Curse you, cruel screen saver!
Is there any way to keep these annoying lockups from happening when we don’t want them to?
I’ll bet one — if not both — of these two scenarios happened to you:
In both situations, the computer went into a form of “standby” because there wasn’t any keyboard or mouse activity for a preset span of time. Even if you know how (and you are permitted) to change the wait time, you might not want to. Is there any way to keep these annoying lockups from happening when we don’t want them to?
The screen savers had two functions. The first was to keep the display from “burning in.” The second was to keep the casual passer-by from reading whatever happened to be on the display, or to use the computer without authorization, as the screen saver required a password to clear it. Most computer displays refresh often enough that burn-in is no longer an issue, and the LCD flat-panel displays most of us are using aren’t capable of burn-in.
But the security issue remains, and having some security is a good idea. Law enforcement computers carry all sorts of confidential information, and cops are notorious pranksters. If your computer is unprotected, it won’t be long before someone comes along and sends out a department-wide email from your account, attesting to a police executive’s unusual fondness for livestock.
You can keep your computer from locking down by moving the mouse now and again. Each time the mouse moves, even by one pixel, the lockdown clock starts over. Mouse Jiggler software moves your cursor a tiny bit every few seconds, fooling the computer into thinking someone has moved the mouse. During a PowerPoint presentation, you’ll actually see the cursor move slightly, which might be distracting. For that situation, check the “Zen” option, which is less obvious. The software is free.
If the software solution doesn’t appeal to you or your computer is set up so you can’t install your own software, there is an alternative, albeit not a free one. Cyberguys, one of my favorite computer gadget retailers, offers a hardware model of Mouse Jiggler for $21. Their jiggler looks and works like a USB flash drive. You plug it into any USB port, and it moves the cursor one pixel every 20 seconds. You’ll probably never see it happen. When you want security to kick in again, remove the jiggler from the USB port. You could even attach it to a lanyard, so it will pull out every time you move away from the computer.
I was at a trade show where we were using a company computer to run a PowerPoint stack. The company machines were all set to lock up after five minutes of inactivity, and we couldn’t install any software on them. The screen was going blank every five minutes. The hardware Mouse Jiggler saved the day. Maybe it will save you some grief, too.
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