Wednesday, August 23, 2006

serna’s nerdiness

Have I mentioned that I’m a nerd? Why yes I have. Here’s more proof:

I find myself, on a regular basis, turning my screensaver off or on. For example, if I am on a conference call, I’ll turn it off, because I may very well be sitting in front of the computer for more than 5 minutes without doing anything, but I don’t want the screensaver to come on while I’m there. And then, when I get off the call, I promptly turn it back on again.

Or sometimes, when I’m stepping away from the computer just for a minute, I might throw in the Marquee screensaver, with a message that says “Be right back!”

I got this idea from a previous job, when I was working at a help desk where we were always repairing computers. Sometimes one of us would use the Marquee screensaver with a message saying something along the lines of “This computer is downloading software; please don’t touch”. It was a handy way to make sure none of us messed up work the others were doing.

But changing the screensaver is a bit cumbersome. You have to open up the Display Settings—which doesn’t usually come up immediately—go to the Screen Saver tab, and make your selections, and then choose OK—which also doesn’t usually happen immediately.

So what does that have to do with nerdiness? The answer is this: I’ve created VBScript batch files, that can programatically make all of the changes to my screensaver settings at the click of a button. (One to turn off the screensaver, and another to turn it on, set it to time out after 5 minutes, and be password-protected.) So if I’m doing something at my desk, but not necessarily with the computer itself, boom, click the button to disable the screensaver, and work away. When I’m stepping away, bam, click the button to turn it back on, and the computer will be screen-saved.

I’ve discovered one problem, though: If you want to change the timeout value—how long Windows will wait before turning on the screensaver—you can’t do it programmatically. Well, you can, but the changes don’t take effect until you reboot, which defeats the purpose. (If you change that setting using the Display Settings dialog, it takes effect immediately, of course.) The only reason that’s a problem is that I like to set the timeout for my Marquee screensaver to 1 minute, and my regular screensaver to 5.