pango brightEver go into your home office late at night and want to do something on the Windows XP or Vista computer? Turn it on and — Wham! – that screen light hits you like a blow to the head.

You can stop that. For reasons which shall remain forever locked in the closed minds of display engineers, most monitors have no brightness control. At least not a useful one. Bob’s previous Samsung monitor had two control levels: Blindingly bright, and knock you out of your chair.

Time to download PangoBright. This is a free program that sits in the PC taskbar and lets you choose from nine levels of screen brightness: 100 percent, down to 20 percent. Late at night or in a darkened room it is a blessing. Bob finds that 60 percent of maximum brightness is about right even when the room has some lights on.

So much, so far. Everything is simple enough, except getting the download itself. This gets tricky, so we’re going to warn you about things to watch out for and probably avoid:

If you go to to get the dimmer program, you get a black screen with some blue text that’s hard to read. But up near the left-hand corner of the screen, in very tiny type, it says “Download.” When you click on that, nothing happens except you get a new black screen where part of the text tells you to “click to download” the program. Do so.

Now it gets tricky and many have fallen. The click takes you to, the most common source of free and low cost programs. They have thousands. They are reputable and we have gone there many times and downloaded many programs, some of which actually worked. The tricky part is the prominent green square with the lettering “Download Now” and just below that: CNET Installer Enabled.” Don’t do that!

If you click on that – which seems like the logical thing to do – CNET Installer will proceed to download a whole bunch of stuff that you almost certainly don’t want, may even hate, and will be hard to get rid of. It will even add an item to your browser, likely something called “Babylon.” What’s that? That’s a toolbar that is going to track you to the end of the universe, try to sell you things, and never let go.

No. Ignore the tempting green download box and look instead for the teeny-tiny blue lettering underneath it that says “Direct Download Link.” Hosanna! That will actually download the PangoBright program without further ado – and no extra junk. It downloads in a few seconds. Open the file and everything will work fine.

One further problem, though not critical: Every tine you reboot the computer, PangoBright’s wonderful dimming menu will disappear and you have to reinstall it. It will look like the program has disappeared, but you still have it. If you open your browser (for us it’s Chrome), and hit the control-j keys together, a list of all the things you’ve downloaded will appear. One of those will be PangoBright. Double-click it to open the program and regain your dimming control. Bob is using it right now as he writes this column.

NOTE: Should some mischance or mis-click land you with the dreaded :”Babylon” tool bar, here’s how to get rid of it:

Google the query: “Remove Babylon Toolbar PCMag.” Follow the instructions. You have to use Control Panel in Windows to remove it from the desktop, and go into “settings” in Firefox, Chrome or whatever, to remove it there too.

If you want to adjust your monitor’s brightness in Windows 7 or Windows 8, go to “Control Panel.”  When it comes up, type “Power Options.”  When that  comes up, click the words “Power Options.” On the bottom of the screen that comes up next, there’s a slider for “screen brightness.”  By the way, if you use a laptop monitor only,  press the button with the sun on it to change the screen brightness.

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