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[YAK] Web Images


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For those of you who are concerned about the quality of the
images on your web site here is some useful info on the AOL
compression which causes problems like the one Alan Revere had
with the temperature number he gave in a recent post.

Here’s some of the AOL stuff we were discussing: When an AOL
member pulls up your URL with their built-in browser, the images
on the site are sent to a graphics compression manager on AOL’s
servers that automatically compresses every image. They do this
to save bandwidth costs and to be able to send the images faster
to their members. However, there are some dire consequences for
sites that did not save their images in acceptable formats for
AOL’s compression manager. For the graphic to be compressed the
object has to be in a BMP, GIF or JPEG format, must not be an
animated GIF, and must be between 1 KB and 8 MB. A common problem
that affects compressed images is color bands or black blocks in
JPEGs. This usually happens when the image is created with
software that adds additional to the headers of the
image (e.g. Adobe Photoshop 4.0, 5.0 or PhotoDeluxe). To avoid
this problem do not save your images with the default “thumbnail
preview” option. Another common problem happens with JPEGs that
are wider than 640 pixels. After being compressed the image will
automatically be resized to 640 pixels. To circumvent this,
convert the JPEG image to a GIF, which will not be resized after
compression. AOL members can turn this default feature off and
view your site as you intended, but asking your readers to turn
something off to view your site might just turn them off to your
site altogether!"

Well, that’s yellowweb’s version of the AOL sucky compression
and image- handling scheme. However, they fail to mention that
even if you do everything “right” as AOL suggests, your JPEG
images will still look unacceptably bad after they’ve run through
AOL’s automatic compression scheme. The only way around the
horrible JPEG syndrome is to turn off AOL’s “use image
compression” feature in the “preferences>web” under the "Members"
menu. Also, converting a JPEG to a GIF to avoid resizing is not an
acceptable option. Designers choose the JPEG format for a reason
– it depicts color gradients and images of people more
accurately.

Steve Howard