This story made me actually laugh out loud.
Yes, I'm a bad person.
Google has somehow managed to brick some of its own smart Home and Home Mini devices, leaving an unknown number completely unresponsive after an automated update. Following days of reports that people’s voice-controlled devices had suddenly stopped working and nothing could restore them, the internet goliath has finally …
"This could never happen to me..."
I can say that with confidence since I'm one of the tinfoil-hat types that is refusing to install 'smart' devices in my home, but I feel for those who are saying it because they don't know any better.
As always, you get to choose: either you get to be smart, or your devices. Not both.
"you get to choose: either you get to be smart, or your devices. Not both."
I don't agree with this, actually. My home is full of smart devices. But none of them can, or need to, talk to any machine that I don't own and control.
But I'm sure that what you meant by "smart devices" is the crop of cloud-based spythings rather than the entire class of smart devices.
A second thought, if I may.
In most (probably all) states it is illegal for a utility to turn off service in households with small children during the winter months.
Would/should that extend to cloud-based temperature controls? If so, companies like Google may end up with a change freeze from October through May... (pun intended).
I know a few who have this for appointment reminders, etc. and not a piece of paper with anything written down as a reminder. "It's all on the cloud and it's there forever." they say.
Yes, there will be a lot of pissed off people when they finally decide to bin the whole thing.
And so those who have relied on it will be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial oar.
"Yes, there will be a lot of pissed off people when they finally decide to bin the whole thing."
Not unlikely as it's in part built on the value they're getting from monetizing private data. Once that dries up (e.g. under GDPR-like laws) they'll have to either start charging extra fees or indeed binning the whole concept.
They did this recently in Goggle News. Hit the "Local News" button and you need an account to see it. I bit the bullet and did it... err.... got a lot more news that might be local somewhere else than where I am. I killed the account.
I found an alternative.
I installed Tiny Tiny RSS on a private webserver I run in my home. It polls the RSS feeds of all the news sources that I'm interested in, sorts the entries into categories that I've defined, and provides both a web interface to read them as well as a set of aggregated RSS feeds (corresponding to the categories) that I use with the Android gReader app to read the news when I'm out and about. It also has an excellent search facility.
I've set up the Android gReader app to poll the TT-RSS feeds periodically and cache their contents, so I can read the news even when I don't have internet connectivity.
To be honest, I prefer this setup to even the original Google News service.
"I installed Tiny Tiny RSS on a private webserver ..."
One thing that I've noticed is that there are RSS feeds that include JS in their entries (entirely tracking, as far as I can tell). One of the things I like a LOT about TT-RSS is that there are mechanisms, both add-ons and ones you can write yourself, that will filter that and other things that may not be desirable out of the feeds.
This happened to me, my Google Mini updated and died. My emails to and fro to Google were frustrating to say the least. They wanted photos and proof of purchase and something else every time they replied. Unfortunately I no longer had the receipt and despite them saying this wouldn't be a problem provided I took a photo of the serial number, they backtracked and won't honour a replacement without it. So reading this news today gives me some hope, but will just have to wait and see.
Phew, I have been very fortunate then.
1. Sonos Beam sound bar configured for Alexa, and HDMI CEC to Smart TV
2. Alexa talks to my Nest devices.
3. Nest devices configured not to auto software update
4. All works fine
"Alexa tell nesty to stop being naughty"
Oh no, I have just mentioned something cloudy works. Cue the great flood and wild fires hitting my suburban vicinity!
They're certainly doing a terrible testing job. I don't buy software or hardware that automatically updates, because (a) I read too many stories here about it causing maximum borkage and (b) I work in software development and have seen first hand the half-arsed attempts at adopting vaguely understood notions of being "agile", with frequent releases causing constant disruption for everybody from users, developers and admins to management.
It isn't the end of the world if you're automatically updating some internal company admin system - you can always roll back eaily if there's a mistake. But operating systems and hardware? Bad mistake. Get your testing resources trebled, quadrupled, trained to the highest possible standard or whatever else it takes, because my money is avoiding stuff that updates like this until stories like this about stuff from huge companies breaking start appearing on a yearly rather than a daily / weekly basis
Yeah. While a on/off switch for updates might partially be a security risk, I'm certain certain global ISP/service providers are thankful for it when a runaway/bugged script/update/settings propergates globally, and they frantically rush around trying to fix it.
[Looks at the multiple day cloud/service outages this year alone]
Oh, maybe not then.
That last part is the kicker: if you were unlucky enough to have one of the devices that automatically downloaded and installed Google's flawed software update, your Home or Mini may be no more.
Or with the current level of spying with these devices, does that mean you might be lucky enough to have the device stop working?
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