Musings of an anonymous geek

March 31, 2005

Opacity in KDE 3.4 and NVidia is SWEEEEEEET.

Filed under: Technology — m0j0 @ 8:55 am

I should say up front that I am *not* a slave to eye candy. I’m a system/network admin, so if there’s any eye candy around, it’s likely to be various monitors that alert me, visually, to trouble of one sort or another. However, I’ve found a really useful piece of eye candy in KDE 3.4, enhanced by the NVidia driver — opacity.

Opacity is a setting that affects the translucency of an object in KDE 3.4. Anything can now be transparent to some degree, settable by the user. To those who are saying “this isn’t new, transparency has been around for 3 years now”, you’re mistaken. What was around before was what I call “faux-and-slow” transparency. It was useful *only* as eye candy, because all you could see behind the transparent window was the desktop wallpaper. That’s not transparency, that’s a picture of that region of your desktop pasted into the background of your application. The “slow” part comes from the fact that when you used to move your application around, it would take a second to update its background. This isn’t useful, and isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about having a terminal application open, having it be set up with its opacity setting adjusted such that you can see through it without disturbing your ability to do work, and being able to see, for example, when new mail hits your inbox, or any other folder in KMail or any other mail application, without hitting alt-tab, without setting up some other form of alert, and without keeping your mail application on top or on a separate monitor in a dual-headed setup.

Without a doubt, this feature will change the way I do my work, as it allows me to even further optimize how I use the real estate granted to me by my monitors.

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