The Cloud is falling, the Cloud is falling! Amazon, Walmart, Salesforce and others down on December 23rd

A Major pre-christmas internet outage seems to be hitting the heavy hitters on the web right now. Amazon.com, Salesforce.com, and Walmart.com are all offline right now, perhaps even more. Interestingly enough sites running on amazon web services (AWS EC2) seem to be running just fine. An outage of these large sites at the same time is likely a result of an attack of massive proportions.

UPDATE: It appears the outage was actually isolated primarily to the west coast of the US, and was actually an outage of ultradns.com which provided dns for all of the above sites and many others, including netflix and newegg.

EC2 and S3 never actually went down, but S3 urls that actually used s3.amazonaws.com were not functioning, so while many sites with S3 images stopped loading, twitter, which also uses S3 for image hosting did not have a broken image because they had their own dns pointing to S3’s ips. I also didn’t notice the EC2 servers being down, but that was because I access EC2 servers with other dns names, not amazonaws.com, had I tried to access them using amazonaws.com urls, I surely would have had difficulty.

Amazon Kindle Reader for the iPhone

I wish I was posting this as a follow up to an announcement, but actually it’s a suggestion to Amazon on how they can make more money, sell more Kindle books, and make more people happy.

Amazon KindleFor those of you who don’t already know, the Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader that uses E-Ink technology to display content on a screen. What’s cook about e-ink is that once it has rendered the screen’s contents, it takes no power to keep the content on the screen. The result is that battery life of the kindle is measured in “page turns” instead of hours. The Kindle is also cool because it has WhisperNet, provided by Sprint, which lets you have books you purchase from Amazon’s kindle store be sent straight to the Kindle, without the need to plug the kindle into your computer. The Kindle also gets a special email address where you can email documents to this address and have them appear on your Kindle for a nominal fee for reading. All in all, it’s a fantastic product, it only has one little problem, the price. The Kindle is $349 (previously $399), available only from Amazon, which is still a bit steep for an up-front cost before you start buying books from the Kindle store to put on it.

Amazon, I know you want to sell Kindles, but your bread and butter will always be the books themselves. My suggestion is that you write an iPhone app that can read the Kindle book format and will validate like a Kindle to your own DRM. You could sell this app in Apple’s app store to make even more money, I’m thinking something along the lines of $20 to $40. This way people with an iPod Touch or iPhone (which is quite a lot of people, including yours truely) can start buying Kindle books without a Kindle, and get the enjoyment of having instant access to literature the way only the elite Kindle owners do. The iPhone already has access to the internet, so it could support all of the functionality of Whispernet without any difficulty from you the developer. The iPod Touch has WiFi, so even it can download books directly when it’s on a hotspot.

Amazon can even take this one step further. Amazon already partners with Apple’s iTunes Music Store as a place to purchase content from it’s own Audible.com, once someone has purchased your iPhone app, partner with iTunes again and have people able to shop for books right through the iTunes music store, making it even easier for iPhone owners to purchase your Kindle books.

What I think Amazon may find surprising if they did this, is that it probably would bolster sails of the Kindle devices itself, not only the Kindle books.

See I’m a bit leery of buying a Kindle, and buying Kindle books, knowing that those books are locked to the Kindle. If I could start buying those books now, and reading them on another device, I’d probably later buy a Kindle knowing it’s a better platform for reading them on.

It’s also not exactly outside of Amazon’s business model to offer their digital products to other platforms either. In March, 2007, I blogged about Amazon and TiVo teaming up to make Amazon Unbox Videos (now known as Amazon Video on Demand) available on TiVo boxes. I immediately started buying Unbox videos when I never had before. Incidentally, I’d love it if Amazon Video-on-demand Videos were playable on the iPhone as well, and I’d probably buy a lot more videos from Amazon if they did, but I think that might be a bit of wishful thinking.

So come on Amazon, release an iPhone app that can read Kindle documents and you’ll have even more of my money then you do now, and I’d bet a whole lot of other people’s money as well.

All Primed Up – Amazon is Brilliant

I’ve been a member of Amazon Prime for over about 2 years now, and I was just thinking today what brilliant marketing it is. By paying a nominal yearly fee, I get free two day shipping, or really cheap next day shipping on everything I buy from them, but does it save me any money? See before I was an Amazon Prime member, I used to make sure that my Amazon orders reached the $25 minimum to get free “Super Saver Shipping” so I didn’t pay for shipping in the first place.

However now that I’m an Amazon Prime member, I find myself buying things on Amazon I would normally have gone to a store and spending not only my time, which is getting less and less, but in many cases more money. Now when I need to buy something, I find myself saying “Let me check to see if Amazon has it”, and if it does for the same or less price, I buy it there. What’s amazing is, a lot of the time, Amazon has it cheaper.

I’ve got to hand it to Amazon, by coming up with a system that gives people faster shipping, they’ve got me looking to them first, instead of last for the things I need.

If you haven’t tried out Amazon Prime, Check out their free trial and see how much happier it makes you about getting the things you want

Keeping in Step, how to Sync your iPhone’s Calendar with Google Calendar

I love Google Apps for Domains, I use it for all of my domains, I’ve even setup holodeck3.com with the Partner edition so that my users can get @holodeck3.com email accounts and services through them. Google does a lot, for free, and they do it well. I’m also a Mac an an iPhone user. I am never without my iPhone, and only rarely without my laptop.

Google has, over time gotten a lot better at providing me with services I need in order to keep my world more in sync. I was glad to be in the early adoption crowd of users for IMAP on GMail, and the first person among my group of friends to get IMAP support on my Google Apps for Domains accounts. This has helped a lot as my iPhone is now what I use for email when I’m away from my laptop, and in fact I find myself not going to the computer quite as often when I’m “off duty” because of it.

I love Google Calendar and prefer to have my calendar events in Google as opposed to simply a local Calendar on my computer or phone, however when I am at my computer, using iCal is so much easier then using Google Calendar (and having to keep yet another browser window open), and then of course there’s the little matter of keeping my calendar on the iPhone so I have my events easily at hand. Google has long allowed you to subscribe to a Google Calendar using iCal’s ics format, but this was one way, only allowing you to read your Google calendar in iCal, not make changes to it. Until very recently the best way to keep iCal in sync with Google Calendar is to use Spanning Sync, a $25 program (use this link and you can get $5 off!), that keeps your calendar in iCal in sync both ways with your calendar on Google.
Continue reading “Keeping in Step, how to Sync your iPhone’s Calendar with Google Calendar”

Facebook – whoops there goes another major site!

Another major website comes crashing down!Two weeks ago I posted about Amazon.com being down for hours, tonight, another major website has gone down without warning, and has a very ugly error message, just like Amazon did. At this time the error message (shown on the right) has been up for at least 20 minutes with no sign of repair, in fact, much the contrary, while the error message is still there, it is taking longer and longer for the error message to load, meaning that even facebook’s error page is under serious strain.

Facebook fixes their stylesheet, story at 11!UPDATE: Update, the error message is still there, but at least facebook seems to have fixed their CSS, so as you can see to the left, the error message is much less “ugly” now.

Interesting a large outage like this happens on the evening of the day that it is announced that Facebook is losing long time Executive Matt Cohler to Benchmark Capital.

Update 2: It appears that facebook is now operational once again.

Amazon Still down, money down too

Updated Amazon Error Message

I previously reported that Amazon.com was down with a non-descriptive error message. After almost 2 of downtime it seems they’ve decided to have a friendlier error message, so it seems at least they are acknowledging that something is wrong now, but it is still down. According to CNet, this outage could be costing Amazon as much as $31,000 every minute! This accounts to about $3,348,000 so far, and there’s no sign of the outage ending…

This is already hitting Amazon where it really hurts, AMZN is down over 4% today

Amazon down but not out

Amazon.com Service Unavailable
Amazon.com is experiencing an outage, the most complete I’ve ever seen on the site. The last time I saw an outage on the site was Christmas before last when they were offering mad sales to the first 100 customers on certain items, but even then they had a helpful error page, rather then just a service unavailable, guess their load balancer wasn’t feeling well.
It appears that the ssl version of Amazon is running just fine, it’s just the non-secured version.

Google I/O – Part I – Google App Engine

This week I, as well as my Wife Barbara, and my co worker Dan, went to Google I/O. People who have read my blog for a while may remember that last year I attended Google Developer Day around this same time in San Jose. This year Google decided to expand from a single day to a whole two-day tech conference and move it to the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Continue reading “Google I/O – Part I – Google App Engine”

The infamous Carl Sandberg, not the famous.

Coworkers have recently encouraged me to get onto facebook. As people who know me well know, I’ve never been a big fan of Social Networking sites, so I resisted facebook for a long time, just as I resisted MySpace and Linkedin. Actually I resisted facebook longer, as I just got my profile up last week. I have always thought that social networking sites were a waste of time, that anyone who wanted to get ahold of me would easily find me on my blog.
Continue reading “The infamous Carl Sandberg, not the famous.”

TiVo making a come back? Watch out Apple TV.

I personally have never owned a TiVo box, primarily because I knew there were a number of DVRs on the market that did not require a monthly subscription and I didn’t see the benefit to paying $12/month for something I thought I could get for a one time fee.

TiVo and Amazon have signed a deal recently that actually made me think twice about this policy however. As most people know, Amazon unveiled their Amazon Unbox program earlier this year to not much applause. After all iTunes has had video downloads for a while now, and it just didn’t seem to make sense to buy movies from Amazon when I already had iTunes. Add to that the fact that Amazon Unbox does not work on a mac as their video drm is PC Only and I didn’t give Amazon a second thought when it came to purchasing single episodes of TV shows or directly downloading movies. Similar to the reasons I previously mentioned why I didn’t give TiVo a second thought, why would I get something that would require it’s own monthly service when I could buy a cable box with DVR built in, or better yet, build a MythTV (though that requires lots of effort and is buggy).

But then TiVo and Amazon signed a deal that I believe is mutually smart for both companies. Amazon Unbox now can be linked with your TiVo account, which means that as you are browsing the web from anywhere, (even away from home) you can purchase a movie or episode on Amazon, or even Rent a movie (something you can’t do on iTunes) and then when you come home (or turn on your TV if you already were home) you’ll find that in your Now Playing List on your TiVo, the episode or movie is already there, ready for you to watch on your TV or (in our case) Projector.

I decided to take the plunge and find out. I purchased a TiVo and linked my TiVo account with my Amazon account, and now I’ve learned what I’ve been missing with Both services.
Continue reading “TiVo making a come back? Watch out Apple TV.”