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Graphics. Our favorite subject. has good forums for people who like to talk graphics.

We are amazed that we are still waiting after all these years for universal implimentation of some basic graphics standards. Here's one recent example from WebMonkey, a good place. "Media Player Update: Weren't we supposed to have media players sorted out by now? Adam investigates why we're still dealing with too many choices and too few standards, Updated 11 Jan 2002,"

It has had a lot to do with access times so now that fat pipes, ADSL, wireless, and cable forms of broadband are common, there is less and less excuse for the internet not to be what it should be. Companies and standards have some jockeying for position left to do. Commoditization is the ultimate goal. Imagine when all computing machines are so standardized that nobody is concerned about sizes, capacities, or functions. Getting a computer won't bust your budget. It'll be just like getting a television. Application software will all come with the devices or be provided by internet ASPs, Application Service Providers. No more need to play the upgrade leapfrog game. That sort of efficient simplification scenario is not going to happen too quickly, though. Between here and there a lot of people will still need to keep their jobs. Programmers do love their alphabet soup. But what a difference a decade makes in computing. You learn that staying behind the curve has advantages. Are you still hanging with that Mac llfx? Never heard of one? What you can buy with the same money these days is absolutely mind boggling.

SAN FRANCISCO--Hewlett-Packard and University of California scientists have patented a process they said on Wednesday would eventually help turn out powerful computers that fit on the head of a pin with room to spare.

Mix visible text with dozens of flavors of source code alphabet soup amd guess what, jelly bean? Text is still just text. A pixel is still a pixel. Pixels can move, blend and be transparent. Sound matched to sets of pixels is still just that. How many ways can you twist a pixel or match sound with it? With OSX and Windows XP we finally have image and movie editing bundled with the machine system software. We have school kids mastering all this plus broadband internet speeds, dirt cheap RAM, 100 gig hard drives, and CPUs running at 2GHz. What else is there?

We are just about past the stage of geometric expansion of sizes, capabilities and functions. Get ready. The next stage is content.

More mass production could scale down prices. Umm... What then? Content. Sooner or later the internet will be used to expand cognitive power. It'll be a power shared by everybody. But first people will get past the novelty of the alphabet soup and hardware. Once that happens language and graphics will have central significance. You might as well get started with graphics now.

There are zillions of good places to bring yourself up to speed with graphics. Big places are good. The big places deliver pages which generally have few meaningful graphics. And the ratio of code text to text in viewable content messages is about fifty to one. The best ones are the big places with lots of worker bees. Some take care of the alphabet soup so that others can deliver a message. Big places are best for another reason. They may still exist next month or next year. So if you want to visit them or make a link to them they may still exist.

Speaking of speed and how long links to news articles may last, you might ask yourself what could be faster than instantaneous. You might see this article at, Feb. 25,2002:
"Big Blue's Blue-Streak Chip It's the world's fastest microchip -- of the moment, at least. IBM says it has built a 110-gigahertz chip out of silicon germanium.",1282,50642,00.html And you might wonder just how many days, weeks, or months the link to the article would still be good. Why not bookmark it and see for yourself.
Animation Tutorial
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Flash Animator

PhotoShop Elements. This program does virtually everything the full version does so there's no need to say more. If you don't know about Adobe Photoshop-what planet did you come from? The standard for graphics programs minus several bags of sand was available free. We purchased an Adobe HTML editor,GoLive for example is good. And got a licensed serial numbered copy of its predecessor photoShop LE, on CD. Or you can just buy it as PhotoShop Elements.

This is how describes it. "Editorial Reviews By merging Photoshop sophistication with tutorials and newbie helpers--and offering it at a pocketbook-friendly price--Adobe has created a cool tool for digital shutterbugs. Based on Photoshop 6.0, Photoshop Elements trims the most advanced features from Photoshop and replaces them with buckets of user-friendliness." Our Price: $99.99 Mail-In Rebates: $60.00 Price After Rebates: $39.99

Graphic Converter

The newest version of Graphic Converter is a must have. Edit graphics. Opens anything you can't open otherwise and then converts any file type to any other file type. We used to have a long, long list of the file types, but that was just too long so we just say any to any. Transparencies. Layers. Batch processing. Slide shows of images in a folder. Graphics thumbnail browser. The nag screen lasts for 30 seconds now. It only costs $30 anyway. There really isn't much to say about this application, except that you'll find it is very useful. It doesn't take much disk space or ram memory. You may hear that it's the poor man's PhotoShop. Then will come a time when it will pull you through a sticky spot and you'll like that. It'll happen a few times and then you'll like it more and the PMP term won't have much pejorative impact. Besides, you don't really need a massive memory hog to do many of the gruntwork chores involved in prepping images.

If you would like to have some ready made GUIs, graphic user interfaces, for a web page, will make some for you.

You can make flaming text GIF animations for your pages at:

We actually got requests for this little blurb on JPG or GIF.

Jpeg starts with millions of colors and is used for large stationary photographic quality images especially with gradient areas like skies for which detail is primarily important. And of course, you always want the best detail possible, don't you? Many people still choose GIF for any photograph for some darn reason. This is 90% wrong. For a photographic image above 200x300 pixels with gradient areas, you would do best to choose JPG. The size in bytes will be smaller and the quality will be much better. For images of comparable size, GIFs are generally larger in byte size than JPGs. JPGs can have static or banding when viewed on monitors with bit depths of 16 bits or less. But they will still look normal when viewed on 24 bit monitor settings. You don't need to use best or high compression for all JPGs. Medium, which is about 80% compression is fine for small images.

GIF is used when you want speedily loading images when image quality is not so important. You make an indexed image which has 256 colors or less. It reduces the number of bytes required for the image when less than 8 bit depth is used and also drastically reduces its quality. For smaller indexed color images, the number of pixels is small so the effect of color indexing is usually imperceptible. So squeeze it tight. 4, 5, or 6 bit color depth is fine for most of those those dinky little images. This is especially true when you make a logo, button, small bar, border, background tile, or a GIF animation, with several frames. Have you ever tried to resize a GIF? It probably had pixelated rough edges afterwards, didn't it? You probably wondered why. Well to resize an image your software has to change pixels. It adds some here and subtracts some there. In between pixels the software interpolates to give a more natural coloration. The GIF format only has a max of 256 colors. That's why the interpolations are imperfect. Check kow many colors your GIF has, then switch your image to RGB temporarily, resize it down, then change it back to indexed mode at the original bit depth before saving. To make a GIF animation you can use GIFs but also you may use image formats such as PICT for MAC or BMP for WIN or convert to such bitmapped images and then put those directly into the application which produces your animation. You could also import a movie file into your GIF animating program and export as a GIF animation. Not all GIF animation programs allow this, but most do recently. We like GifMation from BoxTop Software because among other things, it has just such versatility. And of course, the other main reason for using an indexed color image, such as a GIF, is so that you can pick one of the colors for a background and thus make your image transparent. If you would like to convert a gif animation to a movie file in .AVI or QuickTime formats for both Win and Mac, a good solution is the new QuickTime.

You might want to make a mental note that both GIF and JPG have served their purposes well from the past o the present, the future image format standards will change. We couldn't help thinking that since PNG is so versatile and has better pluses than TIFF, JPG, or GIF all rolled into one format, that it would become the standard. But who can tell. The same could have been said for the Amiga and it went nowhere fast.

Don't neglect to go to a great place for info on graphics and images on the web. You know the folks who play a major role in making the standards. Of course, Adobe wrote the book on graphics and they created a great standard in graphics software since before many of you could walk. They have lots of tips and advice on this subject, and others.

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