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White Lies Help Stressed Computer Users 333

Posted by Zonk
from the working-is-hard-apparently dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Simple tricks allow one to appear to be hard at work in the office while actually forwarding calls, e-mails and instant messages to your mobile phone. One can backdate e-mails through rolling back a computer's built-in clock or use background phone noises to concoct convincing excuses not to go to work."
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White Lies Help Stressed Computer Users

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  • WHA?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by b0bx13 (743667) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:23AM (#13085892)
    People are lazy?!
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:29AM (#13085901) Journal
    Stuff like this could become the first direction all fingers point when a company goes down.

    So much for it being because a company's product got beaten out by a competitor, or because its leadership embezzled it into the ground, or creative accounting.

    Everyone now will be looking for the back office Richard Pryor type (I forgot the name of the movie) as a scapegoat.

    American workers are already being called the laziest in the world (by conservatives, mind you) while statistics show them to be among the most productive (overall, if not per hour). If we're such collective goof offs then why are we so productive?
    • or, at least, not when you compare between different businesses, cultures or payments.
      So, american (resident) workers are lazier, compared to, well, the mexican workers in the same company, same position and for the same particular task.
    • by kryten_nl (863119) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:35AM (#13086030)
      Everyone now will be looking for the back office Richard Pryor type (I forgot the name of the movie) as a scapegoat.
      Superman 3 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086393/ [imdb.com]

      American workers are already being called the laziest in the world (by conservatives, mind you) while statistics show them to be among the most productive (overall, if not per hour). If we're such collective goof offs then why are we so productive?

      Because:
      1. You don't have as much vacation days as Europeans
      2. Minimum wages are so low and without a wellfare state, some people have to work two jobs just to get by.
      3. You have this collective 'Best <insert noun> of the world' attitude
    • The sky isn't falling.

      Employers throw a hissy fit if anybody charges a few unworked minutes, but they have no qualms requiring hours (or days) of manditory unpaid overtime. This alone will always dwarf whatever you can accomplish with little email and pager tricks.

      I woudn't set Outlook to fire off messages at 1am to make myself look better, because I don't have the gall to do it. On the other hand, I feel bad for office workers who feel they *must* be sending emails at 1am to be competitive.

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:30AM (#13085905)
    A (semi)-respected publisher puts out a book on how to shirk actual work?

    Like any of you losers works anyways.

    Back in my day, we had to walk 10 miles uphill in the snow wearing a sun dress, just to submit our punchcards to the mainframe guy! And you complain about a little typing.

    -- Lost the password to my two-digit uid.
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

      by dalutong (260603) <[djtansey] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:39AM (#13085936)
      you think that's bad?

      my commute was uphill BOTH WAYS!
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:2, Funny)

      by noidentity (188756)
      A (semi)-respected publisher puts out a book on how to shirk actual work?

      Unfortunately the book's pages are blank because the author was applying the tactics when he was supposedly writing the book (and the editor the same, otherwise he would have noticed).
      • A (semi)-respected publisher puts out a book on how to shirk actual work?

        Unfortunately the book's pages are blank because the author was applying the tactics when he was supposedly writing the book (and the editor the same, otherwise he would have noticed).

        Are you talking about the book, or Slashdot? Oh wait, you said semi-respected.
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

      by chrysrobyn (106763) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @09:40AM (#13086530)
      Back in my day, we had to walk 10 miles uphill in the snow wearing a sun dress, just to submit our punchcards to the mainframe guy! And you complain about a little typing.

      Buddy, I was the mainframe guy. I had to get to work the same route, and trust me-- you were NOT as pretty in the sun dress as you thought. You can complain about typing up the punch cards all you want. I'll complain about looking at you in your dress.


    • Back in my day, we had to walk 10 miles uphill in the snow wearing a sun dress, just to submit our punchcards to the mainframe guy!

      Uh, got any pictures?

  • Backdate e-mails (Score:5, Informative)

    by baadger (764884) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:32AM (#13085911)
    "One can backdate e-mails through rolling back a computer's built-in clock"

    Unfortunately "Received:" headers add their own date e.g.

    Received: from mta02-winn.ispmail.ntl.com (mta02-winn.ispmail.ntl.com [81.103.221.42]) by mx2.messagingengine.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id xxxxxxxxxxxx for ; Sun, 17 Jul 2005 03:56:09 -0400 (EDT)
    • by BiDi (853932) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:52AM (#13086061)
      Do you think that bosses know how to check e-mail headers? 90% of them only know how to start Outlook if the icon is sitting directly on the desktop.
      • Yeah, then the boss asks the employee why the email was late, and they say it was sent in the morning, but got delievered in the afternoon. Then the IT guys get called in to fix a problem that doesn't exist. IT guys read said email and check the headers, and see that it was sent in the afternoon, just on a computer that had its hardware clock back by the user, at which point the user is questioned. They of course deny everything. Reset hardware clock and test to see it stays set. Tell boss its fixed, a
      • Not really. If your SMTP server went down then you wouldn't have been able to send the mail in the first place. The first Received: header in the chain (that isn't fake) should have a date (taking into account timezones) nearly the same as your own.

        It wouldn't explain the time difference.
    • Thunderbird displays the "Date" field for messages.
      It uses the Timestamp from the MUA of the sender. Don't ask me why. I often get spams from Jan, 1969 and they end up way at the bottom of all my emails. When I get the 2008 ones, they end up at the top. And when someone reinstalls Windows XP I can tell, because they always forget to set their timezone incorrectly.

      So I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's not hard to fool some people...
    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444)

      "One can backdate e-mails through rolling back a computer's built-in clock" For those that didn't RTFA, the next line was: "'It will certainly prove that you sent the e-mail when you said you did,' Saltzman said. 'You can just blame the delay on the network.'"

      The point is that a large time gap between sent and received headers will be invariably be interpreted as `a technological problem, not a dishonesty problem.

  • by ibanez16 (241869) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:35AM (#13085919)
    People have always been finding ways to cheat work. Whether its longer breaks, sleeping in the bathroom, yeah i know people who have done it, or god knows what else. My favorite though is the george costanza's method, building a bed under your desk to take naps in.

    God i've thought about it myself a few times......
  • by onion2k (203094) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:35AM (#13085920) Homepage
    If you're resorting to lies and trickery to avoid the work you ought to be doing, then you should quit. If your job is so bad, don't carry on with it. Find one you actually like, that you enjoy, that isn't something you want to avoid. You'll be a lot less stressed and you'll find life a whole lot easier.
    • by Travoltus (110240) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:43AM (#13085945) Journal
      Except then there would be the problem with paying rent. For most people nowadays, an enjoyable job is not one that pays, or at least pays well. Unless you start your own business and all that, of course most businesses fail in the first year.

      But yeah, lies and trickery on the job are not cool, either by the workers or by the executive officers...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "But yeah, lies and trickery on the job are not cool, either by the workers or by the executive officers..."

        The difference is that when I get caught, I get fired. When executive officers get caught, they retire with millions via a severance package.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Unless you start your own business and all that, of course most businesses fail in the first year."

        I suggest people look at how those numbers are computed. Apperances can be deceiving.

    • "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
    • Or perhaps youre just trying to even out your time off with the people who call in sick twice a month. Whether they are sick or not is completely irrelevant, they have the same contract (or lack thereof) and the same pay for the same position as you do so they should get the same amount of time off work.

      PS: another pet peeve is schedules that dont work on monday/friday, eliminating paid holidays (that every other employee in the office gets) for the most part.
  • by germanStefan (766513) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:36AM (#13085922) Homepage
    While setting back you clock may fool some people, it wont fool anyone who knows about the "header" of an e-mail. A quick peek there and you find all the timestamps of each email server that passed the email along. If there is a "huge" gap inbetween when it was send form "localhost" and the first mailserver...something is up.

    Also this doesn't work if one uses webmail where one would have to reset the server's time.

    NOT that I don't resolve to such trickery once in a while. Most of our boses won't read the header of a message, and only the true geek has his e-mail viewer set to e-mail source instead of the nice outlook (evolution for me) display. If your cubicle is in a public place, virtual desktops comes in handy. gaim open on desktop 1, quickly move to desktop2 with source code open when you hear footsteps... or for the windows fans, alt tab to a full screen program where you have "actual work" open...

    I would be interested in what other slashdotters do, I'm sure we have some pretty original ideas.
    • NOT that I don't resolve to such trickery once in a while. [...] If your cubicle is in a public place, virtual desktops comes in handy. gaim open on desktop 1, quickly move to desktop2 with source code open when you hear footsteps... or for the windows fans, alt tab to a full screen program where you have "actual work" open...

      And if you only do it once in a while, you may well get away with it. Just be aware that it gets pretty easy to spot if someone jumps for the same key combo every time you approach

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:36AM (#13085923) Journal
    This seems likr a lot of effort to go through to not do nay work.
  • by stoph ct (899877) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:37AM (#13085931)
    High-technology tricks once seen as the purview of hackers

    Such as actually using the features included in your e-mail client and changing your time settings? Amazing high technology hacker tricks. *rolls eyes*
  • by Living WTF (838448) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:45AM (#13085950)
    "I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 17, 2005 @05:47AM (#13085954)
    The article describes instances of alienated workers using technology to get out of slaving at their their boring, meaningless jobs:
    "Instead of being a slave to technology, you can master it, you can make it look like you are working when and where you are not," said Marc Saltzman, 35, the author of "White Collar Slacker's Handbook" published in June.

    Saltzman says computer trickery has become mainstream as the not-super-tech savvy people seek ways of coping with a 24x7 work culture and the increasing inability of people to dodge uncomfortable questions in an era of "always-on" broadband, mobile phone and instant messaging connections.

    "Just because you can be reached everywhere doesn't mean you have to be in touch all the time," Saltzman said in a phone interview. "The question is how do you turn the tables?"


    It should be pointed out that this high-tech slackery and the widespread phenomenon of downloading music and other media are two aspects of a single process.

    What is happening is workers, reduced in today's "service economy" (subservience economy would be a better term) to little more that soulless drones, are rejecting the labor and property regimes imposed upon them by the ruling classes.

    Another instance of this historical turn is the acts of so-called "terrorism" taking place more and more often at present.

    While these acts are clearly atrocities, and those who perpetrate them must be stopped, it is only a matter of time before the masses wake up to the fact that religious extremism is a mere superstructural stand-in for a more direct oppostion to the capitalist-imperialist system, their true downpressor.

    Thus the global proletariat will eventually unite in opposition to the dehumanizing system of oligarchichal imperalist capital that today crushes so many spirits.

    Resistance is taking many forms these days. These are times for those who desire true human liberty to be optimistic.
    • by Oligonicella (659917) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @07:23AM (#13086113)
      Did Marx predict the plethora of corruption and dictatorial suppression that is the very hallmark of communism? Or perhaps the almost complete and utter collapse of the various contries economys?
    • by drsquare (530038)
      What is happening is workers, reduced in today's "service economy" (subservience economy would be a better term) to little more that soulless drones, are rejecting the labor and property regimes imposed upon them by the ruling classes.

      What does that have to do with 'today'? You make it seem like in the history of mankind, workers have been anything more than soulless drones. Let's have a look back at history:

      Ancient Egypt: workers are mindless drones building Pyramids.
      Ancient Rome: workers are mindless d
    • It's my freshman year of college again, and someone who just watched the Matrix is trying to look like the most enlightened philosopher in the world to impress drunk girls. Oh, and roll in a healthy dose of Marxist rhetoric, some rather shady connections (remember people, slacking and terrorism are two sides of the same card) and you've got a recipe for an insightful Slashdot post.
    • are rejecting the labor and property regimes imposed upon them by the ruling classes

      Riiiight. Because we can all live the good life without lifting a finger, and everyone but the "ruling classes" hates the very idea of property. I assume you won't mind if I drop by and take your stereo, then?

      religious extremism is a mere superstructural stand-in for a more direct oppostion to the capitalist-imperialist system, their true downpressor.

      Religious extremism is like any other form of extremism; it isn't
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What ever happened to good ol' fashioned drawing eyes on your glasses so it looks like you're awake?
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chasuk (62477) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:04AM (#13085978)
    From what was described in the article, I don't understood how the "cheating" took any less effort than something novel like... doing the work.

    That's like friends I have who shorten "thanks" to "thnkx," because it saves them time. They're right! Wow, in 50 years, they might have saved enough time to watch an episode of South Park!

    • The difference is that cheating can be engaging and entertaining to your brain, whereas most white-collar jobs these days are mind-numbing and pointless. But hey, society pays better for sitting on your ass in white-collar-land than it does to get out and do some real work, so that's what those who can will do.
    • I shorten it to "thx". So I'll be able to watch the south park movie!
  • by FoxAche (875082) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:04AM (#13085980)
    I like surfing the web with Lynx under Cygwin with the colors set to grays. To the average person who walks past it looks like I'm working. They think I'm doing some work using the command line. As the IT area in my office is too full I'm sitting in accounts where they have no clue what you are doing, but had I opened a web page in a regular browser it would look bad.
  • Tricks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ratbert42 (452340) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:05AM (#13085981)
    I know plenty of guys that leave their desk set up so you'd have no idea they left for the day. A jacket on the back of their chair, a cup of coffee next to the keyboard, an open document, keys on the desk, etc.

    One I discovered is that you can take a full-sized screenshot and use Windows XP's built-in slideshow screensaver to display that as a locked screensaver. Hide your clock, take a shot of a Word document, and your locked, idle PC looks like you're in the middle of work.

    • Why not just disable the screensaver and leave a document open?
      • Liability. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vhold (175219) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @07:49AM (#13086168)
        If anybody was on to you, they could sit down at your desk and do some nefarious things under your network login and you'd be ultra hosed.

        Sure, you could pretty much no matter what with physical access to the machine, but not locking up at night would practically be inviting it.
        • Re:Liability. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NormalVisual (565491)
          This happens to people where I work regularly - most people there are pretty security conscious, and when someone brain-farts and walks off leaving their machine unlocked for more than just a few minutes, they're as likely as not to come back to an open IM window with some kind of inappropriate message to a same-sex co-worker having been entered some time before by some anonymous party. Pretty much everyone does it, so the recipient of the message will usually make some kind of remark about the IM they rec
  • No thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:05AM (#13085985) Homepage
    There's no way I'm working that hard to avoid working. I'll goof off the old fashion way, thank you very much.
  • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:11AM (#13085997) Journal
    Was out to go buy myself a few grammes of coke
  • White lies? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Heliode (856187)
    When I read the title, I thought it was about the kind of white lies you tell users who get stressed out with their computer, in order to not make it too technical for them. "The big yellow 'E' was the source of the naked women who scared little timmy. Now when you want to get to your internet, just click the red fox on the blue ball. That's your internet now. Also, the blue bird with the envelope will get your mail for you now." Or when you try to hold your laughter when a user walks up to you and proudl
  • Another ad on /. (Score:2, Informative)

    by LBt1st (709520)
    Seemed more like an ad for a book. I'll admit I only read half TFA because you need javascript enabled just to view the 2nd page. -Kevin
  • by DynaSoar (714234) * on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:43AM (#13086043) Journal
    You could spend a lot of time and effort avoiding working.

    But that's work. A true slacker wouldn't. Nor would a true slacker write a book about it, or read one.

    A REAL slacker wouldn't even bother to fini

  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @06:51AM (#13086059)

    Far better to avoid going to work in the first place. If I'm going to slack on company time, I'd rather do it at home, or at the beach, or pretty much anywhere but work, thank you very much. And low-tech solutions are usually the best - the ones where you know some 1337 sysadmin isn't going to be able to dig up evidence against you.

    My favourite low-tech solution, like so many good ideas, was invented in desperation. Beautiful sunny day, and I was supposed to go and cook hamburgers in a sweltering kitchen which was in an airport terminal - and the terminal was essentially a massive greenhouse. No way. There's really only one way to guarantee getting out of work when your work involves food, and that's to have food poisoning or diarrhoea. But everyone gets the shits when the sun comes out. No problemo.

    I prepared a squeezy bottle, filling it about two-thirds full of water, cleared the route to the toilet, and put the lid down. Then I went back into my room and called in sick.

    "Hello, is that Gav? ... Sorry, Gav, I'm not going to make it in... diarrhoea, I think it was the fish I had last night... Gav, I know every other bastard has called in sick already, but I'm - hold on!" With that, I ran, phone in one hand and squeezy bottle in the other, along the hallway, burst into the bathroom, flung the seat up with a clatter, sat down, pointed the squeezy bottle between my legs and down into the pan, squeezed it and groaned like hell. Squeezing and releasing the bottle would result in a wonderful mix between high-pressure-liquid sounds and farting sounds, which echoed around the pan and in turn the bathroom. Acoustically, it was perfect.

    Finally, gasping, I said, "Gav, you still there? ...Sorry man... yeah, you're right, I'd better have tomorrow off too."

    I had to buy some factor 50 sunblock so I didn't have an awkward tan to explain, but by God it was worth it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 17, 2005 @07:07AM (#13086090)
    Always pretend to be annoyed. People think you're really busy when you look annoyed.
  • by museumpeace (735109) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @07:17AM (#13086106) Journal
    I used to rename all the executables for my playthings to the application names for editing, compiling, archiving and so on. [Its good to have privs.] If they sniffed my processes, I look like I'm bustin my hump for 'em
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @07:46AM (#13086158) Homepage
    Tip: In the UK, forward your mobile to a friend, and get them to forward back to you. Anyone dialling either of you will get the "network error" message.
  • by RWerp (798951)
    He cited a recent case of nine-year-olds who scanned dollar bills into a computer, printed out the fakes and used them to buy snacks at their school's cafeteria.

    This only proves that cafeteria staff was composed of idiots. It doesn't take a genius to tell the difference between a genuine bank note and a computer printout.
    • Yeah, where I went to school the cafeteria staff was composed of good-natured PhD's who just enjoyed providing high quality food products for the youth of their community.
  • I'm a bad typist and always making errors but I love the way the reported called what I assume is a TEXT message a TEST message...

    "have the IM message forwarded as a test message (a separate mobile phone technology that works in similar ways to IM on computers), Saltzman suggests."
  • Funerals! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hotspotbloc (767418) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @09:12AM (#13086419) Homepage Journal
    I was once working for a pretty lousy company that only gave five sick days a year and after that you'd get "written up" (forget getting vacation time since it took months to approve). Unless you had a MD's note, three absents after that in the same calender year got you fired. Well, they did allow people to go funerals without a problem so I would look through the obituaries, pick out a funeral for the same day I wanted off, scan the obituary of the funeral notice, photoshop my family name in the relatives section and enjoy the day off. One summer I had so many relatives "die" the boss pushed through some vacation time (during crunch time) for me to properly "grieve". Said grieving took place on a beach on Cape Cod for a week.

    Talk about putting the "fun" in funeral.

    • by haralder (681551)
      This is not soo easy, a coworker had a problem when his third grandfather died.

      As a quote I like says, you have to be inteligent to be able to be lazy!

  • Gaston Lagaffe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 17, 2005 @10:21AM (#13086718) Journal
    Gimme the work. Finally, it's going to be less tiring doing it than trying to avoid doing it...
    Those who read french undoubtely know Gaston Lagaffe [google.ca] (Gaston The-Blunder), a comic character who works in the children's magazine it is published. Being lazy, he eithers find ways to avoid working by sleeping on the job, inventing goofy machines to do the work (often with catastrophic results) or simply help pass the time he is at work (either by playing or cooking).

    The comic strip ran for almost forty-five years and grew-up; at some point, you could see that several of the characters (the cop always trying to ticket him for illegal parking, his immediate bosses, the businessmen trying, for all that time, to sign some contracts) had quite serious neuroses, with Gaston always seeming to be the more sane character...

  • Stealth Switch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rabel (531545) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @10:30AM (#13086762)
    The simple slacker's solution: StealthSwitch [stealthswitch.com]. It's a foot switch that automatically hides the window you're viewing in Windows.

    Read the owner's about page to see what he's about. It's a pretty cool idea that jives with the theme of this topic. Of course, this assumes you're at the office and not boating at the lake, but it's a tool for "stressed computer users" *snicker*

    No, I'm not affliated in any way, just a happy customer.
    • Clever tool.

      Too bad the webmaster is a tool too.

      Seriously, sounds and flashy stuff on a web page designed to help you goof off? That's really not very noticable....
  • Hard work often pays off after time but lazyness always pays off now.
  • by Odiche (513692) on Sunday July 17, 2005 @12:31PM (#13087302) Journal
    I was working for a startup company, and had been shunted into the role of network administrator. Not something I was fully qualified for, or even wanted.
    But at one point in time we ran into cash flow problems, big surprise right.
    So after about a month of not getting paid I decided to take some time off until the paycheck arrived in order to do some side jobs. I did not tell anyone else, I basically just locked up my office, and did not show up for a little more than a month. (Hey I needed to get food on the table, and I was pissed as all hell by that point)

    I come back just to check on the server, which was still running ok, and I find out that everyone thought I was extremely busy and running errands or doing something around the office. (Since my office door was locked)

    So I get my back pay, pay for the full month, a raise, AND a bonus.

    For some reason I could not be bothered to correct their mistake....
  • Yeah, backdate your computer's clock. Then try to explain why the first Received header on your email, which is appended by the SMTP server through which you sent your message, is always x hours or days or whatever ahead.

    Also, what of the possibility that an email server will just replace your date header? If this isn't a server configuration option, it should be. I haven't seen a server that does this, but I've seen NNTP servers do it, and some that also add an additional NNTP-Posting-Date header.

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