Re: Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing

Subject: Re: Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing
From: "Edgar D' Souza" <edgar -dot- b -dot- dsouza -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2008 13:51:02 +0530

On Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 8:21 PM, McLauchlan, Kevin
<Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:
> Ahh. The joys - and otherwise - of using the same computer for work as
> for play.

This _is_ my personal laptop. I volunteered to use it for work as
well, from the start of the small company I work for, a couple of
years ago, because with all the wiring work and other mess I was
supervising being done at the start, there was no possibility of
getting desktop computers set up. I guess that has somehow carried on
for quite some time, even though we now have a full setup at the
I'd still call it pretty much of a joy being able to use my own
laptop, because I use the OS of my choice (Ubuntu Linux 7.10), and
software stack of choice; I carry my own hoard of required and
familiar files, scripts, utilities and docs and other byte-hoard with
me; although I have a dual-boot Windows/Mandriva Linux desktop to
myself at the office now, when I need a trusted, familiar, usable
environment... guess what I lean over to use :-)

In my case, at least, using the same computer for work and play works
pretty well.

> It might seem that we've been perilously close to [OT] for the list, but

I *was* wondering when the axe would fall, actually :)

> cases), but depending on where you live and work, the mechanics of what
> constitutes politeness and desirable behavior might vary, or take on
> very different emphasis.

A.k.a. culture shock? :-)

> Some new phones use the cellular network for web browsing, texting and
> other functions, but are also capable of latching onto the nearest
> accessible wi-fi hotspot - which is attractive for people in backward
> countries like Canada where the default cellular access is NOT unlimited
> minutes. See recent stories of folks running up $20,000 (yes, that's
> twenty thousand dollars) phone bills in just a couple of months because
> the provider says "'unlimited' in our advertising doesn't _really_ mean
> 'unlimited'; you have to read the fine-print in our contracts".... but I
> digress.

And, if I'm not mistaken, is becoming/has become a crime in some parts
of the USA - "stealing WiFi"? Not a good thing to be grabbed and told
you're being arrested because your phone latched onto someone else's
AP! Yes, this isn't very relevant to the ethics/practices thread of
your post, but since you mentioned the WiFi latching-on...

> So, if your phone latches onto the office hotspot that's supposed to be
> used by sales folks and project managers roaming the building with their
> laptops and having meetings and work-related discussions all over, and
> you use that to text and browse so it doesn't show on your
> company-provided desktop computer, is that an ethical problem?

Or you could use your own GPRS/EDGE or HSDPA connection and disable
the WiFi on the phone. In this case, it does, I'm afraid, become an
ethical problem if you're not supposed to be using the office
Incidentally... I've been on the network admin side for some of my
career, and just wanted to point out that:
a) What you browse/transfer over the WiFi network can be quite easily
tracked, if the IT team wish, via the IP address assigned to your
phone's unique WiFi MAC address. If you were doing something really
heinous, bringing it home to you would be no problem at all to any
half-competent sysadmin. Not having your access logged from your
company-provided computer isn't

b) It is quite possible to configure a DHCP server to assign
"approved" IP addresses to "known" MAC addresses - such as the sales
people and managers in your example - and to allow Internet access to
only those IPs. Latch-on phones and laptops that aren't approved get
IP addresses, but all requests for Net access can be denied in
firewall rules.

> Or, if your company has a "use of company resources" policy that hasn't
> been revised since 1991, and you and many of your colleagues find that
> you can be much more productive by simply ignoring parts of that
> policy... which ethical provision should carry:
> - that you adhere to the policy as you promised when you were hired
> - that you give your best efforts, during working hours, to furthering
> the good of the company ??

Depends on the size and nature of the company. A smallish,
flat-hierarchy company ought to be pretty amenable to your efforts to
get the policy updated/re-stated...

> For example, for a policy that says you can't use company computers or
> networks to access that-there-interweb-thing during working hours, the
> intent (way back when the policy was written) might not have been to
> keep you from browsing porn sites. It might have been a security
> concern... one that's no longer relevant. Or, it might have been to
> keep you off porn sites and porn-related liability off of company
> computers, but it also prevents you from using vast, legitimate
> information resources on the web.

The security situation is definitely getting worse, not better. It's
possible that a policy may have been obsoleted by improvements in
technology, but I cannot see any security-related rule being relaxed
because of a reduction in threat levels on the Internet.

> What about the old prohibition against carrying floppy disks and CDs off
> the premises? It doesn't explicitly mention micro-SD cards and
> $20-dollar 16GB USB sticks, but...

Mmm-hmm... what would security do - take your phone apart every
morning, extract the micro-SD, and hand you the phone back...
reversing the process on your way out in the evening? Ban the phone

> Is the ethical thing to do to rat on
> the cow-orker (yes I know how to spell co-worker, but cow-orker is more
> fun) - loyalty to colleagues or to company?

Difficult question - I'd say it varies from individual to induhvidual...

> What to do? Why? Where do you look for guidelines? Is Emily Post
> (edition umpty-twelve) sufficiently up-to-date? Is it sufficiently
> relevant? Or is there a better business-oriented guide? Is it good
> enough for your industry or for our field (tech-writing)? Does it
> matter?

Who knows. Maybe the Large Hadron Collider will bring about a big
enough black hole - or maybe a strangelet - that will render all these
questions moot :)


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RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Hemstreet, Deborah
Re: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Edgar D' Souza
RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: Edgar D' Souza
Workplace issues (was RE: side-effect of tabbed browsing: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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