Computer Audit Update September 1994
Small insect holds back rocket
Japan's first heavy-lifting rocket, capable of carrying a 2 tonne satellite into orbit, was grounded possibly by a dead insect reports New Scientist. The H-2 rocket failed six seconds before take off when the two solid fuel booster rockets did not ignite, after the main LE-7 engine had fired up to full thrust. The National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan found the cause of the problem to be a faulty circuit board in the ground control computer. The circuit board should have relayed a signal to ignite the boosters after the computer registered the main engine firing. Shingo Nakamura, a spokesman for NASDA said "We suspect the problem may have been some dust or a small insect inside the circuit board",but added "We're still investigating". NASDA hopes that replacement of the rouge circuit board will correct the problem and restore their tarnished image. Surprisingly, NASDA have no plans to change their pretake-off checking procedures to avoid similar occurrences in the future.
Oil rig's software gets the all clear
Shell Expro's Nelson oil rig platform has finally had its safety-critical software approved reports Computer Weekly. The North Sea rig, one of the largest in the region producing around 16 000 barrels of oil per day, is one of the first to rely on software rather than solid-state controls for its fire, gas and process shutdown systems. Although the platform came on stream in February, the tailor-made software, which uses the most up-to-date programmable logic controllers for its shutdown systems, has only recently been approved. The software has been tested over the last three years and was found to contain many "discrepancies, ambiguities and omissions". The independent Centre for Software Engineering (CSE) pin-pointed more than 400 potential problems with the software, the majority of which have been eliminated. CSE project
manager, Robert Harrison commented that the main aim was that "as far as possible, there could be no repeat of the Piper-Alpha disaster." Harrison added,"it's not possible to guarantee that any system is totally error free" but suggested that the prolonged tests should reduce the likelihood of any problems occurring to a reasonable level.
LANs doomed by Doom
Doom, the multiplayer shoot 'era up games software, can seriously affect the performance of local area networks reports Computer Weekly. A bug has been identified in the software of the early 1.1 versions of Doom which can overload a network with data traffic when several players are networked into the software. In some cases a network can completely shutdown. The problems arise due to the gluttonous requirements of the 1.1 version which sends out a huge 240 K bytes per second (Kbps) in data packets looking for players to join in the game. The average network handles broadcasts of around 56 Kbps and, consequently, is unable to deal with the large quantities of data sent out by Doom. The bugs in the 1.1 versions of Doom have been fixed in later issues of the game but there are still many faulty copies in use. Fprint, the UK PC audit specialists, discovered that around 25% of all computers have Doom installed using up nearly 10 Mbytes of disc space on each system, and commented that "Doom is eating away at valuable resources". Even though later copies of the game have been corrected, the Doom problem is set to continue when the games designer, ID software, releases Doom Ih Hell on Earth.
More problems for NASDAQ Incorrect prices for at least 30 New York
Stock Exchange stocks were reported recently due to a stock trader's error on the NASDAQ computer system, reports the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY. The mistake involved a trader's misuse of NASDAQ's automated confirmation transaction system, which is a price
22 1994 Elsevier Science Ltd