Followup on: Ten Ways to get fired and/or arrested at work

Remember Rants and Revelations » Ten Ways to get fired and/or arrested at work? Well, I got an email from the author of the WSJ article:

Hi Paul,
Thanks for the candid feedback. As it turns out, I think there might
be room for a follow-up story on things IT departments wish employees
knew. Want to take a stab at offering some thoughts on this? I’m looking
for specific tips – along the lines of the last story – highlighting
what people can do to keep themselves and their companies secure and
prevent legal and regulatory trouble. I would especially welcome any
horror stories you can offer that illustrate why these tips are
Along with the note, can you confirm your full name, your location,
the full name of your firm and your title there?
Let me know what you think, and thanks, in advance,

Vauhini Vara
Reporter, The Wall Street Journal
415-765-8281 (desk)
206-423-3232 (cell)

Here is my response:

Things your IT Department wishes you knew:

  1. IT policies are there for a reason, not just to make your life more difficult.
  2. You may not remember it, but chances are your employee file contains a document you signed where you agreed to follow IT policies, and giving them the power to fire you, sue you and/or charge you criminally if you violate those policies.
  3. If you bring in pirated commercial software from home, your company could be subject to fines equal to many hundreds of times the cost of the software, not to mention costly audits and lawsuits. Guess who is going to end up paying those expenses? Is it worth risking your house and your career in order to use your favorite word processor instead of the one the company provides?
  4. Viruses and file sharing programs are often written by criminal gangs in order to turn your computer into a “zombie” that they can use to attack other computers, share illegal porn, send spam, or steal information from your computer without you even noticing. And pirated software you get from file sharing sites often has viruses built in. That’s one reason IT doesn’t want you running software they didn’t provide on your work computer.

Why did I choose Ubuntu again?

When installing this new machine, I picked Ubuntu as the Linux distro, because the people in LUGOR are all full of praise for it. But after the debacle with trying to get X working (which was solved by discovered a boot time option “nodcc”), I have been having my doubts. And now I’ve discovered a couple of other things to hate about it.

  • Every time I rebooted, it reset my /etc/resolv.conf to a stupid default. Eventually I traced this down to a couple of stupid ppp scripts that were referenced in /etc/rcS.d on shutdown for some reason, even though I’m not using ppp. One of those scripts included the utterly stupid line if [ -n "$PROVIDER " ] – the space after the PROVIDER ensures that the test will never be false. Good one, guys.
  • So I tried to remove ppp and pppconfig, only to find that they’re both required components of ubuntu-base. Why the hell would they do that?

I’m starting to wish I’d stuck with Debian.