Amazon failure takes down sites across Internet

Posted April 21, 2011, at 8:40 p.m.

NEW YORK — Major websites including Foursquare and Reddit crashed or suffered slowdowns Thursday after technical problems rattled Amazon.com’s widely used Web servers, frustrating millions of people who couldn’t access their favorite sites.

Though better known for selling books, DVDs and other consumer goods, Amazon also rents out space on huge computer servers that run many websites and other online services.

The problems began at an Amazon data center near Dulles Airport outside Washington and persisted into the afternoon. The failures were widespread, but they varied in severity.

HootSuite, which lets users monitor Twitter and other social networks more easily, was down completely, as was questions-and-answers site Quora.

The location-sharing social network Foursquare experienced glitches, while the news-sharing site Reddit was in “emergency read-only mode.”

Many other companies that use Amazon Web Services, such as Netflix Inc. and Zynga Inc., which runs Facebook games, appeared to be unscathed. Amazon has at least one other major data center that stayed up, in California.

It’s not uncommon for Internet services to become inaccessible due to technical problems, sometimes for hours or even days. But Thursday’s outages were notable because Amazon’s servers are so commonly used, meaning many sites went down at once.

Conn. man charged after dumping $200 worth of gas

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Maybe he just didn’t get the math.

Police say a Connecticut man poured about $200 worth of gasoline onto a city street then went to a scrap metal yard and tried to sell the empty container worth $60.

Emilio Valentine of Bridgeport was charged Tuesday with illegally dumping hazardous material. He was released on a promise to appear in court.

Stephen Scholz of PC Metals tells The Connecticut Post that the 52-year-old Valentine dumped the fuel as he was driving and the metal container was still dripping when he pulled into the scrap yard. Scholz told Valentine to leave.

Police say Valentine admitted dumping the gas only after failing in efforts to sell it.

The state Department of Environmental Protection cleaned up the mess.

Ga. hacker caught with 675K credit card accounts

WASHINGTON — A computer hacker from Georgia has pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft after authorities found him with more than 675,000 stolen credit card accounts on his home computers.

Twenty-six-year-old Rogelio Hackett Jr. of Lithonia, Ga., pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Virginia.

Credit card companies have traced more than $36 million in fraudulent transactions to the accounts that were breached by Hackett.

Court documents indicate that Hackett built a reputation for himself as a teenager in the hacking community and had been stealing account information for roughly a decade. Typically, he sold the account data to others, who would use them to make fraudulent charges.

He will be sentenced in July and faces two to 12 years in prison.

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