That depressing shade of green

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Have you ever seen the default wallpaper of a Windows 95 installation? That horrendous, disgusting, depressing shade of gray-green that, for years, went mocked and scorned by many? It turns out it may just be what the doctor ordered for long term computer use. Have we missed something all along?

18 Comments

CBrachyrhynchos
2007-10-11 07:13:20
You actually see your desktop?
FJ
2007-10-11 07:16:12
I do, yes. If I can't see my desktop and/or have more than two minimized windows in the Dock some internal alarm bell rings and I close up, quit or consolidate whatever it is I am doing. We all have our built-in multitasking tolerance limits but I'm usually a fan of focusing on one thing and only using the applications I need at a given time.
chadi
2007-10-11 07:31:32
If you are doing color correction in Photoshop al day long, a neutral gray is the only way to go.
FJ
2007-10-11 07:33:04
Chadi,


Definitely!


FJ

FARfetched
2007-10-11 08:45:46
Back when I use using Linux on a beige G3, the AfterStep window manager made that old box feel like a rocket. I used a background tile called carpet.green.jpg, and it was delightfully tacky but somehow easy on the eyes — especially in the early morning when I slumped into the computer room to check my email.
Kelpy Kelpmore
2007-10-11 08:51:18
Apple's "solid kelp" is hardly the same color as Win 95 default desktop. C'mon, if you're going to build an article around a premise, at least start with a valid one. :) Break out Digital Color Meter and check for yourself.
FJ
2007-10-11 08:55:12
Kelpy,


Apple's Solid Kelp and Windows 95 Green certainly are no exact matches. Note I said Kelp is Apple's version of the latter, which, of course, is more of a jocular description than anything. I do stand by the idea, however, that both colors serve the same purpose and the guess that both were introduced with the above in mind.


FJ

in2focus
2007-10-11 09:23:53
There's a reason they make hospital scrubs in a similar green color, too...eye strain in the operating room. I've heard that blood can can be really tiring(in so many ways) all a surgeon has to do is look up for bit to relax the eyes a little. As for photo editing...like chadi said, the neutral gray is the way to go.
FJ
2007-10-11 10:41:24
In2focus,


Interesting! Thanks for sharing!


FJ

Ty-man
2007-10-11 11:15:29
I've been using this color as my wallpaper for about 15 years (since I first got a color monitor for the Mac)! Way back when I had to create it in Photoshop because it wasn't one of the default colors that came with the system. Go figure.
Lantz
2007-10-11 12:05:18
I come from a printing press background from the late 80s. It just so happens that green is the color that best relaxes the eyes. In the print shop we had a large green sheet of paper on the wall so that when the prepress proofing guy and press operators, who had been staring at numerous images all day long, could look up at for awhile to relax and "neutralize" their eyes.
When I got into Photoshop and desktop publishing I found myself often leaving desktop pictures and going back to a green solid background. Green happens to be my favorite color also.
There is much study being done in the area of color.


Yacko
2007-10-11 12:05:44
It seems to me the color is a little dark to support my conjecture but follow this thinking. There is something in photography called the 18% gray card but the idea actually comes from the print world. On printed material, it's claimed that the half way point between black and white reflects 18% of the light. Now the crt/lcd screens we all use are not printed matter, they are worse, they project the light garishly into our eyes, have a refresh rate and, with lcds, fluorescent flicker. It has always struck me, that the kindest overall computer screen for our eyes is one whose elements and background overall average 18% gray. Now I'm not saying it has to be gray. There are many colors and that when grayscaled come close to that 18% and I will bet there are more than a few colors and tints that could serve, although I see your point - that green may be the very best of the bunch.


Two further notes. Our friend chadi wrote "If you are doing color correction in Photoshop al day long, a neutral gray is the only way to go."


And I agree. I always found an average neutral gray to be the best overall and I have to say, unlike many who used Kaleidoscope and now Shapeshifter to re-theme the OS, I always thought the prominence of platinum gray to be an advantage of the Mac operating system, particularly for professionals. Perhaps it has been a subtle influence that helped seal the deal as to why the Mac is the choice of those in the graphics trades.


Second FJ writes, "If I can't see my desktop and/or have more than two minimized windows in the Dock some internal alarm bell rings and I close up, quit or consolidate whatever it is I am doing. We all have our built-in multitasking tolerance limits but I'm usually a fan of focusing on one thing and only using the applications I need at a given time."


Yikes, guy, just because you focus doesn't mean you have to close apps. Command-H lets you "hide" apps to your heart's content. Leopard will have virtual desktops and the same can be kludged into Tiger too with a third-party app. I have a minimum of a half dozen apps on up to 20, all rolling at the same time. How do you read email, hit Wikipedia, copy a clipping to a notetaker, listen to music, add something spur of the moment to your calendar and iGTD stuff, if you have to keep restarting apps. The Mac is geared for exactly this kind of thing since most Mac apps, unlike most Windows apps, do not stop running and quit when their last window is closed. Are you a former Windows user used to that behavior and have to manually duplicate it on the Mac?


mdmunoz
2007-10-11 12:19:15
I honestly find solid-color wallpapers distracting because they make the drop shadows on windows look unnatural.


I used to switch wallpapers constantly, but I haven't switched in over a year. I guess I just found the right one.

Adrian
2007-10-11 13:58:03
The second I clicked this article in my RSS reader "A Certain Shade of Green" started playing. I had shuffle mode on. What a coincidence.
KenC
2007-10-11 20:04:03
Have you tried the "Agave" plant image from Plants? It's the right shade, and not bad looking.
FJ
2007-10-12 01:37:54
KenC,


This is indeed one of the best images for prolonged use!


FJ

Richard Morris
2007-10-12 06:46:50
Good tip! I would never have considered this colour (always gone for light grey) but it does what you claim.
Zé Pedro do Amaral
2007-10-14 10:37:00
Hello,
Interesting remark about long-term desktop colours. Personally, I prefer Solid Aqua Graphite (and before Mac OS X a similar custom-made colour). I find in that greyish-blue the same solace that you describe for Solid Kelp.
ZP