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Tag: sustainability

HOWTO: Create radically smaller images for your minimalist blog

Inspired by Low-tech magazine’s solar powered website, I searched the web to find out how to create a ‘stippled’ effect for images. This reduced the size of an 2.2MB image to a mere 30.6KB, which if I’m not mistaken, is a reduction in filesize of over 95%! Here’s how to do it, using free and open source software.

Tree

0. Download and install GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

1. Open the image you want to convert in GIMP

2. Resize the image to the maximum width of your blog (~600px in my case) by going to the Image menu and then to ‘Scale Image…’

3. Convert the image to greyscale by going back to the Image menu then Mode and selecting ‘Greyscale’

(optional step: wash out the image by going to the Colours menu then Levels and change the number in the box under ‘Output levels’ to 180)

4. Convert the image to indexed colours by again going to the Image menu then Mode and this time selecting ‘Indexed…’

In the box that appears:

  • Under Colourmap choose ‘Use black and white (1-bit) palette’
  • Ensure box ‘Remove unused and duplicate colours from colourmap’ is checked
  • From the drop-down Colour dithering option choose ‘Floyd-Steinberg (normal)’
  • Press the Convert button

5. Export the image by going to the File menu and selecting ‘Export As…’ In the box that appears, type in a filename that ends in ‘png’ (e.g. image.png)


This post is Day 16 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Time for a more sustainable blog theme

We Are Open Co-op is currently helping the Greenpeace Planet 4 team work more openly. The way we’re framing open source contribution to the project is as a practical way to address the climate emergency.

Another way of fighting global warming is to use less energy. If you have a website, you can do this by requiring users to download less data.

It was time for me to update my blog theme, so I had a look through the WordPress theme directory (yawn) and then through GitHub. I tried a few for size, and settled on Susty, a theme which is less than 7KB in size. That’s tiny.

The theme’s creator explains that it was inspired by a session he attended at the Mozilla Festival:

As a brief recap, I attended MozFest in London last year. In between sessions I was scanning a noticeboard to see what was coming up, and I spotted a session entitled “Building a Planet-Friendly Web”. I felt a little dumbstruck. What on Earth was this going to be about?

I attended the session, and the scales fell from my eyes. In what now seems obvious but at the time was a revelation, I learnt of the colossal energy demand of the Internet. That this demand makes it the largest coal-fired machine on Earth, meaning that its CO₂ emissions are probably at least equivalent to global air travel. More and more people are coming online, but this coupled with the rise of ever more obese websites means that the Internet’s energy demands are growing exponentially. Every additional byte transferred means more energy, which in most countries means more CO₂.

It’s a small change, and I’ve plenty to do with my other sites (including Thought Shrapnel) but this is the site of mine that gets the most traffic, so I may as well start here!


This post is day eight of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Serendipity, living in an echo chamber, and Learning to Change.

A few months back I bought a book entitled World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. I managed to get it for the bargain price of £3 from a discount bookshop. I even haggled for money off as the cardboard sleeve had a small tear in it. What can I say? I’m a skinflint… 😉

But I’m drifting off my point. I began reading the Editor’s introduction this morning, which includes the paragraph:

Because the planet seems so large to each of us as individuals, it’s easy to forget how many of us there are (over six billion and counting) and how much stress we collectively put on the earth. Though it’s not always east to see it as we go about our days, our current way of life is unsustainable, and that which is not sustainable does not continue. We are using up the planet, one person, one day, one decision at a time; we’re not considering the consequences.

And then, just now, going through my feed reader, I come across the following blog post from CommonCraft team kindly shared by Richard Platts:

We work from home. We make videos, we put them on the Web, people watch them. We track our views, our Technorati links, our mentions in Twitter, our blog comments. A good percentage of people we see in social situations in Seattle are aware of our work. Most of the email we receive is about the videos and of course, it dominates our discussions at home. This is all misleading and a bit unhealthy.

It’s too easy to start making assumptions – assumptions about general awareness, about the number of people who really know what’s happening in “our” online world. Viewed from the comfort of our living room, bookmarked pages and social circles, the Web looks pretty small and awareness looks pretty big. It’s too easy to assume that people have heard about the tools and sites we use everyday.

But they haven’t. In real terms, no one has. I look at Las Vegas as a cross section of the US. At any moment there are people from every state and many countries. They are the General Public in a lot of ways. I sat back and asked myself – forgetting Common Craft – do these people know about Twitter? Has Flickr become part of their world? What about wikis, do they care? Are they using RSS readers? My completely anecdotal evidence says the answer is no. In our own little online world, it’s too easy to assume they do.

Richard Platts shared the above with this note:

It’s easy to assume a change is happening in the world of education because we see more and more people joining the edublogosphere. But in terms of the number of educators the world over, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

What are we doing to get the message out about the way young people should be taught in the 21st century? Are we just preaching to the choir?

I hope not. Next year, I’ll be E-Learning Staff Tutor at my school. In practice, that means half a timetable of teaching, and the rest of the time working with members of staff, encouraging them to use educational technology, team-teaching, researching and developing, and so on. One of the first things I’m going to show them all together is the following:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tahTKdEUAPk&hl=en]

Thanks again to Richard Platts for the link. OK, so it might be slightly biased, but it’s a great conversation starter.

What are YOU planning to do next academic year to get the message out?

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