Friday, November 27, 2020

When the cloud goes dark: Amazon’s Cloud Servers goes down and people complaint they can't use their doorbell or Vacuums

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud service is the backbone of many websites and apps across the globe. And when it encountered a multi-hour outage this week, it sent the digirati and media buzzing. 

The multi-hour outage on Wednesday before Thanksgiving impacted many popular services like Adobe Cloud Software, 1Password, Flickr  that tweeted about AWS outage impacting their services - - 1PasswordAcornsAdobe_SparkAnchorAutodeskCapital_GazetteCoinbaseDataCampGetaroundGlassdoorFlickriRobotThe Philadelphia InquirerPocketRadioLabRokuRSS PodcastingTampa Bay TimesVonage.

AWS' brief outage highlights the risk of IOT dependent services

Internet of Things (IOT) describes the network of physical objects - "things" - that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet. Many of our modern devices, gadgets and Smart Homes are IOT enabled by sensors and software and are dependent on access to the internet. 

An outage like this can disrupt the functioning of IOT and internet dependent devices and services. Not surprisingly, consumer tweets didn't mince words, highlight the sign of our times and how dependent we are on uninterrupted internet services:  

Comments on social media sites like Reddit were equally pithy

yoloman0805 posted "The future is here. Can't wait for smart toilet paper dispenser which connects to to the internet." and  CaptainFunktastic added "Our houses could be filled to the brim with all kinds of stupid things wired and connected in such a way that they do everything we think a chip in our brain could do, but somehow having vaccine crosses the line." 

Butwinsky posted

Public: The government wants to put chips in our brains!
Amazon: oh no! Anyways, here's our new Alexa enabled literally everything
Public: Shut up and take my money!

As of 4:18AM ET on Thursday morning (26th Nov) , Amazon announced that the service has been restored. AWS Service Health Dashboard posted an update: 

“We have restored all traffic to Kinesis Data Streams via all endpoints and it is now operating normally. We have also resolved the error rates invoking CloudWatch APIs. We continue to work towards full recovery for IoT SiteWise and details of the service status is below. All other services are operating normally. We have identified the root cause of the Kinesis Data Streams event, and have completed immediate actions to prevent recurrence.” 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

What is the main cause of corruption in India? Here is a recent story that explains one reason

The main cause of corruption in India? Ambitious people who want to desperately get their way; at any cost.

Let me explain with the following news article I came across a few days ago - “Retired Bangalore University professor kills himself

According to the article, A 64-year-old retired professor from Bangalore University and former registrar of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of his residence at KAS Officers’ Colony, Mico Layout on Sunday morning.

NS Ashok Kumar, who was serving as registrar of Garden City University for the last two years, was earlier a professor at departments of communication and later electronic media at BU. Police said the incident came to light on Sunday morning after his family members entered his bedroom around 6.30am. The jurisdictional police were informed around 8.30am. Mico Layout police found a note, in which Kumar stated that he alone is responsible for his death and no one is behind it.

Prof. NS Ashok Kumar

This was followed up by another article (link) that described a few more details:

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D K Shivakumar on Monday demanded a judicial inquiry into the death of retired Bangalore University professor NS Ashok Kumar. Shivakumar claimed that Kumar (64), who was found hanging at his Mico Layout home on November 8, had paid Rs 2.5 crore to “influential people” in exchange to get appointed as vice-chancellor to four new universities.

On November 7, a day before Kumar was found dead, the state government appointed vice-chancellors to four new universities - Gomathi Devi L (Maharani Cluster University), Harish Ramaswamy (Raichur University), Shrinivas S Balli (Nrupathunga University) and Puttaraju (Mandya University). “Kumar was told that there was some problem with his file and his money wasn’t returned,” Shivakumar said.

He borrowed loans and was made to wait 5-6 months. But, he did not get the position. Therefore, he took the extreme step. This is what’s being discussed widely,” Shivakumar told reporters.

“The appointment of vice-chancellors is mired in corruption. In every university, the staff and students talk that the V-C’s post is for sale. People go to Vidhana Soudha and ministers’ homes for this,” he said.

After retiring from Bangalore University where he headed the department of electronic media, Kumar was the registrar of Garden City University at the time of his death. He was also registrar (evaluation) of the state-run Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences and his tenure there was marred by alleged tampering of marks cards.

Here are a few thoughts

While the media may or may not follow up on the true cause of Prof. Kumar’s suicide, these articles highlight the sad state of affairs in modern India:

  • Appointment to top public offices and positions are mired in cronyism and corruption
  • If Sivakumar’s allegations are to be believed, Prof. Kumar borrowed Rs 2.5 crore (about $330,000) to bribe decision makers for a position he didn’t get.
  • Prof. Kumar had seemingly reached the pinnacle of his career as the head of department of electronic media at BU. It seems like his ambition at a late-career got better of his judgment, and he took on substantial debt to bribe his way for a post he couldn’t attain
This is just one story of an extreme step by a person whose attempt at bribing his way to a top public appointment failed. There are millions of such cases of people trying to get ahead of their fellow countrymen, even if it means bribing their way, and millions who are willing to facilitate them in the effort!