The other day I saw a link online during my “lunch break” (i.e., the time between 12 and 12:30 when LeechBlock allows me to view my usual websites) about the difficulties Peter Jackson and others faced while working on the recent Hobbit movies. The danger, of course, inherent in reading something icon the internet is that it might cause you to read something else on the internet. In this case, I wondered if any fans have edited the three Hobbits into a shorter, more cohesive movie. It turns out that somebody has. Called “The Tolkien Edit,” this version trims many of the parts that were not in the books, resulting in a single four-ish hour movie. The website links to a torrent for the edited version, which is surely illegal but has gotten quite a bit of media attention. “I would be interested in watching that,” I foolishly thought, “But I don’t have anything that allows me to download torrents on this computer.” “Hey,” I continued even more foolishly, “The website has a link to a torrent client. I should click that.”
NOTICE: YOUR ACCESS TO THE INTERNET HAS BEEN SUSPENDED DUE TO ILLEGAL FILE SHARING. PLEASE REMOVE ALL FILE SHARING PROGRAMS AND CONTACT IT SERVICES IN ORDER TO RESTORE SERVICE.
My first thought upon receiving this notice was, “Shit!” My second was that I didn’t even download the software. My third was that explaining all of this to IT over the phone was going to be embarrassing. My fourth was that I had to go e the bathroom and that I should do so before making a phone call to deal with all of this since I had a lot of work to do that afternoon that would require access to the internet. Thankfully, somebody in IT must have noticed that the idiot in this case was a faculty member and restored my network access in the few minutes it took me to walk down the hall to the bathroom and back.
There are two morals to this story. The first is that considering downloading potentially-illegal files from work is stupid. The second is that if they wanted to, the people in IT could probably access a log of every stupid website I’ve ever visited while on the campus network, which makes me consider visiting fewer stupid websites. I can just see the letter reporting the outcome of my tenure application: “Although John has been marginally productive, the committee has regretfully decided not to grant tenure in his case. If even a fraction of the time he devoted to Buzzfeed quizzes had been spent on scholarship, it is likely that this outcome would have been different.”
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