Firewalls, Or How To Drive Your Children Insane


I’m going to catch some flack for this one from my mom and my in-laws, I know. God love ’em, they’re super great peeps. Yup. They are all good people, excellent parents, fine examples. Good human specimens overall. But good god they are paranoid Internet users.

Firewalls on top of firewalls? Really? High level security layered over firewalls layered over Firefox security layered over tiny armed guards sitting inside the computer, the likes of which are only found at the Pentagon and Fort Knox? Is this necessary? At my in-laws’ house, security is so tight you can’t see I know because at Christmas I wanted to take advantage of the sale they sent me an email about but no matter how hard I tried, the Gap website told me I had to enable cookies.

I am a former web programmer. I know my way around computers. I enabled cookies in Firefox (just for but then there was something else. Some other mysterious setting that was out of whack. Something about images. I set the computer to allow to show images, but then it was something else.

I gave up without success and put the settings back.

I could have used our laptop. Sure. Easy fix. They’ve got wireless there. Perfect. Only wait. No. They actually don’t know the security passkey for their own wireless network, so while their own laptop is all set up and ready to go, no one else can get on the network. Talk about security.

Here at my mom’s house I encounter similar problems. When I have difficulty viewing a particular site, I can never tell if it’s the site, a Firefox setting, a firewall setting, a Windows Security setting, or something else. The list of security features enabled on her computer is truly astounding.

It affects them, too, only they just think it’s them. I’ll send my mom a link to our Flickr page and she will be unable to see anything and she’ll try a few tricks she knows in Firefox or whatever (she’s savvy, people, I’m not saying she’s not) and it won’t work and she’ll finally just tell me, “I guess I can’t see it. I guess I don’t know how to work it.”

It’s not you, mom. It’s your safety equipment. There’s just so much of it.

This morning I decided to set up my sister’s wireless router so that when we’re home, we can get on the Internet even while Evan’s asleep in the computer room. I have the exact same router at home and have configured ours and those of other people numerous times without difficulty. It’s really not that hard. Only apparently it is. Because here I am sitting in the hallway right outside Evan’s room, the ethernet cable stretched in one direction from under his door, the laptop plug stretched out in another direction into our bedroom (Brian ran out of batteries on his trip or something). There’s no wireless. I had it configured and ready but then a series of confounding events occurred and I now have no idea what’s going on. When Evan wakes up I have to take a second go at things, only this time I’m using the laptop to set things up and only connecting my mom’s PC at the last possible minute.



3 Responses to “Firewalls, Or How To Drive Your Children Insane”

  1. I had to set up my mom’s wireless internet, so I have no problems accessing it at her house. But I’m glad I’m the one who did it – if she had tried, I’d never have access, and she probably wouldn’t either.

    Excessive firewalls and security are hilarious. You have to ask, “Do you really think hackers want to break into YOUR computer? Do they really want to steal pictures of your grandchildren?”

  2. 2 mom

    The only security that I have on my computer is the security provided by Time Warner Road Runner. I don’t have any self installed security on my computer. Road Runner supplies a firewall, anti-virus, and something else that are all included in the fee that I pay every month. I haven’t changed any settings, so the ones on my computer are just default settings.

    If you don’t like the way my computer is set up, don’t use it….don’t change it either….I wouldn’t change your computer to my likes when I come to visit you….

    Guess you hit a chord with this comment! Wow…sorry…..

  3. 3 Julie

    No need to apologize, mom. You’re 100% completely right. I hadn’t thought of it that way but you’re right, I wouldn’t want anyone to change my computer. But don’t worry, I didn’t change anything on yours. When setting up the wireless didn’t work I just stopped trying. Oh, except one thing: I added one site to your list of sites that allow images to show. I forget which site. Maybe It’s a good one. : )

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