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And one thing I remember very specifically from my training: You *NEVER* just let a building burn. For any reason. If it's too far gone to save, you still fight it to keep it from spreading. You lose water pressure, you form a bucket brigade. You lose your buckets, you piss on the fire. But you never, ever, under any circumstances just sit idly by and watch a building burn to the ground.
That fire department may have been enforcing a code approved by the voters in their area. But there is sometimes a difference between what is legal and what is right. Those firefighters don't deserve the title they have, and should have their certification revoked.
My dissatisfaction with Microsoft didn't begin until my first XP installation, and the third party firewall I always installed (Kerio), which clued me into the evilness of Microsoft's empire. Basically, I ran a file search on my local hard drive. I forget now what I was looking for, but Kerio popped up an alert for outgoing traffic the second I clicked the search button. Seems that Explorer.exe wanted to contact Microsoft servers every time I performed a search, even though the search was limited to the local drive. I permanently blocked that action, but it left a really bad taste in my mouth. MS has no need nor right to be contacted when I am looking for personal files stored on the local drive.
When the abortion that was Windows Vista came out, I switched to Ubuntu, and haven't looked back since. I keep a copy of Windows XP on a small virtual machine with no outside access for the occasional task that requires a Windows OS. Other than that, I have been free of the Microsoft teat for almost four years now. That's not to say that Linux and FOSS don't have their own problems and frustrations, but I'd rather search for a solution on the Ubuntu forums than the Microsoft Knowledge Base any day of the week.
Over the past four years, I have switched all of our corporate servers over to Linux, and am slowly switching workstations over to Linux or Mac, utilizing Windows on locked down VMs wherever it's necessary.
I wish I would have had the foresight to make the switch sooner; I would be just that more experienced with it.
As to your IT staff, their network, their rules. As a network admin I am under no obligation whatsoever to allow my users to access the corporate network with their personal systems.
That being said, based on what you've described, I'd agree with your assessment of them being over-reactive and borderline incompetent. There are easier methods of keeping a network secure.
A: Sell new 2010 automobile
B: Release new 2011 version of same automobile (with LED widgets!)
C: Inform everyone who purchased the 2010 model that parts for their model will no longer be available after 2012.
D: Inform car dealers that they will not be allowed to sell used 2010 models.
E: Inform gas stations that they must use new nozzles at their pumps that only fit the 2011 models.
F: Sit back an wonder why people take cheap shots at your company and begin purchasing motorcycles.
G: File lawsuits against the motorcycle companies for restraint of trade and IP infringement.
I don't rag on Microsoft because they make a substandard product. I rag on Microsoft because they *force* their new products on their customers, and then treat those customers like thieves until proven otherwise. If I don't want to upgrade from Ubuntu 6, I can still download it and use it if I so choose, and I won't be accused of software piracy if I blow a system board and swap the drive into a new system.
If they think any of the above is unreasonable, they should have spoken up when hired and said, "I'm sorry, but my work is worth twice what you're offering."
Nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head, forcing them to work here against their will. All of this was consented to. Unless your workload has doubled without an equivalent pay increase, then your claims of "They pay me half what I am worth" mean nothing to me.