back to article Telling your wife why you were fired is the only punishment

Welcome again to On-Call, our weekly feature in which readers share stories of being asked to do stupid things at stupid times. And frequently for stupid people. Last week's tale of the smut stash in a hidden directory produced a few similar stories. Reader “BY” wrote to tell of a friend we'll call “Terry” who did IT support …

Page:

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Maybe they were right

    “having to tell his wife he was fired and why would be enough punishment.”

    You have not met the wife, so you are a bit quick in your judgement. There are cases when this would indeed be the harsher punishment you know.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe they were right

        Also, the "Call-the-police grade filth" referred to to in the article could cover a wide spectrum.

        (1) At one end you've got things that most people would think are- or should be- legal whether they're into it or not but Theresa May and her Tory chums in parliament have made otherwise.

        (2) Then you've got the "that's got to be illegal and I really, *really* don't need to see it again personally, but it appears to be consenting adults and I'm not going to see someone's life wrecked over it so long as they keep their weird fetish private in future and cover the cost of the eye bleach". Or something you suspect might be borderline questionable, but may well be harmless and- again- isn't worth ruining someone's life over.

        Somewhere between (1) and (2) lies (as Cardinal Richelieu never said), "If one would give me the porn collection of the most well-adjusted man, I would find something in them to have him locked up as a sexually deviant threat to society and your children."

        Then there's (3) the genuinely unpleasant stuff (e.g. child abuse, etc.) that no-one could reasonably justify and might indicate more serious activities beyond the acquisition of the porn itself.

        And I'm not sure which category the "filth" in the story refers to. I'm hoping it's category (2) at worst, since anything in (3) would be hard to justify not reporting to the police.

    2. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Maybe they were right

      Just wondering, in this kind of situation, is it worse explaining to the wife that they were pictures of her, or of someone else?

      Asking on behalf of a friend. Obviously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe they were right

        Just wondering, in this kind of situation, is it worse explaining to the wife that they were pictures of her, or of someone else?

        If your wife is like this?

        Caption competition: I am divided between "Who is the monster?" and "Glass ceiling, what glass ceiling, there used to be one until I smashed it throwing the guy next to me through it"

  2. chrullrich

    If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

    ... don't look at them. There. That was easy.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Like they say on Futurama, you've just watched it, you can't un-watch it.

      Back in the late 90's I worked at a school, who had content filters then? A very nice girl's computer froze, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, due to the scene that was frozen on the screen! It also bordered on call the police...

      I had no choice but see it...

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        ... but how can you tell not to watch something, if you don't know what it is?

        At the start of my career I was doing MIS. Marketing often wanted new information from MIS (new reports etc), so I had to at least open their emails. Even if they were sometimes unrelated to job, there was usually nothing wrong with them. Until one day, a seemingly normal person from marketing sent me two pictures so awful that I cannot forget them, to this day. It was 25 years ago.

        1. Anonymous IV

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          @ Bronek Kozicki

          > ...a seemingly normal person from marketing...

          I think I have identified your misidentification...

    2. RIBrsiq
      Thumb Up

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      "...don't look at them".

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious.

      I always wonder about this. You see, on all machines I ever used, images, videos and other files never spontaneously open themselves! So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

      Needless to say, all types of autoplay, thumbnails or anything similar should be disabled. Especially on a machine one's using to poke files that almost certainly contain bio-hazards of various types.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        1) Natural human curiosity sometimes. You know, the sort of enquiring attitude that enables problem solving and development of tech skills.

        2) Because if you're going to free up space or wipe drives, it is sensible to do a dip check on what is about to be nuked. Thinking about that backup server, which was better practice - delete whilst whistling and reading the sport pages of the paper, or have a guick gander at why there's a lot of stuff clagging up the drive?

        So unless somebody can use genetic modification to breed a "curiously incurious" subspecies of techy, then we live with the fact that if a file, a folder, a box, or a room is there, people will open it to see what it is. This is a behaviour that goes back long enough to be the subject of ancient Greek fables, so I don't see it being fixed anytime soon.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          One time I worked on a friend's computer, and all I needed to see was the name of the files.... I didn't need thumbnails or previews... To this day when he visits, I make him bring the mind bleach (beer or scotch ;-} )

        2. RIBrsiq
          Facepalm

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          >> 1) Natural human curiosity sometimes. You know, the sort of enquiring attitude that enables problem solving and development of tech skills.

          Poking in other people's files is not curiosity. Look it up, sometime. I believe you'll find the actual word you were looking for is "nosiness".

          While you have your dictionary handy, there is this other concept you should probably also lookup: privacy, respect thereof.

          >> 2) Because if you're going to free up space or wipe drives, it is sensible to do a dip check on what is about to be nuked.

          And why would anyone but whoever owns the files make any decisions regarding what to keep or not? Either get authorization to delete everything, or demand enough disk space to backup it up. It's the only way to avoid "yes, but you know I use [XYZ] and should have kept its files for me!" and similar situations. Not to mention that it's the only way to get stuff done in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

            @RIBrsiq on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy, none for activities you aren't authorised for (like a secret porn stash). Investigating such discoveries might even be considered an obligation.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

              "on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy, "

              There may, however, be files that are above your pay grade or otherwise out-of-bounds such as personal data.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        I always wonder about this. You see, on all machines I ever used, images, videos and other files never spontaneously open themselves! So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        I can give you a semi-hypothetical answer to that.

        Recently a colleague of mine passed away from a serious bicycle accident, and a close friend of his asked if I could look and see if he might've had some photos they could use at his funeral on his laptop.

        So as you could imagine, I was doing a find $HOME -type f -name \*.jpg (yes, he was a Linux user, as are most of us in our workplace), and having a quick squiz at anything that looked promising. In this instance, I did not find anything traumatising, and frankly he wasn't that sort of person, but the risk of that sort of thing happening and seeing something that could not be unseen was very real. (In case you're wondering, I did find some photos that I was able to pass on.)

        Sometimes the nature of the task at hand means you are rifling through someone's personal files looking for a photo or image, and you can't always rely on the file name.

        1. RIBrsiq

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          >> Recently a colleague of mine passed away from a serious bicycle accident, and a close friend of his asked if I could look and see if he might've had some photos they could use at his funeral on his laptop.

          Sorry for your loss, first.

          Second, surely it's obvious that it's not the same when one has explicit permission, no? Or if, say, it's a found laptop which's owner one is trying to determine, etc. But even then I personally would expect the person with the unfortunate task of going through the files to have the tact to not blab (or complain) about anything they see...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

            But even then I personally would expect the person with the unfortunate task of going through the files to have the tact to not blab (or complain) about anything they see...

            Indeed. The file would disappear, simple as that. I might accidentally make some verbal comment on seeing the image (hey, I'm only human), but then it would be gone before anyone came over to see for themselves and I'd not be discussing it further.

            As I say though, thankfully this has not been necessary.

        2. Yag

          "you can't always rely on the file name."

          "Hello.jpg? This is probably the splash screen to use for the new company website."

          (Disclaimer : If you don't know what "hello.jpg" was, don't look it up I envy you...)

          1. Someone_Somewhere

            Re: "you can't always rely on the file name."

            Don't look up 'blue waffles disease' either!

            That which has been seen cannot be unseen.

        3. The First Dave

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          That doesn't really alter the fundamental point - none of us know the exact odds, but we _all_ know that if you look through other people's stuff for long enough you are going to find something 'unexpected' and you really should be prepared for anything, or refuse the job.

      3. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        Because it's their /job/ to work out if the data that was significant enough to back up but has since been deleted from the system is:

        a) still significant enough to keep backed up.

        b) significant enough to restore because it shouldn't have been deleted in the first place.

        Duh!

        1. RIBrsiq
          Coat

          Re: So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

          >> on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy

          >> Because it's their /job/ to work out if the data that was significant enough to back up but has since been deleted from the system

          You are, of course, both right.

          Most of what I wrote is intended for the general case of "you'll never guess what I found on this [laptop/PC/mobile] once brought in to be fixed!". Those guys/gals I absolutely abhor: if someone trusts you with their secrets -- even if inadvertently -- try to act just a little trustworthy.

          But that really makes my posts somewhat off-topic, doesn't it...?

          1. Someone_Somewhere
            Unhappy

            Re: if someone trusts you with their secrets

            Unfortunately human nature means that the only way to keep a secret is not to tell it to anyone in the first place and it's naive to imagine that things will end well for you if you do.

            Sad but true.

    3. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: don't look at them.

      As part of an investigation I was asked to carry out a few years ago I had to spend half a day retracing the browsing habits of an employee. A full morning of having to go through and categorise someone elses porn habits including a site that I didn't bother trying to get past the big "FBI has impounded this web page, it is a criminal offence to go any further" splash page.

      If I could possibly have avoided looking at the content I would have but, you know, sometimes it's part of the job.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: don't look at them.

        As part of an investigation I was asked to carry out a few years ago I had to spend half a day retracing the browsing habits of an employee. A full morning of having to go through and categorise someone elses porn habits including a site that I didn't bother trying to get past the big "FBI has impounded this web page, it is a criminal offence to go any further" splash page.

        There's not enough money in the world to make me do that, CP being a strict liability offence. FBI might have shut some of them down, but even the remotest risk of possessing content like that, even if ordered to do it to examine someone else's habits would have me going to the boss man and saying "No more - if *you* want to see what he was looking at, here are the URLs".

    4. foxyshadis

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      You'd think having a strong stomach would be an occupational hazard; I've never met any tech who hadn't browsed /b/ out of curiosity, not to mention been linked to goatse and other things all their life. By the same token you'd think that in an internet awash in porn, you wouldn't need a little titillation from selfies, but apparent some guys have a stronger creep factor and need to know their spank bank in person.

    5. Paul Woodhouse

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Unless of course your workmates are arseholes and have very small thumbnails that they call you over to have a look at and then blow it up right in your face when your trying to peer at it...

    6. eriksolo

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      I worked for a webhosting company. One of my many jobs was looking into reports of copyright infringement in the "Abuse" department.

      I had to look. I had to compare.

      That was when I discovered that Pakistani Eunuch Porn was a thing. An often copyrighted thing.

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        Mate, they don't pay you enough for that. You could be as well-compensated as Bill Gates and they don't pay you enough for that.

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Exactly. Even doing data recovery there's usually no need to open up and examine other peoples files. Either the data got recovered or it didn't. The owner/user can check that for themselves. And from the story, the phone repair stuff probably wasn't actual data recovery so they almost certainly should not have been trawling through the data.

      I'm not saying it's always wrong to examine the data. It depends on the situation, the value of the data and how important an intact recovery is, eg re-assembling files from sectors, especially if we are talking corporate kit but it's really quite rare to have to open image files or try complex (and expensive!) recovery strategies on private/personal/retail customer kit.

      Having said that, 20 years ago when I first got into IT as a break/fix guy, one of our workshop people came across some images that got an immediate call to the Police and a carefully worded call to the customer (under Police instruction) to tell him it was "worse than we though, we need to order some parts to fix it, might take a week" while the cops examined the HDD duplicate we made for them before they took the whole PC away with them. Never did find out what happened, but based on what the workshop guy told us there was almost certainly some prison time involved.

  3. Christoph Silver badge

    Many people have been arrested after they took their computer in for repair and criminal-level porn was found.

    The (mostly) blokes who do the repairs do have a tendency to search for *.jpg to see if there's anything juicy that they can copy off. Not all of them, but enough that assuming they won't is a very bad idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many people have been arrested after they took their computer in for repair and criminal-level porn was found.

      Gary Glitter.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Gary Glitter."

        And if, after that, you have a faulty PC with your financial records on it would you have taken it into that branch of PC World for repair?

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          I bought a new HDD and did a full system backup, only to then find the thing was faulty on checking it. (You do check your backups actually work, right?)

          It's lost money - no way is a copy of my entire electronic life going back to the supplier. Accounts, key codes, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Computer repair and porn

        I always remove the drives before sending the computer for servicing. If it is a software problem I sort it myself if it is hardware the shop can do it without the drives just give them a newly created and never used Linux USB to boot it off.

        I don't know what the wife or the kids might have been looking at and I am not taking any chances.

        1. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Computer repair and porn

          That's also what a TrueCrypt mount is for. Unlike a full-drive encryption unmount it and the rest of your machine is available for troubleshooting.

          I think, but I am unsure the trade offs, that it may also be secure than a full-drive encryption. You lose in non-encrypted swap memory files and on stolen machines. But you gain when you consider that your drive is only decrypted when you mount it. My TC is only open while I need to access confidential files (not porn, that's another story) and malware can only get in then. If you get infected, but subsequently quickly find the malware, you've dodged the bullet.

          Unlike full disk encryption where anything running with your rights can look at your files.

          Doesn't help with encryption ransomware however.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Computer repair and porn

          "I always remove the drives before sending the computer for servicing. If it is a software problem I sort it myself if it is hardware the shop can do it without the drives just give them a newly created and never used Linux USB to boot it off."

          You & I can do that. Most people can't.

  4. R Soles

    I doubt it

    "Management cut Terry a break: because he'd been a good worker they deleted the files and kept the police out of it. Their logic? By says “having to tell his wife he was fired and why would be enough punishment.”

    It's a nice story but

    1. Not even HR managers are stupid enough to think he'd tell his wife the real reason why he was fired

    2. No manager would expose their company to such a risk: imagine "Terry" gets arrested in the future for similar activities. The first thing he does is wreak revenge on the company that fired him by revealing all.

    The police arrive at company's premises and confiscate all servers and backups, and start interviewing the managers about destroying evidence relating to a criminal offence.

    1. foxyshadis

      Re: I doubt it

      What cops are going to fully believe the word of an avowed pedophile? He can blab, they can come by and ask some questions, but absent any corroborating evidence, the investigation would be dropped as an attempt to deflect blame.

      Maybe if it happened a few times in a row, someone would issue a warrant, but if all the data's been long purged, there's not much they can do there, either.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: I doubt it

          But don't companies do that all the time? Think Fiduciary Responsibility...

          Yeah... it's still not right.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @foxyshadis

        R Soles: "No manager would expose their company to such a risk"

        foxyshadis: "What cops are going to fully believe the word of an avowed pedophile?"

        Regardless of his morality or lack of it, your average risk-averse manager just isn't going to gamble the company- or rather, his position within it- by relying on something like that. There's the possibility (or probability) that there's a lot more going on beyond what he already knows and the whole thing could be a can of worms that explodes and could end up implicating them via a million different routes.

        1. Old Handle

          Re: @foxyshadis

          Perhaps calling the police didn't seem like an entirely risk-free option either. After all the files were found on company computers. Isn't it possible the police are going to show up and say "we better take all this kit back to the station, no telling where else he may have stashed files." And then through no fault of their own, the company is up the creek.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I doubt it

      @R Soles

      Not quite: If they can't prove who put the images there then the only thing they can do is suggest they do have proof but are going to be 'nice', if he choses to go voluntarily. AKA, it was a bluff. And no, they can't use his resignation as 'proof' either as he could claim he felt he couldn't defend himself, even though he was innocent. Honest. It was just the shock and the shame that *someone* had framed him like that - how could he trust the company any more?

      Chain of custody is important in legal cases, and all too often it's broken at the beginning when a Tech takes a look in a folder and finds something dodgy. That's why bluffing is so important to the police: If they can convince you they have proof, then they can get you to confess to 'make it easy on yourself'.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

    My boss at the time asked me to fix her corporate laptop as it was "running very slow".

    I dutifully accepted the machine, made an immediate image of the HDD, & began debugging what might have been the cause.

    Memory still tight in their sockets, cables snug in their sockets, fans spinning up nicely, memtest & HDD tests indicate no problems, but it's still slow as molassus running uphill in a blizzard.

    Examine the loaded software to make sure it's pure corporate (so I can uninstal anything that's not) & find that the Windows Image widget is choking on attempting to load something as a background process.

    What is it loading, why is it trying to load it, & can I make it stop? Process Viewer, find the process, kill it, tell the image widget to stop loading automaticly, and reboot.

    The desktop wallpaper immediately reverts to a solid colour backdrop as the image widget stops trying to render the background image that had been choking it.

    Visit the folder where the images are stored & find it chock, mind boggling, smegheaddingly full of pictures with file names in a sequence (abc00001.jpg, abc00002.jpg, etc).

    What are these images & why are they causing the widget to choke? They're single frame, stop motion stills of a video that someone had converted to individual images in an attempt to capture said video so they could use individual images as backgrounds. But she's selected *all* of them to be rendered, the widget is merely taking forever to churn through the massive que before displaying the first (of zillions) of pictures.

    It's a capture of a porn film involving a horse, and there is NO way in HELL that it's appropriate for a corporate laptop.

    I set the default background to a solid color, delete the entire series of sequential images, make sure the machine is running smoothly again, & hand it back.

    When she asked the cause of the problem I told her as tactfully as I could that "it grew hoarse trying to swallow that load of happy horse apples".

    I'm sure my pay raise was just a coincidence, just like her request for any back up I might have made to be purged.

    I purged the backup & tried to keep a straight face whenever she'd make a comment about no horseplay at the office.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was her name Catherine? I bet she was a Great boss!

      Is this for real?!

      Even if someone was into that kind of thing, why on earth would they try to set it as the background image on a corporate laptop they'd be using for work..?!

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

      Now I have this going through my head.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYzVMcgWhg

      1. Drem

        Re: BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

        @Triggerfish

        I've not clicked on that link, I can guess with 99% certainty what it is, and I don't need that earworm stuck in my head today.

      2. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Now I have this going through my head.

        The remedy for that particular ailment is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWFBqiUgspg

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019