23 December, 2012

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar retires from ODIs: Time stands still

The God of cricket has announced his retirement from ODIs on Sunday.  This brought an end to a glorious career of 23yrs. But a for sure his records will be unbroken for years. I don’t think we are so lucky to have another Sachin Tendulkar.

Announcing his retirement he said, “I have decided to retire from the One-Day format of the game. I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup wining Indian team. The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest," the 39-year-old said in a statement released by the BCCI today.

"I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years”
Tendulkar, considered the most complete batsman in modern cricket and one who was considered next only to the legendary Sir Donald Bradman, retires from the ODI format at the top of the run-getters' list.

Tendulkar goes out after amassing 18,426 runs in 463 one-dayers at an average of 44.83. The diminutive right-hander has an astonishing 49 hundreds in the format, including a double hundred -- the first in this form of the game.

Tendulkar made his ODI debut against Pakistan way back in 1989 and interestingly he is quitting the scene just ahead of another series against the arch-rivals.

The Mumbaikar, who made himself unavailable for Twenty20 after playing just one game in 2006, will now remain active in only the Test arena.

The brightest moment of his ODI career came last year when he finally became part of a World Cup winning Indian team after five previous appearances.

Speculation over Tendulkar's future had grown after his continuing failures in the past one year.

His last ODI hundred came in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March this year -- a feat that completed an unprecedented 100 international tons.

He was stuck on 99 tons for quite a while after scoring two hundreds during India's successful World Cup campaign. Tendulkar also has an mammoth tally of 96 ODI 50s to his credit.

Despite the recent slump in his form, Tendulkar's overall tally of runs is unlikely to be matched anytime soon given that the distant second-best in the list, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, has already retired from the game with 13,704 runs under his belt.

Sri Lanka's retired great Sanath Jayasuriya occupies the third spot in the overall chart with 13,430 runs.

Besides his batting, Tendulkar was an effective partnership-breaking bowler and finishes his ODI career with 154 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls.

Tendulkar's Test records are as awe-inspiring. The right-hander has 15,645 runs at an average of 54.32 in 194 Tests that he has played so far. The tally includes 51 hundreds and 66 half-centuries.
We love him forever and ever. Miss you Sachin

07 November, 2012

Obama re-elected as president of US: Barack Obama’s speech after his re-election victory

President Barack Obama’s speech in Chicago after his re-election Tuesday night, as transcribed by Roll Call:

"Thank you so much.

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Gov. Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics. The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley. You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this — this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag. To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president — that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go — forward. That’s where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.

By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.

Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I am hopeful tonight because I’ve seen the spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I’ve seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.

I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.

I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president.

And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.

I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States."

Source: The Treasure Blog

03 November, 2012

Kids Safety: Teaching Your Kids about Stranger Danger

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center estimates that roughly 2,000 children are reported missing every day. Luckily, the vast majority of missing children are found and their cases are resolved within hours; of those who aren’t immediately found, up to 49% are later found to have been abducted by a non-custodial parent or relative. 27% are kidnapped by an acquaintance, leaving only 24% at the hands of complete strangers. While the term “Stranger Danger” has a catchy ring to it, it’s actually a bit misleading because less than ¼ of all abducted children are taken by a stranger. This makes it extremely important to teach children about more than just stranger avoidance.
  • Most People Are Strangers – Realistically, the majority of the people that your child encounters throughout the course of his day are strangers. Instilling a fear of all strangers will only cause him to regard anyone he doesn’t know with fear, which could make it difficult for him to approach a stranger for help if he’s in need.
  • Avoid Absolutes – Saying things like “all strangers are bad,” or “never talk to anyone you don’t know, ever” only make it difficult for your child to navigate social encounters and unravel the mysteries of the world around him.
  • “Good” Strangers – Pointing out that kids can always turn to people in police or firefighters’ uniforms, teachers and other official authority figures can help him to understand the difference between strangers that wish him harm and those that can offer him assistance when he needs it.
  • No Gifts, Treats or Surprises – Let your child know that he shouldn’t accept any treats, presents or surprises from anyone that tells him that those gifts should be kept a secret. Making a policy of not accepting gifts from people he doesn’t know well is a wise idea.
  • Talk About “Tricky” People – Because most kids are abducted or sexually abused by people that they know it’s much more important for kids to learn about “tricky” people than “stranger danger.” A tricky person is anyone who asks him to keep a secret from his parents, to lie about where he’s been, or to go somewhere with them without talking to a parent first.
  • The Rules Apply to Big Kids, Too – Make sure that your child knows not to go anywhere with a tricky person, even if that person is an older kid. It’s easy for children taught about Stranger Danger to view adults as scary and other kids as always safe, but this isn’t always the case.
  • Encourage Kids to Ask Questions – In order to ensure that your child has a grasp of the concepts you’re teaching, have him ask you any questions that he wants. Let him know that he won’t be in any trouble, no matter what he asks. Your child needs to know that he can always trust you when he needs to talk about strangers, tricky people and trouble; presenting an opportunity to ask no-holds-barred questions on the subject can begin to build that trust.
  • Be Honest – It’s important to answer your child’s questions with age-appropriate honesty. Try not to evade questions, tell white lies, or otherwise subvert the truth when it comes to this very serious issue. Keep in mind that his questions are only an indication that he’s listening to what he’s being told, and is trying his best to process it.
  • Keep the Conversation Age-Appropriate – While it’s important to be honest and up-front with your child on the subject of abuse, Stranger Danger and abductions, you should also remember just how vivid your child’s imagination is. The child whose mind can turn a shadow on the wall into a lurking monster might not need all the gory details about a local abduction case.
  • Maintain an Ongoing Dialogue – It’s important to teach small children how to safely and responsibly handle situations with strangers and tricky people, but it’s also just as important to continue the conversation as your child ages. When he’s older, the focus may shift more to avoiding online predators and exploitation, but the basic concept is still the same and shouldn’t be abandoned after the first discussion.
Striking a balance between instructing kids on responsible behavior and outright fear-mongering is a challenge, but it’s one that you must face as a parent. While it’s of vital importance to educate your children regarding the best way to avoid abduction or abuse, it’s also important not to create anxiety and overwhelming fear of all strangers in his mind.


30 October, 2012

Hurricane Sandy thrilled USA: Amazing Pictures

Northeast Awakes to Flooding and Huge Damage in Storm’s Path; Millions without Power

FEMA Administrator: Storm Met Grim Expectations

United Airlines Cancels 4,700 Flights From Sunday to Wednesday

Death Toll in New York City Rises:Toll Rising in Deadly Mix of Rain, Wind and Flooding

PHOTO: Satellite View Of Sandy

Sandy Pushes Nation's Oldest Nuclear Facility To Declare Rare 'Alert'

Google Adds Resources For Those Affected By Superstorm

Estimate Suggests 145,000 without Power In Canada

Sandy gives Obama crisis stage: Declares 'Major Disaster'

The Treasure Blog is praying for the hurricane victims...

07 October, 2012

How to move your domain name account

Domain name account transfer is the process of transferring the destination registrar of a domain name. The process of transferring differs among registrars. Domain transfer normally happens due to the price factor. But honestly speaking, this is a very creepy process. Before transferring you need to purchase a domain of your own.

You have to get the following things done to get the domain transfer in effect.
  1.First unlock your domain from the old registrar.
  2.Make the domain transfer confirmed from the old registrar.
  3.Finally confirm the domain transfer from the new registrar.

The above are the overall procedure of transferring a domain but the detailed steps are as follows:

Step#1:Purchase a domain transfer first.

Step#2: Unlock the domain and then receive “Authorization code” from the old registrar. This can be done through control panel & support service depending upon your registrar.

Step#3: The new registrar then sends an e-mail containing your ID, Code & a link to confirm your transfer.

Step#4: Then you have to confirm the transfer using your “ID Number” & “Key Code” after clicking on the given link. Sometimes the “authorized code” is also asked during confirmation.

Step#5: Then the new registrar notifies the old registrar to transfer the domain.

Step#6:Getting the request, the old registrar processes the request and then confirms the new registrar about the release of the requested domain & asks you confirm.

Step#7: Then you have to confirm your transfer of domain to the old registrar.

Step#8: Now after confirming from you the old registrar releases your domain to your new registrar.

Step#9: The new registrar now sends a “Transfer Successful” message to you confirming your domain transfer.

Step#10: Now you get your domain transferred to the new registrar and can use it with sign in. And the transfer process gets completed.

Twitter Hacking Victims Find Stolen Accounts Sold On Black Market

Eric Weaver tried logging in to his Twitter account this summer, but he was locked out. A hacker had broken into his account and changed the password. But it didn't end there.
With a little digging, Weaver found that his Twitter handle -- @weave -- was beingsold in an online forum at HackForums.net. With more digging, he also found that software was being sold online to automate the process of quickly hacking dozens of Twitter accounts.
"I was surprised this was all happening so openly," said Weaver, an advertising executive in Seattle. The hackers "are able to operate with seeming impunity."
Weaver's experience is not unique. Other Twitter hacking victims have also discovered that their accounts are for sale in online forums like ForumKorner.com and HackForums.net, where coveted one-word Twitter handles are sold in bulk for as little as $10.
This week, Twitter user Daniel Dennis Jones detailed in a Storify post how his Twitter account -- @blanket -- was hacked, stolen and put up for sale on the black market. Jones said he communicated with his hacker, who claimed to be a 14-year-old South Dakota teen who hacks and sells one-word Twitter accounts. Jones has since regained access to his account.
Experts say the underground market for Twitter accounts and the apparent ease with which they are stolen raises questions about security at the popular micro-blogging site. Most companies have built systems to prevent hackers from repeatedly guessing passwords, said Chester Wisniewski, a researcher at cybersecurity firm Sophos.
“Why is Twitter not doing that?” Wisniewski said. “This has been going on for a long time. It’s not going away and Twitter doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.”
Twitter did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In his post on Storify, Jones said the teenager who claimed to be his hacker told him that hackers could mask the IP address of their location by exploiting a loophole in Twitter security.
Such software -- known as a “Twitter cracker" -- can be easily purchased online.
"It's very well worth it,” one seller recently said on ForumKorner.com, which was not working at the time of publication. “With this you can upload more than 10,000 passwords and it automatically checks the login and if it doesn't work it moves on to the next one.”
Hackers also use the site to sell the stolen accounts, sometimes in bulk. Last week, a hacker who went by the name of Gumbo posted a list of more than 30 recently-stolen Twitter names for sale -- including handles like “gadgetry” and “compadre" -- on ForumKorner.com.
Another hacker claimed to have stolen the Twitter handle @Fend and vowed to“begin the bidding at $30.” Still another, who went by the screenname Spongebob, was selling “a 20-pack of 4 character Twitter handles for $10." Among the accounts for sale were @Nona, @Pina, @Zala and @Wexa.
Such short, one-word Twitter handles are in high demand. They are not only easy to remember, but they also give users a few extra characters to express themselves within the 140-character limit. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that easy-to-recall Twitter handles like @adam or @megan have become "a stylish totem in the tech world."
In August, tech reporter Mat Honan revealed how his digital life was destroyed after hackers targeted him because of his short, unique Twitter handle -- @mat. Instead of trying to sell the account, they appeared to use @mat as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages, Honan wrote.
Rob Bertholf, who owns the Twitter handle @rob, said his account has never been hacked. But he suspects hackers often try -- albeit unsuccessfully -- to break into his account because he receives weekly email notifications from Twitter notifying him that someone is trying to reset his password.
“No doubt in my mind that I have been targeted many times,” Bertholf told The Huffington Post.
Weaver, the Seattle advertising executive, said that after his account was stolen, he was able to trace his hacker’s identity to a 20-year-old Miami man. He said the hacker was also selling other accounts: @Bond, @Mock, @Four, @Strung, @545 and @Mind.
"Selling or accepting trades only," the hacker wrote under the screen name "Darent.""I will show proof to serious buyers."
Weaver said he contacted Twitter, but did not regain access to his account for three weeks -- and only after a friend called one of his contacts who worked at Twitter. During that time, his said the name linked to his account was changed to "Jaimi in Brooklyn."
He said that getting his account stolen was particularly embarrassing because he is an ad executive whose work revolves around social media.
"My Twitter followers are friends and business colleagues," he said. "They were confused by my sudden fascination with hair, nail and certain R&B acts."
Weaver said he has since strengthened his Twitter password by making it 15 characters long and more complex, but added that the person who he thinks hacked his Twitter account continues to operate openly online.
“ They're just bored kids,” he said. "They think they're invincible."

Flickr photo by shawncampbell.

24 September, 2012

Facebook Can ID Faces, but Using Them Grows Tricky

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Friday confronted a new obstacle over what to do with one of its most vital assets — pictures.

The company promised European regulators that it would forgo using facial recognition software and delete the data used to identify Facebook users by their pictures.

The decision could have wide repercussions on how facial recognition technology — a particularly sensitive technological advance — is used globally as surveillance cameras are increasingly installed in public spaces.

“This is a big deal,” said Chris Hoofnagle, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley who specializes in online privacy.

“The development of these tools in the private sector directly affects civil liberties,” he explained. “The ultimate application is going to be — can we apply these patterns in video surveillance to automatically identify people for security purposes and maybe for marketing purposes as well?”

The agreement comes as Facebook is under pressure from Wall Street to profit from its vast trove of data, including pictures, and also from regulators worldwide over the use of personal information.

The decision in Europe applies to the “tag suggestion,” a Facebook feature that deploys a sophisticated facial recognition tool to automatically match pictures with names. When a Facebook user uploads a photo of friends, the “tag suggestion” feature can automatically pull up the names of the individuals in the image.

The facial recognition software was developed by an Israeli company, Face.com, which Facebook acquired for an undisclosed price in June.

The company quietly and temporarily pulled the plug on “tag suggestion” for all Facebook users several months ago. The company said on Friday it was to “make improvements to the tool’s efficiency” and did not say how soon it would be restored. However, the company promised European regulators on Friday that it would reinstate the feature on the Continent only after getting their approval.

Facebook declined to say under what circumstances the “tag suggestions” would be back online in the United States or elsewhere.

Facebook’s promise to the European regulators is part of an investigation into whether the company’s data collection practices comply with European privacy rules. It was made with regulators in Ireland, where the company has its European headquarters.

“We will continue to work together to ensure we remain compliant with European data protection law,” Facebook said in a statement.

Europe is an important market for the company, as it struggles to prove its worth on Wall Street. About one in four Facebook users logs in from Europe. According to the company’s earnings figures, Europe accounts for just under a third of its advertising revenue.

Pictures have always been vital to Facebook. Pictures are what drew users to Facebook in its earliest days, and pictures are what continue to keep people coming back. Facebook users upload 300 million images a day. The company’s acquisition of Instagram, the photo-sharing site, eliminated its biggest rival in this area.

Photo tagging is important for Facebook in the sense that it allows the social network to better analyze with whom its users interact in the real world.

In addition to scrutiny from European regulators, Facebook has also come under fire from consumer protection groups and lawmakers in the United States over its use of facial recognition technology. At a hearing on Capitol Hill last July, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, described Facebook as the “world’s largest privately held database of face prints — without the explicit consent of its users.”

On Friday, Mr. Franken said in an e-mail statement that he hoped Facebook would offer a way for American users to opt in to its photographic database.

“I believe that we have a fundamental right to privacy, and that means people should have the ability to choose whether or not they’ll be enrolled in a commercial facial recognition database,” he said. “I encourage Facebook to provide the same privacy protections to its American users as it does its foreign ones.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Facebook’s use of automatic tagging. The complaint is pending. The commission has a consent order with Facebook that subjects the company to audits over its privacy policies for the next 20 years.

Personal data is Facebook’s crown jewel, but how to use it artfully and profitably is arguably its biggest challenge. Facebook has access to a tremendous amount of information about its one billion users, including the photos they upload every day. Marketers have pushed for greater access to that data, so as to tailor the right message to the right customer. Consumers and lawmakers have resisted, to different degrees in different countries around the world.

“They are pushing the edges of what privacy rules may allow, just as an aggressive driver might with parking rules,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst with the Pivotal Research Group, a research firm in New York. “You don’t know you’ve broken a law until someone says you’ve broken a law.”

Several independent application developers are experimenting with how to use facial recognition technology in the real world, and have sought to use pictures on Facebook to build products of their own.

For example, one company in Atlanta is developing an application to allow Facebook users to be identified by cameras installed in stores and restaurants. The company, Redpepper, said in a blog post that users would have to authorize the application to pull their most recent tagged photographs. The company said its “custom-developed cameras then simply use this existing data to identify you in the real world,” including by offering special discounts and deals.


Power, Pollution and the Internet

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jeff Rothschild’s machines at Facebook had a problem he knew he had to solve immediately. They were about to melt.
The company had been packing a 40-by-60-foot rental space here with racks of computer servers that were needed to store and process information from members’ accounts. The electricity pouring into the computers was overheating Ethernet sockets and other crucial components.
Thinking fast, Mr. Rothschild, the company’s engineering chief, took some employees on an expedition to buy every fan they could find — “We cleaned out all of the Walgreens in the area,” he said — to blast cool air at the equipment and prevent the Web site from going down.
That was in early 2006, when Facebook had a quaint 10 million or so users and the one main server site. Today, the information generated by nearly one billion people requires outsize versions of these facilities, called data centers, with rows and rows of servers spread over hundreds of thousands of square feet, and all with industrial cooling systems.
They are a mere fraction of the tens of thousands of data centers that now exist to support the overall explosion of digital information. Stupendous amounts of data are set in motion each day as, with an innocuous click or tap, people download movies on iTunes, check credit card balances through Visa’s Web site, send Yahoo e-mail with files attached, buy products on Amazon, post on Twitter or read newspapers online.
A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.
To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters.
Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.
“It’s staggering for most people, even people in the industry, to understand the numbers, the sheer size of these systems,” said Peter Gross, who helped design hundreds of data centers. “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.”
Energy efficiency varies widely from company to company. But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.
A server is a sort of bulked-up desktop computer, minus a screen and keyboard, that contains chips to process data. The study sampled about 20,000 servers in about 70 large data centers spanning the commercial gamut: drug companies, military contractors, banks, media companies and government agencies.
“This is an industry dirty secret, and no one wants to be the first to say mea culpa,” said a senior industry executive who asked not to be identified to protect his company’s reputation. “If we were a manufacturing industry, we’d be out of business straightaway.”
These physical realities of data are far from the mythology of the Internet: where lives are lived in the “virtual” world and all manner of memory is stored in “the cloud.”
The inefficient use of power is largely driven by a symbiotic relationship between users who demand an instantaneous response to the click of a mouse and companies that put their business at risk if they fail to meet that expectation.
Even running electricity at full throttle has not been enough to satisfy the industry. In addition to generators, most large data centers contain banks of huge, spinning flywheels or thousands of lead-acid batteries — many of them similar to automobile batteries — to power the computers in case of a grid failure as brief as a few hundredths of a second, an interruption that could crash the servers.
“It’s a waste,” said Dennis P. Symanski, a senior researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit industry group. “It’s too many insurance policies.”
At least a dozen major data centers have been cited for violations of air quality regulations in Virginia and Illinois alone, according to state records. Amazon was cited with more than 24 violations over a three-year period in Northern Virginia, including running some of its generators without a basic environmental permit.
A few companies say they are using extensively re-engineered software and cooling systems to decrease wasted power. Among them are Facebook and Google, which also have redesigned their hardware. Still, according to recent disclosures, Google’s data centers consume nearly 300 million watts and Facebook’s about 60 million watts.
Many of these solutions are readily available, but in a risk-averse industry, most companies have been reluctant to make wholesale change, according to industry experts.
Improving or even assessing the field is complicated by the secretive nature of an industry that is largely built around accessing other people’s personal data.
For security reasons, companies typically do not even reveal the locations of their data centers, which are housed in anonymous buildings and vigilantly protected. Companies also guard their technology for competitive reasons, said Michael Manos, a longtime industry executive. “All of those things play into each other to foster this closed, members-only kind of group,” he said.
That secrecy often extends to energy use. To further complicate any assessment, no single government agency has the authority to track the industry. In fact, the federal government was unable to determine how much energy its own data centers consume, according to officials involved in a survey completed last year.
The survey did discover that the number of federal data centers grew from 432 in 1998 to 2,094 in 2010.
To investigate the industry, The Times obtained thousands of pages of local, state and federal records, some through freedom of information laws, that are kept on industrial facilities that use large amounts of energy. Copies of permits for generators and information about their emissions were obtained from environmental agencies, which helped pinpoint some data center locations and details of their operations.
In addition to reviewing records from electrical utilities, The Times also visited data centers across the country and conducted hundreds of interviews with current and former employees and contractors.
Some analysts warn that as the amount of data and energy use continue to rise, companies that do not alter their practices could eventually face a shake-up in an industry that has been prone to major upheavals, including the bursting of the first Internet bubble in the late 1990s.
“It’s just not sustainable,” said Mark Bramfitt, a former utility executive who now consults for the power and information technology industries. “They’re going to hit a brick wall.”
Bytes by the Billions
Wearing an FC Barcelona T-shirt and plaid Bermuda shorts, Andre Tran strode through a Yahoo data center in Santa Clara where he was the site operations manager. Mr. Tran’s domain — there were servers assigned to fantasy sports and photo sharing, among other things — was a fair sample of the countless computer rooms where the planet’s sloshing tides of data pass through or come to rest.
Aisle after aisle of servers, with amber, blue and green lights flashing silently, sat on a white floor punctured with small round holes that spit out cold air. Within each server were the spinning hard drives that store the data. The only hint that the center was run by Yahoo, whose name was nowhere in sight, could be found in a tangle of cables colored in the company’s signature purple and yellow.
“There could be thousands of people’s e-mails on these,” Mr. Tran said, pointing to one storage aisle. “People keep old e-mails and attachments forever, so you need a lot of space.”
This is the mundane face of digital information — player statistics flowing into servers that calculate fantasy points and league rankings, snapshots from nearly forgotten vacations kept forever in storage devices. It is only when the repetitions of those and similar transactions are added up that they start to become impressive.
Each year, chips in servers get faster, and storage media get denser and cheaper, but the furious rate of data production goes a notch higher.
Jeremy Burton, an expert in data storage, said that when he worked at a computer technology company 10 years ago, the most data-intensive customer he dealt with had about 50,000 gigabytes in its entire database. (Data storage is measured in bytes. The letter N, for example, takes 1 byte to store. A gigabyte is a billion bytes of information.)
Today, roughly a million gigabytes are processed and stored in a data center during the creation of a single 3-D animated movie, said Mr. Burton, now at EMC, a company focused on the management and storage of data.
Just one of the company’s clients, the New York Stock Exchange, produces up to 2,000 gigabytes of data per day that must be stored for years, he added.
EMC and the International Data Corporation together estimated that more than 1.8 trillion gigabytes of digital information were created globally last year.
“It is absolutely a race between our ability to create data and our ability to store and manage data,” Mr. Burton said.
About three-quarters of that data, EMC estimated, was created by ordinary consumers.
With no sense that data is physical or that storing it uses up space and energy, those consumers have developed the habit of sending huge data files back and forth, like videos and mass e-mails with photo attachments. Even the seemingly mundane actions like running an app to find an Italian restaurant in Manhattan or a taxi in Dallas requires servers to be turned on and ready to process the information instantaneously.
The complexity of a basic transaction is a mystery to most users: Sending a message with photographs to a neighbor could involve a trip through hundreds or thousands of miles of Internet conduits and multiple data centers before the e-mail arrives across the street.
“If you tell somebody they can’t access YouTube or download from Netflix, they’ll tell you it’s a God-given right,” said Bruce Taylor, vice president of the Uptime Institute, a professional organization for companies that use data centers.
To support all that digital activity, there are now more than three million data centers of widely varying sizes worldwide, according to figures from the International Data Corporation.
Nationwide, data centers used about 76 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010, or roughly 2 percent of all electricity used in the country that year, based on an analysis by Jonathan G. Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University who has been studying data center energy use for more than a decade. DatacenterDynamics, a London-based firm, derived similar figures.
The industry has long argued that computerizing business transactions and everyday tasks like banking and reading library books has the net effect of saving energy and resources. But the paper industry, which some predicted would be replaced by the computer age, consumed 67 billion kilowatt-hours from the grid in 2010, according to Census Bureau figures reviewed by the Electric Power Research Institute for The Times.
Direct comparisons between the industries are difficult: paper uses additional energy by burning pulp waste and transporting products. Data centers likewise involve tens of millions of laptops, personal computers and mobile devices.
Chris Crosby, chief executive of the Dallas-based Compass Datacenters, said there was no immediate end in sight to the proliferation of digital infrastructure.
“There are new technologies and improvements,” Mr. Crosby said, “but it still all runs on a power cord.”
‘Comatose’ Power Drains
Engineers at Viridity Software, a start-up that helped companies manage energy resources, were not surprised by what they discovered on the floor of a sprawling data center near Atlanta.
Viridity had been brought on board to conduct basic diagnostic testing. The engineers found that the facility, like dozens of others they had surveyed, was using the majority of its power on servers that were doing little except burning electricity, said Michael Rowan, who was Viridity’s chief technology officer.
A senior official at the data center already suspected that something was amiss. He had previously conducted his own informal survey, putting red stickers on servers he believed to be “comatose” — the term engineers use for servers that are plugged in and using energy even as their processors are doing little if any computational work.
“At the end of that process, what we found was our data center had a case of the measles,” said the official, Martin Stephens, during a Web seminar with Mr. Rowan. “There were so many red tags out there it was unbelievable.”
The Viridity tests backed up Mr. Stephens’s suspicions: in one sample of 333 servers monitored in 2010, more than half were found to be comatose. All told, nearly three-quarters of the servers in the sample were using less than 10 percent of their computational brainpower, on average, to process data.
The data center’s operator was not some seat-of-the-pants app developer or online gambling company, butLexisNexis, the database giant. And it was hardly unique.
In many facilities, servers are loaded with applications and left to run indefinitely, even after nearly all users have vanished or new versions of the same programs are running elsewhere.
“You do have to take into account that the explosion of data is what aids and abets this,” said Mr. Taylor of the Uptime Institute. “At a certain point, no one is responsible anymore, because no one, absolutely no one, wants to go in that room and unplug a server.”
Kenneth Brill, an engineer who in 1993 founded the Uptime Institute, said low utilization began with the field’s “original sin.”
In the early 1990s, Mr. Brill explained, software operating systems that would now be considered primitive crashed if they were asked to do too many things, or even if they were turned on and off. In response, computer technicians seldom ran more than one application on each server and kept the machines on around the clock, no matter how sporadically that application might be called upon.
So as government energy watchdogs urged consumers to turn off computers when they were not being used, the prime directive at data centers became running computers at all cost.
A crash or a slowdown could end a career, said Michael Tresh, formerly a senior official at Viridity. A field born of cleverness and audacity is now ruled by something else: fear of failure.
“Data center operators live in fear of losing their jobs on a daily basis,” Mr. Tresh said, “and that’s because the business won’t back them up if there’s a failure.”
In technical terms, the fraction of a computer’s brainpower being used on computations is called “utilization.”
McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm that analyzed utilization figures for The Times, has been monitoring the issue since at least 2008, when it published a report that received little notice outside the field. The figures have remained stubbornly low: the current findings of 6 percent to 12 percent are only slightly better than those in 2008. Because of confidentiality agreements, McKinsey is unable to name the companies that were sampled.
David Cappuccio, a managing vice president and chief of research at Gartner, a technology research firm, said his own recent survey of a large sample of data centers found that typical utilizations ran from 7 percent to 12 percent.
“That’s how we’ve overprovisioned and run data centers for years,” Mr. Cappuccio said. “ ‘Let’s overbuild just in case we need it’ — that level of comfort costs a lot of money. It costs a lot of energy.”
Servers are not the only components in data centers that consume energy. Industrial cooling systems, circuitry to keep backup batteries charged and simple dissipation in the extensive wiring all consume their share.
In a typical data center, those losses combined with low utilization can mean that the energy wasted is as much as 30 times the amount of electricity used to carry out the basic purpose of the data center.
Some companies, academic organizations and research groups have shown that vastly more efficient practices are possible, although it is difficult to compare different types of tasks.
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, which consists of clusters of servers and mainframe computers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, ran at 96.4 percent utilization in July, said Jeff Broughton, the director of operations. The efficiency is achieved by queuing up large jobs and scheduling them so that the machines are running nearly full-out, 24 hours a day.
A company called Power Assure, based in Santa Clara, markets a technology that enables commercial data centers to safely power down servers when they are not needed — overnight, for example.
But even with aggressive programs to entice its major customers to save energy, Silicon Valley Power has not been able to persuade a single data center to use the technique in Santa Clara, said Mary Medeiros McEnroe, manager of energy efficiency programs at the utility.
“It’s a nervousness in the I.T. community that something isn’t going to be available when they need it,” Ms. McEnroe said.
The streamlining of the data center done by Mr. Stephens for LexisNexis Risk Solutions is an illustration of the savings that are possible.
In the first stage of the project, he said that by consolidating the work in fewer servers and updating hardware, he was able to shrink a 25,000-square-foot facility into 10,000 square feet.
Of course, data centers must have some backup capacity available at all times and achieving 100 percent utilization is not possible. They must be prepared to handle surges in traffic.
Mr. Symanski, of the Electric Power Research Institute, said that such low efficiencies made sense only in the obscure logic of the digital infrastructure.
“You look at it and say, ‘How in the world can you run a business like that,’ ” Mr. Symanski said. The answer is often the same, he said: “They don’t get a bonus for saving on the electric bill. They get a bonus for having the data center available 99.999 percent of the time.”
The Best-Laid Plans
In Manassas, Va., the retailing colossus Amazon runs servers for its cloud amid a truck depot, a defunct grain elevator, a lumberyard and junk-strewn lots where machines compress loads of trash for recycling.
The servers are contained in two Amazon data centers run out of three buildings shaped like bulky warehouses with green, corrugated sides. Air ducts big enough to accommodate industrial cooling systems sprout along the rooftops; huge diesel generators sit in rows around the outside.
The term “cloud” is often generally used to describe a data center’s functions. More specifically, it refers to a service for leasing computing capacity. These facilities are primarily powered from the national grid, but generators and batteries are nearly always present to provide electricity if the grid goes dark.
The Manassas sites are among at least eight major data centers Amazon operates in Northern Virginia, according to records of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.
The department is on familiar terms with Amazon. As a result of four inspections beginning in October 2010, the company was told it would be fined $554,476 by the agency for installing and repeatedly running diesel generators without obtaining standard environmental permits required to operate in Virginia.
Even if there are no blackouts, backup generators still emit exhaust because they must be regularly tested.
After months of negotiations, the penalty was reduced to $261,638. In a “degree of culpability” judgment, all 24 violations were given the ranking “high.”
Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, agreed that the company “did not get the proper permits” before the generators were turned on. “All of these generators were all subsequently permitted and approved,” Mr. Herdener said.
The violations came in addition to a series of lesser infractions at one of Amazon’s data centers in Ashburn, Va., in 2009, for which the company paid $3,496, according to the department’s records.
Of all the things the Internet was expected to become, it is safe to say that a seed for the proliferation of backup diesel generators was not one of them.
Terry Darton, a former manager at Virginia’s environmental agency, said permits had been issued to enough generators for data centers in his 14-county corner of Virginia to nearly match the output of a nuclear power plant.
“It’s shocking how much potential power is available,” said Mr. Darton, who retired in August.
No national figures on environmental violations by data centers are available, but a check of several environmental districts suggests that the centers are beginning to catch the attention of regulators across the country.
Over the past five years in the Chicago area, for example, the Internet powerhouses Savvis and Equinix received violation notices, according to records from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Aside from Amazon, Northern Virginia officials have also cited data centers run by Qwest, Savvis, VeriSign and NTT America.
Despite all the precautions — the enormous flow of electricity, the banks of batteries and the array of diesel generators — data centers still crash.
Amazon, in particular, has had a series of failures in Northern Virginia over the last several years. One, in May 2010 at a facility in Chantilly, took businesses dependent on Amazon’s cloud offline for what the company said was more than an hour — an eternity in the data business.
Pinpointing the cause became its own information glitch.
Amazon announced that the failure “was triggered when a vehicle crashed into a high-voltage utility pole on a road near one of our data centers.”
As it turns out, the car accident was mythical, a misunderstanding passed from a local utility lineman to a data center worker to Amazon headquarters. Instead, Amazon said that its backup gear mistakenly shut down part of the data center after what Dominion Virginia Power said was a short on an electrical pole that set off two momentary failures.
Mr. Herdener of Amazon said the backup system had been redesigned, and that “we don’t expect this condition to repeat.”
The Source of the Problem
Last year in the Northeast, a $1 billion feeder line for the national power grid went into operation, snaking roughly 215 miles from southwestern Pennsylvania, through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia and terminating in Loudon County, Va.
The work was financed by millions of ordinary ratepayers. Steven R. Herling, a senior official at PJM Interconnection, a regional authority for the grid, said the need to feed the mushrooming data centers in Northern Virginia was the “tipping point” for the project in an otherwise down economy.
Data centers in the area now consume almost 500 million watts of electricity, said Jim Norvelle, a spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power, the major utility there. Dominion estimates that the load could rise to more than a billion watts over the next five years.
Data centers are among utilities’ most prized customers. Many utilities around the country recruit the facilities for their almost unvarying round-the-clock loads. Large, steady consumption is profitable for utilities because it allows them to plan their own power purchases in advance and market their services at night, when demand by other customers plummets.
Mr. Bramfitt, the former utility executive, said he feared that this dynamic was encouraging a wasteful industry to cling to its pedal-to-the-metal habits. Even with all the energy and hardware pouring into the field, others believe it will be a challenge for current methods of storing and processing data to keep up with the digital tsunami.
Some industry experts believe a solution lies in the cloud: centralizing computing among large and well-operated data centers. Those data centers would rely heavily on a technology called virtualization, which in effect allows servers to merge their identities into large, flexible computing resources that can be doled out as needed to users, wherever they are.
One advocate of that approach is Mr. Koomey, the Stanford data center expert. But he said that many companies that try to manage their own data centers, either in-house or in rental spaces, are still unfamiliar with or distrustful of the new cloud technology. Unfortunately, those companies account for the great majority of energy usage by data centers, Mr. Koomey said.
Others express deep skepticism of the cloud, saying that the sometimes mystical-sounding belief in its possibilities is belied by the physicality of the infrastructure needed to support it.
Using the cloud “just changes where the applications are running,” said Hank Seader, managing principal for research and education at the Uptime Institute. “It all goes to a data center somewhere.”
Some wonder if the very language of the Internet is a barrier to understanding how physical it is, and is likely to stay. Take, for example, the issue of storing data, said Randall H. Victora, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota who does research on magnetic storage devices.
“When somebody says, ‘I’m going to store something in the cloud, we don’t need disk drives anymore’ — the cloud is disk drives,” Mr. Victora said. “We get them one way or another. We just don’t know it.”
Whatever happens within the companies, it is clear that among consumers, what are now settled expectations largely drive the need for such a formidable infrastructure.
“That’s what’s driving that massive growth — the end-user expectation of anything, anytime, anywhere,” said David Cappuccio, a managing vice president and chief of research at Gartner, the technology research firm. “We’re what’s causing the problem.”

Source: NYTimes