Friday, April 08, 2005

Color Scheme Psychoanalysis

Rather than adopt one of the Blogger templates out-of-the-box, I spent a nontrivial amount of time developing a color scheme and overall look-and-feel that was to my liking. Why did I spend so much time at this? Does it say something about my personality, in the way handwriting analysis might? Perhaps such issues can be illuminated through that classic, penetrating tool of the analyst---the Top Ten List. What are the top ten reasons my template looks the way it does?

10. It's got that "monochrome chic" thing goin' on---very sexy.

9. It's the perfect gender complement to this color scheme.

8. The "reverse video" (light font on dark background) is an embodiment of "perspectives unfamiliar": this doesn't look like other Mormon blogs, and may say things the others don't, either.

7. Even the comments box is in reverse video. Hence commenters are reminded, even as their words appear in this unfamiliar way, that this is a place to stretch their thinking. (What would really be cool is to have their words appear not inside the comment box as they type, but outside the the comment box---as an explicit reminder to think outside the box!)

6. Nostalgia for simpler times: reverse video is the way monitors always looked when I was first exposed to computers (Apple ][+, Apple //e) in Junior High School.

5. Reverse video is the naturist way God intended. The screen is beatifully and naturally dark; no need to clothe it to excess, wastefully and obnoxiously lighting up excess pixels.

4. Sans serif fonts, and the absence of extraneous icons, bullets, lines, and other baroque flourishes. contribute to a sleek, minimalist, modern feel---sort of like Scandinavian furniture, or brushed metal finishes. Occam's razor, let's get down to fundamentals. No framing of excess hypotheses around here.

3. Geek Chic: All true Geeks set their terminal windows to reverse video. Canvass the Geeks you respect---those who actually use unix/linux---and see if this ain't so!

2. Welcome to the dark side, baby.

1. If I can't have an Audi A8 L W12 in Night Blue Pearl, with Platinum leather interior, 20" alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, solar sunroof, satellite radio, and personal refrigerator (MSRP $128,120), at least I can make my blog look like one (if not perform like one---Blogger has its limitations!).

0. I had to come up with a color scheme to match the only digital picture I had readily available to use in my Blogger profile: my classic deer-in-the-headlights security badge picture from work.

So, it turned out to be a top-eleven list in the end. Good thing the Arabs invented zero!

Another analytic tool, one my parents taught me, is the pro/con list. Anything you don't like about this template? Suggestions for improvement?


Yeah, I wondered about the picture. Makes more sense now.

One beef with the reverse imaging: After reading here for a couple of minutes, I click back to a standard imaging page and encounter "retinal echoing" as the reverse image seems to linger like some ghostly imprint projected on whatever screen I look at. For about ten seconds, then it's gone. But it's a crisp and uncluttered template, which is my preference too. 
Comment by Dave | 4/08/2005 01:01:00 PM  

Dave, all part of my master plan, to make my influence linger even after you've left the page. ;)
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/08/2005 01:21:00 PM  

I wonder what BCC's evaluation would look like. 
Comment by J. Stapley | 4/08/2005 04:16:00 PM  

I know several Unix geeks that use the black text on white background terminal scheme. I use black on white, too. Though I'm no geek, I work with geeks, and I ordered my first copy of Linux from Red Hat in the days before they even had a distro--they were just selling the Walnut Creek Linux CDs mail order back then. The reasoning behind the white on black in terminal when you're running a window manager is that it makes smaller fonts are more readable.

Even so, I like the new scheme. 
Comment by Arturo Toscanini | 4/08/2005 09:02:00 PM  

Damn, another theory shot down in confrontation with real data.

I think one big reason black-on-white terminals are spreading among serious Unix users is that with Unix now forming the basis of OS X, many Unix users (including me) are migrating to Apple machines. These have black-on-white by default, and many just looking to get their work done (including me) don't bother to change it. Indeed, thinking of my colleagues at work, all those with Apples leave it black-on-white, and all those with linux have light-on-dark of some form.

I think it was Apple that pioneered black on white in the first place, in their obsession with making computers more user-friendly. People want their documents to look like the normal paper they're used to working with, they must have reasoned. This began with the abortive Lisa machines, and became widespread and ingrained with the success of the Macintosh series. This continued with Windows, but before that PCs were typically reverse video. Certainly DOS was, and programming and word processing environments were often something like white-on-blue (e.g. old DOS versions of WordPerfect).

I mentioned (somewhat sheepishly, after my reverse video manifesto) that I've left the black-on-white terminal default on my Apple. But I do use a reverse video color scheme for emacs. And once I did spend a few minutes experimenting with a white font on a transparent/translucent background in Apple terminals (a cool feature), since I have some dark astronomical images as my desktop backgrounds (Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and the latest Chandra image of Cas A). It didn't work immediately because those background images have some bright areas that wash out the white font. Perhaps with a little more experimentation with bold fonts and degree of translucency it could be made to work... Now I'm curious to try it again.
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/09/2005 08:39:00 AM  

I should add that I distinguish between geeks and Geeks (some have seen me make such distinctions before, with brethren and Brethren, stories and Stories, etc.)

A geek would be your classic nerd, bright but somewhat one-dimensional, and maybe the Napoleon Dynamite type too.

A Geek, on the other hand, is someone that has scientific/technical savvy, but is nevertheless well-rounded. Something of a "Renaissance Man": She will have a wide range of interests and abilities that may include sports, music, art, literature, cinema, outdoors, etc. She is creative. She may tend to be an introvert, and prefer written communication, but is capable of relating normally socially and even be a charismatic leader when called upon to do so.
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/09/2005 09:15:00 AM  

So Chloe is a geek, and, what, Michelle is a Geek?

(And are Geeks always Babes?)  
Comment by Rosalynde | 4/09/2005 07:48:00 PM  

Yes, Rosalynde, great example! And, Michelle is more of a Babe than last year, with the aura of power and inaccessibility---and the tailored suit. But the enemy operative that seduced the pilot, and later impersonated the FBI agent---she was even more of a Babe, sorry to see her get killed.

Wait a second, I have the sinking sensation of getting myself in trouble, at home and abroad... Are Geeks always Babes?! This from a feminist? ;)

I don't know, can "Babe" refer to a male? Or would it have to be "Hunk"? Perhaps we could profit from a refinement of categories, distinguishing Geeks and Geekettes. A Geekette that's a babe is rare enough, but a Geekette that's a Babe... Now we're talking superlatives; it would not be overkill to quote Solomon .
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/09/2005 09:39:00 PM  

Referring to Solomon, can a Babe be a "virtuous woman"?

I'd like to think so, otherwise we need a new category for all of us faithful (though not necessarily geeky) Babes. 
Comment by Afton | 4/10/2005 08:16:00 PM  

P.S. Christian, get a new picture!! You're a Babe/Hunk, so let it be known. 
Comment by Afton | 4/10/2005 08:19:00 PM  

Mom, thanks for stopping by! Your testimonial is appreciated, if predictable. As the saying goes, "A face only a mother could love..." Thanks for the suggestion of a different picture, but with its convenient size and coloring, the picture may be inextricably integrated into the warp and woof of the site. And in any case, it's not likely that any  photo, being objective evidence, could live up to the image of her offspring that every mother carries in her heart!
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/11/2005 09:19:00 AM  

I am happy to report that I have finally taken the time to set up terminals on my Apple to use reverse video and partial transparency, so I don't feel like such a hypocrite. At work I have two screens, the laptop itself, and an external monitor, which you can take a look at: The small screen  has a false-color X-ray image of the Cas A supernova remnant taken by the Chandra X-ray observatory as a background, and the large screen has a piece of the true-color Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

Also, if you watch '24' closely, I think you'll see that reverse video is heavily used.
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/20/2005 03:10:00 PM  



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