06-01-2011 06:44 PM - last edited on 06-02-2011 02:48 AM by Gayathri_R
The problem started with my wife noticing the kids were staying on our Mac longer than they were allowed. Then one day I noticed what my daughter was doing. She was logging in repeatedly after she was "logged off". It would annoy me to do this but she was perfectly fine with it because she wasn't actually being logged off. Safety Minder was forcing a Fast User Switch (cube rotates), which means that all the apps were still running when she logged back on.
I am getting messages (including on the new iOS app!) that my daughter was forced off, and I was seeing literally a hundred messages like it roughly two minutes apart. I contacted Norton support and they helped as best they could but were not able to resolve this problem. If Support is watching the forum here's the lowdown...
Mac Mini / OSX 10.6.7 / Safety Minder 2.1.3f89
Fast User Switching is enabled (disabling has same effect), one Admin user (me) and 3 Standard users (kids).
Count the total amount of time XXXX is logged onto the computer is checked
Automatically lock XXXX's computer is checked
Behavior is that user gets a 1 minute warning and countdown. At the end of the countdown a Fast User Switch occurs. Going to the logon screen (list of users) shows that user to be "Currently logged in". User logs in again, gets warning, count down, and it starts all over. In a message thread from last year someone posted that 3 subsequent logins are allowed before the user is locked. This is not true in my case. This can be easily reproduced by forcing a time limit of 0 hours.
My kids also have Netbooks running Windows 7. I have not yet tested this scenario on Windows.
Guys, this is a fundamental flaw in the product. While NOF does a fantastic job of blocking sites, the ability to limit the amount of time (and time of day) is a critical feature. If I can't get this fixed - or a reasonable workaround - it's a deal breaker for me.
Hope this helps shed light on the problem. I'm tired of repeating myself to Support.
Open case # is XXXXXXXXX
06-02-2011 03:46 PM
I am the lead developer for Norton Online Family for Mac. What you describe is not actually a bug, but is functioning as designed. Let me explain a bit about the design decisions.
1. Fast User Switch vs process kill/logoff
This feature works exactly as the Windows version does. We don't kill existing processes and force a logoff because this can result in loss of important data. For example, what if you daughter is working on an essay for school. If we killed her processes she might well lose that data.
2. We use a timer that runs ever minute which checks if the user has used up all of his/her time or is out of curfew, and if so, present the 1 minute warning. Because of the 1 minute timer, it is possible that you can have up to 2 minutes before being switched out again. The reason we give the 1 minute warning again is to give the parent enough time to extend the time (by clicking the button in the countdown dialog) if needed. For example, say your daughter gets switched out but needs 15 more minutes to finish her homework, when she logs back in again, you will have enough time to click that button, enter your password, and extend her time. If we switch out immediately, you won't be able to do that (the only thing you'd be able to do would be to change your settings on the website from another computer or user account).
Anyway, as I said, this is by design. We will look into more effective ways of handling this situation. Thank you for your input.
Mac NOF lead developer
06-05-2011 06:52 AM
Hi Alan, thanks for your thoughtful explanation. Unfortunately the scenario leaves open the possibility for abuse, which I'm experiencing through one of my kids. Here's a link so you can see for yourself - http://www.webpagescreenshot.info/img/703368-65201
NOF blocking of sites is awesome. The issue I have is with time limits. What I would like to see is a way to log the user off. As an administrator I have the ability to extend their time through the admin app. I like the idea of extending time at login but unless there's a way to absolutely prevent a kid from logging on it can be defeated.
07-25-2011 06:37 PM
This problem is happening to me as well. I have checked all settings, and my daughter will get stay on well past her time limit (60mins!) if its not past the curfew. I just logged onto her account (thanks to her) and was able to suft for over 5mins past her time limit....How is NOF fixing this? This is a big deal.
07-26-2011 02:42 AM
This is a Windows issue too. My 8 yr old discovered the 'feature' far too quick (1st or 2nd log in I think).
Mine also went beyond a few extra logins for longer than a minute or 2 it seemed as I was there watching with interest. I had to tell him I would be informed and he would have double time deducted or a ban.
I understand a kill processes is not practical to save losing work although the child has been warned already if x more log ins are allowed with notifications of curfew breach.
Can I suggest the feature (be given options in settings?) to immediately lock the monitored account (perhaps after x grace logins of y mins - with warning) until a parental password (and extension/not) is keyed? This retains any unsaved work but still prevents further use.
I've only noticed a 15 min warning of time left, perhaps add warning at 5 as mine are allowed an hour each. Not a problem for mine as they only play learning games but homework will follow in future soon enough.
07-26-2011 06:34 PM
Thanks for the suggestion. When a child reaches his/her curfew time, the child would receive a message saying there are 60 seconds left. After 60 seconds, the child is allowed to log back to the PC for another 60 seconds to finish whatever he/she was doing. These behaviors can be repeated for three times, so the child gets about extra 6 minutes, then he/she wouldn't be able to log back to the PC without the email address and password for the Norton Online Family account.
07-27-2011 02:06 AM
Ok. I wasnt paying too close attention at time as busy with something else, it just seemed longer. I let it go on to see what would happen.