Off the grid

My primary link to the rest of the cosmos—my Gmail account, bqpqpoly at—has been down for more than 36 hours.  I get a “502 Server Error” every time I try to log in, from any computer and any browser.

Any Shtetl-Optimized readers at Google: care to fix this for me? (Or is this some sort of Halloween prank, or a paternalistic attempt to force me to stop answering emails and finish my STOC submissions?)

If you need to reach me in the meantime, please write to ghh1729 at  (If you understand both “bqpqpoly” and “ghh1729,” I’ll even guarantee you a response.)

Update (9PM Saturday): To be clear, the issue for me is not so much the outage itself, as the lack of any acknowledgment or response from Google. (According to the Register article, even those who are paying $50 for “Premier” service can’t get through to Google’s support line, which is advertised as being 24-hour.) I would like not merely a fix, but a personal apology from Larry and Sergey, and an explanation of what steps they’re taking to uphold the “don’t be evil” creed in the future.And to the many CS majors who read this blog: is this the sort of unresponsive corporate behemoth you want to work for? 🙂

Update (4PM Sunday): OK, Google has finally acknowledged the problem.

Update (6PM Sunday): Woohoo, my email is back! But I’m missing everything from the last few days—so if you tried to mail me over the weekend, please resend. Thanks!Google claims that this problem affected only 0.001% of Gmail users. All I can say is that they picked the wrong 0.001%. 🙂

I’m pretty sure that this is the longest I went without accessing my inbox since 1994.

My revised view: Google is not an evil behemoth. They’re a good company, and would be a great one if it didn’t take hundreds of people 40 hours to get through to them when something goes extremely wrong.

23 Responses to “Off the grid”

  1. Gaal Yahas Says: any help?

  2. Carl Says:

    Shouldn’t your secondary email address be sr1729, since it was Ramanujan, not Hardy, who noticed its interestingness?

  3. Scott Says:

    Gaal: Alas, I get a 502 when I try to load that page as well. Thanks though!

    Carl: sr1729’s already taken.

  4. Vladimir Levin Says:

    I thought the imporant thing about 1729 is that it shows up in an episode of Futurama! 😉

  5. Tomas Says:

    Have you tried using Thunderbird and/or smpt to get your gmail? This has worked in previous gmail outages, where only the web interface goes down.

    BTW, there is something seriously wrong with some of the google login procedures. Whenever I try to log into Youtube from my usual gmail account, an infinite loop happens…

  6. Scott Says:

    Tomas: Yep, tried it, doesn’t work. Thanks though!

  7. Rory Kent Says:

    ghh1729) G. H. Hardy – 1729 aka the “Hardy–Ramanujan number”

    bqpqpoly) – Something to do bounded error quantum polynomial time. But I understand almost nothing of P=NP so can’t explain it any further.
    Nice e-mail addresses, though!

    As for the gmail thing, the same thing happened a few years ago. Google fixed that within a day or so. Hopefully (fingers crossed) it’s the same problem this time. But the massive delay in fixing the problem suggests otherwise.

  8. I can login Says:

    have you tried resetting the password to that account? I know you have not forgotten the password. But it could trigger some actions in the servers that might make things work differently, or on a different server.

  9. Scott Says:

    Interesting idea! Alas, I just tried it and it didn’t work.

  10. Higgs boson Says:

    I do not like your plans. What you were planning to do, was going to lead to my discovery. (

    Forget about what you were planning to do, and things will get back to normal.

    Yours truly,

  11. Scott Says:

    H.B.: Since you know so much (especially for a boson), what was I planning to do?

  12. Boston Higgins Says:

    Drop the idea of proving separation of BQP.

    You have been warned.

    B. H.

  13. David Says:

    Interesting – from searching, it seems like there have been quite a few gmail outages lately. The gmail blog had something to say for the September 1st blackout:

    “Here’s what happened: This morning (Pacific Time) we took a small fraction of Gmail’s servers offline to perform routine upgrades. This isn’t in itself a problem — we do this all the time, and Gmail’s web interface runs in many locations and just sends traffic to other locations when one is offline.”

    It’s interesting, however, that service is only down for your main email and not your secondary. I guess the only thing to do is to twiddle your thumbs.

  14. dr shamsheer Says:


    i believed gmail and came from india for the last 36 hours i am not doing anything, like what you said, the problem at this point of time is somebody not even acknowledging it and trying to work, it looks like every body is on a week end and earliest that we get something may be monday evening. i observered that only those people’s mails which are over 5 gb are affected others are able to use it.

    any how there is nothing that we can do except like what you said twiddle the thumbs.

  15. niladri Says:

    Say good bye to email just as Don Knuth did several years ago.

  16. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    I feel your pain. But I’ve spent a week trying to get my (major) web hosting company to get my web domain, 14 years old, 15 million hits/year, back online. They (outsourced call center) claimed that there was no problem that they could see at their end. I pointed out that I could not get any of my over 1,000 pages of that domain, could not for several days, nor could facebook friends on several continents. Eventually they said that there were “zone header” and DNS “problems” which they would fix within 8-12 hours. That was 48 hours ago. Is our entire planet under cyber attack by extraterrestrial quantum computers?

  17. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    Short version. 2nd phonecall in 48 hours. Web host says problem needs fixing by me and Network Solutions. On phone, Network Solutions says my domain name is on hold because of Breach of Contract. WTF? I hadn’t responded to snailmail at the rented office that I moved from 10 years ago, which they’d known about, by fax plus email to them a decade ago. Also, they thought that I was the partner who’d left the corporation a decade ago. They email me. I drive to FedEx-Kinkos. The email gives a secure site that prints a fax form. The fax form prints onto my letterhead. Letterhead missing our custom-drawn logo, because that’s on the web pages that we can’t access. 1 page xeroxed with drivers license photoID. One page I sign as officer okaying myself. 1 page attached of utility bill in my name to the address that Network Solutions failed to update in their database a decade ago. Fax long distance, get proof it was received. Drive home. Total today: 3 hours, approximately $30.00. They allege my domain will be back up in “3 business days.” Meaning Wednesday-Thursday?

    Maybe our entire planet is NOT under cyber attack by extraterrestrial quantum computers, but merely everything important has been outsurced to the lowest bidder. Who, for all I know, are extraterrestrial quantum computers. My web host will tell me which call center I’ve contacted. Network Solutions says that would violate Security. Yeah, right.

  18. Job Says:

    So you didn’t get my P != NP proof? Oh well.

  19. Job Says:

    Preliminary reports at Google say routers were involved. The universe strikes again.

  20. mitchell porter Says:

    “Google claims that this problem affected only 0.001% of Gmail users.”

    This order of magnitude is consistent with the calculations in my unpublished paper “Postselection against post-Singularity posthumans: a Nielsen-Ninomiya effect within the information supercollider?”, in which I use the Doomsday Argument to deduce that similar outages will increasingly affect our leading thinkers, from now until the human race goes extinct. (Unfortunately, the only draft of the paper was itself lost in an unusual accident involving a vacuum cleaner, a goldfish bowl, and an autographed first edition of Euclid’s Elements.)

  21. Pedro Says:

    I suggest you to see

  22. MattF Says:

    So, the Singularity that everyone is expecting turns out to be a zero. Hmm… isn’t there a theorem about how solutions of sorta-linear equations either blow up or go to zero?

  23. Scott Says:

    Pedro: Thanks! After my email came back online, I installed a tool called Google Gears, which automatically backs up all my email to my own hard drive. So at least I’ll have it if something like this recurs.

    I strongly suggest that everyone else who relies on Gmail install Google Gears as well!