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When your Chromebook colors get trippy

Our 3 year old grandchild was randomly typing on my wife’s Chromebook and somehow made all of the images go wonky. This includes all images displayed in the browser, the system’s wallpaper, and even the icons.

I could not find any mention of this problem anywhere on the Internet, apparently because I insisted on using the word “posterize” to describe the images’ condition. The rest of the world apparently calls this “inverted.” I have been calling inverted images posterized probably since the late 1980s. It has never before steered me wrong. But according to dictionaries and what Google Search has learned from the Internet, I’ve definitely been misusing it.

But first, the solution to the Chromebook problem. I learned this from Iain Tait (@iaintait) who responded to my tweet asking for help. He pointed to this article in Chrome Unboxed. Our granddaughter unwittingly put the Chromebook into “high contrast mode.” Clicking Ctrl+Search+H will undo the little devil’s mischief.

Now, back to how I went wrong.

Posterization apparently was coined in the 1950s to refer to the process of turning a color image into the sort of stylized image often used in posters. Gradations in color are flattened, colors are brightened, and so forth, until the image would have been acceptable to The Beatles in their late psychedelic phase. Inversion is a 1:1 clipping of colors so that the original looks like what I think a color negative of it would look like, but I’m probably wrong about that too.

Here’s an example using a photo of our post-Thanksgiving walk (CC-BY-SA-NC by me).


unfiltered image of people on a street


Posterized version


Inverted version

But the real point of this post is to let Google Search see a few more instances of posterize, posterized, and posterizing in the same sentence as image inversion and Google Chromebooks so that the next fool who confuses posterization and image inversion when faced with an image inverted by Chromebook will find at least one damn entry that clarifies a mistake that apparently no one else has ever made.

Posterize inverted images Chromebook. Posterize inverted images Chromebook. Posterize inverted images Chromebook. Posterize inverted images Chromebook.

(The transformations are by Pixelmator Pro.)

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Isian has written a lovely post about how our paths crossed after many years.

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