The lights go out at Microsoft

Other states may have been laughing at California's recent blackouts, but there's a certain company in Redmond, Washington, that's getting a taste of what it's like.

Other states may have been laughing at California's recent blackouts, but there's a certain company in Redmond, Washington, that's getting a taste of what it's like.

All of Microsoft's websites went down last week, blacked out by what the company said was a DNS meltdown.

The Microsoft hit followed the news that web traffic for Yahoo, Microsoft and others was misdirected last weekend to, causing that company's servers to crash.

"I think it's a hacker, Bobby," said Randi, phoning me from her spa trip. "I'm not coming back until it's all worked out."

So to all you Hotmail users, take heart. It's not just your email that doesn't work right now. It's all of Microsoft's sites, from Hotmail to MSNBC to the corporate site.

Another user reports problems with the service, another free web-based email system. Mail servers at the service were recently unavailable for two days. And our user sent test messages from another account and still hasn't received them. Perhaps they've been routed to

CEO faux pas

More news from Red Sky victims. The company's Houston office had recently laid off several staff members. But to add insult to injury, now the management is asking those former employees to do contract work because they need to finish up certain projects.

Even worse, chief executive Bill Bingham, during a Houston meeting about the layoffs, said the other offices didn't really like the Houston office anyway, according to my spies.

Some America Online workers who were part of the recent bloody axe attack to trim the workforce are complaining, too. They've also been asked to stay for contract work.

Excite@Home recently showed several loyal workers the door. But all its customers struggling with uptime for the high-speed cable internet service should know that that division wasn't affected.

Double the pleasure

Apparently Verizon Communications is having a DSL double-billing problem in more states than just Florida. A Virginia user of the service reports that he's been double-billed in three out of the last four months. Customer service did not move at high speed either. Our user spent hours on the phone with Verizon to no avail until he got the Virginia Office of Consumers involved. Verizon finally promised this guy a credit on his bill -- in March. Too bad the rest of the company can't move at DSL speeds.

No cloning around

The new Apple Super Drive CD-RW/ DVD-R may be really cool if you want to burn your own content to CD. But forget about it if you want to back up some of your packaged software. The Super Drive, available in the highest-end Macs, comes with built-in copy protection. It prevents users from burning discs with material it doesn't think they have the rights to.

"Please come back," I begged Randi over the phone. "When the power is gone, my heat is out." "Let me think about it, Bobby," she said.

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