Sunday, January 24, 2010

Parental Controls - Remote Access and other tips

I've just had another go at configuring OS X "Parental Controls". I'm doing this in 10.5, but I don't think 10.6 is much better.

I sometimes wonder why OS X "Parental Controls" are so buggy, awkward, limited, and altogether miserable. They weren't so bad in MacOS 10.9 -- before Jobs returned.

I think that's the clue. I didn't used to think so, but I've come to believe that Apple is Jobs. Evidently Jobs, a notoriously rebellious teenager, believes Parental Controls are a bad idea. So he's sabotaged them.

From the latest ordeal I've three new tips:

1. On editing content - site lists
  • In Safari with 10.5 it seems as though, when logged it as a managed user, you can open bookmarks (requires admin pw) and drag and drop links to the Safari Bookmark list to your hearts content. A very efficient way, one might think, to add approved sites. Except it's misleading. When you quit Safari and resume you're back to the set you approved in the Parental Controls Preference Pane. So ...
  • There are only two ways to add web sites to the approved list. You can add then in the Parental Controls Preference Pane, or in the managed account, you can add them one at a time, each requiring an Admin password, to the Bookmarks Bar.
  • You can drag and drop links and Location bar URLs to the Parental Controls Preference Pane and you can drag and drop to reorganize there. This is a big time saver. I guess someone slipped that one by Jobs.
2. remote monitoring and control from another computer

It's barely noted anywhere, but you can do remote monitoring and control from another computer. This is from the 10.5 Help file:

From OS X Help for 10.5:
If you have a computer on your local network that is managed by parental controls, you can change the settings in the Parental Controls preferences and monitor the user activity remotely.
The trick is to enable remote management in the gear drop down. Look hard, it's below the list of users.

Then, from your remote machine:
In the Finder, choose Go > Connect To Server, and then click Browse.
Select the other computer in from the list of computers on your network and enter the administrator name and password for the remote computer.
In the Finder, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, and click Parental Controls...
... In the Accounts list, in the Other Computers section, select the remote user account you want to change.
Enter the administrator name and password of the remote computer.
3. Adding sites - only the domain matters

I thought I could get finer grained control by adding links to subsites (ex., but that doesn't work. Only the domain seems to matter (though I'm not totally sure about this).

See also:
Update 5/15/10: If this is true, I can't blame Apple's parental control failures on Steve Jobs disinterest.

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