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Old 01-26-2011, 10:46 AM   #1
RP Kris
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Playing MU* from Work

It is guilty confession time. Over the many years I've played MUDs there are times in which I have played from work. Honestly, one of the things that has kept me playing MUDs is the fact that I can do so from just about anywhere as long as I had an internet connection. I didn't have to have special software or consoles.

With my leet skills , I would like to think that I was still able to do my job well and do so. Depending on my position and how much time I was spending on a MUD that is likely very debatable. I recognize that. I understand that many of you think it is just wrong to do so. It also isn't really "right" to web surf, log on to Facebook, post on forums, send personal e-mails or do many of the other personal things people do at work. But twenty wrongs don't make a right do they?


I would never encourage others to MUD from work. The fact is though that some of us do. In some cases it is one of the only things that have kept me engaged or sane in the drudgery of particular jobs. Perhaps you are there too.

There are a couple of things that I have done in the past to make playing more "secret".

- A mud client will fit very handily on a thumb drive. No software required on the machine.

- I change my color settings for the client extensively. All black text on a white background.

- AL Client - I prefer other clients at home, but AL Client has a boss key that minimizes the program. The icon changes to a piece of paper and you can set what text is displayed after.

These solutions don't really change the fact that all the information is being transmitted across a work network that can be policed by administrators. I have always wondered....

How does MUD traffic LOOK to those administering a server?

Is it better to use a imbeded Java mud client like found at TMC or connect to a port with a MUD client?

What do other people do (or would you do if you played from work)?

I've thought of some solutions that would get me off of the work grid, but I haven't thought of anything that wouldn't be visibly odd to coworkers or wandering computer techs.
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Old 01-26-2011, 11:45 AM   #2
plamzi
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Re: Playing MU* from Work

Far be it from me to condone such behavior, but, here goes:

* A Java client would still need to send packets that will be visible to any local network administrator who bothers/happens to review the right logs. The same applies to in-browser Flash clients: they are actually run by your local workstation, just like a regular app.

* I'm pretty sure telnet traffic looks similar to IM/IRC chat, i. e. is pretty transparent. That said, I'm also pretty sure that most network admins nowadays who are looking for people out of line would be looking at traffic on browser-related ports (80, 8080) rather than telnet. But no guarantees.

* The best/easiest way to cover your tracks a bit is to VNC/RDP into a computer at home. That way, your inbound traffic at least will be safe (it would all be picture data). There's not much you can do about your outbound traffic though. Even if you enable encryption, a determined admin would still be able to see that you've typed 'kill ogre' (e. g. if they decide to log keystrokes) and would probably not confuse that with typing a legit memo unless you work in a toy-testing lab.

* Like with key-loggers, there's no real protection against random pop-ins by peers and superiors.

* The bottom line is that the longer you do that, the more likely it is that you'd be caught. In the long run, the chance of getting caught is 100%. The real question is would you be able to get away with it when you do? If the answer is no, then you know what (not) to do.
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Old 01-26-2011, 12:14 PM   #3
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Re: Playing MU* from Work

Quote:
Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Far be it from me to condone such behavior, but, here goes:

* The best/easiest way to cover your tracks a bit is to VNC/RDP into a computer at home. That way, your inbound traffic at least will be safe (it would all be picture data). There's not much you can do about your outbound traffic though. Even if you enable encryption, a determined admin would still be able to see that you've typed 'kill ogre' (e. g. if they decide to log keystrokes) and would probably not confuse that with typing a legit memo unless you work in a toy-testing lab.
Thanks for the info, plamzi!

One thing I've always wondered is how does a VNC/RDP look on the network? Do you have to install software on the work machine?

I work at a College/University and I've never heard about anyone getting cracked down on for computer usage at all. I don't even think they are checking that closely to be honest. They do have the ability to remote into a computer though, but they are very careful about always very specifically asking if they can before they do. That doesn't mean they don't have some sort of stealth mode, I just don't think by policy they are using it.

I know that most staff are doing personal things on their comps and over the network. There are also students using machines in labs for personal and school work.

I just wouldn't want to be the sore thumb that really sticks out with my usage since my assumption is that connecting to a MUD could stand out among all the other personal traffic.
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Old 01-26-2011, 01:36 PM   #4
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Re: Playing MU* from Work

A VNC client is very small (under 1MB) and can be easily run from a thumb drive. The RDP client is already present on all Windows machines but access to it may be disallowed by local workstation policies. Neither client needs to be installed--they have standalone executable versions free for download.

Both clients will ask you to specify a port, and that port needs to be open in the firewall, and needs to correspond to the port you'll configure on the host machine at home. The default ports for both VNC and RDP may already be open (since they're a high number and uncommon).

On the host machine, the RDP service can be enabled (it's called "Allow remote assistance" in VISTA/WIN7 Control Panel->System->Remote settings). RealVNC has a free basic server which would need to be installed if you want to use VNC instead.

For your purposes, I recommend VNC over RDP. It seems lighter in most use cases.
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Old 01-26-2011, 02:57 PM   #5
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Re: Playing MU* from Work

If your client and mud support it, you could use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). However if you're continually transmitting encrypted data, your IT department may assume the worst and want to have a chat.
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