Procrastination is a crippling problem relevant to all students and workers, and our team members have frequently suffered from its symptoms. There are extensions such as "Forest", which guilt-trip users into avoiding procrastination by threatening to kill their growing tree. However, youth nowadays can more effectively be motivated in another way: fear.
What it does
"Boo!" is an extension for Google Chrome that can be downloaded and used by anyone. The app appears innocent enough; users are able to click on the icon in the extension menu and toggle a drop-down menu to choose how long a countdown timer will run. While the timer runs, the user is expected to concentrate on working on their homework, without straying their attention to any time-consuming websites. (On the settings page, users can customize which entertainment websites they personally find the most time-consuming.) It also downloads a very disappointed message to the user's computer to document that they attempted to open a blacklisted website.
But temptation lures even the most diligent of us. If the user chooses to open any of the blacklisted websites, a shocking, random, eye-catching jumpscare will fill the webpage, disabling all buttons that formerly stood underneath. The picture will remain on the screen for 3 seconds, and as the initial shock fades and the user remembers about Boo! being active, a delayed text will appear in the middle of the screen reminding the user to get back to work.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
Surprisingly, the overall hacking went more smoothly than expected. All of us have been to hackathons in the past and we tend to run into problems so significant that the overall hack is dysfunctional. We didn't have much experience in the coding languages that we used, so learning all of them within the time constraint was challenging. Also, we had difficulty extracting URLs from Chrome tabs using developer tools, so we originally weren't able to blacklist unwanted sites until we found another way to do it. Another issue was the countdown timer, which we could not successfully execute because every time we opened a new tab, the timer would restart. Sometimes we would forget to disable our extension and it would pop up while we were coding and scare us.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
What we learned
We learned that building a Chrome extension is a lot harder than we expected, but with enough perseverance, it's definitely doable. Through Boo!, we learned the structure of an extension, and how CSS formatting works. We also learned how to collaborate in a way that takes advantage of everyone's skills and lets everyone learn and contribute.
What's next for Boo!
Jumpscares can be really effective, but there are other ways to frighten people back into productivity too. For example, we thought of a feature that would slowly replace all the text on the procrastinator's screen with an alphabet from another language so users would be so annoyed that they would close the tab. Alternatively, the screen could display a fake virus or play a loud noise. These features would be a great addition to the next update of the extension.