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#1 2013-01-02 18:39:27

dabbi2000
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From: Reykjavik, Iceland
Registered: 2011-09-28
Posts: 119
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Monitoring my sons' activity

I installed Linux on my 10y son's PC for the purpose of monitoring his computer use, since he has no way of controlling himself while home alone. Informed consent!

I would like to create a simple script which monitors when computer is in use (not standby) and even every 1h or so what windows are open and specifically what Chrome tabs are open (URLs).

Is there any way to do this?

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#2 2013-01-02 18:52:46

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 13,804
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Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

I hope it's not out of place for me to ask, but will he *know* that you are monitoring this.  I do think it is perfectly legitimate for a parent to know everything their child is looking at - and if he is informed of this, then we should get cracking on a way to do it.  If he is not informed, though, even if you are right to check what he is doing, he could see it as an invasion of privacy and it could make it hard for him to trust you.

I suppose that's not really a question you should answer here, but just consider the value of letting him know of the monitoring.  And if you are letting him know that his activity is monitored, is it really important to *actually* monitor it?  I mean if there is something actually monitoring his behavior, he can find it and try to figure out how to disable it.  If there is nothing to find, but he just thinks there is, then he'll never think that it is disabled.


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#3 2013-01-02 19:09:40

graysky
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From: /run/user/1000
Registered: 2008-12-01
Posts: 8,522
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Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Why don't you do this at the router's level?  You'll need a router that allows for open firmwares like tomatoUSB which has features for logging traffic.


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#4 2013-01-02 19:13:06

dabbi2000
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From: Reykjavik, Iceland
Registered: 2011-09-28
Posts: 119
Website

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Got your point. Like said, it's informed consent. He knows I am watching his shoulders and he also knows the purpose. We have agreed that if he minimizes computer time I will reward him later with quality time. I don't think I would read it realtime but use it as reference in case he argues that he hasn't been sitting at the computer.

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#5 2013-01-02 19:22:33

kaszak696
Member
Registered: 2009-05-26
Posts: 543

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

A while ago i found a little C program that displays the time since the last X mouse or keyboard activity. I don't remember the site it was on, but here is the code:

#include <X11/extensions/scrnsaver.h>

main() {
  XScreenSaverInfo *info = XScreenSaverAllocInfo();
  Display *display = XOpenDisplay(0);

  XScreenSaverQueryInfo(display, DefaultRootWindow(display), info);
  printf("%u ms\n", info->idle);
}

I guess you could write a script that checks the output value and log to file when current time < last logged time that is the indicator of user activity.


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#6 2013-01-02 19:25:31

tomegun
Developer
From: France
Registered: 2010-05-28
Posts: 661

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

I think this is a great idea. There is no better way to teach kids about computers than give them some incentive to circumvent security systems (at least that's what got me interested when I was a kid ;-) ).

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#7 2013-01-02 22:58:13

Darksoul71
Member
Registered: 2010-04-12
Posts: 319

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Stupid idea:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ta … Screenshot
plus a cronjob which executes the screenshot command and stores the pictures under a folder out of his reach ?

A similar cronjob which writes a timestamp plus "I am alive !" to a log file will easily show the uptime of the system.

Just a side note:
Personally I found this a bit questionable both from a privacy point of view and being a Pa myself.
My little one (9) has here own Linux box for listening to podcasts and audio play as much as she likes (within certain limits). Internet access is somewhat "blocked" since the system browser is only launchable by root.
She will not get uncontrolled www access unless we feel she is able to handle it. It always should be trust over control. Especially since parents never will be able to control what children do...the older they get, the less control you have....

Last edited by Darksoul71 (2013-01-02 23:04:15)


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#8 2013-01-03 00:27:35

ngoonee
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From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,830

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

tomegun wrote:

I think this is a great idea. There is no better way to teach kids about computers than give them some incentive to circumvent security systems (at least that's what got me interested when I was a kid ;-) ).

Thanks for the laugh smile.

Router-based is better, I'd think, than computer based. Harder to circumvent.


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#9 2013-01-03 00:33:58

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 13,804
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Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

ngoonee wrote:

Router-based is better, I'd think, than computer based. Harder to circumvent.

Which means it is a greater learning opportunity wink


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#10 2013-01-03 06:54:33

tomegun
Developer
From: France
Registered: 2010-05-28
Posts: 661

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Trilby wrote:
ngoonee wrote:

Router-based is better, I'd think, than computer based. Harder to circumvent.

Which means it is a greater learning opportunity wink

Indeed. I gave a "computer science" course to management students some time ago, and I was very impressed with their knowledge of Tor. When I asked them how come they knew so much about it (unlike all the other topics we were discussing) they explained that they needed to use it to access Facebook from within the university network... I didn't know if I should laugh or cry....

[/offtopic]

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#11 2013-01-03 09:55:39

graysky
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From: /run/user/1000
Registered: 2008-12-01
Posts: 8,522
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Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Tome- cry.


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#12 2013-01-03 12:33:39

freek
Member
From: the Netherlands
Registered: 2008-07-21
Posts: 60
Website

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

No censorship .. never!! .. (how young the are, they will find a way anyway and then .. they don't share with you .. ) .. let them do there thing, but be open, talk !!


there's no business like .. your own business

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#13 2013-01-03 23:38:50

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,830

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

freek wrote:

No censorship .. never!! .. (how young the are, they will find a way anyway and then .. they don't share with you .. ) .. let them do there thing, but be open, talk !!

Let's not discuss the morality/suitability of his actions. This is an international forum, with many different cultures represented. Not all of them place the same value on an individual's right to privacy (especially when said individual is your offspring).


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
Griemak-Bleeding edge, not bleeding flat. Edge denotes falls will occur from time to time. Bring your own parachute.

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#14 2013-01-04 10:19:01

Nisstyre56
Member
From: Canada
Registered: 2010-03-25
Posts: 82

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Does he have the root password, or the technical ability to root it without you finding out? (Hey, there are some really smart ten year olds out there!)

What could be done is this: run a daemon that monitors your network interface and logs all HTTP requests (as root), and then have it email you the results later, or perhaps compress them and upload them to dropbox, or google drive.

I think this is better than the option of trying to interface with chromium or firefox for 2 reasons: 1) Easier to implement, 2) He can't circumvent it by installing another browser like Opera or something more obscure.

A really dumb way of doing this with just shell tools would be to analyze the output of tcpdump for HTTP packets and then use something like msmtp to mail them to you (probably as tarballs).

Another approach would be to use a proxy, but you would have to configure the computer to use that. See: http://superuser.com/questions/237992/l … c-on-linux

Last edited by Nisstyre56 (2013-01-04 10:29:53)


In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it's not boring at all but very interesting.
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#15 2013-01-04 10:50:57

chpln
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2009-09-17
Posts: 361

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Have a look at https://github.com/gurgeh/selfspy.git.  It's in aur as selfspy-git.

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#16 2013-01-04 11:32:47

tomegun
Developer
From: France
Registered: 2010-05-28
Posts: 661

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

I suppose a really simple way to do this (but also simple to circumvent of course), would be to monitor the DNS traffic. OpenDNS allows this (but it is not free): https://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/ … l-controls.

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#17 2013-01-04 15:14:16

Nisstyre56
Member
From: Canada
Registered: 2010-03-25
Posts: 82

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

tomegun wrote:

I suppose a really simple way to do this (but also simple to circumvent of course), would be to monitor the DNS traffic. OpenDNS allows this (but it is not free): https://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/ … l-controls.

Problem is that once the url has been cached it won't show up again. I think the OP wants to know how often a site was visited, and when.


In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it's not boring at all but very interesting.
~ John Cage

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#18 2013-01-05 10:10:09

Spoofing
Member
From: Russian Federation
Registered: 2012-11-05
Posts: 24

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

educate properly, and do not forbid.

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#19 2013-01-05 11:56:15

Trilby
Forum Moderator
From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 13,804
Website

Re: Monitoring my sons' activity

Part of education is evaluation - not simply to evaluate the "sutdent" to see if they have learned, but also to evaluate the instruction to see if it was effective.

It sounds like the OP has been talking to and "educating" his son, but he wants to be able to see that this has been effective.


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