When TimesUpKidz won't start

Symptoms

You may see either or both of these problems. These problems are sporadic - the software may work fine for weeks and then suddently fail.

  • When you try to start up TimesUpKidz, you see an error message and are prompted to send an error report.
  • Occasionally the kids can use the computer for unlimited time and there are no audible or visible reminders about how much time is left.

Cause

TimesUpKidz includes a software component known as a "service." Services are pieces of software that automatically start each time you reboot your computer. They run in the background and you don't usually see them. Microsoft Windows gives each service (not just TimesUpKidz) 30 seconds to start. But if a service is poorly written and takes longer than 30 seconds to finally say "I'm ready!", Microsoft Windows assumes the service is broken and simply kills it.

TimesUpKidz is a small program that usually takes just a few seconds to start. But for reasons I don't understand, occasionally it takes more than 30 seconds for TimesUpKidz to start. Windows then kills it and time limits are not enforced. Restarting the computer often fixes it. I believe this problem is due to a bug in Microsoft Windows because when TimesUpKidz fails I often see other services – including ones developed by Microsoft – failing at the same time.

Solution

To make TimesUpKidz work more reliably, the TimesUpKidz installation program changes the default timeout period from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. This affects all services, not just TimesUpKidz. But occasionally the timeout period gets changed back to 30 seconds by some other piece of software; the Windows 10 upgrade process does this for example. In rare cases 60 seconds may still not be big enough.

You can manually increase the timeout period to 120 seconds. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the Windows Command prompt with administrative privileges.
    • On Windows 8, 8.1, 10, or later, hold the Windows key on the keyboard and then X keys down together and choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.
    • On Windows Vista or 7, click the Windows Start menu and locate the Command Prompt shortcut, which is usually in the Accessories folder. Once you find it, right-click on it and choose Run as administrator.
    • On Windows XP, click the Windows Start menu and locate the Command Prompt shortcut, which is usually in the Accessories folder. Once you find it, click on it.
  2. Type this into the command prompt and then press Enter
    REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control /v ServicesPipeTimeout /t REG_DWORD /d 120000
  3. You may be asked whether to overwrite an existing value or not. Choose Yes.
  4. Make sure you see a message to the effect of "The operation completed successfully."
  5. Restart your computer

If the steps above seem too complicated, you can simply uninstall TimesUpKidz and install it again. All your settings and product key, will be preserved. This will make sure the timeout period is at least 60 seconds.

The next step (which you should do anyway) is to remove unnecessary software that makes your computer run slowly, especially when it is restarted. Some customers have multiple versions of anti-virus software on their computer. This is totally unnecessary and will hurt your computer's performance. I personally recommend the anti-virus software that Microsoft includes in Windows, or Microsoft Security Essentials. Also, search the internet for tips on how to optimize Microsoft Windows performance. You shouldn’t need to buy ANY software to help with this.

If there was a 100% reliable solution to this problem I would have fixed it. Like I said above, I believe this is a bug in Microsoft Windows and there isn’t much I can do. The simplest "solution" here is to do nothing and accept that occasionally the kids will get extra time. If the problem occurs once a month this shouldn't be that big a deal. And when it does happen, restart the computer and there is a very good chance it will start working again.