Warning: I will be recycling some old material in this one.
I already told you how web email services are being blocked at my new work. Thing is, things don't stop there: First, you are not allowed to download any applications.
Second, they have this "protection" thing to protect the innocents amongst us. Emails are filtered to block emails containing obscenities often used in this very blog, such as fuck and shit. There is a story going on about an inspector whose email about a problematic cockpipe was never delivered because if contained the word "cock". Attachments are filtered, too, and thus providing the grounds for another story where a photo of a hill that had two peaks and had a color tone similar to human skin was blocked, too. To me this reminds me of Beavis & Butt-Head with their "he said cock" humor; it's just sad that this happens at work.
Third, all the websites you surf are filtered. I surfed to Haaretz, my favorite Israeli newspaper, only to witness how all the photos were filtered out, leaving me with nothing but the headlines. And the ads. And the popup ads.
Which is exactly why I think this entire exercise is futile, stupid, and counter productive: Firefox would have easily dealt with the popups; so would have the Google toolbar. But no, I'm not allowed to download these sinful applications! Nor am I allowed to install other safety mechanisms, ala Spybot. And even if I was allowed to download them or to get away with downloading them, I wouldn't have been able to install them because I don't have administrator rights.
You can say it's silly and that I'm making a fuss out of nothing, but I think these things matter and matter a lot. Things like that cause people who are supposed to be and want to be on the cutting edge stay parsecs behind. Consider these two subtle examples: When I talked about the merits of Gmail at work today, a colleague told me he doesn't have Gmail because you need an invitation to join; at Ipex the guy would have been able to choose who will have the privilege to invite him! Or take another guy who expressed interest in buying a printer, and I told him to look in www.msy.com.au : An hour later, monitors all over the entire floor had MSY's pricelists on. Why? Because they didn't know any better and had to have someone with access to the outside world to tell them about it.
I don't want to become like that. If you hire me, trust me to do good, and give me the tools to learn. Yes, I will play a little and I will do things that do not necessarily relate to work some of the time, but overall work would gain a more motivated employee who is more in touch with the world.
The hypocrisy does not stop with web access related issues. It is also in the professional areas.
I already mentioned how Lotus Notes is used and abused to manage stuff that should have been handled by a relational database, where proper reporting and data mining could take place as opposed to just piling masses of data with no real benefits.
That is one side of things; the other is that we boast the fact we are using methodologies to help us work systematically and methodically. Coming from a place where people piss on you if you mention systematic-ness, I truly appreciate this and the fact that people actually are encouraged to work systematically.
However, I do not see how this systematic attitude goes together with the Lotus Notes policy. The two cannot really leave together if being systematic was truly a principle view guiding the organization; it's like a vegetarian eating steaks for lunch because he's only vegetarian 23 hours a day.
This is just straight hypocrisy.
What I find paradoxically funny is that these things, which won't matter to most and which would cause most people to say that I'm a lunatic to be bothered by them in the first place, don't really show up when you're being interviewed for a job. All you will know is that they work with certain methodologies because they will ask you whether you're familiar with them, but you will never be told about Lotus Notes or about Gmail being blocked.
Which once again leads me to conclude, they way I've concluded in the past (re: Work - What Is It Good For?), that the best way of finding a new job is through a network of friends. It's the only way where you can properly have some clue about an organization's culture without actually working there.
I'm not saying that I wouldn't have taken this job had I known then what I know now. I really needed some fresh air, and in this regard my new job is a life savior.
What I am saying, though, is that this new job is far from being perfect. It has it's bonuses, but I severely doubt I would be able to stay there as long as I have stayed at Volanpex and I am unable to see it becoming a true contribution to my CV (other than in enabling me to get a foothold at similar web blocking organizations).
As I said yesterday, I hope that first impressions will prove not to represent what I would think about this place in the long run.
And mind you, things are not all bad. I already mentioned the view (today it rained and I actually saw it live from up high!) and I mentioned the attention to ergonomics.
What I didn't mention are the toilets. Not that they are incredibly superior to what Volanpex had to offer, and not that the cleaner is half as cheerful as good old Gary; but they do have these dividers between the various "men's' standing ovation posts" that enable one to take the piss comfortably without being worried about the people standing next to him.
Sounds silly, but you feel the difference when you stand at a divider less standing ovation facility waiting for things to start flowing and then suddenly someone steps up and stand right next to you. I don't know about you, but I just tend to freeze, and until that other guy is gracious enough to fuck off nothing comes out and I just end up standing there looking at the wall and feeling ever so stupid.
Something's telling me that with these attitudes I will never find a job that I will truly like. With the view that any job is a lot like slavery only part time, I can see why; the trick is, what other options do I have? There are lots of interesting things out there, but they usually entail a significant risk I wouldn't want to take.
Given the frustration Jo and I are getting with Jo's ongoing quest to find us flights to Europe during the Xmess season, I cannot stop thinking that maybe we should start this startup that allows people to book complicated itineraries (as opposed to just return flights) around the world, on their own, and through the web.
Just don't try to do this at my new job - it's bound to be blocked.