ThinkGeek’s Phantom Keystroker

ThinkGeek’s Phantom Keystroker V2 is intended to be a practical joke to play on unsuspecting friends, family, coworkers. The USB device is the size of a flash drive. When connected to a computer it emulates a keyboard and mouse and periodically toggles caps lock, types random text, or wiggles the mouse.

There is plenty of potential for pranks here, but there is also potential for use in the real IT world. For example, it may be policy to require use of screen lock on idle to satisfy a policy such as PCI. Corporate administrators might enforce this on Windows clients using Group Policy. In the IT support role, it may be necessary to be logged in as the user the computer is assigned to in order to configure/fix something for that user. User’s seem to have a magical ability to vanish into thin air when they are needed by IT Support to resolve their problem.

For example, you have to copy a large file to the user’s laptop. You inform the user that this is going to take about half an hour, and the the user vanishes into the ether. Having no shortage of things to do, you return to your desk to take care of other trouble tickets while files are copying. You return 20 minutes later to find the screen locked and the user has gone to lunch.

Enter the Phantom Keystroker. Before you and the user walk away, plug in this device and set it to periodically wiggle the mouse. The mouse movements prevent the Windows screen lock from kicking in, and IT Support can finish up without tracking down the user or asking the user for their password. You could also use it to wiggle your mouse while watching a DVD or giving a PowerPoint presentation to prevent the screen from dimming or the screen saver from kicking in.

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