I want to turn a PC / tablet into a timeclock. How do I do this?
February 19, 2015 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I want to use a PC or tablet for one single application - to go to a website where someone logs in with their account, "clocks in", and then logs out. That's it. (Snowflakes...)

Our company is going to a cloud based payroll system. Great! (they thought so anyway before they found out how much it cost to lease the digital timeclocks for employees to clock in with). Other options to clock in include via telephone, smart phone, or PC.

We need centralized timeclocks rather than individuals clocking on their PC's (and not every employee has one or a smart phone anyway).

I'm looking for a way to turn a desktop computer or tablet into a sole purpose device - to only have a browser window up that is set on the address of this cloud "clock in" site. How do I do this?

Windows is ok, but would seem unnecessarily expensive (as would iPads). Linux is an option, and I am very familiar with it. I'm thinking a stripped down PC running a stripped down version of Linux - but how to make it run only the browser & website?

Bonus points for: recommended systems that are relatively inexpensive (i.e. no Dell Optiplex), and a way to mount it unobtrusively if for a PC, or on the wall if a tablet.

posted by dukes909 to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A new raspberry pi runs $35 plus the accessories. Here's a start on running one as a kiosk.

Also raspian isn't.... the most awesome distort. Crufty and not receiving the weight of support that one would hope. Hobby OS all the way. You may want to check out this ubuntu option. I use something similar for a different project. I just velcro'ed it to the underside of the desk.
posted by mce at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can find inexpensive Android tablets and Windows 8 tablets for under $100

I picked up a HP Stream 7 Windows tablet for $79 the other week. It's still that price at the Microsoft store. Great unit for the price.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:24 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

What you are asking for is called "kiosk" software. There are browser add-ons and Android apps that do this, as well as other possibilities.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:24 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Get a cheap Chromebook. They only connect to the internet and they are very inexpensive. I would set the time clock site as the default home page and use a browner add-on to block all other websites. It's not Windows or Android, I think it's just... Chrome. But maybe there are admin preferences to so you can lock it from being used for anything else. I've never owned one myself. They are about $200 new.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:45 PM on February 19, 2015

I like the HP stream idea. It's cheap, and since you're running good old windows you can use all the tools available to stop anyone from screwing with it(ie this kind of stuff, although you probably wouldn't need that). You can just make a user account, and disallow everything except for IE, then change the zone settings and disallow EVERY site except for that one(IE supports this out of the box, is already installed, and there's no real reason not to use it)

You can use any cheapo tablet display stand for a store which will have a wall/desk mount, cable, and probably even charge the thing.(or have some sort of facility to run the cable through at least).

Those stream tablets are seriously cheaper than most of the other options available, including used stuff. MS must be subsidizing the cost of them because they're just so cheap. And i honestly think it would be easier to lock down windows(and setup autologin, launch browser on startup, that's the browser startpage, nothing else can be loaded) than a chromebook, and it's also a nicer formfactor to just have a little tablet on the wall. You also don't need to buy a bunch of stuff or do a bunch of fiddling like you do with a rasberry pi. The display, touch screen, storage, all that are just right there.
posted by emptythought at 4:10 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

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