by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- email@example.com
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
No, this doesn't mean Darth Vader has been paroled. DarkStar, released last month by Apple, and officially known as the "Monitor Energy Saver Control Panel," allows Macintosh users to conserve power using "Energy Star compliant" computers and monitors. After a user-defined amount of idle time, the software puts the monitor into low power mode. You return from low power mode by pressing a key or moving the mouse, and it takes up to twenty seconds to return.
Energy Star is the U. S. Government's energy conservation initiative, designed to limit the vast power consumption of desktop computer systems. Several computer and peripheral manufacturers have moved to comply with Energy Star guidelines, which call for less energy consumption when devices are active, as well as sharp reductions in energy use when devices are not in use but have been left on for whatever reason. The average office Macintosh, operating 24 hours a day, can use as much as $200 worth of electricity each year.
DarkStar has the added benefit of preventing screen burn-in, without the extra processing burden of fish swimming around your screen all night. At last check, this utility was available only from AppleLink and from the FTP archive at sumex-aim.stanford.edu in /info-mac/cfg, but not yet from Apple's anonymous FTP site, ftp.apple.com. Your dealer should be able to obtain it, but because of the cost to the dealer of downloading software from AppleLink, please consider making a purchase at the same time you ask them to retrieve the software for you!
This utility works on Quadras, Centrises, and LC IIIs, and with monitors designed with a low-power mode. These monitors have an "Energy Star" logo on the box. On other monitors, the image will go black, but since the monitor isn't in low-power mode, there will be minimal power savings, if any. PowerBook users can already take advantage of these computers' capabilities to turn off backlighting, the hard drive, and even the whole computer, during idle periods.
For users of other computers or other monitors, I suggest CDU, Connectix Desktop Utilities, whose energy-saving features have been praised by the government's Energy Star program. These features include automatic idle-time shutdown, and automatic screen dimming. CDU's screen dimming feature works only on computers and displays with grayscale or color capability, or on Apple's compact Macs with internal dimming functions, such as the Classic.
Of course, CDU offers many other useful and fun features; we'll take a closer look in the near future.
Connectix -- 800/950-5880 -- 415/571-5100 -- 415/571-5195 (fax)
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