GrandCentral is a phenomenally useful service for some people. The service assigns you a free phone number; you can route calls so when that number is dialed, the phone rings at any number of places you choose. When you call my GrandCentral number – the only number I give out now – both my office phone and my cell phone ring, so you can reach me wherever I am, crucial in an area like Sonoma County where cell phone coverage is spotty. The web interface plays voicemail messages, which are indefinitely archived, and allows calls to be rerouted on the fly – forward your calls to Grandma’s house when you arrive for Thanksgiving, then turn the forwarding off when you leave. Brilliant! Here’s my notes about GrandCentral when I signed up.

Google bought GrandCentral last year and seems a little uncertain what to do with it. The service immediately stopped accepting new users, instead offering signup on a waiting list with only occasional openings for new people to join. Service has been spotty at times lately. The features haven’t changed and there’s been little discussion about what to expect. The official blog is almost dead, although a post last month promised that work was proceeding on “the next great version of GrandCentral and a ton of cool new features.”

Today’s episode is probably just an “Oops!” moment, not an indication of anything. But it was almost a big Oops.

Google almost let the registration lapse on the domain name Somebody forgot to renew it.

The web site actually went dead for many people today, the last day of its registration, as the registrar began to take it over.

Late in the day, somebody from Google managed to get the site back online by renewing the name for a year.

Here’s a blogger summing up the day’s events.

Isn’t that marvelous? It’s some pretty embarrassing stuff. I hope Google is doing a better job on the big picture than it is on the details!

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