Monday, January 19, 2009

Internet Restrictions at your office? Here are some ways to relieve your pain and frustration

If there is an internet access policy at your workplace and most other sites are restricted & you can’t browse to your heart’s content, and if you are feeling like any of the below statements, then continue reading this blog to get some therapy.

Are you feeling anything closer to these?

a) Search that stupid guy who came out with the policy and give him a nice sounding whack right where it hurts. Also ban him from using the Internet and other related medium ever in his life again.
b) Take the computer you are working on and throw it at the wall. Once, twice and however many times it takes to unblock the sites you wish to browse.
c) Brood silently all day long, curse everyone from your manager to the CEO, and watch the clock till you can get to your PC and total freedom thereafter.

If you are, read on.

Alright, now that you are in the same league and we are kindred spirits, welcome on board. I realize you are in desperate need of some therapy. Though I can’t do much to get your company to pull out this policy (they have their own reasons, believe me!), what I can and will do is show you some ways in which you can satisfy your addiction without running headlong into that wall, firewall.

First things first. You have to establish what you really want to do on the net while at work. Is it just browsing randomly from site to site looking for interesting tidbits of information or is it to access personal emails or is it for chatting with friends or social networking or is it for reading blogs? The following methods may not work well if you are looking to do few of the above like chatting and social networking but for the others there are workarounds that will make your work life relatively stress free. So ok, without further ado…

  1. The most obvious thing to do to bypass restriction is to find proxies. Proxies are special Web servers that enable you to access restricted sites by fetching the said Web page and displaying it from their servers. So if your company has blocked sites based on the servers it has been hosted on, or its type, you can use proxies to access the blocked sites.
  2. Try alternate links for the same site. I know this is dumb but believe me the filtering software/firewall can be even more dumber. For example, was blocked in my company and by chance one day I tried and voila, it worked : ) Get the idea? Try with the “www”, without it, try different domains, etc., etc.
  3. Search for mirror sites of the Web site that may still be accessible.
  4. When it comes to personal email, you can do either of these two:
    a. Create filters in your email and set up forwarding for specific senders and subjects’ emails to your official email (don’t blame me if you incur the wrath of your information security guys!)
    b. Be content with just seeing the email subject and snapshot through the Mail Preview in your service provider’s home page. For example, “My Yahoo” and “iGoogle.”
  5. If it is blogs or personal sites that you want to read, it is an easy one. Just subscribe to the site feeds through RSS and access it through a Feed reader like Google Reader or even your browsers. If you are looking to publish a blog post, Blogger allows you to email blog posts to their server to be published almost instantly. I am sure the other blog service providers also let you blog via email. The only snitch here is that you may not be able to format it well, and in case there’s a mistake you want to correct in a published entry you have to wait till you get home. Duh!
  6. If you happen to encounter the devil while “re”-searching in Google or other search engines, and it does not let you access your search results, don’t worry. Remember you can still see the site by clicking on “Google Cache.” Isn’t that a blessing?
  7. Use the IP address of the site instead of the Web address. Easy this one, uh?
  8. Another method which I read about is to access a site through language translator sites. Not sure how well this works though. Got to try this one out soon.
  9. There are some software that work like proxies and let you bypass the restrictions at work but I wouldn’t recommend them.
  10. If none of the above works, then all I can suggest for you to relieve your addiction is to head out to News sites like BBC, Times and such (surely your company does not block them as well? Mine doesn’t, thank heavens!) and read, read and read the site contents till you get your fix.

If none of the above works, then God save your company! Sooner or later, they will have to contend with employees quitting over Internet restrictions ;)

While we are at this, check out a cool “campaign to end business blocking of employee access to the Net”. Stopblocking, I heart thou!

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