Friday, December 18, 2009

Rackspace outage, no, Rackspace down: Rackspace twitter tells all

Rackspace is an hosting company that has wide reach and influence in the tech community.

The Rackspace outage has reportedly impacted most of the popular tech sites like Mashable and TechCrunch and Scobleizer, the blog of tech blogger Robert Scoble.

Scoble is an employee of Rackspace and very active on Twitter, these are his tweets and retweets from five hours ago to now as of this writing:

# Rackspace We had a network issue at a peering location outside our datacenter facilities. The network is back up. More details to come. about 4 hours ago from Tweetie Retweeted by Scobleizer and 12 others

# Yes @heroweb and my part of the @rackspace downtime plan is to communicate on Twitter at about 5 hours ago from web

#.@bschorr this was a network issue. We still are tracking down what went wrong and why. I can't speculate before the final report is up. about 5 hours ago from web

# arrington this all started when @scobleizer joined them :-) RT Rackspace Goes Down. Again. Takes The Internet With It. Again. about 5 hours ago from web Retweeted by Scobleizer and 2 others

#.@benwhiteSF honesty is the ONLY way to deal with these problems. Everyone can watch the world now: about 5 hours ago from web

#@heroweb all account reps are snowed under when downtime happens. Our call volume goes up many many times. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to heroweb

# One thing that's clear is that @twitter is invaluable for communicating with customers now. Thanks @ev and @biz ! @Scobleizer/rackspace about 5 hours ago from web

# RackStatus All systems appear to be working now - more details to come. If you are experiencing issues please contact Support for more information about 5 hours ago from Tweetie Retweeted by Scobleizer and 13 others

# @heroweb we have 300 employees on Twitter: and all of our management watches, so you are heard. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to heroweb

# @filos agree that we've had way too much downtime this year. This was a completely different issue, though (others were power related). about 5 hours ago from web in reply to filos

When we're down our first goal is to get back up. @heroweb asked. Email is something we need to do better. @twitter is best place, tho. about 5 hours ago from web

Apparently, Robert was the only person at Rackspace who's openly active on Twitter. He wound up being their communications contact for one distressed customer who calls himself "@heroweb". Here's what Heroweb tweeted:

# @Scobleizer I won't take any more of your time. I appreciate your responses. Good luck #rackspace about 5 hours ago from web

# @Scobleizer Thanks. Twitter is the first place I go for info. Not sure why my account rep would not reach out to me on Twitter #rackspace about 5 hours ago from web

# @Scobleizer Not sure why I am writing to you about this stuff, but who else am I supposed to communicate with? about 5 hours ago from web

# @Scobleizer I just sent an email to all my customers. Why is it that Rackspace can't do the same? about 5 hours ago from web

# @scobleizer Thanks, Robert for the link. What I don't get is why if this is the place to get info, why other RS accounts don't point to it. about 5 hours ago from web

# I hate to be harsh, but it is really shocking that rackspace is only now posting to @rackstatus. C'mon guys. about 5 hours ago from web

# @rackspace We are in DFW and are not a cloud site. Our two servers are down. Please provide more info.

TechCrunch's MG Siegler, writing at the now active TechCrunch, reports that the hosting company had "had a complete and total failure today that took down a number of big sites on the Internet, including ours. This has been happening all too often in recent months, including downtime just last month."

While Scoble's site is up, he's not used it to blog about this disaster as of this writing.

Oakland considers lawsuit against the Oakland A's and San Jose

I just returned from a wide-ranging, video-blog interview with Oakland City Attorney John Russo. The video itself is going to be about 30 minutes long when finished, but what Russo had to say, particularly about the Oakland A's, was so important it could not wait for the video. This blog post specifically concerns the Oakland A's baseball organization and The City of Oakland.

 A's Oakland Coliseum lease is under Russo's gaze

Our conversation on the Oakland Athletics started because I asked John what he thought of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera's letter to Major League Baseball. The letter, released on Thursday and I have (and will post for review) a copy of, states at length that the City of San Francisco is concerned with the potential negative financial impacts on that San Francisco if the Oakland A's are allowed to move into the San Francisco Giants 'territorial rights' area as established by the current Major League Agreement.

The Major League Agreement specifically lists Santa Clara County (of which San Jose is part), along with San Francisco County. This is the specific wording:

City of San Francisco; and San Francisco, San Mateo,
Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Counties in
California; provided, however, that with respect to all
Major League Clubs, Santa Clara County in California

Further, past studies I've read have indicated that 47 percent of the SF Giants' fan base comes from the South Bay Area, including San Jose. Oakland A's ownership would be essentially raiding the Giants' main fan base. Such an action would cause harm to the Giants revenue stream and thus their ability to pay the contractually agreed upon rent to San Francisco. Thus Herrera's concern and the letter Russo and I talked about.

San Francisco believes the Oakland A's moves and that of Major League Baseball allowing the A's to consider and work with San Jose to be tampering with their agreements with the San Francisco Giants.

Russo thinks Herrera's letter is "interesting"

On the matter of the letter, Russo said "I think its an interesting letter. I spoke to Dennis today. I told him I think its an interesting theory. I can see where his concerns are; I understand it." Russo says that he can see where San Francisco taxpayers are a third-party beneficiary of those territorial rights given to the SF Giants.

In other words, the SF Giants ability to make lease payments that then go to the City and allows them to maintain services that are of critical need and threatened in an already down economy, would be even more in trouble if the A's move to San Jose reduced the Giants' revenue stream.

Russo said he's "Not going to speak for Dennis" on any possible damage claims because Russo doesn't understand what "territorial rights" mean. Now to clarify, Russo knows what the Major League Agreement is, but the question is can it really be enforced by an organization in Major League Baseball, that's exempt from common anti-trust laws?  If they were not, then anti-trust laws would come to focus on the A's planned move to San Jose, but then because they don't the A's deal does not come under that legal focus.

Still, there's a big, big problem - and because of the baseball exemption and the League's, the Oakland A's, and the City of San Jose's behavior. 

"I do know that over the years, the Giants relied upon that territory in creating their ballpark, Russo said. "I also know that here in Oakland we relied on certain representations by the A's in signing a very flexible and advantageous lease with them. And I'm looking into whether or not their clear, and very clear attempt to move to San Jose - and San Jose's attempts to lure the A's - whether or not those are interfering with our rights under the lease."

Russo said that anti-trust exemptions aside, he's looking specifically into the A's actions and whether those actions violated their lease agreement.

The last time I saw this kind of situation it was the Oakland Raiders actions with respect to the then-current master lease agreement at the Coliseum. As Economic Advisor to the Mayor of Oakland when Elihu Harris was Mayor, it was my job to look at the actions the Raiders took that were in violation of that contract; they were many. Eventually the City of Oakland - along with the County of Alameda and the Oakland Coliseum, called "The East Bay Entities" - did sue the Raiders.

Russo would not say where he was in his analysis, but given that he's looking into A's violations and the City of San Franciso's listing "causes of action" in Herrera's letter - which are commonly a preview of the design of a lawsuit - I can see the City of Oakland teaming with the City and County of San Francisco against both the A's and Major League Baseball and San Jose.

San Jose? Yes. Because of its actions, San Jose is subject to accusations that it also is interfering with lease agreements in both San Francisco and Oakland. I wonder if they did any risk assessment before they embarked on their course of action it trying to get the A's to leave Oakland for San Jose?

The video interview with John Russo will be posted tomorrow, Saturday afternoon, December 19th.

Stay tuned.

Tiger Woods divorce: Elin Nordegren hires lawyer Sorrell Trope

This Tiger Woods update has his wife Elin Nordegren reportedly hiring celebrity lawyer Sorrell Trope. From my research Sorrell Trope is one to hire when someone means to smash a prenuptial agreement. It also means Elin is not only serious about divorcing Tiger Woods, she's going to take as much of his money as she can get.

Sorrell Trope

Sorrell Trope of Trope & Trope in LA is 82, lives in Brentwood, CA, and has practiced law since 1949. His area of practice is Family Law. He's received the highest possible ratings at (Now I don't know how well that can be trusted, but it's there for review.) A website called "TenLeaders" wrote this about Trope:

By the time (President John F.) Kennedy had taken office, Trope was Southern California’s paramount divorce lawyer, representing the likes of Cary Grant and Rod Steiger, among others...Years later Nicole Kidman retained Trope in her split from Tom Cruise.

Sorrell Trope also more recently represented Britney Spears in her child custody and divorce case against Kevin Federline.    

Meanwhile, the Times Mirror UK reports that Nordegren's told her friends the divorce is 100 percent on.  Now I still don't know how we went from marriage counseling to this point in just two weeks, but I suppose something about a rumored "love child" by Theresa Rogers may have something to do with it.

Regardless, it's a massively big mess for the World's Greatest Golfer.

Stay tuned.

Iranian Cyber Army Twitter hacked the Internet

 Twitter's Alex Payne had this photo as "current status" of Twitter 9 hours ago

While I was at a Christmas dinner party last night around 10 PM, a group called the Iranian Cyber Army, Twitter hacked in such a way that the Twitter home page was replaced with this:

Iranian Cyber Army



U.S.A. Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access, But THey Don’t, We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power, So Do Not Try To Stimulation Iranian Peoples To….

Take Care.

The above information was from Michael Arrington at TechCrunch,which reported a series of updates on the issue, and this blog post ftom Biz Stone, the founder of Twitter: 

Thursday, December 17, 2009
DNS Disruption
As we tweeted a bit ago, Twitter's DNS records were temporarily compromised tonight but have now been fixed. As some noticed, was redirected for a while but API and platform applications were working. We will update with more information and details once we've investigated more fully.

posted by @Biz at 11:43 PM

 But how did they do this?  TechCrunch' Arrington says they reported on Twitter's security problems before: a web server misconfiguration such that network information was shown, and the incident where a number of Twitter internal documents were sent to TechCrunch.   That's not to point to them in the least, but to show that in different ways, Twitter's security system and information is being shared with more than the usual range of people.  In other words, they still have a leak problem. 

Twitter's up and working; in fact that was the case for me at 1 AM.

The question is can they do it again, and who is the Iranian Cyber Army, really? 

Stay tuned.

Tom Hayes: What would the Founding Fathers make of politics on Facebook?

It's clear that collectively the political activists supporting Barack Obama's campaign got used to knowing - or thinking they knew - what was going on with the campaign. Reading David Plouffe's book might open a few eyes to the reality, which was anything but glamorous in his account.

Obama laid his cards on the table, as many documented during the campaign, and managed to make the election a referendum on his agenda despite the best efforts of his opponents to make it a vote on his "not like me-ness." Of course, the reasons for voting for him were diverse -- hence it was a coalition that put him into office based on a wide variety of individual beliefs and convictions about what it was possible to improve in D.C.

Some supporters (and many detractors,) for instance, failed to listen closely to his intentions for Afghanistan, choosing to assume his statements about being against "dumb wars" in general and Iraq in particular meant he'd back out of any situation overseas where bullets and bombs are flying.

It's disconcerting to others to realize that increasing the transparency of the government, which Obama also advocated, isn't exactly tantamount to inviting activists and reporters into the negotiating sessions necessitated by the arcane rules and strictures of the Congress. 

Most (not all) political activists on both sides of the major issues know that progress is fundamentally based on compromise(s) to achieve what is possible, no matter if it's making decisions in the local school PTA or the U.S. Senate.  Compromises acceptable to the majority by definition almost always fall short of the ideals of those with the strongest convictions.

Unlike the PTA, which is pretty much open to all comers, the U.S. Congress reaches compromise by a not-terribly-pretty process involving just over 500 powerful, influential, sometimes self-serving people expected to do right by the entire country while being inundated with conflicting suggestions. Expecting to see inside that process is a bit - well - idealistic for those sitting at home or working for the media, even if that is what they thought they had bargained for in electing the new President.

That's not how a Democratic Republic works. We don't hold referendums on every issue; we elect folks who seem to hold similar ideals to us and hope they manage to accomplish exactly what we want them to. That's why it's so easy to predict that polls almost always reflect the popularity of a President as in decline - at any given point in time politicians are working on decisions bound to challenge our "collective" opinion precisely because we charge them with handling the hardest and most important decisions.

Now, to balance out the curiously persistent tea baggers who apparently favor a system based on government as minimal and ineffectual as the one in Somalia, some of the hundreds of millions on Facebook are banding together on a "fan page" supporting President Obama, and not second-guessing him. The Founding Fathers must surely be smiling.

Thomas Hayes
is an entrepreneur, journalist, and political analyst who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.

Dan O'Bannon - screenwriter of Alien and Dark Star passes at 63

A month that saw the passing of Chris Henry, Roy E. Disney, and Gene Barry just added another legendary name: Dan O'Bannon.

Dan O'Bannon

Sci-Fi and horror fans will remember O'Bannon as the screenwriter of Alien. It was O'Bannon's realistic dialog that carried Alien as much as the special effects, H.R.Giger's designs and Ridley Scott's direction of Sigourney Weaver.  Alien is simply one of the best movies ever made. 

The amazingly creative O'Bannon was also writer and producer, making the critically acclaimed Dark Star even before Aliens.

Harry Knowles of Aint It Cool News, a major media force in science fiction who know O'Bannon and broke the news his passing, had this to say:

Dan O'Bannon was a great geek creator. He provided the screenplay and served as the Special Effects Supervisor on John Carpenter's first masterpiece, DARK STAR. And it is a science fiction masterpiece. I love DARK STAR and its sentient bomb and bean bag monster like very few things in this world. Dan worked on the computer animation and displays on a tiny film called STAR WARS after that. Remember that animation blueprint on how to blow up the Death Star... ie, the rebel plans? O'Bannon had a hand in that!

Then... he was the lead screenwriter on Ridley Scott's little film called ALIEN. Before Dan, there was a blank page. Afterwards we had Ellen Ripley, the Nostromo and the entire legend of the ALIEN. He was responsible for the B-17 sequence of HEAVY METAL, the awesome Helicopter film BLUE THUNDER, the wonderful satire of Romero's Zombie series called THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, my third fave film from Tobe Hooper - LIFE FORCE, the pretty damn fine remake of INVADERS FROM MARS, he got our ass to Mars with TOTAL RECALL... And the number of unmade solid scripts this guy was a part of is legendary.

Dan O'Bannon. Rest in peace.