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Twitter Wilts Ahead of Summer Games

Twitter Wilts Ahead of Summer Games

Today in international tech news: One day before what is being touted as the "first social media Olympics," Twitter suffers a meltdown that has some speculating about too much traffic. Also: British telecoms insist they can handle the expected surge in Olympic-related usage; Chinese hackers have a field day with European Union data; Apple and Samsung play musical chairs in court, and more.

By David Vranicar
07/27/12 11:37 AM PT

Twitter was down for about two hours Thursday, prompting speculation that the site was overloaded from Olympic-related traffic, according to

Twitter said that the outage wasn't related to an uptick in usage, but that didn't stop some, including the Associated Press, from wondering aloud about a "Twitter overload."

A huge spike in Twitter traffic is expected during the London Olympics, which is billing itself as the first social media Olympics (although Canada has in recent days been contesting that claim).

Sports have been known to cause Twitter surges. The 2011 Women's World Cup set the all-time record for tweet frequency -- ousting the wedding of Prince William and the killing of Osama bin Laden -- while a pair of recent soccer games in Europe also saw incredible tweet frequency.

UK Telecoms: We're Olympic-Ready

Telecommunications companies in the UK insist that their networks will be able to handle the flood of users expected at the London Olympics, according to the BBC.

The networks will be carrying hundreds of thousands of extra signals, according to BBC, prompting 30 "mobile phone masts" to be constructed on the 500-acre Olympic Park in London. Internet company BT reportedly created the country's largest Wifi installation, as well as 1,000 smaller hotspots.

Peak times could see as many as 200,000 to 300,000 spectators in and around the Olympic area at once, according to an Olympic organizer.

But don't expect telecommunications companies to give away their service. According to the BBC, domestic "vouchers" are being offered for anywhere from about US$9.25 for 90 minutes to about $60 for 4,000 minutes. Overseas visitors will likely pay about $44 for 500 minutes.

China Hackers Had Field Day With European Commission

Bloomberg ran an article Thursday about a 2011 hacking plot carried out by Chinese hackers against key European political figures.

During a 10-day stretch last July, the hackers reportedly nabbed emails for Europe's "point man" of the Greece bailout, as well as the president of the European Union Counsel. They also accessed internal communications of high-ranking EU officials.

Researchers who have studied the incidents said the hackers' targets could benefit China's efforts to become the world's largest economy, according to Bloomberg. The victims included lawyers involved with trade cases against China and an energy company that is planning to drill in waters that China claims are its own.

Germany Grants Microsoft Another Patent Win

A German court ruled in favor of Microsoft in a patent suit against Google-owned Motorola Mobility, the third such ruling in three months, according to The Next Web.

The patent in question was Microsoft's "File Allocation Table." A similar U.S. case between the two companies was thrown out, according to The Next Web.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge that the decision is further proof that Motorola Mobility has been infringing on Microsoft's intellectual property.

Apple, Samsung Play Musical Chairs

Samsung objects to being the defendant -- and Apple being the plaintiff -- in the two companies' ongoing, worldwide legal battles, All Things D reported.

Samsung's objection reportedly stems from the fact that both sides are seeking damages, thereby making it important that both sides are treated the same. Samsung has thus asked that each party be called "claimants," according to All Things D.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at

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