Tuesday, April 3, 2007

TimeKeeper Application

Computer workstations in our library can at times be in high demand as there are never enough of them. Manually scheduling users onto workstations and keeping track of how long they have been working is not effective use of staff time. Also conflicts occur when we close, as users will often want to continue working when staff want to leave.

The TimeKeeper application was built to address these situations by providing a countdown timer to limit the usage of the equipment without staff intervention. The original application was built using VB6 but I have rewritten it using VB .NET and it is now way more robust. In its current form it has been in use for over a year in the Windows XP environment and its presence is taken for granted by both our users and staff. In fact the use of this application has assisted greatly in improving our staff user relationships as Library staff now do a lot less "policing" of the workstations.

When building an application which is acting as a "policemen" you have to ensure that the users are informed about what it will do! This is accomplished by several screens which come to the front and have to be acknowledged by the user before they can continue to use the workstation. The first screen at Logon tells the user what is happening and starts a countdown timer when the timer gets near to the end of the session at least 2 warnings are presented to the user (which they have to acknowledge) before the session is closed by the TimeKeeper.

The TimeKeeper application requires that the user cannot access the workstation "Task Manger" interface. This is a setting in Group Policy that would normally be denied users in a managed network environment in any case. (The reason in this instance for doing this is that if the user can stop the TimeKeeper process in the Task Manager then the application is negated.) Assuming that this condition is met then the TimeKeeper is robust and reliable.

I have tested TimeKeeper on an "upgraded" Vista operating system. All seems to work as expected! I will test further on a "clean" installation and I will amend this page accordingly.


  • Instructions for downloading and implementing the TimeKeeper Application.
  • No comments: