DAVID R STONG: September 2007 Archives

Read this...


Not this... this .

∗ Kevin's blog post. Good post. Good idea. Good observations. Thank god it might not all be about computers any more. or at least eventually.

Fireworks color works

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I just had to break open an old problem graphic and generate an update. I call it a problem graphic, and have mentioned the problem before, because I need to get color matched between an embedded jpeg and coded css background, and Photoshop isn't cooperating.

I still make sure my monitors are calibrated, I still make sure my settings are correct. I also make sure I don't rely on embedded ICC profiles, since only Safari reads them. I try assigning a profile and choosing the recommended sRGB Profile, and fail to get a match. This time, even a technique that I've found generally works–telling Photoshop to not colormanage–left me baffled at bad results. So I just did what I could, saved the document, and closed it.

Ah the beauty of Fireworks. I opened the file in Fireworks and exported a JPEG. I loaded my test page and it was a perfect match. That would have ended it, but I wanted to tweak a few things before exporting a final image; the best place for that would be Photoshop, but I was already here...

What's that crap across the bottom of the Layers palette? And what is a "Layer" to Fireworks? Good grief, a new layer came in as a folder. "Sub layers" came in as sub folders. What do they call "where you work" and how do I make one? Ahhhhhh! There are enough similarities to Adobe products to make me willing to try, but so many differences–keyboard commands, icons, palettes–that working in it is like walking on ice.

So I'm stuck. On one hand, I want Adobe to make Fireworks a real Adobe product with commands as familiar as ImageReady's. On the other, I'm afraid Adobe will make Fireworks a real Adobe product and ruin my only method of getting the Web color I want.

Adobe v. Apple

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Recent disgruntlement over Adobe aside, I'd always pick Adobe in a smack down. What I really want is a large, powerful computer-graphics tool that houses the applications I use for work- and I'd be okay if it ran an Adobe operating system. I've even requested that as a feature. All the social crap that sits on my work machine can go on a tiny hand-held apple device. I'm currently wondering, though, if a real smack-down isn't brewing for us in the near future.

There's a good article touching on some of the corporate enmity between Apple and Adobe over at PCWorld but I really didn't need a synopsis. I can remember my own embarrassment for Adobe when Darth Jobs introduced their speaker at a conference keynote that presented the new OSX. Jobs publicly tried to humiliate the Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen, for not yet having his software ready to run in OSX.

Not much shocks me, but Jobs aggression and juvenile behavior came close.

Now, I just read another article, this one at PhotoshopNews claiming that there may be glitches running CS3 apps with the new Mac OS "Leopard". In the short article, Chizen claims that CS3 hasn't been fully tested with Leopard but Adobe is willing to make necessary adjustments.

He also said that Adobe has not received a final copy of Leopard to test with.


Do keep in mind that this is an Adobe news source...

The last bit of the PCWorld article has an interesting thought. John Loiacano, Adobe Creative Solutions VP, claims that Adobe is looking to the online world for many of its future features. They won't replace current apps, but will augment them. I think it would be fantastic if, instead of Photoshop Lite and Flashette, Adobe could get entry level, slimmed down versions of their software to run as free services in a web environment. Full feature apps would benefit from the publicity, and pros could go to conferences just taking their iPhones- now able to log in to PhotoshopWeb or AfterEffectsNet for last minute adjustments.

...and like YouTube Mixer, which is really Adobe Premiere Express, Photoshop Express is now poised and ready for release. Stay tuned.

If you're in to "branding"

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You might be interested in following the release and implementation of a new Photoshop logo. I'm torn. The tagline "See what's possible" really calls to my mind the Photoshop naif clicking aimlessly through style chips and filters to see what's possible rather than working towards realizing an inner creative vision.

Possibly, that's the new millenium graphic designer... from the "I'll know it when I see it" school.

When Adobe released the first versions of their software after acquiring Macromedia, CS3, they radically re-did their desktop iconography. It will be interesting to see if they tie everything together, keep Photoshop separate, re-do everything so that each two character postage stamp now has a glassine bit of candy. I really prefer the flat versions. Is this thing really a text balloon saying, "We've got a hole in our head!" ? This kind of messing around makes me think business is off...

linked to from the Adobe site:



This is old material (July 2006) transferred over from my defunct SquareSpace blog. I wanted to warehouse the ideas:

I just read Zeldman's Angry Fix entry in his daily report. The line that hit me hardest was, "To be fair, the W3C solicits community feedback before finalizing its recommendations. But asking people to comment on something that is nearly finished is not the same as finding out what they need and soliciting their collaboration from the start." Please understand that Zeldman is a god. He, Meyer, and Clark are the powers on the Olympus of the internet... but this, this is completely unreasonable.

I listened to the rants on the WAI interest group list about the short time allowed for comments on the proposed WCAG v.2. Amidst the furor, Judy Brewer came forward and announced that the W3C would provide more time, extending the deadline for the last call review.

More time. That was on May 26, 2006.

Looking back through my own archives of the Penn State Web Dev list "WEBTALK," I found a note that I sent to the group on September 24, 2002. My note was a repost of the W3C's public call for comment on the working draft of WCAG 2.0. It listed several specific questions to consider as well as their email address and specifics for sending comments.

I don't want to belabor this, but that was September 24, 2002.

The call went out again July 31, 2003, and again I forwarded it to my group. In fact, everytime there was a revision, there was a public call for comment. Did anyone who now complains send comments? The call was certainly public, or this poor schlub wouldn't have had his hands on the info.

We all have our faces very close to our work. Immersed in it every day, it's hard to imagine others could have our same perspective. Or that a better perspective exists. Under those circumstances, the very best we can do is make sure the voice from our perspective is heard by those making the decisions. And then accept the fact that after hearing the voices from many perspectives, that decision might not be what we would make while only seeing ours.

This seems like it's important information if you ever do web graphics. I've been at it for a dozen years, and it caught me completely unaware. An article at Sitepoint yesterday claimed that Fireworks was the only graphics application to take advantage of a little known capability specified for PNG-8. Fireworks can save a PNG-8 with more than one level of transparency and will be displayed in Internet Explorer version 6.

The article goes on to say none of the web folks in his office would believe it at first and of course, I didn't either. It took me a while to get IE6 on a laptop and do a few test files, but damn. It's true.

First I created a simple image in Photoshop that displayed a fuzzy glow. I saved this first version as a "PNG24" with 8-bit transparency right out of Photoshop. PNG 24 saying PiNG glorious PiNG. Next, I matted the fuzzy semi-transparent glow to a test pages blue background color and saved a PNG-8 out of Photoshop. I closed the layered Photoshop file, then opened it in Fireworks. Fireworks has always been a bit tedious to me- I'm not a Macromedia fan, and always preferred Adobe's ImageReady. Doing anythng at all in Fireworks is very unfamiliar territory, but it was easy to just turn off the background layer and choose "Alpha Transparency" instead of "Index Transparency" then save the new version.

I was shocked. It made a big difference. Almost a dozen years working with this stuff and I'm just learning something this elementary NOW? Damn. PNG from Fireworks saying PiNG glorious PiNG. Keep in mind that a textured background makes the transparency in the image more noticeable. I've placed a test page on the personal server with examples of PNG-24 and PNG-8 from Photoshop, PNG-8 from Fireworks, and most importantly, a screen capture of the display as it appears in Internet Explorer version 6. Version 6 and earlier had no support for PNG-24 8-bit transparency, and displayed it as a default gray field.

Added Saturday, 09/22:

More, I made this captureTwo versions of the Penn State mark. that shows the same 8-bit PNG with alpha transparency opened in Photoshop on the left, and in Safari on the right.

...and I trusted you, Photoshop. Now, it can never be the same again.

Emerson post from SquareSpace

This is old material (July 2006) transferred over from my defunct SquareSpace blog. I wanted to warehouse the ideas:

I admit that I've made myself feel smug and more scholarly by reading the thoughts of great (and not so great) designers. In most cases, their words seem like well phrased common sense. There's fulfilling entertainment value, along with some words to use when I talk to people who don't intuitively understand– but as pencil hits paper when I begin to draw, the thoughts from the minds of great designers never seem to be much help.

Emerson wrote, "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages... [snip]...Else, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another."

When I read that in Self Reliance, I thought, "well isn't that just what I've been thinking?" Smart man, Ralph.

The easy access of information on the internet coupled with the ease of entering discussions where making a paraphrase of a "found" thought can be a path to acclaim, speaking engagements, or best- being linked to... makes me realize that it isn't as important to find the thought, read the thought, and quote the thought in a scintillating context as it is to arrive at the thought through thinking on one's own. So I read a design blog and feel good. I feel better than good, I am sated. I don't have to think the thought or make the drawing which reflects my thought process. I'm a full man: but I realize that I've been "forced to take with shame [my] own opinion from another" though it doesn't seem to matter to others.

Read less. Think more. Draw more. Look more. See more. Grow the quality of what you do, and be open to the deep thoughts that happen in the background.

How do you get better?

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I started a few posts over the past few days and keep missing my point. Art? Creativity? Words I never use just get in the way. What I want to do is ask how you get better at your job? I'm not sure what my job is, but for me to get better at what it is I think I can do for Penn State, I sketch, read, visit the Palmer. How do
get better?
And as Paula Sher implied (citibank logo: a second and 34 years), pay attention to my life experiences so they can impact what I do. But this just means I'm making another unusable post...

So, how do you get better at your job? By better I mean better by your standards, not necessarily by your boss's/manager's/director's standards. There's a strong implication here that you know what your job is; or at least have a suspicion.

Seriously. Tell me.

Pangea cinema


Shameless plug: I love the TED site. It's packed with fascinating stuff from people that I'd love to have share the world I want to live in. Last year, a speaker named Jehane Noujaime talked about her idea for having a day where a common collection of films is viewed synchronously around the world, with the sharing of media creating a common bond across far reaching audiences. Her twenty minute talk is available on the TED site. On
May 10, 2008, sites around the world will videoconference
to show films

What grew out of Jehane Noujaime's prize winning idea is Pangea Day. On May 10, 2008 sites around the world will videoconference to show films, speakers, and music. The films are political. They show lives of people who live on the other side of borders. Films like Noujaime's Control Room

This has the potential of coming off like a sappy Coke commercial; but like any art, doing something good involves risks; taking the risk may produce something that touches people. Hopefully an intelligent media group right here at Penn State can figure out how to stream this stuff onto the HUB lawn, Shwab Auditorium, or the side of a local garage. Hopefully too, some Penn State media people can create and submit something notable.

"a" is for

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Apple with e t s cut into it.

Seemed cute at the time.

my twitter account hacked?

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This is very unusual. I opened twitter this morning, and there, near the top, were several posts that I made. They were posted on Friday around 6:30pm- when I was nowhere near a computer or phone that can tweat. They have my icon- running smaller than it should be, but it's been doing the same thing for me. It looks like two of the tweets are from David Stong instead of drs18, too.

Quite a mystery. Someone comes in to post twitters as me from my computer? I don't think it's a new account- I was able to click the trash can from my homepage to delete two of them. Ah well. At least they were clean. I do think I'll cancel the whole twitter thing, though. "Communities" based on such odd needs just don't feel real healthy.

engineering library


I was pointed to a book from way back in 2001 that's often sited as seminal in the web design field. Unfortunately it's close to being out of print: Amazon lists used verions of Derek Powazek's Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places as selling for $107. Damn. And that's the paperback. I'm usually willing to spend a few bucks for a decent book, and this does look decent...

Since most of my books end up in boxes in my closet, I've lately taken to using the library before I drop a few bills. Before being exposed to the internet I'd spend mornings lost in the stacks of Pattee and Schlow, jumping from one find to another along a thread very similar to those I follow on the web. I miss it. So this morning I opened The Cat in Safari and found that Penn State has Powazek's book. Not only do we have it, it's right down the street at the Engineering library. How convenient! And they opened just as I got there!

Browsing in a library is wonderful. I should stop in every morning. Luckily, I screwed up the alphabet (what version are we using now?) and ended up browsing a bit farther and longer than I'd planned; but to a good end. I also found what promises to be an excellent volume called Designing with Light, Public Places and another titled Creativity and Innovation: a Structural Engineer's contribution to Design . I'm so psyched.

Maybe there'll be another post about the content; but the bottom line- if they're worthwhile, my work should improve. Hopefully, that should be all the review that's necessary.

tagtool performance art


The creators of TagTool call it "an open source instrument for live performance drawing and animation." I don't quite get what about it is open source or what part hooks to a computer or what kind of projector is required to throw the image on a wall at the end of the street, but damn it, I want one. And I'd really prefer a finished model instead of a HeathKit version...

Tagtool is an
instrument for
live animation
What the "instrument" appears to be is a device that allows one person to use a wacom pen to create doodles on a screen as they're projected onto the surface of your choice. The effect is that an audience can watch the drawings being created. No big deal there- I grew up watching Jon Gnagy and Gene London. The big deal is that another person can control several sliders that animate different aspects of individual doodles. Alpha, color, position, size- all can be manipulated over time. The result is a drawing with animation that can be created as performance art.

I've dreamed about devices like this. It would take a good bit of practice, but the potential is sky high. Could you project on low hanging cloud cover during a football game? I'd love to open one up underneath Ben Franklin Bridge and show the kids how to non-distructively tag the buildings and piers. A search on YouTube turned up several examples, but one of the better videos is on the TagTool site. Imagine them with good music... or a storyteller... or a math instructor. Nah. Forget that math instructor part.

Penn State
April 18, Symposium 2009; reimagine.
New content. Symposium 2008.Digital Commons at Penn State. Improve the workplace; hire for variety.


Blogging at Penn State. Podcasts at Penn State.

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Me with a camera.

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