Caius Theory

Now with even more cowbell…

Education Network Restrictions

This is a re-run of an old post I took offline in an old server move and hadn’t re-published.

Having been on two college systems and various university networks, I’m just amazed at the levels of freedom you have on some, and how locked down others are.

Take the first university network I ever used for example. It was pretty much totally open, to the point that I could game quite freely, and the administrator only picked me up because I was logged in as admin and not a normal user. (I didn’t have an account for that machine.)

Going from that to my school network was a very big shock as it was moderately filtered through third party filtering software. This meant you couldn’t go on the usual NSFW stuff, but still had access to other sites that could be seen as bad, such as proxy sites, or IRC java Clients for example.

Having moved from my old (slightly crass) college to my new one, its interesting how filtered this one is. You can’t seem to go on a site with proxy or irc in the URL, except clean sites like the BBC or Wikipedia. The Proxy searching only came about through looking for web based IRC solutions.

Personally I think the universities have got it right. With all the students they have, they just limit the things they definitely have to, and allow everything else. (Blacklisting technique.) Both colleges seem to do the opposite - block everything until its verified and unblocked. (Whitelisting technique.)

The way I see it, the problem with the white listing technique is that people will always find a way around whatever restrictions are in place. For instance, I’m locked out of all of my web based email sites, so I can’t email anyone. Its not the not being able to send that bothers me, its the not being able to save text that I’ve written in college to a website to then retrieve it from home that annoys me.

So how did I work around this restriction? Well I remembered that Google had bought Writely at some point recently, so one quick sign in later and I’ve got my own little area where I can save, organise and edit text based files. All I have to do when I get home is login, copy / paste into my email client and hit send.

One word that isn’t blocked yet is blog, so I can still post this, and edit my posts. However, I’m still writing it in Writely and checking my markdown syntax is correct with Dingus. The writely interface is just that much nicer than notepad.