Saturday, July 31, 2010

Steve Jobs on Parental Controls - the Mac is dead

Sometimes, if you send an email to, someone responds under the name Steve Jobs.

I assume it's mostly a PR person, but I suspect sometimes it is Steve Jobs. I bet Howard Hughes, in his prime, did something similar.

I've never written Jobs about my suffering with OS X Parental Controls or the MobileMe debacle that did me in. Still, I can imagine how the correspondence might go ...
Dear Steve, 
I've tried and tried to make Parental Controls work, but, honestly, they don't. If all the bugs were fixed the very latest version would probably work with the web of 2003. These days, however, all the web sites of interest use https encryption, which isn't supported by OS X Parental Controls.  MobileMe is one of the very worst offenders. Even when we hack around the limitations, Parental Controls is too broad. We want access to our Google Apps, but not to Google Image Search ....
"Jobs" would reply ...
 Buy the kid an iPad.
He'd be right. The family Mac is dead. iOS is the future.

I've wasted weeks of effort trying to make an OS X machine relatively child safe. I can do that with an iPhone or iPad in a few minutes -- assuming the iPhone is configured to sync to the cloud.

All I have to do is turn off three things: Safari, YouTube, and App Install [1]. Then I install purpose-specific apps that provide select services (NOT web apps). So I install Wikipanion instead of linking to Wikipedia. Wolfram Alpha instead of Google Search. Apple's Contacts and Calendar (sync to our Google Apps) rather than Google's web apps. The NYTimes app rather than a link to the NYT web site.

History has moved on.

[1] With iOS 3 if you disable App Installation on the iPhone you can't install from iTunes either. There's no UI indication of what the cause is, the iTunes App Install screen is just non-responsive.

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