IT strikes again

If you’ve read this blog from the beginning (circa 2005) then you know my disdain for government IT skills, or rather, lack of. Read this for a good example. At the time I wrote that article there were 3 people in our IT department. There are still 3 people in that department, but they are all different from that original skillful crew. I use that term loosely. Though the following story is intended for those in the know, it’s only funny if you understand why. So I’ll explain it a bit as I go along. First, you might be wondering what IT is. Information Technology. These guys are the ones paid to set up an agencies computers. Keep them in top running condition. Set up the employees’ email accounts. Etc. In sum, these guys are paid to know how email works, among other skills.

My favorite IT department gave me some new material last week. Anyone who works in IT, or has the least bit of knowledge how mail servers work, knows that you can’t have spaces in an email address. For example, the following would not be an email address that you would use:

my email

Sorry folks, no spaces in your literal email address. Now you can set up your mail client to display your name that is associated with your email address, but you simply can’t have spaces in your email address. You can see this at work when you reply to someone’s email sent to you. You click on the reply button, and if your client is set up to quote the original email, it will look a little something like this:

On Feb 5, 2008, at 9:00 AM, “My Email Address” <> wrote:
Just what does that mean? Well, “My Email Address” is the associated (or display) name with the email account of When you copy email information to someone to create an account, you give them the display name (can include spaces) and the actual email account (no spaces).

Can you guess what our IT guys did? Let’s say the display name is Houston HUD and the email address is supposed to be This guy was trying to set up the email account as Houston <insert big honkin’ space right here> Now, I’ll wince when I see things like this, and then try to give them a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes they’ll take the hint and try it. Other times, like this time, if it’s not written out for them on a piece of paper, they’ll just give up. I tried to explain to him that the email address can’t have a space in it. He said “No, that’s how they have it written here.” Then he showed me the paper. Whoever gave it to him, assumed that he would know what “Houston HUD” <> meant and know what to do with that information. But not our guys.

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