The IT department at work has decided to block all webmail beginning August 18th. This is a big problem for me, because I'm a contractor and don't really use the work email. It's a pain, and I can't get to it from home without jumping through hoops. My actual work email is my Gmail account.
So this is going to cause me a ton of problems. And for what?
I did a little Googling for the security risks associated with webmail.
“Any pop-up ad that appears in a webmail message could potentially contain a virus when it opens," she said. "An attachment that comes in from a webmail message could possibly bypass all the safeguards all the way to the user’s computer.” In addition, just opening a Web browser window to these commercial webmail sites can leave a computer open to outside attack. (Source)
This is a bit of a strawman argument. First, you can get popups or viruses or whatever from all sorts of sites. It's not restricted to webmail. But if you use good, up-to-date software, this shouldn't be an issue. There are some really good free, open-source tools to protect your computer. If your users are getting viruses and hacked computers, it's not the fault of Gmail or Hotmail. It's your users, and it's the tools you've chosen to give them.
I'm an . . . advocate of the "block access" point of view. Personal webmail, if accessible, provides another vector for your data to fly out of the window but one that you have poor control over and little ability to monitor and audit. Neither can you comply with data storage and archiving regulations if the service is being used to legitimately send and receive business data to and from external addresses. (Source)
Archiving is a legitimate concern. Although I can't imagine why the author thinks it's not possible to comply with regulations - there is nothing stopping you from hooking up your webmail account to Outlook or Thunderbird and downloading it all. Then you can archive to your heart's content. Actually, I think Yahoo and Hotmail make you pay for POP3 access, but that's because they hate their customers.
If anything, what’s [sic] it’s partly demonstrating is the problems in the usability associated with security products. By making them too cumbersome, it’s natural for people to seek routes around them — making the security procedures a risk in their own way. (Source)
This I totally agree with. I use a ton of Google's web tools for legitimate work purposes because they are easy and useful. If you block them, I'm going to try to get around the blocks, like the way you can use https instead of http to get around some filters that block Gmail. But I more or less know what I'm doing. I've heard of some ridiculous unsafe hacks to get around work-imposed security. Some of the workarounds are much more dangerous than the thing being blocked.
But you know what's more dangerous to security than all of this put together? Stupid people. And, to a perhaps greater extent, smart but ignorant people. People who think they know better, but don't, are a huge source of problems. Much better to know you're incompetent and stop trying.
I remain entirely unconvinced that this will do any good. You can't possibly block all possible routes for sensitive information to leak out of the office. By blocking webmail, you're taking away one of the most convenient methods, but what you may end up doing is driving the leaks to more and better hidden channels. Maybe now one person is going to start Twittering all day, while another is going to use some other service. The information can still get out.
And what about someone who goes to do a little online banking and accidentally hits a phishing site that steals their banking info and deposits a virus on their computer, giving a hacker total control of their PC? Are you going to ban bank sites, too?
Why not just ban everything? Chain employees to the desk in rooms with white walls and no windows. Give them three breaks a day where they can use the bathroom and buy lunch from the company (Wouldn't want them sharing company secrets at the local deli, would we?). Maybe we should just stop sharing secrets with employees altogether. Just keep it all with the executives, who can lock themselves in ivory towers, making angels in piles of FOUO and COMPANY PROPRIETARY documents.
Maybe we shouldn't even do any work. The dangers of compromised secrets are too great. We should all go back to a hunter-gatherer economy, where there were no documents in need of protection from the horrors of webmail. Better for the environment, too, as a majority of Americans would die of starvation within the year. Or we could save time and trouble by committing mass suicide in orderly rows. That would teach Google to make a great webmail service with an intuitive, helpful interface. Stupid jerks.
Have you ever posted to an internet forum or commented on a blog post and began with, "Oddly enough"?
If the answer is yes, then I don't like you very much.
Has anyone ever followed "Oddly enough" with something really odd? Not in my experience.
It's pretty meaningless. If what you're saying really is odd, we'll know. Are you trying to forewarn us of the oddity so we don't think you're weird for saying something odd out of the blue without acknowledging it? That is, are you embarrassed to be thought strange by people you don't know?
I realize now that the likelihood of someone commenting on this post and beginning with "oddly enough" is now near 100%. Just remember that I have admin rights on all the comments.
Our condo building has a video entry system that allows people to ring the doorbell out front and get buzzed in by the unit they're visiting. It's a pretty cool system.
Except that it stopped working a few days ago. We suspect it was during the big lightning storm. So I've been trying to get someone to come take care of it.
First, I called the electrician who's done some work here. He's hard to get a hold of because his worthless Nextel phone tells me "The Nextel subscriber you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time" every time I try to call. After I hang up, I think it says, "If I had a soul, I'd send you to his voicemail. But because I'm a cold, unfeeling machine, I won't help you at all. Ha ha ha ha ha!"
When I finally got him, he said to call the company that put it in. He apparently works for them, but is willing to do freelance on the side, probably against their wishes. But whatever.
So I called C&A Electric. They said they'd call back to set up a time to come by.
They did not.
That was Tuesday. I was in NYC on Wednesday, so I called them Thursday. They were apologetic. They said they'd call to schedule an appointment.
This time, they actually did, 8AM Friday. Then they called back to ask about the problem, and decided to send someone else, not the guy I talked to. I thought, "whatever, as long as someone shows up."
At 8:45AM Friday, no one had arrived. So I called. They were again apologetic. But they didn't know when anyone would arrive. They promised to call back with an update.
They actually did call, and pretty quickly, and told me that someone would be here at 10. They made good on that appointment, but didn't fix the problem. The two guys looked at the unit, and complained about some stuff, and fixed nothing. They think one of the three modules that makes up the portion of the system that is outside has gone bad. Since they are unable to fix this, they suggested I contact the manufacturer.
So I contacted Aiphone. I talked to a tech support guy via their little web chat interface. He was (shockingly) unhelpful. He wanted to know if I'd verified power to the unit. Now, I assume the electricians did that. I mean, wouldn't you assume that would be the first thing they'd try? But I don't actually know if they did or not. When he found that out, he pushed me off onto the dealer who sold us the unit.
I have no idea who that is, so I tried to contact the developer. He's not answering his cell phone. Not that he ever does.
So, I have now spent the last three hours getting absolutely nothing accomplished. Hooray!
Is it too much to ask for a company to actually stand behind the goods or services that they sell?
The MASN HD feed on Comcast in DC is simply the worst quality HD signal I've ever seen. I actually turned on the non-HD feed, hoping it would be better. It wasn't. I know no one cares about the Orioles, but they're playing the Yankees. You'd think someone in their organization would make sure the DC-area Yankee fans could watch the game in peace, and then I could benefit indirectly.
At least the Orioles are winning. At least Adam Jones just hit his first career grand slam to put the O's up, 11-0, in the sixth.
This is an idea (DRM sucks) that I totally support, but a terrible way to protest it. I mean, when I see idiots from PETA dressing up like animals or throwing blood around, it just makes me want to go on the Atkins diet. When I see Truth.com's super-obnoxious anti-smoking commercials, I want to buy cigarettes for minors.
I support treating animals humanely. I support keeping kids from smoking (And encouraging adults to stop). And I support telling Apple and the rest that they're a bunch of jerks with their insistence on DRM.
But this isn't the way to do it. The response to bad behavior is not more bad behavior. Apple's anti-customer policies are not justification to make this much of a nuisance of yourself.
Remember, when someone buys an iPhone, they've made a decision, based on their knowledge of the product, that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. For you, they may not. They don't for me. And really, we all know the only thing that would make me buy an Apple product (Except as gifts for my wife, because she's great) is if all of you stopped liking them.
And yes, DRM is bad for everyone, and everyone who buys DRM-infected content or devices is making it tougher on the rest of us. But this is a free country, and that includes the freedom to make decisions based on your own relative needs and desires.
Anyway, not that anyone listens to me, but I urge you to ignore Defective by Design's request to mess with the Apple Genius Bar. It's not the right way to protest DRM. I mean, really, does anyone think Apple cares?
From a sparse desk dominated by two computer screens in the new Comcast Center here, Mr. Eliason uses readily available online tools to monitor public comments on blogs, message boards and social networks for any mention of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company. When he sees a complaint like Mr. Dilbeck’s, he contacts the source to try to defuse the problem.
A friend pointed out this article, which describes a blogger complaining about Comcast, and getting contacted by a "digital care manager" from Comcast, who helped him with his problem.
I bitch about Comcast ALL THE TIME. Where's my digital care manager?
This is a load of crap. I'm angry with Comcast pretty much every time I turn on my tv, and especially when I get my monthly bill. Or when our tv and internet was out for three weeks, and the techs kept either being unable to fix the problem or leaving their equipment in our living room.
But I get nothing. Thanks a lot, Comcast.
As an aside, the fact that the NYTimes mentions the guy's blog by name but doesn't bother to link to it is complete and utter horsecrap. It's incredibly rude. Not that it's hard to find Brandon Notices via Google, but I shouldn't have to do that.
"All those years the music industry spent insisting that the only way they'd sell music is with crippling DRM attached managed to totally discredit the idea of buying music at all."
could [Yahoo] seriously not have noticed the massive backlash that Microsoft received for telling people that it was turning off its DRM servers, effectively locking all the songs people had "bought" to their current computers.
I thought I'd written about it a little while back when Microsoft decided that the servers that check to see if the music you've "purchased" from Microsoft's music store is legal or not were no longer necessary. That meant that all the music you thought you "bought" from Microsoft was really just being rented, and now they'd decided to terminate your lease because they didn't feel like complying with the deal they made with you anymore.
And now Yahoo is doing the same thing. All the music you "bought" from Yahoo won't work anymore if you move it to a different computer.
I've said this numerous times, and I'm not alone - if you pay for ANYTHING that has DRM attached, you are NOT buying. You are RENTING at the discretion of whoever is taking your money. Some people may be okay with that. I'm not.
Sonda lik wrong file FRM svn
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
That's an email I got from my boss this afternoon. I probably didn't have to put that second line there - you knew it was from a Blackberry as soon as you read the first line.
Now, I'm not bashing my boss. He's a good guy, and I actually do know what he means by that. His spelling isn't that great even when he's got a full size keyboard. And it actually did answer the question I asked.
I know everyone bashes the Blackberry. I do, too, although I also really want one. And they can be used for good - I borrowed a friend's at a bar once to make sure I didn't have a job interview the next day. That was before I got my current job.
Anyway, the problem is that people are lazy. I've always found it, not amusing, but interesting that my mom uses complete sentences, proper capitalization, and proper punctuation in ALL instant messages. No one does that. Well, maybe your mom does, I don't know. I don't have her on my buddy list.
But Blackberries are like the opposite of my mom. Because you're "on the go", you can't spend thirty seconds actually typing out a sentence. It doesn't take that long.
So, next time you send an email, Blackberry or otherwise, take a moment to think. Are you responding to the email, or just making a written record of having received it? If you're not responding, then don't bother.
Originally uploaded by thetejon
Went to the DC United game last night. We didn't stick around for the three hour rain delay. This was the third time they tried to play this game (Although the first time I had tickets). We had pretty awesome seats thanks to a friend, and access to free food and drinks thanks to VW (through the same friend through another friend), and I managed to get home without getting my foot wet, per doctor's orders.
I've been to a couple of DC United games this season, and it's becoming increasingly clear that the team doesn't much like to play defense. They just don't seem to have their hearts in it. Which is too bad, because the team doesn't seem half bad, and the defensive problems really look like they're due to a lack of effort more than a lack of skill. I won't claim to be a soccer expert - I played rec league and high school, but never higher than JV, so take my opinions here with a grain of salt.
There were delays on the Green Line getting home, too. Everything seemed cool at first, since most of the stadium was still sticking around, waiting to see if they would resume the game, when we left. So the train from RFK wasn't full, and usually once we transfer to Green it's smooth sailing. But it took us a half hour to get from Shaw to Columbia Heights. If my foot wasn't busted up, we could have walked it in that time.
Anyway, more pictures here.
Until Sunday, July 27, you can download all the novels and wallpapers that were given away in our recent "Watch the Skies" program--for free. Don't delay!
Now they're gleefully boasting that the carrot they held out to encourage people to sign up early is available to everyone. I know, I could have been reading all those stories I downloaded before everyone else, and it's not Tor's fault that there are no good ebook readers.
But I really can't figure out why they wanted people to sign up early. And now that all the free stuff is available to everyone, I can't even gloat about how I got it first. What a bunch of jerks.