to the web site
Windows 95, 98, 98SE, NT4, Netscape 4.x or higher, Microsoft
Internet Explorer 4.x or higher
is a Windows utility designed to search a computer for
of Web browsing relating to sex and violence. It's a simple
utility that any parent can use to determine exactly
Johnny or Janey sometimes walk around with a vacant stare.
Many other types of monitoring software require a parent
install a program which will record a child's browsing habits
for a certain length of time. Unlike these programs,
looks into the past for inappropriate browsing. It uses a
variety of tests performed on the system, comparing
information against a list of keywords stored in editable
text files supplied with the software.
and using X-Detect is very simple. After launching the software,
the basic X-Detect user interface pops up. Clicking the 'Detect!'
button starts X-Detect's main search and analysis routine.
Although there is no progress bar or readout of which directories
and files are being analyzed, the progress text display (25%
done, 50% done, etc.) should be sufficient for most people.
When the routine is completed, X-Detect provides a report
list of sites which contains words matching those in its sex.txt
and violence.txt files. The software uses the txt files as
the basis for what amounts to a key word search. You are free
to edit the txt files as you see fit - add words, change words,
and come up with a set of words for a whole different category.
For example, you could edit one of the files and add words
which relate solely to the Republican party (in the U.S.),
the PCs (in Canada), and the Conservatives (in the UK). Get
it? X-Detect can then be used to exert political control over
your children. Prevent the little minevils from overthrowing
the government! We didn't actually try this, but the mind
X-Detect performs multiple tests on the cookies, registry,
and history directories, the ordering of the site addresses
in the search report varies with where the 'suspect' addresses
originated. Some addresses may actually be shown several times
because of sex banner ads which leave cookies with similar
names. But even though the sites may not have been visited
directly, their presence on the computer indicates that inappropriate
browsing has been taking place. The total number of sites
detected is more of a relative figure - different reports
can be compared over time and used to determine a level of
bottom line? X-Detect reports give parents a chance to detect
non-approved web browsing. But X-Detect doesn't block objectionable
sites. All it does is provide a list of sites which have already
been visited, based on the word list filtering. That means
you've got to have a one-on-one with your little darlings.
We think this is a good idea, and for many families a better
idea than entrusting the whole issue to site blocking software.
The latest Finer Technologies marketing collateral asks "who
can afford to be in the dark about their kids' web browsing
habits?!" Well I certainly can! There are some things
a parent just shouldn't know (just kidding). Since our memory
about our own teenage years seems to fail every time the kids
ask about something we now find, um, uncomfortable, the Big
Brother aspects of X-Detect should drive at least some small
part of the decision to use it. The 'Help Me' button in the
sparse user interface calls WordPad and loads a doc file.
Online help would be better. There is no Readme.txt of any
kind. There's no secure access feature in X-Detect - once
someone discovers it on their system, it can simply be uninstalled
or deleted. If your little darling is smart, he/she may simply
edit the X-Detect txt files into something innocuous. X-Detect
does not determine which browser is the system default, so
old or secondary browser installations will also be searched.
On the other hand, a browser detection function would be beneficial
- it would allow users to search files related only to a chosen
browser. X-Detect would also benefit from a time/date stamp
detection routine which would allow the report list to provide
information about which sites were visited most recently.
The actual detection keyword list is a plain text file, allowing
you to add as many nasty, evil, pernicious, and suspicious
words as you deem fit. It's a good thing too, because everyone
has a slightly different idea of what constitutes "bad
for the kids." It's worth playing with the X-Detect txt
files for a while just to see how granular or subject-specific
you can get.
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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