Dora: 10 seconds later, all hell broke loose

Recently, I wrote about the importance of businesses ensuring their IT systems were updated, patched and properly configured before the Christmas period kicked in because this was when hackers came out to play.

More importantly, for parents at least, is that children are supervised over the festive season if they are interacting online. With PC prices for desk- and laptops crashing, many parents will have seen it as an ideal present for their computer-curious younglings. With this in mind has released a guide, entitled 'Making the Internet a Safer Place for your Child', that offers advice and hints for parents and children.

This is something that has recently popped onto my Dad-dar because my five-year-old has been using my wife's laptop for the past few months. Online computer games are his thing and we usually set up games on well-known child sites such as CBeebies, Nick Junior, and so on. Occasionally, though, he will ask for a game that cannot be sourced on those sites.

Usually it can be found on some online games arena, which in addition to loading copious amounts of spyware onto the laptop also has lots of other clickable ads and links to other sites that could bring him out to a totally different environment. Leaving him alone for a few minutes one day as he played a Dora the Explorer game I came back to the computer to find him hacking and slashing the heads off blood-spattered zombies that he somehow managed to, accidentally, navigate to.

So my one piece of advice is please watch them. Even for the tweens and teens, social networks are the kinds of places that need to be monitored closely if your child is involved in them. Have the PC in a central location where it can be monitored easily, and remember to add or turn on the parental controls on your security software. If you don't have it – get it!

Aladdin's junkyard

So, how many Christmas gifts did you get this year that you didn't want or were less than enthusiastic about? Well you are in good company, according to research conducted by eBay and TNS. Apparently, there will be an estimated €179m worth of unwanted pressies under the tree this year. And last year, the average person received at least one unwanted Christmas gift valued at about €46. The top five least wanted presents are: 1) power tools; 2) 'experiences' such as hot-air-balloon rides and rally driving; 3) socks and underwear; 4) homewares such as blenders and vacuum cleaners; 5) cosmetics.

Despite the fact that we do no want this Aladdin's cave of unloved merchandise, only 4% are sold on. Interestingly, we seem to be at the lower echelons of "recycling" – in Britain, 20% are sold on to new homes.

Well, with the economy wobbling more erratically than a drunk at midnight mass perhaps it is time to sell your unwanted gifts. There are a number of online auction sites, and if you have an Amazon account you can sell your stuff there as well. In addition there is the outlet of Buy&Sell. If you are very socially-minded, charities such as Oxfam or St Vincent De Paul are excellent places to donate what you do not want. Ultimately, someone will be happy to get them.

Axe grinder

If you have just received a guitar for Christmas or are a long-time wielder of the axe, then a new social network for guitar lovers and collectors has just gone live –

Some of the features of the site include individual profiles of guitars with details of their history and an online guitar photo gallery where you can show off your prized possessions and check out what other collectors have. Users can also 'follow a guitar' and chat with its owner.

I might join it myself. One of my prize possessions is a Gibson Epiphone Neil Diamond signature series SQ 180 limited edition guitar.

All together now: "Sweeeeeet Carrroooliine, wah, wah, wah, etc."