Steven's multi-billion dollar tech firm spared no expense in providing him two computers. One was stuffed in a broom closet down the hall; he used it for email, Internet access, and other administrative items. At his cubicle sat the computer on which he did all his programming, connected to the company's separated development environment (SDE).

The SDE was a company-wide network that existed in parallel to the normal network. No Internet connectivity, and login was only possible with an RSA SecurID dongle. The stated purpose was to provide a secure environment for software development. The other devs on Steven's team had their own SDE boxes for the same purpose.

Bank of the West Los Altos branch vault

One day, the Java install on Steven's SDE machine took a core dump and rolled around in it. Unfortunately, he couldn't troubleshoot the machine himself. Only SDE administrators could install or alter configurations on those boxes.

Steven logged a ticket. Within an hour, he was watching an SDE admin reinstall Java for him. Once the admin had unchecked all the predatory toolbar options and got the install going, he frowned at some files sitting in Steven's current working folder.

"Are these .exe files?" he asked.

Steven mirrored the frown with confusion. "Those are my team's development tools and deliverables."

"Is this approved software? Did we install these for you?"

"No. We wrote the code for those and built them."

"You can't install files on this machine!" the admin exclaimed.

"I didn't install them," Steven returned. "I compiled our first-party source code, developed entirely within the SDE, and created those .exe files. That's my job!"

"So you did install them!" the admin cried with gotcha flair.

Steven gaped. "That's not what the word 'install' means!"

Java had finished (actually) installing. The SDE admin left with a righteous gleam in his eye, which Steven shook off. Surely this wasn't going anywhere. If the admin tried to report anything, someone would fetch a dictionary, and everything would be fine.

Well, no. A few days later, Steven's entire team received an email stating they were in violation of Cyber Security policy for installing "malicious, unapproved" software on their SDE machines. The message ended with a sinister promise: Disciplinary actions are forthcoming.

Their immediate boss was powerless to defuse it. The case automatically escalated to Human Resources. The whole developer team was forced into numerous interviews with the sort of drones who couldn't hack Accounting or Finance in business school.

"All we did was develop software in the environment we were provided to develop our software in!" they explained for the umpteenth time.

Unblinking incomprehension. "Why did you install this software on your machines?"

"We didn't install anything! We compiled source code- the source code this company pays us to develop!"

"Well, is it malicious?"

"Of course it's not malicious! Some of this stuff is customer deliverables! We also have myriad scripts and some Java code. We've been doing this in the SDE per company policy for well over a year!"

"What's a Java?"

At the end of these interrogations, Steven's team was ordered to keep working, but immediately cease generating any "prohibited files." If they dared create one more project deliverables, they faced termination.

How are we supposed to meet our deadlines? Steven clicked Send on the email copied to numerous managers.

He and his team sat on their thumbs for a day. Finally, someone shed light on the real problem: the SDE team's definition of the word "install" was so ambiguous, it covered everything from putting down an SDK to setting an adorable kitten picture as one's desktop background.

The head of Cyber Security issued a development exception for Steven's team. They were allowed to develop software on the SDE, as long as all .exe's, .lib's, and other generated files were manually tracked within a shared drive Excel spreadsheet that locked up whenever someone forgot to close it. In the meantime, the SDE admins were to set up a special "development system" for Steven's team, where they'd officially be allowed to develop code. A high-level issue was raised against Cyber Security and the SDE admins to properly define the term "install" and adjust their policies accordingly.

Steven's team was assured they'd get their special dev system well before their development exception expired. Their skepticism toward this promise was entirely merited.