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David Squires

Ending the Scourge of Screen-Sucking

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Freedom and Anti-Social are two powerful new tools in the battle against “screensucking” — unproductive time spent compulsively visiting the same Internet websites.

If you’ve got this problem (and you know you do), Freedom is a simple software program has the power to completely block a computer’s online connection. Pick the length you want to be offline — as little as 15 minutes and up to eight hours. Confirm your selection and all online activity is blocked — web, email, Skype, everything.

If you suddenly decide that you absolutely need Internet access, there is one way to get it: restarting your computer. If you end up re-starting your computer all the time to get around the software … well, your next step is probably psychological help.

Some users might need Freedom every day; others only when a big project is due. Do your morning surfing, set Freedom’s timer for eight hours, and — presto — the temptation of screen-sucking is gone. (Of course, now I’m waiting for the version that also shuts down network access on your personal iPhones and iPads at the same time.)

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Freedom also has a more limited (but possibly even more useful) sister program called Anti-Social. By default, Anti-Social blocks the “social parts” of the Internet — Facebook, Twitter, etc. But it also allows you to create a list of websites that you’d like to stay away from. (Your correspondent has a particular weakness for ESPN.com during baseball “hot stove” season.) You can decide whether you want to block email or not.

Once you’ve got your list set up, Anti-Social works similarly as Freedom. If you’ve got a regular group of “problem sites” that you waste time on, Anti-Social will remember your list so you don’t have to type it in again each time.

The software couldn’t be easier to use. I’ve had both programs for a week, have used one or the other every day, and haven’t had to restart my computer yet. Highly recommended.

Get Freedom for Mac or Windows for only $10, or bundle Freedom and Anti-Social for only 20$. Available at macfreedom.com.


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