Tag Archives | Outages

Flipboard for the iPhone: Cool…and Unavailable


[UPDATE: Flipboard is working for me; the company says that folks with existing accounts should be able to get in, but it’s temporarily stopped registering new users.]

When Flipboard debuted for the iPad last year, it got so much attention that the company’s servers buckled under the load and the app didn’t work. And now, it’s deja vu all over again: After arriving in an excellent iPhone version yesterday evening, Flipboard has gone down. I’m getting the above on a freshly-installed copy of the iPhone version; on the iPad, the app is behaving oddly, sometimes going to the wrong section when I swipe.

Outages of this sort are almost a rite of passage for impressive new services. They generally bounce back pretty quickly, which leaves me wondering: If it’s so easy to add adequate capacity after the fact, why does it seem so tough to have it in the first place?


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Virgin America’s Web Site Meltdown: Four Weeks and Counting

Virgin America LogoI can’t think of many companies, in any line of business, which I like as much as I like Virgin America. I’ve often said that if I could only fly to destinations served by this airline–with its mellow and helpful people, universal in-flight Wi-Fi, and many 0ther attractions–I would.

But in the past two and a half weeks, I’ve taken four Virgin America flights, and found its Web site completely crippled. Everything I want to do on an airline site, I can’t do.

  • Most of my flights haven’t shown up in my account;
  • Even with a confirmation number, I sometimes haven’t been able to check in online (or using the machines at the airport);
  • I tried to buy a ticket for another trip online, and got a message saying it didn’t go through–and then an e-mail confirmation saying I had bought a ticket;
  • When I tried to cancel that ticket on the Virgin Web site, it told me I had to click a button on the bottom of the page–and there was no button;
  • When I try–repeatedly–to make a change to yet another trip, all seems well until the very end–when I get bounced back to the home page without the change having been made;
  • The points I’ve been theoretically accruing for recent trips aren’t appearing in my account.

At the moment, the Virgin America site is so broken that its press section has an error message where the press releases should be.

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Siri is Sick

Tweets and blog posts are reporting that Siri–the iPhone 4s’s coolest feature–isn’t working, at least for some folks. (When I try it right now, she’s telling me she can’t connect to the network.)


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Verizon’s LTE Network Goes Down For The Count

Your “blazing fast” LTE connection with Verizon seem a whole lot less speedy? There was a reason for it — for an as yet undisclosed reason there was some type of failure that affected connections nationwide. The issues were first reported by Engadget’s Vlad Savov early this morning, and were later confirmed by the company in its official Twitter account.

Specifically, users of the company’s recently released Thunderbolt 4G device seemed to have the most issues. Data connectivity wasn’t completely out: instead the phones were connecting at slower 3G speeds, and voice calls were not affected. The issues mark the first time there has been any serious disruptions with Verizon Wireless’ high-speed network.

The issue appears pretty widespread, and there are a significant amount of tweets complaining about issues, as well as posts from customers nationwide to Verizon’s support forums.

Ina Fried over at All Things Digital mentions the ironic timing of the outage: it came just two days after Verizon vice president Nicola Palmer boasted how smoothly the rollout has gone so far. Oops.


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Skype Outage Explained

Skype’s CIO has blogged a detailed explanation of why the service was down for 24 hours last week. Like the even longer Skype outage of 2007, this one was an interesting reminder that a service that relies on peer-to-peer technologies rather than centralized servers can still be crippled if large quantities of those peers run into trouble all at once.


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Telephone, Internet Outage in Silicon Valley

Wire services are reporting that a massive telephone and Internet outage is affecting Northern California, including portions of Silcon Valley. Telephone and Internet is out for Verizon customers in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, NBC News reports. This does appear to be a case of deliberate vandalism: as many as five AT&T fiber-optic cables have been severed, and a Sprint cable was severed hours later.

The incident occurred around 1:30 am PT (4:30am ET) this morning. Verizon is sending technicians to the scene to assist AT&T in repairing the damage, although at this time it is not known how long the repairs will take. In the meantime, AT&T has begun to take steps in order to reroute traffic.

ZDNet were affected by the outage, with slow page loading times and time outs. 911 and other emergency services in the region have also reported some connectivity issues.

Who’s the vandal? AT&T is currently involved in tense negotations with the CWA over contracts for landline workers. The CWA has issued a statement, denying that its members have any involvement, and condemned “vandalism.” More on this as we get it…


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Ma.gnolia: To.ast?

As Wired’s Epicenter blog is reporting, users of the venerable social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia are getting an ominous message from founder Larry Halff when they head to the site today:

Magnolia

Service disruptions aren’t shockers (even when they involve companies far larger than Ma.gnolia). Permanent data loss, however, is not so common–but it’s what Halff seems to be preparing users for the possibility of. There are no details yet as to what happened, or why Ma.gnolia can’t just restore a backup to give users their bookmarks back; I’m not even sure if Ma.gnolia knows. But for the sake of the service and its users, I hope that it recovers and that all data is recovered.

I’m not a Ma.gnolia user, but I have an awful lot of important stuff salted around the Web at services large and small: Google Docs, Zoho, Remember the Milk, Apple’s MobileMe, my various finance-related accounts, and a whole lot more. If any of it went offline for hours at a time when I needed it, it would be inconvenient; if it just disappeared, it could be a major pain. (But not a total catastrophe: I have digital or paper backups of any information that’s essential and irreplaceable. I think.)

Here’s a grim prediction: At some point, some big-name Web service with a lot more users than Ma.gnolia will crash just as spectacularly as it did today, and it’ll turn out that its backup practices were a lot less conscientious (or at least foolproof) than everybody assumed. I hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t bet against my instinct in this case…


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