Please Help the Email and Internet Impaired!

I will admit that when it comes to computers and the internet I’m still a babe in the woods. About the time I think I’ve figured something out on the computer or some software program, something doesn’t work and I have to ask for help. Then I watch my 21-year old niece sit down at my computer and not only resolve the problem but also then show me about two or three shortcuts as her fingers dance over the keyboard. I’ve been working on learning a video editing program and sometimes think maybe there is some truth about teaching old dogs news tricks.
Having said that, what was the congressman from Florida thinking when he sent those emails to former congressional pages? I can’t say allegedly because I’ve seen some of the emails that were sent and apparently there was enough truth to them that the congressman resigned. One of the first things you learn when working on computers and the internet is that you never, ever send anything over computer that you don’t expect multiple parties to see. I’m not that computer savvy but come on, how many times have you heard about people hacking their way into computers. It seems everyone can hack into a computer these days except my wife and me and I’m not sure about her. Then there is OE or operator error. My first brush with OE on a computer came not long after the Station DOTR installed its first newsroom computer system. Compared to the current operating systems, the system was slightly above typewriters but only barely. The EP (this was pre-HR days) was notorious for ranting and raving in the newsroom and belittled most staffers on a regular basis in front of everyone else. Apparently he decided he would use the computer to send a scathing note to one of the staffers who had made some grievous error that was going to cause the destruction of the world as we knew it back then. However, the EP did a mass mailing instead of to the one person. I was working at my desk when my computer “pinged”. I scanned through the note and like a good soldier stepped over to the EP’s office to alert him that what appeared to be a private memo went to everyone. He immediately wanted to know if I had read it. I just looked at him. After all, how would I have known what kind of memo it was if I hadn’t read it?
After the computer system (third or fourth generation ) was upgraded DOTR we were warned not to use the computers for anything but station business. This warning came after some folks downloaded a bunch of stuff including porn that really bogged down the whole system. We were warned that downloading anything or even viewing non-business sites could be cause for dismissal. I think it was just prior to that announcement that a buddy of mine in the newsroom called to me as I was walking by his work station and said “Hey Joe, let me show you something on my computer.” Just as he pulled up a screen with a picture that some might consider art while others might consider it to be porn, the GM who had just stepped into the newsroom walked up behind me and said “you really shouldn’t be looking at stuff like that on your computer”. I expected to get a call from HR but never got it. I made it a point after that to make sure I stayed away from most questionable sites at work. It wasn’t long after that I heard one of the engineers at work was testing a program that allowed them to follow keystrokes on any computer in the company’s network. And the management was very open about things when it came to the company’s computers. They emphasized these were company computers and that anything sent or received was fair game for scrutiny by the company. That’s very simply the way it is. So be careful about sending nasty or suggestive emails, especially from a company computer. The career you jeopardize may be your own. Just ask that congressman from Florida.

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One Comment on “Please Help the Email and Internet Impaired!”

  1. autoegocrat Says:

    I make it my business to catch people in these sorts of screw-ups. Isaac Ford probably never suspected in a million years that someone would figure out that he was behind the Cohen smear website, but I busted him on it within a day of the site going up.

    When I was working for IBM, we lived by an expanded version of the CYA rule: “If you didn’t write it down, it never happened.” If you carry that principle over into the realm of network operations, you’ll have a good idea of why it’s so easy to catch people doing things with computers that they shouldn’t be doing.

    Those instant message transcripts that Brian Ross obtained are over three years old. Conservative bloggers are trying to make the case that the page saved the transcripts for a hit job, but many versions of instant message software have chat logging built in. It’s entirely possible that the page simply kept the same computer for three years, with the logged transcripts laying dormant in some unknown file.

    There are so many different ways for a politician in Washington to find some discreet man-on-man action (*cough* Jeff Gannon *cough*) that there’s no rational reason for Foley to hang himself out like that. The most likely scenario is that Foley’s psychopathy drove him to ignore the risks in order to obtain the specific reward that answers his individual perversion.

    He writes in the instant message chats like someone who is unfamiliar with the parlance of internet chatting. No LOLs, ROFLs, or any other common netspeak acronyms, no spell corrections with an asterisk, and always that same habit of punctuating each sentence with an ellipsis that he uses in the emails. There is nothing that would suggest he has any familiarity with the ad hoc grammar that has developed on the internet over time.

    He probably thought he was being cool.


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