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04 May 2009 @ 01:08 pm
An idea for a computer product  
What I would like is a screen saver that, when you sit down at the computer, will not unlock until you answer the question "What did you come to the computer to do?" and then displays that answer prominently but not obnoxiously on the screen (perhaps in a floating or semi-transparent window) until dismissed. Perhaps to dismiss it you would have to type in some text indicating what you had done about the whatever-it-was. Perhaps the prompt and the reply would be recorded, time-stamped, in a log file.

This is intended to address the problem of going to the computer and getting sucked in by LiveJournal or Facebook or Twitter or such for an hour before you realize you didn't even do the simple five-minute thing you went to the computer to do.

Does this exist (for the Mac, please)? Or do any of you have the skillz to write it?

(Yes, it could be overridden by typing gibberish, and after using the thing for a while one would probably get in the habit of doing so. It's as hard to outsmart oneself as it is to tickle oneself. But one must try...)

Getting up and doing something else now.

Magentamagentamn on May 4th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
I used to have a timer program in DOS that I could set to go off and blank the screen after 5 or 10 minutes, so I wouldn't play solitaire all night. You could hit a combination of keys to continue, but it reminded you. And reminded you again in another 5 minutes. Something like that might help us all be more productive.

There are times I miss DOS.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on May 4th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
I'm using something like that for the Mac, called Time Out (http://www.dejal.com/timeout/). It's free and very helpful, but what I want is something to make sure that when I sit down at the computer "just to do this one thing" I actually do that thing rather than getting sucked into email or social networking.
Luke McGuffholyoutlaw on May 4th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
I'd find this useful too.
angharaanghara on May 4th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
We can haz antiprocrastination software? Pliz?

(I should be doing something else. Really. Yet here I am, posting a comment on how useful it would be to have software to prevent me from doing so until I had done the things I NEEDED to do... Irony'R'Us...)
Twilighttwilight2000 on May 4th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
There's a stock screensaver on Macs that lets you type your own message - not quite the same, but does what magentamn describes. I can't find it right now - but mac's always had one that let you type in your own message.

I still like your idea better - it requires more of me :>.

Edited at 2009-05-04 08:54 pm (UTC)
miki garrison: disco snakemikigarrison on May 4th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
I use Awaken on my mac for exactly that purpose, even though it's nowhere near what it was designed for. Works very well for me, though.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on May 4th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
It's not clear to me from the product's web page (http://www.embraceware.com/products/awaken/) how to use it to achieve the desired effect. Can you provide more details?
miki garrison: disco snakemikigarrison on May 4th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Like a regular radio alarm clock, it has "alarm" (music will go off at X o'clock), "timer" (music will go off in X minutes) and "sleep" (music will keep playing for X minutes) settings.

When I sit down at my computer to get a burst of real work done, I start either a timer or a sleep event (depending on whether it's the type of work that would benefit from having my "get your ass in gear" itunes mix blaring while I work). I use the name of the task as the name (or reminder note) of the timer/sleep event -- some I use often enough that I have preset (like a 15 minute sleep for "clean desk", and a 60 minute alarm or timer for "write 1000 words"). With the alarms, it can also automatically launch a file when the alarm sounds, so I can essentially set it to let me goof around on LJ for 15 minutes, and then my word document launches open on my screen.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on May 4th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Useful, though not quite what I'm looking for.
katybeth on May 5th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
I know the problem! Even more frustrating when the thing I sat down to do was short and simple (pay a bill, answer one email) and when I finally close the laptop an hour later, I realize I never got to the thing.
kellymcculloughkellymccullough on May 5th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
There's a Mac program called freedom that allows you to turn off your internet connection for however long you want to. It won't allow you to turn it back on until the time is or until a reboot. I've just begun playing with it. In conjunction with having removed all games from my laptop, it makes computer time wasting much less rewarding.
farmgirl1146farmgirl1146 on May 5th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
One of many good ideas... Must go to work, now. ;-)