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Ideas for blocking software on users’ machines

Jun 29, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Reader suggestions on keeping unwanted software out of users' desktops

Writers are often asked where they get ideas for the topics they write about. When one of my favorite novelists is asked this question, she replies that there’s a “Plots ‘r’ Us” store just outside Indianapolis. That store is only for fiction writers, though, but that isn’t a problem for me. My best source of topics is you. Yes, you, dear readers, are the source of the best stories and ideas that have graced this organized collection of bits over the years. As one case in point, take the newsletter “Hunting for forbidden apps on users’ desktops” which ran a couple of weeks ago (see link below).

I was extolling the virtues of Program Monitor (PM) a service that’s freely available on Novell’s “Cool Solutions” Web site and monitors processes that are running on client desktop machines and unloads them if found. It seemed ideal for keeping unwanted or illegal software off of your network. Then you folks started telling me about ways to take the PM idea and improve on it. So here are a few ideas for any friendly programmer who wants to do just that.

The first idea, actually, doesn’t require any new programming, just some listings. PM as it exists now requires you to list the software you wish to have blocked. Roy Pait (among others, but he was first) suggested that what’s needed is a starter list of generally blocked applications. Sounds like a good idea. If you have a shortlist, I’d suggest submitting it to – you might get a cool T-shirt.

Novell at

The other idea I heard about (thanks Randy!) was the idea of time-related blocking. Some applications, while inappropriate during normal working hours, could be allowed at non-peak times e.g., some networked games. Modifying the software to take into account time would be one way to do this, which is why I address this to programmers, but in the interim, it should be possible to swap out the list of blocked software on a scheduled basis.

By using a server-based job engine, such as CRON ( you could automate the task while those of you using more complete third party tools, such as Avanti’s TaskMaster, could add all sorts of bells and whistles to the blocked applications lists. Keep those cards and letters coming boys and girls.

Speaking of incoming mail, a note dropped into my inbox from old friend John T. McCann (for my previous mention of him, see ).

He wrote to inform me that SiteMeter, his software-metering tool for NetWare, called SiteMeter, was back. Well, it’s no longer called SiteMeter; it hasn’t been for many a year. It’s now called SofTrack. But under any name the tool has always been – for almost 20 years now – the best software metering utility for NetWare networks. Take a look at and see if you don’t agree.