Leopard apps and system tools offer subtle, yet powerful, changes

Mail, iCal and Parental Controls offer greater productivity, protection

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Parental Controls

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Parental Controls are still managed through System Preferences, but they've been made much more robust in Leopard. While in Tiger parental controls were just a tab in the Accounts System Preference, Leopard's version has gained so many features that it gets a preference pane all to itself.

The first tab in Parental Controls lets you choose what applications your little user can access, as well as offering the choice of the simple Finder, as you could in Tiger.

The second tab gives you the opportunity to block profanity from the dictionary. (Holy @$4!%! There's profanity in the dictionary?!) You can also control which Web sites can be accessed by Safari.

In Tiger, you could only whitelist sites by adding them to an account's bookmark. Leopard's controls are much more flexible: You can blacklist sites as well or choose to let the system restrict access to adult-themed Web sites automatically. These settings don't apply to Firefox or other browsers, however, so be careful of those enterprising kids.

Keep your kid from looking up dirty words (and more) with Leopard's Parental Controls
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Keep your kid from looking up dirty words (and more) with Leopard's Parental Controls. (Click for larger view.)

The third tab is dedicated to allowing only certain users to contact the child via Mail and iChat. If someone unauthorized tries to contact the child, they will get an e-mail notifying them that they are blocked and giving an e-mail address where they can write and ask to be added to the approved list.

Time limits are a new feature and allow a parent to fine-tune when a child is allowed to log onto the computer. It even has convenient bedtime and school-night features.

It's easy to control how much time your kids can spend on the computer
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It's easy to control how much time your kids can spend on the computer. (Click for larger view.)

Finally, a fifth tab allows parents to set up logs to view what their children have been looking at and what applications they've been using.

These are very helpful, and as a former Macintosh lab manager at a university, I wish these features were available and built in the system a few years ago. I am sure more than a few libraries and schools will use the Parental Controls for more easily managing their Macs for their users.

Conclusion

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Kaizen is Japanese for "continuous improvement." As a business philosophy, it's mostly used in reference to successful manufacturing processes, but it is obvious that Apple embraces the concept as well.

The more I use Leopard, the more I can appreciate the creativity and hard work that went into making the productivity applications and system tools so much more useful. There are no drastic changes in the way you already do things, and the new things you can do are easy to figure out and start using right away. If that's not improvement, I don't know what is.

Seth Weintraub is a global IT management consultant specializing in the technology needs of creative organizations, including The Paris Times, Omnicom and currently the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. He has set up and managed cross-platform networks on four continents and is an expert in content management systems and large-scale PC and Macintosh infrastructure. He also blogs for 9to5Mac.

What do you think about Leopard? Let us know by sending an e-mail to leopardfeedback@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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