Displaying Photography on the Web

Getting Started:

When deciding to display your photography online, there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account as presenting imagery on the web. What I will cover today is image scan quality, the dimensional size of the image, and the impact of image file formats.

Image Scan Quality:

Resolution is the image quality measured in terms of how many pixels make up your image. It is commonly referred to as “ppi”; (pixels per inch). One of the common dilemmas when scanning photo transparencies to digitize them for use on a person’s website is how detailed of a scan do you need to provide your webmaster to post your imagery online. I’m going to sidestep the issue of image copyright concerns for the time being as I’ll cover that in an upcoming article on its own. However, because your images are to be viewed on a screen, all web graphics should be no larger than 72 ppi and thus anything higher has no improved effect, and only creates longer download times. This will also reduce what an individual could do with the image file if they had alternate motives.

Image Dimension Size:

Pixels are the unit of measurement for the screen and most webmasters design a website to fit one of the standard display sizes. Based on statistics that can be looked up on the internet, we have found that most people today have their monitor’s set to display at least 1024 x 768, if not larger.

Why this is important, is that if your scan dimensions in Adobe Photoshop say that the image is 8.5 inches by 11 inches, saving the file at those dimension will not allow a user at 1024 pixels by 768 pixels to see the image in its full presentation without scrolling both vertically and horizontally. Adobe Photoshop provides the ability to resize the image to a size that will fit within your website design. As an added bonus, it will also reduce the download size of the image that the view of the image will experience without losing image quality. This is something that you will need to work with your webmaster to come up the proper tradeoff between file size and the presentation size of the image in your portfolio. It is important to realize that not everyone has broadband connections, so thumbnails are very much appreciated by those who use dialup connections. One thing I would recommend is to come up with standard dimension sizes for your horizontal, vertical, panoramic and thumbnails and stick to them as it will make your life, and your webmaster’s much easier.

Image File Format:

There are two types of color that can be used in Web graphics. The colors can be associated with the Web graphic file formats we just mentioned: GIF and JPG.

GIF:

GIF is short for Graphics Interchange Format and consists of the 216 common colors found on all computer monitors and within all Web browsers. These common colors reside in a Web palette and its advantages are that it is supported by practically all web browsers, can include transparent backgrounds, supports interlacing (providing a low-resolution preview of the graphic to the viewer while it downloads), and can be used as an image map (allowing the viewer to click on the graphic as they would a regular link to another site).

JPEG:

JPEG is short for Joint Photographers Experts Group and is superior in rendering color and detail found in photographs or graphics using blends, gradients, and other tonal variations. JPEG files use red, green, and blue (RGB) for graphical color. The strength of these colors is set in from zero to 255 with zero being the least intensity and 255 being the highest intensity. When red, green and blue are combined at zero intensity the result is black. At full strength, high intensity, where the values are set at 255, 255, 255, the result is pure white. As a photographer, it is important to utilize photographs as much as we can within your Web portfolio to present your work in the best possible quality so that it captures the true spirit of the subject work.

Choosing between the two image formats:

These full color images should not be saved as GIF files because of the limited number of colors. By having limited colors, the full color image will represent the true colors using the existing Web palette of 216 colors and will create a poor, dithered, and ugly image. That is why it is very important to use the right file format for each specific graphic. Sometimes it’s obvious that a graphic on someone’s web page was saved in the wrong file format. Photos may look too grainy, or flat-color images may look too fuzzy. When selecting GIF or JPEG for your graphics conversion, it is important to consider the type of image you will be working with. Use a GIF format if you’re graphic consists primarily of line art or flat colors without gradients. JPEG-converted graphics are best for photographs or images with fine tonal variations in colors, such as images with gradients or metallic images. Choosing the right file format is not only important for the quality, but for keeping your images file size to a minimum.

Summary:

With proper usage of image scan quality, the dimensional size of the image, and the correct image file format, you will be presenting your web portfolio in a manner that the rest of the world can fully enjoy your work.

Traveling With a Toddler – 5 Tips to Keep You Sane!

Traveling can be taxing and difficult on its own, nonetheless, traveling with a toddler. In order to ensure a good, fun, and happy trip, here are a few helpful tips!

1. Bring A Special Bag

My daughter is currently obsessed with Dora and Diego. So in preparation for a recent trip, we purchased a Diego backpack for all of her toys. Not only was my daughter thrilled with the backpack, but she was also able to wear it while traveling, so freeing my hands for something else!

2. Pack Lots of Toys and Drawing Supplies

Being prepared is the key for pleasant travels. You can never have enough books, coloring books, crayons, stickers or toys for a toddler. To make sure that it's really special and new, start buying supplies in advance. That way there is extra excitation and eagerness to read a new book or use new crayons. A great place to find inexpensive and small items is the Dollar Store.

3. Bring the Favorites

A great tip I learned from a season mom is to start putting away favorite toys before a trip and then re-introduce while traveling. Not only are the kids excited to see the toy, but you already know they will happily play with it!

4. Do not Forget The Snacks

Food and drinks are always a necessity while traveling. Juice boxes and goldfish are an essential; however, bringing new items may also work. Try making trail mix and have two bags … one for the trip there and one for the way home. And be prepared, if you are flying, security may seize your opened containers. I found that they allowed my daughter's sippy cup with juice, but that might not be the case at all airports. Bottom line, have a "plan B" in place!

5. Maintaining A Schedule

Although you're on vacation, following your typical schedule and routine can be comforting to a toddler. If your child is use to taking a daily nap, do everything in your power to maintain that schedule. Otherwise, you could be vacationing with a cranky and unpleasant child … which is not relaxing or fun!

Traveling with a toddler can be lots of fun, but be sure to plan ahead. Be prepared and expect the unexpected! If you can roll with the punches, everyone is sure to have a great time!

How Much Car Insurance Do You Need?

The amount of car insurance you require will depend on several factors. The value of your car, whether your vehicle is financed or you own it, the age and type of car you own, and the state you will in will factor in determining how much insurance you need. Another reason you may require more insurance is if your car has enhancements added that were not put on when the car was manufactured.

If your vehicle is new and in top condition, full coverage insurance is the best bet if you own it outright. This will cover the cost of providing the money to purchase another car in the same condition should you be in an accident that totals your car. Most finance companies require you to carry full coverage insurance. They like to make sure they will get the amount they lent for the purchase of a car back should it be totaled in an accident. If you own an older car, liability coverage is the best way to go. This insurance will prevent you from being sued in the event of an accident that is your fault and there are injuries that need to be compensated. It is a good idea to carry more than is recommended because, in the event of an accident with injuries to the other person, the minimum may not cover all of their injuries and, if not, they will rarely come after you to collect the reminder . There are only 4 states at the present that do not require any type of insurance.

If you have had anything added to your vehicle, such as stereo systems or expensive wheels, you should add insurance to cover these add-ons in case of theft. Comprehensive insurance is usually required by finance companies and covers a variety of damages such as wind damage, falling objects, fire, flood, etc. If you are an antique car buff, you will want to insure your car to cover the replacement value. Using your car for business may require that you carry more insurance than you typically would. Basically, the price and the amount of coverage that you carry will be governed by the insurance requirements for the state you stay in and whether you want or feel you need extra insurance above what is required for your vehicle type. It is best to find out what requirements your state has and what you expect to be compensated for in the event of an accident.

According to car crash statistics there were 6,420,000 auto accidents in the US in 2005 with a financial cost of 230 billion dollars. Nationally, a vehicle theft occurs every 27 seconds.

A Recipe For Outsourcing Your Software Development

Outsourcing your software development can save you time and money if you know what you need. Too often US companies attempted to outsource without a good understanding of what their software should do, and this is the biggest cause of outsourcing failure. It is unreasonable to expect your outsourcing team to have a menu of software, pre-prepared, so you can just select the items you want.

Ever go to a restaurant with a picky eater? They tell the waiter in excruciating detail how they want their food prepared. And heaven forbid that the food arrives different from what was requested! Back to the kitchen it goes to be "fixed" to make the picky eater happy.

Sometimes US companies hire an outsourced partner as if they were going to a restaurant. They select the cuisine based on the flavor of the technology they require. Chinese .NET or Indian Java? How about some Russian C ++? Unfortunately there is rarely a menu for the exact items you might like to order from an outsourced team.

Are you approaching outsourcing your software like you are walking into a restaurant? Are you expecting the outsourcing team to advise you, like an attentive waiter, on the way your software should look, be prepared and presented to your customers?

Instead, bring your own recipe when you start work with an outsourcing team. Unlike your dining experiences, you can not ask for the daily special. You have to provide a specific description of what you would like to have, and how it should be prepared. Without such a recipe, your outsourced software development efforts can be starved for success.

Poorly specified software is often the result when "subject matter experts" are involved. Subject matter experts, or SMEs, know a lot about a particular subject, like IC design, business process workflow, inventory management, etc., but very little about designing software. SMEs can struggle to get their ideas encoded in the software. They need to work with someone that knows the best way to design and develop software.

Sometimes, there is a fear of getting bogged down in the details. Since some software executives are great with people, they feel much more comfortable hiring a person to handle the details. They know how to manage a person here, better than they can manage an offshore team of programmers in a remote offshore location.

One Accelerance client is in this situation. The CEO wants to outsource the development of a new software product. But there is no specification. In this case Accelerance is acting as a virtual CTO, responsible for the design, and development of the client's software.

The client is essentially saying, "Design the software for me, and I'll tell you if it matches what I am thinking." This can work because the cost of outsourcing is so low that rework and multiple design iterations are affordable.

This type of arrangement only works when paying on a Time and Materials basis. There is no way to offer fixed pricing because the end product is not defined.

Of course, not having a specification may not stop you from asking for a fixed price bid! In this case, you can outsource the creation of a specification that defines your software for a fixed price. Then the resulting complete design specification is used to create a second fixed price bid for writing your software.

Another factor comes into play when you pay a fixed price amount for a software design specification. You usually have to pay at least half up front. This is to protect the outsourcing company from delivering a specification for creating the software and then not getting paid.

Because software design often occurs at the beginning of a relationship, both parties seek to minimize their risk. You minimize your risk by selecting an outsourcing team with a proven track record and great references. The outsourcing team reduces their risk by getting partial (sometimes full) payment before starting.

There are multiple deliverables that should be produced during the design phase of creating your software, whether you do it yourself, or outsource the design:

* Marketing Requirements

* Storyboard Demo

* Functional Specification

* Multiple Release Milestone Schedule

* Detailed Task Schedule for First Release

* Detailed Design Specification (optional)

Unfortunately, software development has not progressed to the point where ready-made modules are available to order and combined to create your software. There is not yet a menu of choices available to anyone that is hungry for new software. Instead, you must provide your own recipe for what you need. The good news is low cost outsourced software design and development resources are now available to create your custom software to meet your exact specifications.