Last post

This is my last post in the RealTech WordPress weblog. RealTech will be back, though whether it will be a weblog or stories, tutorials, and the like, I don’t know yet. Whatever I do will be implemented in Drupal.

I’m finding that Drupal really is a good solution for me, and not just because of the better support for both rich semantics and SVG. Drupal provides multiple types of publication models, including books and “stories”, the latter of which can be considered a “weblog”, but could equally be considered nothing more than a story published online.

I’ve long wanted the capability in WordPress to be able to associate a group of pages into a book, with an order specific navigation, rather than loosely into a category. Drupal supports this functionality, in addition to the category-based grouping. The tool also has better support for taxonomies, in addition to being able to fine tune the exact URL for each writing.

I also like the architecture of the modularization. Drupal isn’t a slam dunk installation, but then it’s not the same as a pure weblogging tool. It is a true content management tool, which means you’ll have a better time planning ahead with your installation than just throwing something out.

I’m not going to try importing my old posts. Instead, for both this site and Burningbird I’m cleaning out old crap and then I’ll be using the Linux utility wget to create a static copy of the site. I’ll then move the static pages in to replace the old dynamic web pages:

wget --mirror -w 3 -p --html-extension

Adding the following into the .htaccess file ensures the SVG in the page works for people using an SVG-enabled web browser, while still allowing IE access:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} application/xhtml\+xml
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} !application/xhtml\+xml\s*;\s*q=0
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} \.html$
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} HTTP/1\.1
RewriteRule .* - [T=application/xhtml+xml]

You wouldn’t believe how much cruft I had in Burningbird. Remember, this is a weblog I’ve had for over seven years. It’s also a weblog that started out with bad HTML markup, now being served up as XHTML. It is getting to the point that unless I really like a post, if it’s broken in XHTML, I delete it.

Too many of the posts, too, were nothing more than notes about “I’m going to do something”, “I am doing something”, “I have done something”, and preserving these types of posts is tantamount to collecting old Avon bottles. In addition, so much of my old writing was maudlin. Maudlin, histrionic, and full of hyperbole. It was exhausting just reading some of the old material. I found myself saying, all too frequently, “Oh my god, there she goes again”–about my own writing, which is a sad state.

I’m also fixing up the posts that I am keeping, including repairing broken links (using a tool, Xenu to find them).

When I’m finished, hopefully this weekend, the site will probably be hundreds of pounds lighter.

Creating the static copies frees up the .htaccess files, as well as “cleans” up the god awful redirect mess I have now. I’m also using the Google Webmaster tools to eliminate entire subdirectories that are gone. Since I stopped caching my stuff a long time ago, once the stuff is cleared, it’s gone. This aggressive cleaning will result in more 404/410 pages, inspiring me to be more creative with the error pages.

I’m not ready to move out new pages yet. I want to make sure I’m happy with my re-organization, as well as tool use. I’m made a lot of bad decisions the last several years, primarily because I ended up following some new meme or another. Now, I want to make sure what I end up with is what I want for the long term–not something that scratches a momentary itch, or puts me in the middle of the bees.

I don’t like “Under construction pages”, not the least of which the images are too damn cute for words, and “under construction” provides no useful information. Instead, I’m creating “to-do” lists for all of my sites that provides a brief explanation of what the site is, as well as an indicator of recent activity, and planned for activity in the future. An example can be seen at my Shelley Powers site, or Painting the Web.

I doubt that anyone would be interested in following along with this process, but then, I didn’t think Twitter would take off, either. If you are interested, I started an account at Ta-da Lists, where I will list my to-do items, and when they are completed. You can also follow along with my Burningbird Twine.

Speaking of Twine, I do have invitations for it, and for Aviary, the online graphics tool system. I created an Invites email address at, which will provide an auto-responder message letting you know what invites for what app I have available. This way if you ask for an invite for Twine or Aviary, or whatever I currently have invitations for, you’ll get immediate feedback on whether you can expect the invitation, or if the invitations are all gone. The invite request will then get forwarded to me to issue the invite.

My two book support sites, one for Adding Ajax and one for Painting the Web, are my priority, so I’m not sure when anything else will be finished. I probably won’t have my main Burningbird page up before these two sites are ready, but the main Burningbird feed will be running from the start. I’m continuing to use Sam Ruby’s Venus, and the main Burningbird feed will continue to be housed at Note that this will be my feed for everything–all the writings and what not from all my sites. Once I take down the WordPress weblog at the top level, I’ll then redirect my older feeds to this new location.

If you’re interested in Ajax, you’ll probably want to check out the Adding Ajax page when finished. It’s not just a book splash page. I’ll be adding new writings related to Ajax, as well as reviews, code, and book support stuff.

The same with the Painting the Web site. Painting the Web promises to be my most “fun” site, especially if you’re interested in photography and/or web graphics. The splash page I have now doesn’t represent what I’ll have when I’m finished. I’m not quite sure about all aspects of the page design yet. Page design is always the hardest task for me. Tech is easy.

I don’t know all I’ll be doing as I go forward, but I do know that all of you have made the last seven years of my life a richer experience. I must have broke an anti-matter mirror seven years ago, because I’ve had seven years of good luck, not bad. I want to thank you for your time and interest, not to mention patience with my many flights of fancy.

Photography Web Writing

Color management support in browsers

With the addition of support for color profiles built into Firefox 3, it’s time to take a closer look at how the popular browsers support color management. First though, a quick refresher on the importance of color profiles.

If you’ve every worked with a photo in a photo editor, only to have the rich colors leach out when the photo shows in your web page, you’ve run directly into what happens when your editor supports color profiles, but the browser does not. Color profiles are a mapping between device and color space, in such a way that a photo that looks richly colorful in Photoshop, still looks richly colorful in your browser, across multiple operating systems and devices.

The following are two sets of photos, each incorporating different color management. The first in the series shows the photo as I would normally create a photo for publishing on the web: I’d calibrate my monitor, set the gamma half way between PC and Mac, and then set my tool’s color space to the LCD. Then, when I work with the image, the result I get will end up looking relatively decent in both Macs and PCs. The second photo in the series hasn’t been manipulated at all. The third was created after I set the photo editor’s color settings to sRGB, and then converted the photo to this color space. When I saved the photo, I incorporated the color profile.

The first sequence of photos are screenshots taken when the photo is loaded into Firefox without color management. Though a screenshot doesn’t necessarily capture the nuances of color, I think you can see that the color of the last photo from the first sequence of three differs from the color of the last photo in the second sequence of three, which consist of screenshots from Safari 3.x, which does have built-in support for color profiles.

screenshot one screenshot two

The following are the actual photos used for these screenshots. The first shows the photo without any color manipulation and not using color management.

bird with pink feathers

The second photo was made using my old LCD color trick.

bird with pink feathers

The last photo was not manipulated in the photo editor, other than to scale the image. The sRGB color profile was embedded into the photo. I could have also embedded the Adobe RGB color profile, but I stayed with the popular sRGB color profile.

bird with pink feather

If you look at this page using a browser that doesn’t support color management, the first and third photos should be very similar. However, if you look at the photos using Firefox 3 with color management enabled, Safari 3, or other browser or device that supports color management, the last photo should appear more colorful than the first. To get an even better idea of the color variations, the following are screenshots of color swatches in a web page— opened in both a color managed browser, and in a browser that doesn’t support color management. The difference should be noticeable.

Currently, I know of only a few browsers that support color profiles: Safari 3.x, in both Windows and the Mac, supports color management; supposedly Omniweb also supports color management, as did the older version of IE for the Mac (IE 5.5), though I’ve not tried either tool. Now, Firefox 3 supports color profiles, but not without a caveat: color profiles are disabled by default.

The reason Firefox 3 is releasing without color profiles on by default is primarily because of performance issues. Turning on color management in Firefox 3 can really slow load times of a site that uses color profiles embedded in pictures, especially larger pictures. In addition, according to John Resig there are some real concerns about plug-ins, such as those for Flash and Silverlight, that don’t do color profile support, and which can lead to incorrect renderings.

I can understand the issues, though I am disappointed. Support for color profiles with Firefox 3 would go a long way to encouraging color profile support in other browsers. I hope that Firefox 3.1 works through the performance issues and we get support for color profiles by default. You can still take advantage of color profile support in Firefox 3, now, but you either have to set a custom option using a less than friendly procedure, or make use of a color management add-on.

Do I use embedded color profiles in images at my site? I have started to, though not across all sites. If I use color management, I won’t use my LCD trick, which means that the photo won’t look as good for those people using browsers that don’t support color profiles. At the same time, I would really like to encourage better graphics support in our browsers, which means using the functionality we want the browsers to support. We’ll never progress if we keep designing for the lowest common denominator.

For more on color profiles, check out the International Color Consortium web site.




A second earthquake is now happening. Aftershock. Oddly enough, the aftershock is more unnerving.

It was a 4.6.

I’m still groggy, I’m still not sure, but we may have had a significant earthquake here in St. Louis. More when I have more info.

update There was an earthquake, with a magnitude of 5.4 5.2, in Illinois, approximately 204 km (127 miles) from St. Louis.

earthquake location

SVG Writing

Off Painting

We’ve finished up proofs on Painting the Web this week, and I have my first snap of the new cover. I embedded a version of the cover that’s been converted into SVG over at Burningbird, but have included a JPEG below.

Now I can turn my attention to the new book, as well as the site changes and book support sites. I’ve closed down my experimentation at Burningbird, leaving it for now with an appropriate background image. Red is not normally my color, but I rather like the warmth of the color and the new background SVG works exceptionally well in a flexibly sized environment.

Something will happen to RealTech, I’m just not sure what. Only the Feeds know what lurks within the hearts of online writers. Mwahaha, or something to that effect.

Spring has arrived here in St. Louis, though reluctantly and wetly.

Painting the Web

Updated: O’Reilly went with a Golden Oriole rather than a Prairie Chicken.

The cover of my newest book, rendered in SVG. I used Vector Magic to convert the raster image to an SVG vector drawing. I then “combined” it with another image that I had vectorized.

Social Media


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I received an email about so-and-so wanting to connect with me on Flickr. I was a little surprised because I don’t promote my Flickr account–I use it for testing, only. I was flattered that they had taken the time to look for me on Flickr.

There was a second one a few hours later, and again I was surprised. I thought perhaps it was me appearing in the first person’s contact list that prompted the invite. I wasn’t as flattered, but still felt somewhat warmed by the act.

With the third invitation, I knew that the invites were less a matter of the person being interested in me, or my photos, and more interested in participating in some new social software gizmo.

Then I read Marshall Kirkpatrick’s writing on the new “Find a Friend” feature from Yahoo, where the company will scan your gmail contacts for a match on Flickr and allow you to send an invite with no more effort than check a box or push a button. There went any warmth; any momentary feeling of being remembered.

Marshall wrote:

I liked it when I tried it, I connected with some interesting people on Flickr that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I wouldn’t appreciate it, though, if certain people from my past who have otherwise forgotten about me were now prompted to check out my photos on Flickr. If blog comment spammers I’ve had nasty email exchanges with were suddenly prompted to friend me on Flickr, I wouldn’t like that very much either.

It was just tools talking to each other, and I was nothing more than a discrete bit of data and a way for people to fluff up their contact list with a minimum of effort. I could have been Joe, or Sally, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Rather than feeling more connected, I feel less.