Yes, Virginia, there is a cat input detection program for the Mac. The search for missing Mac apps must seek elsewhere.
In a post last night, I asked whether there are missing Mac apps — software niches that are filled on the Windows side of the computing fence and not on the Mac. I pointed to BitBoost Systems' PawSense, which is Windows-only.
However, my faith in the coverage of Mac applications should have been stronger. There is a Mac alternative. Reader Kyle DeMilo clued me to the software: CatNip.
The software is by Jim Fowler, who writes about it on his k is 1 cat blog.
When I am using my computer, my cat often walks across the keyboard. Sometimes she renames files, selects and deletes text—once, she replied to an email. This became such a problem that I had to unplug my keyboard whenever I left my home.
But then, I developed CatNip—a program which, while running, detects “cat-like typing” and locks the keyboard, usually in under a half second. Optionally, CatNip will fade your desktop and display a warning message to your cat (which is of dubious value, since if your cat can read, your cat can probably type, too).
He says that CatNip may have compatibility problems with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. He suggests to the community that some donations might move the programming along a bit faster. That's a great idea.
At the same time, we must admit that CatNip isn't as rich a product as PawSense, which has many options and for example, lets users "yell" at the cat with recorded audio. CatNip puts up a text message on the screen, something that will deter only a very few literate cats.
Of course, one is free and the other is a commercial application. Still, I don't find that a very satisfying situation.
Reader Rodney Blevins commented:
Great, now if they could only detect input from other creatures like, say, children or spouses and shoo them away from the computer.
Great point. But those "attacks" by humans can be warded off by by first clicking the Require password to wake ... checkbox in Security preferences and then by flicking the cursor to the sleep corner of the screen (see the Dashboard and Expose preferences). Or they can be deterred with a sharp jab with the elbow. Cats are quicker than humans.
So, the search continues for software niches with missing Mac solutions. I'm still looking. Any suggestions?