Hashtag Trending Sep 6- Microsoft experiences data center outage and chaotic recovery efforts; Teslas catch fire during floods; Zoom embraces AI in new features

A large Microsoft data centre has a “perfect storm” when its recovery plan falls apart.  Teslas catch fire during floods.  And the fastest growing social media app isn’t who you think it might be..

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These and more top tech stories on Hashtag Trending

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Microsoft’s Australia East cloud region faced a sustained outage when its disaster recovery was itself a disaster. The data centre outage was due to something they are calling a utility power sag [that] tripped a subset of the cooling units offline in one datacenter, within one of the Availability Zones.”. This coincided with power outages in Sydney after an electrical storm

But what should have been routine failover – failed. The data halls had seven chillers, but post-sag, emergency procedures to restore them failed. 

Falling back to their backup chilling units, they found only one chiller restarted. 

This led to server shutdowns and had a big  impact on Azure and other Microsoft cloud services.

And there are reports that “automation issues” further delayed recovery efforts. Storage infrastructure that was supposed to come back online automatically instead required extensive manual troubleshooting. 

But it wasn’t only the technology that failed.

According to reports, only three Microsoft personnel were on site during the outage, a team size that Microsoft has now deemed “insufficient.” They immediately announced that team size has now been increased to seven.

All of this comes from a preliminary assessment. A full report on the outage is expected within fourteen days. Who knows what that will turn up.

But it’s a wakeup call for all of us. We have backup plans and backup hardware – but will they work when we need them – the way we expect?  

It’s easy to take shots at Microsoft and maybe in this case they even deserve criticism, but if a company this large finds that their backup and recovery plan is a total flop, we might find our time better spent if we go back to our own plans and ask how we can make sure this doesn’t happen to us. `

Sources include: The Register

And is it time to have a disaster recovery plan for your car?  

Hurricane Idalia’s aftermath in Florida has caused damage to cars, but not in the way you might think. Newer electric vehicles, particularly Teslas, were catching fire after being submerged in floodwaters. 

CBS News reported that at least two Teslas ignited after being submerged in saltwater during the flooding caused by Hurricane Idalia. One of these vehicles even caught fire while being towed post-flooding in Pinellas County. 

This series of events led the Palm Harbor Fire Department to issue a warning to electric vehicle (EV) owners. The department emphasized that lithium-ion batteries in EVs might ignite if exposed to saltwater. They advised relocating water-damaged EVs to safer locations and highlighted the risk not just for electric cars but also for other EVs like golf carts, scooters, and bicycles equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. 

Tesla has also cautioned users against driving EVs that have been submerged, recommending they be moved at least 50 feet away from combustible materials. The advisory, however, doesn’t specifically mention the risks posed by saltwater.

It’s not the first time that EVs have been in the news for fire incidents. Recently in New York, a lithium-ion battery malfunction in an e-bike repair store resulted in a fire that claimed four lives.

Sources include: Tech Spot

It’s tempting to think that the social media giants are invincible.  Byte Dance’s TikTok, Google’s YouTube and Meta’s suite of Facebook, Instagram and now Threads dominate the social media universe. 

It’s hard to imagine another social media app challenging this group. But it turns out there is a challenger – that might become the fastest growing social media app – Snapchat. 

Snapchat, while not as large as some other social media giants in terms of revenue and users, has shown remarkable growth in recent years. Since 2018, its user base has doubled, surpassing the growth rates of major social media platforms. Data from OnlyAccounts.io predicts that Snapchat will overtake TikTok to become the fastest-growing social media platform, boasting a 13.4 per cent user growth in 2023.

Snapchat’s rise can be attributed to its unique photo and video-sharing experience, with over a hundred features introduced, such as Stories, Spectacles, and Bitmoji TV. In 2023, Snapchat’s user base is projected to grow almost twice as fast as Instagram’s, which is expected to grow at a healthy 7.9 per cent. TikTok follows closely behind Snapchat with a 12.7 per cent growth. Interestingly, Facebook is predicted to have the smallest growth among top platforms at just 1 per cent, and Twitter is anticipated to see a decline in users by 2.7 per cent.

Snapchat’s appeal, especially among teens in the U.S., is expected to drive its user count. By 2027, the platform is projected to have over 670 million users. Proof that nobody is invincible and if you have an amazing user experience for your targeted customers you can even take on the giants.

Sources include: Only Accounts

Forget about deep fakes – tech fakes are a never-ending problem.  A lot of individuals and even small companies buy tech equipment through Amazon and other online vendors, but do you always get what you ordered? We did a story a few months back about the persistent sales of phony Cisco hardware on Amazon. 

And here’s a new one – fake CPUs.

An individual purchased what was believed to be an Intel Core i9 from Amazon UK for around £585 (approximately $736). However, upon closer inspection, the CPU turned out to be a Core i7, which is roughly $180 cheaper.

The customer shared images on Reddit which seemingly confirmed the chip’s true identity. 

It appears that the fraudster swapped the integrated heat spreader (IHS) from a Core i9 with a cheaper Core i7 and returned the less powerful chip for a refund.

This isn’t the first time CPU scams have surfaced. Past incidents include counterfeit Intel chips in China and fraudulent i9 chips. Amazon has been the marketplace for a number of these cases including a fraudulent 2017 case involving a Ryzen 1700 that turned out to be a cheaper Intel processor.

We’re not picking on Amazon, this might happen anywhere, but it points out the need to be cautious about where you buy your hardware – especially online. 

Sources include: Tech Spot

Virtual meeting company Zoom is trying to get some positive spin on its investment in AI and has unveiled a new feature, integrating an AI assistant into its video conferencing software. The newly introduced “AI Companion” offers users the ability to view meeting highlights, read summaries, and even interact with a chatbot for queries. 

This AI-driven feature will be available to all paid users at no extra cost. Zoom’s AI Companion is powered by a combination of its proprietary AI models and other models from Meta’s Llama 2, OpenAI, and Anthropic.

You may remember that Zoom took a lot of heat last month over concerns that it might use customer conversations to train its AI systems. The company tried to backpedal on that disastrous communication error by clarifying their terms of service. They seem to have learned a lesson this time.

 Zoom emphasized that the new AI features, like the initial ones, will be disabled by default, giving account owners and IT administrators the discretion to enable them.

Zoom is not the only player to embrace AI. Other tech giants like Google and Microsoft have also been integrating AI features into their products. Google recently announced a suite of AI features for its Google Workspace. Microsoft is busy enabling everything with AI. And even small players like Otter.ai are using AI for summaries, reporting and action planning.

In response, Zoom plans to roll out more AI features next year, enabling users to prepare for meetings by interacting with a conversational interface that can search past meetings and even third party applications.

Now if only we can find an AI that tells us when we’re “on mute” before everyone razzes you about it.  That could be something. We live in hope.

Sources include: Axios

That’s the top tech news stories for today.  Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com/
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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