Sometimes a utility comes along that just completey changes how you work. In F.lux’s case, change how you look at your computer screen at night. I admit that I hate sleeping. I only do it because my body needs it. I know, sounds weird but can’t a guy just stay up late at night to get more work done? On many occasions, I actually tend to focus better late at night and in the early morning. As usual, a lot of my work is done on my laptop. The problem with this scenario is having to adjust to the screen’s brightness, especially when I’m working with the house lights turned off. The usual solution to this problem is dimming the screen’s brightness level, obviously. However, that’s not very effective. Many people don’t realize this because they don’t know of a different method of controlling their screen display at night. Dimming the brightness level does exactly that: it makes your screen darker! This does help your eyes in that you wouldn’t have to stare at a bright screen but as far as helping you focus on the actual content on the screen, it doesn’t do anything. With a small utility called F.lux though, it can change how you work on your computer at night forever. And no, you don’t have to be nocturnal in order to benefit from this utility!
How F.lux works is simple and yet so damn brilliant! When activated, it applies a yellow’ish/orange’ish filter over your entire monitor screen. That’s it! This simple adjustment solves the problem of a dark screen (due to dimming) yet it still allows you to easily read text on the screen without too much eye strain. The concept of F.lux is simple. During the day, your computer screen should resemble the sun. This means full brightness! However, as night time creeps closer, you wouldn’t want your screen to resemble the sun. Trust me, your eyes wouldn’t thank you for it. Reading about F.lux is not enough. You actually have to use it and test it yourself.F.lux also claims to be able to help you sleep better if you work on a computer for long periods of time during the night. Whether this actually works or not depends on the user. It could just be all in the user’s mind that they are indeed sleeping better if they simply keep thinking that. Sort of like a psychiatrist giving a patient a sugar pill and calling it a “sleeping pill”. All I know for a fact is that using F.lux does help your eyes if you’ll be using your computer screen at night, especially with the lights off.
F.luxYou can download F.lux from here. This utility is available for Windows XP and higher, Mac OS X, Linux and even on a jailbroken iPhone!
Using F.lux is very simple. There are only a couple of configuration settings that needs adjustment. One of the biggest setting is telling the utility just where in the world you are! F.lux automatically activates when it determines that your timezone is approaching evening (sunset). F.lux accepts longitude and lattitude coordinates. Simply use Google to find the coordinates of your location and copy them into F.lux. This method technically works better than just relying on the actual time on a computer because the sun sets differently throughout the world.
The next important setting you will have to adjust is how intense you want the filter to be when F.lux activates. Remember, once activated, F.lux will apply a yellow tint filter over your entire screen. Not a part of it, but the whole screen. In the settings area, you can adjust the tint level for both when it is daytime and nighttime. In most cases, you’ll leave the daytime settings alone. In other words, F.lux will be deactivated during the day. It is the night time setting you’ll want to configure. You can adjust the slider by simply moving the circle ball left or right. Moving the slider left will apply a heavier tint while doing the opposite lessens the ‘yellowish’ tint effect.
On the bottom right corner, you can adjust the transition speed. In my opinion, this setting is not of high concern. The transition setting is how fast F.lux will transition from one tint level to another.
Finally, towards the bottom, you can choose to deactivate F.lux for an hour and return your screen to original colors. Why would you want to do this? Because F.lux applies a colored tint over your entire screen, users whose work relies on color (Photoshop, movie and picture editing) will be distorted and the true colors of the picture will not be represented correctly. Therefore, in these cases, F.lux must be deactivated. Dimming the screen or increasing the brightness level when F.lux is activated will have no effect in these scenarios.
Once you are done with the configuration changes, click the Done button. In the next screen, F.lux allows you a 24 hour preview of F.lux in motion. Simply click anywhere in the chart and you’ll see F.lux in action. If your current time zone is in the morning, you’ll eventually see your screen transition to a yellowish tint being applied and then removed again once the time resets. Once you have the settings configured to your liking, you normally wouldn’t have to touch F.lux again. Everything will happen automatically according to your location settings.Most screen capturing and screencast recording tools will not be able to capture F.lux in action. For example, I can’t just take a direct screenshot showing you before and after shots of F.lux. The screen captures would just capture my monitor screen as if F.lux didn’t exist. The only way to capture it is to use a digital camera and take manual snapshots of my monitor screen. I personally don’t want to do this because you actually have to experience the effect of F.lux yourself to judge whether you’ll like it or not.
In the End…
I love F.lux. Being a person who works throughout the early morning with the lights off, F.lux allows me to more comfortably stare at my computer screen. At first, using F.lux was very weird. In fact, I’m sure many users who have tried this utility probably thought it to be stupid and useless. Who the heck wants to apply a yellow tint to the screen, which will distort all colors? After a couple of nights, I fell in love with this utility because it really does help. It’s not a gimmick, well at least in my opinion it’s not. Using a combination of F.lux and dimming my computer screen at the same time, my eyes are definitely more appreciative of me for doing so. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the effect but it’s definitely worth a try.