How can I keep my mouse moving without me?
December 6, 2004 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My workplace has just instituted a system wide policy that locks machines after 5 minutes of inactivity, I monitor many machines, relogging in constantly is a pain. Does anyone know of a way to generate random mouse movements every minute or so or some other way of defeating this "security"?
posted by Cosine to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know a trick that used to work under Windows 3.x and 9x.
I don't know if it still does, but you might as well try it: open an application with menus (Word, for instance), and press Alt. As a result, the first item of the menu is highligted, and the system should remain "open".
posted by rubin421 at 3:23 PM on December 6, 2004

Not sure if they're still about on the web, but back in the day AllAdvantage toolbar required you to move your mouse to "show" you were using the computer so they could pay you (yes, it was stupid. yes, they're totally bust now.)

I heard no end of stories of people making mouse moving applications to trick AllAdvantage into thinking they were a 24/7 web browsing maching. I bet that gives you some good googling terms.
posted by shepd at 3:27 PM on December 6, 2004

I'll try it, thanks.
posted by Cosine at 3:28 PM on December 6, 2004

Off topic, but can you please not sign your name at the end of a post or comment? Thanks!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:28 PM on December 6, 2004

Wow, I did it once, on my first post ever, it's really that big a problem that you had to point it out, you couldn't tell by my next post that I had seen the error and stopped it?
posted by Cosine at 3:33 PM on December 6, 2004

Hmm.. the Alt idea didn't work, thanks anyways. Anyone else?
posted by Cosine at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2004

Perhaps it'd be worth talking to IS in your workplace and asking if they could disable this feature for you account. You do, after all, have a legitimate reason for doing so.
posted by stet at 3:40 PM on December 6, 2004

No, but you should get your IT group to implement something to ease log-ins like a thumbprint verification device. There are simple USB infrared thumbprint scanners that can be integrated with Windows and with Novell logins to provide a password-less system. Working to get something more secure put in place to alleviate your pain would be better than working to work around the security, which if discovered could possibly get you fired or at the very least heavily written up for violating the IT policy in your organization. </pointyhairedboss>
posted by SpecialK at 3:42 PM on December 6, 2004

Nope, aleady tried, I am in that dept but low on the totem, the policy maker also doesn't like me much, oh, that's him now...
posted by Cosine at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2004

Does your company allow cats? Get one that will walk on your keyboard periodically. Downside: if you're a Perl programmer, the code generated by the cat might be embarrassing. It will probably compile, but it might not do what you expect.
posted by kindall at 3:49 PM on December 6, 2004

My company has a similar policy. I got around it once by having a user run a Windows standard .wav file using media player and just putting it on a loop (muted, of course.)
posted by Cyrano at 3:50 PM on December 6, 2004

hmmm... that might work
posted by Cosine at 3:54 PM on December 6, 2004

Depending on the nature of your work, the 5 minute lock policy could be there to help you, not necessarily annoy you.

I have instituted an automated lock policy where I work, but I set the time-out value to 10 minutes after a lot of people complained that 5 minutes was far too short (it's what I use on my workstation).

My suggestion is to let the IT folks know that you believe 5 minutes is too short. If they receive enough complaints, then may raise it to a higher number.

Now, if they've setup this policy properly, they should have disabled your ability to change your screen saver settings. This lock policy utilizes the timeout on the screen saver in order to lock the console. Go into your display settings (Start->Settings->Control Panel->Display) and select screen saver. If the options are not greyed-out then select none from the list. Hit apply.

If the options are greyed-out, then look at the title of the screen saver. If it is the standard Windows XP screensaver, then try this.

There's a good chances that you cannot edit the registry, if they've instituted the console lock, then they've probably already restricted registry access.
posted by purephase at 3:55 PM on December 6, 2004

with centrino laptops you change the speedstep setting to something like "presentation" which disables the screen lock.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:57 PM on December 6, 2004

I DO work as a system admin, just a new one without much sway so I understand the ideas and the reasons. In this case it was purely political so answers of 'it's for your own good' aren't what I'm looking for, the machines I'm talking about aren't even physically accessable to anyone but me.
posted by Cosine at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2004

I'm talking to the head admin about this but like I said, he don't like me.
posted by Cosine at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2004

Try xumouse, which should randomly move the mouse every x minutes of inactivity.
posted by mathowie at 4:09 PM on December 6, 2004

Cypress used to give out little USB chip demo circuits. One of them was a mouse jiggler. You plug it in and it jiggles your mouse. Dunno how hard they'd be to get...
posted by plinth at 4:17 PM on December 6, 2004

Thanks everyone, both looping a file in Winamp and the xumouse program work!
posted by Cosine at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2004

You said that the machines are not physically accessible to anyone but you. Still, you might want to have the screen saver blank the monitor every five minutes, so that if your boss wanders by he will be less likely to realize you've defeated his cunning trap.
posted by Hildago at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2004

No, but you should get your IT group to implement something to ease log-ins like a thumbprint verification device.

Yes, and while you're at it, ask for funding to develop a virtual reality lab, since this IT department is obviously creating cubicles out of all the cash it has thrown at it by the company.
posted by angry modem at 4:39 PM on December 6, 2004

Your first encounter with an office prankster should introduce you to the benefits of locking your machine, trust me on that.
posted by Succa at 4:54 PM on December 6, 2004

Oh glory be, this is a useful thread. Our IT department decided to implement this a couple of years ago and it is a major pain. Of course the desktop is locked down along with the registry and all the usual tricks. The VP of IT and other upper level execs are not subject to this so of course will not get annoyed and asked to have the policy changed. My computer sits in my office, with a door and a secretary outside. No one is going in to mess with it when I am gone so for me this corporate wide policy is just an annoyance. I will try some of these tricks. Thank you!
posted by caddis at 8:38 PM on December 6, 2004

If the PC is too locked down to install software, you could buy a really cheap USB optical mouse that twitches. ^_^
posted by krisjohn at 10:35 PM on December 6, 2004

If you're a new sysadmin, and you're trying to find a way to go around this restriction despite your seniors (and policy makers) telling you not to... Well, that'd be a very quick way to be shown the door. Especially if the head doesn't like you already.

It doesn't matter if you think it's stupid or counter-productive. What matters is that your boss is telling you to comply. Follow the right procedures, complain that it's too short, file paperwork stating you find it useless, whatever. But going over their heads and implementing your own solution without a permission? Rogue sysadmins are never good to have around. Users that think they know better than admins and try their best to contravene whatever policies are only mildly better (they don't have as much power to screw up the network as admins).

It's all office politics - stupid, but short of quitting, you have to bear with it. Believe me, I'm in a similar situation over account lockout policies here (and the IT dept doing nightly security scans and always locking out the root account because of it). I could fix the problem in 10 seconds, with one command. However, IT policy is telling me not to, and I have to install extra software and do user training to use a different way of accessing the server and prevent the account from being locked out all the time. Amazingly stupid - but if I would go and type that one command, as soon as they found out, my ass would be grass.
posted by splice at 5:17 AM on December 7, 2004

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