CMYK versus RGB

Not every colour that can be expressed in L*a*b* can be reproduced in either the RGB ranges or “gamut” or as CMYK. This illustration can help to illustrate where the reproducible colour ranges fall:

The L*a*b* colour space provides coordinates for ALL visible colours, not all of which can be reproduced in other colour spaces. In the illustration shown here, even RGB can’t plot every colour in the visible spectrum and CMYK is the smallest subset of all of the color spaces. Custom-mixed inks, depending on the pigments, are much more flexible but it may not be possible to reproduce on an actual device.

Extended gamut printing goes much farther than ordinary CMYK by using technology to add standards-defined Orange, Green and Violet inks to print with seven colours. So, a deep Reflex Blue that would be impossible for CMYK alone has Violet added to extend the offset or digital printing process. This makes possible the printing of spot colours without having to custom-mix a Pantone colour. It’s also possible to formulate out of CMYK+OGV custom “brand” colours to match specific targets. While this process isn’t suitable for every customer’s needs, it can be a very cost-effective alternative to multiple spot colours. CMYK+OGV techniques can reproduce from 91% to 95% of the Pantone Matching System, within a variance of as little as .08 delta E to as much as 5 delta E, which is the difference between the target colour and the reproduced colour.

For cosmetics clients that are looking to represent skin tones across media, we probably have a reasonable chance of locating the colours in question within a CMYK space and representing those colours fairly in RGB. Since web and print viewing conditions and technology are completely different, direct “matches” between CMYK and RGB are not likely, though it will probably be close enough for practical use as long as it’s disclaimed as such.

DIY Web and Why It’s Not For Everyone

SquareSpace, Weebly and Wix are just three of the dozens of companies offering drag-and-drop web creation. Broadly speaking, the cost ranges from ‘free’, which means a limited set of presentation elements plus an advertising banner on your site (Wix runs banners, SquareSpace does not), perhaps less robust support from the company (support ticket only versus chat, for instance), to $300 and up per year, depending on the level of support, the sophistication of the templates, the amount of bandwidth and storage requirements. E-commerce deployment adds a significant cost dimension.

The interfaces for the three companies I mention here are simple to learn and use and the resulting website looks nice enough. There are limits to site and page customisation. Access to the developer’s platform with SquareSpace requires the higher-priced plans. From there, the stock templates can be customised by editing the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

Even so, the site cost is less than $400 a year, all in. So why hire a developer? Easy – time is money. Building a site of any level of complexity takes time.

Let’s say the purpose of a site is to feature a start-up public relations company. The newly-minted CEO signs up, chooses a template, builds a few pages, done, right? Wrong. What about newsletter or e-mail blast integration? Metrics reporting? Social media integration? What about developing effective content to magnetize natural search results? Who will manage these functions for the organisation so that the effort has some tangible, ongoing effect on the development of the brand?

A key role of the developer is to look at what the organisation needs in terms of brand identity and marketing and to suggest an overall strategy that culminates in an effective action plan. In order to remain effective, that plan must be maintain on an ongoing basis and reviewed periodically. That takes time, discipline, knowledge and some experience. In the example of the public relations start-up, who will fulfill that function? The CEO is busy drumming up new clients and managing existng ones to keep the lights on. The marketing/sales/HR/R&D/facilities manager is already wearing a coat-rack full of hats. Realistically, what will happen to the media marketing effort started so valiantly?

A very small company usually doesn’t need a developer, or marketing engineer, as I like to think of the role, on anything like a full-time basis. The level of support an organisation needs in this regard is dependent on what’s being done or made. An intern is not the answer. Sure, a novice with an expensive education should get you the cutting edge in all things media, but that’s just not the case. As a professional in your own area of business, you likely remember how shaky you were until you swept some experience under your belt. Who paid for that experience and for those mistakes? Your employer did back then, but now, you’re the employer and although we’re a few paragraphs further into this article, time is still money. Further, unless you’re experienced in marketing, advertising, content creation, systems analysis and all of the other knowledge and experience that goes into creating a real presence in media for your business, it’s likely you won’t have a clue as to what to look for or what to monitor when your intern or first-timer starts.

So, start with a marketing plan and understand the goals of your web presence further than, “I want to get more business.” Talk to actual web devs who know something about creative, marketing (which is not the same thing) and importantly, research. That’s probably not going to be Tim The IT Guy who runs a Warcraft blog. If your web presence is something more than a marketing vehicle, you’ll need to find developers that can deliver secure web-based applications that work. No, it’s not easy, but if it was, everybody would be doing it. And, in fact, everybody is doing it, just not doing it well. The challenge for the business professional is to be circumspect and humble enough to understand that he or she may not fully understand what’s needed in terms of expertise. Of course, you could hire a analyst like me to uncover your needs, propose unbiased solutions and help to move your plans in the right direction.

Web marketing and application development has matured to an actual discipline that can be very powerful for your business. Don’t sell you business short with a D-I-Y solution that, in all fairness, probably won’t help one little bit.

 

 

Flash Is Dead. Long Live Anything Else, Except Java

stop_signAdobe’s Flash was once a useful bit of software that web developers and designers could use to create visually compelling content for display in a browser or even as a stand-alone package. Flash lent itself well to game creation, too. But Apple didn’t like it and, as it turns out, Steve was right.

There was a time when you couldn’t load your favourite website because all the menus were written in Flash. The majority of audio and video content was delivered that way, too. The problem was (and is, for those that haven’t disabled Flash plug-ins on their outdated browsers) that Flash could deliver a bit more, like ransom-ware, to the user’s machine. Ransom-ware is a piece of software that when downloaded and run, will encrypt all of the files on a user’s computer and display a notice that demands payment to get a key to unlock the files. Don’t pay up and lose those files – permanently.

To be clear, Flash isn’t to blame for the nasty behaviour of internet criminals, but because of the many security holes exploited by web crooks over time, Flash has garnered a reputation as a significant security risk.

Firefox disables Flash by default. By the last quarter of 2016, Chrome and Safari will do the same. Edge, the Windows 10 browser, automatically pauses content not central to the user’s experience of a visited page. That leaves Internet Explorer as the lone hold out.

It’s easy enough to disable Flash entirely in Edge and Internet Explorer 11.

In Edge:

  • Click on the three dots that bring down the menu in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window.
  • Select ‘Settings’.
  • Scroll down and select ‘View Advanced Settings’  and toggle the switch ‘Use Adobe Flash Player’ to OFF.

In Internet Explorer 11:

  • Click the gear in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window.
  • Select ‘Manage Add-ons’. On the left-hand pane of the dialogue box that opens, select ‘All add-ons’ next to ‘Show’.
  • Find ‘Shockwave Active X Control’ and ‘Shockwave Flash Object’. Highlight each entry and click ‘Disable’ in the lower right-hand corner of the dialogue.

To see if Flash content is enabled in the browser, visit http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/. If there is no motion banner celebrating Flash, Flash is disabled.

So, see ‘ya, Flash. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to move on. We’ll go after Java next.

 

Tweet This!

The headline in The Township Journal for Byram, Newton, Andover and Stanhope here in semi-rural Northern New Jersey reads, “School thinking of tweeting”. According to the article, the Byram Township Board of Education wants to use Twitter to communicate what’s going on at the schools there, including the sharing of photos and Twitter-length descriptions of events and news. Since local government rarely acts as early adopters of any kind of technology, this proposal to the Board there highlights how well inserted Twitter as a medium appears for pushed communication.

 

Twitter started in 2006 as a way to “micro-blog” by allowing the posting of 140-character-length “Tweets” through the free service they provide. Using a web browser, smart phone or tablet, the Tweets can be read and particular accounts and topics of interest can be followed. With HP’s combination of their iPaq PDA with a phone around 2004, the use of smartphones accelerated until today, where 90% of all cell phones sold in the world are smartphones. In a rushed world where time is ultra-compressed, the miniature notices posted with Twitter are the ultimate hyper-update.

Although Twitter is used by everyone from the most ubiquitous Kardashian to the Pope, the content of Tweets can sometimes be downright silly. “Just had the new smoked brisket sandwich at Joe’s. It was awesome.” Such Tweets are probably more interesting from President Obama than from your third-cousin Lester, unless you happen to really like smoked brisket sandwiches and Joe’s happens to be nearby. And you happen to have a spare eight bucks because Joe’s is not cheap.

The question of whether an individual should Tweet is a personal one, but for a business or non-commercial organisation, Twitter can provide not only an easy way to connect with interested parties, but can help to raise the brand by providing, for free, a very valuable commodity – information.

Twitter is a push service, which means that all an end user has to do is exist to receive Tweets. The user can configure their Twitter account to text when there are new Tweets on accounts they’re following. There are Twitter apps for Android, iOS (Apple) and Windows portable devices and desktop tools for both Macs and PCs. Your website can be configured to stream your organisation’s Tweets in a sidebar.

So, what should your organisation Tweet, if anything, and how often? A user will follow your Tweets because of a specific interest. A tech site, like signalsurfer.com, tweets new articles and since much of the content is tech-related, it’s time-sensitive, therefore, getting a Tweet allows the user to read the article before it gets stale. Gizmodo.com does the same thing and the number of Tweets they push in a day can be overwhelming for the user but, since the user can decide what’s of real interest to them and since those Tweets are available to the user until theTweet-er deletes them, the user can always go back in the timeline of Tweets and reference things of interest.

The point of any Tweet should be that it’s entertaining or useful in some way. If you’re painting your office yellow this week, that’s grand, but, really, who cares? If, on the other hand, you are painting your office this week and you have clients coming in to visit, using Twitter to alert them in the case they have sensitivities to the smell of paint or the colour yellow is worthwhile. Using Twitter to broadcast messages that should be less public are a bad plan because Twitter is a broadcasting tool. Anyone can find and read non-private Tweets.

Using Twitter as a marketing and advertising tool is an easy way of letting customers know that there’s something special going on and it’s impulse oriented. Twitter can be used to push interested users to your site. It should go without saying that pushing the same message in the same way, over and over, is a great way to get un-followed. But, if you’re church, let’s say, with interesting guest speakers coming in on a weekly basis, Twitter is a great tool to keep the congregants informed. Is there a two-for-one at your detailing shop or spa? Tweet it and push the customer to an action page on your site to download a coupon or make an appointment. Are you in the hardware business? Keeping an eye on the weather and letting customers know there’s a storm on the way not only performs a service to the community but also lets you let them know that you still have generators in stock!

In short, if your organisation has something useful to say, adding Twitter to your communication toolkit is a very good idea.

mySQL and You

If you’re involved in creating or maintaining a website that uses a Content Management System, or CMS, as its backbone, it’s likely that the CMS uses a database. mySQL is an open-source database that is very robust and is the most widely used database on the web. It’s robust enough to be forgotten and that’s not good.

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