Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An insincere apology

My boss reminded me about writing the apology letter this morning, so I sat down at my computer and banged this out:

Dear [IT department],

Please accept my apology for my activities of the past couple of months. At no point were any of my activities malicious, nor meant to offend. I simply wanted to run the secure freeware program Mozilla Firefox for my internet browsing, and making that work in the corporate environment involved bypassing some corporate policies. I have now made a commitment to [the IT Security supervisor] to halt these activities, and I grudgingly plan to stick to it.

First, I'’d like to explain the reasoning behind these activities. Mozilla Firefox has proven to be a useful web browsing tool for me at home and at work, much more so than the antiquated Internet Explorer 6 could ever be, so having it suddenly restricted was a frustrating experience. Note that I ran Firefox off my USB drive for over six months without any difficulties or complaints. I responded (vented) in a way that I felt would be inconsequential by renaming an icon on my desktop for my amusement. I apologize that some employees in [the IT department] found this offensive.

I will not hide the fact that I have been deleting the Tally Systems usage logs off and on for over two years on various corporate computer systems. I have even uninstalled the program at times, just for fun, because I knew it would always come back. The fact that no one ever noticed nor complained led me--—mistakenly, obviously--to believe that it wasn'’t a critical program, or that it wasn'’t the primary monitoring tool that is used. I also shared the location of the usage logs with many other employees over the past two years, and despite the fact that some of these employees deleted the logs as well, no one ever got in trouble for this activity. So, when my co-worker suggested that we kill the program with a script, I did not think it was going to be a big deal. It was also not a big deal for us to stop this activity entirely, and we have done so.

So, once again, I apologize. I trust that we can leave these matters in the past and get back to real work. I'’m sure you'll continue to monitor me closely, but you'’ll find little to complain about. However, as [control systems] engineers, we do frequently run a lot of new engineering software, so if you have any questions about unknown executables that are being logged, feel free to call. And I hope that the upcoming corporate launch of Internet Explorer 7 will ease my transition away from Mozilla Firefox.

Yours sincerely,

I didn't bother putting too much work into it, like sneaking in a hidden message, since my boss fully intends to modify it to his liking. I doubt the final version will end up looking much like version 1.0.

And in other "I always feel like somebody's watching me" news, I got caught again yesterday running something off my USB drive. This time it was IE Privacy Keeper, a freeware utility that cleans up browser and document histories. I used it instead of spending five minutes doing all the clean-up manually. Should be no big deal, right? Maybe if I wasn't so high on the IT shitlist, and maybe if I hadn't run it off the USB drive...

The obvious question is, "What were you trying to hide by doing the clean-up?" The answer: nothing of consequence. I just like regularly purging the shit that Internet Explorer maintains under Documents and Settings, such as cookies and temporary files. I'm used to Portable Firefox, which purges everything upon every exit.

Anyway, I was caught using unauthorized software, an e-mail was sent today from IT security to my boss, my boss got justifiably angry again, and I had to explain my actions again. Goddamn, IT is obsessing over me!--and it is really pissing me off. I'm honestly trying to be good, but it's really not going well so far...

How I became "a hothead and a rebel," part 2

I spent a few minutes today digging through my computer and found the e-mails that I briefly described in this story. They are as good as I remembered. Maybe even better. I think the reason they made such a strong impression on my first boss is that they are 100% honest with no apologies. I did not hold back even a little bit. I felt my boss and my manager were making a stupid and arbitrary decision, and I told them that.

Here’s how it all began, with IT’s announcement e-mail:

New Feature in Notes 6.5: Instant Messaging
05/30/2005 09:42 AM

Instant Messaging is a new feature in Notes 6.5. It will enable you to converse in real-time with other [corporate] users.

I installed the IM client within a few minutes of receiving this announcement e-mail, and quickly started IMing a co-worker that also installed the client. And then in the afternoon, everyone got this e-mail from our boss:

Fw: New Feature in Notes 6.5: Instant Messaging
05/30/2005 02:35 PM

Please do not activate this option.

[Our department] does not wish to have this feature, based on conversations with [our manager] and [another supervisor].

If you have questions, please see me.

Taken aback by this pronouncement, I quickly responded with a good bit of outrage in my tone...

Re: Fw: New Feature in Notes 6.5: Instant Messaging
05/30/2005 02:47 PM

Do we get any say in this matter?

Instant Messaging is a useful feature and if you require justification for its usage, I can provide it. [My co-worker] and I have already made effective use of the feature in the few hours we've had it running. It is silly to not take full advantage of the software that has been provided to us. As [IT liaison], I was partly responsible for Instant Messaging being implemented, and I (apparently naively) expected [our department] to embrace the feature.

It took a full day for my boss to manage a response, and it was written in his typical stilted one sentence paragraphs. And it was completely ridiculous in its content, as far as I was concerned…

Re: Fw: New Feature in Notes 6.5: Instant Messaging
05/31/2005 02:01 PM

In a discussion among [our manager], [another supervisor] and I it was seen as a possible additional consumer of work time.

We already have email and a telephone.

Why do we need another device which is like the MSN chat room type of set up.

It is thought of as a chat room type of service and it was not seen as needed and just another thing to occupy work time.

What can you provide to show that this is needed over and above the telephone and regular email?

I have to admit, I'm not that familiar with it and do not know of any benefits to having it over the above mentioned methods to communicate.

I am checking further with [our manager] and [the other supervisor]. We should try to be consistent on this matter if possible.

It didn’t take me long to generate a response. I knew it wasn’t going to be warmly received, but it was honest--and honesty is the best policy, right? I like that I even acknowledged my own snark. What a bastard I am...

Re: Fw: New Feature in Notes 6.5: Instant Messaging
2005-05-31 02:35 PM

How would the addition of a new communication feature consume additional work time? It is used to replace other communication methods. If people are chatting on Instant Messaging (IM), it is no more time consuming than those same people chatting on the phone or in person.

Yes, it would be hard to justify that we "need" IM, but why wouldn't we give it a try? It's not costing us anything to experiment with a tool that's included with the software we use. IM is real time text communication, bridging e-mail and the telephone. I find (and I am not alone) that many things are easier to explain in text, rather than over the phone. (As an admittedly snarky side note, wasn't the introduction of e-mail met with similar scepticism, as why would you need e-mail when you have regular mail and the telephone?)

I can point to hundreds of e-mails in my Lotus Notes that would have been better delivered as IM messages. (IM messages can even be saved, if there is important information communicated in them.)

On the [corporate website] today is a nice concise description of the benefits of IM. You may have seen it already, but I have attached it here for your reference.

As a closing note, no matter what is decided by [our Manager] et al, IM will continue to run on my computer. As [IT liaison], it is my role to embrace and experiment with new technology.

And so I was marked as a bad seed for the rest of my time in that department, which luckily was only until January 2006.

And it wasn’t until my 2005 performance review, which was on my last day of work in the department (and also served as an exit interview), that my boss confronted me about the e-mail. I knew it hadn’t gone over well, because he had vented to my co-worker about me (the source of the "a hothead and a rebel" quote), but he never said a word to me about it until that day. And, to my boss’ chagrin, I was again 100% honest. This yielded one of my favourite moments in my five and a half years in the department when my boss told me that I must not have realized how the e-mail’s tone came across--and I set him straight with, "The tone was deliberate."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Firefox fallout

Time to complete this blog's inaugural IT story... If you haven't done so yet, be sure to start with chapters one, two and three.

After our modifications to Portable Firefox as described in the previous post, my co-worker and I settled back into a routine of Firefox usage for a few weeks. I was reasonably confident that we had done everything we could to avoid detection. If we got caught this time, it would be over.

The first blip came in early fall when I learned that an investigation into port scanning had been launched in my name. When confronted with the accusations of port scanning by my boss, I blanked--I didn't remember doing anything like that... It was a few hours later that I remembered ShieldsUP! and realized what had happened. Hoping it wouldn't end up being a big deal, since it was a simple matter of visiting a web site that caused the port scanning, I just sat back and waited to hear the resolution.

But the port scanning investigation quickly became the least of my worries, when a week or so later, my co-worker and I were both dragged into our boss' office where he angrily confronted us with a completely justified "What the hell have you two been doing under my nose?" voice. He had just received a phone call from the head of IT security.

The powers-that-be in IT were very concerned that we were two hackers trying to bring down their system... or something like that. They had found out everything. "FUCI&T" came up in an offhand way, like it had been mentioned but not explained to my boss, and then he asked about the script we'd been running to kill the usage monitor. And killing SMS, of which I had no idea what he was talking about; my co-worker would explain later. And then utorrent came up, to which I carefully explained had nothing to do with the corporate network (since it was used on a hotel network in Montreal). But all of these things happening in short order was evidence stacking up against our trustworthiness. All because they won't let us run a simple, secure, freeware program called Firefox off our own damn personal USB drives.

We assured our boss that we would remove the batch file and stop using Firefox. That everything was being blown completely out of proportion. We were certainly not up to anything malicious.

I also renamed the infamous shortcut with "Fabled Utopias Challenge Identity & Traditions!" (It also no longer points to Portable Firefox, just to my USB drive.) Yeah, I'm clearly not getting any more mature anytime soon... but again, it made me smile, and really, what can they say about that? I'm just making a political statement, honest!

It was very frustrating that our boss had to be involved in this. Any previous problems I had had with IT had come directly to me to deal with myself. But obviously this was a new approach they were taking, and it is far more effective. Yell at my boss instead of me, let him yell at me, and get me in much more trouble than I would be otherwise.

IT's only threat at this point was to remove our local administration rights. I wasn't going to bring up the fact that losing admin rights does not prevent running executables off a USB drive--but it's true. Anyway, a few weeks later, present day, they still have not gone through with the threat, as they are well aware that we have very strong business reasons to require admin rights. Engineering software almost always requires admin rights for installation.

To resolve the situation somewhat, a meeting was arranged. The head of IT security would sit down with me and I would show him all of the currently unauthorized software we run, as well as explain my actions. Needless to say, I was worried to meet the guy, and the day of the meeting was a nerve-wracker.

And then he showed up. A young guy, friendly, understanding, new to the company, and a Firefox user--at home only, of course. It was a nice surprise. The meeting went well, generally. He explained how the tales of my (and my co-worker's) activities had gone pretty high up in the IT department's chain of command, but he was going to work to resolve the problems as much as he could. He explained that only multiple offenders end up dealing with him, and we were definitely multiple offenders. But he also explained that in the grand scheme of corporate IT, most of our activities were small potatoes. At least we weren't using illegally cracked software programs!

But then "FUCI&T" came up. And this was when I learned the true extent of what I had done. What had IT's panties in a bunch more than anything? The name of my shortcut on my personal desktop quicklaunch bar, of course. Without that, no one would have cared nearly as much. But now some clearly overly sensitive employees of IT were taking it personal. Even the head of IT security acknowledged that it was pretty ridiculous, but it had really hit a nerve, and it too had gone all the way to the top. So, the higher ups in IT certainly know my name and are going to be holding a grudge for a long time. For the stupidest possible reason. WTF?

But by the time the IT security head left, I was feeling pretty relieved. It was likely that any changes to our admin rights would follow a corporate wide policy, and not as a stupidly ineffective punishment. I agreed to use IE6 for my surfing needs from now on. I agreed to be up-front about unauthorized software usage. I agreed to no longer kill processes.

And then I fucked it all up one week later in a few seconds of stupidity. It was October 26th, mortgage payment day. I wanted to check the payment status on my bank's website. Only problem: I don't know the account number off-hand. But it's stored in my Portable Firefox! So I quickly opened Portable Firefox, copied the account number, closed Firefox, and then carried on my online banking with IE6. Big deal, right?

Confirmation of my suspicions that they have been watching me like a hawk came yesterday afternoon. My boss again dragged me into his office for a talk. He had gotten another call. The head of IT security was now accusing me of being a liar for continuing to use Firefox. They had noticed the previous day's launch of the renamed Firefox executable. (Renaming the executable is really only a surface fix, as the process can still be identified as Firefox if you are watching carefully, as they obviously are.) I was understandably shocked at both the fact that they caught me and that they had moved so fast to get me in more trouble.

After getting over my brief shocked silence, I calmly explained what I had done, why I had done it, and that I was honestly not using Firefox for my internet surfing anymore ("I'm suffering with Internet Explorer" was an exact quote). I urged my boss to let me talk to the IT guy, but he insisted on handling it. If there's one thing most frustrating about this whole experience, it's that my boss has been the one handling it the entire time, when it should be my mess to straighten out.

Luckily, I had a busy afternoon to keep my mind off these difficulties. And then my boss came to see me at the end of the day again. Way to lead into the weekend, boss!

The IT security guy had believed me, as the log clearly showed a quick blip of Firefox, and he described me as "unlucky" to have been caught. Great. And then "FUCI&T" came up--again!

And this is the reason for this blog. I left work on Friday afternoon in a state of perpetual WTF, and I needed to get some of this bizarro-world shit off my chest.

Because, you see, I harassed the IT department with the name of the shortcut icon on my own personal desktop quicklaunch bar. Yes, the word "harassment" was used! Harassment! Of a ridiculously sensitive business unit... Wow! And it was so easy. Rename an icon a silly acronym that doesn't actually say a damn thing (who's to say what FU means, really?) and let IT find it and then feel harassed by it. I clearly rock.

So, what was the last thing I agreed to do on Friday afternoon? Well, apparently an apology letter is required. Or so my boss has requested I write. And I will, because he's my boss, and because this situation is so ridiculous but yet frustrating to him, that I have to do my best to get back on his good side. How I will write a genuine apology about all of this is beyond me, but I'll give it my best go. Will it end up being sarcastic as all hell?--likely. Will it resolve this problem?--who knows.

Is this story over?--hell no.

How to run Firefox in a corporate environment

The story of this blog's title begins and ends with Firefox.

If you haven't been using Firefox in the past couple of years (or Opera or anything that's not Internet Explorer, for that matter), you have been missing out. It's no secret that IE6 is the worst browser ever created--well, maybe it was okay around the time it originally came out, but how many years ago was that? Sure, now IE7 is available, and it reportedly fixes the vast majority of my problems with IE6, but my story goes back to the days before IE7 was a blip on the radar. (And, for that matter, IT has made the pronouncement that we can not install IE7 until they do their corporate roll-out, which will take months presumably, based on past performance...)

Anyway, IE6 is unfortunately the official corporate internet browser, as it is for most companies out there. But Firefox is freeware and better, so what harm could come out of using it instead? Well, none, of course, but you will get IT's attention quickly and they will forcefully remove it from your computer. Generally, they call, say "I'm uninstalling Firefox," and then proceed to take remote control of your machine and remove the program. And then they say something about how Firefox is not approved software and you must not install it on your corporate workstation or laptop.

So, what to do? I don't want to use IE6 if there are other options. I use Firefox at home all the time and it's clearly my browser of choice. So, Google to the rescue...

Funny thing--Google. Anyone that's ever used Google extensively is well aware that you can learn anything and everything with a Google search. Yet, IT always seems surprised when we find ways around their rules and measures... do they not know about Google?

And the solution to my problem was quickly found: Portable Apps! Here's a modified version of Firefox that will run entirely off a USB drive. Nice. It was the perfect solution. I could have one copy of Firefox for use at both home and work, with the same bookmarks and extensions, and all I had to do was bring my USB drive to work every day. And Firefox would never actually be installed on my corporate computer, so IT wouldn't find it with their regular drive scans. And it worked like a charm for nearly a full year. I started running Portable Firefox in late 2005, while I was still at my terrible first job, and IT did not catch on until mid-2006. It was such a long period of being left alone, that it was quite a shock when they did finally realize what was happening.

When I moved to my new job, I found that a new co-worker was also a Portable Firefox user. And our boss, also getting annoyed with IT's policy on Firefox, got in on the Portable Firefox game as well. And it was our boss that got the call in summer 2006: IT had long known we were running Firefox somehow, but they had finally figured it out. Apparently, it had been quite the shock to learn that you could run software off USB drives... Google, anyone?

How did IT know we were running Firefox? They monitor everything. Every web site we visit is recorded, every executable we run is logged, every key stroke... well, I don't know about the last one, but I wouldn't be surprised. We apparently agree to this whenever we log in, because there's some bullshit disclaimer that we get each time--but is it really agreement when you have no choice in the matter? Probably yes, but it's still unfair. If I could use my own computer to work, I would, but I'm forced to use an IT-controlled PC by the company--where's my choice again? So, anyway, IT could see that firefox.exe was launched everyday, and they could see Firefox's user agent accessing web sites, but they couldn't find the executable to remove it.

A couple years ago, I stumbled upon the executable logging software while cleaning up my workstation files. It wasn't hidden very well... "C:\Program Files\Tally Systems Corp\TSCensus\Bin\UsageLogs" At the time I discovered the program, the usage logs were also plain text, so I was able to see exactly what they were monitoring. (Tally Systems was eventually purchased by Novell, and the upgraded ZENworks Asset Management software changed the usage logs to an unreadable proprietary format.) I attempted to uninstall the program a few times, but it always came back. So I started simply deleting the usage logs. And I wasn't afraid to share the location of these usage logs with my co-workers, to give them a chance to delete them as well. I did this for a couple of years with no consequences.

But my boss and co-worker that were running Portable Firefox were not deleting their usage logs, so we were eventually caught. And maybe all the deleting of usage logs I did was for naught, anyway, since who knows how often they grabbed the usage logs and stuck them somewhere on the network?

When IT's edict that we no longer run Portable Firefox was delivered by our boss, my co-worker and I got to work on running a stealthier Portable Firefox. We kept our boss out of it, as we knew he wouldn't be happy to find out that we weren't giving up. So, once again, Google to the rescue. We both installed the user agent switcher extension and started running Firefox as the Internet Explorer 6 user agent. We both renamed PortableFirefox.exe to something less conspicuous. And we both renamed firefox.exe on our USB drives to IEXPLORE.EXE. You see, Portable Firefox comes with an .ini file that lets you change the Firefox executable name as well. Brilliant!

And then we started making mistakes. Bad, costly mistakes. IT was already watching us closely, since we had been branded as trouble makers for running Portable Firefox in the first place. The smart thing to do would have been give up the fight and suffer with IE6. But where's the fun in that? We had to find out if our stealthier Firefox would do the trick...

My first mistake was a wrong headed attempt to prove that Firefox was more secure than IE6, despite IT's ridiculous claim otherwise. So I used both browsers to run the ShieldsUP! test. The results were inconclusive. The corporate network failed the security test, not the browsers. Little did I know that port scanning was a grievous offence...

My second mistake was telling my co-worker about the Tally Systems monitoring software. He came up with the idea of killing the software with a batch file on every restart. Great idea? Seemed like it at the time...

(My co-worker didn't help the situation when he started killing IT's SMS--software management system--program when it popped up at inconvenient times. SMS does annoy the hell out of everyone, as it forces restarts to install software upgrades. I would never restart my computer if not for SMS forced restarts.)

My third mistake was running utorrent off my USB drive while in Montreal for a training course. I wanted to download an episode of a TV show. Big deal. But it was my first time running utorrent, and I didn't pay attention to the files it left on my laptop. There's an easy fix to this, but I didn't know it at the time.

My fourth mistake was renaming the PortableFirefox shortcut in my quicklaunch bar. What's bizarre and makes this story worth sharing is that this fourth mistake is the one that's getting me in the most trouble. Yes, renaming a shortcut icon on my personal desktop is the biggest mistake I made in trying to run Firefox in a corporate environment... IT considers it to be a worse offence than regularly killing a corporate software process! It makes zero sense and is completely ridiculous, but it's the truth.

So, the obvious question remains: what was the shortcut icon renamed to? Take a look at the title of this blog and extract the first letter from each word. (Because it won't make sense unless you know this: C I & T is the full acronym for our IT department.) Yeah, that's it... FUCI&T! Oh, how scandalous! How dare I? Yes, it's immature. Yes, it was unnecessary. But it made me smile when I did it. And it apparently made IT's head explode when they discovered it.

The Office and how I became "a hothead and a rebel"

Like most office workers, I can strongly identify with TV and movie comedies focusing on office environments, such as both versions of the hilarious The Office (which I accidentally left off my list of best shows in the last post) and Office Space. I read Dilbert every day and recognize so many characters and events that often it's too true to be funny.

For the first five years of my career, I worked in various cubicles, all rather large in size thankfully, in the main headquarters of my company. The structure of our head office building is very unusual, so you don't see the Dilbert-style cubicle farm when you walk in, but every joke ever made about cubicle dwelling still applies. Luckily, with my transfer earlier this year, I moved out to a regional office and was upgraded to an office of my own, with a door and everything. It's a unique location because of the number of offices available versus the number of staff, so it's a luck thing mostly.

In almost every way, my new job is an upgrade: better work environment, better project tasks, better responsibilities, a laptop instead of a workstation, better co-workers (there was only one co-worker in my previous job that I could even stand, and we became good friends), and a better boss. Not that it was hard to go up from my previous job in most of those areas...

At different times, my first boss took on the characteristics of the PHB, Michael Scott, and/or Bill Lumbergh. He was a nice enough guy, but he was very passive aggressive in his supervision, not as funny as he thought he was, and losing his edge when it came to understanding the work we did. And he didn't like me much, since I had the gall to sometimes tell him he was wrong. When one of my co-workers told me that he had described me to her as "a hothead and a rebel," I was flabbergasted. (He even repeated these words when he got the call to be my reference for my new job--which might have cost me the job if I hadn't been the only qualified candidate.) It's such an inaccurate description of me (most of the time...) as to be completely laughable. However, when it comes to IT issues, I do sometimes fly a little off the handle...

That is because I know computers, and in my corporate environment, I'm treated like the complete idiot that I'm well aware some of the other users are. I have a computer science background to go with my engineering education, I have always built my personal computers from separately purchased components, I tweak settings on my personal PC endlessly, I spend hours and hours on the internet (yes, even at work--although I will not blog at work, since I don't want to get in trouble for blogging about work at work...), and I try out new software all the time. Which, in the world of corporate IT, is a bad thing.

From the beginning of my time at the company, I have always been on IT's radar. A month wouldn't go by without someone calling me or emailing me to tell me to remove some unauthorized software off my workstation. "Security risks" such as Winamp, Netscape Navigator, Quicktime, Real Player, and most recently Firefox. Of course, these programs are not security risks, no matter what IT claims. (Oh, and they were/are all freeware.) The real issue is control. IT would phrase it something like this: it costs lots of money to keep all official software upgraded and patched, and it would cost more money to add more programs to the list. So, why not let their users take care of the upgrades? Oh, because we are all idiots that can't be trusted to look after our own computers? Never mind the fact that I use the same programs at home and always keep them updated on my own... no, IT must control everything in the corporate environment.

Funnily enough, despite my ongoing problems with IT, my first department made me their liaison to IT. I was responsible for attending IT meetings and placing material requests for new IT hardware and software, amongst other minor IT-related tasks. When I transferred, I thought that I had escaped that role (which would have been a good thing because it's far more of a burden than anything), but I was quickly made the alternate liaison because of my past experience. Thankfully, that's not as much of a burden, as I don't have to do anything unless the actual liaison is unavailable.

Anyway, back to my first boss' claim that I'm "a hothead and a rebel." This mostly goes back to a single email written during my five years under his supervision. It obviously made a strong impression...

When IT decided to roll-out an instant messaging client with our terrible corporate email software, the higher-ups in my area decided that they didn't want it. On the day that the e-mail came from IT telling everyone how to install the client, my boss took quick action in sending an e-mail out to everyone and telling us to not install the new client. I had already installed the client and had no intention of uninstalling it, so I sent a quick e-mail asking for the reason for this decision. The response was some amazing bullshit about how we have enough means of communication, and how we would all just end up using IM to waste time chatting. So... I responded. In strong words. About how I was embarrassed to be the department's IT liaison when the department was so unwilling to look forward and embrace new ideas for communication. And I said that I wouldn't uninstall the client on my workstation for any reason. I will admit I was arrogant. I will admit I was angry. And I will admit that it was a damn fine example of an e-mail.

At my next annual review, a full six months later, my boss brought up the e-mail. He wanted me to acknowledge that maybe the tone of the email (which was pretty condescending to him) was a mistake, but when I assured him that the tone of the email was 100% deliberate, that was the last straw, as they say. From that point on, I was eternally "a hothead and a rebel" in his eyes.

And I started my new job not knowing at the time that he had passed that description onto my new boss. It was a few months into this job when a co-worker asked me if I had had a fight with my old boss. Confused, I asked what he meant. He explained that my new boss had talked to him after making the reference call, and that my new boss had been really concerned about my old boss' description of my character. I was shocked, to say the least, that my old boss would basically try to sabotage my transfer over what amounts to such a minor issue in my mind. Luckily, it didn't matter, but I know now that my new boss is watching closely for signs of these so-called character flaws.

And I didn't do myself any favours when I took on IT again...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Late getting in on the blogging game...

First let me introduce myself... not that there is actually going to be anyone reading this post...

I'm an electrical engineer working for a power utility in Canada. I work on control software and hardware for the power system. I started with the company in a different position which I suffered through for five years, but a transfer at the beginning of the year was the best thing I've done for my sanity and career. I generally like my job, my co-workers, etc., so I would never want to do anything to jeopardize this job, but I have a work story that begs to be shared...

I'm going to try to keep things somewhat anonymous to start, since some of the things I'll be saying about my company's IT department are not going to make me any friends. Not that I have any friends in IT now... but that's the long story to come. I don't believe I can actually be fired for telling a true story, even if it makes certain parties look bad (including myself, because I did some pretty dumb things...), but anonymity won't hurt.

So, what else can I say about myself?

I enjoy watching TV (Battlestar Galactica, Veronica Mars, and Lost are the best shows on TV), watching movies (although I haven't really gotten into a movie since The Lord of the Rings set standards impossibly high--Serenity was awesome, though), surfing the internet, and other boring things that aren't worth repeating.

I visit two blogs daily, both at ScienceBlogs.com, and both dealing with skeptical thinking: Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence. I have never posted a comment, just lurked, but I wanted to begin my blog by acknowledging both blogs for their awesomeness.

I don't want to type much more for this first post, but I will quickly address the title of the blog--it doesn't mean anything at all. Just words that kinda form a phrase. But the first letters in each word got me in a ridiculous amount of trouble at work, which is the story that will soon follow...