Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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July 2001, Week 3 -- The Numbers Report



   Historically, an increase in capital investment increases worker productivity. Much, and perhaps most, recent capital investment has been in computers and the Internet.

   How has this worked out? Well, industrial production in the U.S. is down 2.8 percent from a year ago; individual worker productivity is down 1.4 percent in the first quarter of this year. Could be just a lull. Maybe there's no connection. But on the other hand, here are some interesting -- one might even say fascinating -- statistics compiled from a number of unrelated sources by Websense Inc.

  • Over half of all Internet use by employees of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service was for personal reasons. This information comes from a secret usage monitoring performed by the U.S. Treasury Dept. It's unlikely that IRS workers are more prone to fiddle away half their working day than workers in any other branch of government, so we can fairly safely assume similar numbers for all government workers. Ever wonder why you can't get through to them on the phone? Now you know why.


  • "Sex" is the most common search term entered in large Internet portals like Yahoo, Lycos and Microsoft. It is entered more often than the next eight search terms combined. Second most common search term is "MP3" (the digital format for transferring popular music tracks), third is "hotmail." Source:


  • 70 percent of all visits to pornography sites occur during normal business hours in each time zone. There's a lull in such traffic during the lunch hour, but it picks up smartly again when workers get back to the office. Higher paid employees spend twice as much time visiting pornography sites as their lower paid colleagues. Data comes from "SexTracker," cited at

  • One-fourth of all employees take precautions against having their Internet use detected. Survey done by In previous columns we have noted a couple of programs that erase Internet usage records. They are not hard to find and many examples are in the download files of large libraries like and

  • Nearly half of all office employees send more personal e-mail from work than from home. Source: Jupiter Communications, now merged into Jupiter Media Metrix.


  • 20 percent of office computers have "Napster," the software used to download popular music. Source:


  • One-third of all employees browse the Internet with no particular objective at all. Source:


  • Highly paid employees are more likely than lower paid workers to surf the web looking for a new job. Source:


  • Over 90 percent of employees acknowledged that they surf the web for personal purposes while at work; 40 percent of those said they surf constantly. Source:


  • And finally ... the estimated cost to businesses from employees surfing Internet broadcasts of the 1998 Starr Report, detailing offenses by then President Bill Clinton, was in excess of $450 million. This is more than the gross national product of some countries. Source: ZDnet.


   So much for productivity increases. I don't want anyone led astray by the notion that we have a magic solution to this problem; we don't. Nor is the compiler of these survey results, WebSense, a disinterested party. Their primary business is selling filtering software to businesses to block inappropriate use of the Internet.


   Their filtering software is designed for Windows 2000, Solaris or Linux operating systems. A free 30-day trial is available as a download from their web site A note: we have looked at filtering systems before and continue to be bombarded with promotion about new ones, particularly for the protection of children. None have worked to my satisfaction. There are several things wrong with filtering software but the primary one is that the filter cuts the good with the bad. Blocking e-mail from senders using numbers in their address, for example, will cut out many junk mail and pornography peddlers. Unfortunately it will also cut out correspondence from friends and colleagues who may have chosen to use a number in their address.


   Blocking a site that contains "sex" or "pornography" in its content will also block encyclopedias and dictionaries, as well as maps of England containing the counties of Essex and Sussex. Will blocking gambling sites also block statistical reports that use or mention "Monte Carlo" analysis? You can see that filtering is not a simple problem. Many objectionable sites use unexpected search terms. For example, if you are researching the President of the United States and type in "White," you are taken to a pornography site.


Gone in a military minute

   "No*Trace" is a $50 Windows utility that lets you completely wipe out a file with the stroke of a key. This is not the kind of wipe where you delete a file and it goes to the Windows recycle bin, where it can be recovered later by anyone. This wipe is permanent, with the deletion overwritten several times by a random character generator.

   No*Trace is from Communications Technologies, phone: 888-266-8358, web: The program was originally developed for the military and is still approved for high security file deletions by the Department of Defense. Individual files can be assigned hot keys for quick destruction.


NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or