Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Those 0's and 1's are not yours

Yesterday I nearly posted when I was in a full-on rage.  Someone went and made my job a whole lot harder because they had a rather mixed up view of what was theirs.  I watched a Disney movie instead.  Probably for the best.

Meanwhile, there are still some leftover thoughts left from the post that might have been.  Feel free to take this opportunity to learn from someone else's mistake.  I think I've posted some of this before but I also think it bears repeating.  I keep seeing the same mistakes made, so there are plenty of people out there that just don't get it.

If you have a job where they let you use one of their computers, it is not yours.  First it belongs to the company or the government or whomever your employer may be.  Second, it belongs to your geeks (but in a much less tangible way) because when you break it, they have to fix it.  If you open an email attachment called "ILoveYou.exe" from someone you've never heard of before, you call the IT person when the computer gets a nasty virus.  Therefore, the geeks have a vested interest in how that machine is used.  They have a right to act territorial when it comes to that hardware.  (Or at least they have that right, in my mind.)

Any data you create (Word documents, Excel worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) while getting payed by your employer is not yours.  If you're having a bad day and decide to delete a few year's worth of reports, do you think your boss is not going to be a bit peeved?  Well, if they let you go, just because you may think they were as wrong as wrong can be for making that decision, the fact that you think they're all stupid does not mean that all the work you've created while on their dime is suddenly yours. (If you really think you're justified in erasing every bit of evidence you ever worked there, then by all rights you should give back every dime you made because everything you produced while their employee is now gone and so there's nothing to justify the money they paid you.  So there.)

There's a geek somewhere in the company that has a vested interest in your data as well.  I manage some servers where my users keep their files.  When it comes to things like who has access to what, I defer to management as to who gets those permissions.  But before any user can go and trash those files without permission, I believe I have a right to get a little pissy.  Let's say someone wiped out 100 GB of data.  Who gets to stay until well past the end of their work day restoring those files from backup?  Management?  Nope.  The people who created those files?  Nope.  It's the damn monkey to the rescue yet again.

Don't fool yourself into thinking anything you use or create at work is yours, unless you're self employed.  Read the end user agreement that you signed when you got your IT accounts.  Read your contract.  Read your HR policy.  Know what you signed.  Re-read those documents once in a while.  If nothing else, re-read them a few months after you get hired because we all know the first week is a blur.

There are probably all kinds of "don't do's" in the IT end user agreement that you never knew were there or slipped your mind.  Those rules may not be enforced on a daily basis, but you can bet your last $20 that if they want to get rid of you, they will look at those rules as a possible way to boot your ass to the curb.  I've seen selective enforcement at past jobs.  The same people enforcing the rules made the same violations at times, but if they need that technicality, that one broken rule, they may use your time on Facebook or the SI Swimsuit Edition web page if need be.  You acknowledged a set of guidelines when you first signed into your login account.  Be familiar what you signed up for.  (And for Pete's sake, don't look at pr0n at work unless that's what you do for a living.)

Don't think you have any reasonable expectation of privacy on that computer either.  State and federal employees should know all about Freedom of Information Act requests and "public record".  Even if you work for a private company, know that it's probable that a team of lawyers wrote up a document that you agreed to that will distance you from the company if you use their computer equipment in some way not work related or that can be deemed inappropriate.

And one other thing - don't piss off your IT person.  If your IT person doesn't like you, if they feel that you have stabbed them in the back in the past, and then you do something catastrophically stupid, they may do nothing to help you.  We have all kinds of nifty tools to produce evidence that you were stupid and we're not afraid to use them.

And if your IT person is a ginger, heaven help you because gingers have no souls.

~~Code Monkey

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