"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 1, No. 6: February 11, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to email@example.com, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.) _______________________________________________________________
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. WHY IS "CATI" PRONOUNCED "KATY"? 2. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: PARENTAL CONTROL SOFTWARE 3. VIRUS PROTECTION: CRISPEN'S SIX ANTIVIRUS RULES 4. NEW!: CATI ARCHIVES AT HTTP://TRAVER.ORG/CATI 5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER ________________________________________________________________
1. WHY IS "CATI" PRONOUNCED "KATY"?
As you know, this is the sixth issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). I've probably mentioned that enough times to make the comment tedious and/or irritating.
At any rate, I received the following interesting email message from a CATI non-subscriber:
"> "CATI" is pronounced "Katy" Indeed! By whom? Who made you the authority on whether and how we should pronounce acronyms? Are the rest of us so dull and ignorant that we cannot decide such things for ourselves? Why must we regard acronyms as words at all?"
Well, I'm not sure that I have satisfactory answers to those thought-provoking questions, but I did appreciate receiving the note, and I thought that perhaps CATI readers might enjoy (as an interesting bit of "Traver trivia") knowing a little bit more about why "CATI" is pronounced "KATY."
Who decided that "CATI" should be pronounced Katy? The obvious answer is that I did, and just as any person has the right to determine the "correct" pronunciation of something belonging to him or her (such as his or her name), so also I'm the one to whom the "Christians And The Internet" newsletter "belongs" (even though the newsletter is intended for the benefit of others) and thus presumably I have some rights in stating the "proper" pronunciation.
Acronyms are useful "shorthand" names that all of us use at times to save time. It's easier and more convenient to say "CATI" than to say "Christians And The Internet" newsletter. My suggestion of an acronym (as well as an appropriate pronunciation) is intended -- as the newsletter itself -- not only for my benefit and ease of use, but also for the benefit and ease of use of subscribers.
Why "KATY"? Well, for one thing, somehow "KATY" seems to sound better than "CATTY" (which is something that I hope the newsletter is not!).
There is another reason for the choice of "Katy." Even though I am a Presbyterian, I have a great appreciation for the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther. One way this shows itself is the choice of name for my Web site: "Traver Table Talk" (the phrase "Table Talk" was used by Martin Luther before it was used by the present-day Presbyterian R.C. Sproul for his own publication).
"Katy" was the name of Luther's wife (Luther spoke of her affectionately at times as "Kitty, my rib," referring to Genesis 2:21). My wife and I have one son, whom we named after another Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. If we had had a daughter, she would have probably been named "Katy" (actually Katherine Idelette), but since we didn't, I gave the name "Katy" to the newsletter (since the newsletter is a child of mine, so to speak).
People are free, of course, to ignore both the acronym and the suggested pronunciation. That's your personal choice and one to which you have a perfect right. But now you know the personal reasons for my giving the newsletter a personal name, just as I hope that this newsletter -- devoted to "Christians And The Internet" -- will be a personal publication, since I believe in a Personal God who created people (some of whom are CATI readers) not as nameless entities but as individual persons with a name and personal identity.
-- Barry Traver, Editor ________________________________________________________________
2. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: PARENTAL CONTROL SOFTWARE
The Internet can be a valuable source of materials for the family, but it can also be a source of pornography or other objectionable material. True, in that way the Internet may not be that much different from your local newsstand or public library, but this important question presents itself: what can parents do to make the Internet safe for the family?
There are at least two approaches that can be taken to help avoid what is inappropriate while still gaining benefit from what is good and wholesome: (1) to use parental control software (the subject of this article) and/or (2) to use an Internet Service Provider ("ISP") that filters out unwanted content (a subject planned for a future article).
The May 4, 1999 issue of the newsstand edition of PC Magazine contains a helpful article by Michael E. Ryan and Jennifer Triverio entitled "Net Guards" on parental control products. Here's how it starts:
"How do you monitor and control what your child sees while surfing the Internet when you are not around? Web filtering software can help, protecting kids from sexually explicit Web pages and other questionable material flooding the Internet."
Although it is not obvious from that paragraph, there is an important and useful distinction that should be recognized between "filtering" and "monitoring." "Filtering" involves preventing your children from visiting certain sites, where "monitoring" may merely mean checking up to see where they've been (without necessarily preventing them from going there).
That distinction is important, because some parental control software is primarily oriented toward "monitoring," whereas other parental control software is primarily oriented toward "filtering." You need to decide what you want to do and then choose the best software for that task.
Getting back to that article by Ryan and Triverio, we find them continuing as follows:
"For this roundup, we tested eight popular Web filtering packages to see how well they filtered out sexually explicit Internet content and other objectionable material such as drug-related information, hate propaganda, and content advocating violence. We tested these packages on a group of bookmarked test sites and newsgroups and on a series of Web searches on Excite, HotBot, and Yahoo!"
Then they make this important comment:
"None of these packages are foolproof, and it still must be noted that parental supervisors offer the best level of protection against adult material circulating on the Net."
The products tested for this article were Cyber Patrol, Cyber Sentinel, Cyber Snoop, CYBERsitter 99, Net Nanny, SOS KidProof, SurfWatch, and WebChaperone.
Cyber Patrol is the authors' recommendation: "... if you are willing to invest the time, you will be rewarded with the most comprehensive filtering of any of the products we tested."
Although strong on filtering, Cyber Patrol is not strong on monitoring: "Cyber Patrol doesn't have a monitoring feature, so you won't be able to see whether your child is trying to access 'bad' sites." (For monitoring, the authors recommend Cyber Snoop.) So you have to decide what approach you want to take and choose your software accordingly.
Where do you go to obtain parental control software? Many products can be downloaded directly from the Internet, and the choices are plentiful.
For example, at TUCOWS you can download and try out any of the following: Cyber Patrol, CYBERsitter 99, ENUFF pc, FamilyCAM, Kid Control, Net Nanny, Prudence (demo only), PureSight, Spector, WatchDog, We-Blocker, Webroot's WinGuardian, and WizGuard (now known as GuardOne).
Here's the main starting point for TUCOWS (for "The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software," Winsock meaning essentially Internet-related, although I won't attempt to explain why):
At that page, click on your operating system (e.g., Windows 3.x or Windows 95/98), and on the next page choose a region (e.g., United States) and click on "Continue." Finally, click on a site that is geographically nearby (for easier downloading), and when you get there click on "Parental Control" in the "Security" section. If all that is too much for you, you can simply jump to the appropriate page on the Pennsylvania site I normally use:
http://epix.tucows.com/parent95.html (for Windows 95/98)
http://epix.tucows.com/parentnt.html (for Windows NT)
http://epix.tucows.com/win2k/parent2k.html (for Windows 2000)
(Or, if you're running Windows 3.x, you'll have to go to this page: http://win3x.tucows.com/parent.html .)
On the TUCOWS page, you'll not only be able to download shareware ("try before you buy" software) and demo versions, but also be able to jump to the home pages for the companies that make these products available, in order to obtain more information.
Another convenient place where you can go to download parental control software is this page at Dave Central:
(Choose "Next Page" at the bottom of the page to get to the second page.)
At Dave Central you can download AOK, Cyber Patrol, Cyber Snoop, CYBERsitter, File Nanny, Hexabit Junior, Kid Control, Kidnet Explorer, KidSafe Explorer, MoM, Net Nanny, OnlineNanny, Surfin' Annette!, WebChaperone, WinGuard, and ZeekSafe.
Or you can go directly to the related Web sites of the companies involved:
Cyber Patrol http://www.cyberpatrol.com/dyn_hm.htm
Cyber Sentinel (not available at TUCOWS) http://www.securitysoft.com/
Cyber Snoop (not available at TUCOWS) http://www.pearlsw.com/
CYBERsitter 99 http://www.cybersitter.com/
ENUFF pc http://www.akrontech.com/
GuardOne (formerly WizGuard) http://www.guardone.com/
Kid Control http://www.kidcontrol.com/
Net Nanny http://www.netnanny.com/
SOS KidProof (not available at TUCOWS) http://www.soskidproof.com/
SurfWatch (not available at TUCOWS) http://www1.surfwatch.com/
Webroot's WebGuardian http://www.webroot.com/
(The preceding list of products is not exhaustive, but it might be exhausting for anyone who might attempt to check out all of the choices!)
Bottom line: The people I've talked with seem to agree that Cyber Patrol is the monitoring software they prefer. (That's not a scientific survey -- it's just a small sampling of the people I know who have tried parental control software.) It does take a little effort to learn how to use it, but if you are looking for filtering software, you may want to look at Cyber Patrol first. Here, again, is their home page:
And if you're interested in reading still more about parental control software, here are some other sources of information:
Internet Filter Software Chart http://www.safekids.com/filters.htm or http://www.microweb.com/pepsite/Software/filters.html [information about 58 products in chart form!]
Parental Control, WorldVillage http://www.worldvillage.com/wv/school/html/control.htm [one-paragraph descriptions of -- and links to -- over 50 of the options available!]
Security -- Parental Control, PolderWare: http://www.polderware.com/apps/sec-ptct.shtml [information about Arlington BrowserShield, Cyber Patrol, Cyber Surveillance, CYBERsitter 99, Kidnet Explorer, KidSafe Explorer, MoM, Net Lizard K-12 Homework Helper, Net Nanny, PC Spy, PureSight, SurfWatch, WatchDog, We-Blocker, WinGuardian, and ZeekSafe]
Site-Blocking Software, Smart Computing in Plain English http://www.smartcomputing.com/ [after you get there, search for articles on "parental control software" and then choose the March 1999 article entitled "Site-Blocking Software," which includes discussion of Cyber Patrol, Cyber Sentinel, CYBERsitter 99, Cyber Snoop, Net Nanny, SurfWatch, and X-Stop]
Tools for Families, GetNetWise http://www.getnetwise.org/tools/ [a great place to search for the tools that have the specific features you desire]
By the way, if you've had experience yourself with parental control software, feel free to send me your own comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may have helpful advice that I may be able to pass along to other CATI readers. ________________________________________________________________
3. VIRUS PROTECTION: CRISPEN'S SIX ANTIVIRUS RULES
Most email virus warnings (such as the "'It Takes Guts to Say "Jesus"' Virus" warning) are hoaxes. On that subject, consult CATI, 1/2/3 (which translates to Vol. 1, No. 2, Sec. 3), which also, however, indicates that genuine viruses do exist.
Even though the average person is unlikely to come across a real computer virus (unless, say, you have a son in college, as I did, who brought one or two home with him when he came home from college), you may want to consider putting into practice some basic rules related to guarding yourself against computer viruses.
One of the best common-sense set of guidelines I've seen was published in a free email Internet newsletter, the Internet TOURBUS, by Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen, who are "Net gurus" who "explain Internet technology in plain English, with a dash of humor." Here's where you'll find their home page:
If you're interested in possibly subscribing to this twice weekly publication, you'll find information there on how to do so.
The December 14, 1999 issue included a discussion of "Crispen's *Six* Antivirus Rules" (an expansion of his five rules which "in light of the recent Bubbleboy and WormExploreZip virus outbreaks" he "decided to re-rewrite ... on how to protect yourself from computer viruses, Trojan horses, or worms").
For the full details, you'll have to consult the original article, which you'll find in the TOURBUS archives:
(The issue you're after is "14 DEC 1999," which includes an article on the Elf Bowling warning hoax as well as Crispen's Six Antivirus Rules.)
Here, in his own words, are the rules, along with my own comments:
"1. PURCHASE A GOOD, COMMERCIAL ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM LIKE NORTON ANTIVIRUS OR MCAFEE VIRUSSCAN."
Here are some places where you can find information on various antivirus programs as well as download antivirus programs or program demos:
Dave Central Windows Software Archive: http://www.davecentral.com/virus.html
Stroud's CWSApps: http://cws.internet.com/virus.html
TUCOWS (one possible site of many): http://epix.tucows.com/virus95.html
Norton and McAfee are "tried and true," so you should be happy with either (although many other programs are also fine).
"2. UPDATE YOUR VIRUS DEFINITIONS FREQUENTLY (AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK)."
"Once a week" sounds rather frequent to me, but it's so easy to update your virus definitions while online that it isn't really as much of a task as it might at first appear.
"3. NEVER DOUBLE-CLICK (OR LAUNCH) *ANY* FILE, ESPECIALLY AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT, REGARDLESS OF WHO THE FILE IS FROM, UNTIL YOU FIRST SCAN THAT FILE WITH YOUR ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM."
It doesn't take long to scan a file for a possible virus (once you learn how to do it). A friend may unknowingly pass along a file containing a computer virus (in fact, that is probably the most likely way you would get a computer virus), so it is "better to be safe than to be sorry."
"4. TURN ON MACRO VIRUS PROTECTION IN MICROSOFT WORD, AND BEWARE OF ALL WORD MACROS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT MACROS ARE.
As Crispen points out, the dreaded Melissa virus was actually a Microsoft Word macro virus. Here's how to avoid it: "If you use Word 97, go to Tools --> Options. Click on the 'General' tab. Make sure that 'Macro virus protection' (at the bottom of the list) is checked." If you use Word 2000, here's the sequence: "Tools," "Macro," "Security," and be sure that you are set for high or medium security.
"5. RUN WINDOWS UPDATE AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH."
According to Crispen, "Windows is aptly named because it is full of holes.... When the folks at Microsoft discover a security hole, they immediately release a software patch to close it." If you're running Windows 95 or Windows 98, you can check out the details in his article, but it basically involves clicking on "Start" and "Settings" and going on from there to "Windows Update" (or maybe "Active Desktop" to "Update Now"?).
"6. IF SOMEONE UNEXPECTEDLY SENDS YOU AN EXECUTABLE FILE -- IN OTHER WORDS, A FILE THAT ENDS IN .EXE -- THROW IT OUT.
The key word here is "unexpectedly." A virus may attach itself to a friend's email software so that he may send you a file that is virus-infected without his even knowing that he did so. When you get an executable file, don't immediately run it to see what it does: check it our first (and if it came out of nowhere, you may want to delete it).
Is it worthwhile for you to follow these rules? You'll have to decide for yourself. Consider carefully, however, these words from Patrick Crispen:
"How well will these six rules protect your computer from becoming infected with a virus, Trojan horse, or worm? Take a look at the following questions, and decide for yourself. How many people whose computers were infected with the Melissa virus ignored at least one of these rules? ALL OF THEM! How many people who followed these six rules had their computers infected by Melissa? NONE OF THEM! How many people whose computers were infected with the WormExplore.Zip virus ignored at least one of these rules? ALL OF THEM! How many people who followed these six rules had their computers infected by the WormExplore.Zip virus? NONE OF THEM!"
We live in a fallen world, where -- sad to say -- some people use their God-given intelligence and creativity to invent ways to infect and perhaps seriously damage your computer. It's part of the reality of what theologians sometimes call "total depravity," the sinfulness of man. Thus -- in order to protect ourselves -- we need to be "wise as serpents" as well as "innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). Crispen's six rules may help us to protect our computers and ourselves. ________________________________________________________________
4. NEW!: CATI ARCHIVES AT HTTP://TRAVER.ORG/CATI
Depending on what program you are using to read your email, you may find it easy to visit the Web pages mentioned in each issue. Have you tried double-clicking on a Web address to see what happens? If you have not yet tried it, try it now. Double click on the following Web page address:
If all goes well, that should load your Web browser and take you to a brand-new place where you can access past issues of the "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI") newsletter!
If it works, that should work for any other Web address in CATI as well. If it doesn't work, then you may find it easier to read your issues of CATI online using your Web browser rather than your email reader. That way, when you want to visit a site mentioned in CATI, all you have to do is click on the related hyperlink, and you're on your way! (To return to CATI, simply click on the "Back" button on your Web browser.)
Note that the CATI archives are all hyperlinked, article by article. Just click on the title of an article you want to read, and you'll be taken directly to that specific article. Also, note that there is a page providing a "partial index" to the contents of CATI, making it easier to find a previous article on a specific topic.
Here are the topics included thus far (for the previous five issues of CATI):
America Online (AOL) Christian Web Sites Computer Magazines Editorial Comments Email Etiquette Email Hoaxes Email Uses Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 Family-Safe Internet MP3 Files Trinity Hymnal Webrings, Christian and Otherwise
(As the name suggests, the "archives" include past issues of CATI and not the present issue, because it takes some time to convert it properly into HTML.)
Yes, "it's not a pretty site" (I'm talking about what you'll find at http://traver.org/cati ), but I'm hoping that it is one that will be useful to you. Enjoy! ________________________________________________________________
5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER
This is the sixth issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). If you are not yet a subscriber and would like to become one, send an appropriate note to email@example.com.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to email@example.com, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to firstname.lastname@example.org, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)