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Re: user surveys for the Seul project
It's come to my attention that your group is interested in gathering raw
data about the computing habbits of your target user audience. I suspect
a fairly effect way to do that is to record raw usage information from
what we in UNIX would call a daemon program. Of course, this program would
be a pretty 'Doze screen saver.
A large chunk of your target audience will be very interested in cool screen
savers. It so happens that the huge set of free UNIX screen savers are
pretty cool. So, clump the best of them together in one big 'doze
screen saver program, along with the software to collect usage statistics,
and send it out to the masses.
I know that some screen savers run all the time. This screen saver would
act in that fashion. And every week or so, when the system 'un-saves',
it would present a nice general report of usage, and ask the user if she
would like to forward it on to the Seul server. If yes, the saver
could fire up the default browser, pointing it to the Seul data collector,
and then DDE the stats through the browser to you.
I suggest the default browser because in general, it's most likely able
to get to the 'net through firewalls, differing routes, whatever.
Now there are some pit-falls: first, you have to tell people beforehand
that this program is going to collect stats. That's going to make them
wary of course. So the initial 'packaging' is important. Also, this
would miss a fairly small, but well defined chunk of your target audience:
people who don't play with screen savers. I really don't think it'll be
a large piece, but I do think that it will be an important piece.
As far as how this program would collect, I'll leave that to the 'Doze
programers out there. You should certainly make sure that it's very
stable, and very invisible. You don't want to anger your future customers.
Good luck to you all!