With all of the useful features available in .PNGs, you might wonder why they aren't used more frequently on the web. This is largely because the .PNG support for IE6 (surprise!) isn't quite up to snuff. IE6 can't natively handle the alpha-transparencies (that smoothing effect) in .PNGs. Instead, IE will render your beautiful images as shown to the right, with a light blue background behind any transparent pixels if alpha-transparencies are used. (IE6 can handle opaque & fully transparent pixels (the same kind you get in .GIFs) in .PNGs just fine.)
But see here what happens as I try to use this solution in practice. I have a small pin image that I used as a background for breadcrumbs. I really need the image to appear once on the right side of some text that's floating right. But it stretches to fill the height & width of the div that's filled by the crumbs.
No problem, right? Just add another (non-semantic) div (red dashed border this time) to surround the AlphaLoader div. But I've got to make the AlphaLoader div an inline element to make the pin appear on the same line as the text, and then the image disappears.
Our IE / Alpha .PNGs saga continues next time, as we test more exotic solutions.
For my new design of Pew Pew Laser Blog, I went for all .PNG images. I did so mainly to save myself a lot of work recreating .GIF after .GIF when changing the background colors of elements. The new hotness of the .PNG format is that it can have transparencies of varying degrees; for example, an pixel can be grey with a 50% transparency value. This gives us awesome and easy shading, without any halos or jaggies or sharp edges on a properly created .PNG.
Note that I said 'properly created .PNGs'. The husband spend a couple hours helping me figure out why the shadowed part of my logo looked jaggy in IE7 and Safari, though it looked fine in Firefox and Opera. In the end, it was because I had left the background purple in the image. This meant that the shadow was tied to that purple. When viewed in IE7 or Safari, the jaggies appeared because the shadowed-purple didn't match the actual purple of the page. (This may be due to the .PNG gamma correction effect.) In any case, we were able to resolve the issue by deleting the background purple layer from the .PSD, and allowing the shadow to float freely.
This difficulty overcome, I do thing .PNGs are the right way to go. Historically, .PNGs file sizes were quite large. But you can squeeze a few KB out of your images by using the PNGCrusher utility. I even set it up as a right-click option using Neil Turner's nifty instructions for doing so. I was able to shave 5% of the file size off my horking header images; which I'd originally created using Photoshop CS2's Save for Web feature.
Oh-ho! "What's this?" you say. "Just a little bitty site redesign?"
Nay! It is a complete design re-architecture! Look at the source and see all new code, with nary a table in sight. Observe the amazing elastic layout, with heavy use of those exotic ems in the CSS. Experience the subtly improved pictures page. Marvel at the beautiful png-tastic images!
I also re-did many of the kludgiest backend PHP for the site. But you can't see any of that, so you'll just have to trust me.
If you'd like to get your hands on some of the awesome icons I've used here, head over to IconBuffet and sign up the club. C'mon and do it. Neat graphics for you, and I get extra bonus geek points. Wouldn't you like these pirate icons? You'll need them in September...
If you head over to the pictures, you can see the tulip pictures I took last week.
Good grief, where is that husband? He must have won his soccer game, and is having a celebratory beer. No worries. I'll just write some stuff until he gets back.
I finished the taxes over the weekend. Surprise surprise! Did you know that there's no need to file Washington state taxes, since we've got the accursed sales tax instead? It sure explains why we had so much trouble finding a version of Tax Cut that included a state program.
We went to the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley on Sunday. It was beautiful, and we each took many many pictures. Some of mine came out pretty good, so I'll post those later in the week. We were worried about getting rained on, but it was sunny the whole time. So much so that I got a bit of a sunburn on my face. Note to self: I must wear a hat.
Lastly, if I still haven't sold you on Orneryboy, check this out.
For those of you who have Wiis, you must know that Super Paper Mario is awesome. I bought it on Saturday using some leftover Christmas cash, and I thought you should know. The graphics aren't awe-inspiring - but they're clean and they set the appropriate mood. It controls effortlessly on the Wiimote, including the motion-sensing capabilites thus far. It is true that it doesn't have the RPG emphasis that Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door had, but I'm just not missing that aspect of the game. So, I heartily endorse the new Paper Mario. Now I just need to know if that Puzzle Quest game is any good...
The hubby and I drove down to Portland this weekend to visit my family for Easter. He'd taken the first shift, so I took over the driving duties in Centralia. Having taken a nap on the way down, and picked up a delightful fresh strawberry milkshake at the Burgerville, I was well rested and alert. The rain kept varying between the showers and deluges that are typical of our beloved Pacific Northwest. During one such deluge near Kalama, I saw the black car shoot through the grassy center median, driving into the oncoming traffic, and moving far too fast to be a police car starting from a dead stop. The sporty black sedan hit a red pickup truck that had been traveling in the right lane, and both cars bounced apart. The red truck spun around and came to rest near the right side shoulder, and the black sedan also spun and stopped across the left and middle lanes of traffic, about a couple dozen yards in front of me. I stomped on the brakes, steered straight, and stopped our Forester at least 10 feet in front of the smashed sedan. The other southbound I-5 traffic also managed to stop without incident, though I was briefly worried about the SUV behind us.
Both damaged cars will surely be totaled for frame damage, but the passengers appeared unhurt. The driver of the black sporty sedan hopped right out and announced that his car had spun out. (I suspect he'd hydroplaned due to too high speed in the pouring rain.) The older couple in the red truck looked unhurt and made eye contact, and were using their cellphone. The cars really only impacted on their corners, and glanced off each other instead of smashing head on. But it's worth a lot these days to have a a safe, modern car with solid metal frames and airbags.
Several things went well for us in these few fateful seconds, and I urge you to reflect upon them.
- Our vehicle worked precisely as it should - being free of bald tires or other maintenance problems.
- As a habitual reaction to anything at all odd or threatening on the road, I take my foot off the accelerator and cover the brake. This is a solid habit that I encourage you to build.
- I also drive appropriate to current road conditions; I was probably going 60 or 65 mph in the heavy rain rather than the 75-or-so that I would do on a straight, sunny stretch of I5 where the posted limit is 70 mph.
- I'd studied up on anti-lock brakes (which our Forester has, in addition to AWD) and knew to keep slamming those brakes though they jittered as the ABS worked.
- I aggressively position myself within the flow of traffic so that I am away from other cars. Proper following distance (That's 3 seconds people, keep checking yourself.) is the only way in the world in which you can make more time. But I also speed up or slow down to move out of the blind spots of other cars, and to move myself out of their blind spots. In this way, I can give myself 'pockets' of empty maneuvering room that I can use in emergencies. I didn't need to swerve to avoid hitting the stopped sedan, but that space was available for me and the other cars on the road.
Today is CSS Naked Day. I didn't go naked, because this site is far too constrained by it's table design. Fear not, change is coming.
I have found a new web-comic - OrneryBoy. It speaks to me on many levels - weekday mornings, Halloween, the delights of a chocolate holiday, and coed competitive gaming. I will be having fun catching up on this.
I do like spring in the northwest. Last month, pink exploded all over Seattle, in the form of cherry blossoms. I took a few pictures of the blossoming trees on the Harbor Steps, and one came out nicely. Tulips are appearing everywhere, and I can get some pretty ones for the apartment down at Pike Place Market. There's simultaneous rain and sun everywhere, and that means rainbows! Maybe Seattle isn't so bad after all.
We made an offer on a townhouse today, so we'll see what happens. We offered a pretty low price, but the HOA fees are really outrageous.