Parental Controls...

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ArtOfWarfare, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Ok... I've looked at the parental controls and none of them really do what I want. They can't be set on the admin account.

    Here's the idea I had...

    there's a background program that can't be quit. At random intervals on between 5 minutes and 30 minutes I want it to take a low quality screenshot and send the picture in an email.

    It should require a unique, non-admin password to quit or uninstall it.

    Any suggestions? (I'm trying to find something extremely unobtrusive. As far as they're concerned the computer should completely be their own... they even have admin controls still. But I want to be able to check up on what they're doing even when I'm not at a computer and so can't use screen sharing for a quick check.)

    Edit: Free is obviously my preferred price. I'm willing to spend a small one time fee though. Like $5-$20.

    2X Edit: ... or maybe instead of emailing the picture, it can just drop the picture in the public "Drop Box" of another computer on the network.
  2. soberbrain macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2008
    ...except on the person's privacy. I feel bad for whoever this is intended for.
  3. ArtOfWarfare thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    I (and other parents,) have a right to know what my child is doing when I'm asleep or away for whatever reason. I think they're hiding something and I want have to know what it is. They won't tell me. I don't want to take away their admin privileges (then they'd whine to me every time they want to update their software or install new software which I don't want to put up with,) or I can just quickly go through a list of screen captures at the end of each day to find out if they were doing anything they shouldn't have.

    If it's something that they're just too embarrassed to tell me... well, I can pretend I never saw it and just be reassured that they're doing nothing wrong.
  4. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    This isn't exactly what you were looking for but have you check out Mac Spy Software.

    You could always apply the rule of thumb.:p
  5. ArtOfWarfare thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Yeah... that's a lot more than I had in mind... and it doesn't even take screenshots.

    I think looking through those logs will take me at least 2 hours based on how much they use the computer... and even though I only have it in mind for one child there's always the potential that I'll feel the need to put it on the other one's computer some day...

    plus wouldn't that bog down the computer to be recording all that data?

    My idea was the checks are completely at random. If it were every so many minutes they could learn to just hide whatever every hour or so.


    and $100 is quite a bit more than I want to pay.

    ... I suppose I can take a crack at making the program myself... although I've never made a daemon before (that's what the background programs are called, right?)

    Edit: Hurrah! I have an Automater application now that will silently take a snapshot of the screen, scale it down to 50% (so the file will hopefully not bog down the internet but still give me a gist of what's on the screen... size 12 font is still legible enough after scaled down to 50%.)

    Now I need to find a way to make it run itself at random intervals and connect to my computer and put it in the dropbox (which while they may know the admin password of their computer, they don't know mine and so they have no way to delete any possible incriminating evidence!)

    2X Edit: There's now a script editor application that opens at start up. Every 15 seconds to an hour (it chooses at random,) it'll run the automator application which takes the screenshot, resizes it, and sends it to the drop box. I've been testing it... and it's ran 3 times since I started it. The first time was just seconds after launch. Then it ran again 22 minutes later. And now it's run again 5 minutes and 18 seconds later.

    It seems to be running great... the only issue is the script can be closed without a password or anything.

    Any ideas for forcing it to stay open?

    3X Edit: And a way to optimize it so the CPU usage is less would be nice. It takes up between 0.6 and 1.0%... but other background applications like Snapz Pro X only take up 0.3-0.6. Neither application is doing anything... so shouldn't they both take the same amount? (Snapz is waiting for me to make a keystroke, the other one is just waiting a random amount of seconds.)

    4X Edit: Wait... I found out I was wrong in edit number 2. It actually can't be compromised by trying to quit it. I found it continued recording pictures after I told it to quit. I wonder if force quit will work on it... if not I'll have to resort to resetting to end my test run of the program. Which I guess will make it a complete success because the idea is it can't be stopped if I just set it as a start up item. It would require them to delete the program... and I'd become suspicious if the reports stopped coming in.

    To make sure they can't fake the reports... the files are all specially named. Since they never even see the files, I don't think they'll be able to take their own screenshots and...

    oh... I thought of a way around... they could fake it by running the automator script without the apple script. I'll have to make the apple script do the whole thing on its own... or maybe make the automator script somehow verify it was the applescript that called it, not the user.

    5X: ... it can be quit by a force quit. So I guess I'll have to find a way to make it report to me now if someone attempts to force quit. Or maybe I'll just rely on the lack of updates.

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