Friday, January 18, 2008

Stay-at-home server not appropriate for kids

Microsoft has hit back at the funny Mac/PC ads with its own web site stayathomeserver.com

The ads are funny, but also touch on a few more important Mom issues like the decision to stay at home being wimpy.  I am a stay-at-home mother. Ironically we have a Microsoft work server at home.  My husband works one day a week at home.

However the ads and the website mention little about security, my chief concern.  Due to my concerns about my children's safety, the Microsoft Media Server sits in our bedroom.  This is not my place of choice.  It's rather noisy.  It turns on at random times in the night.  My husband talks about tuffing it out to the study where our other servers live, but I refuse.  Microsoft has always had a poor record of security and in its line of media it's awful. 

I have no idea about the server's "parental controls" which I don't believe in anyway since that depends on others to tag videos. Worse, there's little control over what appears on the screen. Take the video section. It displays random videos from the Internet. That's fine except for this "feature" C and I will watch a funny video of a baby or a kitten. Okay the humor comes from bad behavior, but it's a baby or kitten. Unless we're very quick to stop it, the Media Center then randomly shows us another humor video. As you can imagine humor on the Internet varies a great deal in taste and appropriateness for children. The next video may be an adult farting, because the previous video was about a baby making silly noises. Sorry Microsoft, NOT the same thing. My daughter just turns away and says "Ewww gross!!!" No harm done. But we have not ventured forth into more potentially more dangerous areas.

My daughter loves to watch YouTube Videos. But I can preview the video ahead of time and it never plays a video unless I specifically tell it to. Yes the world of YouTube is filled with videos not appropriate for a 5 year old, but it's also filled with touching videos of puppies and kittens and assistance dogs. As I prepare to bring an assistance dog into my own life, I want to show her what these amazing animals do. I recently and wrongly used the word "comfort dog" to describe dogs that bring comfort to those who are ill or suffering. My friend snickered loudly. I can only imagine what would happen if my daughter unsuspectingly typed in those words into Microsoft's server. So the server is staying in our bedroom. A work server at home and unfortunately not appropriate for kids.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

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