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July 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm #1272mikesantosMember
So while looking through the usap handbook it mentions something about all laptops having to get checked. Just curious when and where this happens? It says it happens before you reach Mcmurdo but I can’t think of where they would preform this check-up? Chch? Orientation? Also a bit unclear as to what they are looking for? I will be on the winfly flight in early August not sure if that makes a difference?
MikeJuly 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm #10498
Mike the first opportunity to do a laptop check is when you arrive at Denver for your orientation. Mostly they are checking that you have an up to date antivirus program and that a full scan has been done prior to attaching to the network. You will not be able to hook to the net without the check. that includes hooking in at the Antarctic Center in Christchurch as well. Alternate spots to get the checks done are Christchurch and on the ice, but it’s very convienent to get the check done early. They are set up in Denver to do large numbers of checks while you are sitting in the auditoriums listening to orientation lectures.July 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm #10499MradyfistMember
Yep, laptop checks can happen at nearly any point en route to your final station. I do most of the checks for South Pole, and while a lot of people are checked before they get there (either at Denver, Christchurch, or McMurdo) there are still enough that make it through to me that it’s all I do for the first two weeks or so.
Screening isn’t a big deal, we’re not interested in invading your privacy or anything. We just check to make sure your operating system has all the latest updates and patches installed, that you have some sort of antivirus software installed (and yes, this is required on all platforms, so Mac users and Linux users still need something) and has recent definitions installed. We also record some info about your computer, like MAC address, OS, etc so if you do start causing problems on the network, we know who to talk to. If you want to make things easier for the guy doing your screening, just make sure everything is completely up to date, and we’ll appreciate it! Also, generally we ask for the password for your administrator account on your machine so we can log in to it and do things like install updates, but if you’re uncomfortable with giving out your password to someone else, it’s no problem – just change the password to something temporary, like “usap”, before you hand it in, and then change it back when we return it.July 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm #10500mikesantosMember
Thank you both that totally answers my question.July 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm #10501letmeinMember
I have some advice for you about your laptop check….Tell those #$%&’s not to put that dumb sticker on it ! I am not sure how it is this year, but in years past they stuck this moronic sticker on your laptop to show it was “checked” and low and behold that sticker didn’t just come right off? My friend still has remnants of it on (at the time) their new laptop??? how rude ! so tell them up front they better have a new type less sticky sticker or none at all before you let those guys touch your stuff !
***hint*** in the 5plus season i was on the ice, i never let those guys touch my laptop and had no problems logging on the network. Sure in winter to use the wireless they need to install i little batch file to log you in, but normal summer hard wire log ins,,, they never need to see your laptop ! trust me! But i always made sure i had the latest updates, virus software, etc.. it wasn’t like i was trying to hurt anyone,, but being in the IT industry back home i do know a few things. And i am not trying to stop people from getting checked, having updated virus software is crucial and that’s all they are really looking for when they do the checks, but once they started using stickers, my mouth started opening letting others know stay away, i think its completely RUDE putting a seemingly permanent sticker on someone else s private personal property !
just my 2 cents.July 19, 2010 at 1:19 am #10502
I’m looking on my laptop right now and realize it does not have the sticker. They didn’t put one on last year.
That said, I think it’s probably best to stick by the rules on this one. We had an incident a few years back where a French science team hooked up an unchecked laptop to the net and downloaded a nasty virus. Lucky for them it was a science group and not a contract worker.
McM’s internet is it’s lifeline to the world. Internet security is no laughing matter. If you cause a problem and you went through all the bells and whistles, you are covered. While as letmein said, it’s not likely your computer will be infected, heaven forbid you take down the system and flaunted the security checks by hooking up an unchecked computer. They have been know to make scapegoats out of people for other infractions. Don’t be a statistic.
If they are stickering the computers that passed, I would just ask them not to, or maybe put it on with a piece of scotch tape or something.July 19, 2010 at 7:40 am #10503MATKATAMIBAMember
letmein, you may have been able to get away with not letting them touch your PC in your “5plus season”, but I doubt you would be able to do it these days. There has been a significant upgrade to LAN and internet security over the past year, driven by the NSF.
FYI, my laptop was checked last January in McM and they put no sticker on it at all. Although I haven’t been looking for one, I have not seen a single personal laptop here at Pole that has any security sticker. I seems like you are getting all worked up for nothing.July 19, 2010 at 8:25 am #10504skua77Keymaster
I DID get a sticker while passing through Denver for orientation in January 2008. I think it is kind of neat and never even considered trying to remove it 🙂
I’ve got my gripes about a few aspects of the IT security stuff, but I fully agree that the computer checks are very important to keep the network from getting messed up.July 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm #10505spideyParticipant
As an IT type person, there is nothing worse than a rogue user on a controlled network. It disrupts the ability to troubleshoot problems and in most corporations is cause for dismissal or serious disciplinary action. It can also take down the entire network if the user or their machine has problems like flooding the network with connection requests or the like. Of course a virus can be even worse, as it spreads.
That being said, I don’t like others messing with my equipment either, but a basic check for problems and the ability to register the machine’s unique network name and who owns it is a necessary evil.
I don’t know if they request you to load all updates available, that would not be good as often updates break things while they fix others. But some level should be specified in advance (WinXP must have sp2, OS X 10.4.8 or later….) also a list of approved virus software and its version should be available along with date for virus definitions. Perhaps mrdayfist can clarify that.
I’d also look at being able to use your own equipment on their network as a privilege not a right, that might make it easier to swallow. They could always restrict it to company computers only.July 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm #10506
Glenn, I see you on this one. We are just lucky that we have such access. The government system at work here is totally shut down. Websites blocked all over the place. They are intent on letting us be the source of a virus or attack. It would suck to have the ice be like the rest of the government.
Where do you stand on the computer checks and trying to hook up undocumented computers to the net?
mJuly 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm #10507
Working on the ICE is a lot like working with explosives….make a mistake and things get really messy and if you are lucky you only loose a few parts….
The computer networks at McMurdo and Pole are “MISSION CRITICAL” and must be cared for in unique and careful ways. People’s lives are potentially at stake if the systems go down. Lots of parts are at stake…equipment and people’s parts.
Taking a private computer is a privilege granted by NSF to contractors and grantees, provided the people comply with certain minimum requirements. If you need computer access for and on your job, a USAP approved computer is made available….but if you “need” computer access for your private communication and fun, and you”need” to plug into the local network with your privately owned computer, then you MUST comply with the basic requirements set forth by NSF. If you feel you are too smart and good to comply with these requirements, then you should NOT be working on the ICE….What is the big deal?
We each have a responsibility to look out for each other while we are working in Antarctica….kind of like the buddy system when you are scuba diving and just as important. Sure there are a lot of “rules” but they are there for specific reasons….to keep people out of trouble.
If you don’t want to comply with the rules of the camp….don’t apply for the job. By not applying for the job, the life you save may be mine!
DavidJuly 19, 2010 at 8:52 pm #10508spideyParticipant
Bag of Worms is an apt description.
I didn’t mean to so much offer an opinion on the issue, but shed some light on why the policies might have been implemented.
Many people likely are dependent on the connection to the internet for communication with back home and that is what preserves their sanity. that would just be one more reason why you do everything you can to keep the connection up and running, and to do that, likely a few compromises are required.
But its primary purpose is likely not that and all the money spent on it is likely to support the science and logistics. Any other use of it is a bonus and if that threatens its intended primary purpose, why would its custodians put that at risk?
That probably all makes me sound like I’m lecturing, but its more an attempt to show the perspective of the issue from someone who has had to support such systems. Just like, “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids unless you’ve raised your own, and even then, don’t tell me how to raise my kids….”July 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm #10509
99+ percent of the grantees and contractors comply with the private computer check requirement. It is the loose cannon rolling about the deck that makes a big mess…..the rest of us keep our gear tied down and squared away.
Remember that worker email is also through USAP provided kiosk computers that are regularly checked by IT……and there is great telephone communications to call home. I’ve never had to wait very long to get an outside telephone line to the US.
The current system has for the last few years tried to stop the phrase “It’s a harsh continent” and “Toughen up, it’s a harsh continent”……
A bunch of folks need to take these phrases to heart.
DavidJuly 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm #10510
Don’t get me wrong….I’m not the enemy nor am I Kumbaya either……
People just need to take responsibility for their lives and be a good neighbor and do the right things.
You are correct about the IT problems and how enforcement of rules is handled….we all have had an interesting few years with NSF, RPSC and NANA rules and regs…..it is hard to keep the masses happy.
Oh hell, IT’S A HARSH CONTINENT!
DavidJuly 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm #10511
Definitely an issue that can generate emotions. I guess I can see both sides as well. In the end I’ll opt to get mine checked.
People have a habit of abusing the net down there. The bandwith up to this year was extremely limited and anybody downloading large files could tie up the net and stop others from using it. While we had an upgrade this year, up to now the net was akin to a DSL line in your home, shared by up to hundreds of people using it at the same time. There was a story floating around that the net ground to almost a halt one winter day. IT scambled trying to find out why the net was crashing. It turned out to be somebody leaving their computer on to download the entire audio version of the bible. Funny.
Another story from the time before net controls was again the web slowed to a crawl during work hours. They turned off the wireless link to the dorms and it shot up. Everyone was setting their laptops to download movies all day while they were working.
IT has since found ways to combat abuses, but the bottom line was that all those people doing prohibited downloads affected the ability of the rest of the staff to use the internet for their uses. Share and share alike.
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