Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Choose Your Parental Control Software

If you have kids growing up to be teenagers, you would likely start wondering why they're spending so much time on the Internet. Are they doing research on the Internet for their homework as they claim? Or, are they simply spending time chatting with friends? Are they visiting websites with inappropriate content? Whom are they meeting on the social network? Welcome to parenthood in the Internet era!

Parental control is about managing behaviors of your kids on the computer and over the Internet. Parental control can be implemented in several ways.

If you use a router to support Internet connectivity of multiple computers in your home network, you may want to first look into what functionality your router already provides. Most of routers support simple access restriction, such as, domain and URL blocking. Yet, only a few routers provide effective logging that shows you the visited websites or URLs. If you're willing to try your luck with some public domain firmware and monitoring software, you may get to squeeze some juice out of your router. In general, though, the result won't be worth of your effort.

Windows Vista (except Business edition) offers its own built-in parental control. The functionality is fully integrated with the security control of the operating system and is very easy to use. Although not as powerful as the third-party parental control software, parental control from Windows Vista is likely all you need.

If your computers are not running Windows Vista or you are looking for more sophisticated features, there are several software vendors to consider. Based on my research, the two vendors on that top my list are SpectorSoft and Spytech. I'll discuss some of the most important considerations below to help you make your purchase decision.
  1. Logging: Many of the third party parental control offer a wide range of logging features starting from basics, such as, keystrokes, websites, and URLs to advanced features like email capturing, social networks, online chats, and screen recording.
  2. Control: Almost all the products allow you to set a schedule during which Internet access is allowed, URL, or website blocking. Widows Vista supports website blocking according to the pre-compiled website ratings in their database. This is useful, because you can't possibly enter all the unwanted websites by hand. Vista also allows restrictions on gaming playing and applications.
  3. Access: Most of the products require you to have physical access to the monitored computer to see the logs or generated reports, while a few of them can send the reports to your email box. With some upgrade, some products let you access all the logs at a centralized location on the Internet or monitor the activities in real time. At the moment, Spector Pro 2009 of SpectorSoft offers the most powerful feature set followed closely by Spytech's SpyAgent. With help from eBlaster, Spector Pro of SpectorSoft allows you to access the logs and reports remotely. SpyAgent of Spytech offers remote access with SpyAnywhere and real-time monitoring with Realtime-Spy.
  4. Stealth mode: If you prefer not to have your kids find out that they are being monitored, "stealth mode" can come in handy. Many products is capable of running in stealth mode that hides itself from the user on the computer.
  5. Pricing: Spector Pro 2009 costs $99.95 per computer with some discount, if you purchase more than one license. Spytech appears to offer a more attractive pricing towards multiple licenses. IamBigBrother of Internet Safety Software costs only $29.95, but charges additional $9.99 per month for accessing data over the Internet that can add up quickly. Some vendors require you to renew your license every year. So, do not rely only on the price tag to calculate your cost.
Even though technology is available and mature, perhaps the most effective way to parental control is a frank conversation between you and your kids. After all, trust is the most valuable property within a family.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beyond Copyrights Protection

In my post "Understanding Trademarks and Copyrights", I discussed basic concepts. Even if you're willing to pay $45 to register every piece of your creation with the Electronic Copyright Office of The Library of Congress, how would you find out who makes illegal copies of your work?

It is neither feasible nor practical hoping to identify offending contents or websites simply by having YouTube employ a group of staffs eye-browsing the uploaded videos. To make the problem even worse, there are many types of media files ranging from text, image, music, to video.

Technology seems to show glimmers of hope finally. A week ago, I came across a new start-up called Attributor that is currently developing a new generation of technology that helps police the content over the Internet. Here is how it works:
  1. The content creator registers the original content with Attributor.
  2. Attributor screens and indexes over 100 million web pages a day.
  3. Attributor detects the copies of the content and the offending web sites.
  4. Attributot also generates reports with details of the offending websites, such as, whether or not an attribution link back to the original web site exists, the web site traffic, the advertising revenues, and so on.
Attributor is shooting beyond copyrights protection, though. The reports allow the content creator to take proper actions. One simple action could be to require the offending web site to include an attribution link back to the original site. Not only does the attribution link improve authority of the original web site (e.g. Google PageRank), but would also bring in additional traffic. Other actions include removal of the offending content, blockage of the offending web site by the search engines, negotiating a share of the advertising revenue, or legal actions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Cartoosh Widgets

Widgets have been gaining lots of fans in the last couple of years. The small widgets that originate from their ancestors - portlets in the portal about ten years ago have evolved significantly thanks to technology innovations, such as, RSS and Web 2.0.

The widgets have come out their enterprise habitats, sprouted in the consumer-oriented portals like MyYahoo and iGoogle, and now blossomed on many blogs, websites, and social networks. Along that move, the purpose of widgets has shifted from personalization (of, say, your iGoogle home page) to Internet marketing and beyond. Many widgets are used on social networks as an extension of socialization. For example, one may make new friends via a "virtual pet" that lives in a pet widget rather than simply say hello to a total stranger.

Widgets are even spouting a new industry. There are several start-ups riding on the rise of widgets by easing the learning curve in creating widgets, lowering the entrance barrier in distribution of widgets (like market penetration), or providing such intelligence as who's installed your widgets (similar to market analysis).

If you're a blogger or a website owner, take a look at the four new Cartoosh widgets at By embedding these widgets in your blog or website, your readers automatically get up-to-date cartoons without leaving your site.

I'll have more coverage on widgets, since they are important stepping stones in the next phase of my Internet adventure.

Saturday, March 21, 2009 Launched

I'm glad to announce that the whole new website is officially launched. With the goal to become your trusted partner in pursuing your heart healthy diet and living, we've designed featuring both blog posts and a variety of personal care products. Our editors will continue to bring you the latest medical information about your health as well as share with your their personal experience. We look forward to your continuous support and working more closely with you to satisfy your needs in the Fishtarian living. Officially Launched

I'm glad to announce that is now up and running. As we continue to provide you the best blog, the whole new is designed to offer easy access to our merchandises. Our goal of is to make it a fun-filled cartoon-centric mall where you would enjoy reading our cartoon posts, touring our gallery and bookstore, and much more. Come visit today and give us your feedback.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Register Domain Names

I spent last couple of days registering a couple of domain names I plan to use for Project BKO. Luckily, I got all I wanted without paying hefty premium. That sounds incredibly impossible in the post-doc-com era in which every domain name one can reasonably think of is already taken.

"How could that be?", you ask. Simple. Everyone can think of a domain name and immediately register it via authorized registrars for less than $10 a year. founded in 1997 was credited as the first registrar that made domain names affordable commodities. It claims that it has registered about 70% of the domain names.

Having registered the domain names, domain name investors will be sitting on them and waiting for big fishes who would offer to buy them. To get rid of unwanted domains, the investors can list their domains for auction and sell them to the highest bidder.

There are even domain parking garages for unused domains to park and collect money. How? The parked domains are set up as a one-page website decorated with advertisement links. The links work exactly like Goggle Adsense that shares advertising revenue with the domain parkers. The parked domains can also be used for affiliate sales. So, a well picked domain names upon which many surfers stumble may produce some decent revenue, while waiting for the big fish to arrive. Not bad.

I was totally amazed by how a simple matter like domain name registration has grown into such a viable industry. I'm not sure the birth of the domain name industry was by design, by accident, or by mistake. Obviously, the primary use of a domain name is to direct the Internet suffer to a website. Other than that, domain names are nothing tangible. Even stock shares represent a portion of corporate assets. The only industry I can think of that share some common aspects would be the casino industry in Las Vegas. A lot of people would disagree with me here, because apparently there are many making their living buying, selling, and trading domain names.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Save Money With Your Home and Auto Insurances

As the economy downturn deepens, consumers and businesses are looking for ways to cut expenses to save enough to ride out the economic storm. The general principle I've been telling people is:
Spend on what you need instead of what you want, and invest for your future growth.
If you are an individual, use these savings to pay off your credit card or other debts. If you are a business owner, use these savings to invest in your business assets. The multiplexed effect of either action goes way beyond the face values of the dollars you save today.. If you are an individual, use these savings to pay off your credit card or other debts. If you are a business owner, use these savings to invest in your business assets. The effect of either action would go way beyond the face values of the dollars you save.

In this post, I'll discuss how to apply this principle to and save lot of money out of your homeowner and auto insurance policies.

Homeowner Insurance
Let's first talk about homeowner insurance. The rates of homeowner insurance policies depend on a number of factors: age and size of the house, dwelling cost, loss of use, personal property coverage, personal liability, deductible, and etc. You're not able to change the facts of your house, such as, age and size, unless you're making a move. There is lot of room for the rest of the factors. You have to decide what is reasonable and practical for those factors. Even with the same understanding of how your house is built and your location, each insurance carrier has different guidelines to calculate the cost to rebuild your house. The results can vary significantly, so do the rates you pay for.

Auto Insurance
The auto insurance depends on the age, the make, and the model of your cars, safety/anti-theft features, coverages for bodily injury and property damage caused at your fault and by uninsured motorists, comprehensive coverages, towing, your annual mileage, driving records, and so on. Again, you should decide on what's reasonable and practical for your condition.

Your New Insurance Mentality
Many people think insurances are supposed to cover all possible unexpected damages of their homes and cars. That mentality has to change, because the insurance carriers have changed their ways of operating business. If you ever file a claim, you're almost guaranteed to see your insurance rate rising, when the policy is due for renewal. For a serious accident or incident, you don't have a choice. That's what the insurance is for. You should avoid filing small claims, if at all possible. Your insurance policies are to protect you from unexpected disasters not bad lucks.

Once you change your mentality, you should consider removal of the comprehensive coverage and raising your deductibles to as high as you can. These adjustments can save you lot of money.

Comparing Quotes
These days, it's so easy to get quotes from multiple insurance agencies representing various insurance carriers by filling out a form on some websites. You can easily find those websites from popular search engines with keywords, such as, "insurance quote", "home insurance quote", or "auto insurance quote". You'll get a few quotes in your email and phone calls within minutes. You should also contact some carries that have operations in your state but not among those who reply. You can get the list of the insurance carriers from FreeAdvice. FreeAdvice also offers statistics of customer satisfaction about the insurance carriers.

I highly recommend that you make a simple spreadsheet to record all the quotes you've received for an easy overview and comparison. You should review your policies at annual basis, and the spreadsheet will become very handy during that process.

Keep in mind that these are just initial quotes. It's quite common that the actual rates become higher. In that case, you should immediately go back to your spreadsheet and decide whether you want to continue purchasing that policy.

Ask For Available Discounts
Ask your insurance agents for any potential discounts available. Almost of the insurance carriers offer multi-policy discount, if you purchase your home and auto policies or policies for more than one car. Even so, you should consider purchasing policies from different carriers, if the total premium turns out to be lower. Other discounts include, but not limited to, your profession and education degrees.

Carrier Ratings
Although our goal is to find the policies at the lowest cost, you may want to avoid carriers that suffer financial problems or receive lots of complaints. You can get the ratings from companies, such as, A.M. Best and FreeAdvice.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

BKO Bookstore: Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is perhaps the most important, but least understood, aspect of your online business. You may have spent lot of your energy and/or money on designing and building a great website. You're so excited to finally get it launched only to see a few visitors coming to your doorstep. You then start considering Internet advertising like Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing with very little capital left in your budget.

While you contemplate the paid advertisement, you should consider boosting your page ranks or gaining visibility in "organic" search results. The "organic" search results refer to the portion of the search result page returned by the search engine instead of the paid advertising or the sponsored links. More significantly, the "organic" search results constitute about 70% or 80% of the result page. If you can fine-tune your website following the SEO principles, your website would be more likely to move up its position in the search results, or even in the first result page. A well optimized website will magnify the effectiveness of your paid marketing campaigns.

Many of the SEO techniques are easy to implement and don't require a webmaster. Some of those techniques are also applicable to bloggers or shopkeepers who don't have their own website, but use third-party blogging or merchant services, such as, and If you're not as familiar with HTML or web technologies, you may hire an SEO consultant or outsource the entire job to an SEO company. There are many experts out there doing SEO for living. Keep in mind that SEO takes time and patience, because the search engines crawl your website only once a while. An SEO expert can cut down lot of time and avoid try-and-error type of cycles.

Even if you plan to let others handle SEO, it's still a good idea to familiarize yourself with certain SEO concepts. That will allow you to have a more effective communication with your SEO consultants or website designers. I've read quite a few SEO books and found one that I really like. The book "Search Engine Optimization - Your visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing" by Kristopher B. Jones is very well organized and easy to read. What makes it outstanding is the included screen-shots and pictures, which makes it so easy to follow the instructions or steps for the task.

To make it easier for you to find the book, I've included the link for your reference and purchase at Amazon. There are several other books worth your reading as well. I've included them in the Search Engine Optimization category of the BKO Bookstore for your convenience. Check it out today.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daily Drinking Increases Womens Risks of Cancer

Many of us have enjoyed a small glass of red wine every night thinking that the moderate amount of alcohol would help improve blood circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease. The thought sounds like a conventional wisdom and is supported by many medical studies. While that's still true, what you don't know is the risks or side effects for women.

Read the full post about drinking and risks of cancers for women at Fishtarian.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

S.F. Chronicle In Jeopardy

The Hearst Corp., the parent company of San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, announced yesterday that it must quickly slash costs including severe workforce reduction, or has to sell or close the newspaper. Hearst's announcement is triggered by the greater than expected loss projected for the year. According to Hearst, the newspaper has been losing money since 2001 including a lost of more than $50 million last year.

The Chronicle is hardly alone. Hearst recently announced that it was closing the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, unless it can find a buyer. The Tribune Co., which operates the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy protection in December last year. The Philadelphia Inquirier and Daily News' parent company also filed for bankruptcy over the weekend. In addition, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and Tucson Citizen in Arizona may close, if they can't find a buyer.

There is nothing new that the newspaper industry has been hit hard by the popularity of the Internet, which has drastically changed how news is produced and distributed. The newspaper companies used to be the only source of news. Not any longer. At CNN's, individual citizens are contributing lot of news content at real time. I was very much impressed by the number of eyeballs I attracted, when I published my Cartoosh's View editorial cartoons to In my post about a cartoonist's dream, I also discussed the change in the syndicate industry.

The popularity of is just one of many success stories in the new era of "user-driven content" business. In my post about how to produce passive incomes, I discussed user-driven content sites including eHow, HubPages, Squidoo, CafePress, Zazzle, and's AppExchange.

Although news readers now receive free news from the Internet, many of them feel overwhelmed by the massive amount of information. With keywords you enter, the search engine returns lots of relevant web pages. Thanks to the technology that analyzes content relevance and website authority, such as, Google's PageRank, the quality of search results has significantly improved. Websites like Digg and StumbleUpon are offering an alternative to highlight important or interesting news and information by human surfers instead of search engines.

Still, how to consume news and information effectively with limited amount of time available in people's busy daily schedule remains a challenge. The news companies can play a new role in finding a solution of this challenge. Although the printed newspapers are not going to disappear completely, the future of the newspaper companies is closely related to how they leverage user-driven content and address effectiveness of news consumption.