Idea: user monitoring

Rodney Dawes dobey at
Sat Jun 4 00:51:49 EEST 2005

See "timeline" in GNOME cvs.

-- dobey

On Fri, 2005-06-03 at 17:16 -0400, Michael George wrote:
> I've been thinking that a framework for monitoring my use of various 
> applications would be useful.  I would like to implement something that 
> could be useful for the following kinds of use cases:
> - Joe has no self-discipline.  He wants to monitor the amount of time he 
> spends reading slashdot and playing games, and possibly pop up a notice 
> if he's wasting too much time
> - Mary's children are only allowed to use the computer for one hour a 
> day, unless they are working on a school project.  She wants the desktop 
> to enforce these rules.
> - Bob loves free software, and is trying to decide what projects to 
> donate to.  To help him think of good possibilities, he wants a list of 
> all the applications he uses regularly, and how much time he spends 
> using them.
> I imagine this being implemented as a service which makes an educated 
> guess as to what task the user is focusing on, and then records the time 
> spent on each task.  There would also be an API that allows applications 
> to provide more information (for example, a web browser might say what 
> page is being visited (perhaps via a plugin), or an xterm would tell the 
> system that the user is really using emacs).  In addition, an API would 
> be provided for querying this information, or to be notified when 
> certain events occured.
> Such a framework would almost certainly need to be desktop-neutral in 
> order to monitor all applications, which is why I am proposing it here.
> Does anyone have any comments on this idea, especially how I might start 
> building such a thing?  It's a little underspecified right now because I 
> don't have a good feel for the technologies that would help support it.  
> For example, I think this would work really well on top of DBus, but I 
> don't know much about DBus.  Any comments would be appreciated.
> Thanks
> --Mike

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