Mac Lab Report

Tips for Outdoor Computing

- 2002.04.08

I am typing this on a wireless iBook laptop connected to my house through an AirPort base station (oh yeah, 3 dots baby, go go gadget go!), and it occurs to me that even though the brightness is turned up all the way, it's still hard to see the screen. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips for you. (OS 9 of course; but I suspect there are parallel functions in OS X. Actually I know there are.)

While you're banging on the F2 key to increase the brightness, hold down the option key and the Monitors control panel will magically open.

  • Click on the color button.
  • Click on Calibrate (don't worry, we won't break anything here. )
  • Click on Expert Mode and then the right arrow of the interactive help screen which opens.

I turned the Gamma all the way down, which lightened (not brightened, lightened) the screen considerably. Dark lines such as text and window borders are still black, though, so it became instantly easier to read - at least in the shade where I am sitting.

Here are my exact settings:

Native Gamma: 2.2
Target Gamma: 1.00
Chromaticity: didn't change
Target White Point: 6000 K

Your settings may be different depending on the exact angle of the sun, the color of your house, the type of grass you are growing in your back yard (bluegrass, fescue, or in my case, nonnative California Oat Grass Weed), and the color of your shirt; then again, maybe you just don't care.

Happy outdoor computing!

P.S. Turn AirPort, AppleTalk, and File Sharing off to extend battery life when not connected. But you probably already knew that.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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