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Great reward for stolen laptop

A New Zealand brewer is offering a lifetime supply of free beer in exchange for the return of a laptop stolen in a break-in.

Croucher Brewing Co. co-owner Paul Croucher said his computer contains “all our financials” as well as label designs for new beers and business contacts.

He said he’d repay the thief with “a dozen (bottles) of beer a month for the rest of their life” if the laptop is returned.

Croucher estimated the total value would likely be about $19,500 for a lifetime of beer. Since making the offer, “plenty of people” called to say they were looking for the computer, he said.

“Opportunistic kids and a flimsy padlock” were the reasons the laptop was taken, Croucher told reporters.

Tracking the fires online

Tech-savvy news media quickly used the Web to help cover the roaring, wind-whipped fires in Southern California.

Google created a special map that gives viewers a detailed layout of the fires at

Radio station KPBS in San Diego created an ongoing Twitter channel covering the fire, at

The station, a Public Radio affiliate, also created a full-time audiostream covering the impact of the massive fires, at kpbs-fm.asx.

Get ready for the Storm

Tech journalists last week learned the Storm worm is fighting back against security researchers that seek to destroy it. Launched earlier this year, the worm arrives in e-mail attachments. When users opened the attachment, the worm installed itself on Windows computers. Among other harmful effects, it’s been known to shut down anti-virus programs.

It’s notorious for an ongoing ability to mutate. Security experts learned the worm can figure out which users are trying to probe its command-and-control servers, and it retaliates by launching denial-of-service attacks against them, shutting down their Internet access for days, says Josh Korman, host-protection architect for IBM/ISS, who led a session on network threats.

“As you try to investigate (Storm) knows, and it punishes,” he says. “It fights back.”

The name comes from the original e-mails it was attached to. Most came with a subject line about “storms in Europe.”