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I can't imagine it's much of an issue any longer, especially with the leaps and bounds browsers and graphics cards have made over the last 36 months.
What do you think as designers?
I've not used web safe colors for over a year. With a couple of graphic oriented sites, I'm sure I would have heard some screaming about the colors if there where a problem.
Few people are writing browser safe html, let alone taking the time to do safe colors.
My personal habits have been to stick to the color cube when using large flat regions that will have the same color, but to let the colors fly when doing spot graphics.
I also am not opposed to using extremely light colors that will turn into white on low-color machines, such as #EEEEEE for a nice light grey.
The problem comes when you have a page or table background of a non-color cube color, and a graphic that sits on top of it that's supposed to blend in. If the color in question is 9F3A00 then the graphic might dither, while the background will snap to 993300... suddenly the edges of the graphic are visible.
I don't think that the 256-color, 640x480 machine is going away anytime soon. And what's more, a lot of those dawgs run Windows 3.1. I've got the logfiles to prove it! :)
Bolotomus is refering to the web-safe palette, which is often set out in a cube-like format - there are 6 websafe shades (00,33,66,99,CC,FF) per colour channel, so RRGGBB = 6x6x6.
Check out this link [stars.com] for a simple example of a web-safe colour table.