing with this sort of thing.

March 2, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pickle Bottle Stopper

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"Get this gherkin workin'."

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Food-safe silicone.

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March 2, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: FDA wakes up and smells the... caffeine?


Long story short: The AeroShot Pure Energy Caffeine Inhaler went on sale in January of this year in New York and Boston. 


What, no San Francisco?


But I digress.


Though the product didn't require government approval because it's classified as a dietary supplement, "Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York requested a Food and Drug Administration review, saying it could pose hazards to teens if taken with alcohol. Doctors say it may carry neurological and cardiovascular risks."

According to a Bloomberg News report, "The FDA said it would review the product and respond directly to Schumer. Last year, at Schumer's urging, the FDA stopped sales of caffeinated alcoholic beverages after they were linked to hospitalizations and deaths."

bookofjoe readers will know all about this product, which appeared here on December 24 of last year.

I have a one-word response, pictured below.


If you want to try AeroShot, my advice would be not to think about it for too long 'cause all of a sudden it's gonna disappear in a New York senator minute.

Apiece, $2.99.

March 2, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Porter Tray Table

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I love this.

I guarantee that almost anyone who received it as a gift would be initially pleased and even more delighted as its usefulness became increasingly apparent over time.

From the website:


A side table that is perfect for small spaces, the Porter Tray Table has a C-shaped supporting frame that allows it to be tucked over the edge of a sofa, chair, or bed.

The table top is a removable red plastic tray, and the handle makes it easy to move the table wherever it's needed.

Wipe with a damp cloth.

Details and Features:

• A 2008 design by Jens Pohlmann, Thilo Schwer, and Sybille Fleckenstein

• Height from top of handle: 21"; height from base to tray: 19".

• Tray: 18"Ø; frame: 21"H x 13"W x 13"D.

• ABS plastic, chrome wire


Version 2.0, with locking hinges where the wire bends to begin its vertical segments, would pack flat.

Just thinking out loud....


March 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: LegalNomad's Jodi Ettenberg's favorite travel apps


Rachel Lee Harris in a Q&A with Ms. Ettenberg in last Sunday's New York Times Travel section asked her which travel apps she used; the voyager replied,


"There is one, SitorSquat, for finding toilets around the world.


There's also a fun app called ICOON,


a global picture dictionary that sorts images by category so that if you can't speak the language, you can use picture."

March 2, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Royal Placemats


18" x 9".


Set of four: $20.

March 2, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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