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Seeking Technical Advice

I have a bit of a problem to solve around here. My database guy at work, Paul, uses an internet/network connection that's provided by Fort Leavenworth's Directorate of Information Management(or DOIM). Despite the name of the organization I assure you that this is the US Army, not the KGB. Anyway, Paul's connection comes through DOIM, and DOIM has the most restrictive network policy I have ever seen. On top of the fact that they block the majority of websites out there, they also dictate how you can use your extremely locked down machine.

For example, they don't like it when he disconnects his laptop. I take mine home every night, but Paul usually leaves his docked. This is fine, as he doesn't do any work from home. I do most of my work from home, and well outside business hours. Different strokes, and that's fine. But sometimes Paul travels for work, and needs to take his laptop with him, and DOIM gets very upset when he does this.

The most annoying restriction however, and the reason I'm writing this up on my website (and through the magic of syndication: Google Reader and Facebook Notes) is his USB port, and the fact that he can only use it for input devices, like his mouse and keyboard. USB flash drives are strictly prohibited. The hamper this places on us is that if he needs to copy something to or from one of our network-isolated simulation machines, he has very little recourse.

I am able to take care of it for him, but that's only because I refuse to connect to DOIM's restrictive network, and get my machine locked down. Instead, I tether my cell phone, and use that for my internet access. It obviously isn't as fast as a hard-wired connection, but it gets the job done. I'm writing this blog post through my phone's internet connection right now.

As it is right now, Paul has to ask someone else to move files for him, between the internet and our simulation machines. This is not an acceptable situation, in my opinion. He is not able to complete his job with the tools he's been given. I have a couple of ideas, but I'd be happy to hear yours.

My first major idea is USBnet. Basically, I would like to set up a network connection over USB between Paul's machine and the closest machine on the simulation network. It isn't likely that DOIM is technically adept enough to detect or restrict this, and it's also possible that they wouldn't even have a problem with it, especially if I talk to them first. This way, he'd be able to move files in and out of a non-production staging area on the closest simulation machine, as simply as if they were sitting on his own laptop. This is the ideal solution.

Another idea is for Paul to write to rewritable CDs. This would certainly work, but it would be extremely clumsy, and would still require an inordinate number of CDs. One positive of this though would be that the folks in supply would maybe possibly see that tons of CDs were being used because of an illogical restriction. However, supply and DOIM are not particularly associated.

Basically what I'm looking for is a creative solution for what is an unworkable situation. Any ideas?

11:12 AM, Oct 4, 2009

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