Monday, March 06, 2006

Instant screen brightness control for your Mac

Monday, March 06, 2006

The trouble with using your computer for a variety of different functions is that it becomes impossible to designate a single array of settings which allows you to experience them all comfortably. When I'm browsing the web, I like to subdue the brightness and contrast of my monitor to stave off retinal meltdown. Conversely, when I watch a movie or recorded TV show I have to ramp up both parametres to be able to discern the colours and shapes - I gather TV/movie media is produced in this way by design as a show of solidarity for the tireless miners of the world who toil day and night to bring us fresh coal for the stove.

I flit back and forth between these two activities quite regularly and so have to re-adjust my settings regularly too. For the purposes of scientific enquiry I fathomed that making the switch from "who turned out the lights?" to Gizmo-esque shrieks of "Bright light! Bright light!" (or vice versa) requires no less than 30 monitor button pushes!

This button-bashing became such a chore I often found myself skimping on it and subsequently reading painfully bright web sites, or squinting to make out the tenebrous figures when watching movies. My eyes were soon filing divorce papers against the rest of my body. That was until I introduced them to Brightness Control from Splasm Software, a freeware tool which does exactly what it alludes to in its no-nonsense epithet.

The interface consists of a slider and a restore button. You nudge a marker to the left to tone down the brightness, and to the right to enhance it. Pushing the restore button is the equivalent of sliding the marker all the way to the right. So if you adjust your monitor for optimum movie viewing conditions, you can suppress the brightness for reading with a single click of the mouse, and hit the restore button when you want to watch a movie. Now that's the embodiment of efficiency!

According to the web site blurb, the control panel is aimed at those of you with partners who don't appreciate being kept awake at night by the intense radiance of your display in an otherwise snooze-friendly dark room. Given the context this strikes me as a solution desperately scrabbling for a problem. Put a potato sack over his or her head, tie it nice and securely around the neck with some sturdy rope and you won't hear another peep of complaint from your loved one. You'll get used to the rotting smell over time.

Another bothersome dilemma resolved.

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