Nov 26 2008
Ahh, the joys of being a parent. My youngest son recently started sprinkling his language with profanity, something both his mother and I were certain he didn’t get from us: she almost never uses profanity and when I do the kids are usually running for cover rather than trying to remember what I said. At first we thought he was getting it from school, but his older brother finally came forward and told us it was from videos he was watching on YouTube. What had looked like a fairly innocuous video of SuperMario and other characters turned out to be profanity laden and more than a little disturbing. He was given a warning and told to turn off any videos that contained profanity, then lost his computer rights for a week when I caught him watching a video with profanity. The third time’s a charm, so I decided it’s time to block YouTube at the entry way, my WRT54G router.
It seemed simple and straight forward. But an hour and several internet searches later, and I still couldn’t get the WRT54G to block YouTube. I created a Policy called YouTube, rather appropriately, I added a list of affected PC’s, set it to everyday, 24 hours a day and entered http://www.youtube.com in the space marked “Website blocking by URL address”. Then hit “Save Settings” and … nothing. I was still able to get to YouTube, the kids could get to YouTube and I was not happy.
Then it suddenly struck me: the folks at Linksys and Cisco were creating the software for the average computer user, someone who doesn’t have the faintest idea what “HTTP” or “URL” mean and probably never types the “http://” at the beginning of the URL. I took that out of the URL and saved the settings and now YouTube is blocked. I’m happy that I now know how to block a site, but I’m frustrated that the developers couldn’t have taken a few more lines of code to either automatically remove the http:// if typed in, or at the very least taken ten seconds to add an example of what they consider a URL. If I’d seen even one example of what they consider a URL, I would have been able to block the site in less than 5 minutes, rather than taking over an hour. And I wonder how many less technical parents have given up in frustration.
As someone put it on Twitter “Sometimes people should check acronym definitions before using them”