Customer Service Life

Computers & Child Safety

My daughter has her own laptop which she has in her bedroom. For safety I use CyberPatrol to restrict her usage of it. However, she’s come across a problem with it, that I believe also affects most other software of this type.

It has time management facilities, where I can stop her from using the PC in the middle of the night. If you wind the system clock backwards it knows tampering has occurred and stops access until it’s resolved. But if you move the clock forward it can’t tell (after all, you could simply have just had the PC turned off during this time). She now knows this and can access the laptop when she shouldn’t.

So, I contacted CyberPatrol to ask them if there was a technical solution to this. There isn’t but they said…

our software cannot replace the most powerful Internet Filter of all, you as the parent or administrator of our software and the computer use in general.

So that’s the get-out clause. They sell software to try and monitor and restrict usage. When it doesn’t work, it’s up to me as I should be keeping an eye on it anyway. So why bother?

Indeed, I won’t. My licence is up soon and I didn’t even bother waiting for the expiry date – last night I uninstalled CyberPatrol and installed (pause for breath) Windows Live OneCare Family Safety. It’s free but doesn’t have the time management functionality but, hey, when it can be so easily over-ridden, what’s the point?



I’m not a football fan, I’ll admit. But then I’m not a huge sports fan generally (watching or taking part, the latter of which should be obvious).

However, I don’t get those that are.

“Oh yes, I’m a fan of Manchester United because I was born there”

Yes, and you now live in Nottingham, have done for a long time and have had and raised children here. Shouldn’t you be, say, a fan of Notts County or Nottingham Forest?

Don’t be silly.

So why aren’t you a Manchester City fan? Was United the better team at the random time that you decided to like football, by any chance?

And why that team because you were born there? Because it has Manchester in the name and is based there? But has a team and management that aren’t. Many of whom aren’t even from this country?

Basically, I can’t see the reason to cling to one particular team because you have some connection to that location – it means nothing any more. And that’s why I like FIFAs idea of restricting the number of foreign players in a team. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to happen because of Europe anti-discriminatory laws.

What I’d really like to see, though, are teams that only consist of people from that area. So Manchester United – and City – would have to be teamed and managed by people from Manchester. Born and grew up in Manchester, not born in Brazil and shipped in at a later date. Surely this will then get back to how the sport was originally meant to be? Then you go to a match and be proud of a team that really represents the area.

It’ll never happen though and in the meantime we have the debacle of watching English premier league football teams managed and completely teamed by foreign players.

How To

How to fix IE from seeing your Windows PC as a Mac

When Microsoft Update thinks I’m using a Mac. Yes, last night I went to get some updates from Microsoft Update and I got the message…

Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our site.

This website is designed to work with Microsoft Windows operating systems only.
To find updates for Microsoft products that are designed for Macintosh operating
systems, please visit

Nice. I was using Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP MCE SP3.

It knows which system I’m using from the “user agent” but one of many websites which displays your current user agent information, showed that I was happily using Windows. Weird.

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1) ; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; Media Center PC 4.0; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.5.21022; WTClient2)

Weirder still was that if I used IE Tab in Firefox, the page would appear without a problem. As IE Tab simply uses Internet Explorer but in Firefox, it shouldn’t have been any different. Again, I checked the user agent and that was the same as running it under IE normally.

Double weird.

Anyway, after a reboot even IE Tab stopped working.

Googling the issue found that most people seemed to have Spyware or Virus’. In panic, I did a check but found nothing. However, I also came across a Microsoft blog on how to reset all of IE 7’s settings – I tried that and Microsoft Update is now working again.


We'll Meat Again

My good friend Ruth was a young 30 last week and we all went out on Saturday night to – and you can tell she must be a good friend – a vegetarian restaurant.

Now, I’m not averse to vegetables. I just like them to accompany a good piece of meat (or fish). So, with another good friend, Dufty, we devised a plan. We will open our own restaurant. A carnivore restaurant named “We’ll Meat Again”. The only vegetable allowed will be potato (for chips). It will be meat, meat, meat and pudding. And we’ll site it across the road from a vegetarian restaurant so pale-faced people can get their fix.

Since that discussion I think “Would Like to Meat” would be an even better name.

And if that fails, I think my plans for a meat-based perfume would be a winner.


Danger! Geek at home

Well, some time ago I showed some photo of my geek-palace at work. Kind of geeky.

Anyway, it’s now time for home. There’s not a huge amount of kit on show – most of it is either bundled away in the loft or on shelves somewhere. Never-the-less. So here’s my gallery (cue music)…


First off, this is a kind-of tower that’s at the side of the desk. At the top is an old Lexmark printer/scanner. I intend to replace this with a new scanner soon. Under that is my Netgear wireless router with a VOIP phone converter sat on top. To the right of that, a 300Gb USB hard drive which is connected to the 500GB Maxtor NAS to the right of that. At the bottom of the tower is a Mono Samsung lazer printer. That too is connected to the NAS. On the floor, looking very dusty, is the bass speaker for my speaker set-up.


Next up, we have my desk. Starting from the left we have a Hawking Technology antenna (for my wireless network). The silver box on a cable is the control for my Creative I-Trigue 3300. Next up, in shiny black, is my iDECT phone (working via VOIP), followed by my classic Sony Clie PDA. My I-Trigue speakers can be seen flanking my 17″ Viewsonic monitor (a few years old now, but the best at the time). My Logitech webcam is perched on top and my Hiper metal keyboard is in front. Resting on the desk in front of the keyboard is my Streamzap remote control and my Logitech wireless mouse. Moving on from the right of the monitor is the dock for my mouse, which you can’t quite see in the photo, a SanDisk media card reader and Belkin USB Hub. After the lamp is my TomTom One sat in a desktop dock, followed by a cheap Logitech microphone and, finally, a USB connected Competition Pro joystick. Oh yes.


Finally, my PC. The last time I showed a picture is was my lovely metal cased home-brew PC. But after it never quite working, I bought one from Mesh. It’s plastic, loud, but it’s warranted! On top of it, apart from all the dust (and a well placed hand-print), is my 60Gb WD Passport. This is the hard drive I shift around from work and home and has most of my web development code on it. It gets regularly backed-up, not surprisingly. However, only about 11Gb on it is used, so the next time it fails (and it does after about a year of my wrenching it about) I’ll probably change it for a 16Gb USB Key (about the same price). The PC is plugged into an energy monitor, as I’m keeping tabs on how much power I’m using (I’m good like that).