back to article A tip for content filter evaluators: erase the list of sites you tested, don't share them on 100 PCs

Once again, gentle reader, it is time to dive into the treacherous waters of Who, Me? in which readers tell us tales of days when things did not go quite right. This week meet a Regizen we'll call "Hugh", who was tasked with installing and testing internet content blocking software on a new fleet of laptops. This was in the …

  1. Sequin

    I once sent a company wide email warning people about accessing inappropriate sites after finding that somebody had been accessing Rubbermaid.com - what you do in your own home is up to you, but don't follw your kink at work!

    It turns out that Rubbermaid sells cleaning equipment!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      So how did you sweep that one under the carpet?

      1. herman Silver badge

        Three maids in a tub

        I guess he got the French Maid to sweep the rubbermaid reference under the carpet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fresh versus hot

      Yep, 20 years ago I was doing some research into protocol stacks for a now mostly defunct telecoms company.

      Boss says go onto freshmeat.com (which was like an open-source software site which I'd never heard of before) and there are some examples of things to look at... I rock up on a Monday and type in hotmeat.com and a whole parade of goatse like artwork filled the screen. Quite put me off my breakfast. Did own up immediately to IT about that...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fresh versus hot

        I worked with a guy who had taken his family to Disney and found that in the Epcot centre they had large screen terminals hooked up to a high speed (probably just T1) internet connection.

        He decided to demonstrate that he could access his savings account back in Blighty, but instead of typing (something like) 'moneybank.co.uk', he type moneybank.com', only to discover it was a clearing house for payments for porn sites

        "Cover their eyes!... Where's the 'close' button?"

        1. Cheshire Cat

          Re: Fresh versus hot

          Similarly, back in the late 90s when I was the Master of the Company Web Proxy, I was contacted by a young lady in accounting, who was having trouble accessing moneyworld.com due to the pornfilters.

          A quick test on an unlocked PC showed that the filters were indeed doing their job, and she actually wanted to go to moneyworld.co.uk. She was most embarrassed when I explained this to her.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Fresh versus hot

            "A quick test on an unlocked PC showed that the filters were indeed doing their job, and she actually wanted to go to moneyworld.co.uk. She was most embarrassed when I explained this to her."

            Yes, one of the unintended consequences of both the publicity .com got in the media (and still does) thanks to the "dot com boom" and the desperation so many "local" companies have for wanting .com URIs. Many, many users sort of expect a web address to end in .com. Possibly less of an issue these days with so many people just searching for sites rather than manually typing in an address. Even now, some people look at you funny if you give them a URI with .co.uk or anything other than .com unless they deal regularly with, eg. .gov.uk or .edu.uk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fresh versus hot

        Had a client who was using the guest wifi at one office and seemed to be struggling with it. After many attempts he said there was an issues with it, every website he tried to visit wasn’t working. I investigated and found that he was trying to visit bookies websites which were banned. He had money on a friends horse which was racing that day and wanted to check what was happening. So he tried the National Lottery site which again was banned as was an independent lottery results site. He thought the ban/filter was idiotic, when I said it was implemented by Head Office he said “that explains that then.”

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Fresh versus hot

          >So he tried the National Lottery site which again was banned as was an independent lottery results site.

          The laugh is that if you do business with the National Lottery eg. want to bid for lottery funding or are having to report back on how you have spent the money, you have to login to the National Lottery website...

    3. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Hey, this is ElReg! No kink shaming!

      I once sent a rather steamy love letter to my Boss, and a system status report to my girlfriend (now Wife). Thankfully, they both found it hysterical. No harm, no foul. An extra pint that evening helped :-)

      Side note: Rubbermaid sells all kinds of things, not just cleaning gear.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Hey, this is ElReg! No kink shaming!

        I once sent a rather steamy love letter to my Boss, and a system status report to my girlfriend (now Wife).

        Better your boss than your mother-in-law. (A friend's error, not mine, thank $DEITY. The rest of us laughed mercilessly.)

      2. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

        Re: Hey, this is ElReg! No kink shaming!

        Side note: Rubbermaid sells all kinds of things, not just cleaning gear.

        Indeed, they have some nice pantry shots https://www.rubbermaid.com/pantry.html

    4. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Devil

      It still puzzles me that anyone would access any NSFW sites from their work computer (except for mishaps with spelling). I mean, there usually are enough unattended and unlocked computers from colleagues around just waiting to be abused.

      1. goodjudge

        MPs and tractors, anyone?

        see title

        1. Jedit Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: MPs and tractors, anyone?

          You'd think that a Tory MP if anyone would know how to clear their browser history. They certainly have no shortage of de-tractors.

        2. Spanners Silver badge

          Re: MPs and tractors, anyone?

          Do Ukrainian tractors towing previously used T72s towards new users count?

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: MPs and tractors, anyone?

            it ain't much, but it's honest work

        3. herman Silver badge

          Re: MPs and tractors, anyone?

          Traktor is rather better: https://youtu.be/ubplAZiGoZE

    5. John 110

      They also sell cable management tunnelly thing (or did). I had a bit of a job persuading the boss to order three of them from Rubbermaid...

    6. Mayday
      Childcatcher

      I did the same thing

      Pre Google, working at a government-owned betting company which had heavy internet restrictions.

      I was given a 3.5" disc which had a file needed for work purposes, and the file was in a PKZIP format. As I did not have PKZIP on my PC, I had to go find it. Not having Google or any other workable search engines which were half decent, I used the commonly used guess the URL method of the day.

      I found out rather quickly that pk.com does not maintain PKZIP, but was "Pussy Kitchen". Your one stop shop for all things Hong Kong related pussy. IT found out before I did and this young fella had some explaining to do.

      Now, I just checked pk.com and unfortunately the site does not seem to be there any more.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I did the same thing

        "I used the commonly used guess the URL method of the day."

        In that era, I'd have gone over to SunSITE (or SIMTEL) for something as common as PKZip.

        Is the other person who actually paid the registration fee for PKZip also here on ElReg?

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: I did the same thing

          Uh...yeah :-)

          Sunsite, SIMTEL ... decwrl and tsx-11...thanks for the memories!

        2. Ignazio

          Re: I did the same thing

          I own a WinRAR registration.

    7. Potty Professor
      Mushroom

      In the early days of the Internet, I was hauled over the coals by my employeers for applying on line for a subscription to Rubber Goods Weekly. I had to explain that it was a Trade Paper, and, as a Development Engineer working on High Voltage Equipment, I needed to keep abreast (Fnar! Fnar!) of the latest developments on Rubber and Plastic based Insulation products for incorporation into the equipment we were developing (up to 7.2kV). I also got into hot water because I accidentally typed DTK.com instead of DTK.co.uk, the latter is the website of DTK Engineering, the former is Dangerous To Know, a porn site. Oops!

  2. dwodmots

    Why did all user accounts contain the browser history of his admin account?

    Sounds fake.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Maybe this was long enough a go that there was only one account on each machine ie Windows 9x

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only if you are incompetent and didn't know how to configure Win 95.

        But I guess it explains a lot if you worked in an IT department who were dumb enough to image 95 and install it on 100 machines with the same licence key and port sites stashed in the browser history.

        1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          With Win 95/98/Me you didn't need 1 licence key, the last 5 digits could be any number you liked. There was no phone home like today.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You're absolutely correct.

            But if you gave a toss about licensing and being on the right side of the law you damn well didn't.

            1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

              Win 9X Licensing

              Microsoft Guy: "How many Win9X machines do you have?"

              IT Guy: "Fifty-two."

              Microsoft Guy: "Why do they all have the same license key?"

              IT Guy: "'Cause our boss was in a screaming rush for us to get this done, so we just imaged 'em all. License keys are on stickers on the backs of the machines, or on the bottoms of the laptops. If you want, we can take a tour and you can check 'em all."

              Microsoft Guy: (Looks at every PC in that office, finds the stickers) "Nah, you're fine."

            2. localzuk Silver badge

              All you're confirming is that you didn't work either in the era being discussed, or with the technology being discussed.

              It was very common to image using the same key for many machines - MS really only cared that you had an equal number of licenses to the number of devices you had.

        2. JimC

          > 100 machines with the same licence key

          As I recall this was perfectly legitimate if you had the right license - although it may have been no license key at all. Its been a long time, but ISTR there was a different installation for very big commercial licences.

        3. AIBailey

          If you worked in an IT department of any decent size, you'd probably be using a Windows 95 volume licencing disc - no licence key needed. I remember we used to get regular deliveries from Microsoft, dozens of disks in burgundy sleeves, with everything from the current OS installers (95, 98, NT and XP etc) and the Office suites.

          Also, from memory, Windows 95's idea of multiple user accounts on the same machine was pointless, as hitting escape on the sign-in screen would just take you straight in anyway.

          1. Ignazio

            Hitting the escape key let you in, but in our uni lab it meant you didn't get internet access, only intranet.

            Blank password on those machines, meaning pressing enter meant you were in agd good, pressing esc not so much. Fellow student had to be told loudly, thought.

            "It doesn't work!", he pipes up.

            "Press enter", I say.

            "But it works if I press Escape!", he counters.

            "Then what are you complaining about, Sherlock?", or words to that effect.

            I wasn't the sharpest tool in the box but he made me look amazing.

        4. DiViDeD

          Re: Only if you are incompetent

          It was common practice at a certain Flora Margarine logoed oil company back in the day to create a single 'approved' COE (Common Operating Environment) image for each type of user (admin, developer, web developer, engineer and so on) and to image machines as required.

          At one time we even had Dell imaging our 'standard' desktop onto all new deliveries and we'd simply add required software through Wyse scripts, or reimage to the required desktop as needed.

          I believe, at the time, that Microsnot were only concerned that we had sufficient individual licences to cover the number of PCs we had operating

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

      You obviously had no experience of just how absolutely awful p.c. operating systems were in the early days, there was literally no concept of security. A ;pt of ear;y implementations fell to Mainframe tech teams who could not believe how badly things had been implemented. This lead to desktop teams being established and a big divide in the tech world which took years to bridge. W thought the PC guys were all incompetent and slapdash, they thought we were dinosaurs obsessed by stopping people doing what they wanted. For a long time my only interest in PC's was as a platform to run mainframe and UNIX terminal emulation. Client Server apps and desktop integration changed all that and did drive a lot of improvements in windows security and stability eventually but until you have had to support a raft of applications using different java, Oracle_Home and .net versions all from the same PC you haven't lived.

      1. BenDwire Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        Thanks for reminding me, not that my knees ever let me forget these days ...

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          When we bought IBM PS/2 PCs, the serial numbers were on the front. It saved a lot of crawling around. We had a Volume Workstation Agreement (for us, up to a 30% discount), so I'm not sure if that applied to all PS/2s.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          Why, when I were a lad...

          ...I remember downloading ~15 3.5 diskette images to install Slackware Linux (was wonderful when Walnut Creek CD came onto the scene)

          'twas shortly afterwards that I discovered Linux was noticeably more robust than Windows 3.1+DOS+QEMM+a bunch of TSRs.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            Slackware 1.0 was 13 "A" disks and 11 "X" disks. Walnut Creek came on board to volunteer FTP space and bandwidth (and later the CD) when Linus's personal FTP server crashed under the load. And then crashed again. And again ... The poor guy thought that nobody would be all that interested, and all he had was a 386 :-)

            Back then Walnut Creek also had FreeBSD, the simtel collection, Project Gutenberg, X11R5 (and later R6), perl, the complete monstrosity known as ADA ... later, that new-fangled Apache & accessories for people fiddling about with the WorldWideWait thingie ... All available complete with source either on very inexpensive CDROM or a download via FTP to your shell account, then to your home computer over dial-up (quite spendy back when even local telephone calls cost money per minute ... it was usually far cheaper to have the CD mailed to you, unless you lived near Walnut Creek, or Fry's Electronics first store, which carried most titles (the rest of the Fry's hadn't opened yet).

          2. DropBear
            Windows

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            I once wrote TSRs. Now I feel terminally exhausted at the mere thought of looking at one up close. But I swear I'm not old, nawww, not at all - it all happened a mere few years ago. Yes, in the nineties, a few years ago, that's what I said, did I not...? Those new bullet-time effects in this recent Matrix movie are pretty slick though - I've heard they plan to make it a trilogy...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        I know exactly how awful they were for security, hello I was a Novell and Unix admin before I got dragged into Windows.

        Still doesn't change my opinion that you had to be incompetent to set up 9x so badly that there was only one user profile.

        I'm also amazed that people think reusing or making up licence keys in a business environment is acceptable but I guess that just confirms my opinion that they're incompetent.

        1. Mark 85

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          I'm also amazed that people think reusing or making up licence keys in a business environment is acceptable but I guess that just confirms my opinion that they're incompetent.

          Incompetent? Maybe. Cheap and not wanting to pay fees for a license? Definitely.

        2. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          Even if you did go to the trouble of creating user profiles in 9x, users could bypass them by pressing the "Escape" key on start up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            It was easy to bypass, sure, but my point stands, you *can* create profiles on 9x if you have the tiniest clue about what you're doing.

        3. Ideasource Bronze badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          Acceptability implies something is being done to please others.

          The concept has no place an endeavor of discreet utility.

        4. Ideasource Bronze badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          Acceptability implies something is being done to please others.

          Like a performance.

          The concept has no place an endeavor of discreet utility in private.

          Like eating food.

          "Ugh use a fork , you mannors are unacceptable".

          "Well feel free to discuss it with your therapist. I'm not eating for your benefit. I'm eating for mine so piss off"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        PC "security"

        You obviously had no experience of just how absolutely awful p.c. operating systems were in the early days, there was literally no concept of security

        Just like today's absolutely awful p.c. operating systems then, eh?

      4. jake Silver badge

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        Hey, I'm not old. Yet.

        Here in Sonoma people are saying 50 is the new 30 and 60 is the new 40 ...

        Give me another 60 or 70 years and we'll talk.

      5. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        (1) Because we (some of us) are old, we do remember the no-security PC operating systems.

        (2) "Client Server apps and desktop integration changed all that and did drive a lot of improvements in windows security and stability". No. Win 3X/9X client/server apps had some of the worst security (unauthenticated ODBC connections, etc.) and stability (we had crappy Java and C++ apps which leaked enough memory to cause reboots); desktop app integration did not help security (Visual Basic for Applications was a large security hole, as were Hypertext Applications [*.hta files] and Object Linking and Embedding).

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          And when we old timers say PC, we mean Personal Computer, not IBM PC and its descendants.

          And we also mean REAL computers, without a GUI !

          1. DiViDeD

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            And we also mean REAL computers

            Yeah! and card readers that could slice a finger off, splitters & bursters that could embed continuous form paper in the ceiling, impact printers that could deafen you with the acoustic lid CLOSED, and many other perils to the unwary.

            Happy days!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

              "and many other perils to the unwary"

              Like working your fingers to the bone toggling front panel switches ...

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            Agree on personal computers.

            Disagree on GUIs. I run plenty of real computers with GUIs. They are a big help for many operations ... but I do agree that sometimes they get in the way. That's why I send a login to a serial port[0][1] and hang a dumb terminal off it whenever I install a new computer for myself.

            [0] Note what the "s" in USB stands for.

            [1] Doncha just love sysvinit? Makes life so easy :-)

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          That's because Win3.x and 9.x were just GUIs on top of a glorified program loader, which had absolutely no security or stability at all.

          Remember, kiddies, MS/PC-DOS wasn't really an operating system, no matter how many times Redmond claimed otherwise.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            Well what do you expect for the (alleged) $25,000 Bill paid Seattle Computer Products for a non-exclusive licence (later an additional US$50,000?). I believe that MS bought the last licence from Tim Paterson later...

          2. Alumoi Silver badge

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            MS/PC-DOS was an operating system, hence the name: disk operating system.

            You know, the part that does the interface between programs and hardware? Well, that's an operating system. All the other are just windows dressing (or Mac).

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

              "MS/PC-DOS was an operating system, hence the name: disk operating system."

              No, it was a program loader. A glorified program loader perhaps, but a program loader nonetheless, regardless of what Microsoft named it.

              "You know, the part that does the interface between programs and hardware? Well, that's an operating system."

              No. An OS has complete control of the hardware (pace root/administrative access capabilities, of course). MS/PC-DOS didn't have that capability.

          3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            Remember, kiddies, MS/PC-DOS wasn't really an operating system

            I fully agree. But, jake, you are probably, no matter how much 60 is the new 40 and so on, getting oldish. Kiddies these days wouldn't know what MS/PC-DOS is. At best, they'd have heard of it in history lessons. More likely though you just get a blank stare or some "okay, boomer" comment from the pathetic little buggers.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

              Whenever somebody says "OK, boomer" at me, I ask them what they are crying about.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          (1) In early 1981[0] I was working for Bigger Blue when the PC-DOS 0.98 beta & original IBM 5150 PC came out in pilot build ... everyone in the Glass House looked at each other and said "WTF is IBM thinking? Thank gawd/ess it can't do networking!" ... The rest, of course, is history.

          (2) Yes.

          [0] I can't remember the exact month, but it was raining when I signed for the new kit. Naturally.

      6. Myvekk

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        The key point there is that they were P.C. systems. They didn't need much security because they were PERSONAL computers and the user (singular) could be admin because they were the only one using it... right up until they were connected to a network at least. Then the lack of security came back to bite all the IT & network support staff! As airgapped systems they were more or less ok. Once they got online though, they were wide open.

        UNIX approached from the other side. It was originally a multi-user system, so security had been designed in from the start.

        1. scubaal

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          er no it wasnt.

          try sendmail - which was the basic unix messaging system

          it had no concept of security because it was for exchanging messages between universites and 'who would ever want to read anyone elses message......or pretend to be anyone else.....etc?'.........

          plain text everything

          security was bolted on a lot later to almost everything associated with the internet because in the early days it was just 'friends and colleagues sharing stuff'

          1. DiViDeD

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            There was a lot of that attitude at Microsoft back in the day. "Of course people should be able to share files and resources, and of course nobody would ever think of doing anything nefarious"

            Ah, how times have changed!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

              "There was a lot of that attitude at Microsoft back in the day. "Of course people should be able to share files and resources, and of course nobody would ever think of doing anything nefarious""

              Redmond didn't even take it that far. Their whole thing was "Make it look easy without cost to our bottom line".

              "Ah, how times have changed!"

              Not really.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

            How to tell us you don't know anything about Sendmail without saying "I don't know anything about Sendmail".

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          "because they were the only one using it."

          Perhaps, if you had a locked office door.

          "UNIX approached from the other side. It was originally a multi-user system"

          No. The it was a single user system. It wasn't even multitasking. Thus the name: Unics, or Uniplexed Information and Computing Service.

      7. herman Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        Hmm, here is a dime kid.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          A dime? In my day it were a nickle. And boxing still worked.

      8. DiViDeD

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        Old?

        Let me tell you, I'm old enough to remember when you could paste any 'encrypted' password into NotePad to see what it was.

        AND break into ASP code just by adding colons to the URL.

        Ah, the grand old days!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

          Notepad? ASP? URL?

          Grand old days???

          Maybe I am getting old after all ...

      9. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A lot of El Reg Readers really are very old

        Most proprietary PC operating systems are still absolutely awful, and the latest iterations of MS-ware just makes its use tricky, rather than in any way secure. It took just a seven minute demonstration with a "corporate build" of the latest from Redmond to persuade my biggest client that it really isn't secure at all. They abandoned the idea to buy a huge pile of Dell laptops with W11 and write their corporate branding on to them. Instead they've gone for a badged version of Ubuntu,and saved themselves a fortune!

    3. David Nash

      Why did all user accounts contain the browser history of his admin account?

      I'm interested to understand.

      Fixed it for you. Why would someone fake that detail?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >Why did all user accounts contain the browser history of his admin account?

        Well with next to no security, I came across many companies where the system had a generic 'staff' account, used by all as corporate systems were still hosted on larger systems with their own login/password security and only accessible via terminal emulation.

        Obviously, over time we've become more security aware ...

    4. trindflo Bronze badge

      Old ways of imaging didn't necessarily clear all the accounts

      If you had a manager account when you setup the machine you cloned, you could take the image to other machines and then your manager account, including a local admin login if you set it up that way, would be on all the machines. It makes it easy to service machines if something unfortunate happens, for instance a NIC card dies, you don't have the same model to replace it with, and you need to do admin things on the machine. It saved needing to tell the users that all their setup and local files were gone.

      Since normal users wouldn't have your credentials, they would end up creating a new account and security wouldn't let them see any of your files. This all worked fine in Windows 7 as long as you trusted your users to not boot from a hacking distro and leave bombs in your admin account. But an antivirus program might see things in your browser cache that would set off alarms.

      You would still use programs to change the SIDs and site licensing would take care of most of the rest of your pain. Alternatively you could have the machine demand a license key after the first boot.

      Microsoft documented all of it. I haven't looked recently and those versions of the OS have been EOL'ed, but the documents might still be available.

    5. Myvekk

      Well, personally, when testing a system I've set up for image, I'd test in the user environment, not the admin one, so that I know that what I've set up works in the account it's meant for.

      Why do you test user restrictions in the admin account?

    6. Mr Humbug

      As I recall, and it's been a while... when you run sysprep to prepare a Win2K machine for imaging it copies the current user profile into the default profile settings.

    7. JT_3K

      Gather round children...

      ...and let me tell you about the olden days. When if you weren't rolling out NT4 and were pushing Win95 that the profiles were bypassable and security was just completely pony. Many machines were imaged using the same license key because the license sticker was the part that was important, not the key you'd used and if you'd not applied the sticker, you'd not applied the license to the machine.

      Common practice was to:

      (a) configure a single-profile machine as the multi-profile systems in the consumer-track non-NT Microsoft OS (even until XP) absolutely killed the machine and made them run like complete and utter dogs and secure your FTP or fileshares individually; or

      (b) configure a profile in the way you wanted it to behave and copy it over the "default profile" by hand in File Explorer so every new account would have all the same settings, then create your profiles and let users log in to a fully configured desktop.

      Once this was done, you could image the machine, probably with Norton by hooking to a network share for your image (fancy) or if you were really fancy, you'd have one of those stupid handheld hard disk cloning boxes with an IDE connector on the top, a little LCD screen and a slot for you to put a spare 3.5'' IDE drive in the "handle".

      Before you start throwing shade about "smaller organisations", that's how the Ambulance service in the UK were doing it during the brief stint I spent with them in 1999/2000 with a very cut-apart desktop experience and an IE hard-link to their web-based queuing/call handling system which required individual login. Registry edits to hide various crap abounded. I also cite that they were still using WfW3.11 print servers at this point and that wasn't uncommon. Remember that a lot of remote services, modem dial-ups to your office's modem bank and even 802.11 (or even 802.11b) at this point required an interactive desktop to get connected - Microsoft said it didn't but none of them ever integrated to that "dial first login" option.

      Thankfully by the next time I got in an enterprise it was 2003 and I supported a Win2k "domain" that was being moved to XP and had such luxuries as Group Policy.

      Now I've got to go as my heat packs on my back are running out and I need to get some more before I can't reach that drawer any more (genuinely).

  3. Caver_Dave Silver badge
    Alert

    Customers

    I worked for a company that made set top boxes to access the Internet before PC's became pervasive.

    Occasionally, a customer would send back a box that "would not access a particular site".

    They were unvaryingly a site of 'special interest'. 99% of the time the user content filter had not blocked them (it was not turned on!), but there was something dodgy about the sites HTML.

    Other sites that the customer was not complaining about were used to stock the content filter that parents could turn on.

    We had a lad straight out of University who was employed to test the content filter, but I'm not sure it was the plumb job he made it out to be.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Customers

      Whilst at university, I vaguely knew a graphic designer who got a job working on the layout of these "speciality" publications, which he assumed was the ultimate job. It turns out he got bored of that kind of imagery very quickly...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Customers

        Someone, decades ago, talked of creating the finest clickable quimage-maps money could buy for a living.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Customers

      "I worked for a company that made set top boxes to access the Internet before PC's became pervasive."

      Eh? What country had set-top box Internet access before personal computers were pervasive?

      1. Cian_

        Re: Customers

        There was a relatively common, 56k modem based STB pushed by a cable TV company in Ireland, a Unison Box, which were about a third or less of the price of a PC at the time. Lots of people got burnt buying those instead thinking it was a good cheaper option.

        I've never got my hands on one to figure out what they ran but I'd guess WinCE on SH or ARM.

        1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          Intel 486sx - bare metal. Unfortunately the RAM was unavailable for 40% of the time, when it was updating the screen.

          It meant that I had to pull all the tricks under the sun to get the Javascript interpretter to run at a reasonable speed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Customers

            That under the Sun was called Java..

            :)

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          But personal computers with Internet connections were already fairly pervasive by that time, no?

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Customers

            But personal computers with Internet connections were already fairly pervasive by that time, no?

            People would have been accessing the internet with a modem and while starting to become popular it wasn't that common. DSL only really started taking off for early adopters at the turn of the new millennium and I think it would be fairly reasonable to say that the majority of people had it by around 2005 with the laggards getting caught up with iPhones etc. By around 2010 I'd say that it was uncommon not to be online.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Customers

            Even when the 486 was pervasive in the industry, I'd not describe home computers as pervasive in general. Not by a large margin. Even when the Pentium CPU first came out, less than 20% of households had a computer. And by computer, that could be any make or model including Spectrums, Amigas etc. In 1993 when a 486DX2-66 was top of the range, you could still go out and buy a new budget PC of XT grade with a piddly little 20MB HDD or even a dual floppy, no HDD model. It wasn't until this century that computer ownership reach 50% of households.

            1. jake Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Customers

              Okee dokee, fair enough.

              I guess I moved in different circles ... which makes sense, when you remember what I was in Blighty for at that point in my life[0]. I guess I had a somewhat different window into British home life in the early-late '80s than was accurate for the population as a whole in that time period[1]. Which makes sense, now that I think about it.

              I'll remember this in the future.

              A round on me.

              [0] Amongst other things, although I didn't work for either company, I installed some of the first Sun computers in England, and later some of the first Cisco routers.

              [1] A fact that those who get all their information on us Yanks from DearOldTelly and that side of the Tubes of Ewe might do well to ponder on.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Customers

                "[1] A fact that those who get all their information on us Yanks from DearOldTelly and that side of the Tubes of Ewe might do well to ponder on."

                Spot on! That's how my views of life in the US has been created :-)

                I know what you mean about the circles you move in though. I had a computer at home from about 1978/79 or so. My close friends also did and was part of the reason why we were close friends. Like minded hobbyists. So from my point of view it also seemed like "everyone" had a home computer. As my interest in all things computing evolved from hobby to the industry, I very quickly realised that most people didn't have a computer at home. I see the same "closed circle of friends" in other areas too where they think everyone else is just like them, an easy trap to fall into, especially when we were young and had less life experience back then :-)

      2. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

        Re: Customers

        NTL provided mine, it was like teletext on steroids, all controlled by the, er, controller. About a year later they provided a proper box with an RJ45 on the back, into which I popped a linksys NAT router that would only work with my PC NIC MAC address cloned into it.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          During the meanwhile, people were already using their existing personal computers for Internet connectivity, no?

          1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

            Re: Customers

            I would say it wasn't pervasive within the UK.

            We had Demon in the UK in 1992, which was the first company to offer dial up internet for £10 per month + telephone call rates. At the time I had just started a computer shop on the high street, and a business consultancy after having my name passed around while at Uni as someone who could fix PCs. I had a few business customers on Demon accounts, but no consumers, with the exception of people like myself I knew who worked in IT. That said, I didn't get get it myself until a few years later. Internet access was just too expensive, even for a business. The UK home internet scene didn't really start until 1998, when one of the big chain stores released Freeserve https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeserve . Freeserve charged no subscription, and the call rate was a local number, 1 penny a minute. From that point on, in my shop every machine was selling with a modem, so for me 1998 was when internet for home use became a thing.

            Around 1996/7 is when I recall getting a letter from my Cable TV provider NTL regarding the set top box upgrade, which I got, along with full fat 512k a year later, but unfortunately NTL became NTHell around Y2K, and they ended up going through a bankruptcy process until they became owned and branded by Virgin. It was 3 to 4 years later before British Telecom started offering ADSL for business, and again a bit longer for home.

      3. lostsomehwere

        Re: Customers

        France did, sort of

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          Télétel's Minitel terminals were not set-top boxes, and did not connect to the Internet.

      4. BenDwire Silver badge

        Re: Customers

        We had Prestel in the UK in the early eighties, but it's far too long ago to recall if the internet was involved at that time. We also had those dreadful Amstrad E-mailer phones in the early noughties.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Customers

          Prestel didn't connect to the Internet.

      5. ADRM

        WEB TV Boxes

        RCA in Indianapolis Indiana made them for Microsoft. They did emails and web browsing for Grandma in the late 90's early 2000.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: WEB TV Boxes

          But again, after accessing the Internet via personal computer became pervasive.

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Re: WEB TV Boxes

            I think "pervasive" is a relative term. If I remember rightly, dial-up internet in the US was usually done with a "local" number, which, due to the way local numbers are charged in the US didn't cost money "per minute". (Please correct me if this is wrong!)

            In the UK, at least, and I suspect many other countries, dial-up was via a "local rate" number, which did get charged per-minute (often a double-digit number of pennies) on top of a monthly fee. This could rack up quite a fee if left connected. A "set-top box" which didn't have this restriction would have been economically preferable for a number of people, especially if they just wanted to check email and "browse the web" as it was then. So, people may have had "home PCs" but not ones connected to the internet via a modem. Remember, we're still talking about the days of ISA cards and external modems that took up your phone line.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: WEB TV Boxes

              Your US explanation is spot-on. My family had a PC with modem in the 1995-1997 era, and we'd often do downloads overnight since it tied up the phone line. The call itself was free, and the ISP used a "first x hours is $___" kind of pricing structure.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Luckily he had a legitimate reason for having visited the site

    Well, DUH!!! It was his assigned task! Get the content filter working. But don't visit any NSFW sites while doing it??? WTF???

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      Re: Luckily he had a legitimate reason for having visited the site

      Oh no. He visited all the sites we found on customer returns, plus all the obvious ones we had thought of.

  5. lglethal Silver badge
    Joke

    I thought that the complaint from upper management would be that they could no longer get to Playboy.com...

  6. T. F. M. Reader
    Coat

    Other ways to justify access

    I remember the times when Mr. Hefner's flagship publication had a very good computer/gadgetry section. Written by one of the technically-minded bunnies. They (bunnies) were not brainless at all, and I did read the magazine "for the articles" - honest!

    The literary section was excellent.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Other ways to justify access

      They actually published stories by Roald Dahl at one point too

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Big Brother

        Re: Other ways to justify access

        "They actually published stories by Roald Dahl at one point too"

        With ALL the words left in!

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Other ways to justify access

        And Harlan Ellison, Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Ian Fleming, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke, Vladimir Nabokov, among many many others.

        1. JimC

          Re: Other ways to justify access

          And a very smart tactic it was too, providing a reasonably legitimate excuse to be found in possession of the publication.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Other ways to justify access

            I used to access playboy.com from work ... using lynx.

            I was honestly only reading it for the articles.

            1. Korev Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Other ways to justify access

              > I used to access playboy.com from work ... using lynx.

              Lynx Africa?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Other ways to justify access

                Nothing to do with Africa. University of Kansas, by way of CERN's libwww.

                Yes, I see the "joke" icon. I have no idea what you are referencing.

                1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                  Re: Other ways to justify access

                  Lynx Africa is an overpoweringly strong deodorant in the UK, marketed at teenage boys, and colloquially known as "Stinks Africa", or just "Stinks".

                  1. phuzz Silver badge

                    Re: Other ways to justify access

                    For non-Brits, Lynx is what you know as Axe (bodyspray). I have no idea why they have a different name over here.

                    1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

                      Re: Other ways to justify access

                      The usual reason, the trademark for Axe was held by someone else for another product.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axe_(brand)

                      Tho how a british firm didn't check the name for their product which gained global recognition, was available firstly in Britain, I'll never know :p

                    2. jake Silver badge

                      Re: Other ways to justify access

                      Ah. No wonder I didn't get it. That kinda thing is way outside my demographic.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Other ways to justify access

              There is or used to be a version of Playboy in braille. I know a guy who bought a copy just for kicks.

              1. Alumoi Silver badge

                Re: Other ways to justify access

                With the centerfold in 3D?

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Other ways to justify access

                  "With the centerfold in 3D?"

                  No. From Wiki:

                  "The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has published a braille edition of Playboy since 1970.[99] The braille version includes all the written words in the non-braille magazine, but no pictorial representations. Congress cut off funding for the braille magazine translation in 1985, but U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan reversed the decision on First Amendment grounds.[100]"

                  [99] Not my footnote.

                  [100] ANMF

    2. Down not across

      Re: Other ways to justify access

      They also had the amusing Quaylewatch.

      Whether some more recent position holders make Dan look smart(er) is another question.

    3. DiViDeD

      Re: Other ways to justify access

      A lot of decent writers wrote for Playboy back in the day - including (but who didn't he write for?) Isaac Asimov.

  7. lvm

    bullshit detected

    "before browsers could be set to deny access to certain sorts of content" - oh really? Which modern desktop browser lets you block adult content on its own - without add-ons and such?

    1. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

      Re: bullshit detected

      Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, and Internet Explorer (sic!) have the possibility to add custom filters or subscribe to online filter lists in their adblock settings.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: bullshit detected

      In Chrome (and Chromium I think) you can set allow/block-lists of urls and domain names.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Out o'curiosity ...

    ... seeing as we all know what content playboy.com has always hosted, what did our hero need from that site to set filters? The individual pictures wouldn't be of any help, nor would the names of the files said pictures were contained in, nor the directory names in the file system. Etc.

    All he had to do was block the domain. Which didn't require a visit.

    And no, in the days of Win95 there was no "machine learning" that could be trained on pR0n.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Out o'curiosity ...

      In the article he said he tried to visit the site and it was blocked- so the filters worked however the browser would still have the site in the history as usually most filters replace the content with a stop looking message or similar.

      The problem is the machines imaged would still have the name in the history and autocomplete would probably catch you typing pl… and fill in a useful suggestion.

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Out o'curiosity ...

        I missed that somehow. Mea culpa.

        I simply MUST get a new prescription for my reading glasses ...

  9. Little Mouse

    Not on my watch...

    We occasionally had to temporarily add some "interesting" sites to the whitelist during my time employed at a mental health hospital, to help facilitate treatment. The old adage that "there's a fetish for everything" is pretty close to the mark.

    But we did have to tell one beardy doctor exactly where to go when he demanded that one patient have access to some scarily illegal stuff (to help wean them off it, apparently...). Even if he had come back with a court order granting full exemption (he didn't), I'd still have said No way.

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      Re: Not on my watch...

      I had filters on my home network for only a few days.

      Wife - Pharmacist

      Eldest - Doctor

      Younger - Zoo keeper

      They legitimately needed access to all sorts of things.

      1. PM from Hell

        child filters

        I tried child filters early ion but it stopped my 13 year old daughter even doing her geography homework.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: child filters

          I'm sure that a 13 year old kid would be too big to fit through a filter...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: child filters

            That's a bit like complaining that after childproofing your home they still manage to get in..

            :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not on my watch...

        My wife is a writer. She often opines that her search history would likely raise a lot of eyebrows. "What does it sound like when someone breaks their nose?" "What's the physical security like on a large datacenter?" "What natural hallucinogens are there, and what are their effects?"

        All those were actual, and appropriate, questions asked in the writing of her stories.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not on my watch...

          Yeah, I've used those excuses too..

          :)

    2. DJV Silver badge

      "there's a fetish for everything" is pretty close to the mark

      Oh absolutely!

      Back around 1996, I was tasked with updating the pile of Windows 3.1 PCs we had at the company to add TCP/IP and a web browser. Then, because back then, few of the staff had any idea of what the interwebs actually were, I would ask each staff member whose PC had just been upgraded what hobbies they had. This was so that I could show them how to use a search engine (AltaVista back then) to look for items of interest. The usual subjects chosen would be things like gardening, pets and cooking.

      Then, one of the managers (who possessed a wicked sense of humour and, thank goodness, a private office of his own), when asked what subject he would like to search on replied, "Necrophilia."

      Trying to keep a straight face, I typed it in, and we were both rather surprised by the huge number of hits returned. Yes, some of the results were duly investigated, mainly for the laughs, though!

    3. JimC

      Re: Not on my watch...

      Yes, I worked for a local authority, and across every different role in the organisation there wasn't much that someone didn't have a legitimate reason to access.

      1. Scott 26

        Re: Not on my watch...

        fast fwd to the present - our company filter is crap... I cannot (for example) visit laphroiag.com - blocked.

        funnily enough the wholesaler we used to stock the fridge for Friday drinks wasn't blocked (back when Friday drinks were a thing)

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Not on my watch...

          Well, there you have it, Laphroig in the fridge is sacrilege.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not on my watch...

          Ours occasionally blocks things like Wikipedia and the websites of providers for HR benefits. Usually the solution is to close the browser, wait 3 seconds, reopen it, and it'll work; maybe it's signing into the proxy server again?

        3. Dave Null

          Re: Not on my watch...

          that's because the default blocklists for a lot of these products have tickboxes for things like nudity, alcohol, gambling etc. Someone's just gone with everything

  10. Notrodney

    Bits and Bobs all over the screen

    Many years ago a friend and colleague of mine was setting up a new content filter on the company network. He'd just finished configuring it as I went to grab him for lunch, so he thought he would give me a quick demo to show how it worked. Pasted in a dodgy link and hit go... unfortunately although the filter stopped the first page, it didn't stop the pages that automatically popped up from there, or the pages that popped up from them... and so on and so on. The screen filled up with bits and bobs faster than he could close them. The only way to stop them was to hit the power button.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bits and Bobs all over the screen

      I knew a guy who was an early adopter of this interweb thingy, who went to demonstrate the power of a search engine (probably AltaVista) to his inlaws.

      Who to search for?... he picked Julia Roberts... he (and the inlaws) then discovered what could be done with Photoshop

      1. Scott 26

        Re: Bits and Bobs all over the screen

        when I first moved to a new area for work, I checked out the local computer users group (c. 1996/7), gave them a call and asked what they did... at some point in the conversation, I must have said I had this new internet thingy - could I come along and do a demo? Sure, that would be great!

        So the evening comes around and visit the group with my PC (a precursor to the next few years of my life attending LANs almost fortnightly, if not monthly), and we plug it into the phone line... fire up teh modem, and yup, used AltaVista to "what do you want to search for?"...... someone yells out "Jenny McCarthy"... reasonably tame, "Jenny McCarthy Playboy" pwoooar, crickey! I'm sure heard a couple of the group mutter "I wonder if I can convince the wife that we need the internet"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was once, many years sinceupon, tasked with looking for equipment shelters for a desert location that had very limited power available. I was suggested passive cooled shelters (a real and clever thing) by a company called, if I recall correctly Eudosua

    Cue a quick internet search and sure enough there was the company in the results. Unfortunately the entry was in the middle of a hugec slew of results linking to sites catering for certain gentlemanly pleasures.

    We got the info sorted out just fine but thankfully I've not had the need to repeat the exercise.

  12. Lazlo Woodbine

    A former colleague ran a website that sold bedroom... err... appliances, in his spare time.

    He liked to process all his orders during his lunch hour, so had made arrangements (ie supplied several bottles of whisky) with IT that his website would pass through the company filters. This caused some consternation when we were bought by a US globocorp and it was found that instead of unblocking that one site, IT had unblocked all sites with similar tags.

    On a related note, he once had an order of samples delivered to work. Reception opened the package as they did with all packages not marked as private, and several clients currently in reception witnessed her opening a box containing many bedroom appliances...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      bedroom... err...

      Literature buffs might be amused by the early appearance of such appliances in Thomas Nash's "Choise of Valentines" ...

      https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17779

      ... although the language of the period can be hard going ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bedroom... err...

        Pre 1600 is indeed quite early --- for English, at least.

        1. HappyDog

          Re: bedroom... err...

          To parrot-phrase "What did the Romans every do for one?"

          https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/feb/20/its-not-a-darning-tool-its-a-very-naughty-toy-roman-dildo-found

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    I had the exact opposite

    Long before it was called arxiv.org the electronic preprint server was on xxx.lanl.gov. It had been called that simply because www.lanl.gov already existed and x is the next letter after w(*). One day I went to fetch a work related paper and found the site was blocked. It turned out the sysadmins had recently installed an access filter without telling anybody, which I found out through a conversation along the lines of "why can't I get to …" – "why are you going to a porn site?" – "It's not a porn site, I need access for work" – "Pull the other one" – "RANT! I need this for work!".

    (*) There may well have been a wind-up factor as well.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pert Charts

    Back in the early days of corporate internet access I did mistype Pert Chart when trying to get it working in ms-project. I clicked on the first link and all hell broke loose with popups opening furiously. In the end one of the pop ups did hit a content filter and I had a large window in the middle of the screen informing me that I needed to call IT security (this was in the first 2 weeks of joining as a contract PM). A couple of contractors had been sacked just before I joined for various abuses of the internet connection so this looked serious

    I made the call and explained what had happened, needless to say the conversation started off very badly talking to the security manager, once I explained what a pert chart was and the simple typo of chat for chart his demeanor changed rapidly and the only result was that the term'pert chat' was added to the list of blocked search terms.

  15. stungebag

    Bulldog

    I was quite an early broadband adopter, proudly sitting at home marvelling at my 512kb ADSL connection via USB dongle. Streets ahead of my previous 128kb ISDN. But one evening it started getting flakey. No problem, I'll sort it tomorrow.

    I pitch up at work the next day and durng a quiet time decide to look at my ISP's website. They were called Bulldog Broadband. I typed an address, possible www. bulldog.co.uk, into my browser. Imagine my surprise when my screen was filled with thumbnails of gyrating naked women! It seems that Bulldog had not checked, or secured, the url. Or perhaps the company was more diversified than I'd realised.

    No harm done but by the time I was made redundant several years later Bulldog Broadband had gone. My ex-company put me on a course of handling redundancy and two of my classmates were ex-Bulldog customer service staff. I wished I'd had the ability to talk to them before choosing my ISP. It was, apparently, a porrly managed shitshow.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bulldog

      I was working for a utility company who employed a Web design agency who outsourced some work to an anarchist, He included links in his copyright notice to 'interesting sites' this included a 'smack a Tory' web game and the anarchists cock book. in 3 clicks you could go from submitting a meter reading to looking at very dodgy cookery instructions.

      Needless to say we had to have a stern conversation with the web agency

      1. Little Mouse

        Re: Bulldog

        The Anarchists *what?* Book?

        Shocked, I tell you.

      2. Code For Broke

        Re: Bulldog

        Anarchists are well-known in some parts for their excellent chicken dishes. Of course, having the same thing twice is quite impossible.

  16. ColinPa

    mail filters

    I was involved in supporting a large sporting event, where email addresses were provided for the participants.

    Initially they put mail filters on to stop "bad" emails getting through.

    There was a Dutch speed skater with name like xxxx le bombe ... who got no mail!

    They they found the simple statement "We have your daughter" was both a very harmless phrase - and very sinister thread. Eventually turned they email filters off as they could not adequately filter the emails.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: mail filters

      Scunthorpe is always a good one...

      1. H in The Hague

        Re: mail filters

        "Scunthorpe is always a good one..."

        And the Manhood Peninsula nr Chichester, West Sussex.

        And Dildo, Newfoundland (with places such as the Little Dildo Inn, and Nan and Pop's Dildo souvenir shop).

        Puerile, I now, but that must cause some problems for these folk when they're hit by profanity filters.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: mail filters

          And for fans of Forza Horizon 4; Derwentwater.

        2. FrankeeD

          Re: mail filters

          As a birdwatcher, I got an eyeful when I mistyped "bush tit" instead of the correct "bushtit" when looking up information about the bird.

      2. ricardian

        Re: mail filters

        And Penistone.

  17. mobailey

    Really?

    re: "All of the laptops were returned to IT and reimaged"

    Is that really the easiest way to delete a single item from the browser history?

    -mobailey

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      It's corporate speak for Nuke'em from orbit

    2. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      It is the easiest way to get the paperwork in order - just update and initial that item on the standard procedure instead of raising exceptions for all of the machines.

      And they probably have everything set up to do the reimaging on a pile of boxes in parallel, instead of doing a non-standard operation one at a time.

  18. NITS

    Back in the dialup days we were engaged in setting up Internet access for small son's school. Got "interesting" results when researching the SOCKS web proxy.

    Whatever floats your boat...

    A couple of years later we had moved house (and cities) and were homeschooling, part of which was online. Said (now tween) son was obsessed with plastic bricks, to the extent that schoolwork was not getting done. Imagine his chagrin after I edited the hosts file to redirect lego.com to 127.0.0.1

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      > I edited the hosts file to redirect lego.com to 127.0.0.1

      So what was being supplied from the local webserver you installed? Homework or just a wagging finger "Uh uh ah'?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'd have been tempted to make it math problems - "If you have a pile of 23 bricks that is each 2 dots by 4 dots, how many dots are there total?"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Testing the web filters while at the manufacturers site, on a training course.

    As the title says, I was on a 5 day training course to qualify on / support one companies flavour of web surfing control, in the late 90's / early 00's - the company was bought up some time ago.

    At one point they were "bragging" about the quality of their filters and we had to experience them first hand.

    It took me under 30 seconds to get a NSFW / sexually explicit image on the screen (I had done some previous experimenting on finding such images, for "testing purposes")

    The loophole was that the system filtered on skin tones for "adult material", so I just searched for images where the participants were wearing "outfits", of the PVC variety.

    Some of them were obviously poor, as the outfits had several holes in them.

    There was a hurried after hours meeting by the tech staff after that one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Testing the web filters while at the manufacturers site, on a training course.

      I bet the skin tones also were tuned using a Caucasian "test set".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The birth of employee surveillance

    I'm just reminded of a site in the early 90's when PCs with internet access were first deployed.

    Soon after management realized a need for "acceptable use" policies.

    Eventually I was instructed to start monitoring browsing AND phone activities!

    People lost jobs, were demoted or reassigned over the course of the next couple months.

    While this "project" lasted, I remember often feeling sick & dirty.

    This is the most disturbing work I have ever been involved with.

  21. Rattus
    Facepalm

    back in the day...

    Way back when dial up was still a thing for business, the small company I was working for had invested in a 2mbit leased line for internet access and a colleague and I were tasked with setting it up and making things 'safe'.

    Alongside the company website (it never occurred to us that we could pay someone else to host for us), we had been playing with the addition of NAT, cache, proxies and routing rules on this new fanged Linux box that was to become the company internet 'gateway' (firewall was perhaps too new a word) thus enabling us to also access the internet from our small local network. The aforesaid colleague had set up a local site to display each and every jpeg image that passed through the box on a screen in the corner (We didn't really watch it, but knowing that someone might be watching was enough to deter people from browsing the internet instead of doing their jobs).

    Our MD was quite proud of the fact that were were self sufficient in IT, and staff could send and receive email, access websites and more importantly that our customers could send us an email to place orders (yep plain text email with credit card details - we were so naive back then). Anyway he would often point at the monitor in the corner when he was giving a potential client the tour of the factory, showing off we had a permanent internet connection and customers could send in orders directly to the factory (we were a small sub contract electronics assembler).

    One day doing the usual tour I had to wander over and turn off the monitor because I had just seen the content being lovingly rendered jpeg on top of jpeg just as the boss walked in with his daughter on an afternoon off from school.

    He had spotted what I had done, but fortunately, she wasn't looking in the general direction. Coming up-to me after he exclaimed that he wasn't aware that you could access that kind of content on the internet let alone why would anyone want to look at this at work - we were after all in an open plan office with very little chance such browsing wouldn't be noticed.

    His statement was almost correct; we were in an open plan office, not so for the Directors.

    Needless to say our Finance Director moved job soon after...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "intelligent" filters weren't

    I remember a very cross GU consultant threatening to declare a patient-risk incident because our filters were so US-centric that they blocked his work and websites including whatever his Royal college was!

  23. Ace2 Silver badge

    Dick’s Sporting Goods - worst big-box sports store in the world - now owns dicks.com, but they didn’t then.

  24. scubaal

    unexpected consequences

    20 years ago I was IT manager for a private girls school.

    Understandably they were very concerned about what material was being accessed from their network.

    I had to install and maintain the filters. Which meant testing them. Which meant trying to access some pretty awful stuff.

    As a middle aged male this wasnt something I wanted misunderstood.

    End of reputation and career.

    I did the testing during the school holidays with the explicit written permission of the school precipal to attempt to bypass the filters between the hours of X and Y.

    I then provided her with the log of my attempted activities - which she counter-signed.

    Interestingly the students werent that interested in 'porn' (unlike the boys school) - the biggest issues we had were with what you would nowadays call cyber-bullying.....we called them 'bitch sites' in my day :)

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: unexpected consequences

      Re: private girls' schools

      Newly married me and my newly minted maths/science teacher wife took a position at a PGS which included housing as we were to be live-in dormitory "parents"

      The good parts:

      - We could save for a house

      - We had free child care (the girls loved our new son

      - free "food" at the dining hall

      The bad parts:

      - immediate requirement on my part for selective blindness

      - the girls were quite adept at sneaking out to meet boyfriends

      - duty weekends

      It lasted only a few years before we were able to put a down payment on a house. But it was a very interesting few years. Would not do it again, but enjoyed the experience.

  25. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    When I was a student, they were just rolling out internet access to the students, and our lecturer happily showed her own personal website as an example of what the web was capable of. It was a generic 90s personal website in that it contained a couple of pages about her likes and dislikes, and a page of links to other sites. All very 90s geocities (although it wasn't hosted on Geocities), so we explored.. Some of the links were interesting.. Particularly one that had loads of photos of ladies in some very nice lingerie (this was before ecommerce was a thing). Nothing particularly rude, but embarrassing none the less. Yes, the lecturer was a lesbian. She was showing us her website partly to show what could be done, and partly so we could take apart the source code and see how it worked.

    That link was quietly removed before the next lab session.

    Another lecturer did pretty much the same thing, except his links page included a link to an mp3 of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. I clicked on that link while he was giving a lecture in the lab, and discovered that not only did the Sun workstations we were using have onboard sound, but that they also had a surprising powerful amplifier and speaker.

    1. Down not across

      At one place where I worked I had SS10 and I loved the speaker box that was shipped with SS10s.

  26. Dave Null

    I've seen worse...

    I remember a 2nd line engineer at a large pharma company in the UK once creating a gold image for (I think) an NT3.51 image. They accidentally included their personal profile in the image. Which included a *LOT* of MP3s, dubious NSFW images etc. It got deployed to a reasonably large number of people and they only realised when a scan of a network discovered things that really shouldn't be there...cue a lot of backpedalling and work to remediate without telling management...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legitimate academic research, honest!

    Anonymised to protect the guilty...

    For seemingly the longest time, I was the one who got to run the web filters for a university.

    We got a few interesting requests for filtering exceptions, but the most concerning was a social sciences researcher who needed access to 4Chan /b to investigate internet culture.

    It ended up being allowed only on his office machine, and we got a handshake agreement he'd only visit when he was alone.

    I needed the brainbleach after confirming those lines of the filter policy worked as expected.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Legitimate academic research, honest!

      "and we got a handshake agreement he'd only visit when he was alone."

      I'll bet he agreed to that part of the agreement in a hurry!

      Personally, I'd have had the Dean of his department sign off on it ...

  28. FrankeeD

    An unintended show

    I was working at a Japanese university in the late 1990s, teaching a language class. Using the internet for language teaching was still relatively new, so I was constantly on the lookout for good suggestions.

    My class was in a computer lab that was set up so that the students sat in pairs with their own computers and in the middle between them was a monitor that could be used to mirror my computer.

    I'd set them a research task and was using my computer to explore ideas for web design. I came across a site that had a list of award-winning web-design sites, so I clicked on one -- and was rewarded by a porn site full of images of naked bodies in various poses, all faithfully reproduced on the students' monitors. I quickly clicked the "close" button on the web browser and discovered -- pop-unders, cascading down the page faster than I could close them. I finally hit the button that shared my screen and ended the unintended show.

    The students, mostly 20-year-old women, were highly amused at my obvious embarrassment, and I learned a valuable lesson.

  29. Herby

    It happens all the time!

    Two instances:

    whitehouse.gov legit government site that relates to the occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC (I prefer not to mention the current occupant)

    qhitehouse.com At one time an Adult site of "questionable repute" I'll let others find out if this is current

    Recent activity:

    Our company recently crammed down Zscalar filters down our throat (the company is actually around the corner from where I work). Initially is didn't like logging into iCloud. It became difficult to trip off "find my iphone" that I seem to use frequently for my wife (she calls me from home). It since has been resolved (thankfully).

    Yes, many things are NSFW. Life goes on.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Working in a college, repro tech could not work out why she had great problems accessing a certain stapler manufacturer starting with R and ending in esco.

    Not mentioning it here as I'm not 100% sure on the monitoring!

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