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Unlock computer with answers to questions?


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#1
marko

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Guess this is probably targetted to any of our resident developers more than anyone ... as far as I'm aware there isn't a freeware program available that can challenge a user to a set of questions, and on the right answers will allow them access to a computer. Reason I ask for this is a friend of mine recently asked if I knew of a program which could ask a series of mathematical questions on their childs laptop before allowing them to login. Problem is, the child is not doing well taking in maths at school and they were looking for a way to encourage the child to force themselves to think a little more about it - the child loves the laptop, and so the prize is after the maths question :)

If any developer would like to take on the challenge I'm sure it would prove quite popular with other parents :good:
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#2
dstrout

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How knowledgeable are the kids? I can make a program that will "lock" the computer of sorts and unlock as you say, but if they know anything like Ctrl+Alt+Delete it would be a lot more complicated.

Edit: I have created a very basic version. It is an HTML application, but it does the trick. Right now it just shows basic addition problems, but it can be expanded/changed. I would need to know more about the intended audience to make this effective. If someone would like to use this when the computer starts up, put it in the Start Menu's "startup" folder.

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#3
marko

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Hey dstrout, I'll pass this on to my friend and have him try this out on her computer to see how they get on, will get back to you - just tried it myself and looks really promising, as I say, don't really see anything else like this available at the moment so could be worth expanding and releasing as freeware - I'm sure a lot of parents would be interested in this - thanks mate :)
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#4
dstrout

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Glad you like it. Be sure to let me know how your friend gets on; as I say its important to know whether the kids are smart enough to get around it. I'm working on version 0.2 right now, with options like changing the type(s) of problem(s) shown, showing different numbers of problems, and some other stuff. I also need to come up with a name if I'm going to release this more broadly, and a better UI. I'm thinking something like "trivia locker" (or unlocker), as I might go beyond just math questions.

BTW:

I'll pass this on to my friend and have him try this out on her computer

hmmm...
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#5
marko

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What about something like "login learner" or "learn before login" or something along those lines ? :)

The child's age is 13 and she is struggling mostly with some of the basics - apparently they have always had a problem with maths, or rather numbers, and are struggling with times tables, clock times and even calculations like "something costs £2.46, how much change from £10". Personally, I'm hopeless with fractions myself, but when a child of 13 is struggling like this it could really become an issue in later life and my friend is worried about her future. As we've already discussed, she loves nothing more than to be on her laptop chatting to her friends, she has homework from time to time but seems to manage it with my friends help, but it's almost as though she really doesn't seem to be able to concentrate on it much - with a system like this, she would have no choice and neither would any other child with this on their computer. My friend explained that she understands the computer better than maths, so chances are would be smart enough to remove the item from the startup folder, or would know someone who could tell her how to do it so would rather wait and see if it would be possible to password protect the next version maybe before introducing it :)
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#6
dstrout

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What about something like "login learner" or "learn before login" or something along those lines ? :)

The child's age is 13 and she is struggling mostly with some of the basics - apparently they have always had a problem with maths, or rather numbers, and are struggling with times tables, clock times and even calculations like "something costs £2.46, how much change from £10". Personally, I'm hopeless with fractions myself, but when a child of 13 is struggling like this it could really become an issue in later life and my friend is worried about her future. As we've already discussed, she loves nothing more than to be on her laptop chatting to her friends, she has homework from time to time but seems to manage it with my friends help, but it's almost as though she really doesn't seem to be able to concentrate on it much - with a system like this, she would have no choice and neither would any other child with this on their computer. My friend explained that she understands the computer better than maths, so chances are would be smart enough to remove the item from the startup folder, or would know someone who could tell her how to do it so would rather wait and see if it would be possible to password protect the next version maybe before introducing it :)

I like "login learner" for a name, I think I'll go with it for now. I have figured out how to make the locker much more effective: kill explorer.exe when it starts up. Here's how it works: assuming the locker is run at startup, there are no other programs open. When explorer.exe is killed, there is no more desktop, either (the other thing that appears in Alt+Tab). Thus, all that's left is Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Depending on the OS, that will either bring up the Task Manager or show a list of options, most concerning things like Loggin off (which would achieve the desired goal of closing the locker). In either case, the user will most likely end up trying the Task Manager. In the "Applications" tab, they will see login learner and try doing an end task, but that will leave them with a blank desktop and no Start menu, since explorer.exe was killed. They will have to log off and back in (with another Ctrl+Alt+Delete), and there is LL waiting for them again. If they try the "processes" tab instead, the process name for HTML applications is "mshta.exe", which looks very official and not to be bothered with. And again, even if the person does find and kill it, they still have no desktop environment. Hopefully this will do the trick. Of course, if the user is extremely knowledgeable, they will find a way around LL, but at that point the parents should have long ago given up messing with their child's computer.

There is also the possibility that the child will find LL in the Startup folder and remove it. My solution for that is one of two things: one, either put it in a less obvious startup location (like a scheduled task at login), or two, give it a name that sounds important (like "Windows Update Manager"). Or, I could do both (put it in scheduled tasks with an official-sounding name). I will think about it. I don't think 0.2 will have these obfuscation features, they will probably be in 0.3 along with a setup program that will make it start on login. I will be submitting 0.2 as an app on FreewareBB today or tomorrow, look for it there. I will also post here with a link when it goes up.
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#7
dstrout

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0.2 is almost done, but I am running into a problem. I want the division to come out even (nothing like 5/3), and I am trying to come up with an algorithm to create division problems of that sort. That is the last step in development of 0.2. If anyone has suggestions on how that should be done, please let me know.
Edit: I have created the division problem generator, but have run across another fairly serious bug that will have to be worked out. I am still on target for release tomorrow, Oct. 6.

Also, here is my intended roadmap for the next few versions:
0.2 - Tomorrow
Different problem types
Different numbers of problems
Password protected options

0.3 - Oct. 8
Make the program harder to break out of/disable
Better interface

0.4/1.0 (not sure yet) - Oct. 20
Installer, auto updater
Options to disable Task Manager for certain users (for instance, parent admin user can disable TM for child standard user)
Files owned by admin, cannot be deleted by standard users

1.1 and beyond - Nov. 2011 and beyond (general ideas)
More problem types (vocab, science, others?)
Downloadable Q/A databases for such topics
Parent created questions with expressions, for example:

I buy something for ${rand(5-10)} and pay ${15,20}. What is my change?|{@2-@1}

(The program would interpret the statements in curly brackets, first a number between 5 and 10, then either 15 or 20, then the answer (following the pipe) is the second number minus the first)
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#8
marko

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Looking good dstrout, approved v0.2 though a quick overview on where to put the files will help anyone who doesn't see this thread :)

Also, I tried accessing the options but I'm not seeing anything. I enter a password as prompted and then nothing else other than the sums?
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#9
Guest_James (Jim) Hillier_*

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Hey Guys - I would just like to congratulate you both on what I see as a most worthwhile project; Marko for bringing the concept to notice and dstrout for taking the time and effort to make it a reality.

dstrout - It is most benevolent of you to devote your talents to a freeware which will [IMO] greatly benefit parents and children alike. Rest assured I shall be doing my level best to make sure as many people as possible are aware of this software, starting off by featuring it at DCT.

This is what freeware is all about...generosity of spirit. :yes: :good:

#10
dstrout

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Hey Guys - I would just like to congratulate you both on what I see as a most worthwhile project; Marko for bringing the concept to notice and dstrout for taking the time and effort to make it a reality.

dstrout - It is most benevolent of you to devote your talents to a freeware which will [IMO] greatly benefit parents and children alike. Rest assured I shall be doing my level best to make sure as many people as possible are aware of this software, starting off by featuring it at DCT.

This is what freeware is all about...generosity of spirit. :yes: :good:

Thanks Jim. Flattered as I am, though, the program is still in early beta, it's not ready for a bunch of people to try out.

Looking good dstrout, approved v0.2 though a quick overview on where to put the files will help anyone who doesn't see this thread :)

Also, I tried accessing the options but I'm not seeing anything. I enter a password as prompted and then nothing else other than the sums?

Hmmm, odd. I ran through a final test right before uploading, and everything was OK. I'll get to it ASAP, but right now I'm on a Linux machine. Hopefully I can have a fix out later today. FreewareBB link: http://www.freewarebb.com/files/file/11140-login-learner/
I'm a website developer from NH. Check out my site at dstrout.net!