Lights out

Funny things happen when online services we all depend on go down, as much of Google did for a bit on Friday. We all scramble to get stories up, alerting everyone to the fact that this online service they depend on has gone down. You know, just in case they didn't notice. Our inbox floods with tips saying that this online service we all depend on has gone down. We rush over to the Google Apps Status Dashboard to see what's the matter, but it's usually not updated quickly enough for our liking, and even then with only minimal information.

Patience is hard, I know.

Ask anyone who makes their living online, and there's little worse than down time — especially if there's nothing you can do but stay out of the way. We poke fun at the failure in different ways (I do think the "Google+ went down and nobody noticed" jabs were easy and dumb), but, let's be honest here — that's just for attention-seeking on Twitter. "Look how clever we can be while everyone's talking about this thing!!!"

We're as guilty of it as anyone, of course. And it's not that outages aren't serious. They cost time, money and trust. But they will, from time to time, happen. On the micro level, I'm always amazed at the dedication and determination of our own Mobile Nations tech team when the lights go out. (I don't usually understand half of what they're saying, but it's fascinating to listen to.) That the failure technically only lasted 35 minutes (though the residual effect was felt throughout the day for many of us) but affected services worldwide is sobering. 

Google's explanation for what happened is worth reading. It takes a little time to identify, confirm and determine the best way to explain it to customers. Outages are frustrating. But my glass is very much half full these days, and I like to look at them as time to slow down. Take a break. And pray like hell that they don't happen too often.

A few other thoughts on the week that was:

  • I hated having to cancel Friday's podcast. But with Hangouts unreliable, I felt that was the better option. Also, it gave me a rare uninterrupted few hours for writing.
  • It's been interesting to see how our other Mobile Nations Android apps are doing. iMore leads Smartwatch Fans and CrackBerry in the number of active installations.
  • And for everyone asking, yes, we do plan to have some sort of combined app at some point. We only have so many developers, and so many hours in the day.
  • Still no ETA on the next update for the Android Central app, but work is underway. Be sure to join the beta group if that's your preferred track.
  • I've loved using the Moto X. But I'm starting to get an itch for whatever HTC has coming next. It's been a long time (closing in on a year) since I first saw the HTC One. In the smartphone world, that's an eternity. At least it feels like it.
  • And I still can't help but feel I don't use the Nexus 5 enough. But it's those little things — trusted Bluetooth devices, Active Display and Touchless Control — that make the difference for me.
  • I've been using a Nest for a couple weeks now. We're going to start paying more attention to the connected home — we've added a link to stories in our nav at the top of the site — since Google purchased Nest, and I'll have some more initial thoughts on the Thermostat this week.
  • We're a month away from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I'm starting to have a feeling we're going to have to pay attention to Nokia.

That's it for now. Gonna hang out with the family today. Back to work Monday.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: When the lights go out ...


Good morning, AC. Can't get back to sleep here on the left coast.

My parents got a new furnace and the company sold them a Nest. We'll see how they like it. They live in KC which ranges from 0 to 100.

I'd be curious if you find it useful in a place with less temperature change.

Posted via Android Central App

I hope they get a lot of use out of it. My brother's moving to Omaha soon, and once he and his wife buy a place, a Nest will probably be my housewarming gift for them. I figure it'll come in handy given the crazy temperature swings there.

Normally, I would agree with you. But in Google's case, since they're stubbornly trying to force people into the cloud by refusing to put SD card slots on any of their devices (and pretty much ripping the feature out of stock Android), they deserve EVERY BIT of scorn that they get. I have ZERO sympathy for them when this happens, or anybody who says 'just use the cloud'.

^THIS^ +1

I'm sorry. You may need something from the "cloud" that they are forcing you into, causing mayhem in your life that didn't need to happen. I happen to back up everything to external drives (even if it's in the cloud)so I can never be caught in this situation.

Sure, this was a small outage, but what about next time? Half a day? All day? A week because "anonymous" decided to take out the servers. Never know what's going to happen from day to day and being glued to only one source is asinine.

I'm sure people say "what about next time?" every time, and Google has always been competent enough to get the problem sorted out quickly.

Good luck storing every file you could possibly need at a moments notice on an SD card.
You're more likely to lose a file because of the ever-so-occasional janky connection to your removable SD card than to not be able to reach a file because Google services are down.

I'm really excited, to see what Mobile World Congress brings this year.

And, I agree, 2014 may actually be a great year for Nokia. Only time will tell, but competition is great, and I'm looking forward to seeing HTC and other OEMs (BlackBerry, Nokia, Motorola, etc) actually doing good this year.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Oh man, let's hope. I would like nothing more than to see a resurgent BlackBerry, but I'm not holding my breath.

And some good Windows Phone/Win8 devices from Nokia would be good to see as well, since I'm going to be making the switch back to Windows from Mac when I eventually want to replace my current laptop.

I have been saying that BB is dead, and I think they might be, but maybe they can take that DoD contract they just got and turn that cash into something good.

I do think that they need to make an Android device...

Let's hope its a large step towards knocking Samsung off the top spot

Posted via my outdated Droid RAZR Maxx HD using the Android Central App

Windows phone was such a dismal failure, Microsoft had to buy Nokia to stop them from jumping ship to Android. What has MS done that could possibly suggest 2014 will be a better year? Same can be said for BB, they haven't done anything in 2013 that would suggest 2014 has any chance of being a better year.

Who has time to read when they have to get their entitled whinging on?

Transmitted via sheer force of will.

I'm getting an itch for whatever HTC has planned too. Give me a HTC One with less bezel and improved camera and I'll be sold. The One is a great looking phone as a whole but the front of the device would've been better, specifically the buttons and random HTC logo placed between them.

Posted via Android Central App

I can't give this post enough plus ones.

Also, I think they should make it lower priced then the S5. Because, some people won't buy it unless if its less then the S5. And htc needs to have a bestseller.

Sent from inside a cave. Yes, T-Mobile covers caves. N5

Phil, I'm still waiting for that Windows Phone App. Don't forget that they're a part of Mobile Nations too.
I'm very interested in the way they're trying to turn Windows into Android.

Posted via Android Central Beta Tablet App!
Hisense Sero 7 Pro

They have already said its coming soon. Its the same app as AC only rebranded with different feeds but they still need to keep an eye out for hiccups.

Posted via Android Central App on my daily driver, the Droid MAX

not just AC, but Google also. I have a WP and two androids. I want the same experience with apps across all my devices. Search is the only official app on WP. If they just offered half the apps that they do on iOS, I would be happy! I know, it's a market share thing...40 million on WP is nothing compared to android but many may be cross platform like me.

These yearly releases hardly give a consumer time to breathe. HTC makes some serious hardware, but man, the One is still a fantastic phone.

Posted via Android Central App

Ya know, I'm glad that I'm not the only person to feel that way. I think a year and a half would be more appropriate: it gives the OEMs time to make more substantial adjustments to their products; it gives the technology more time to advance and mature; and it allows the consumers to enjoy their devices for a longer period, without feeling like they're using an inferior or outdated product.

yeah but you you have yearly contract cycles and you want to catch them and keep them every year.

For instance, this year there are 800 billion SGS3s coming off contract from people who bought it when it first came out. If they were on an 18 month cycle from then, the S4 would have come out in August and those SGS3 people could be looking at someone else since the S5 would be 2015....

Did that make any sense?

Agreed. Furthermore, if you make it a two-year release cycle, people looking to get a smartphone in off years will have to settle for a year-old phone every time or wait 3 years for a new model. A one-year release cycle may be a little overwhelming, but it's the best option.

People like to complain. I work for a bank, and internal or external software from the various lines of business go down on a weekly basis...yet the bank still makes record profits.

A quick search shows about 5 or so down periods for Google in 2013...not too bad when you think about the number of services they run.

Posted via Android Central App on BlackBerry Z30

Sounds like the Moto X is still AC's best Android phone to buy right now.

Posted via Android Central App

No doubt. Always listening is great. I was brewing a stout yesterday and being able to tell the phone to set timers while my hands are full doing stuff was pretty sweet.

If you like cars, Google the name of the VP of Engineering who wrote the explanation for the black out. You'll be pleasantly surprised... and jealous as hell.