Child Resistant Interfaces – For Want of a Front Panel Disable

My toddler son is a rambunctious little button pusher.

Where there’s an On button to be pressed, he’s there pressingit.

Again and again and again. On. Off.On. Off. On.Off…

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He’s an equal opportunity button pusher, so it isn’t just powerbuttons that receive his attention (although he does show adefinite preference for power buttons, having figured out theinternational icon most are adorned with). He also patronizesvolume controls (thankfully the speakers have automatic cutoffcircuits above a certain power level), input selections, DVD trayeject/return buttons, reset buttons, and every other interfaceelement that affords pushing.

There’s a limited ability to reason or debate with a toddler,and my warnings about the peril such activities presents to thevulnerable little ICs seems to have limited effect.

Enclosing every device in protective cages just doesn’t seemreasonable.

So I end up with toonies ($2 coins here in Canada) taped overthe power button of televisions (it buys a bit of time), computerswith the power buttons disabled and the reset buttons disconnected,and for other devices (e.g. stereos, DVD players, radios) it’s justa constant state of vigilance, with us ready to physicallyintercede when he prepares for a button mashing attack.

Oh, for want of a simple control to disable the front panel onthese devices. Ultimately most of them are software controlled now,so a simple boolean IsIgnoreFrontPanel would suffice, perhaps witha complex 7-simultaneous-pressed-buttons override to re-enable thefront panel.

It would save a lot of these devices the electronic stress ofbeing constantly cycled.

On the same vein, I’d love for a “Microsoft Bob” stylesimplified interface for my preschooler daughter’s PC. Even withthe limited potential damage possible with the limited account sheuses, context menus and unintended shortcuts are never intentional,and are always just a nuisance.