OpenDNS and FamilyShield – WHS 14

OpenDNS and FamilyShield are great tools for simplifying Internet security.

I’ve been using OpenDNS for years. I originally started using as a novelty. I soon discover the many benefits of this service and now recommend that everyone uses it.

The primary function that everyone will benefit from is the content filtering. If you want granular control then OpenDNS is for you. If you want basic filtering services then FamilyShield would be an option for you to choose.

Here’s a run-down of the features for both services:
OpenDNS Basic

  • Cost – FREE
  • Reliable DNS Infrastructure
  • Web Content Filtering
  • Phishing Protection
  • Typo Correction

FamilyShield features the same great services but lacks customization.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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SafeEyes – WHS 13

Keep your kids safe online with SafeEyes

Parental controls are important tools in your homeschooling toolbox. Keeping your children safe on the Internet from objectionable material can be difficult considering how many ways it can slip through the cracks. Even with very strict parental controls in place it’s still possible for your children to view content that would make your eyelids curl. No filtering product is perfect but I think SafeEyes has the features and tools that will help you in keeping your children safe online.

Features

SafeEyes features include:

  • Content Controls – Flexible content control allows you to select the types of website that are appropriate.
  • Program Controls – Control Instant Messengers, P2P File Sharing, and other harmful programs.
  • Time Controls – Control the amount of time spent online, and the times when the internet is available.
  • Usage Logging – Create and review logs of websites visited, programs used on the Internet, and Instant Messaging Chats.
  • Usage Alerts – Be notified instantly via email, text message, or phone call when someone visits inappropriate websites.

Final thoughts

SafeEyes looks like a great tool for families who want an all-in-one solution to their Internet accountability and filtering needs. At $49.95 a year I think it’s priced just right for parents who want to be confident that their children will not come across objectionable material on the Internet. As I said earlier, no product is perfect but SafeEyes has a number of features that certainly make it a viable option for the less savvy computer users.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Homeschooling and Copyright – WHS 12

This week I deviate from my schedule and talk about copyright and the homeschooler. In addition, I review the products offered at Homeschool Astronomy. I’ll get back on schedule and review SafeEyes next week.

Homeschool Astronomy

Homeschool Astronomy is a great resource for parents who want to teach their children about our universe. It differs from the classical astronomy approach that you often here me talk about with Jay Ryan on my other podcast, Jesus Geek. Classical astronomy is primarily about what you can see with the unaided eye and Jay Ryan’s Signs and Seasons is the only curriculum I recommend when it comes to teaching astronomy from a classica point of view. The Homeschool astronomy curriculum teaches modern astronomy.

What do you get?

Each unit is self-contained and comes in a PowerPoint format. There are beautiful pictures from NASA and facts and figures that will make you head explode. Each unit also has discussion questions and suggested activities to go along with the study. I found the units to be thorough and easily adaptable to children of all ages. I would recommend using each unit for a week. Spreading out the lesson over a week will help your child to retain more of the information.

Price and final thoughts

Each unit costs $9.95. The unit I was given as a sample had 43 slides in it with a number of discussion questions and information that could keep a motivated student going for at least a week, if not two. The one thing I feel could be changed is if it were offered in different formats. WHile I would venture a guess that most homeschoolers have a copy of Microsoft Office on their computer, some may not. Offering thi product as a PDF or self-contained flash animation would make it much more accessible to those homeschoolers who do not have PowerPoint. It could also be saved a self-executing Powerpoint presentation to make it more accessible to Windows users, however, Apple or Linux users wouldn’t have the means to run such a presentation. I don’t see this as a strike against the product but rather a way that the product could be improved for compatibility with as many computing environements as possible. All-in-all this is a great product and I highly recommend that you go out an purchase at least one unit to see if you’d like to use it yourself.

Copyright

Copyright and homeschooling is an issue that has baffled me for years. I suspect most people are ignorant of the copyright laws in the Unites States but once someone makes them aware of the law it appears that there is a contingent of homeschoolers that choose to ignore the law and continue to take money out of the back pockets of individuals and organiazations dedicated to providing homeschoolers with quality material in their homeschooling endeavors. I talk a little about that on this week’s podcast and discuss my position on the matter. Fore more information about homeschool copyright and how you can be sure you’re within the law you can visit http://homeschoolcopyright.com

Like what you see? Connect socially!

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Etc.

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The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.

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X3 Watch – WHS 11

Today on The Wired Homeschool I provide you with a feature review of X3 Watch and compare it with Covenant Eyes. While this is not a feature-to-feature comparison I think it will provide you with enough information to decide which product would be best for you to use.

I also reiterate why you should be using an accountability product and the importance of using it with a content filter.

Full disclosure: I’m a Covenant Eyes affiliate and receive payment if you purchase Covenant Eyes using my promotional code embedded in the links. I did not, however, receive any payment for the production of this podcast.

What is X3 Watch?

X3watch is an accountability software program helping with online integrity. Whenever you browse the Internet and access a site, which may contain questionable material, the program will record the site name, time, and date the site was visited. A person of your choice (an accountability partner) will receive an email containing all possible questionable sites you may have visited within the month. This information is meant to encourage open and honest conversation between friends and help us all be more accountable. Source–http://x3watch.com

X3 Watch Free Features

  • Email accountability reports every 2 or 4 weeks
  • Up to 2 accountability partners
  • Single user account
  • Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X

X3 Watch Pro Features

  • Email accountability reports every 1 or 2 weeks
  • Up to 3 accountability partners
  • Multiple user accounts
  • Technical Support
  • Windows XP/Vista/7

Mobile Versions
X3 Watch is also available on the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch for $0.99 and in the Android Marketplace for $6.99. Unlike the iVersions of X3 Watch, the Android version actually runs in the background and monitors all Internet activity on your Android device just like the desktop version. The iPhone version requires you to disable Safari before using X3 Watch.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Covenant Eyes – WHS 10

On this week’s episode of The Wired Homeschool, I’ll discuss some of the features ofCovenant Eyes and why I only use the monitoring and accountability features of it rather than the content filter.

Full disclosure: I’m a Covenant Eyes affiliate and receive payment if you purchase Covenant Eyes using my promotional code embedded in the links. I did not, however, receive any payment for the production of this podcast.

This episode is not a full feature review of Covenant Eyes. I only use the monitoring and accountability features for reasons I will explain.

Key features:

Provides always-on monitoring of all Internet activity.
Stays out of the way, no annoying pop-ups.
Hotspot access for use when traveling.
Scores pages rather than blocks them so you can teach your children to make wise decisions.
Works great in tandem with OpenDNS FamilyShield
Optional filtering available if you wish to block high-scoring sites.

Pricing for Covenant Eyes’ services:

Accountability:
$9.99/mo. for the first username
$2/mo. for each additional username
Add Filtering to a username or a Filter-only username to your account for just $1.50/mo. (You save $3.49/mo.)
Choose an annual subscription and save $10.89 on the first Accountability username (with or without Filtering).

Filtering:
$5.99/mo. for the first Filter-only username
$1.50/mo. for each additional Filter username
Note: filtering is currently only available with Windows operating systems.

You can find other blog posts and podcasts where I’ve mentioned Covenant Eyes by searching the blog.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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