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Smarter Parental Controls

If you've been using the parental controls options in Mac OS X to lock your child out of using a particular computer late at night, but would like to employ a more clever technique to limit Internet access, turn to MAC address filtering on an Apple base station.

To do this, launch AirPort Utility, select your base station, and click Manual Setup. In the Access Control view, choose Time Access to turn on MAC filtering. You'll need to enter the MAC address of the particular computer, which (in 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard) you can find in the Network System Preferences pane: click AirPort in the adapter list, and click Advanced. The AirPort ID is the MAC address.

 

 

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Backblaze Publicly Launches Online Backup Service for Macs

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Several months ago, I wrote about a new online backup service called Backblaze, which at that time was available to Mac users only in a beta form, by private invitation (see "Backblaze Launches Mac Beta of Online Backup Service," 2008-12-09). After extensive beta testing, and a few much-requested modifications, the company has now finally opened the service to everyone. If you've been thinking about using online backups, or if you've tried another service and been disappointed, Backblaze may well be worth a look.

Like several other online backup systems, Backblaze uses Mac client software to back up your files, compressed and encrypted, to secure servers over the Internet. It operates continuously in the background, automatically uploading new data as you create or modify it. You can restore data by selecting files and folders in a Web-based interface and downloading a Zip file, or by requesting that the company send your data overnight by FedEx on DVD ($99 for up to 4.2 GB of data) or on a USB hard drive ($189 for a 500 GB hard drive, up from 160 GB during the beta program).

One of the key changes the company made during its beta program was adding support for resource forks on Mac files, including full de-duplication of resource fork data. In addition, the company says it correctly backs up and restores each file's type, creator, creation date, and modification date, and that packages (or bundles), such as those used to store iPhoto libraries, are handled correctly. All of this should be good news to users who have found these features lacking in Mozy, a similar but better-known backup service.

Among the numerous other changes in the 1.0 release (or 1.0.0.134, to be exact) are greatly improved support for external drives (which the software now tracks even after they're disconnected), more helpful notifications and reports, improved translations into several different languages, performance and compression enhancements, and more intelligent exclusion of cache and temporary data. Backblaze now also includes an uninstaller.

For users who participated in beta testing, Backblaze should automatically and silently update its client software in the background. New users can download the software (a 3.6 MB file) from the Backblaze Web site. Setup is a matter of running the installer, entering your email address, and choosing a password. No other configuration is required, although users can manually exclude any folders, volumes, or file types they don't want to back up.

Backblaze charges $5 per month, or $50 per year (which works out to $4.17 per month) for unlimited data storage, and the company offers a 15-day free trial.

 

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