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Parental Control - more

The Parental Control Options menu (Figure 15) allows you to toggle three settings on and off. First, separate filtering for each profile (I'll get to Profiles shortly). If you are ambitious and want a "grown up" profile that allows things that another "kids" profile does not allow, you can enable that here. Once you have profiles enabled, you will be prompted for who you are (i.e., which profile should be used for your session on that computer) every time you boot up or log in.

Parental Control Options screen

Figure 15: Parental Control Options screen (click to enlarge)

The second setting enables/disables password override on a blocked site. Checking to enable password override also adds the feature of adding overridden pages to the "allowed" list. The third setting on the Options menu is very clever: an "X blocked out of the last 16 web sites" lock-out function. X can be set between 2 and 14 and when that number of sites out of 16 consecutive attempts is blocked, the "blockee" will be locked out of the Internet until his or her computer is rebooted. This feature might work great, or it might not, depending on who is using your clients and how.

The Profile menu lets you add profiles to you LAN based on users or computers. For user-level profiles to work, you need to have user log-ins established on your PCs, and a willingness to go through some trial and error in getting the right properties to instantiate on the correct entities. I did not test the profiles beyond creating one profile because on my LAN, we do without profiles and everyone is subject to the same filtering standard. Website Lists is a very simple menu used to add sites to white and black lists.

The final Parental Control menu is Scheduling (Figure 16). Note in the upper right hand corner I've dropped down the "Apply To" menu. If you had multiple profiles, you can apply the access scheduling you set up on Figure 16 to one specific profile.

Parental Control Scheduling screen

Figure 16: Parental Control Scheduling screen (click to enlarge)

But despite all these wonderful Parental Contols, I found its image blocking abilities to be hit and miss. When I was filtering on the "Comics" category, I found that spiderman.com was in, superman.com and dilbert.com were blocked. Hulk.com was in, thehulk.com was in, as was familycircus.com. But a bigger problem was that if I went to images.google.com and searched on superman and dilbert (both supposedly blocked) the image results came through!

Testing for porn filtering produced similar odd results. If I went to Altavista's image search engine and turned off family filtering or set images.google.com's preferences to "No filtering" and typed in an (in)appropriate search word, an almost unlimited number of thumbnails of naked people filled my screen. (The things I do in the name of networking product testing!)

But the maddening thing with the DSD-150 is that if I clicked on one of those thumbnails to open the linked page, the DSD-150 would block the page! This is a problem common to products that use off-the-shelf filters without integrating web blocking with proxy filtering. So, for porn, the DSD-150 is as hit or miss as it is with comics.

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