aborted mission statement

now playing: matt pond PA, “claire”

y’know, for as much as i think tom cruise is overrated, at least he had the balls to follow through with trudging to the printers’ in the middle of the night and putting his thoughts out there.

not me.

i chickened out.

i had my finger on the “send” button, ready to fire my own personal version out into the email community where i work….ready to let the entire workplace know that i’m mad as hell, and i’m not gonna take it anymore….

and i backed down.

i thought about calling my boss and reading him the text before doing so and getting his thoughts on the matter, but i felt pretty confident that i know what his position would be on the issue.

so a moment of inspiration dies on the vine.

here, however, is what it said:


Hello and Happy Friday, Everyone.

Everyone, at some point in their personal or professional lives, composes their thoughts in a forum of some sort only to later regret having done so. I’ve come to refer to these incidents as “Jerry Maguire Moments”…and this may very well be mine. But I’m going to put these thoughts out there before I get cold feet and change my mind.

Now that I’ve already made you uncomfortable, let’s get straight to the point.

It’s just now 9:20pm, and I’m still sitting at my desk.

You might ask why.

I’ve been working on a PC – the same PC – for almost five hours now. For the sake of brevity, here’s what has happened.

The individual to whom this machine belongs had an error that presented itself every time he booted up that stated that his anti-virus protection failed to load properly. There was no getting around it, it took up his whole screen before he could even log on – but he chose to ignore it and “entered” past it every time he had to start his machine. For the sake of speculation, I would assume that this problem probably started around the time that we moved the Anti-Virus server to a new machine and began to push out client updates…but I digress.

I noticed, over the course of the past couple of weeks or so, that this particular user complained frequently and loudly about his machine locking up, about having to reboot, about how slow it was…but the complaints were never directed to me until a problem presented itself today that finally pulled me into the loop.

When I first went to the machine, the very first thing I noticed was the Bright Yellow Exclamation Point on the Antivirus icon in the lower right hand corner of his screen. For those of you who don’t already know this, that’s a problem. I went to uninstall and reinstall his Antivirus software, and every single program on his computer had vanished from the add/remove programs window.

That, of course, is also a problem.

Again, in the interest of brevity, I’ve spent the time since then trying to salvage his Windows installation and the data on his computer from the over 400 malicious files found by Ad-Aware and the 1850 files I finally managed to get Symantec to delete from his machine. That is – once I was able to get it to work again, against the wishes of the infected files that kept closing it and corrupting the installation while I tried to fix it. As I do this, there are people waiting for their husband/father at home, wondering why he’s at work late every night this week.

Why do I do this?

I do this because if the shoe were on the other foot, and I had turned my sensitive data over to someone else, I would want to know that they would exhaust every potential solution before wiping it out and starting fresh with a few clicks of the mouse. I’ve always tried to make sure that I tried every means at my disposal to salvage people’s data before reaching for the cyber-sponge and scrubbing their drive and starting fresh.

However, I find myself in a position that forces me to rethink my personal ethic in this situation.

Right now, our three-man IT department is in the midst of a transition that has monopolized our time and attention for the better part of this week, and will continue to do so to varying degrees for the next four to six months as we bring our new manufacturing software and our new network infrastructure online and go live with it. I’m not complaining – simply stating the reality of the situation. Tomorrow, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll find myself defending my decision to try to salvage this machine instead of just scrubbing it…even without having put myself in the position I’m putting myself in by sending you this email, I’m sure I’ll be questioned as to why I chose to put the time and effort into this situation that I did. And rightly so. I’d be asking the same questions if the tables were turned.

This is not a position I will put myself in again.

In the past, time has allowed me to indulge my integrity, on the issue of going above and beyond to salvage data in these situations. That is no longer the case.

So what I’m trying to say is simply this:

In exchange for my effort to save your data, I need you – the end user – to police your machine and make us aware when your machine isn’t functioning the way it should.

I need you to be willing to pay attention to the warning signs that your machine is vulnerable to threats and potentially unprotected from them.

I need you to be far, FAR more aware of the things you download onto your machines that contain code and applications that exploit these vulnerabilities.

We’ve had a collective free ride on the issue of downloading cute but useless and potentially harmful eye candy for a long time. There’s never been a time when this wasn’t a problem, but it’s been a tolerated annoyance. Our current time constraints and the dwindling amount of time that I have to address these issues dictate that this simply cannot continue to be the case.

To summarize:

If you’re either unable or unwilling to do your part to help keep your machine clean of this sort of thing, I might not be quite so motivated to try to save you from yourself the next time your machine ends up on my bench.

I can scrub hard drives in my sleep. It’s the saving of the data on them that takes time, effort, expertise, and the ability to swallow insane amounts of frustration.

To return to the Jerry Maguire analogy….I’m asking you to help me help you.

If you’ve actually read this far, I thank you for your time. The last virus scan is almost done now, and I should probably prepare for the potential fallout from this email by cleaning out my desk.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.


now i’ll be left to spend the weekend wondering what could have been if i’d had the balls to actually put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may.

but hopefully there’ll be some consolation in the fact that i’ll have somewhere that i have to be on monday morning.

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