control kids' game plays

Joal Heagney sctheagn at
Mon May 8 02:55:32 EDT 2000

benpark at wrote:

> My kids play games on our home windows95 computer all the time. I would
> like to control the times and durations of their playing. Is there any
> way to do it with python?
> Ben
> Sent via
> Before you buy.

I don't think you could really stop them playing the games on win95. Any
type of program wrapper you could build out of python, they could still
execute the original game programs. Somebody may be able to create a
program logger, one that records in a log when a particular program is
running, and how long it runs for, but there's nothing in the win95 os
that stops the kids from opening up the log and editing it, or stopping
the program logger.  (And believe me, if they're half-way intelligent, and
dedicated gamers, they're going to at least try how to overcome the
program. Outwitting Dad would be too much of an enjoyable challenge.)

At the very best, to stop the kids from turning the logger on and off, you
could set up the program to write a special note in the log whenever the
program is started up, or a periodic write to log. (And check the log
yourself for any suspicious lengths of program down time.) You'll probably
want to implement a daily log clean/mailing, or it'll swamp the disk after
a few days.

To prevent them mucking around with the log file, you could implement the
following tamper testing every time the program writes to the log:

Read the last access time of the file, BEFORE opening or editing the file.

Open the file, read from the file the time of the last logging message.
If last access time and last logging message time don't match, see red
If last access time and last logging message time do match, write next
logging message and logging time. You may have to release the log file
after each message so that the interpreter doesn't screw up the last
access time of the file. (Check with the more advanced users in the

Despite all these measures, you're still going to have to read the log
(You may be able to get python to email the logs to you if your children
and you use a different machine.), and employ parental sanctions if they
go outside the agreed upon gaming times.
If they play around with the log files or the program logger, you're going
to have to employ stiffer sanctions. (Such as forcing them to wipe all
computer games off their machine for one week. That should hurt. *grins*)
Mind you, if they get really inventive and actually rewrite the logger,
I'd be tempted to let them think they've gotten away with it for a week.
At least their gaming addiction has forced them to learn some valuble
python programming, but at the end of the week, I'd sit them down, tell
them very sternly that they HAVEN'T gotten away with it, that you knew
about it (Giving specific dates from when you did know always shakes them
up.) and that you hope they realise in the real world, doing similar
things would get them arrested.

Anycase, I hope I've been of some help. I'm afraid I don't know enough
about python to be able to help you write the logger though. I'm still
trying to learn enough wxPython to write a chemical structure editor. I
may give up and just use the TK toolkit.

Joal Heagney/AncientHart

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