Q: I have a very important question that all parents would like answered. I know that there is a way to restrict a user's logon times to...

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Q: I have a very important question that all parents would like answered. I know that there is a way to restrict a user’s logon times to certain hours of the day. I am familiar with doing so using a server and group policy, but what about the stand-alone Windows XP home machine? We need this badly in our house.

— Bruce Leone

A: You’re right that Windows does not support restricting logon times for non-networked computers. There are, however, a number of products that provide this capability for Windows 2000 and XP computers.

Check out Access Boss, a $25 program, at www.fspro.net/aboss or XP-Protector, a $20 utility, at www.fileheaven.com/XP-Protector/download/11254.htm. Both programs prevent logons by users during times restricted by the administrator, and both programs will automatically log users off when the permitted time is passed. XP-Protector also allows you to restrict Internet access and maintain logs of user activity.

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Q: I have an annoying “pop under” that shows up pretty much any time it pleases (it seems). I’ve noticed it when I click on a link, but sometimes it shows up spontaneously. It occurs with either Firefox or Internet Explorer. McAfee doesn’t find it. Neither Ad-Aware, Spybot or PestPatrol find it either. Typical ads are for the University of Phoenix, Monster.com, plus others. I suspect it got loaded with some program or other. I would certainly like to stomp it out.

— Dave Mitchell

A: Pop-under windows are generally loaded by Web sites you visit. Some advertisers consider them more effective than pop-up windows for one very simple reason: When you visit a Web site, you’re generally after something and a pop-up window is seen as a distraction. With a pop-under window, on the other hand, you only see it when you close your browser window. Advertisers figure you’re more receptive to an ad at that point.

But many of us don’t want unsolicited advertisements, pop up or under. So we turn to software that blocks them. And the advertisers find other ways to write the applets so they aren’t blocked. It’s a cat-and-mouse game.

As long as such advertising is legal — and as long as it works in a cost-effective way for advertisers — the game will go on. About the only thing you can do is make sure that you’ve got the most recent version of your pop-up-blocker software.

Q: Beginning about two weeks ago I began receiving unwanted e-mail messages of a sexual nature. The e-mail addresses are each different and I have not gotten two from the same person. When I open the e-mails, they are coming from different sex-related Web sites. In the past, I have never gone to any site of a sexual nature and so I can’t figure out why I started getting these. I’m wondering if there is any anti-spam program in which I could list all the e-mail addresses that I want Comcast to accept. If I changed my e-mail address and password with Comcast, would that solve the problem?

A: Changing your e-mail address will eliminate the spam — but only temporarily. I’d recommend using an e-mail program with a good junk-mail feature. Microsoft Outlook, for example, has such a feature. And you can even specify that only e-mail from specified senders will be delivered to your inbox.

Q: My problem is this: When I am on eBay scrolling through a list of items for bid, sometimes when I find an item of interest and click on the List of Items for Bid button I get the following message: “Microsoft Internet Explorer has encountered an error and needs to close.” I then have to close Internet Explorer. Any suggestions?

— Fred Payne

A: When you click on the List of Items for Bid button, some script is being launched by the Web site that is causing the browser to crash. I’d report the problem to eBay, since it is apparently its script that is causing the problem.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.