Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fruits of My Labor

Because I work from home, and because my work involves the Internet and writing, I have regularly updated my computer to the newest. My latest version is a laptop loaded with Vista, Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office 2007. I didn't have any choice about Vista really, upgrades happen, and I must adjust. I must have Word, Photoshop, Acrobat and Indesign in order to do my work.

With each new upgrade, I do not get rid of my old computer. In my house, we have three desktops and three laptops. Since I began buying computers, I have only removed one computer from my house -- an Apple where it was one piece -- the monitor was part of the hard drive. And I only disposed of that one after my children ruined it by shoving crayons where crayons shouldn't go.

I still have a computer with Windows 95 loaded on it. It is perfect for my kids to play a game of solitaire or to use the drawing feature. I have another desktop with Windows 98 and without a USB port in the front. The newest desktop has Windows XP, a USB port in the front, a flat-screen monitor, and I paid $20 extra to add a 3.5 disc drive along with the CD drive and the CDRW drive. I don't think that one plays DVDs though.

My next computer was a laptop, and it worked very well (and was well used) until a couple of months ago when it was replaced. I still use it though because some things are still only available on it.

In addition to this unusual amount of computers, my home also has high speed internet and wireless access. This is a necessity for a me since I work from home most of the time. But it is one way my children, and their friends, benefit. One of my daughter's friends loves to bring her laptop to our house because she can get online using my wireless and our connection is faster than her home's dial-up.

But I've recently cracked down on Internet access at my house. The two desktops that are connected to the Internet have NetNanny installed, which allows me to customize how and when my children go online. I can also customize it to block access on a child by child basis. Plus I can access the controls while I am away from home and immediately block all Internet access at my home -- or at least access from those two desktops. The wireless laptops aren't blocked because they do not belong to the children. Instead, we've used log-on passwords to block access to the laptops. But this doesn't work for laptops brought to my house.

This means at times, I have demanded the friend's laptop be put away, which means it is placed in my living room and left alone. I think I am going to have to figure out that security option on my wireless Internet in order to block other technological gizmos that children may be bringing to my house.

I need wireless in my home for my work, but I don't want the fruits of my labor to be a ripe opportunity for my children to access the internet via hand-held games, cell phones and other gizmos without my knowledge. Are there any other writing mothers out there struggling to control the electronic gizmos belonging not just to their children but to their children's friends?

Or, to put it another way, is it wrong of me to expect all cell phones be left in my living room at bed time?


Kai said...

We have a WPA key on our wireless network (its an option on our router - yours should have it, and WEP, or similar), and we only give it out to adults - its worked so far - if the kids REALLY need to go online, I let them use the desktop, with a net nanny. If your network is secure, and secured based on IP address, some routers also allow you to lock timeslots in and out of access, which helps.
As for cell phones - there's a big tub in our diningroom - everyone puts thier stuff in, I write it on the wipe clean board above it, they sign it all out when they leave. If I don't use gadgets around the kids - I expect the same of others - most people know when coming into the house that if I'm working on my laptop and the smalls are about, there's a dammed good reason for it - and its the exception, not the rule. We're a hugely techie house - three laptops, three desktops, two server units...we've also both got PDA's and mobile phones, a playstation 3, a Wii, several DS's and a PSP (I review, he plays ;)) Yet, between 4pm and 7pm most nights, if the kids aren't playing outside, I won't use my laptop - so I expect the same of everyone else - freinds and family.

Carolyn Erickson said...

Like Kai, I use a secure wireless connection. Anyone within range may be able to see that there is a connection, but can't access it without the key (an umpteen-digit number no one but Rainman can memorize).

It wasn't too difficult to do, but I can't walk you through it. Look for either WPA or WEP encryption options in your wireless networks folder. ;)

But to answer your question, no! It isn't wrong of you to monitor your kids' (and kids' friends) Internet use! Imho, it would be wrong of you if you didn't.

Dejah said...

WEP and WPA are about encrypting data so that it can't be read by someone scanning from outside.

What you're looking for is MAC filtering. Each device has a unique address for its networking hardware. This is called the MAC address and is six two digit letter-number combinations separated by colons. You add each MAC address to your router's software and then only that hardware can access the router, regardless of whether they have the WEP or WPA password. It's a rather simple process.

Linda Sherwood said...

Simple, eh? I know it probably is. It is just something on my "to do" list, and it isn't as high up as it should be.

I'll have to check into it. Thanks everyone!

Serenity Now! said...

Yes, we have secure wireless too...

Now for the cell phone... yes, I think you have the right to leave it in the livingroom.

If the parents complain, you can simply blink your eyes at them and say, "Oh my, no it wasn't your sweet innocent princess that I thought might do something illicit with her phone ... it was my daughter, of course, of course, no, no, YOUR daughter would never do that at all! Oh and here's our home number in case of emergency, cell phone reception is really not that great at our house."

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