The most effective child web filter

Bit of a claim. It is said that no child web filter can be 100% effective, and I would say that this probably isn’t fully effective, however it does a lot more than any other filter on the market, and whats more – it’s absolutely, 100% free. But more on that later.

One of the big topics of discussion at the moment is the Australian Government’s Internet Filtering plan. One of the biggest problems, despite the possibility of it being used to restrict access to material that the Government objects to, is that the filter itself is highly ineffective, less so than many commercially available filters – which are themselves less than perfect.

Many of these filters, while blocking many sites, will allow a large number of sites through. How many? Well, let’s assume that most filters are around 99% effective. That sounds like a good number, right? In January 2008, a Netcraft report suggested that there were 156 Million websites. In March 2009, Netcraft reported that there were nearly 225 Million sites, an increase of 9 million sites from the month before. If your censorship software is 99% effective, that’s 2.25 Million websites that can possibly leak through your software. What’s worse is that if there were about 9 million new websites every month, your censorship software cannot possibly keep up with the large number of new websites containing material you might not want your children seeing. Sure, they might eventually get added to the filter software, but eventually is not really good enough is it?

Filtering software – safe as condoms

Recently, Pope Benedict said in an interview that the distribution of condoms in Africa can lead to the increased spread of HIV/AIDS. Despite being attacked by the French Government, aid groups and much of the Western Media, he does have a point – he just said it the wrong way. There is an AIDS epidemic in Africa, there’s no denying that. And condoms can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However, what the Pope was trying to indicate was that if condoms are distributed freely as a way to try and curb the epidemic, it will only make people think that it’s safe to have sex, if you’re wearing a condom. Now, condoms can break, and are ineffective if used incorrectly. So it is idiotic to think that a condom alone will prevent the spread of AIDS. Also, with the more condoms in the area, the more likely people will be having sex. Simple numbers here – let’s say that in a sample population, 100 people have sex with no condoms, and of those, 2 people contract HIV. Now in a similar populations where condoms are freely available, 1000 people have sex, and 10 people contract HIV. Now the percentage is less in the larger population, but more people have HIV.

Now, unlike the Pope, I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t have condoms. However, they can’t be the only measure. We need to use the Pope’s suggestion of behaviour modification, along with the availability of condoms, to fix this problem. Teach them that sex can be a risk best left alone, but if you’re going to do it, be safer about it.

Now how does this relate to internet filtering software? Simple – Internet filtering software fails because it gives a false sense of security. Install the software, and then you can allow your child to roam free on the web, because the software will block all the sites that you don’t want them seeing, right? Wrong! As I’ve already pointed out, an unacceptably large number of websites will still bypass your filter, and I don’t want to be the one you come complaining to when they do (though I would find it slightly odd if you did, as I have nothing to do with the software).

The most effective child web filter – YOU

Just like condoms alone will not fix the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa, Internet Filtering Software will not protect your child online. It is your responsibility to protect your child, and to do that in regards to the internet, you need to supervise them. When first introducing your child to the internet, you should sit alongside them at all times, allowing them to do what they want (or suggesting sites for them to go to), but just making sure they don’t click on anything that looks suss. Later on, you don’t need to sit next to them, but you should stay in the same room, just to keep an eye on them.

During this stage, internet filtering software on your computer should be a given. More than likely nothing will come down while you’re looking at legitimate websites, but there may be the odd advertisement or false link that you might not catch. The software is a backup – to catch those things you miss. Remember – mostly, you don’t see porn on your computer unless you request it.

Covert monitoring

When they get a bit older, and you can trust them more, you can let them use the computer without you being in the room. However, should you still want to watch over them, just to make sure that they are doing the right thing, installing TightVNC on the computer, and have the server running as a service on the computer might be what you want. TightVNC is a program that allows you to remotely connect to another computer and view their screen. You can set it up so you have complete control, or vision only. In this situation, I would recommend vision only – don’t want a stray swipe of the mousepad or an accidental keystroke to alert them to being monitored. Buy a cheap laptop like the eeepc and set up a wireless network at your home (make sure you secure it so no-one else can log in and steal your internet). From there, whenever they use the internet, whatever you’re doing, you can log on and view them.

Other options are logging programs, to see what they’re looking at and checking anything that looks suss.

All in all, the Government’s plan to censor our internet is the worst possible choice – it will make us think that the Government will protect us, when in fact is is giving us a false sense of security. It is your responsibility to protect your child – not the Government’s – so give your child that time. Surely it’s time well spent!

A Week in the life – Friday through Sunday

Well, while I would’ve liked to have posted every day through the weekend, it was so busy, I don’t think I got the computer turned on between Friday and Sunday. Three full days has me sitting here on Monday, trying to remember what happened.

Friday started early, as it normally does, with me leaving home at 7.15 to get to Thornlie Christian College to teach by 8.30. A full day of teaching follows, finishing at 4.30. From there I started the drive to Floreat to help out with their youth group. Dinner along the way, and an agonisingly slow drive up the freeway (normally at that time, it’s quite clear, but was packed on friday). Got to the hall, and got to spend a bit of quiet time with Liesl before needing to help set up for “Gross Games” – which is literally what it sounds like – games that are gross. We had passing cheezles cheek to cheek with peanut butter on our cheeks, searching for tic tacs in milo using only our tongue (and faces still covered in peanut butter), fishing for lollies in cold spaghetti using only our feet, my personal favourite was the twister where each of the dots were covered with condiments – mustard, tomato sauce, blue jelly and gherkin spread. Of course, this turned into a food fight by the end of it where everyone got very messy. It was good fun.

After youth group, and dropping one of the youth groupers off home, I allowed another one to drive my car for a bit. He’s learning to drive, and doesn’t get much time behind the wheel. He was a pretty safe driver, just a few things to watch out for, and as I get more familiar with him, I’m sure I’ll let him drive a bit more. After surviving that, I popped over to Liesl’s to spend a bit of time with her, before heading back home.

Saturday started early again, as I had said I would be at Liesl’s at 7.30am. Waking up at 7.15 put a stop to that, and she was appreciative of the few minutes of extra sleep I gave her. But we needed to be off early, going to a breakfast with the Chrysalis community that I’m involved in. A good opportunity to meet up again, and Liesl got to meet a few faces that she’ll be seeing when she goes on the flight in July 🙂

Then it was off to another event to see our mate Paul shave his hair. Me shaving Paul's hairI was the inspiration for Paul participating this year, so of course I donated and got to shave his hair. It was a great event, and he raised over $1000 for the Leukaemia foundation, as well as some money for the men’s ministry at his church (proceeds of the Sausage Sizzle and Cans etc).

Then it was of to the main event, per se. It was only 11.30 by this stage, so we’d barely got through the morning. Now it was time to head over to Adventure world. I hadn’t been since I was in year 5, so it’s changed quite significantly. The reason for going was to meet Liesl’s sister whom she hadn’t seen in 18 years. Being only 19, it was like meeting her for the first time.  It was good to meet her and her daughters (15 and 17), and they seem like great people whom I hope to get to know well over the coming months and years.

Adventure World was great fun – I did some things that I haven’t done before. I think my favourites are the water slides, though I did have fun on the Rollercoaster (first time in quite a while being on a rollercoaster), and also the Powersurge, spinning me this way and that. I would’ve tried the Rampage, but wasn’t feeling the best after the Rollercoaster/Powersurge double.  I think I won’t make it so long between visits, as there’s a few things that I’d love to do still – the Rampage, Bounty’s Revenge, the Go-Karts, and a few more trips down the Waterslides.

In the evening, Liesl hosted a “Wii and Singstar night” where we played Guitar Hero World Tour, Wii Sports, and Singstar. A great night, and a fun way to spend time with friends, but I started showing the effects of two long days, and Liesl insisted that I crash in the spare bed. After everyone left, around midnight, I got to the spare bed, and was asleep within minutes.

PizzaSunday, and an early start. I left Liesl’s place around 7.30 – before anyone else was awake – in order to get back to my place, have a shower and breakfast, and get off to Church for the music. There I was informed that bible study would not be on, making it a full month since I’ve been, but it did make it possible for me to attend the evening service at Floreat. In the afternoon, I headed off to Caversham House, where Liesl’s best friend, Tanya, was hosting a Pizza Picnic event for her work. We had a great time, eating some lovely pizza, and chatting and stuff.

After a brief rest period watching some Scrubs, we headed down to Floreat for rehearsal for the Worship band before the service. The service itself was great, and was good to be able to share fellowship with both my churches in the one day. Dinner with a small group of us after the service, then back to Liesl’s for more scrubs and prayer time.

So as you can see, a pretty full weekend, and it’s no real surprise that I was quite tired, and didn’t have time to write any blogs. But we’ll see if I can put another one up tonight as reflections of my week.

“Shoot-em-ups” don’t kill people

Bit of a controversial header there, but I believe every word of it. This comes from a news report on ABC on-line with the header “German gunman a ‘keen shoot-em-up gamer’” which says within the report “”We seized his computer yesterday evening and analysed it… On it are games that are typical for someone carrying out a mass shooting,” [Police Chief] Mr Michelfelder said.”

Sorry, what? Games that are typical for someone carrying out a mass shooting? It’s quite obvious what type of games he’s talking about. the “Shoot-em-up” games which are very popular. Take for example, the games available for multiplayer on 3FL – a gaming site which I visit due to its association with my ISP. We have:

  • Battlefield 1942 – a “3D World War II First Person Shooter”
  • Call of Duty – also based in World War II
  • Call of Duty 4 – based in the “near future”
  • Call of Duty: World at War – based in World War II
  • Counter-Strike
  • Counter-Strike: Source – Tactical Firstperson shooters
  • Day of Defeat – Team based multiplayer First person shooter
  • Enemy Territory Pro – Free Multiplayer FPS based on the Wolfenstein games
  • Left 4 Dead – where you are one of four survivors fighting off hordes of zombies
  • Team Fortress 2 – FPS video game, slightly more cartoony than the other games mentioned
  • Team Fortress Classic
  • Trackmania Nations Forever – A Racing game
  • Tribes 2 – a sci-fi FPS
  • Warsow – a multiplayer competitive FPS game

As you can see, only one game that is not a “Shoot-em-up” as the media would have us believe, though to be fair, there are many games here which I would not describe as shoot-em-up. Many of these games require skill, timing, patience, accuracy, and covertness, and are not the jump in and hold the trigger down type of game. However, the media would have us believe that any game of this type is the type of game that a mass-murderer would have, and lead the public into making the assumption that these games breed killers.

This is an outright lie, and should not be even promoted as a thought.

There are millions of gamers around the world who play First Person Shooters as their preferred games. Back in February 2008, reported that 1.2 million copies of the FPS Unreal Tournament 3 had been sold for both PC and PS3, and this was just prior to the release of this game in Europe. So of course, you can expect more sales from Europe, and with the recent update and Titan Pack, Steam was offering a sale on this game, so you would expect even more sales just recently.

So we have millions of people that play FPS games. Yet, only a very small minority of these gamers ever do something outside of the game. It wouldn’t reach 1%. It probably doesn’t even reach 0.01% of all gamers.

Now I’m not saying that what this guy in Germany did was right. It’s a shocking thing, and I wish that it never happened. And I’m not going to say that FPS games may have played a minor part. We will never know for sure. However, the reason that most FPS players don’t go on massacres is because they are mature enough, and well enough in the head to understand that IT’S JUST A GAME. We do it to relax, we do it to entertain. I love gaming, and though I’m not very good at them, I really enjoy first person shooters. However, I could never hold a real gun – I’m a pacifist at heart. And I’m sure that the majority of gamers will never go on a massacre, and will be just as disgusted and appalled by this tragedy as anyone else.

The fact of the matter is that there were other factors in this guys life that lead to him committing such an atrocity. There were factors in his life that we may not know, things happening in his brain that he may have shared with no-one. It’s a shame that he felt this was the only way to solve these issues, that he couldn’t see another way, but gamers should not get blamed for this.

As Christians, we should be praying for the families of all involved, working tirelessly with those at risk individuals, and caring for and loving everyone that we meet, showing them that there is more to life and that it’s worth living.

A Week in the Life – Thursday

Thanks to not having to work today, I enjoyed a lazyish morning. I watched a couple of Stargate episodes, then after lunch, did some work on my budget. While I had the cash to be able to cover my speeding fine, I decided that I really should try and recover the money if I could. So I decided that taking a bit of money from my various cash spendings each  month (things like Discretionary, fuel and clothes) then I could slowly (over 10 months) save up the money spent on the fine and also membership to the youth orchestra.

After I’d figured that all out, I went to pay the fine, do some banking, and pick up a couple of books for one of my students. There’s three music stores in Perth that are worth visiting – Zeniths, Theo’s and Tempest music. I rarely go to Tempest, as it’s south of the river, and not in my usual driving range, and often is more expensive than the other two. Zeniths is where I prefer to go, as it’s a bit easier to find what you’re looking for, but Theo’s often has better prices. Bit of a toss up really. Today, I had to visit both Zeniths and Theos, as Zeniths didn’t have one book, and thankfully, Theos did (and didn’t have the book I got at Zeniths).

Then some teaching, a few lessons, and then had dinner with my wonderful girlfriend’s Nanna and Pop. They are the most awesome old people, so it was awesome to spend some time with them and hear a few of their stories. After dinner, my gorgeous girlfriend dragged me shopping (I allowed myself to be dragged quite willingly hehe) to go shopping with her for youth group tomorrow. Gross Games. I’m not quite sure what I’ve got coming for me tomorrow, but it shall be interesting to say the least.

So, for tomorrow – Teaching all day from 830 to 430, then youth group at night. Now, want to write another post, reflecting on a news article I just read, then a bit of reading then sleep. Watch for a new post shortly.

A week in the Life – Wednesday

Work again today. But unfortunately, on my way there I got picked up for speeding. Now this is odd, as my beautiful girlfriend calls me a “Grandpa” driver, because I always do the speed limit. So how’d I get pulled up? School Zones. Now I admit, I was in the wrong. I hadn’t seen the signs, and as such, believed that I was doing the speed limit, but I should’ve been paying more attention. School Zones are there to ensure the kids are safe, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I’d killed someone for going that fast. So while I don’t like it, and I’ll have to rework my budget for a little while, I’ll take the fine.

Meeting at work today, team meeting, making sure that we can all work together as a team. It’s tough when we work different days, not sure of everyone’s role, so it was good to clear that up. Other than that, bit of work on various stuff, including fixing a laptop that was not recognising USB devices. That was fun.

Came home for a bit of relaxation before teaching, and a bit of watching some NBA clips on youtube. Then my dearest girlfriend came over to discuss a bit of stuff. It’s so wonderful having her, because we’re both passionate about our faith, and we make time to pray together. Today, it was specifically about some issues that have come up in our lives, but we also make sure to do it when we don’t have those troubles and everything is just peachy. It’s lovely to be able to trust someone so much to share all your worries, your misgivings and more with, and then to be able to offer them up to God for help.

Tomorrow, normally I would have work but that was moved to this morning, so a bit of a lazy day. I should try and get to the doctors – been avoiding that, and need to get back to the Gym. Teaching in the afternoon, and dinner with my gorgeous girlfriend’s nanna and pop. Should be a good day. But now, I think I have some time to waste with God, read a few chapters of the books I’m working through.

Wasting time with God

As part of my work, I have to upload the fortnightly e-mail newsletter. The text gets sent to me, but I have to do a bit of formatting to make it look good. In our latest edition, one heading grabbed my attention – “St George’s Cathedral invites you to waste time with God.” A series of events at the Anglican Cathedral in Perth, inviting you to come and explore spirituality. I attended one just recently, a talk on Spirituality and music. Most fascinating stuff, however, I’m finding that the style of worship that appeals to me and enhances my soul, is no longer in the anglican tradition that I am familiar with, so as such I probably won’t attend many sessions unless the title really interests me.

But this idea of “Wasting time with God” really caught me. What a wonderful idea! I’m guessing that if you’re like me, sometimes you really want to just waste some time. It might be finding something to do instead of watching tv, or my personal favourite, spending time on Facebook. You might have a few minutes before you need to leave home for school but not enough time to get anything done. You might just need a break from whatever it is that you were doing. We all need these breaks that allow us to “waste time”. Often we’ll go to things like Facebook, twitter, or other things. How wonderful it would be to make a conscious decision that instead of wasting time on things like Facebook, you instead decided to waste time with God?

Got 1 minute? Say a prayer about something on your mind, or thanking God for a wonderful day, or thanking him that you can talk to him any time of the day. Got 5 minutes? Read through a Psalm, or choose a verse from Proverbs and see how it may relate to your life. Got longer? Read through a chapter from one of the books of the bible. I’ve recently decided that I want to make a concerted effort to read the bible, not just in my daily devotions, but actually reading a book of the bible from beginning to end. It’s a lot different to getting the readings in my devotional, where you just get bits and pieces. By reading all the way through, you get some context to what you’re reading which is awesome.

Anyway, if we start spending our wasted time with God, surely our lives will start to improve, as we live and learn in Christ, it can only be a good thing to waste time with God.

A Week in the Life – Tuesday

At work today, which is my “regular” job – Admin/IT work at the Council of Churches of WA. I run the website and e-mail newsletter, as well as whatever other admin work comes my way. At the moment, we’re getting ready for the AGM, so there’s a bit of work involved with checking attendances, getting reports ready etc etc. Today wasn’t too bad – it was constant work but not overly busy.

After I finished – only a half day, finished at 1pm – I headed off to the shops to deposit a cheque and to buy some clothes. Got some cheap towels that I’m going to use as sweat towels. Now I need to get myself back into heading off to the gym.

Bit of gaming in the afternoon – I’m trying to give myself about an hour a day where I can to game. It’s something I enjoy, and often go to LAN’s with mates, and figure that if I’m going to be spending money on these games, I should probably play them inbetween LAN’s. Hey, I might even start getting better!!

This evening entailed a board meeting for Chrysalis, which is a non-denominational christian youth retreat that I’ve been involved in over the past few years. I’ve just taken up a role on the board, and am still finding my feet and what I need to do. Tonight was the first meeting that I’ve managed to get to, and we had some good discussion about various issues we’re facing, and possible solutions. And I’m starting to get an understanding of what my role is. It’ll take some time for me to settle in, but I think i’m going to do alright, I’ve got some interesting and exciting ideas.

And now, I think I’ll turn on the cricket, play Peggle for half an hour, then get some sleep. Work tomorrow morning, with some teaching in the afternoon.

Pachelbel Canon in D for Solo Violin

I hadn’t realised that I had forgotten to upload this to my site. This is an arrangement I had made of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, arranged for Solo Violin. It is much adapted and abridged, and makes use of double stops to make the illusion of multiple voices in some parts, while reverting to single lines where necessary. Uses only the “interesting” parts.

This arrangement is © 2006 Ben Clapton, however I do give permission for this piece to be performed anywhere in the world, for whatever purpose (busking, weddings etc) on the sole condition that I be notified by e-mail to or as a comment to this post as to the location (City, Country) that it will be performed in. Comments about the arrangement are always welcome, but please – constructive criticism or praise only.

This arrangement has been performed in places such as the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Download Ben Clapton’s arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon in D for solo violin.Download Pachelbel’s Canon for Solo Violin

This is a free arrangement. However, if you like the arrangement and would like to tip, please press one of the buttons below.

A Week in the Life – Monday

I thought that I’d do a little bit of blogging, and just write about what I’m up to these days. This week, I’ll post a short blog outlining what I got up to this week. Then at the end of it, I’ll review, and see if I could have done anything better, what I’ll try to do differently next week, and such things.

Today, I had a bit of a lazy day. After getting to bed at a decent time, I woke up in the morning, had a glass of juice and a coffee, then went back to sleep until 9. I went out to have breakfast, watched an episode of Stargate, and thought about what I wanted to be doing today. Admin day today – after checking for payments, I printed off some invoices that I had to mail out, and then realised that I needed envelopes (somehow we’d run out at home). So a trip to the shops for some envelopes and stamps took me up to lunchtime.

Had my students arriving from 2.30, and had a few good lessons. I’m really happy with how my studio is developing, and I’m really happy with the range of students. There’s still a bit more that I’d like to be able to do, but at the moment it’s a good balance between teaching and admin (that is – more teaching, less admin). Then my girlfriend arrived after her day of work (hehe, I love that I can have a day of “work” that is done mostly in my pj’s), and we had dinner with my parents and chatted until I had to get ready for basketball.

Was a good tight game tonight, we ended up drawing 27-27. We’ve lost a few strong members of our team for various things, so we did well to play as  we did. Now I’m here, writing this blog, thinking it’s probably high time I went to bed.

Highlights for tomorrow are work and a Chrysalis board meeting. Should be good.