Alan Wallace's Blog

Thoughts… Rants… Rave's – mostly on Tech

Dear Tim Cook: Letter from an American Dad, Apple iOS Parental Controls

It isn’t easy being a parent. Being a parent to a kid with an Apple iPad and iPod is an order of magnitude tougher. Our Alan Wallace is an iDad writing a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook. In his open letter, Alan asks for specific changes and improvements to Apple iOS parental controls. And he’s not alone..

Dear Tim,
 I have many Apple iOS devices — so does my 11-year-old son. That’s why I’m writing this open letter to you. This is about better Apple iOS parental controls. And it’s kind of urgent.

For starters, I need to be able to lock down apps — and please let me select exactly which ones. And I need to be able to lock them down to a master time limit and maybe even a time limit of daily use per app. I need to be able to tell my son’s Apple iPod and Apple iPad that he should only be able to use these devices and the apps on them during times I specify.

And that’s not all.

I want to tie this functionality down to a parent-child related account — separate from my Apple ID. It should know, for example, the relation between my Apple devices and his — for instance, if message limitations are close or if time limits like the ones I suggest above run out. Can you do that? I also want same controls to work if I later get my son an iPhone. That would allow calls to certain numbers at all times — and others at certain times — and it would work even if I turn off games and text that calls and email could be checked during certain time frames.

Also, while the ratings on games, apps, movies and TV shows are great, could you amp up your music ratings controls? I want to lock his device down to age-appropriate lyrics.

Lastly, please add a remote app that I can select from my devices to adjust functions on his. It should work on the fly — just in case I see a reason to shut it down. These reasons come up, believe me. Yes, I could take it away from him. And I do. But with a remote app, I’d also be able to adjust restrictions and other parental controls when I’m not right there. The remote app should, as Apple says, just work. And it ought to be easy.

Tim, I don’t need Apple to parent for me. But Apple needs to work with me here. The company that provides the tools I need to manage tech for my son will win my business down the road, too. I love my own Apple iPad and iPod — and my son gets some great hand-me-downs. But Apple has some catching up to do here. Consider Microsoft. You know, Windows already has strong parental tools that work and they work on the MS Surface, too. Parenting around tech needs some help and I imagine that the same tools that would help me could also help IT Departments with BYOD issues, now that I think of it.

Bottom line. Being a parent in a tech world isn’t easy. Being a parent to a kid with an iDevice is an order of magnitude tougher. Frankly, I need more help from Apple and I know I’m not alone. I want to let my son play with his devices and not have to make him check them in and out from me every time. I need your help to do this right, though.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Wallace

Originally published at on January 22, 2013.

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DMCA – still no cigar?

I saw this article today on PC World and wanted to comment.  As someone who actually made a living for part of my career because of the DMCA – I wish the Library of Congress had gone further.

While I’m pleased that the iphone can now be ‘legally’ jail broken so that it can run other third party software apps – I don’t own one and see this more for future security hacks and iphone vulnerabilities.  I’m sure next years BlackHat will be even more interesting as a result but what I really wanted to see with this latest ruling is more common sense added to the DMCA.

I have purchased over time a fairly large DVD collection.  Surprisingly DVD’s and game software somehow does not live as long in the hands of an elementary school kid as it does in the hands of their parent who is at least slightly older. I have also purchased movies via ITUNES and like to watch those movies that I have purchased and downloaded on my IPAD, IPOD and AppleTV.  Frankly though, I absolutely think I should be able to use handbrake on my DVD’s to put them on these devices storing them in a manner that keeps them safe and protected.

I’m sure the Library of Congress did not have as many lobbyists from APPLE as those from the MPAA but seriously – I don’t want to steal content and I don’t want to share content where I don’t have the right but I do want to use and play content I own and I should be allowed to make a digital copy at least for backup.

I wish the law would catch up to real life needs.

Filed under: #DMCA, Law, , , , , , , , , , , ,

DroidX – First Thoughts

I’m normally just ok with a new phone – happy I have something newer and hopeful that I’m not ready to give it back in the first 30 days but usually after the first 5 minutes I have figured out everything that I thought was cool and am already bored.

Today I purchased a new DroidX.  I found some nice bundles at Verizon today that helped me get better prices and thought that today was the best organized I have seen Verizon on a phone launch.  I cannot remember a previous time when I could get the accessories I needed on the same day but today was certainly the exception that should be the rule and the accessories were really cool.

Likes and Product Suggestions:
I have missed docking stations and for the DroidX there are docking stations for home and the car – I may get another one or two for the home as I like them.  I also got the rubber case for the DroidX but wish that it would still fit in either docking station when I put the protective case on – I want to use the great docking stations – but also want to do what I can to protect the phone for when I accidently drop it.

Not sure if it will replace my car’s GPS but I love how I can plug the phone into my car’s AUX jack and listen to radio stations via the IHEART app – and in fact not only the audio quality for streaming but the built in internal FM radio sounds better than the FM Radio in my Nissan.  I would like to take this time to say to all of those who doubted me when I said at the Country Radio Seminar in 2001 that Internet Radio would be in the car within 10 years – that I was right and have a year to go on that prediction (remind me to email David Lawrence)

I’m experimenting with all of the new apps and enjoying what I’m seeing so far.  I’m not sure what will happen with the Android Software Push in the near future but here that it will have enhancements for Microsoft’s Exchange ™.  I’m looking forward to seeing what will be coming but at the top of my request list – is help the phone to be able to read more than one Exchange account as I access at least two exchange environments.

Lastly it makes really clear phone calls – I almost forgot this was a phone too.

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I’m buying the DroidX on the 15th

I have been a loyal Windows Mobile user for years.  I have strayed occasionally to RIM and would have loved to have switched to the iPhone but could not comprehend switching from Verizon but as a loyal Windows Mobile User I have felt like I was missing out.  I was there from day one version 1 and still with 6.5 and a plethora of disconnected smartphones from Samsung to the Palm Treo as well as my current HTC and I am just not going to wait for Windows Series 7 anymore.  I had hoped that Apple would grace us with good news for Verizon but if Google is willing to step up – so am I.

I had a chance to try out the Google Nexus for 30 days on T-Mobile and the phone was so cool I almost forgot it was on T-Mobile but the apps were amazing and nothing like I have ever seen on a Windows Mobile device.  I had stayed with these phones mostly because I’m an Exchange user which in looking back is RIM actually offers more features than Microsoft as it’s the device that would allow me to run more than one exchange account.  Odd since MS invented Exchange and Windows Mobile and Outlook.

So Microsoft is now working on version 7 of its phone OS but just killed its KIN with only a few weeks release – so again – what is it I’m waiting for on Win Series 7?  What I find really interesting is how cool the IPhone was on Version 1 – how cool the Google Nexus was on Version 1 – the Microsoft Phone on Version 7 may be cool but I have been disappointed so many times and I’m not ready for this again.  I know I’m not switching to Zune so if Win Series 7 is supposed to be more like a Zune – it’s not a selling point for me.

So while I wish the DroidX had a keyboard like its predecessor – I’m still going to get it and hear that the screen and camera are more Incredible – than the HTC Incredible.

Filed under: Cell Phones, Must Have Tech Gadgets, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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