User calls helpdesk to complain that her computer started making a loud beeping noise soon after it was turned on. "I asked the user to turn the computer off, which she did," helpdesk says. "But she complained that the computer was still making the loud noise. She was so distressed that I decided to walk over to her building to assist her. But when I got to her office, she wasn't there. In fact, the entire building was deserted. The loud noise she heard was the fire alarm."


The big red button on the wall in this data centre is clearly labelled "emergency shutdown". But coming out of the top of the mounting box is an 8in piece of steel conduit with three unconnected wires sticking out. "One worker wondered why the button was still here if it wasn't connected," reports IT staffer on the scene. "He figured, 'It can't still work, can it? Let's see.' He shut down the entire state government network at 10am on payroll processing day with one push of the big red button."

Nortel's enterprise network ambitions suffered a setback last week as two top officials - both former Cisco executives - departed after just three months on the job.

President and COO Gary Daichendt, formerly executive vice president of worldwide operations at Cisco, resigned due to management differences with Nortel CEO Bill Owens. CTO Gary Kunis, who had been Cisco's chief science officer and worked alongside Daichendt at Cisco, followed his colleague out the door.

The hirings of Daichendt and Kunis were initially considered a coup but it hasn't ended too nicely.


Pop singer Britney Spears has edged out Bill Gates as the celebrity most commonly associated with malicious software distributed via e-mail, according to security firm Panda Software. Researchers combed through the seven years of virus-laden messages stored in Panda's malware database to determine which celebrities most often had their names involuntarily used in association with malicious spam. Rounding out the top five in Panda's "celebrity virus ranking", were Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Osama Bin Laden. The "Anna Kournikova" virus is a well known example; another is an e-mail that began circulating last week which claims that pop singer Michael Jackson had attempted suicide.

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