Firefox Extension – Colorful Tabs

At this very moment I stumbled accross the Firefox extension Colorful Tabs. After installing it you get your tabs showed in very nice colors. I was eager to know if I can distinguish the chosen tab colors as well or if I can’t, so it was installed immediately. After restarting Firefox it looked like the picture shown below.

Firefox Extension Colorful Tabs
Firefox Extension Colorful Tabs in Action

Very nice. And I can even see the different colors. On the first sight it looks good but on the second I start realizing that I can’t find the active tab that easily anymore. All the colors distract my eyes and confuse me. The border which is shown and the bold text on the active tab are not enough for me.

Do I get distracted because of my color blindness or do you have the same problem?

A Colorblind Decides on Colors

I am redesigning my blog. This of course involves some decisions about colors. Ohhh, how I hate it. I mean, in my eyes the chosen colors look great, fit together and don’t jump into your eyes and disturb the overall impression of the page. But if I show my color ideas to somebody not colorblind they often put a smile on their face.

This is maybe hard to imagine how it feels for somebody not struggling with color blindness. But for me it is not funny at all. I try to give my best, use tools who support your decisions of colors and try to stick just to a handful of colors. Still, there has to be always somebody around who judges my creations so I can make the adjustments for the ones without color vision deficiency.

There are only tools around which show you how a page or a picture look like if you are colorblind. But none of them works the other way around. How would it be great to have a tool which tells you its feelings when parsing your newly designed page. And only if the tools mood says “I’m feeling great” you would be sure that your chosen colors fit the eyes of the not colorblind population of our world.

Related articles:
Choosing the Right Colors

RGB is not Hue-Saturation-Value

In a recent article I had a closer look at eyePilot. In my tests two bugs showed up which I reported to the producers of eyePilot.

The more severe bug where they show some wrong RGB values is based on some simple circumstances. This doesn’t excuse the factor that the bug crept into released software. But read yourself the answer from Dennis Purcell, Senior Scientist at Tenebraex Corporation:

Dear Mr Flueck,

You are absolutely right — the rgb values are not correct. In fact, they are the hue-saturation-value numbers that we used for developing the color assignments. At one time they were part of the readout, until we figured that most people would be satisfied with rgb — the right rgb, that is! And it certainly was careless not to have checked those numbers before release. […]

thanks and best wishes,

Dennis Purcell
Senior Scientist
Tenebraex Corporation

So dear programmers living out there. Please test your software, test it twice and let it be tested by others before release date. We don’t want to be beta-testers. That is something we already know from the products released by a company called Microsoft…

Further reading:
New Software Tackles Colorblind Challenges

Related articles:
Battle Agains Color Blindness With EyePilot
Microsoft knows about Color Blindness

Colorblind People are Wise Persons

Albert Schweitzer (January 14th 1875 – September 4th 1965) was a theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize.

An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere. The pessimist sees only the red light. But the truly wise person is colorblind.

This quote was coined by Albert Schweitzer. I don’t want to start a philosophic discussion here but would like to have a closer look at the last sentence But the truly wise person is colorblind from a logical point of view. In short this means that all colorblind people are wise. Or doesn’t it? From my point of view where color blindness sits in my neck every second this would be very charming.

Let’s get mathematics out of the bag. The quote says out of being a truly wise person follows that this person is colorblind. Can we also saddle the horse from the back and say if somebody is colorblind he therefore must be a wise person? Unfortunately not. This becomes clear if we look at a little example:

If it rains the street is wet. Can we follow that if the street is wet that it has to rain? No, we can’t. Because there could also be somebody washing his car out on the street or a broken water pipeline fludding the street. But we can look at this situation even from a different angle: If the street is not wet there is no way that it is raining. This helps as a lot to understand the above quote a bit more in detail.

If you are colorblind it doesn’t follow after Albert Schweitzer that you are a wise person. But only if you are colorblind you have the possibility to be a wise person and therefore only colorblind people can be wise persons. I am happy to be one of them as I just showed you :-)

Further reading:
Wikipedia – necessary and sufficient conditions in logic
Albert Schweitzer

Related articles:
Mars in the Eyes of Colorblind Astronomer Schiaparellli

Oliver Sacks about Losing Color Vision

Murli of d’zynovation pointed out in a recent comment the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. As being a neurologist he writes books as some kind of science novells. This particular book describes some clinical tales whereof one is about an architect and artist who loses his ability of color vision through a knock on his head.

As this description sounds very interesting to me and because I didn’t buy a book for quite a long time I just surfed over to Amazon and ordered the book. I’m looking forward to find out more about our protagonist exploring color blindness. I will post my impressions in a future article.

Perfect Pitch And Color Blindness

Gareth writes about the Perfect Pitch and tells a very nice analogy between a perfect pitch and color blindness:

There is a very good analogy to perfect pitch – that it is like seeing in colour instead of being colourblind – but it is still just an analogy. When you look at a picture and see a colour such as pink, can you tell me how you know it is pink and not, say, bright orange? No, you can’t. You just know. Similarly, I hear G and I hear that it has all the qualities of G-ness. That’s all. It doesn’t cause bright purple spots to float around that tell me it is a G.

I like this analogy very much. But head over and read the whole article at Dusk Puppy.

Further Reading:
Gareths article about Perfect Pitch
Wikipedia: Perfect Pitch

Battle Against Color Blindness With EyePilot

Almost two weeks ago the news New Software Tackles Colorblind Challenges announced the launch of eyePilot. This little helper is introduced by Tenebraex, a company primarily specialized on tools based on optical technologies.

You can get a 30 days trial to see how it operates and that’s what I did. As a first impression I see a nice little tool with no extras which you anyway never get to use. A very slim interface just showing what you need: a dropdown where you can choose one of four different functionalities (Gray, Flash, Name, Hue) and a few buttons according to the chosen functionality. That is it, very nice. Let’s try one by one.

Gray. Through this option you can color everything gray inside the eyePilot window, except the color you clicked on. There is the possibility to widen or narrow the color range according to your needs. As well you can choose if it should be a light-, mid- or dark-gray. The option Gray is a great helper if you have to find same colors which are spread over a picture or diagram. If there are many colors involved this task is almost impossible to complete for somebody who is colorblind. At How the World is seen trough Colorblind Eyes I already tried to show the difficulties for somebody who is suffering from color blindness with this rather beautiful colored map of the earth.

Name. With the funcionality Name the colors you pick get labeled. I described in The Color of Crayons how it is not always easy to pick the correct crayon if you are suffering from color blindness. As the example picture shows, the chosen crayon is red. I definitely would have said this is brown. Would be great if I could use this tool not only on a computer but also in everyday life.

Flash. This is the opposite of Gray. As long as you click and hold the color underneath the cursor is painted black on the whole picture. A very helpful tool on diagrams including a legend: just click on the color showed in the legend and it is highlighted inside the whole diagram.

Hue. This is the last option and helps you find the best contrasts in a picture. I found a great little example on the web. In the shown photography of the Orion Nebula you can see on the lower part the original and on the upper part the modified picture. Without Hue I couldn’t tell if there exists a nebula at all. Only when circulating through the different hues I can spot it.

As a conclusion I would say this is a neat little tool and can be of great help for people suffering from any kind of color blindness and even people with normal vision. Complex diagrams are even for those (out there) not always easy to read.

While testing I found two bugs which makes eyePilot look kind of unprofessional. If you’ve chosen the option Name and want to change again, the tooltip text and the dropdown box compete against each other. It works but it is a bit nasty.

The second bug is much more severe. If the name of a color is shown the RGB values are written into the tooltiptext as well. You can see it at the example picture above. But the values are wrong. Not only that they are in an incorrect order but also the values are completely wrong. I tested it against photoshop with different colors. This bug really irritates and makes me feel that this tool was definitely not enough tested before release date – too bad.

Further readings:
New Software Tackles Colorblind Challenges

Related articles:
How the World is seen trough Colorblind Eyes
The Color of Crayons

Arlene Evans Books About Color Blindness

There are not many books who try to explain the phenomenon of color vision deficiency. Arlene Evans wrote two of them to support the understanding and get a better grip on this topic.

Seeing Color: It’s My Rainbow, Too is trying to explain color blindness to kids and is therefore definitely the one and only book in this area. There are as many kids colorblind as adults and this is often not recognized until school time. Kids can read this book to find out what is different in their vision compared to others. It is also a good resource for school teachers and shows which pitfalls have to be avoided.

The other book is called Color is in the Eye of the Beholder and written for teens and adults. This one goes into further details about color blindness and even complete color blindness as known as Achromatopsia.

If you want to learn more about the books of Arlene Evans and what she is up to go and visit her homepage about Color Vision Deficiency (CVD). She even wrote some very interesting introductional articles about color blindness including “real life stories” of some colorblind guys.

Bread Wrapped Up In Colors

I am a bread-lover. Yes I do really love to eat bread, can’t get enough of it, every day. But you have to know here in Switzerland there are many bread-lovers because it is just so good. If you ask somebody coming home from a long vacation or being abroad what they missed the most, you usually get the answer: bread. So one could call us a nation of bread-lovers.

Now, if you don’t bake your bread at home (what I do quite often) you go to a grocery and buy some as you do it all around the world. We have some very well groceries which you can find all around the country. And one of them had a great idea a few years ago.

Bread is usually sold in open paper bags to keep it fresh and crusty (yes, our bread is crusty and we love it). The question is now: how do you find the bread you like in the rack? There are white, dark, half-white, half-dark, wholemeal, corn, spelt and different grains bread – just to start with. All wrapped up in open paper bags, stuffed into a wooden reck.

Colors; the answer is colors. They started to use three different colored bags: yellow for whitish breads, green for wholemeal breads and red for darkish breads. Of course they didn’t choose Ferrari-red nor sunflower-yellow nor grass-green. The colors aren’t shiny at all and this is the root of all evil.

I mean you can’t ask the employees, it would look strange because, you know it, the breads are packed into colored paper bags now. And you don’t want to walk around with a sign “I am colorblind, please help me choosing my bread.”

The problem is that now the different breads are not as well sorted anymore as they were before. Why should they be there is no reason anymore. And therefore everybody suffering from color blindness, and there are many, has to watch closely, hold the bread, turn them around, read the ingredients just to find out it is the wrong sort of bread.

For me this is very funny. This nice colored paper bags brought more a burden than a relief to my shopping experience. And why is it funny? Because I hold a bread in my hands, try to figure out if it is the right one just to hear my wife’s voice ten meters away: “Didn’t you want to buy this and this bread? You hold on to the wrong one.”

Tetrachromats: A Life More Colorful

I call this Damn Interesting.

Damn Interesting is a very nice blog about damn interesting stuff. They post every day a new story about stuff everybody is eager to know. I found this site just a few days ago and subscribed to it immediately. And what happened some hours ago?

Cynthia Wood writes a post about A Life More Colorful which guides as behind the curtain of color blindness and tetrachromacy. Simply put colorblind people are dichromats (having two different color receptors), people with normal vision are trichromats (three different receptors) and well tetrachromats have four different receptors. Hard to imagine but they can tell apart even more colors. I as a red-green colorblind guy would say – very very hard to imagine.

I would say the people behind Damn Interesting really care about their readers. But go on and learn more about tetrachromats at A Life More Colorful.