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  1. #1
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    wan drops internet connection

    One of our customers (a major US corporation) has a wan to connect all of their locations. Each location accesses the internet through the wan. They have a network activity monitor which will disconnect a user's internet connection if they are idle for a given amount of time. My employer's main product line is assessment testing done online. The very first section of each assessment is the longest. In it there are 76 questions dealing with a users personality with 3 answers each.

    1 the user agrees with the statement
    2 the user is neutral about the statement
    3 the user disagrees with the statement

    Because this is designed to tell how a person feels about certain items which determine ones personality type, the user is limited to at most 8 neutral answers. This is validated via a javascript on the clientside and also via server side code. This section can sometimes take a user up to 45 minutes to complete. (Even though we tell them only 8 neutral answers some wil sometimes answer more and then the client side javascript will force them to change some of the neutral answers.)

    Now here is the problem, this particular customer has all of their prospective employees take the assessment at their location. (to ensure that the person taking the assesment is the person that is supposed to). If 1 of these people takes too long then they will be logged off of the internet connection and will not know until they go to submit the page and are given the network prompt to login. At this point all data that was entered is lost.

    I have asked if this company will change their network timeout to prevent this from happening and was told no as their IT department feels it is a security issue to have the internet connection sit idle for any longer amount of time. So I need to come up with a solution to let the network know that there is indeed someone actively taking the assessment (network activity). The first thing I tried was to place some code in all three answers at multiple points. This code will call an AJAX function which requests some data from an XML file and returns a response back to the page. I thought this was working because I stopped getting calls about users being disconnected. However, I am once again getting the calls. I am now thinking I will load two pages with the 2nd page in the background doing a meta refresh every 15 minutes.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts as to what I can try other than breaking up the size of the page (which would affect the 8 neutral answer limit)?
    Last edited by miranda; 07-19-2006 at 03:50 PM.

  • #2
    Super Moderator sage45's Avatar
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    The second solution is probably the best and easiest solution... Just ensure that you have an onClose function in there that will not allow the user to close the page...

    Another solution would be to code into the main page to do a refresh... Ofcourse this is more difficult as you would have to have code in place to grab the users current state before the refresh and then have that same code reenter the users data (I am assuming you are doing this across 76 seperate pages and not all 76 questions on the same page)...

    Another possibility is by using cookies to store the respondents answers until the completion of the question and answer session... At that point the cookie is parsed for the respondents answers and then that cookie is summarilly eaten or deleted or trashed depending upon the security settings of the respondents computer...

    -saige-
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  • #3
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    The only reason I could think of (off the top of my head) why your AJAX solution didn't work is that however they are regulating their network connection and determining if it is idle, doesn't consider a few kilobytes every 15 minutes (or whatever interval you were doing) non-idle activity. It might be below the threshold. As dumb as it sounds, maybe try to pull more data down using AJAX, depending on how much you were doing before.
    OracleGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by sage45
    (I am assuming you are doing this across 76 seperate pages and not all 76 questions on the same page)...

    Another solution would be to code into the main page to do a refresh
    -saige-
    No, All 76 questions to this section are on the first page. The Assessment is broken up into different sections. Each section is 1 page. Refreshing the main page would be more troublesome than it is worth. I think it might cause others to get upset.


    Quote Originally Posted by oracleguy
    The only reason I could think of (off the top of my head) why your AJAX solution didn't work is that however they are regulating their network connection and determining if it is idle, doesn't consider a few kilobytes every 15 minutes (or whatever interval you were doing) non-idle activity. It might be below the threshold. As dumb as it sounds, maybe try to pull more data down using AJAX, depending on how much you were doing before.
    I didn't think of that. You could be right. I only pass one word "connected" back to the page. I will try increasing the amount that is passed back to the page and let you know how that works. It could be a few weeks before they have someone who takes more than the time their network allots before it determines the machine is idle.


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