1. Place the family computer in a central location where the whole family can use it and where parents can easily see the screen. Do not place computers in children’s bedrooms.
  2. If you don’t know much about the Internet, take the time to learn the basics. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your child to show you what they do online and how it works. Turn it into time spent with your child.
  3. Develop and enforce your own ‘Acceptable Use Policy’, making it clear what is allowed and what is not.
  4. Do not allow young children to use the Internet by themselves. With older children, check what they are doing frequently.
  5. Use filtering software in addition to, not in place of, parental supervision.
  6. Teach your child to tell you immediately if anyone they don’t know tries to communicate with them online.
  7. Insist that your children never send or post personal information such as their photo, name, age, address, phone number, email address, passwords or the name or location of their school.
  8. Teach children to tell you if the see or read something frightening, threatening or offensive.
  9. Discuss what your children read on the Internet, and help them to understand that what they read online may or may not be true.
  10. Find out what safeguards are in place at your child’s school, friend’s homes, and the public library and decide if it’s okay for your child to access the Internet from those places in your absence.
  11. Pay particular attention if you child minimizes windows or exits programs quickly when you approach.
  12. If your child is behaving suspiciously or if you suspect something is wrong, talk about it.

From: Yahoo!Tech

Japanese innovators have harnessed a new, plentiful source of energy that’s available anywhere you are. Call it “shuffle power”.

As Yahoo!Tech reports, Japanese telecommunications giant NTT has invented a pair of shoes that generate electricity as you walk.

The pressure of the wearer’s weight on the shoes’ water-filled soles causes water to spurt through tiny generators producing up to 1.2 watts of power. NTT says that’s sufficient to keep a portable music player or cell phone working as long as the user keeps walking.

The system could easily be upgraded by adding a battery and charger circuit to the generator shoes allowing users to generate power as they walk and use it later, when they may not necessarily be in motion.

And NTT says it will continue to develop and refine its generator shoes with the goal of pumping up their output to at least 3.0 watts. And generator shoes could appear on store shelves as early as 2010.

The PayPass system uses MasterCard smartcards incorporating radio frequency technology to communicate with terminals embedded in point of sale devices such as gasoline pumps to instantly approve and register a retail sale.

PayPass is also in use already at major grocery stores, cinemas and international fast-food restaurant chains including McDonald’s and Tim Hortons.

Now, Coca Cola is implementing the PayPass system in vending machines across Canada. This is not a pilot project, Coke insists. Some 400 machines have already been ‘upgraded’ to PayPass capability and plans are in place to add PayPass terminals to as many as 5,000 vending machines across the country by the end of 2010.

If PayPass proves popular among cola fans, other vending machine operators are expected to follow Coke’s lead.

However… It does incorporate hallmark iPhone Touch features including a large touch-sensitive colour display which switches automatically from portait to landscape mode when you rotate the unit.

The BlackBerry QWERTY-format SureType on-screen touch keyboard is available in both portarait and lansdscape mode.

Other notable features include a full gigabyte of built-in onboard memory (expandable via SD cards to 16 GB), built-in GPS capability and a built-in 3.2 megapixel camera.

The BlackBerry Storm is expected to be available, through the usual BlackBerry vendors and service providers, by the end of this year.

In line with the major US department store chains, which have already launched their Christmas season marketing barrages, Microsoft unveiled its holiday gift suggestions at its Holiday 2008 ‘In The (K)Now’ showcase in New York City.

MS representatives noted a recent US national telephone survey by StrategyOne Research which showed that two of every three American shoppers plan to spend less on year-end holiday gifts.

The survey also revealed that many families are planning nto pool their gift spending to buy one larger gist all family members can use and enjoy and that three quarters of those polled are favouring entertainment-oriented gifts.

In response to those findings, MS has issued a comprehensive ‘Gift Trends FactSheet’.

The MS holiday message also fits right in with its recent admonition to PC makers to stop pre-installing ‘demonstration’ software — known to retailers and users alike as ‘crapware’ — at the factory. It seems MS has been taking a lot of undeserved heat over extremely long Windows Vista start-up times caused, in reality, by long lists of factory-installed demo software titles set to start automatically every time Windows starts.

The Mozilla consortium, which coordinates development of the popular FireFox Web browser, this week released a beta version of FireFox 3.1.

You can find out more and download the new browser at the Mozilla Development Centre Web site.

The new version reportedly contains dozens of enhancements designed to keep FireFox up-to-date with the latest Web standards and protocols.

While you’re at it, you might also want to take a look at the beta version of Google’s new browser, Chrome. Chrome’s look and feel will be very familiar to users of Google’s GMail Webmail service.

The beta versions of both browsers are free to download and use but remember that they are still ‘works in progress’ and you may get some ‘surprises’ when using them. If you already use an earlier version of Firefox (3.0 or before), it might be best to leave that version intact and install version 3.1 beta separately, rather than simply ‘upgrading’ to 3.1 beta.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) today announced that it has recognised a new ‘condition’ associated with excessive use of mobile phones.

“It is worth doctors bearing this condition in mind if they see a patient with a rash on the cheek or ear that cannot otherwise be explained,” the BAD said, noting that many primary care physicians have, until now, been unaware of the connection between cell phones and dermatitis.

‘Mobile phone dermatitis’ shows up as a ‘red or itchy’ rash on the ears, neck or cheeks and is believed to result from prolonged contact with certain metals — mainly nickel — used to plate the cases and push-buttons on many cell phone models.

The condition is a new, specific sub-type of allergic contact dermatitis, which can also be triggered in susceptible patients by prolonged skin contact with metal-plated jewelery, belt buckles and other common, personal items.

A recent study by researchers at the University in Providence, Rhode Island, found that nickel was present in ten of the 22 popular cell phone handsets they tested.

The BAD announcement comes in contrast to recent studies that have given cell phones a clean bill health in connection with other, more serious conditions such as brain cancer.

From: ZDNet > News > Security

British Home Secretary Jacquie Smith yesterday announced the imminent introduction of new measures designed to monitor all ‘modern communications’ in the UK, in a crackdown on terrorism and organized crime.

As ZDNet correspondent Nick Heath reports, the new measures, which come into effect in 2009, will require Internet service providers (ISPs) to record ‘who, when and where’ information on all Web, VoIP and messaging traffic and hold onto it for at least 12 months, so law enforcement officials can access it in connection with criminal investigations.

Smith emphasized that the new monitoring measures would not empower police to listen in on the content of Internet communications.

She also noted that new legislation will have to be passed by the British parliament before the proposed new monitoring measures are implemented. “The changes we need to make may require legislation. The safeguards we will want to put in place certainly will. And we may need legislation to test what a solution will look like.”

Apple yesterday unveiled a totally-renovated MacBook notebook computer family, featuring a new basic MacBook priced $750 lower than the latest MacBook Pro.

The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros have been totally redesigned around all-metal enclosures featuring what Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls a ‘unibody’.

The new 15 in. MacBook Pro
Note the single-piece unibody frame and ultra-slim display.

As Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, explained to reporters at the MacBook launch, “The MacBook’s unibody enclosure is made from a single block of aluminum, making the new MacBook fundamentally thinner, stronger and more robust with a fit and finish that we’ve never even dreamed of before.”

The new MacBooks also feature an updated NVidia video chipset driving new backlit LCD displays, which deliver what Jobs calls, “great 3D graphics.”

The new MacBooks also feature new glass MultiTouch trackpads that support additional touch functions — technology ploughshared from the iPhone.

And the new MacBooks are the greenest ever. Quoth the official new product announcement:

“The entire new MacBook family meets stringent Energy Star 4.0, EPEAT Gold and RoHS environmental standards, and leads the industry in the elimination of toxic chemicals by containing no brominated flame retardants, using only PVC-free internal cables and components, and using energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass.”

The new MacBooks range in price from C$1,399 / US$999 for the 2.1 GHz 13 in. entry-level model to the new the 2.5 GHz 17 in. MacBook Pro at C$2,999 / US$2,799.

The big picture

Apple also released a new 24 in. widescreen LED Cinema series display with new features designed to help it mesh with the new MacBook notebooks, as a high-end presentation team.

The new display incorporates an iSight Webcam, a mic and stereo speakers. Three USB 2 ports and an Apple Mini DisplayPort allow MacBook users to power their notebooks from the new display, which also comes with a MagSafe (snag-safe) power adapter.

Find out everything you’d ever want to know about the MacBook family at: Apple.com.

It’s that time of year again. Time to start thinking about what to get the family for Christmas. I’ve found that one no-fail gift that every grandparent loves is pictures of the grandkids. Not content to simply fill their homes with framed photographs of beaming grandkids taken throughout the year, we’ve traversed the photo-gift spectrum in recent years — from mugs to mouse pads to jigsaw puzzles and back!

One annual must-give is the family calendar. I’ve been doing one for the last five or six years. This used to be a labourious and often frustrating experience as I tried to reconcile Photoshop’s idea of what my pages should look like with my own ideas. Last year, I discovered Shutterfly.com‘s gorgeous calendar templates and haven’t looked back since.

This year, I wanted to expand my repertoire a bit, and I made my first glossy-paged, hardcover photo books. They look terrific and I can’t wait to give them as gifts.

Again, I went with Shutterfly.com, for three reasons.

First, I was extremely satisfied with Shutterfly’s service last year when I made calendars. One of my calendars went astray in the mail and they shipped a new one the very day I e-mailed to inquire about it. (The lost calendar showed up the first week of February with no indication as to where it had been hiding for eight weeks!)

Second, as I said, they have gorgeous, easy-to-use templates with pretty backgrounds and dozens of ways to lay out your photos on the page.

Third, the Shutterfly upload tool is extremely efficient and easy to use for large batches of pictures. By contrast, I was extremely aggravated recently with photolab.ca, the online site for Loblaw’s photo processing service. You can only upload twelve photos per session. It took me twice as long to upload 30 pictures to photolab.ca as it took to upload 115 photos to Shutterfly.

Photobooks are a hot new item and there are tonnes of places offering them. Just google ‘make photobooks’ to find one you like!

But, after trying services offered by Chapters/Indigo, Snapfish and Photolab, I’ll be sticking with Shutterfly for my photobooks.

(And, no, FWIW this post has not been sponsored or endorsed by any company! Just one opinionated amateur photographer and avid blogger!)

Legendary computer security vendor McAfee Inc. has launched its 2009 array of consumer/SOHO security suites claiming revolutionary advances in PC protection and and scanning speed.

The 2009 McAfee lineup includes the McAfee Total Protection, McAfee Internet Security and McAfee VirusScan suites.

According to the official new product release, these complementary products, “change the computer security landscape by perfectly matching a consumer’s need to be protected from the myriad of ever-evolving threats with an extremely fast computing experience.”

McAfee 2009 ‘innovations and products highlights’ include:

  • Revolutionary Active Protection technology which delivers the fastest detection of malware in the world;
  • Accelerated PC performance over last year’s products with less impact on start-up, shorter scan times and faster launching of common applications;
  • New, powerful enterprise-grade spam protection, which catches 99 per cent of all spam;
  • Improved protection in the home with network monitoring to alert consumers when intruders connect to their network;
  • Even more comprehensive protection in 2009, including file protection for sensitive financial documents, and safe shop which protects from identity theft and credit card fraud when shopping online.

Of particular interest is McAfee’s new Active Protection Technology, which instantly updates users security systems as soon as a new malware exploit is discovered and analyzed by McAfee and has been rated best-in-class for accuracy, scoring ratings of 99 per cent or better in tests by independent security consultants.

The McAfee Internet Security 2009 suite is priced at US$59.99, via download. The Viruscan Plus 2009 package is just (US)$39.99 and a McAfee Total Protection 2009 one-year subscription usable on up to three PCs, goes for (US)$69.99.

Get all the details and purchase the new McAfee 2009 security suite that suits you best at the McAfee Web site, or visit your favourite computer or business supply store.

Version 10 of Adobe’s free Flash Player is now available for download from the Adobe Web Site.

The Flash Player allows users to view ‘dynamic’ Web content created in the Flash format.

According to today’s official Adobe new-product advisory:

“Adobe Flash Player 10 builds on the capabilities of the world’s most pervasive application runtime with new support for custom filters and effects, native 3D transformation and animation, advanced audio processing, and GPU hardware acceleration. Building on over 25 years of Adobe expertise with text, the highly flexible new text engine in Flash Player 10 provides interactive designers and developers with more text layout options and better creative control.”

Adobe Flash Player 10 is available, via download, “to users across multiple browsers and all major operating systems.” Current users of earlier versions of Flash Player should receive an update advisory directy from Adobe.

If you’re into online gaming or frequently access Web sites with lots of animations, videos and other ‘dynamic’ items, you should consider downloading Flash Player 10 to make sure you’ll be able to view all the exciting new Web content coming soon to a site near you!