[clipart]Although I've been a Mac convert for well over a year now, the family still uses a Dell Windows XP laptop from a few ages past. That laptop is slow, has a tendency to sound like a running dishwasher and its plastic casing creaks as you type. I'm not a cruel man. So this weekend we decided to pick up a new laptop and that came with a whole whack of stuff for me to comment on. Hello bloggy my old friend...

For whatever reason, we got sucked into a Sony Vaio at Costco (hey, it was on sale) so here I am, back on a Windows box, at least for the evening.

The Windows Revelation

First up, Windows 7 is a vast improvement over Windows XP.


Hopefully my revelations get a little more interesting, but just in case: don't let the screen door hit you on the butt as you leave...

The Chrome Mystery

[clipart]Second, I rediscovered that all Sony Vaio laptops ship with Google Chrome as the default browser. There is the pretty Chrome icon on the desktop labeled simply "Internet Browser" (no mention of "Chrome" or "Google"). Suddenly those surging Chrome numbers start to make more sense.

I guess Mozilla doesn't need to feel as ashamed of itself.

The Protection Policy

[clipart]Since this is the family's laptop, I went on to determine if/how I could restrict some of the activity for my kids' account. Turns out that Windows 7 has some nice things in place for this, though it's far from perfect:

  • You can specify "time limits" for your kids. Though Microsoft's definition of a "time limit" seems to be "these are the hours your kids are allowed on the computer". Sorry, I know I'm being pedantic here.
  • The list of applications I want to allow them to use is a joke. What are all those setup.exe applications doing in there? Surely I don't want them to accidentally access those? Yet the alternative is to search through the entire list for things I _might_ want to allow them and then click those. I admit this is a tricky problem because kids can tend to get crafty as we let them get older. Anyway, I gave up on this after less than a minute and just clicked the "Check All" button. If I install games on the laptop that I don't want them to play, then I'll have to be diligent. I left the browsers in there (more on that later).
  • I got really amused by the content types you can filter on. Mild Excessive Violence. Multiple flavors of Nudity. I like how you can mix and match levels of Drug Use, Language, Sexual Content, etc to perfectly match to your specific level of prude. I wonder if anyone ever uses that for the opposite purpose for what it was intended ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Windows 7 doesn't ship with a way to protect your kids from the savory bits of the web, but it's a free Windows Live Download click away. Of course you have to have a Live ID for that. Oh and it fired up IE8, even though Chrome is listed as the default browser. And this means that their web traffic is going through the live.com servers first. I wonder if mine is too...:/

The Back Door Conundrum

[clipart]After doing all that protecting of my kids, I felt pretty good. Then I shut 'er down and walked away with a bit of a cowboy swagger.

After dinner I noticed a little sticker on the laptop that said: "Web Button: One touch web access w/out full boot up". And sure enough there was a little button labeled "Web" right tucked up next to that sticker. I pressed it.

Within 10 seconds I was sitting inside of the "Splashtop Browser" with full internet privileges. ๐Ÿ˜€

This was the first time I've experienced SplashTop, but basically it's what I envision ChromeOS to be like: a teeny Linux OS with nothing more than a full-screen modern browser, a tray and a couple of auxiliary buttons. Google, you're all clear to knock my socks off!

I know there must be a way to disable Splashtop if I want to... I haven't decided when I'll act on that yet but I surely will because what did disturb me is reading about how Splashtop browsers/environments stay updated: It's not uniformly done! Generally it requires people downloading the latest image and installing or "flashing" it or something I think. From a security standpoint, that's just not acceptable in today's world. I fully expect ChromeOS to be a self-updating system that never requires a user to have to install anything. From that perspective, Splashtop seems like a joke, or at least misguided.

It's using a browser based on Firefox 3.0 in 2010, man!

§728 · March 14, 2010 · Uncategorized · · [Print]

Leave a Comment to “Out With the Old, In With The…?”

  1. Ok, to disable Splashtop from coming up when the ‘Web’ button is pressed (or if you seek to really just piss somebody off), then do the following (NOTE: this solution is unsupported and was found here and here):

    • bring up Windows Explorer (Windows+E)
    • in the Address bar (Alt-D), type C:\
    • under the Organize tab, click “Folder and search options”
    • click the “View” tab
    • click “Show hidden files, folders and drives”
    • click “Ok”
    • right-click on “SPLASH.SYS” and click Rename
    • rename to SPLASH-DISABLED.SYS or something


  2. As you let kids get older…as opposed to? LoL…

    I have concerns with Google’s privacy policies though I’m happy to see a WebKit browser as the default in place of Internet Explorer any day…speaking of which I’m insanely excited about Monday and the possi…prob…guarantee of messing around with IE9! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I have to disagree about Windows 7. In a production environment I have to click two to five times more to achieve the same things in Vista/7 that I did with XP; 7 is nothing more then Vista++. Of course most people don’t interact much with the OS and spend the vast majority of their time in browsers or video games.

  3. Laura says:

    THANK YOU Jeff for the solution regarding disabling Splashtop. It work perfectly… the notebook is for my 12 year old and I wanted to install Net Nanny but Splashtop was a way to easy bypass… I certify it works!

  4. Johnn says:

    Hey jeff, i had a really good laugh with your comments, i sympathize with your comments about splashtop, that’s why i’m bothering you with a question, do you know if there’s a way to install chrome OS or any other OS alike instead of splashtop? For example http://browserlinux.com/ Browser linux which looks fairly decent.

    any pointers you have to offer are dearly welcome

  5. Jeff says:

    Sorry Johnn – I don’t know if it’s possible.