Monday, February 2, 2009

Human error brings Google to a grinding halt

Search engine Google came to a grinding halt when a "human error" temporarily prevented millions of people from finding web pages on the Internet.

Google incorrectly labelled all other websites as potentially harmful and stopped Internet users from directly clicking through to their search results as a message flashed: "Warning! This site may harm your computer."

The problem arose at around 2.30 pm GMT yesterday and was only fixed after almost 40 minutes by which time millions of users had been affected.

The company later announced that the fault had been caused by "human error" during updation of harmful sites, when a single forward slash (/) was put on the list in place of a full web address, effectively blacklisting every website as all addresses contain the character, the media reported.

"This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users. What happened? Very simply, human error," Vice-President for search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, wrote on the company's blog.

In fact, Google receives regular updates to a list of malicious websites from '', which investigates consumer complaints.

"We periodically receive updates to that list and received one such update to release on the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs," she explained on the blog.

California-based Google, however, said the problem was identified "speedily" and promised to investigate the incident "and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again".

GlaxoSmithkline to cut 6,000 jobs

British drugs company GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK.L) is set to announce about 6,000 job losses when it posts results on Thursday, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.

The cuts by Glaxo, the world's second largest drugs company after U.S. group Pfizer (PFE.N), are part of Chief Executive Andrew Witty's strategy to meet the challenges facing the industry, including increased competition from generic drug makers, the British newspaper said.

The company, which employs about 100,000 people including 18,000 in the UK, has failed to get as many new drugs to market as investors hoped when it was created via a merger eight years ago.

Novell confirms layoffs

The cuts took place Friday and amount to less than 3% of the company's workforce.

Open-source vendor Novell Inc. on Saturday confirmed reports that it had a layoff on Friday, though it said the layoffs were small and amounted to less than 3% of its workforce.

Novell spokesman Ian Bruce said the company laid off less than 100 out of 4,200 employees worldwide. He declined to say if the move came in response to slumping sales at the Waltham, Mass. firm.

The number of layoffs cited by Bruce is far smaller than the numbers bouncing around the Web Friday night. CNET blogger Matt Asay, for instance, reported that Novell had cut up to 1,000 employees, citing an inside source who claimed that "basically an across-the-board reduction of 25 percent" was made.

Sears lays off 300 corporate workers

“Sears Holdings, which operates Kmart and Sears department stores, laid off 300 corporate jobs on Friday”. “The layoffs represented about 4.3 percent of the company’s 6,900 corporate workers and will come out of the firm’s headquarters in Illinois as well as facilities in Michigan and New York city.”

India needs 6,000 forensic accountants to fight corp frauds

Forensic accountants are now in a position to turn the Satyam scandal into an opportunity during tough times for getting jobs, as the country needs more than 6,000 such professionals to check corporate frauds in India, a latest report suggests .

“There is an acute shortage of forensic accounting skill sets in India. At least 6,000 forensic accountants are required to fight corporate frauds in the country effectively,” said a latest report by Indiaforensic Consultancy Services on forensic account ing in India.

“Huge demand for forensic accountants has come up in the wake of the requirements from the investors after the Satyam fiasco,” said Mayur Joshi, CEO of Indiaforensic Consultancy Services, a Pune-based anti-fraud education and consultancy service provider .

AT&T freezes salaries of 120,000 managers, Cheif Executive forgoes bonus

AT&T Inc Chief Executive Randall Stephenson will forgo his 2008 bonus payment, and the company will freeze the salaries of 120,000 managerial employees this year, as the telecommunications company prepares for a grim year.

Stephenson's decision, which he sent to employees in a memo on Friday, comes after the largest U.S. phone company said in December that it would cut 12,000 jobs, or 4% of its workforce.

"Randall Stephenson today asked the AT&T Board that he not be awarded the bonus he earned based on last year's performance against the targets set," AT&T said in a statement sent by a spokesman.

Stephenson's annual bonus target generally accounts for more than 25% of his total compensation, AT&T said, without giving more details. In 2007, his bonus was $4.5 million, according to a company filing with U.S. regulators.

"We are committed to doing all we can to help preserve and protect jobs, and this is one way to do it," AT&T said. "It was not an easy decision, but it's the right one given the environment."

Stephenson is the latest in a group of executives who have lowered or given up their bonuses as millions Americans have lost their jobs in recent months.