Sites blocked on demand

Block time-wasting sites when you should be working with this free Firefox add-on.

LeechBlock is a kind of auto-nanny: it's a free Firefox add-on that blocks chosen Web sites at certain times on certain days and for different time periods. The idea is to automatically block time-wasting sites at times when you're supposed to be getting some work done. For individuals who lack the self-discipline not to check the weather, score, price, or thread when they should be focusing, it can be a real help. Of course, you can always defeat it when you need to, but you can also set a password to slow you down when you're weakening. At least, that's the theory.

LeechBlock blocks Web sites in groups that you configure by adding sites one by one to tabbed Block, One to Six, on the add-on's Options dialog. Each Block has three tabs of its own: What to Block, When to Block, and How to Block. The first two tabs are self-explanatory, but the How to Block tab offers more options, such as configuring pages to display instead of blocked pages, with predefined, blank, and home page options. We could also access the add-on's home page, version history, FAQs, and examples from the Options dialog. A tab labeled Access Control let us configure a password and set Extension Manager and Lockdown options; the General tab offered export and import options as well as Miscellaneous settings. We clicked Block Set 1, entered a custom name for the block, and clicked OK. The dialog closed, but when we reopened it, the tab had been renamed with our selection. We quickly added a couple of sites to block and clicked All Day on the When to Block tab. We were also able to quickly initiate a blocked session without scheduling it by accessing LeechBlock on the Tools menu, selecting Lockdown and a Block to activate, and entering a duration time in hours and minutes. In each case, whenever we tried to browse to a blocked site, the LeechBlock blocked site page appeared instead.

LeechBlock is a great way to crack the whip over yourself and force your nose to the grindstone. It makes online temptations easy to block but hard enough to unblock to make you think about it.

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