Amazon Cloud Crash Makes it Harder to Procrastinate

when amazon's cloud goes down As if the traffic situation isn’t about to be a nightmare IRL with President Obama arriving at LAX around 2:30 p.m., an outage affecting web apps and services dependent on Amazon’s EC2 servers has crashed many of our favorite online procrastinatory tools and destinations.

What does this mean? We haven’t been able to monitor our social networks with Hootsuite, check in on Foursquare, ask questions on Quora, or check in on the real news of the day at Reddit for… going on twelve hours!

When can we freely procrastinate again? Amazon’s latest update asks us to give them “a few hours.” But that’s just a “high-level ballpark estimate.”

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10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2010

Borrowed from one of my fave sites, flowingdata.com

tourists in sf

10. Asteroid Discovery

Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory visualized 30 years of asteroid discoveries. It’s a straightforward animation that shows planets and asteroids orbiting the sun, with waves of twinkles as discoveries are made. I especially liked the contrast between human and automated discoveries.

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Groupon Gets Charitable with Kiva, DonorsChoose

Groupon Kiva Donors Choose charity donate holiday

$15 for $25 worth of microloan credit to help global entrepreneurs on Kiva.org.”

My first thought upon seeing this was: who pays the other $10? The [not-so] small print below today’s Groupon says that it’s paid for by Groupon (and sponsors). Up to $500,000 of the $800 million to $2 billion in revenues the Chicago-based startup will reportedly take in this year.

That’s a hefty write-off donation for most, and possibly a perk for some Groupon sponsors, and a nice, lucky penny pitched into the pond by a company that allegedly turned down a $6 billion or so buyout offer from Google earlier this month.

Billions in revenue. Huge numbers. It’s important to note how individuals and corporations choose to spend their philanthropic capital and I really like the way Groupon does it here: Empowering regular people to give by subsidizing our donations. I’m sure Groupon wishes it could boast about the kind of repeat transactions that a Kiva.org — where the average user has made 6.5 loans — and what better way to grow it’s community during the holiday giving season by encouraging the habit of giving (or lending) while otherwise luring subscribers to habitually consume on first site of bargain.

Last month, a Kiva.org Groupon raised lead to $100,000 in microloans and Oprah Winfrey promoted Kiva to her audience (for her part, Winfrey was the most charitable celebrity of 2009 with $40 million in donations to various charities, according to The Giving Back Fund. Today’s Kiva Groupon was trumped by a DonorsChoose coupon, which was 60 percent subsidized by the Pershing Square Foundation ($10 for $25). Last May, Groupon and Pershing Square teamed up with DonorsChoose to raise $1 million in funds for public school classrooms in need.

Last week, 17 billionaires, including Steve Case, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn, announced their intention to give the majority of their wealth to charity — the Giving Pledge.

In an age where it’s so easy to set examples — for better and worse — it’s comforting to see more and more bold acts of goodwill.

I’m a repeat Kiva lender. Are you?