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By Matthew A Telles; Yuan Hsieh

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The operators never observed any ill effects on the patients due to these shutdowns, so they learned to ignore them. Something that might have serious consequences was ignored. The constant malfunctions also demonstrated the inherent instability and unsafeness of the machine. ♦ When a malfunction occurred, Therac-25 produced incomprehensible messages that provided the operational staff no clues as to the cause and effect of the system error. The system design did not provide adequate feedback to allow the operational staff to know exactly what was occurring.

I decided to find out exactly what kind of problems would cause the reporting server to restart itself. Basically, the reporting server maintained 20 threads, and each request to the reporting server occupied 1 thread. Normally, each thread was expected to finish processing within one or two seconds. The reporting server had a history of faultproneness and was not considered stable. So a “safety” logic was built into the server so that when all 20 threads were busy and the 21st request came in, the 21st request would wait up to 5 seconds for a thread to open up.

In other cases, the access to some specific form of information, such as pornography, is intentionally blocked and censored for any number of reasons. Either way, there are a number of tools whose job is to act as filters to remove potentially unwanted emails and block questionable Web sites. These tools can be a source of great annoyance. For example: Just heard a report on CBS network radio that net-savvy football fans around the country are being stymied in their efforts to learn about this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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