You might remember my post about how programming makes you a better person. It also -- I admit -- makes us more gullible. The compiler never lies, and our software always behaves exactly as programmed, so we spend most of our waking hours in an environment permeated by truth. It's only natural that the trusting habit of mind that serves us so well at work would carry over to our downtime.
A quality-assurance engineer once put it to me this way: "QA people tend to be skeptics, but programmers tend to be believers."
That's true, and one of the things I happen to believe in is UFOs. When I read countless stories of UFOs that corroborate each other, and when trained, trustworthy people report that they have seen the craft, I tend to believe there's something to the phenomenon.
That's the background. Now I'll tell you what happened at work last week.
All the computers at the office recently received an upgrade of our VPN software, FortiClient. As part of the upgrade, parental controls were installed. One night, I took my laptop home and was wasting time with it as usual, this time by attempting to visit AnonymousUfo.com to check out the latest UFO videos.
FortiClient blocked the site because it was related to "Alternative Beliefs!" Of all the nerve! UFOs are not merely an alternative belief. They are as real as gravity. I take that back: the rumor is that they use an anti-gravity propulsion system, but I digress. FortiClient was telling me that something I knew to be true was only an alternative belief.
But it got worse. The fact that I had attempted to visit the site was logged as a "violation."
In addition to being gullible, we programmers have a strong sense of right and wrong. So, when I was accused of having committed a "violation" I was just insulted enough to click on the link that would appeal AnonymousUfo.com's status. I wrote to the good people behind FortiClient:
Not everyone believes UFOs are real, but c'mon -- they're not offensive, are they?
Yesterday, I got my response:
The website(s) you submitted ... has been reviewed and updated.
Updated Category: Folklore
Folklore!! That's even worse than Alternative Beliefs. I mean, nobody believes in folklore!
On the other hand, FortiClient by default does not consider visits to Folklore sites to be a "violations." So, I guess I'll be happy with the outcome. Thanks to my mixed triumph, people all over the world now have freer access to information that has important implications for our planet.