Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Aesthetics of Hex Rounding

~~ In which I coin a phrase, "hex rounding," as applied to color selection for the web ~~

A web project underway is for a Floridian audience, and needs to have a local feel. In choosing a color palette, the obvious first choice is "orange." But you can't use the Orange and Blue of the University of Florida fans w/ offending Seminole sensibilities. Similar issue for Orange Green of University of Miami. Can't use Miami Dolphins colors either. Note: I lived in Orlando for seven years, and graduated from UCF.

I was inspired by rainbow sherbet: the orange and green from that, plus a very light yellow, seemed Floridian to me. Please don't argue that with me, blogoshpere; I know its subjective, it's not the point of this blog, just the setup.

Working with a very talented web designer, we google-imaged "rainbow sherbet" and got enough results to color sample a few. Dropping them into the page layout and tweaking for readability netted the following palette:

orange #FB9E03 (251,158,3)
green #B7DF40 (183,223,64)
yellow #FEFF95 (254,255,149)

I have no training in color theory, but I grok the basics of color families. Color families can be colors that have the same hue, in different saturations. Or different tints. Whatever, you change some values but keep others the same and you'll get colors that "go well together." In computers, these colors are expressed in numbers that share similarities. In hex, base 8. Math aesthetics, you see?

And I remember my days of teaching "web design" back in ~1996, before CSS, when we had to worry about "web safe colors". Web safe colors were in the 256 color "Windows palette" of 8 bit graphics. Web safe octets were 00,33,66,99,CC, and FF. In decimal, that is 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, and 255. So the first round of my "hex rounding" netted:

orange #FF9900 (255,153,0)
green #B7DF00 (183,223,51)
yellow #FFFF99 (255,255,153)

So my orange and yellow were now "web safe", and the last octet of my green was "safe". But I'm not really caring about web safe these days. I'm just using it as the most convenient direction to push them, mathematically, into the same color family.

I like working in http://www.colourlovers.com for web palettes, only because it is easy to share successful results with remote people. And this is color picking, not just math. But COLOURlovers doesnt let you input RGB, only hex. I imagine they think people are mostly clicking and dragging around the color picker.

I continue to work on the green. 183 is between my 153 and 204. I test pushing it all the way to 204, and the color works for me. Somewhat lighter. RGB = colors of light, so bigger numbers = "more lights on" and (no pun here, thats where the word comes from:) lighter color.

223 I push to 255 but now my color is yucky bright lime. Lets add blue: from hex 00 go to 33, still yuck, 66, 99 oops too far. I'm now at pistachio ice cream and I'm still aiming for lime sherbet so lets split the difference. Translating to decimal, I need a number between 102 and 153. 127.5 splits the difference. 7F. Check it, yes that works.

orange #FF9900 (255, 153, 0)
green #CCFF7F (204, 255, 127)
yellow #FFFF99 (255, 255, 153)

And here is my palette, hex rounded. Not necessarily better, just mathematically based. Sorta:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rackspace SLA = 99.9%. Penalties kick in.

Rackspace had a serious outage. Valleywag scooped the actual police report.

I think most Diggers are being too kind to Rackspace. I just checked with my hosting provider about this scenario:

"There are two Central Hudson utility transformers that feed our building. They are located behind locked fences at the Central Hudson sub station on the perimeter of our campus --- far from any roads.

Additionally, there are receiving and distribution transformers within our building on both the second floor of our mechanical plant and our data center. Again, these devices are not located near roads or traffic.

Lastly, our emergency generators are located in protective, sound enunciator houses to protect them from the environment / external elements. These generators are also not located anywhere near traffic flow."

I host with Cervalis btw. I ckecked with Rackspace's live chat attendant this AM. Their SLA is for 99.9% uptime, so penalties kicked in for affected customers.

Their penalities are a percentage off monthly fees equal to the portion of the montly outage. So if your company was down for .5% of the month, about 3.5 hours, you'd "save" .5% of your Rackspace fees. How crazy would you be if your business was SOL for 3.5 hours?? This SLA is lousy imho.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Loving Ubuntu 7.10

When my sister asked me to help her with a web site in April, I took the opportunity to expand my professional skills by developing it in LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and pHp. I'd dabbled with Cygwin when I knew shell scripting was best suited to the task at hand, but that was the extent of my open source skills.

So I took a laptop that was past its prime -- the network card only worked intermittently, and the graphics capability meager -- and installed Ubuntu Feisty on it. It's worked pretty well, and I've been able to muddle through the learning curve to get the project underway.

I'm an update-aholic, so when Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" was released, I was edgy and feisty (lol) to get it. There were several kinks: first attempt failed because duh! I ran out of battery power. Second attempt: my network card went on vacation again. Sigh.

I tried the Live CD, then got back on track with the Alternate version. Luckily plenty of other computers around to allow for sneaker-netting.

The Apache upgrade was another hiccup: I had to re-configure pHp and chmod permissions.

I brought it into work and one of my IT guys wrestled with the wireless NIC to get that on our office network. I never could get that done under Feisty. But now I can easily roam, connecting to my home or office network without intervention whenever I'm in range.

But I confess: I love Ubuntu 7.10 for the eye candy. Transparent terminal. Clearlooks, Darklooks depending on mood. Transparent panels top and bottom. I'm a sucker for transparency, it seems.