M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, July 02, 2003  

Access Denied

Ah, Internet filters at the office. Just what the doctor ordered.

The sale of our company was effective yesterday, but we’re still connecting to the Internet via our old employer’s hookup. And over the weekend, someone appears to have installed new blocking software. I still can’t get to my web-based e-mail; that’s nothing new. But I also can’t get to anything that has a “diaryland,” “blogspot,” “diary-x,” or “livejournal” in its URL (which some might say is a good thing, but I won’t take that personally), and fully half of the Damn Hell Ass Kings sites are on the far side of a steel grate based on other arbitrary selection criteria that are completely opaque to me. This stuff is completely harmless. I’m not looking up how to build nailbombs or anything;I’m just burning a few minutes I wasn’t doing anything else with anyway. And then there’s all those other sites I use to while away the hours of the midafternoon that have been snapped away without warning, even though strictly speaking, hardly any of those people are completely naked in any technical sense of the word.

Instead, I get this message about “security.” Whatever. I think somebody’s displaying their insecurity, if anything.

It used to be that we’d get a more specific message. Our browser would tell us that a blocked site had been categorized as GAMES or WEBMAIL or CHAT or SEX or WORKPLACE SHOOTINGS or something else judged too distracting or time-consuming by he powers-that-be. Now it all falls under the same umbrella, and as far as I can tell, half of my daily reads have been cut off for being FUNNY or INTERESTING. Not that even that would explain everything.

I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat and go all conspiracy theory on you for a minute here, so bear with me. I’m starting to harbor a nasty—and frankly, I hope, unworthy—suspicion that somebody, somewhere, is trying to get me to do more work. If you’re out there, I’ll tell you right now: it’s backfiring. Instead I’m spending more time being grouchy and surly about not getting my daily Lileks fix and spending all my time trying to figure out how to circumnavigate this stuff.

I don’t mean in an above-board way, either. The “security” screen does invite us to fill out a form requesting access to a particular site if we can prove a “business need” for it. Tell you what: I’ll talk about my “business need” for The Onion if you can explain the “business need” for me to be unable to get to my new work e-mail without spending two hours a day on the phone with the corporate help desk, what do you say? At least you could give me access to some online reading material while I’m on hold.

Instead, I’m running into a brick wall that’s been thrown up across several lanes of cyber traffic. I guess I could bitch about it to somebody, but that might be inviting a discussion I don’t really want to have. All I can do is look forward to the day when our new employer provides our web access, and hope that its policies are less restrictive.

I have no way of knowing whether that’s the case, of course. I could look it up on the Internet, but the relevant site appears to be blocked.

posted by M. Giant 3:31 PM 0 comments


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