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changing background

how do i change the background of my computer that is attached to a network when the administrator has disabled this please help

michael
Monday, April 19, 2004

You can't.

Now, why has your administrator disabled this? I've heard of heavy-handed security policies but this is ridiculous. Have they also nailed your keyboard to the desk so that you can't adjust its position?

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, April 19, 2004

I've seen this done when I was in college. After some students changed the backgrounds of many PCs on campus to ridiculous things (offensive to some people), the admins decided to do that. It is strict, but sadly stupid people need stupid rules to govern them.

They did not pin down the keyboards (so you could move them around) although the equipment was tied down.  :)

entell
Monday, April 19, 2004

The business math:
Potential cost of one guy setting his background to the picture of the day from Playboy.com: $100,000 in sexual harassment settlements.

Business case for allowing people to set their backgrounds: None.

Pretty easy.

Philo

Philo
Monday, April 19, 2004

Cost of replacing your top developer: $100,000.

Patrick McCuller
Monday, April 19, 2004

Well, if your top programmer wants to quit just because he can't set his wallpaper, change the policy so that he can do it (Windows lets you do it on a per-user basis).

Josh Yeager
Monday, April 19, 2004

Cost of system administrators wasting their time worrying about insane trivial things like this: $100,000

Cost to the economy of the professional "Oh No, We're Going To Get Sued!" mentality: $100,000,000,000

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, April 19, 2004

Our head office has one of these kinds of Sys Admins.  Things of note on their systems.  No recycling bin, an almost brain dead browser that doesn't handle style sheets and in the past you couldn't even click on a link.  Some others as well.  Thankfully I work in a satellite office where we pretty well administer our own machine. 

The funny thing is though, out testing is done in Head Office and we had a bug with regards to putting too many things into the recycling bin.  They couldn't test it.  We are amazed at some of the things the Admin has managed to do on a system down there.  All we can do is shake our heads.

Zekaric
Monday, April 19, 2004

At my last job we had one of those types: No icons on the desktop, no customization, no running as admin, ever, and therefore no installing any programs without at least a week wait till he got around to it...

He got sacked after the server crashed and it turned out the backups he'd been making for months were done wrong and worthless.

I'm convinced there's a lesson in there somewhere.  Or at least a measure of poetic justice.

Kyralessa
Monday, April 19, 2004

As a former sys admin I know why some of these heavy-handed things are done, although I didn't do these types of things myself.  We had many users with somewhat older machines that felt the need to use background images that were several megabytes in size.  These same users would install things like adware that claimed to pay people to look at ads.  Then we would get complaints from these users that their machines were slow and crashed all the time.  When you inform them of the things that should be changed to provide better performance and stability the user would often refuse and continue dealing with the issue.  A couple weeks later the complaint would come up again.  Some of these people seemed more interested in screwing around with their backgrounds and screensavers than getting any work done.

Anonymous
Monday, April 19, 2004

My wife worked in desktop support a few years ago and a major headache was the Guinness screensaver that was around at the time with the funky music - it crashed a lot of machines. This might be one reason why Admin are more cautious these days.

Ross
Monday, April 19, 2004

You might try downloading an app called IrfanView and seeing if you can use it's Options...Set as Wallpaper menu to change the background.

We've got a similar policy at my current employer.  Every time I log on the background gets set back to the company logo and the first thing that I do after loging on is set it back to somthing that I want.

Mike H.

Michael L. Harges
Monday, April 19, 2004

"Business case for allowing people to set their backgrounds: None."

Spoken like somebody that's never managed developers, or if you have, only done it poorly.


Monday, April 19, 2004

That's why he said "Business case", not "This is why I'd make the same dumb decision".

Edward
Monday, April 19, 2004

The difference between Sys Admins and God....
God doesn't think he's a Sys Admin!!

stuart
Monday, April 19, 2004

"As a former sys admin I know why some of these heavy-handed things are done, although I didn't do these types of things myself..."

Understandable problems, and restriction _for those users_ is quite appropriate in such cases.  The trouble is those sysadmins who can't seem to tell the difference between one user and another, so they lock 'em all down because it's easier.

InfoWorld has run some good columns on this phenomenon:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/01/17/030120opsurvival_1.html
http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/01/03/030106opsurvival_1.html
http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/02/21/08survguide_1.html
http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/21/12survguide_1.html

Kyralessa
Monday, April 19, 2004

Edward:
The business case would be part of a larger goal of keeping developers happy & productive. Developers need to be admin of their own machines. Go argue with a wall if you don't believe happy people are more productive.


Monday, April 19, 2004

"The difference between Sys Admins and God....
God doesn't think he's a Sys Admin!!"

And sadly developers think they are clearly above both.

Crusty Admin
Monday, April 19, 2004

In the place I work (1800 PC):
Users -> no admin privilege, standard desktop, cannot install anything (application is installed by GPO), even usb is opened only with permission from IT.
IT personnel who work with applications + backoffice stuff --> admin privilege.



rocketeer
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Where i work the background is also set to a heinous, high-contrast, busy image every time i log in, and Windows is set to not allow us to change it. So i delete the .bmp, bring up Task Manager, kill explorer.exe, and restart it. Then i get a nice, plain, soothing blue background. Of course, some kind of automated script puts the image back every night, so i have to do this every morning.

Mike S.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Its only a background! I leave my machine as standard as I can. Plain background with standard icons and setup.

Why? Because that way other people can use my machine without having to "learn" how to use it. And if other people take the same view then I can use their machine easier too.

£'s saved? Who knows but it makes life that little bit easier and less stressful than using the "individual's" machine.

Roy
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Customization can be evil. I recall years ago one user had a problem with his PC where he had "Simpsonized" all his icons. I refused to deal with it since it made supporting him unreasonably more difficult.

njkayaker
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

"The difference between Sys Admins and God....
God doesn't think he's a Sys Admin!!"

I think there is a lot of truth in the above, but there may be another factor at play.

Allowing end-users to customize their machines has the upside of improving productivity because everyone is unique, has different work habits, job requirements, etc. The downside of this is that there is a greater potential for less IT-savvy users to bugger up their machines and increase support costs.

I would guess that in most organizations (certainly in mine, a municipal goverment), the sysadmins will take the fall for the downside, but not get credit for the upside. Thus, it is in their narrow self-interest to lock down users.

In an ideal world (which you won't find in a municipal government), IT management would investigate this situation and decide the optimum level of lock-down. In the real world, this decision is typically left to sysadmins.

Harlequin
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Sys admins typically have dozens of other high priority issues and it's a real pain to deal with end user issues every 15 minutes that are entirely preventable.  In a perfect world companies would hire more staff to deal with this, but we don't live in a perfect world.  When I was a sys admin in the past I was typically responsible for anything that used electricity.  This included copy machines, computers, printers, and phone systems.  I really didn't have time to deal with some user's slow computer caused by some unnecessary software they installed.

On top of that I had to attempt to keep us legal as far as software licenses go, which is made difficult when half the people in the office decide they need to install Photoshop on their machines.  Would I have liked to have been able to install Photoshop on anyone's machine who wanted it? Sure.  Problem is I couldn't just buy licenses whenever I felt like it.

It shouldn't be a big surprise that some developers are treated like average office users when we have everything from DeVry grads to business majors who thought they could make a lot of money "doing computers" in the field.  And before anyone gets too upset, many sys admins are just as bad.  Unfortunately a good portion of the people in these fields are not at all highly skilled or even competent.

Anonymous
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Roy's right - why bother with a background? I need all my concentration and time just to get my work done - none left over for frigging round with trivia, and if there is - well there are more interesting things to do, like drinking beer.

njkayaker mentioned 'Simpsonized' icons. I had a similar experience when I joined Dorling Kindersley Multimedia in 1995 to work as a Mac programmer (or simulate being a Mac prgrammer, because I had last worked on the Mac in 1985, coding in BCPL, and couldn't remember a thing about Macs). The previous user of my Mac had turned every icon into a milk bottle. Hell knows why. I think he was a graphic designer, but that doesn't excuse everything.

Graham Asher
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It would be very tough to give different people different options.  First being that it could take quite a lot of time to do, though you'd probably do this piecemeal.  As people wanted extra options, if you trusted them you could enable it.  The second problem is the "What about me" syndrome.  You give user A the ability to install software knowing he is computer savvie and has agreed not to install un-licensed software, user B who has far lower computer skills and really doesn't care then kicks up a big fuss about it.  It's very hard to say "No, because I can't trust you" to user B.

Your best bet might be to be friendly to the sys admin, maybe write him some programs in exchange for first dibs on new machines and decent privileges :)

Steven
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Sys admins typically have dozens of other high priority issues and it's a real pain to deal with end user issues every 15 minutes that are entirely preventable"

I think that this comment only goes to solidify my God-Sys Admin quip earlier. Yes, I'm a developer, but I've found that the difference between a bad sys admin and a good one (and I've had some great ones) is just simply in the attitude with which they deal with you - no matter what level of technical proficiency you have.

The good ones understand that they are in a service oriented position. They are there, in part, to provide a service to those people with lesser technical skills than themselves. They will willingly help people with their issues without the rantings and ravings that the bad ones chunter about. Yes, it might well be a blatantly stupid thing to them, but to the person who has the issue, it's an important one and should atleast be treated with some level of respect. Just remember, there were times when some of the questions or issues you might have had during your learning years could have been deemed frivolous and stupid. How endearing would you have felt towards a mentor, manager or work associate if they'd made you feel dumb/stupid over one of your questions?

stuart
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

>> "Sys admins typically have dozens of other high priority
>> issues and it's a real pain to deal with end user issues
>> every 15 minutes that are entirely preventable"

> I think that this comment only goes to solidify my God-Sys
> Admin quip earlier.

I don't think so. I'm a developer, but I'm occasionally in the role of "informal sysadmin", both to users and to other developers. Some people can be a real pain - not because they have low tech skills, but because they'll keep coming back to you constantly, especially when they become aware that by going to you their problem will be solved.

I understand completely what Anonymous is saying. Since I wasn't a sysadmin, I was able to say "Sorry, I really can't help you there, you gotta call helpdesk". The guys in helpdesk couldn't do the same.

The facts to have in mind are:
1. The problem you're being asked to solve wouldn't have happened if the user didsn't install the cute-screen-saver-of-the-week (TM); even after installing it, the problem could be easily solved if the user accepted the obvious solution, which is uninstall the screen saver.
2. At the end of the day/week/whatever, whoever manages helpdesk is going to go through the work reports, and see his people have *wasted* hours solving problems that shouldn't have happened. This time will have to be justified across the hierarchy.

#2 is what causes the draconian rules. For the record, I think these rules suck, but I won't argue against it.

Think about this - when a virus breaks, who do you blame for the double-click on that attachment?

Sometimes, the only solution is to lock things down.

Paulo Caetano
Thursday, April 22, 2004

I was not referring to users with issues due to their lack of technical knowledge.  I was referring to wonderful users who decide 3 times in one month that they need to install some kind of adware/fire sharing program/50MB screensaver.  These users tend to be some of the lower productivity workers to begin with and as I had mentioned earlier they tend to spend more time screwing around with their backgrounds and screensavers than doing actual work.

These users are wasting company time and money, plain and simple.  Who knows what kind of information the adware is sending out.  Do you really want one user using most of the T1 bandwidth because they want to share pirated music?  At some point common sense must prevail and a user should decide that perhaps it is better to perform certain activities on their home computers.

While a sys admin does have to provide service to the users he/she also must keep the business itself in mind.

Anonymous
Thursday, April 22, 2004

It goes something like this. You first need to know what "profit center" and "cost center" mean. Trust me, it's worth it. This is how your sooper dooper executive VP Director Associate views these things.

Sales is a profit center (a source of money). System support (any kind of support, really) is a cost center (a sink of money). Product Development is also a cost center, but a more important cost center, in that you're making something that's unique and vital to the business. But there's the chance that they'll dropkick you out the door once you've built whatever it is you're building. System support isn't unique and may or may not be that vital.

So to make maximum profits, we maximize our profit centers, and minimize our cost centers. Cost centers are ranked in importance, and the ones at the back of the queue get shafted. That translates into hiring fewer sysadmins and making the sysadmins justify their existence.

So, you've got just enough sysadmins to keep things from falling into chaos, but not enough to actually help anyone. Especially at a big company, where everyone is assumed to be stupid, and nobody wants to pay for more sysadmins, the temptation to lock down stuff and then unlock it until it's barely usable, is often too hard to resist.

Is it right or wrong? If you're the guy collecting the profits, or the guy whose bonus is tied to collecting profits, it's absolutely the right thing to do. If you're trying to do your job, it probably slows you down somewhat, but then again, they assume you're stupid and slow already. From a sysadmin's point of view? Makes for less work, but you've already got more work than you can handle anyway, so it's a wash.

anonymous strikes again
Thursday, April 22, 2004

"""Product Development is also a cost center, but a more important cost center"""


That is 100% wrong. Not only in terms of management ideology, but also in terms of accounting principles. Product development is considered an investment. Now, some managers will definitely look at engineering as a cost center, no doubt about it. But even if they do, hopefully their CFO realizes it's an investment expense. Makes a big difference on the books.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Seems to me that God is the ultimate sys-admin, actually. :-)

Gareth McCaughan
Friday, April 23, 2004

If you're worried about ad screen saver programs then your most urgent job as a sysadmin is to install a firewall.

Desktop wallpaper is never going to cause a probkem on any machine with more than 16MB of RAM. And people do think it important - if they didn't you see more machines with the blank wallpaper you start with.

Stopping people installing software is necessary, but there should be very rapid way of getting it installed when necessary. Have representatives in the department, create sub-domains and make theim sub-domain administrators for example.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, April 24, 2004

Man, this makes me thankful for Adobe. I don't know if we even *have* "sysadmins". Everyone adminsters their own systems. (Developers and QE at least; I don't know about people in other roles.)  For the most part, our IS team regards themselves as servants rather than tin gods. There's one guy on the IS team who posts the most amazingly helpful, informative messages to our VPN mailing list.

Sure, if you screw up and catch a nasty virus, you may find your machine disconnected from the network. But there's no guilty-until-proven-innocent.

Do other companies really operate the way people have been describing in this thread? Reading some of the comments, I kept thinking, "Why are these companies shooting themselves in the foot like this?"

Adobe's not perfect, any more than any company. But at least they don't nitpick you to death.

Michael Geary
Sunday, April 25, 2004

Come to think of it, all of the Silicon Valley companies I've worked for or consulted for have been like Adobe in this regard: Every developer is their own admin. Maybe it's a regional thing?

Michael Geary
Monday, April 26, 2004

"Seems to me that God is the ultimate sys-admin, actually. :-)"

I want to see what God has been up to then. We're paying a lot of money for someone who isn't contributing to the bottom line. Where is God's timesheets? I don't see them here.

:) :) :)

anonymous strikes again
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

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