Green-on-Black Radar Screen


About this Site


I am Alex S. Brown, PMP, graduate of Princeton University employed in Information Technology in the Financial Services industry as a project manager. If you wish to contact me my e-mail address is

This site is a repository of my ideas, writings, and speeches. It is a good place to learn more about IT and project management, and to understand my experiences and point of view. It is my way to help my friends know me better and to reach out to people I do not know yet. It has become a professional resource, particularly my peers at Project Management Institute. People from all over the world subscribe to the site newsletter, and some of my articles have been translated to foreign languages.

Layout and Color

In July 2003, I redesigned the look-and-feel of the site. The original color scheme was bright-green-on-black, mimicking the display of first-generation computer display terminals. Human-factors experts tell us that this color combination is highly readable because of its high contrast, and it is still used for military applications today.

The current design keeps the spirit of the original, but mutes the colors somewhat, providing a more modern look. Ironically, many people could not read the original site easily, because of the high-contrast color scheme. The site followed Jacob Nielsen's advice to "maximize the color contrast between the text and the background". Unfortunately, many web sites have LOW contrast, so people set their monitor brightness and contrast high to compensate. On a monitor with these settings, the bright, green text glowed too brightly, becoming difficult to read. I kept an article using the old colors for anyone who wants to see the old format.

The inspiration for the color scheme is the air-traffic-controller terminals in the movie Pushing Tin. Air-traffic controllers and project managers have quite a bit in common, and the scopes are a modern equivalent of the old green-screen terminals.

The colors are optimized for on-line viewing. Even the new colors are hard-to-read in print. There are print-friendly versions of all articles and speeches, with traditional black-on-white colors. If you are anxious to print out other pages, most web browsers let you print without background colors or images. Look at your browser's help documentation for guidance. Feel free to e-mail me to request any content in a different format.

The Icon

The icon in the upper left shows a radar screen with some airplane icons, taken from the air-traffic-controller scopes. The red, dashed line represents a boundary of some kind. The colors for the text in the site come from this icon.

The ones and zeroes in the background represent my computer background. One of my favorite on-line icons is the one for the IEEE Computer Society, which also features ones and zeroes. As a member of the society, it is a quiet nod to the organization.

Techie Details: The hidden message is in 7-bit ASCII format. Each row is 21 bits across, so each holds three characters. The message is 15-rows high to hold the full message. For example, the first character "T" is ASCII code 84, or binary 1010100. The first row represents "The" and is "101010011010001100101".

The ones and zeroes contain a hidden message. Although the radar scope obscures most of the message, it spells out a line from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 81: "The sage does not accumulate for himself." The book goes on to say, "The more that he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that he gives to others, the more does he have himself." This site is my way of giving back to others.

Technology Behind the Site

As a computer professional, I use the site to experiment with technology. The site is entirely hand-coded, to give me maximum control and to let me learn as much as possible about Internet technology. Software used to create the site includes:

This version of the site relies heavily upon style sheets. The pages are designed to look OK with older browsers, but they are designed for browsers that support CSS2. The goal was to make it easy to mark-up articles I write, producing a good-looking web page with a minimum of code. As much formatting logic as possible is in the style sheet. I use the accessibility tags in HTML as much as possible to allow the use of alternative browsers for users who have special needs. Please let me know if the site appears poorly in your web browser.

Standards used in the site include:

I hope to use CSS2 and XML in the future to create printed and HTML versions of the articles from a single document. Currently I use MS Word and PDF995 to create the PDF files. Microsoft Project is my project scheduling tool.