Monday, January 28, 2008

In a Dither



If you have access to the Blondie comic strip, you are familiar with Mr. Dithers, Dagwood’s boss. Since to dither means to act indecisively, to waver between different courses of action, the name doesn’t quite fit the character. Julius Dithers knows exactly what he wants: more work from his employees for less pay.

Dither originally meant “to tremble, quake, quiver, or thrill.” It later developed the meaning “to confuse, perplex, or make nervous,” and Mr. Dithers certainly has that effect on poor Dagwood.

Dither is related to the word dodder, as in doddering old fool, a nasty reference to someone who shakes in frailty or has a tottering gait.

In computer graphics, dithering is the process of juxtaposing pixels of two colors to create the illusion that a third color is present. This reduces the number of colors needed to render a picture, and it speeds up the loading time. Dithering is also a term used by audio engineers.

SIDEBAR: Graphics: dithering

SIDEBAR: Dither fish

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