Bessy Keeps You Safe



  • My fiance is a high school teacher at a local public school. Even though the school is one of the highest rated in Canada, and has some of the most technologically advanced equipment, faculty and students, it isn't immune from being a fountain of WTF.

    Last year, the school board decided that the Internet was just far too dangerous of a place for students. This was partially due to knee-jerk reactions to videos posted on YouTube some pumpkin-eater that filmed himself bullying another kid.  The Internets must be cleaned!  (Personally, if someone wants to post evidence of their own wrong doing in a public place, using computers that run through a school board's network that is chock-full of logging and tracking mechanisms-- I say more Darwin-based power to that person. It'd make it easier, not harder, for them to incriminate themslves).

    Anyways, their solution, after consulting with some highly paid consultants, was Bess. Bess is a standard Think Of The Children (TOTC) software package. It's installed on the board servers, and acts as a both a proxy and a filter. It will keep students from viewing "inappropriate" material.

    If you can't see where this is going, then you weren't around for AOL's "support" of the Breast Cancer Survivor's Group back in the 90s.

    Bess, or "Bessy" as the staff started calling her, as to invoke the image of a horribly out of touch, senile old woman in a rocking chair, was put on the network and started doing her thing.  She was pre-loaded with a list of naughties, but Bessy could also learn. She could inspect the content of requests (read: packet inspection!) and start to figure out newier, naughtier sites that are a might sight unright.

    The first thing to go on the "lump of coal" list was 90% of Google. If you log into Gmail, you're blocked because of "chat programs" (Gchat) or "document storage" (Google Docs). This left several teachers scratching their heads wondering a) how documents were inappropriate and b) how the hell were they going to download their Google Doc-based lesson plan for the day.

    The next thing to go down was YouTube. Oddly enough, though, it came back with "custom block: inappropriate". My fiance and her co-workers, who are all science teachers, were especially frustrated over this one as the kids had an assignment to complete: watch a series of educational films that were posted to YouTube. How could Bessy block it?  Well, she didn't, directly.  No, that was the principal. You see, the micomanaging principal browser through the usage logs, and happened to notice there was a sudden increase in traffic going to YouTube. Rather than wonder if it was students accessing the video that had been in the lesson plan for several semesters now, she instead exercised her "exectuvie privillage" and blocked all of YouTube.  But it's okay, if you want access to YouTube you can just write down the name of the webpage, put it on an official form, file it with her secretary and in three days you can have access for that day.  But I digress, because the principal is a wtf for another day.

    The final straw came when the grade 11 Chemistry teachers went online to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) website-- the government run standards commission that deals with 'cautionary labelling of containers of WHMIS controlled products, the provision of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and worker education and training programs" (ie: Warning, this material is hazardous. It contains X, Y, Z. Here is what can go wrong. Here are the exact steps to take in case of an accident with this material). Instead of getting the information and datasheets that are mandated to be part of the cirriculum, they were instead treated to a Bessy page shooing them away from "Dangerous Knowledge".

    Yup. The information that is government-mandated to be taught in order to ensure that every student can recognize and handle these materials safely is dangerous knowledge. The same was true for any other website they tried to go to that contained such dangerous keywords like "chemical", "explosive", and "hydrogeon".

    My fiance was finally fed up. She literally couldn't do her job because Bessy had determined that it was too dangerous to access saftey information. Her solution? She went to a group of her students and said "I know you've already figured out how to get around Bessy. Set me up."

    After being pointed to Script Monkey, SwitchProxy, Tor, Vidallia and a list of usable proxies-- and of course good old Google Translate, the department was back in business.  Bessy still sits on her porch, rocking absently and cackling to herself, but now the teachers, like the kids, just don't come around to see her anymore.



  • Well written.  Good Job.



  • Front Page Worthy indeed!



  • Well, the chemistry labs should all have hard copies of the WHMIS, but in the case that they didn't Bessy created a real safety hazard in the chemistry department.



  • @tster said:

    Well, the chemistry labs should all have hard copies of the WHMIS, but in the case that they didn't Bessy created a real safety hazard in the chemistry department.
     

     They do, but since the cirriculum called for a outing to the computer lab to do some online research, the handouts weren't prepped.  She'd have to get a copy of each one out of filing, line up for the photocopier, hope it works, blast off 64 copies of each handout, make sure they're correlated, hand them out-- and finally have to recycle/dispose of all those handouts when they were done.

    It'd be possible to do, but not easy, especially given how little prep time the department has.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    @tster said:

    Well, the chemistry labs should all have hard copies of the WHMIS, but in the case that they didn't Bessy created a real safety hazard in the chemistry department.
     

     They do, but since the cirriculum called for a outing to the computer lab to do some online research, the handouts weren't prepped.  She'd have to get a copy of each one out of filing, line up for the photocopier, hope it works, blast off 64 copies of each handout, make sure they're correlated, hand them out-- and finally have to recycle/dispose of all those handouts when they were done.

    It'd be possible to do, but not easy, especially given how little prep time the department has.

     

    I wasn't suggesting that she do that for the teaching.  I was just pointing out that Bessy might have actually made the chemistry department unsafe.



  •  



  • @tster said:

    I wasn't suggesting that she do that for the teaching.  I was just pointing out that Bessy might have actually made the chemistry department unsafe.
     

     

    And therein lies the wtf. 🙂



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    Bessy still sits on her porch, rocking absently and cackling to herself

    I foresee an indirect reference to cake.

    Oh what the heck, here is one:

    @Bessy said:

    Hello? Where are you? I know you're there. I can feel you here. What are you doing? You haven't escaped, you know.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    Bessy still sits on her porch, rocking absently and cackling to herself

    I foresee an indirect reference to cake.

    Oh what the heck, here is one:

    @Bessy said:

    Hello? Where are you? I know you're there. I can feel you here. What are you doing? You haven't escaped, you know.



  •  The double-post is a lie.



  •  The painfully forced reference is tired and pathetic.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    double-post

    Weird, I'm pretty sure I only edited the tags. Let's blame CS.



  • The place where my father works has stuff like this: We don't want insurance adjusters looking at porn, apparently. Management was thrilled with the productivity increase that accompanied the installation of the filter (and of course assumed it must be the filter, and -not- the 3 years overdue server upgrades they put in at the same time) and decided that more stuff must be filtered, more stuff must be checked on the way through...

    While going overboard someone accidentally attached a filter instance in the wrong direction-- so it was checking incoming traffic for HTTP requests. Experimenting with the "word recognition feature." And so for an entire weekend, all of their business partners couldn't get onto the partner site, thanks to the words 'assistance' and 'buttress' being on one of the pages on that subdomain.

    This actually cost them business thanks to the custom filter-response page, which contained text telling the user their IP would be tracked by management and they could expect to lose their job if they didn't have a good explanation for why they attempted to access the site-- this resulted in hundreds of employees at partner companies calling their managers in tears and a panic, this resulted in a number of managers being paged at 2AM on a Saturday on a holiday weekend, and other such things that don't really inspire confidence in your partner companies...

    They also still routinely lose customers thanks to the e-mail filtering, which sends a rather harshly worded e-mail to any potential customer or other person who manages to trigger the e-mail filter-- and it's not hard. The bad-words list includes 'joke', 'funny', 'humor', and 'mailing list', to cut down on "productivity sapping." So e-mailing them saying, "As requested, I am mailing you a list of the claims I am disputing" will result in your e-mail being thrown away, and you getting a nasty letter.



  • School filters like this are a perennial nuisance for biology teachers. Want to download a syllabus from the exam board? Have to hope it doesn't have too much detail about what students are expected to know about the human reproductive system.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    "Dangerous Knowledge"

     

     

    Burn them at stake!



  •  Today she tried to Google for "chemicals inside cigarrette smoke".

     Result (Bessy page, not Google):  Ilicit search: Tobacco.

    However, a Google for "Tobacco" works.  So does "Bong".



  •  Ah, yes. Gotta love that program. Back when I was in middle school in the mid late 90's the school board decided to impose it on us, and they still use it to this day. It only took us students about 15 minutes to have the entire computer lab disabled and back surfing freely (at that time it was a proxy only setup) the day it was enabled and after each time they re-imaged the lab. My dad works in one of the schools in that board now as a building operator and has asked more then once how to get around it as they keep changing its settings. The most recent time they started blocking some radio station sites, including the talk radio station he usually listens to at work (which they feed over the intercom system from one computer). The issue with the block though was that you could get onto the homepage of the site where 99% of the content was (including all the news, contest pages, etc), however if you tried to access to the streaming audio, it blocked your access with a reason of it being a 'news site'. Unfortunately for them, the school level staff have no access to any of its settings.



  • Web Content Filtering = The Greatest WTF.

    It is superseded only by Word Recognition Filtering.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    (Personally, if someone wants to post evidence of their own wrong doing in a public place, using computers that run through a school board's network that is chock-full of logging and tracking mechanisms-- I say more Darwin-based power to that person. It'd make it easier, not harder, for them to incriminate themslves).

    As recently demonstrated by the spectacular ANON.FAIL during the Palin hack.




  • @Spectre said:

    @Bessy said:
    Hello? Where are you? I know you're there. I can feel you here. What are you doing? You haven't escaped, you know.
    Great, now I'm imagining GLaDOS as a conversational content filter...



  •  One last update to this:

     Next week the Science department starts the unit on "Mammalian / Human Reproduction". 

    I'll leave the results up to your imagination.



  • @tster said:

    Well, the chemistry labs should all have hard copies of the WHMIS, but in the case that they didn't Bessy created a real safety hazard in the chemistry department.
     

    I would go straight to the news... or better inflict a non-permenent damage to yourself or a student (though the student's own doing) and sue the fucking shit out of the school. Bessy would be to blame but the school would take responsibility. And all the teacher has to do is claim that she could not get the how to deal with the hazard online, and all the teachers around her could not eather since it was blocked. KAPOW! wack that ol' grama with some kung-fu kicking.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    I'll leave the results up to your imagination.
    No, you will post them here.



  • @Eternal Density said:

    @halcyon1234 said:

    I'll leave the results up to your imagination.
    No, you will post them here.

     

     Well fine, then.  In the mean time, here's a link to my fiance's sexual information:

     http://misshoughton.net/Grade9Ac/ReproductionD/SexualReproduction.doc

    Take that, Bessy!



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    here's a link to my fiance's sexual information
    Now there is something you don't see every day.



  • @Zecc said:

    @halcyon1234 said:

    here's a link to my fiance's sexual information
    Now there is something you don't see every day.

    Speak for yourself.  I see his fiance's sexual information all the time.



  • @bstorer said:

    @Zecc said:

    @halcyon1234 said:

    here's a link to my fiance's sexual information
    Now there is something you don't see every day.

    Speak for yourself.  I see his fiance's sexual information all the time.
     

    Good for you. I get her sexual acts, though.



  •  PS.

    These posts operate under the assumption that The Fiance is hot. Any evidence suggesting the contrary will be ignored.



  • @dhromed said:

     PS.

    These posts operate under the assumption that The Fiance is hot. Any evidence suggesting the contrary will be ignored.

     

    These posts operate under the assumption that The Fiance is female.

     

    Note that in French, "fiancé" indicates a male and "fiancée" the female.



  • @operagost said:

    @dhromed said:

     PS.

    These posts operate under the assumption that The Fiance is hot. Any evidence suggesting the contrary will be ignored.

     

    These posts operate under the assumption that The Fiance is female.

     

    Note that in French, "fiancé" indicates a male and "fiancée" the female.

     

    Why do French people always have to fuck up a good conversation with "but in French uh huh huh, we speaka the language like..." NOBODY CARES!!!  



  • @operagost said:

    * Note that in French, "fiancé" indicates a male and "fiancée" the female.
     

    I concede that I didn't actually know how to spell the damn word and just went all verbatim on its ass.



  • @amischiefr said:

    Why do French people always have to fuck up a good conversation with "but in French uh huh huh, we speaka the language like..." NOBODY CARES!!!  
    FAIL

    operagost lists his location as Pennsylvania.  He could be french, but more than likely he's American and studied French in school.

    You can't even type in a french accent.

    It wasn't a good conversation before or after operagost made his comment.

    Worst. trolling attempt. ever.

    Please go outside, take all your clothes off, and cover yourself in mud.  Stay there until you freeze to death.  Or if you're in a southern state, simply shoot yourself.  If you're having trouble, ask your neighbor.  He's wanted to shoot you for years.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    Please go outside, take all your clothes off, and cover yourself in mud.  Stay there until you freeze to death.  Or if you're in a southern state, simply shoot yourself.  If you're having trouble, ask your neighbor.  He's wanted to shoot you for years.

    You are the wind beneath my wings.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @belgariontheking said:

    Please go outside, take all your clothes off, and cover yourself in mud.  Stay there until you freeze to death.  Or if you're in a southern state, simply shoot yourself.  If you're having trouble, ask your neighbor.  He's wanted to shoot you for years.

    You are the wind beneath my wings.

     

     

    you are the wind from my anus



  •  TRWTF is WHMIS itself. In theory it may be a good idea (may?) to teach people about the different warning labes and what they mean, but in practice (in my experience), its always come down to the same idiotic instructions :

    Skull and crossbones means dont drink.

    A picture of something exploding means that . . . this something can explode.

     Well hooray for WHMIS.



  • @chadsexington said:

     TRWTF is WHMIS itself. In theory it may be a good idea (may?) to teach people about the different warning labes and what they mean, but in practice (in my experience), its always come down to the same idiotic instructions :

    Skull and crossbones means dont drink.

    A picture of something exploding means that . . . this something can explode.

     Well hooray for WHMIS.

     

    Three words:  lowest common denominator.

    Three examples:

    ONE:

    Student (to my fiance):  "Miss H, can I look at Billy's blood under the microscope?"

    Her (trying to fathom how he planned to get "Billy's blood"):  No.

    Student:  Aww, but he said I could.

     TWO:

    Other Student (to one of her coworkers):  "Miss, would it be bad if I drank some of the stuff in the beakers?"

    Coworker: "Ummm, yes, probably. Why?"

    Other Student:  "Because I did."

    Coworker: "Which chemical?"

    Other Student:  "I dunno."

    Coworker: "Do you even know which COLOR it was?"

    Other Student: {shrug} "Pink, I think."

    THREE:

    Female Student (after several lessons on lab safety, including multiple reminders to tie back long hair before working with open flames, who then figured that "hair" didn't include "long bangs", who then leaned over an open flame):  "OMFG MY HAIR SHIT SHIT SHIT OW OW SHIT PUT IT OUT!"

    Sometimes I think that if it wasn't for CYA things like WHIMS, some highschools would have more bodybags than Sunnydale.



  •  I admit that when I took my whmis training (which was dumb in itself as I worked in an arobics studio with no access to chemicals of any kind), there were people taking notes. I was quite shocked.

     What, I thought Skull and Crossbones meant it was Pirate Fresh!



  •  @chadsexington said:

     I admit that when I took my whmis training (which was dumb in itself as I worked in an arobics studio with no access to chemicals of any kind), there were people taking notes. I was quite shocked.

     What, I thought Skull and Crossbones meant it was Pirate Fresh!

    Or just fresh! HAHAH1


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