The good old days. Back when a mainframe disk drive unit was a huge box sitting on the floor, IT's data centre installs one, and everything seems to be working properly. But every now and then, operators hear a beep from the area of the drive unit. "No one could figure out what it was," says IT. Computer room staffers check the manuals, look for error indicators and even call in the vendor's customer engineer, who takes the disk drive unit apart but can't find the problem. Finally, someone manages to track down the cause. "It was a smoke detector above the disk drive," IT sighs. "It was beeping to notify the owner to change the battery."


Law enforcement officials in the UK and Russia have cracked down on a major extortion ring accused of prying hundreds of thousands of dollars from online sports betting Web sites. In recent months extortionists have also targetted betting sites in Australia. The men arrested in St Petersburg are believed to be part of a ring that uses legions of compromised "zombie" computers to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks against online sports betting parlors ("sports books") that refuse to pay protection money, said Felicity Bull, a spokeswoman for the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. In DoS attacks, Web servers are flooded with junk data and network traffic from thousands of machines, preventing them from responding to legitimate requests. Demands range from $US10,000 to $40,000.


A former Google employee, Brian Reid, 52, of California, is suing the search engine company alleging wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and disability. He joined Google in June 2002 as a director of operations. He was diagnosed with diabetes shortly after and claims he was subjected to discriminatory treatment, including complaints from executives that he was "lethargic" and "lacked energy", up until his employment was terminated early this year, according to his complaint. Reid, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's California campus before joining Google, is seeking an undisclosed sum in damages.

The Defence Department is still struggling with payroll problems, logistics and management systems and faces a possible payout of $732 million in unfunded military annual and long-service leave.

Uncertainty about leave balances, acknowledged in the department's annual report, is understood to be only a small part of a broader failure of Defence systems for paying soldiers, managing vital military stores and controlling the department's $16 billion annual budget. Details of the problems were disclosed in an Australian National Audit Office report.

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More about Australian National Audit OfficeCarnegie Mellon University AustraliaDefence DepartmentGoogleMellonNational Audit Office

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