From the Kenosha News on 4-2-06

Block unwanted web sites with simple file update

I recently got a call from a co-worker asking if there is a way to block myspace.com on her home computer because she didn’t think it was good for her young son to be accessing it. Myspace.com is one of the blog sites I discussed in my March 19 column. While kids are supposed to be 14 to get a myspace account, they can enter any date of birth they want. (I’ve noticed a lot of 100 year old “kids” on the site.) I appreciate this mom’s concern, and I decided to research it.

Some basic blocking can be done by adding a few lines to a file on your WindowsXP computer called c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.

To do this:
1. Click Start and go to Run
2. Type in "notepad" and press Enter. The Notepad program will launch.
3. Click the File menu and go to Open
4. Navigate through the drop down list to c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc. At first you will not see the file.
5. At the bottom of the Open dialog box, click on the pull-down menu next to File of Type: and select "All files". You should now see a file called "hosts".
6. Click on the hosts file and click the Open button. The file will open. The section at the top of the file explains what it's for and how to add entries to it.
7. Position your cursor on the line below the last entry.  Add two lines that say:
127.0.0.1 www.myspace.com
127.0.0.1 myspace.com
8. Click the File menu; select Save
9. Click the File menu; select Exit
10. Try to access the site that you've blocked. It should just come back to your own computer.

As a variation on the above, you can actually re-route one address to another. For example, entering the following will cause "myspace.com" to actually bring up the pbskids.org site!
149.48.228.122 myspace.com

To find the IP address for a site you want to reroute to, Click Start, go to Run, type in cmd, and press Enter. When the DOS windows opens, type nslookup sitename.com where sitename.com is the web address whose IP number you want.

If the above instructions don't work, it might be that your computer doesn't have a hosts file or that it's in a different location, as it would be in Win98. Try this:
1. Click the Start button and select Search
2. Click on All files and folders
3. In the "All or part of file name" box, type hosts
4. In the "Look in:" box, type c:\windows
5. Click the Search button. The hosts file should soon appear on the list, along with some other files. If it does not, you can create your own in the directory given above with the necessary numbers and addresses in it.

6. Double-click on the hosts file. You should then be prompted what program you want to open the file with. Scroll down and select Notepad. Click the Open button.
7. Follow steps 7-10 above.

Two very useful web sites on this topic are:
http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm
http://www.articlefeeder.com/0-1448-30-Use_the_HOSTS_File_to_Block_Web_Sites.html

If you don’t know exactly what sites you want to block and just want to keep “bad stuff” away from your kids, you need a content filtering software package, or ask your ISP if they have blocking features.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 4-2-06