April DVD Releases

Some interesting fare this month. I am keen to see how Juno treats the subject of teen pregnancy compared to Slam, the excellent book by Nick Hornby that I blogged about last year.

I am also keen to see if There Will Be Blood captures the spirit of Upton Sinclair's Oil, which I read many years ago when I was, briefly, at least on paper, an oil man myself. We all know Daniel Day Lewis can act, but what material has the filmmaker given him to work with.

As for Sweeney Todd, I am not a big fan of musicals, but I enjoyed Hairspray, so I will give it a whirl, if only to see Johnny Depp in action. Of greater import, probably, is Charlie Wilson's War and I am a big fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman who looks very impressive in the trailers.

So, if there are a lot of April showers, there are some good reasons to stay inside and watch movies.

Color Blind Web Sites: And other design decisions

I've been doing some thinking about color blindness recently (I posted about the perception aspects of this over on my arts blog). As a color blind person I have often thought about this question: Should product designers cater to the color blind?

FYI, the cube on the left shows "normal" vision while the one on the right simulates what the same colors look like to someone with color deficiency.

By some estimates as many as 1 in 12 people have some form of color deficiency (although total color blindness is quite rare). Is that too small a minority to care about? After all, 1 in 12 people are left-handed and very few designers adjust their designs to accommodate lefties. But consider this, if you are designing technology for men, the incidence of color defectiveness is higher in men (as is, coincidentally, left-handedness--I'm not sure of the incidence of left-handed color blind men, but I am one).

What does it mean to design for color deficiency? I recently found an article in Dr. Dobb's that gives some good ideas for web designers looking to adjust designs for color deficiency. I have not yet found anything about "color-adjusting" products like electronics. One design choice that irks me, as a color deficient user of electronics, is the two-color LEDs like the ones that switch from red to green to show different states, for example, to show connected and not connected. Given that the most common form of color deficiency is referred to as "red/green deficiency" this might not be a smart design choice. You run the risk that as many as 1 in 8 of your customers a. won't be able to figure out that LED, and b. will get frustrated and disgruntled. You don't want to be the customer service person who asks "Is the LED red or green?" when the person on the other end says "I have no idea, I'm color blind."

How much more would it cost to have two LEDs? That arrangement gives you location and On/Off states to work with, which color blind people can handle (when the top traffic light is brightest it means stop, when the bottom one is brightest it means go, and so on). Then you can ask "Is the LED on the left on?" and get an accurate answer.

To be honest, and speaking as a businessperson, I don't know if catering to the color blind is a profitable path to take. But product designers might want to try it. You might be surprised how many people appreciate it.

P.S. If you are wondering about your own vision there is a site where you can do some basic tests of your color perceptions.

The Art and Science of Perception: Color me deficient

I have always enjoyed music and the visual arts but at times have felt excluded from these worlds.

First there was the music teacher who told me that should mime the words when singing in the school concert because "You're tone deaf." Some years later I found out that I am "color blind," more technically, "color deficient." That explains a lot about my art education.

You see this rectangle on the left? It looks green to me, a dark green, but green nonetheless. Of course, it is not green, it is gray (or grey). I know this because it is an RGB color, specifically equal parts of Red, Green, and Blue. The way that computers handle colors has been a revelation to me. I used to think other people were arbitrary when they talked about colors like violet or peach. Now I know there is a recipe for every color.

Computers also enables me to work on web pages and other computer graphics without creating a garish mess. For example, when I am building a web site I usually start with a template that someone else has designed. If I make any design changes I make sure, by checking with people who have normal color perception, that the thing still looks okay. Then I use the RGB coding to keep on track.

When my daughter first heard that I was color blind she was fascinated and kept asking me what things looked like. Well, I didn't have any good answers. But now, thanks to pages like this one, I can give her some idea. In fact, if you Google "what color blind people see" you will find some fascinating sites. There is even one that shows you what your web site will look like to people with different types of color blindness. You can also do some basic tests of your color perceptions.

I think my form of color deficiency is a red/green deficiency classified as Deuteranomalia. However, I have not yet met, or read about, anyone who shares my perception that this grey is green.

Dare Not Walk Alone Trailer

Yes! The theatrical trailer is now appearing in select cinemas in Los Angeles.

We have had several emails about how powerful this trailer is. Please email the following URL to anyone you know who might be interested (or anyone you think SHOULD be interested): http://www.darenotwalkalone.com/trailer.html

Hannaford Breach: A chance to learn

There is actually some upside to the recently announced multi-million record data beach at grocery chain Hannaford, including the possibility that it was detected a lot quicker than the retail mega-breach at TJ Max (although that assessment may change as more facts come out).

I liked the coverage here at SearchSecurity which addresses the event relative to both the PCI DSS, something my brother and I have been writing about for SearchSecurity, and business continuity, something I am working on at the moment with my good buddy Michael Miora, one of the best guys in the BC business.

There's bound to be be "more later" but in the meantime, feel free to check out Da Cobbs on SearchSecurity (that's Chey, Stephen, and Mike).

LA Here We Come! DNWA to play Laemmle starting April 25

On top of recent critical acclaim comes the news on which Dare Not Walk Alone supporters have been waiting for some time: the beginning of a theatrical run. We are delighted to announce that the film is booked to play at the Laemmle Theatres in Los Angeles in April. Laemmle is a highly respected group of art house cinemas in Southern California and this booking, confirmed last week by our theatrical distribution company, Indican Pictures, is a serious vote of confidence in the film.

In the next few weeks we will be gearing up to make this first theatrical outing as successful as possible. The director, Jeremy Dean, will be in LA a week or so before the opening, talking to as many groups as he can; he will also be on hand for one or more post-screening Q&A sessions. Indican will start putting up the posters April 1. Our goal is to pack the house, not only on opening night, April 25, but also on successive nights, which is what the film needs to secure bookings in additional cities like New York, Chicago, and Dallas.

And that means we will be really happy to see you whatever night of the week you can make it out to see the film (I will be there for at least part of the first week). Details of times and tickets will be posted soon. See you in April!

Let's Do The Time Warp Again: DST disconnect for 3 weeks

Just a reminder that when the clocks go forward an hour this weekend for daylight saving time, the time difference to the rest of the world will enter a period of change. Instead of London being 5 hours ahead of New York, it will be 6 hourse in front, until March 30, when it returns to the regular 5 hours.  We stay in sync until October 26, when the UK and EU fall back an hour. That means  it will be 4 hours between New York and London until the US falls back, on November 2. To recap:

  • Week of 03/02/08 London - New York 5 hours

  • Week of 03/09/08 London - New York 6 hours

  • Week of 03/16/08 London - New York 6 hours

  • Week of 03/23/08 London - New York 6 hours

  • Week of 03/30/08 London - New York 5 hours

  • and so on until

  • Week of 10/26/08 London - New York 4 hours

  • Week of 11/03/08 London - New York 5 hours

  • and so on...

And if you just can't get enough of this topic, check out this site.

Blog Blending Begins: Cobb's blogs coming together at cobbsblog.com

A big welcome to readers joining me from my other blogs! The time has come to put those other blogs on hold and focus my attention on a single blog of record: this one. I am still looking for a way to make the content of the other blogs searchable from this one. And one day I might figure out how to copy the posts over. Until then, here are links to those "other" blogs:

Ugly? No! Bellissima? Si! Giugiaro's gorgeous solar-assisted hybrid

All due respect to Chuck Squatriglia and the editors at Wired but surely it's an aesthetic sin to condemn the Giugiaro Quaranta as ugly (see "Giugiaro Builds the World's Ugliest Prius").

Where's your sense of line and form and function? This is surely a landmark piece of vehicular art, not least because it embodies the electric element of automotive function in a unique new form. Far from cold, it warms the blood with its promise of an eco-friendly future that looks cool and stylish, and about as far from earth-friendly frumpy-ness as you can get.

Sure, there's a place in the retail market for hybrids that look just like other cars while concealing secret energy efficiency. But this design openly embraces efficiency and makes it look deeply appealing (to me at least). I predict it will get pulses racing about the prospect of going green. And that's a beautiful thing.

Why We're Not All Here: 1 in 100 are in there (behind bars)

If you put 100 randomly chosen adult Americans in a room, how many of them would be atheists? Answer = 1.6. So says a new study by Pew.

If you invited 100 randomly chosen adult Americans to meet in a room, how many could there be? Answer = 99. Because 1 out of every 100 adult Americans is in jail right now. So says a new Pew study.

I'm not saying these numbers are related, but they really made me think. Is the 100th American in jail an atheist? Is America holding more prisoners than any country in the world because it is the most Christian of developed nations? (America is 78.4% Christian according to the latest research, higher than Canada, Australia, Germany or the UK, for example.) Consider these numbers:

U.S. population 301 million, 2.3 million prisoners
China  population 1,322 million, 1.5 million prisoners
Russia population 141 million, 890,000 prisoners

The U.S. has 0.764% of its entire population in jail, versus 0.113% in China and 0.631% in Russia. Are we just better at catching criminals than the Chinese? Do we have more criminals to catch than the Russians? Do we execute fewer criminals than Russia and China and humanely opt to incarcerate them instead? Whatever the reason, we are way ahead in the jailing of our citizenry, way ahead of two world powers routinely decried as havens of atheism.