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Personal and Professional Blog of Rich Hauck

Bodie

by: Rich Hauck

Following up on my previous post, our trip cross-country took me to Bodie State Historic Park, a ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada. This former gold rush town once boasted of a population of nearly 10,000 people in the 1870s, and now it was humbly this photographer’s subject matter. It proved to be a worthwhile destination once we determined there simply wasn’t enough time to properly experience Yosemite.

Ultimately, what can I say? The pictures speak for themselves. It’s a photographer’s paradise, and well worth the trip.


Categories:webdesign
Comments: 0

Westward Bound: My Cross-Country Road Trip

by: Rich Hauck

What do you do when you have to get rid of car? You sell it to your best friend in California and ride shotgun cross-country over the course of a week, naturally!

Here’s a rough map of the trip I took across the continental United States last September.

Besides selling a car, the secondary objective for this trek was to do some tandem photography out west. For me, that included capturing those pretty star trails that are essentially unattainable here in the light-polluted East Coast.

Conveniently, the two days we found ourselves in the deserts of Utah were embraced with thick carpets of clouds, and it wasn’t until we reached California that the overcast subsided.

So, my hopes of recording star trails were dashed, but I still tried to make the best of it. I’ve managed to spam my Instagram feed with pictures, but here’s a few of my favorites (click to view larger).

My friend Andy and me at the beginning of the trip. He’s a pretty trusting guy, considering he hadn’t seen the car I sold him in seven years.

The world’s largest rocking chair? Right off the exit? That demanded a stop in Casey, IL.

We were definitely on a clock, given I committed myself to being gone only a week (and remembering I’d left a very supportive and pregnant wife with our two boys), but I insisted on seeing the arch in St. Louis.

Self-employment means never really affording myself a day off. While I spent my non-driving shifts working in the car (tethered to my phone with an external battery, no less), I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night I spent on the Vegas strip.

I didn’t do any gambling, but instead spent an all-nighter across from Caesar’s Palace working out of a 24-hour Starbucks. It’s a shame, too, because it was the one time on our trip where we had a nice huge hotel suite!

Then there are the times (like this stretch of highway in Arizona) where one gets no signal in the car and is forced to just appreciate the scenery. I’ll confess I’ve actually traveled along this strip before, but the view still hasn’t gotten old (I wouldn’t mind traveling through Glenwood Canyon, CO again, either).

All said and done, we hit a four national parks (Capitol Reef, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion) and drove over 3600 miles. We skipped Yosemite because of time and settled for the ghost town of Bodie, though I’ll dedicate another post to that, simply because I took so many pictures.

My jerk of a best friend (ahem!) still hasn’t posted any pictures, but for me it was a trip of a lifetime.


Categories:travel
Comments: 0

My 2016 in Pictures

by: Rich Hauck

It’s that time of the year, again, where I dig out photos that would otherwise be languishing on my hard drive (No Facebook, I don’t need your algorithm’s help).

2016 was a good year for me. I’m a big tourist, so I keep a running list of places I want to visit. This year, I was able to cross off quite a few places in my travels. Here, in no particular order, are some photos representing my 2016.

 


Categories:travel
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Burg Illustrations 2016

by: Rich Hauck

I had the privilege of illustrating each month for the editor of Harrisburg-based The Burg News. I’m already at work on the January 2017 issue, but here’s a look back.


Categories:art Illustration
Comments: 0

Baseball 2016

by: Rich Hauck

Looking back, I didn’t attend quite as many games this past year as I have in the past. I made it to a new ballpark, but didn’t even make it to a Senators game. On to 2017–opening day can’t get here fast enough!


Categories:sports
Comments: 0

Coors Field

by: Rich Hauck

Four months.

coors-field-facade

I find myself revisiting this post after four months of it remaining neglected in my draft folder.

What do you say about a ballpark that you find slightly…underwhelming?

There were interesting aspects of the ballpark, sure–the seats in the 20th row in the upper deck are purple to indicate a mile above sea level. The stadium is the only one in baseball to house a humidor for the baseballs (though I didn’t see it personally).

That said, they can’t tout a long heritage or celebrate past championships in their short history. The ballpark’s namesake doesn’t help my argument, either (though I guess I’ve become a craft beer snob).

By no means do I mean that as a knock to the fan base of the Rockies. The ticket attendants were incredibly polite, and my wife even commented on the crowd being a better mix of children than she had ever seen in Baltimore.

_12A0895

As for the surrounding neighborhood, well, I have a confession to make: I didn’t really like Denver the first time I visited it. It was too clean for a city!

Coincidentally, I visited Denver three times this year, and my opinion of the city has shifted significantly. After subsequent visits I’ve come to appreciate the laid-back feel of this metropolis in the mountains. Having a Lucile’s, a VooDoo donuts, and an inexhaustible number of decent breweries doesn’t hurt, either. Oh, and then there’s Biker Jim’s. The ballpark has its own Biker Jim’s in the upper deck behind center field, but the full experience (with better buns and beer) is available at the original location a few blocks away.

rooftop

The most memorable architecture (beside the lush batter’s eye) is the strip of nightclubs in the upper deck known as ‘The Rooftop’. Introduced in 2014 to replace unfilled seats, it’s open to anyone with a ticket. It’s an electrifying atmosphere, but I’m glad Cleveland followed suit and not Baltimore.

rooftop-deckYes, this is part of the ballpark. This upper deck was a little too hip for me, plus I find it odd to watch the game on TV when it’s happening in-person behind you.

IMG_2414Section 5280, aka the number of feet above sea level.

 

IMG_2412

Ugh. People still smoke? This amused me. Besides Seattle, it’s unlikely you’ll see a sign like this at another ballpark.

 

IMG_2418

The pillars paid tribute to past players, though it’s tough to pull off with such a short history.

 

IMG_2394

This promenade shot (above) summarizes it for me. Yes, it’s nice that you can see the field (to the left) as you walk around, but it’s clear HOK followed this pattern for all of the modern ballparks, as I’ve found the same walkway at Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park.

No longer is there a barrier to the field, and in some ways that’s an unfortunate thing. I always got a feeling of anticipation seeing the field and the crowds once you step out of the gate. This layout bares all, and no longer do you feel that rush to return to your seat and see why the crowd’s roaring while you stand in a concession line.


Categories:ballparks sports travel
Comments: 0

A responsive, accessible adobe.com mega menu

by: Rich Hauck

I recently completed a project where I was tasked with creating a mega menu but was also afforded time to focus on website accessibility. Sure, I knew of the value of HTML5 validation, image alt tags, and including a skip navigation button, but during my research this video inspired me to give up icon fonts and try to include ARIA roles in my code.

In keeping with this accessibility-conscious kick, I sought a mega menu navigation that supported ARIA roles. I ultimately came across Adobe’s mega menu from 2013. While I uncovered other JQuery mega menus, I still consider this one to be one of the best examples of a working mega menu that’s also accessible (see Adobe’s Github repo).

My only gripe was that their example wasn’t responsive. After sifting through forks looking for a reliable example, I went ahead and made my own fork to make this responsive accessible mega menu.  Here’s a working example of the fork.

The object arguments for the accessibleMegaMenu() constructor are a bit excessive, but I’ve kept with Adobe’s pattern in an effort to make the code as approachable as possible. I added three major arguments:

  • navToggle – The id selector of the element triggering the mobile menu toggle
  • navId – the id selector of the navigation
  • mobileBreakpoint – The breakpoint at which the navigation toggles to mobile.

The last one, mobileBreakpoint, is perhaps the biggest change, as it’s referenced in conditionals throughout jquery-accessibleMegaMenu.js to determine whether navigation items behave on click or hover.

Have a look, and make it your own.


Categories:javascript
Comments: 1

Seeing walls differently (while outputting a vector PDF from a SWF)

by: Rich Hauck

mural

I recently completed a piece for the Sprocket Mural Works show, “Seeing these walls differently, together”. Unlike the other contributing artists, I wanted to do something algorithmic–something computer-generated…So for kicks, I figured I’d revisit this pattern I did in Macromedia Flash (way back from 2003!):

flash pattern

I knew I wanted to output a vector file, and while I was considering P5.js or straight HTML5 canvas, I stuck with Adobe Animate CC. Of course, that didn’t prove to be an easy path, as Animate CC strips ActionScript 1.0’s onClipEvent (remember that?!) completely, so I couldn’t even see the code.

I dug into my bookshelf and installed an old copy of Flash CS6. It was a surreal trip down memory lane, as I found myself looking up ActionScript methods that I used to have memorized 10+ years ago. Sure, Flash whined about Java SE 6 (my laptop was running 8) and it crashed several times, but I was able to extract what I needed.

sketch1

Here’s an early draft of the mural. I opted against this because I couldn’t imagine anyone painting all that transparency on a wall!

So, once I had a for loop generating the pattern and a script randomly choosing which card to display, I wanted to output the SWF to a PDF. I looked into PDFConverter, scanned Quora, and explored a few ActionScript libraries. I then started opening the SWF file in a browser and tried printing it as a PDF. Both Firefox and Safari output it as a screen capture (PNG). Chrome, on the other hand, gave me the vector file I wanted, with one little catch:

adobepdf

As you can see above, it distorts the vector images. This being my best shot, I tried different ways to publish the SWF from Animate, but it always yielded the same result.

I finally tried one more approach that got me the print. By opening the SWF file in the standalone Flash Player, I was able to do a File > Print that retained the curve quality. The final print is below.

spades-mural

It’s on exhibit at WITF (with a lot of other great pieces!) until June 30.


Categories:art Flash Illustration
Comments: 0

Saving bitmap images as base64 SVGs

by: Rich Hauck

A few colleagues of mine stumbled across this technique to save out bitmap images as SVGs using Adobe Illustrator that substantially saves on file size. I’ve personally done some testing with this approach (below), and my results yielded more than 80% file size reduction with no noticeable compression.

This approach is production-ready (provided your target browsers support SVG), and what makes it so eye-opening to me is I can’t seem to find anyone that has documented it online. Not only that, but Adobe’s documentation would lead you to exporting the SVG in a manner that doesn’t offer this file size benefit.

Here’s what I did:

I started with this image of the late 5ptz as a guinea pig. It’s 72ppi, 1200×800, and weighs in at 1.3MB. I copy it out of Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and paste it into Adobe Illustrator CC 2015.

_MG_2198

In Illustrator, I choose “File > Save As… > SVG”, NOT the “File > Export As…” option. Illustrator will prompt you to use “Export As…” for web-optimization, and while this is the correct approach for vector graphics, it doesn’t suit our needs for a bitmap image.

save-as-svg-screen

Here’s the final result, an 224kb SVG that looks identical to it’s 1.3MB JPG counterpart (!):

SVG file saved from Illustrator

I did a series of export tests to see how I could achieve this, but saving from Illustrator seems to be the best approach. My results (with resulting output files linked):

Approach Resulting File Size
Original JPEG 1.3MB
Export as SVG from Photoshop CC 2.9MB
Export as SVG from Illustrator CC 3.4MB
Save as SVG from Illustrator CC 224KB

All of these export options are converting the image into a base64 format, but the biggest reason the save to SVG version is so small is because it’s the only option that minifies the file.

Now, bitmap-based SVGs have a few limitations in the modern production flow–some servers aren’t configured to render SVGs, forcing one to use an SVG htaccess settings tweak. SVG bitmaps scale proportionally, but don’t have an inherent size that one can automatically rely upon when embedding into an HTML page. Lastly, some CMSs (WordPress included) do not permit uploading SVGs through the admin WYSIWYG, though workaround and/or plugins are available.

This out for yourself and let me know what you find. As for me, I’m already eyeing it as a solution for large website images that aren’t generated by the client.


Categories:HTML5 photography
Comments: 0

About Rich Hauck

Rich Hauck

I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and two boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.


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