Just called my friends in Mt. Kisco, NY. Power came back on at home about 45 minutes ago, but my friend Evan is stuck in the city. He's crashing with a bunch of other guys at a buddy's place in Manhattan, reportedly sitting around a candle, playing poker and drinking beer. Since Ev is a new, extremely sleepy father, I'm guessing that he is in fact enjoying every minute of this mini-vacation.
Apparently New York lost 80% of its power in what is being billed as the Largest-Ever Blackout
. In addition to what I noted below in the comments
, Stef said that when she was shopping at Home Depot in Williston, VT, the computers were actually fine, but the data center in New Jersey was down so inventory, billing and just about everything was completely hosed.
I heard some early talk on NPR about our electricity generation/distribution systems being programmed to shut down automatically under certain circumstances. What if the controlling software is buggy and mistakenly brought things down? That's what happened in 1990 when AT&T's network crashed, all due to a single piece of faulty code amongst several million lines of programming instructions. Similar bugs caused a power grid failure in '96, a partial shutdown of the Internet in '97, and AT&T's frame relay network in '98. Hmm...