Your Friday afternoon was almost the grown-up equivalent of a snow day. According to the site "Down For Everyone Or Just Me?" and a flurry of terror-struck Twitter posts, Google's e-mail server, Gmail, crashed just after lunchtime on Friday afternoon. Just imagine the thousands of frenzied Google employees rushing around its Silicon Valley HQ, the ubiquitous Googleplex. At roughly 2.30 p.m., Gmail power was restored, and America finally exhaled. The outage lasted less than an hour.
Google has said only that service was restored an hour after initial problems, and expects "a resolution for all users in the near future." However, Yahoo took the opportunity to crow over its competitor's power outage, Tweeting: "Gmail is temporarily unavailable." (It later apologized, also on Twitter.)
In a particular awkward twist, Google's Site Reliability Engineering Team was scheduled to begin a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) chat during the outage. Reddit users took the opportunity to point out the irony, repeatedly, and launched a litany of complaints about gmail at the poor engineers.
Two other Google-owned services, YouTube and Google+, seemed to load slowly as well.
And it's not as though the blackout was restricted to Gchat or Google Drive: This was a fully-blown Gmail outage, and considering the staggering number of Web companies that are based around Google's cloud services — the Google Drive spreadsheets; the Gchat correspondence; Google Calendar; the shared documents, files, and contact details — it's fair to assume that the outage stopped a whole lot of work (and gchatting) in its tracks.
The last time this happened was mid-September of last year, when some users found their Gmail accounts temporarily disabled. And a month before, in August of 2013, Google suffered a massive blackout. That GoogleFail saw global Internet traffic take a plunge by a massive 40 percent, which confirms what we already knew: Google really does rule the world.
Two weeks ago, Google tweaked its privacy settings so that anybody with a Gmail account could directly contact any other human with a Google+ account. It sparked outrage and concerns about privacy, so maybe this is what Web karma is all about.