Best and worst tech bloopers: September edition

AT&T, Google, Microsoft & United Airlines all star this month

While watching a blooper reel at a recent baseball game, I got to thinking about whether we could pull off a regular bloopers collection of technology-related incidents.  

Tech vendors and others didn’t disappoint (or rather, perhaps they did):

*United Airlines ticket free-for-all

United Airlines

Usually when you hear about an airline computer glitch the result is delayed flights. But in a happy turn of events for customers last week, a problem with United’s ticketing system wound up offering people tickets for as low as free, $5 and $10 on Sept. 12. After reviewing the situation, United said it would honor the ticket purchases, though didn’t say how many bargain tickets were sold or how much it will cost the company. 

*AT&T’s regrettable 9/11 tweet

AT&T on Sept. 11, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, tweeted out an image of a person taking a smartphone picture of the Tribute in Light in New York City, with the simple message “Never Forget.” That led to outrage on Twitter by those who saw the carrier exploiting the anniversary to hawk its technology. AT&T responded quickly to the complaints, pulling the tweet about an hour after it posted and issuing an apology via Twitter instead: “We apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy.”

*Google unveils KitKat Android on purpose -- and Nexus 5 by mistake?

In releasing its chocolatey good video about the new edition of Android, dubbed KitKat, Google might have mistakenly showed off its unannounced Nexus 5 smartphone as well. The LG-branded devices appears bigger than the Nexus 4, which is shown being used by a Googler standing next to the one with the unannounced gadget (just before the 40-second mark of the video). Google pulled the video once its slip-up was made public.

*Speaking of pulled videos…

Microsoft pulled one of its own, after it made fun of the new plastic iPhone 5C smartphones, the gold iPhone 5S and the rumored iWatch. It appeared as though the number of viewers would soon exceed the number of Surface tablets bought.

But we did find one copy of the video still on YouTube, though it’s possible the Microsoft video police will get to it soon. If it disappears for good, though, there are always these other iPhone announcement spoofs to view

*Minnesota health insurance exchange shares too much info

The Minnesota legislative auditor is investigating a data security breach involving an employee of the state’s new health insurance exchange who accidentally emailed the names and Social Security numbers of 2,400 insurance agents to a broker. According to a Minnesota Public Radio report on the incident, the auditor said: “[W]e still need to understand why it was done, where this data came from, what was the purpose of attaching it (in the email). Was it completely just a mistake? If so, what controls does the organization have for preventing these kinds of things, why wasn't the data encrypted? We have a lot of questions that we will need answers to."

* Amazon hiccups

In the grand scheme of Amazon outages, the one on Friday the 13th was a mere blip, but an outage nevertheless. Amazon cited network connectivity issues for the outage, according to NW’s Cloud Chronicles blog. Amazon said the outage affected various Amazon Web Services, including its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and resolved the problem within a couple of hours.

[APOLOGIES: 10 Sorriest Technology Companies of 2013, so far]

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +. 

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