David_Bennett

I am on the Windows Vista Parental controls team, working on the next version of windows and specifically the parental controls aspects of it. I worked on the web filter, and many other aspects of the system from the control panel up.

Overwhelmingness of Parental Controls?

Overwhelmingness of Parental Controls?

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There have been some comments about various aspects of Parental Controls being overwhelming, specifically in this post.  It is true that some of the existing parental control companies will not be so keen on some features, however there is a lot of area for new features and things that are missing from Vista parental controls to be expanded into, like https filtering.

Looking at the overwhelming aspects, the main problem feature there is the application overrides.  This is difficult to setup for parents unless you know something about how the programs are layed out on the computer.  Sadly there is not really much we can do about this, it is a difficult problem to solve.  I think this is one feature that most parents will not use, or will turn on and not know how to use it then turn it off again.  Game settings I don't think are that overwhelming, the ability to change the rating system is there but it is not easy to get at and most parents will most likely not even know the option exists.  The default setting will be set to the rating system for the area windows is sold in.

The logs are very useful, the problem there is how to present the information about things like web sites visited in a way that is easy to understand.  For time constraint reasons we only did a very simple web log viewer in Vista, this is an area that third party tools could be useful.  Writing an enhanced log viewer for the vista parental controls.  All of the logs are in the Crimson logs as outlined in other sections of this log.

Overall I think that parents will use all of the features (including the activity reports) with the exception of application restrictions.

Comments
  • <p>I happen to agree, the only section that may be overwhelming for the casual user is the Allow and Block Specific Programs section. &nbsp;For a hard core user it's great, but for a casual parent trying to lock down the computer, I can see the confusion it will bring. &nbsp;</p> <p>I just finished my tutorial on Setting up Parental controls where I went into detail about every single option. It was a long but interesting experience. &nbsp;The tute can be found here:</p> <p><a rel="nofollow" target="_new" href="http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial139.html">http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial139.html</a></p> <p>I noticed a few odd things when playing with the web allow block lists files. &nbsp;One is you do not allow : other than in http://. &nbsp;This makes it impossible to block URLs with non-standard ports like <a rel="nofollow" target="_new" href="http://www.example.com:81">http://www.example.com:81</a>. Another issue is that you can't have an URL with a &amp; in it. &nbsp;I see and understand why when you have a ? for a GET argument in an URL it is stripped so only the specific page is added to the list, but why couldn't that have been done with the ampersands as well? &nbsp;With the way its currently setup it is very hard to do automatic conversion of known bad site lists to the new file format for Parental Controls.</p> <p>Btw, glad I stumbled on to this site. &nbsp;Very limited resources on parental controls currently.</p>

  • <p>Interesting points, I don't think we allow you to block www.frog.com:81 any differently than www.frog.com. &nbsp;So if you block one, the other is blocked too.</p> <p>Can you show me some examples of bad site lists? &nbsp;Sounds like something that would be interesting to do, having a program that would convert the known block lists into the parental controls system.</p>

  • <p>Ahh..that is good to hear about the non-standard ports. &nbsp;Just tested it and your right it does block it as well.</p> <p>Some examples of bad site lists are:</p> <p><a rel="nofollow" target="_new" href="http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm">http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm</a></p> <p><a rel="nofollow" target="_new" href="http://www.hosts-file.net/downloads.html">http://www.hosts-file.net/downloads.html</a></p> <p><a rel="nofollow" target="_new" href="http://www.spywarewarrior.com/uiuc/resource.htm">http://www.spywarewarrior.com/uiuc/resource.htm</a></p> <p>There are a few others but those are what I feel the best of breed. &nbsp;I have already contacted the creator the MVP Hosts file</p>

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