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So my 6-year-old son loves PICO-8 and it sort of accidentally ended up being his introduction to programming. Yay! BUT after we really got into PICO-8, the Splore command was introduced and now there's this totally new vector for him to receive content that is not vetted to be kid friendly.

I totally see why everyone loves Splore and it's great for basically everybody but my family, so I was wondering if there was any way to prevent our install of PICO-8 from downloading remote carts. If that existed, I could create a whitelist of sorts by downloading appropriate carts and sticking them in his carts folder. Alternatively, if we could somehow disable the Splore command in our install, that would also work. The least desirable alternative (but still preferable to the current state of affairs) would be obtaining a pre-Splore version of PICO-8 and the manual.txt for that version.

Are any of these sorts of things possible?

splore
P#39742 2017-04-17 22:09

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Splore accesses the BBS using the domain "www.lexaloffle.com". So one easy option is to disable access to this domain on the computer running Pico-8. One way I know is to modify the system's "hosts" file to override the domain and point it at the IP address 127.0.0.1. (This refers to the computer itself, so requests for the domain go nowhere.)

For Windows, see these instructions on modifying the Hosts file. On Mac OS and Linux, the file is at the path /etc/hosts. Edit this file using administrative privileges and add a line to the end such as:

127.0.0.1   www.lexaloffle.com

Changes should take effect as soon as you save the file. This blocks access to the domain for all apps on the computer including the browser, so you won't be able to access the BBS at all (including the page you're reading right now) until you edit the file again and remove the line.

Splore remembers data that it has downloaded previously even if it no longer has network access. You can delete this by locating the Pico-8 data directory (the directory that contains config.txt) and deleting the "bbs" subdirectory.

Do all of this and splore will complain "could not connect to bbs" when you try to "[update]" a section. It can still access local files.

See this Wikipedia article on Hosts for more info.

P#39743 2017-04-17 23:05

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Yes, hosts is an option. I'm hoping there's another way because I just want it blocked for his account; for my account I still want to be able to visit lexaloffle.com conveniently. I'd be willing to keep a hosts.bak around and copy it back and forth if that were strictly necessary.

However, your post did give me an idea worth trying... I wonder whether I might be able to achieve what I want by emptying his bbs folder and then making it read-only. Brb experimenting...

P#39745 2017-04-17 23:57

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For folks at home, it does indeed work to empty the bbs folder and deny the (account you wish to restrict) write permissions to that folder.

Thanks for the splore details, dddaaannn!

P#39748 2017-04-18 00:17

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Cool! Glad that restricting the bbs folder worked. I agree that we could use some official features in this area (content classification, disable network features, parental controls in general).

P#39749 2017-04-18 00:25

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Perhaps in the mean-time, we could put a verification screen at the start of games that really need them.

At the cost of potentially alienating non-English speaking people... Maybe a keyboard layout, with a question that young kids don't know the answer to, and won't know how to google.

Just don't make the question: "Scandal revealed by Deep Throat". That could have inadvertent effects when googled.

P#39985 2017-04-27 17:46

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i havent seen any games offensive enough to justify a rating system, sure theres nudist unicycle but if thats an issue you need to see Freud; if bloods an issue pop open the games code and manually set the game into "sweat mode" by tweaking bloods color. if you really want a sterile environment for your kid then go pick up a sbc, install pico on it and never let it online again. but maybe i just see a $20 personal solution being better than asking for more features from zep or all game makers to use the limited space for a splash screen. as for content labels, from first hand experience i can tell you anything labeled adult or 18+ would attract more attention than leaving it alone.

thats my 2cents, sorry if it came across as rude

P#39987 2017-04-28 00:50

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PICO-8 doesn't attempt to be a child-friendly community, and it would be really presumptuous of me to try to change that. I wanted to be clear in my original post that it's not my intent to change how PICO-8 works for anyone else. I've now got a good-enough solution for my needs, which should work for any parent that has set up their computer with multiple accounts.

If you deny the child's account write permissions to the bbs folder, you can still put in the games you think they're ready for- effectively creating a whitelist.

P#40392 2017-05-09 16:29

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