Got Kids?

Windows Live Family Safety Settings Beta (great name, eh?) is technology’s answer to the problems of modern day life. WLFSS allows parents, operating at a local administrator level, to block content on a number of issues near and dear to their hearts.

WLFSS will also let parents block specific pages in the browser. Or should I say browsers as all blocking apparently happens at the firewall. After installing WLFSS, Windows Firewall reauthenticated Firefox. And after I forbade a few websites in WLFSS–forbid being the proper word here, i think, given the context–I checked them in both browsers and they came back with red text that said, “This page contains inappropriate content and has been blocked.”

Now, I might see the usefulness in this when I add some of my least favorite sites!

After setting WLFSS to block content related to tobacco and alcohol, I was unable to visit Phillip Morris and Jack Daniels‘ websites. (I also failed to reach Phillip Morris using the IP address of the site.) Blocking weapons and bomb-making did not, however, stop me from visiting Soldier of Fortune or the National Rifle Association. I should mention that with alcohol content blocked, I was able to visit Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not in any way equating the aforementioned sites with AA, believe me, but WLFSS might be sensitive enough to recognize some differences, but at the same time it might be more lenient with content that is related to weapons and violence.

Interestingly, WLFSS seems to be rather comprehensive in some aspects. When I Googled jack daniels, booze, and margarita, WLFSS blocked the entirety of Google’s results. This feature is rather impressive as it suggests, to me at least, that there are particular words that WLFSS is looking for instead of simply sites. I’m not an expert in this, but I would think that it would be most useful if software would allow you to add categories that you wanted blocked, say if you don’t like caffeine, carcinogens or christmas.

WLFSS is also supposed to allow a view of web history. I haven’t seen any evidence of this working, yet. But, Microsoft is bound to get it working before the release of the product. In the meantime, parents will have to continue to rely on their wireless router logs, I suppose, or by simply sitting down with their kids and actually talking to them.

Hmmm. Novel idea.