White point of the monitor needs to be set so that highlights in the picture are not blown out. Make sure that your video card is in 32 bit mode. Increase contrast until you get the desired brightness of the white color. You should see all three checker patterns below clearly. If you lose detail in patterns "Intensity 8" and/or "Intensity 3", tune the contrast down a bit. Getting detail in the highlight should not be a problem for a quality monitor. My Trinitron ViewSonic starts to glow way to bright to look at before highlights are blown out. You may have to fiddle with black point again, if the contrast and brightness controls are linked on your monitor.
Black point of the monitor needs to be set so that you can see shadow detail in the picture. Make sure that your video card is in 32 bit mode. Increase the brightness control of your monitor until you can see all three checker patterns below. Then decrease brightness until you can't make out pattern "Intensity 3" anymore. Contrast adjustment can change things, so fiddle with brightness again after you finished setting white point.
Calibrize is a free color calibration tool that gets your monitor recalibrated and brings your color back to satisfactory condition. Users who want to try can download it here. It can run on Windows XP and Vista but it is not for Mac users. Once users have run the calibration tool and adjusted the color profile to its specifications, the color profile will thence be saved and automatically installed to the system so that accurate color profiles will be in place. This calibration tool is easy to use and reliable. It works for CRT monitors, (flat) LCD monitors and even beamers.