Desktop: Safety on the 'net

You can't say I didn't try; I've spent hours, nay days, searching for sites where interested readers can watch the World Cup live on-line.

By DAVID SHAMAH
June 7, 2006 11:49
4 minute read.
soccer trophy 88

soccer trophy 88. (photo credit: )

You can't say I didn't try; I've spent hours, nay days, searching for sites where interested readers can watch the World Cup live on-line. Nada. Nothing. I thought I could save readers a bunch of money on subscriptions to pay TV, which apparently were set very high. The closest I got was on this site - http://www.istreamed.co.uk/ - where there is a link to a Brazilian broadcaster which is supposedly streaming all the games from Germany live. But, further research indicates that this Brazilian site is selling discount subscriptions to watch ($5 for all the games, but only to people in Brazil). Is there some kind of deal that lets the iStreamed site show the games to all comers? Tune in and find out for yourself! To tell the truth, I wasn't planning to watch any of the games myself; I did this search because several readers asked me to. But although I didn't find any streaming FIFA links, I did find plenty of other stuff I would have rather not seen. And if I found those unsavory sites, so can you - and so can your kids. By now, I can't believe that there is anyone out there without some personal "war stories" about how they caught their kids surfing where they shouldn't have been, downloading what you didn't want them to or, maybe most of all, "chatting" on-line with unsavory characters you'd run from if you met them in real life. If you don't want your kids engaging in specific on-line activities, you've got to get proactive. I really don't want to sound alarmist, but judging from my in-depth search for on-line streaming World Cup action, it is virtually impossible to avoid the kind of sites you know are trouble - there are just too many of them out there, and even innocent-seeming sites may link to or have content you really, really don't want a 12-year-old checking out (for an example, check out some of the other links on http://www.istreamed.co.uk/ - you'll know which ones when you see them). It's no longer a question of "I can trust my kid not to" do whatever it is you don't want him/her to do - the tide of trashy sites is so great that it's almost impossible not to get swept away. Instead of relying on a wing and a prayer, though, I have an excellent solution that will provide major league parental protection automatically, enabling you to assert the parental authority that the Web works so hard to erode. Safety.net will let you sleep easy, knowing that there are Web sites, services and programs that your kids just can't access - and it's free. I've recommended in previous articles that you set up separate user accounts for yourself and your kids; Microsoft has a page that explains exactly how to do it (http://tinyurl.com/3laua). Although you could use Safety.net to limit activity for everyone using Window's main administrator account, you can take better advantage of Safety.net's features with separate kid accounts. Such as limiting access to sites appropriate for kids of different ages. Safety.net makes use of three Internet PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection) rating systems, which were established in order to increase awareness of Web safety concerns (http://www.w3.org/PICS/). All three of the systems let you choose from a broad range of topics, from violence to sexually explicit material that, when selected, will be off limit to the user account you assign the restrictions to. One of the systems, SafeSurf, lets you set topic restrictions (such as "drug use") by age range; there are nine different age groupings, and if you click on "younger children" as the level users are permitted, they won't be able to get at sites with anything other than "subtle innuendo" on the topics covered by SafeSurf, which are numerous (http://www.safesurf.com/ssplan.htm explains what is permissible for each level on all topics). With that in and of itself, Safety.net would earn its stripes, but the program goes much farther. Besides using the PICS ratings to ban sites, you can also enter a URL on the Filter list and prevent it from loading at all. And if you decide to allow viewing of a site but don't want the user to sign up for a service, you can permit or deny cookies for each site (without which users usually can't access downloads or services), block pop-up ads or, if you want, create a "white list" of sites that the user is allowed to access, with all others banned altogether. You can also ban use of specific programs already installed on your PC, rendering them inaccessible for users logged into a particular account, or even whole services (FTP, Chat, etc.). And if the kids are spending too much time trying to crack the code you've implemented, just limit their time on-line using the Restrict Access Time feature of the program. What if you gave the kids their own computer to take the pressure off yours? Safety.net's got that covered, too; if the kids' computer accesses the Internet via your router or modem, just list their computer name or IP address in your control list, and any communication emanating from their PC is subject to rules enforcement. And that's really what it's all about - making sure that you, the parent, are able to set the rules in your own home, and that the rules are followed. What if the kids decide to go to a friend's house instead? No problem - their friends have parents, too, who will thank you for cluing them in on Safety.net as well, so that they, too, can sleep a little more soundly. Download Safety.net for free from http://www.netveda.com (click on Safety.net from the pull down Products list). For all Windows systems; free for personal home use. http://www.newzgeek.com


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