Thursday, December 17, 2009

Would You be Better Off Were I to Read the Funny Papers?

Being somewhat content-challenged today, I offer this OOC rant:

No doubt I have complained about this before, if not here then in other forums, but it bears repeating: IT departments are staffed by geeks who seem to think that their job is making their lives easier. (Note: I have nothing against geeks; some say I'm one myself, and I wear the badge proudly.)

In an effort to control large-scale wastes of time, my employer has a not-unreasonable policy regarding personal use of resources: "small" amounts of time may be used, as long as it does not interfere with one's job or the running of the agency, and certain categories of Aetherweb sites are prohibited in any event. These include pr0nographic sites, gaming sites, and, presumably for security reasons, online storage sites. Furthermore, installing programs onto any of the networked computers is prohibited. All reasonable, given the level of incompetence among the staff who, left to their own devices, would happily load a cracked version of Grand Theft Auto 5: Virus and Trojan Edition and infect the entire network.

My big complaint is in the simple-minded way that the Net Nanny software the IT folk use is deployed. If the software caught only obvious sites that violated policy -, say, or - that would be one thing. They could feel free to check other sites manually. In practice, however, the software casts a wide net. In addition to blocking download or installation of any SL client, it blocks the SL forums as a "gaming" site. Well, in one sense, sure, it's a gaming site, in the sense that it discusses a game. On the other hand, it doesn't allow one to actually play the game (which is both a bandwidth hog and creates potential security issues), it merely provides a forum for discussing the game, and thus is no different from reading a web page devoted to reviewing a game. Or buying a gaming magazine and reading it in the office. Or... well, you can all think of exciting ways to waste time.

In recent months, Mr. Hotspur O'Toole's excellent blog, Hibernia on the Skids has been blocked as a "gaming" site (doubtless after he published his word search), and I can no longer access Miss Zoe Connolly's blog, either. For a time, Miss Ordinal Malaprop was also unaccessable, and no doubt she would take offense at being considered offering opinions on "gaming." Every day provides a little drama: what sites may I open today? Will the Steamlander forums be next?

Now, I quite realize that others have it much worse than I do. I could have no access to the Aetherwebs at all, or I could have a job that takes me away from the keyboard most of the day, or, indeed, I could have no job at all. All true. But for goodness' sake, geeks! All I ask is a little common sense. If I am considered a professional, and am expected to read papers or write memoranda on the train or at home as needed; if I should periodically check my e-mail while on vacation; if I am trusted to use my time as needed to get the job done, then surely I can peruse the Aetheric Journals of my choosing.

During the television coverage of Mr. Michael Jackson's funeral, so many employees at the U.S. Small Business Administration streamed the coverage onto their work computers that it created a noticeable slowdown in network performance, and the episode made its way into the Washington Post. Oops. If I agree not to degrade network performance and/or create bad publicity, may I have my SL community back?


Fogwoman Gray said...

I would agree with you wholeheartedly!
My employer utilizes the Barracuda filter.
It has now become a game with me too find which filters I can trigger with my searces.
So far I regularly hit the gaming, social networking and streaming media filters. The only time I hit the porn filter was attempting to access the Steamlander one day, but that is another story!

Dio said...

oh hell's britches Hon, I sure hope they ain't got a "cranky old harpy" filter

Rhianon Jameson said...

Mrs. V - gotta watch those typos! (Reminds me of the time when the White House first set up a web site, and got you to a racy site.) (Also reminds me of the time a not-so-Net-savvy friend of mine wanted to put a sample URL in a paper, so he used "" until I suggested that equally-naive readers might click on that and be unpleasantly surprised.)

Mrs. Kuhr - I'll let you know when they have a cranky old harpy filter, as that will be the day they fire me.

Oddly, they now seem to block *some* pictures that blogger hosts. It's odd, but I'll pull up a blog and only some pictures will appear. I clicked on the placeholder for one of the missing pictures, and got blocked. Pah.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Our IT are an odd lot - same block issues you have (they use WebSense - a name I have come to hate with a passion that could burn the sun from the sky) but they also insist on replacing all the prohgrams and system that were designed by professionals to be easy to use with their own *shudder* in-house system and programs that are the polar opposite. Updating the internet, something I used to do, was as easy as using Word in 15 mins. Now it requires half a day booked out, lots of tea and a blow to the head to get through.

And don't get me started on the removal of all printers for their replacement of a few crap photocopiers... /me gets the cricketbat and goes off to Middle Earth to clubs a few of the Hobbit-like Buffy-bothering IT goons to a well-deserved death.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Ours is called "Blue Coat," and it shows a scary-looking fake police shield so you know you've been BAD, VERY BAD AND NAUGHTY!!! for accessing, say, Hotspur's blog. I want to hide under the desk until I realize it's not the Law, it's the IT Dept.

We moved from Windows 2000 to XP only last year because one - count it, one - custom piece of software was incompatible.