June 23, 2008

Is Your Web Getting Filtered? What's Blocked or Unlocked?

Entering our third full day here at Lucille Packard Childrens' Hospital with our twins, I have to say I'm impressed with the easy access to high-speed wireless Web. For me, wireless high-speed access is a must, and I don't have much to complain about. Interestingly, the hospital's system, by default, has instituted filters, in theory to protect them legally, and maybe to conserve on bandwidth. This doesn't bother me too much, but as I surf, seemingly with one hand tied behind my back, I find that the sites they've opted to block, and those they've allowed to go through at times have me scratching my head.

I noticed I couldn't log into my Mac Mail via the desktop application right away, but Webmail was fine. I later noticed some sites were blocked when I tried to visit Athletics Nation and follow yesterday's A's game. Safari reported being unable to visit the site. I checked other Sports Blogs Nation sites. Those too, were all down.

A Sample of Approved Sites and Those Blocked

Then, after many on FriendFeed had demanded some early photos of Sarah and Matthew, I tried to take the pictures I had from the last two days and post them to Flickr, feeding the beast. But they were blocked. Then, I tried to log on to my FTP site and upload them to louisgray.com directly. No dice, again.

Sorry, can't upload via FTP!

Luckily, I did find a work-around. By sending the photos via the great Mail2FF program, as attachments, the photos themselves were saved on Amazon's Web Service and archived there. (It's the same way I "cheated" and got FriendFeed to host the graphics in this post for me)

After last night's post on my 10 beliefs in blogging and the Web, I saw someone had posted the story to Hacker News. But I couldn't see who, again, thanks to it being blocked.

IM Blocked: iChat and Google Talk don't get through.

The blocking seems well intended, but random. It makes sense that I shouldn't have access to Fleshbot or AdultFriendFinder (mind you, I just checked them to see if they were filtered), but it makes less sense to have sites like Sports Blogs Nation blocked, when ESPN.com is approved, or to have Hacker News blocked if Techmeme is given a pass.

I'm lucky that I usually don't encounter Web filters. I have free-flowing access at home and at work, and this weekend's experience has been outside the norm. If you are filtered, whether it be at work, at school, or at the library, what sites have you found blocked that you think are wrongly stopped? I'm curious to see if this setup is too aggressive, or in line with your own experience.