It’s that time of the year that is unabashedly American: July 4th, picnics, trips to the beach, weekends in the park. Thanks to the efforts of the American military and a great democratic system, we can enjoy it. However. (There is always a “however” in this blog). Slightware, those nasty glitches that damage brands and perceptions, was thoroughly unpatriotic this month.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Randomly Selected By Computer Application…
Several weeks ago Ilya Smirnov’s life changed in an instant. The 26-year-old Siberian native was living  in the United States on a temporary visa and had applied to the State Department’s Diversity Lottery. He was notified that he had been selected to permanently settle in the US and receive a green card. Ilya said, “We were so happy, we couldn’t sleep for two nights.” He called his mother in Russia and told her to sell his car and put his Moscow apartment on the market.

And then his life changed back.

Two weeks later, the following message appeared on the State Department’s website: “We regret to inform you that because of a computer programming error…the results of the 2012 Diversity Lottery (DV2012) have been voided.”

He was one of 22,000 people who’d been informed that they won a Green Card only to find out that the notification was the result of a…computer glitch. The State Department declined to comment other than to say it was “investigating” what happened.

At Least The Real Estate Market Is Improving – Oh, Never Mind
In Illinois things are looking up. Maybe not. The Illinois Association of Realtors found that a computer glitch had inflated their reported median sale prices from November 2010 to May 2011. The glitch failed to load some data and 11 percent of the records per month were dropped.

“We pride ourselves in having solid, accurate data,” said Mary Schaefer, IAR Communications Director, “and it was a malfunction related to uploading to the system and it has been corrected.”

Welcome to America, Slowly Please
Border crossings with both Canada and Mexico experienced massive delays earlier this month when an automated system that scans license plates malfunctioned.  All plates needed to be entered into the system by hand. Some people reported waiting up to three hours. The customs service had a different perspective. A rep stated, “”That long of a wait would require us to create a report, and I haven’t received one.” So, it didn’t happen then?

Justice, or Stupidity, Has Been Served
In traditional hang-em-high fashion a local police department in Texas distributes a weekly Featured Fugitive release to the local media. Unfortunately a computer system glitch generated the wrong photo for one of the fugitives. Talk about dodging a bullet. Not satisfied with high-tailing it out of town, the fugitive decided to try to use the glitch to his advantage.  He called the police and told them his wallet had been stolen and that the man in the picture was probably the person who stole it. The police quickly sorted through the glitch and the fugitive was arrested.

So, as the sun fades into the red, white and blue screen of death remember, our country may be glitchy, but its still a great place live.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free atwww.Slightware.com
Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

“Software” and “Government.” Context is the great determining factor in what you think of these terms. When the context includes criminals and terrorists, the humor disappears.

A Terrifying Glitch
Government budget issues are forcing states to make tough decisions. In California, a software application was used to help decide on how to reduce the prison population. The software got it wrong: 450 inmates who were deemed to have a “high risk for violence” were released on unsupervised parole due to a glitch. The parole status was: “non-revocable parole.” The inmates do not have to report to parole officers and can only be sent back to prison if they are caught committing another crime. An additional 1,000 convicts said to present a risk for future drug crimes and property crimes were also released.  And it gets worse: State prison officials have been given two years to slash the 143,335-prisoner count by around 33,000.

A Terrifying Lack of Interest
In 2009 a group of researchers and students at UCLA were experimenting with a massive data store and a theory. “Island biogeography” theory was developed to provide insight how a species moves within environments. They decided to use it for something different: Finding Osama Bin Laden.

The data and theory drove them to some chilling conclusions:
– He would not be in a cave. He would be in a house within a high-walled compound.
– He would not be in a rural area. He would be in a small city.
– He would not be in Afghanistan. He would be in Pakistan.

The findings were shared with the media. No one in the government or the intelligence community ever contacted the project leader about the work.

Sadly, they even picked an exact location, and missed by less than 300 miles.

Facial recognition technology, data mining, data modeling and other software applications are now a part of the government’s arsenal for fighting crime and the war on terror.  Let’s hope they get it right sooner rather than later.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com
Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

If your brand involves transportation – getting people from point A to point B – nothing will ruin the customer experience more than, well, NOT getting people from point A to point B. Many types of transportation are becoming more and more software dependent, and for the most part, experiences are far better.  How about those days of CALLING an airline to check the status of a flight? But, when software turns into slightware trying to go places is pointless.

Surely You Can’s Be Serious…
Here are a few things you never want to hear when boarding a plane: “Glitch,” software,” and “backup.”  Several weeks ago, flights in Alberta were delayed for more than two hours when a software upgrade went wrong. In order to keep things moving flight officials “had to begin manually inputting some flight path data.”  Things were even worse down under. Passengers trying to fly to Melbourne faced up to a seven hour delay when a glitch brought down check-in terminals.  Here, too, all of the information had to be entered by hand. Australians trying to fly to Japan following the devastating tsunami encountered another problem: glitches. Qantas systems showed that all flights into Japan were full even though hundreds of seats were still available.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit following airplane software problems.

All Aboard!
Residents in Calgary were surprised to find the cost of using the park and ride system had increased..uh..dramatically.  One rider parked at the train station and found her parking charge to be tripled. A company that maintains a corporate account for all of its employees was hit with a $4,000 charge. The problem was, of course, a glitch. A mere 23,000 people were affected.

“There’s Your Problem – Your C# Aint Sharp Enough”
Remember those days when your dad, uncle or friendly neighbor could fix the family car? Today you need to have an MIT grad on standby. One of the Big Three is recalling over 10,000 cars because a software glitch could cause the defrosters to stop working. And if your first recall doesn’t work – do it again! Another Big Three member is recalling more than 9,000 vehicles for a second time to fix a software problem that could lead to an electrical short. Unfortunately software problems in cars are nothing new.  Last year one of the leading import brands recalled more than 400,000 automobiles because a software problem caused the brakes to momentarily let up. Yeah, seeing where you’re going and brakes might be important.

Live by the Glitch…
In Longview, Washington 303 drivers had traffic cam speeding tickets waived because a software problem incorrectly specified the location of the infraction. Drivers, don’t get too comfy.  In Woodstock, Georgia over 6,000 drivers who served sentences for suspended licenses may serve them again. Court records were never transferred from one system to another due to a computer error. “We think over 6,000 cases were involved, and that’s for seat belt tickets all the way up to DUI and possession of marijuana less than an ounce,” said the Woodstock Court Records Coordinator.  Drinking and pot smoking in Woodstock? Ironic.

Keep the shiny side up and the number of code errors down, good buddies.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com
Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

A funny thing happened on the way to the connected future: we became very forgiving of predictability and reliability problems. Sure, we hate it when our cell phone drops a signal but what do we DO about it? Sometimes, not much. We, as consumers, have slightly lowered our expectations when it comes to the performance of systems.

App-sent Data
Many online entertainment, shopping and social services have realized that consumers are bouncing between the web and the smart phone. More importantly, phones allow for “an always with you – always on” relationship not afforded by desktops or laptops. Smart phone lovers can’t get enough apps, and brands can’t seem to make them quickly enough. The problem arises when the app experience and the web experience are not in sync. Many users stumble between the experiences not understanding what is current and what is missing. Should all posts be in both experiences for Facebook? Should your checking account balance be the same on the web and on an app? Yes and Yes. Does it always work? No and no. And oddly enough, we’re OK with that.

We’ll Be Back After This Brief Whatever
Downtime has become a brand in itself. A Twitter outage is now synonymous with the Fail Whale, a fun and quirky graphic designed by Yiying Lu. Now the appearance of the whale is met with only minor shrugs.  Facebook users often find “There are no more posts to show right now.” at the bottom of the wall.  What does “right now” mean? When does “right now” end? Even real-time sites like Digg have problems. The message: “We were unable to complete the request, please refresh the page and try again” is becoming increasingly common for Digg-ers.

Get Outage Here…
Even the biggest of the big guys can go dark.  Earlier this month 40,000 Gmail accounts went down for days. Inexplicably, the gentle googly giant could not seem to get a handle on the problem.  Customers were told the solution would come in hours, not days.  Who else went AWOL this month? How about: BBC, Intuit (known for their QuickBooks products), Qantas, Netflix and others. Out west 12,000 Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air passengers were left hanging when a computer-system outage caused both airlines to cancel 150 flights over a late March weekend, and in the UK, a software crash left 3,000 rail passengers stranded or delayed for five hours when signaling systems failed to function on routes between London and Edinburgh.

I’ll be back next month if WordPress is up.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com
Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

We’ve reached a new low in the history of the Internet age: the accidental on purpose manipulation of images to help shape messages and brands. People have been faking images forever, but now they are adding the art of the accident. It is now a common practice for movie studios to “leak” images to create buzz. News outlets are posting images to gain readership, but quickly deleting the images when reasonable standards of journalism prevail. And, all types of people are still faking images for spit-takes and spite.

“I Feel The Need for Control + C!”
So who fakes images? Typically the basement blogger and troublesome teen come to mind. What about one of the largest news organizations in China? A patriotic and action-packed news story about the Chinese air force looked like a movie. Because it was. Careful analysis of the news story found that a climatic explosion was copied from Top Gun. “Mav! Journalists at twelve o-clock!”

“Can You See Me Now?”
Verizon gave people a sneak peek at the new white iPhone by posting the product image on their site.  And then? Poof! The image was gone. Was it an attempt to boost traffic or an accidental upload? I’d believe either at this point.

Famous From The Neck Up or Down
Probably no group of people are the victim of fakes more than Hollywood starlets. You can now find hundreds fake nude celebrity images online. (If you are into that sort of thing).  The formula is simple:  Red carpet photos + Porn + Photoshop = Hours of Giggles. It is sad, really, that people are targeting young actresses who have tried to carefully protect their images.  The latest victim is the Disney Channel’s Selena Gomez. Recently a wave of doctored images was posted sucking traffic to dozens of site. She is a singer, actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. And she is just 19. This is not just sad, its criminal.

And Now, No One Looks Good
Images for a new Chrysler automobile were leaked on Facebook. Good looking car. Unfortunately the photographer who shot the images was less than enthused. The photographer, Webb Bland, accused a “misguided idiot somewhere outside of the fantastic marketing team at Chrysler” for leaking the images “weeks in advance of the meticulously scheduled unveiling”. He went so far as to call the person “an arrogant d-bag.” The marketing team looks powerless, the photographer looks like a prima donna and Facebook looks one step above a file sharing site for kiddie porn – but the car still looks good.

Speaking of Facebook
Facebook is having its own problems with faking and deleting. Two Florida individuals were charged with cyber bullying when they set up a fake account for one of their classmates and then populated it with images they created.  One image showed a man’s genitals close to her body. Another featured her head attached to the body of a naked child. The masterminds? A 15 year old and 16 year old girl. Their names and photos were published by a UK newspaper.

However, in an attempt to protect the image of the soon-royal Kate Middleton, Facebook deleted the account of a duplicitous impostor by the name of….Kate Middleton.  Kate Middleton of Wellingborough in Northants had enjoyed being a Facebook user for more than two years, Recently, she found that her account was blocked when she attempted to log in. They accused her of “impersonating someone famous.”

In the past playing dirty tricks with images always meant trying not to get caught. Now being caught is half the point.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com

Slightware, those irksome instances of hardware and software damaging brands has been creating havoc in the economy for a while…but this time, it’s personal. Sure, it sounds like a bad movie trailer, until you realize that slightware is threatening people’s jobs. Gulp!

Not Quite A Miracle
Over in the UK people got the digital whacking on Christmas Eve. 1,900 university staff members received an email stating that their contracts were being terminated. Wow, wrap that up with a bow and stick it under the tree! But, luckily, oops it was a glitch. A university spokesperson said all parties were sent an email three hours later warning them of the error. Sounds like the best Christmas ever!

Go Glitch Yourself
Some Android users have been the victim of a rare, but serious, glitch that causes text messages to go to the wrong person. The bug was reported over a year ago but has taken some time to fix. “Some users have reported that their SMS messages are being delivered to the wrong people. It took us some time to reproduce this issue, as it appears that it’s only occurring very rarely. Even so, we’ve now managed to both reproduce it and develop a fix that we will deploy,” says Nick Kralevich of Google. NBC delivered this tale of woe. “”Today I sent a text asking about a contract from a potential employer – and it went to my current boss,” wrote one user on their forum, “If this hurts my career, I will be looking into legal action.”

No Cause For Alarm. Well, Forget That Part
A Massachusetts woman sent an Apple executive a scathing letter claiming that an iPhone glitch prevented her alarm from going off. She was late. She was fired. She was told that her “tardiness was unfair to the other employees.” Now she is looking for a new job. The Apple exec she wrote? Ironically, Steve Jobs.

In Every Corner of The Planet
The Solomon Islands are a beautiful and tranquil collection of islands in Papua New Guinea covering over 10,000 square miles in the South Pacific. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It is unless you are a public employee. A problem with a recent software implementation caused many employees to receive only nine dollars in their paycheck. Some got the big fat zero. The problem was so complex that a software expert had to be flown in from Australia.

And Don’t Even Think of a Life of Crime
A Pennsylvania man was charged with 650 felony counts of theft, criminal conspiracy, computer trespassing and other transgressions. It is alleged that he identified a glitch in casino slot machines that allowed him to trick the machines into awarding him huge payouts. It may turn out that this was his full-time occupation. On the day that he was to be arraigned in Pennsylvania, FBI agents arrived from Vegas and snatched him. Apparently he was doing the same thing in Sin City.  His defense: “Let everybody see the surveillance tapes. I pressed buttons on the machine in the casino. That’s all I did.” He may have leveraged the glitches for more than $1,000,000.

At Least You Can Get Your IRS Refund…
…Just a little late. The IRS is scrambling to reprogram computers to account for the extension in tax breaks.  People still must file on time, but even early returns may be delayed. Wait for the check. Wait for it.

Well, if all else fails, you can always glitch your way to the top.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com

Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

Slightware, those irksome instances of hardware and software damaging brands has been creating havoc in the economy for a while…but this time, it’s personal. Sure, it sounds like a bad movie trailer, until you realize that slightware is threatening people’s jobs. Gulp!

Not Quite A Miracle
Over in the UK people got the digital whacking on Christmas Eve. 1,900 university staff members received an email stating that their contracts were being terminated. Wow, wrap that up with a bow and stick it under the tree! But, luckily, oops it was a glitch. A university spokesperson said all parties were sent an email three hours later warning them of the error. Sounds like the best Christmas ever!

Go Glitch Yourself
Some Android users have been the victim of a rare, but serious, glitch that causes text messages to go to the wrong person. The bug was reported over a year ago but has taken some time to fix. “Some users have reported that their SMS messages are being delivered to the wrong people. It took us some time to reproduce this issue, as it appears that it’s only occurring very rarely. Even so, we’ve now managed to both reproduce it and develop a fix that we will deploy,” says Nick Kralevich of Google. NBC delivered this tale of woe. “”Today I sent a text asking about a contract from a potential employer – and it went to my current boss,” wrote one user on their forum, “If this hurts my career, I will be looking into legal action.”

No Cause For Alarm. Well, Forget That Part
A Massachusetts woman sent an Apple executive a scathing letter claiming that an iPhone glitch prevented her alarm from going off. She was late. She was fired. She was told that her “tardiness was unfair to the other employees.” Now she is looking for a new job. The Apple exec she wrote? Ironically, Steve Jobs.

In Every Corner of The Planet
The Solomon Islands are a beautiful and tranquil collection of islands in Papua New Guinea covering over 10,000 square miles in the South Pacific. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It is unless you are a public employee. A problem with a recent software implementation caused many employees to receive only nine dollars in their paycheck. Some got the big fat zero. The problem was so complex that a software expert had to be flown in from Australia.

And Don’t Even Think of a Life of Crime
A Pennsylvania man was charged with 650 felony counts of theft, criminal conspiracy, computer trespassing and other transgressions. It is alleged that he identified a glitch in casino slot machines that allowed him to trick the machines into awarding him huge payouts. It may turn out that this was his full-time occupation. On the day that he was to be arraigned in Pennsylvania, FBI agents arrived from Vegas and snatched him. Apparently he was doing the same thing in Sin City.  His defense: “Let everybody see the surveillance tapes. I pressed buttons on the machine in the casino. That’s all I did.” He may have leveraged the glitches for more than $1,000,000.

At Least You Can Get Your IRS Refund…
…Just a little late. The IRS is scrambling to reprogram computers to account for the extension in tax breaks.  People still must file on time, but even early returns may be delayed. Wait for the check. Wait for it.

Well, if all else fails, you can always glitch your way to the top.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at http://www.Slightware.com

Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

‘Tis the season for more slightware examples- those grinchy, glitchy instances of rump ‘a dumb dumb usage of technology that damages brands. So what characters are showing up on the naughty list? Here’s a look:

The Ghost of Celebrities Past
Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and other celebs decide to hold the world hostage and “be dead.” They vowed to NOT use social media until people donated $1 Million. (Don’t they know Trick or Tweet is a Halloween shtick?) Anyway, people responded with a resounding, “We don’t’ care!”  The public kicked in short of a half-mill, and the celebs needed to leverage a buddy to chip in for the rest. The lesson: If you threaten to withhold your persona or brand, the market might say, “Keep it.”

Crasher, Dancer & Fixin’
Several high profile websites and web companies went down recently. The crashes were followed by some fancy footwork explanations and late nights of fixes. Tumblr went down for an entire day. Not exactly a small problem. Tumblr-powered blogs generate in excess of 500 million page views per month.  Internet users in six states lost Internet access when Comcast went down the day before Cyber Monday.  Luckily, service was restored shortly after midnight. Many college football fans argue that the bowl system is inherently broken.  In an ironic twist of fate the Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl site went down preventing people from buying tickets to the National Championship game. A hacker from Boise, perhaps? Most government web sites in New Jersey went down in late November because of a failed cooling unit that is supposed to keep the servers from overheating. Jersey? Winter? How about opening the door and letting Mother Nature jump in?

Bob DidntCatchIt
Retailers Review and Bed Bath & Beyond experienced Dickensian email problems when they sent email with offers that were too good to be true – because they were not. Review corrected the email with a follow up email. Subject line: “Oops… we made a mistake!” Not to be outdone Bed Bath & Beyond sent an email with this subject line: “Oops – We made a mistake.” Sometimes slight punctuation changes make a world of difference. Well, maybe not.

Little Town of Mayhem
Residents of the town of New Canaan were singing that little ditty about “yellow snow” when a computer at the water department accidentally shut down. The water was declared “discolored, but safe to drink.” In Spartanburg, South Carolina residents were awakened by a late, late night call from the automated tornado warning system. Fortunately or unfortunately, the tornado watch had been lifted hours earlier. The system was not designed for a high enough output and it took hours for the call to be fully delivered.  Things are a little brighter in Cincinnati. A glitch in the utility system is causing some streetlights to stay on all day. If that makes you not want to pay taxes or utility bills, dont! In fact 12 large condo associations in Florida have not been sent a water bill in months due to a software glitch. The amount now due: $1 Million. I hope they enjoyed those long hot showers while they lasted.

Be good everyone! Remember he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. I’m talking about Facebook’s Privacy Settings. Not Santa.

Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com

Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss

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