I would like to keep this blog focused on technical developments and code samples, but a few recent posts have been showing I am growing in my interest for the philosophy behind technology. To keep the two interests separate, I’ve started a separate blog called
It will be aimed at discussing the influence of technology on society and human relationships. Right now, I’m looking at Neil Postman’s “Five Things You Need to Know about Technological Change” as related to churches.
Stay tuned to this blog for more technical developments!
As most of us know IE6 does not support PNGs with alpha transparency. We recently updated DTS’s site with some popups that have a drop shadow using PNG-24 images with alpha transparency. Here’s how it looks in IE6 compared to any modern browser (FF, IE7, Opera, Safari, Chrome, etc.). Notice the nasty blue border.
PNG-32 (problems in IE6)
To summarize the article on PNG-8 and PNG-32.
|16.7 million colors (like a JPEG)||256 colors (like a GIF)|
|alpha transparency, not just indexed (like GIF)||alpha transparency (just like PNG-32)|
|doesn’t work in IE6||works in IE6 like a GIF (indexed transparency)|
PNG-8 with alpha transparency (IE6 works, pretty much)
Here’s what the PNG8 looks like in IE6 on our site. Notice that the drop shadow is missing, but the transparency still remains.
How to make Alpha PNG-8 Images
The problem with all of this is that there is only one program that can make this specific kind of PNG-8 – Adobe Fireworks. Photoshop can’t do it, and I’m not sure if any other graphics programs can either. Here’s a step by step for making the PNG-8
1. Open the PNG-32 (or photoshop file)
2. Change the Image Type to “PNG 8”
3. Change to “Alpha Transparency”, then click the “Rebuild” button
Now you will see the new color palette with alpha colors. IE6 will only display the solid colors, not the fully transparent (upper left) or semi-transparent (the three with inset clear boxes).
4. Chose File-Export to save the PNG-8
And that’s it. It takes a little more time but has made our development easier and provides a more stable experience for users.
The 2008 class gift for Dallas Seminary is supposed to be a large flat screen with a 3D world that shows where in the world DTS alumni are serving. The requirements were:
- The target OS is still unknown and I haven’t done much native Windows or Mac 3D programming. This leads me to use Papervision in Flash which I know and is very easy to use.
- The data needs to be easily updatable. Rather than use a database, I built a flat file using a quick C# app that plots alumni by state and country and geocodes their location.
- At DTS, the Admissions and Alumni offices are nearby, so the application needs to be interesting to Admissions. Ever since my sweet wife got me a Nintendo Wii a few months ago, I’ve wanted an excuse to program with it. For this project I thought, What’s more fun and interesting than controlling the globe with a Nintendo Wii controller?
Here is a (low quality) video of an early version of the project that gives you an idea of what it’s supposed to accomplish and look like. The first few seconds use mouse navigation, then it switches to WiiMote navigation.
To see a live demo, click the following image. If you want to control using a WiiMote, do the following. (1) connect your WiiMote to a PC via bluetooth. (2) Download the WiiFlash 0.4 package (3) run the included WiiFlash Server, (4) refresh the demo page page, (5) click the “Home” button the WiiMote to toggle controlling via mouse or WiiMote.
- Also thanks to this tip on WiiMote data and this tip on Papervision geocoding
All the tools for this project have been around for almost a year, so nothing is particularly cutting edge, but the mashup and purpose are pretty unique and really fun. Hopefully, playing with the WiiMote will be as fun as actually viewing the map, making the entire experience for prospective students really positive.
You can check out the book shelf here:
Mouse over the third book from the left:
How it works
A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a podcast with the best possible name of all time:
Joey and Ryan (two smart, funny, creative guys) had me on for three episodes to discuss the effect of technology on people. I’ve been reading quite a few books and articles in this area lately, and concurrently such considerations have begun to move out of the academy and into the mainstream with articles such as Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?“
Here are links to the three episodes:
- The Medium is the Message (the effect of communication technologies on our thinking)
- Technology’s Effect on People (the speed of modern life takes its toll)
- Technology and Relationships (the impact of facebook, twitter, and the rest)
Hope you enjoy!