Observational Hazard

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2021-09-27 03:00:06

Today I launched a new novelty Mac app, Retro Dither. Retro Dither gives any photo a cool retro look using just black and white pixels. You may want this for artistic effect, or you may want to export your photo to MacPaint for display on a retro Mac. Retro Dither launched on the Mac App Store today.

Note that we’re talking about just black and white, not grayscale (no grays here!). Amazingly, dithering algorithms make pure black and white images look like grayscale. You’ll get an old-school newspaper look, or a look like your photo just came off of a Mac from the 1980s. And this works with any photo in any bitmap format (JPEG, PNG, HEIF, etc.). Retro Dither can then export your dithered image to MacPaint format for display on black and white Macs going all the way back to the 1986 Mac Plus.

I was working on my next programming book, which will be an intermediate Python projects book, when I came across an article about Atkinson Dithering on Hacker News by John Earnest. Dithering algorithms can be used for approximating the look of an image with less colors. Atkinson Dithering is one that is particularly well suited for approximating an image using just black and white. I was in the middle of developing a project for the book related to computational art and I was thinking I would need another art project to fill out the chapter. And Atkinson Dithering really caught my eye. First, because it looks cool. Second, because I was a Mac user growing up and I remember all the software and games that actually used it.

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