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Newsletter March 11, 2002

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From protecting children to spying!

The number one rule on the Internet is to trust nobody. This fact needs to be taught to all children. Anyone can pretend to be someone else. To protect users from meeting the wrong kind of people on-line, there exist many programs that filter illicit content. However, some of them can also turn out to be fearsome computer spies, able to collect very detailed personal information and much more.

In the United States, the Crime Against Children research center found that 19% of children between the age of 10 and 17 have been approached at least once on the Net in an overtly sexual manner. Another study, by the private Pew Center foundation, shows that 60% of teenagers have received messages from strangers (not necessarily of a sexual nature) and that 25% were not alarmed by this. To preserve your children from making the wrong acquaintances, some filtering software goes beyond simply banning access to adult sites. The particularity of Childsafe is to make screenshots of sites visited by children. Other programs go as far as recording activity on your computer in your absence. CyberDetective for example allows you to check for fraudulent use of your machine, by noting all the URLs of visited sites, the windows that have been opened, the connections established, the text typed etc.

This type of software is certainly quite effective for monitoring your child's activities on the Internet, but can also be used as a powerful spying device. Ill-intentioned people who secretly install one of these programs on your machine are then able to monitor your computer usage, obtain confidential information, access your e-mail correspondence, news groups and documents etc. One solution is to use software such as Spytech SpyAgent Professional to keep an eye on any attempt to install spyware programs without your knowledge. This agent records all the interventions performed by other users on your computer in your absence. Once more, the same software can also be used for spying purposes: it takes a spy to know one.

It is important not to give in to panic. The world of James Bond and Mission: Impossible is far away. Often people merely use this type of software for fun or to play jokes on their friends. And of course, before it can be used in this way, the software must first be installed on your computer by a third party.

Filtering agents available in Agentland:

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>> File sharing <<

> Morpheus
After a technical breakdown that lasted a week, the Morpheus file-sharing system is available again, a relief for the fans! Morpheus is back with a new edition of the software (still a preview) that frees it from the FastTrack platform (used by KaZaA and Grokster), to be now replaced by the Gnutella network. In this new version, Morpheus extends its search to the Web, in order to get more result to a request.

>> Pop-up killer <<

> Smart Explorer
Tired of wasting time waiting for web pages to load? Are annoying pop-up ads using all your bandwidth? Smart Explorer is the fast, smart, and secure Internet browser. Smart Explorer kills popup ads, filters multimedia downloads, has multiple web browsing windows, and integrates the top search engines, allowing for searches of multiple sites at once.

>> Pictures <<

> PICgrabber
Looking for free Movie Trailers, funny Movie Clips, Wallpaper, great 3D Images, Pictures or cool Backgrounds? PICgrabber will find them on the Internet for you! Just choose your search topic and press start... while PICgrabber is searching the web through Altavista, Yahoo, Hotbot, Excite, etc. you can look at the downloaded images and movies using the included Mediaviewer. It's so Easy !

>> Child Care <<

> Childsafe
Childsafe is a computer monitoring utility that enables parents to watch as much or as little of their children's computer and Internet activity as they see fit. The unique "Block-On-Demand" function enables parents to block access to specific web sites, which they deem inappropriate, offensive, or dangerous. ChildSafe features support for the latest browsers and is simple to use.

>> Privacy <<

> Cache & Cookie Washer (for AOL, Internet Exporer and Netscape)
Cache & Cookie Washer is a must-have tool for cleaning up the extra files left behind on your computer when surfing the Internet . The browser stores copies of all of the web sites visited on the user's computer, which can take up a lot of hard drive space if not properly managed. Cache & Cookie Washer makes cleaning these Internet tracks a breeze.


> Talking Stocks
Talking Stocks retrieves current stock quotes from the Internet, then broadcasts them using a talking character. You can also listen to the current stock prices, without stopping your work. More than 10 international stock markets are supported, including markets in North America, Europe, Australia and more.


> Robo-Scribe: Perfect for War?,1452,50698,00.html
A robot, a brainchild of computer engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computing Culture Department, is going to cover the war in Afghanistan. This robot-journalist is equipped with all the gadgets needed to conduct interviews and rout out the latest news story. The robot comes with a digital video camera able to shoot in a wide range of lighting conditions. It also has digital audio recording capabilities and an intercom system for remote interviews. The robot's creators see a main advantage to their creation saying it has the potential to go where journalists are not allowed - especially, during a war period -.

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