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2006 Feb 06 13:47

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox-tech] windows support, unfortunately
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Re: [vox-tech] windows support, unfortunately



On Mon, Feb 06, 2006 at 04:26:08PM -0500, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> On Mon 06 Feb 06,  1:11 PM, Micah J. Cowan <micah@cowan.name> said:
> > On Mon, Feb 06, 2006 at 02:19:39PM -0500, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> > > Hi all,
> > > 
> > > At work I have to use WinXP, but all of my development is with open source
> > > tools like cygwin, miktex, etc., so I'm almost happy.
> > > 
> > > This morning a bad thing happened.  Adobe Acrobat wanted to install an
> > > update 7.0.5 on my work computer, and stupidly, I allowed it.  It wanted to
> > > reboot to finish the upgrade, and again, I allowed it.
> > > 
> > > Unfortunately, after the reboot, my system has become flakey.  Here are some
> > > manifestations:
> > 
> > <snip>
> > 
> > It's an obvious one, but I'm obliged to ask it: have you tried
> > /uninstalling/ Acrobat, and if so, did it make a difference? Also, is
> > your desktop backed-up?
>  
> Thanks, Micah.
> 
> After the Acrobat update, I seem to have completely lost the ability to
> install and uninstall programs.
> 
> Most of the time it says that I need admin privs.  Some of the time it says
> it can't access a particular .dll or it can't find a particular file.
> Before this whole thing started, I was able to install/uninstall programs
> just fine.

See: this is weird in and of itself: if you were able to
install/uninstall programs most of the time, chances are **REALLY** good
that your user /had/ Admin privs. Ask the support guy (shudder) if this
has changed recently?

> > > The reason why I'm posting to vox-tech is that one of the help desk guys
> > > noted that i have a lot of "illegal software".  this is the term he actually
> > > used; i'm not making that up.  he was referring to firefox, putty, miktex,
> > > gvim, cygwin, etc.  he said i have to uninstall the "illegal and unsupported
> > > software" to "fix the machine".
> > 
> > IMO, this is worth making an issue of. All of these are extremely legal
> > to have on your machine, and it is worth making the support guy
> > understand this. Now, some of it /may/ be against company rules: but
> > since you mentioned that you use cygwin to do development, I sincerely
> > doubt it.
> > 
> > Beat this into the support guy's head. Actually, a good tactic is to ask
> > /him/ questions, and make him answer them reasonably. Most answers from
> > these sorts of people will reveal more questions to ask.
> > 
> >     How, exactly, is Firefox (e.g.) illegal to install?
> >     How did you learn this (from the answer to previous)?
> >     What do you think about (appropriate link to strong materials denying
> >         the truthfulness of his previous answer)?
> 
> I think his intent was "it's against company policy", but I'll try this
> tactic.

Well, "against company policy is another issue entirely". You could try
to get that changed, but...

Thing is, your boss knows your developing with cygwin, right? So how can
it be against "company policy"?

Somewhat more likely: against "MIS policy"...

> > > I don't have the admin password for this computer, but I noticed a utility
> > > on the web that obtains the admin password on XP machines.  Actually
> > > *changing* the admin password is out of the question, for obvious reasons.
> > 
> > Actually snooping it may be a bad idea as well. You can certainly get
> > fired for such activity, and probably jail time, depending on the judge.
> 
> Woof!  Yeah, I definitely don't want to lose my job.  ;)
> 
> > If you must use this, make it a last resort. Probably the one right
> > after attempting to reinstall your system, reinstalling cygwin, etc on
> > top of a fresh install.
>  
> Unfortunately, my hands are completely tied now; I can't install or
> uninstall anything.  It's almost as if my user account went from 'admin' or
> 'power user' to 'restricted user'.
> 
> Maybe tomorrow I should try calling support again and telling them that I
> can no longer install/uninstall software?  I really don't know what else to
> do, and you have me too spooked to try to change my user permissions now...

No, no, I meant install WinXP afresh (or the company's baseline image),
and install things over that. You can do that if you have access to the
machine... (but you may need MIS's permission/help).

Didn't mean to spook you... figured you already guessed as much. And it
really depends on the employer: some will be sympathetic, some won't.
But with an IS department like that, I'm thinking it's wiser to avoid.

As far as changing your own user permissions: as I previously noted, it
seems very likely that you once /had/ Admin permissions. If you can
ascertain that this was true, then it seems justifiable to get them back
(although, again, "illicitly" gaining access to the Admin account itself
may not be a good idea).

As far as getting fired over stuff: just keep in mind, a guy can pretty
much get fired for whatever reason the company wants--including quite
illegal reasons--provided the company never tells anyone why the guy's
getting fired, and nobody can prove the reason beyond a reasonable
doubt. So even if there's not a legal case against such (though I'm
certain DMCA will be happy to oblige us, and I'm actually pretty sure it
would've been illegal before that, at least to some judges), it can
still be problematic.

All of this being my opinion, of course: I have ZERO experience in the
law, and an equivalently large amount of experience in hiring/firing.
:-)

-- 
Micah J. Cowan
micah@cowan.name
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