You can still post a review, so they're still selling this stuff?!
FYI: US mega-retailer Best Buy will switch off the "smart" portion of its Insignia-branded smart home gadgets this coming Wednesday, rendering them just plain old dumb gear. Folks who've bought these soon-to-be-internet-less Internet-of-Things gizmos can apply for some money back in the form of a gift card, though a full …
They are advertising on their page "Insignia" tat that is "smart". However, the "Connect" isn't there. So take away the controller and how "smart" are these devises? I noticed the brand includes one helluva lot of tat like appliances, batteries, etc.
Obligatory Snark: I guess the "Connect" was just too smart for the Geek Squad.
Geek Squad were caught using WinInternal tools way back before Mark and Bryce were sucked up into Microsoft. Mark Russinovich said him and Bryce had put specific code in some of their paid for tools and the likes of Geek Squad were caught copying it without a licence and had been doing it for years.
Most of these things should work fine without having to phone home to some cloud service, if they were properly designed. Sure, losing the "turn off the lights from across town" feature would annoy some folks, but an open platform would have allowed folks to still connect over the net without needing a cloud service to broker access.
They announced September 6, so not much warning.
I've commented on this exact thing before and this confirms everything I have already said: Until a robust, inherently secure, industry standard protocol has been designed, agreed upon and adopted by all these IoT tat vendors so that they all work together seamlessly but are also extremely difficult to hack, then this is a complete non-starter for me.
I daresay there could already be a protocol out there which is ideal for this and is freely available for use, but irrespective of that, until these things are fully compatible across vendors and their security is as good as it can be made by default, none of these glorified trinkets is of interest to me.
"Until a robust, inherently secure, industry standard protocol has been designed, agreed upon and adopted by all these IoT tat vendors"
There's even an XKCD describing that very situation.... oh, perhaps not.
I've been using z-wave devices for over 7 years for this sort of stuff and devices I originally purchased still work properly despite the z-wave protocol being updated over the years. They are serviced by a z-wave controller that is the single point of access to the internet, so only one thing to worry about being well locked down. Even if the controller vendor, and it's servers, go belly-up I can still access the controller directly with a bit of jiggery-pokery at the router although some of the facilities delivered by the vendor's servers would go away.
I have a right mix of smart tech at home, but my Z-Wave stuff is still working fine too. The controller is cloud based but runs happily locally if it loses Internet connectivity, and I'm pretty sure the company has vowed to open source their software should they ever go bust.
"IoT tat" is redundant, as the "T" generally stands for "Tat" anyway. Or so I've always read it.
"Internet of Shit" is unnecessarily crude and the abbreviation runs the risk of confusion with that fine phone operating system /s
Brought to you from the Department of Redundancy Department
I don't know about that. First of all, there is NO SUCH THING as a completely secure protocol, industry standard or not. Name one that isn't updating every month or two that isn't completely in the clear and inherently insecure to begin with, like ftp (not sftp or ftps), tftp, or telnet. As the protocol evolves to address new security threats, both the size of the code and the overhead to run it increases. Eventually, EVERY IOT device will reach a necessary end of support from a security perspective because the processor can't handle the encryption or doesn't have a big enough nand to store the manufacturer's new firmware with the latest security updates. Furthermore, if the company is no longer providing firmware updates with the latest industry standard security updates, the device becomes obsolete and completely unusable once the industry standard progresses past a certain point because it uses deprecated functions and calls no longer supported by the industry standard. Interoperability won't save you here, either. You can't apply a nest patch to an LG device because they use different hardware.
This brings me to my final and most crucial point. Even completely ignoring those issues, save the last one, industry standard protocols wouldn't have saved these product lines. The BIGGEST problem is the cloud. Even if these products spoke the same language as nest or any other platform, they are set up to use Insignia's cloud-based command and control server. As soon as Insignia decides they don't want to pay for the infrastructure for that cloud based service everything dies, regardless of what language it speaks. The only way to prevent such a thing from happening is to use a platforn that hosts its own controller and allows you to either use your own domain with ddns for those who don't have a static IP or one of many ddns free sub-domains if you don't want to shell out the $10/yr. In that case, the end result would be a lack of security updates if a company decided to EOL a product line. At that point, releasing the source code and making the protocol an open protocol so that others could choose to maintain it is the ethical choice but even if they decided not to do so, the product line would still function with the existing software. We need to stop being so reliant on cloud-based services. Not only are we depending on a company to keep hosting these services, we are also creating MASSIVE single points of attack that provide access to EVERYBODY'S information or to control everybody's automated devices. Personal clouds and self-hosting is the way the industry SHOULD be headed but no, we are all promoting single points of failure that put everybody at risk and make them more dependent on individual corporations.
It is perfectly possible to configure your light switch to be accessible from across town without the need for a cloud service.
Use case? You might have video cameras. You might want to look at them from across town. You might need to be able to turn the lights on to see anything.
"Use case? You might have video cameras. You might want to look at them from across town. You might need to be able to turn the lights on to see anything."
I've had that capability for a very long time. Much longer than the Cloud/IoT fad has been around. Outside of a couple weeks of installation, testing and troubleshooting I have used it precisely zero times. Even the cameras in the Mare Motel are hard-wired into a dedicated video system that is air-gapped from TehIntraWebTubes ... less to go wrong.
 Checking the "out of soda" LEDs on the coke machine at Tresidder ... See here for more.
I still have that remote capability. It's primarily executed by calling the moody teen who stays home in his room, and telling him to go turn the lights on/off, turn on the oven, shut the fridge door, do we need any milk/eggs/butter, etc. It's not a cheap system, considering how much he eats and wants to wear nice clothes, but it has worked out pretty well so far. Only had to reboot it a twice in the past 5 or 6 years.
You might have video cameras. You might want to look at them from across town. You might need to be able to turn the lights on to see anything.
Why doesn't the camera have its own integrated LED lighting? Cheap and trivial, and it would save me from having to control two devices, with the associated additional complexity and points of failure.
Not that I have ever desired such a thing, even with owning houses in two states (indeed, two time zones). That's what I have neighbors for.
Saw this coming long ago. I developed my own LAN of things for my off-grid homestead. Being a homebody, I don't need internet connectivity. I hear that things like my woodstoves are kind of difficult to automate anyway...but easy to monitor from another building on campus. Ditto the water collection and purification system, various vents and air circuiation systems to keep crawl spaces from supporting huge amounts of fungus and so on.
Monitoring the solar power system and backups is handy too.
An ESP8266 here, a rasperry pi there...this isn't really rocket surgery,
The pi cameras are nice to monitor the garden and driveway, as well as look into the water collection to see if it can be used - or should be dumped. It's not always nice outside.
All watched and controlled to the extent possible via web pages served off raspberry pies.
Huge labor saver. No point really in being able to do most of this from afar.
And no dependence on someone who really doesn't care about your stuff - just the bucks they may or may not make selling your data (or deciding to charge you rent to use your own stuff).
I've even published all the code and design on my site, open source. You just have to build the stuff yourself.
"An ESP8266 here, a rasperry pi there...this isn't really rocket surgery..."
It may as well be to Joe Stupid. You used three non-acronymed letters combined with numbers. For most people, that's a license plate: too complicated.And a Raspberry Pi? That's something you eat.
@ Charles 9
Don't you think you are being a little harsh? After all if it wasn't for "Joe Stupid" there may not be any need for an IT. department.
My son, who sometimes has problems with his computer, once said to me "Why have I paid good money for a computer and it is forever needing this patch, that patch, software that always needs yet another download to fix bugs" and so on. He wanted to know why they sell the stuff if it is broken enough to need patching as soon as it is installed. He also would think a Raspberry Pi is to eat. He is not interested in how computers/software works, he just expects it to work.
He, I suspect, is one of the "Joe Stupids " to you. I also suspect that he has a point.
"My son, who sometimes has problems with his computer, once said to me "Why have I paid good money for a computer and it is forever needing this patch, that patch, software that always needs yet another download to fix bugs" and so on."
I'd reply, "Why can't man develop the perfect fortification?" In this day and age, just about anything electrical or electronic is a potential target (and unless you're in TEMPEST conditions, full isolation from things like lasers, masers, and so on may not be possible).
"My son, who sometimes has problems with his computer, once said to me "Why have I paid good money for a computer and it is forever needing this patch, that patch, software that always needs yet another download to fix bugs" and so on."
I think the answer is you get what you pay for?
The kind of computer that never needed fixes would cost a hell of a lot more than his current computer and/or with far fewer features.
For most people, that's a license plate: too complicated
Sure. We all have limited fields of expertise. But there's nothing stopping one of these firms making and selling IoT crap from producing commercial equivalents of DCFusor's gadgets, without extraneous cloud-connection and phone-home crap tacked on. A DMZ port in the home router can be manually configured by those who know how, or opened using UPnP for those who don't (and who will therefore likely have UPnP enabled).
I get the impression from comments above that some home-automation vendors do offer products more or less along these lines. (It's not an area of technology I'm interested in, so I don't pay close attention to what's available.) In any case, it's possible for vendors to offer turnkey remotely-accessible home-automation systems that don't depend on some server outside the homeowner's control (aside from the actual networking infrastructure, of course).
Tell them that the product purchased based on $Function no longer has that capability & the seller refuses to give you a full refund. If you used a Visa card then Visa will take the item back, issue a full refund, & make a chargeback to the seller's account. You can wash your hands of the useless kit, enjoy your refund, & laugh as BestBuy has to explain to Visa WTF they thought they were pulling.
YMMV, IANAL, yadda yadda yadda, so contact your CC company & ask them what recourse you have for a product that no longer does the thing it claimed on the tin.
The article doesn't say when this IoT stuff was initially sold. Your credit card coverage isn't going to cover anything purchased more than one or two years ago.
Honestly, if you expect your "cloud" hardware to have the service it relies on available for perpetuity, you need to be wacked with a clue-by-four a bit and wake up. That said, would people buy this junk if the box said explicitly said the service was only guaranteed to be up for N years, where N is small? Small appliances are expected to last for a decade or more.
I’ve adopted a customer model in witch I don’t let big business to anal probe me whenever they like. Surely, I miss out many marvels of modern technology and will end up being a miserable outcast, but I simply refuse to buy products requiring proprietary back-end services. My rear end congratulates me on that decision every day.
I'd never seen "avec" used as a noun in English before (and, yeah, I'm not a fan of it either), but interestingly Wiktionary claims that it's used as a noun in Finnish, apparently as a synonym for "date" (I assume in the sense of "meeting") or "company".
when I install a switch or an outlet on the electrical circuit of my home, I expect it to work for, I don't know, 50 years?
50 years is ambitious with a lot of modern consumer electrical gear, I'm afraid. In the US, GFCI outlets are required in a number of areas of a home, and the electronics in those often die after only a decade or two. I have one in the kitchen that needs replacing which was installed in 2003. I have my doubts about the longevity of AFCI circuit-breakers, too.
Basic SPST mechanical switches often last a long time, but I've seen older ones break at the handle as the material degrades. One time I was living in a rental house and I flipped on the light in the bathroom one morning, and the Bakelite switch shattered into power. Just completely gone, down to the actual sliding contact in the switch body. And the landlord was coming by that day. I had about 45 minutes to run to the hardware store, buy a replacement switch, and install it. My roommate actually had to stall the landlord down on the first floor with some bogus story about an intermittent plumbing issue while I was reattaching the cover plate upstairs.
I don't know about the US, but the Visa protection in the UK is only for purchases over £100.
As for time frame, again, your mileage may vary etc, but there have been cases where people claimed for up to 6 years after purchase, based on the fact it's reasonable to expect certain devices to last for 6 years despite the warranty period only being 12 months or whatever...
The solution in the UK would not be visa protection, but the small claims court. Simply stick in a claim saying that the product is not of "merchantable quality" eg; it says that it's designed to be a remote control and you can't use it to do that.
Then they have to find a legally defensible reason why a product designed as a remote control doesn't work as one, and make that argument to a magistrate. If they don't manage to find such a reason within the time they get to file a defence then they lose by default.
"Then they have to find a legally defensible reason why a product designed as a remote control doesn't work as one, and make that argument to a magistrate. If they don't manage to find such a reason within the time they get to file a defence then they lose by default."
They already have: End of Life, as previously announced. Some things simply cannot last forever, and expecting such from a fluid world is asking for trouble.
The key bit being "legally defensible". "End of Life" (eg, we decided to disable it) is not a legally valid reason for a product ceasing to function under the laws of England & Wales, and so it is near certain that you would be directed to give a refund.
You are legally required to provide a warranty against failures; when Apple tried to say their warranty was only 3 months every time a case with a fault came before a court they decided that a reasonable period was something like 2 years IIRC.
warranty period only being 12 months or whatever.
I think here (and in the EU) companies are required to offer a 3-year warranty. And in the UK we have the Sale of Goods Act which (I think IANAL) means that goods not suitable as supplied doesn't just refer to the time of sale..
So, if anyone has these crap IoT thingies in the UK, they would have a very good case for sueing under the SoG Act - even if it's only in the Small Claims court.
Yesterday we returned a 4K dash cam under the SoGA. It only had a 4M sensor whereas true 4K requires an 8M sensor - the plastic lens was sh1t as well, leaving a picture of quality on a par with 1080P. It turns out a lot of 4K dash cams try to pull this trick! The 4K data file was not even interpolated up to a true 4K image size.
Once I pointed out these things, the company paid for the return of the good, gave me a full refund and an extra amount for my inconvenience. At least some companies act reasonably when they are caught!
We had service bureaus and other forms of utility computing long before someone co-opted the term "cloud". Utility computing obeys the same economic forces as utility power and water. It's not going to go away, and our energies would be better spent fixing it (which will require technical, regulatory, and social corrections) than stamping our feet and thumbing our noses.
All the wonderful things that come with "smart" now also include "the provider can shut it down without your consent". Just like all those defunct music services where you thought you buying music tracks, remember ?
Man that really encourages me to dash off and purchase all that smartness.
It's almost like there are a lot of people who lie for a living looking for folks who aren't up to date on whatever it is they're selling. Sure, you and I have been reading this crap for years - IT is either your job, your hobby or both - but plenty of people leave the techy things to the techy people, and that's where the more predatory marketing type go to sell their bad IT toys.
Doesn't matter whether you buy brand name TVs like LG or Samsung, they won't have that long of support for their "smart" functions and then changes needed in client software for e.g. Netflix and so on won't get made and the apps won't work.
Don't buy a TV for the smart functionality, or you'll be sorry. Don't expect a "smart" device like a thermostat or doorbell camera will still work 10 years from now (and you'll probably get lucky to get 10 years out of them)
The problem with smart is that its the new black.
Had to replace my TV recently and couldn't find what I wanted without smart. Admitted defeat and made the purchase. Damn but they try to ram the smart features down your throat. Took a while but I think (not certain) I've turned off everything I can. This sucker will never see the internet.
Thank god the only buttons I care about on the controller are power, volume and source select.
Screen quality itself is nice though.
> Had to replace my TV recently and couldn't find what I wanted without smart. Admitted defeat and made the purchase
Mine is a Samsung. It was relatively easy to set up as a non-smart device - I just declined the EULA and it works fine as a non-smart telly without any nagging.
Set the device IP manually, set that to something not on your range of network addresses. Set the subnet to 255.255.255.255 and then enter a deliberately bad gateway. (ie; 127.0.0.1)
How's that going to get traffic out onto the internet? And that's before considering things like simply not connecting the dammed thing to the network.
Its setup screen insists on being connected to a network. I was playing around with it, and don't see any obvious way to bypass it. He didn't have ethernet in that location, so in the end I told him to change the SSID on his wifi, get it connected to that to complete setup, then change it back.
I have nothing against smart features, but there should be a simple way to decline to set them up with no nagging later unless you click on a streaming app or something like that which requires a network.
The thing that hacks me off about "smart" tellys etc is that they take so bloody long to switch on. There was a time when you could switch the telly on and get a picture in about 5 seconds, once it had warmed up.
Then someone decided that it was ok to take a couple of minutes to switch on. I have a Sony BluRay player. It takes forever to do ANYTHING! And it's not even claiming to be "smart".
"The thing that hacks me off about "smart" tellys etc is that they take so bloody long to switch on."
Not sure what TV you have - I have a Samsung and start up time is no longer than a typical non-Smart TV (or even CRT).
Now the NEC monitors at my workplace... those have start up times that remind everyone of the bad old days in the 80s when TVs took an AGE to switch on.
"the bad old days in the 80s when TVs took an AGE to switch on."
My 1988 32" Sony Trinitron takes approximately 1.5 seconds from off-for-a-week to watching the news. Most of that time is heating up the guns, and is probably double what it was when new. The sound is available almost instantly.
The best is how old TVs would collapse into a dot when you turned them off. I even remember people having the odd black and white TVs in back bedrooms etc. HDMI lol how about attaching the wiggy Atari switch that would inevitably fail to the two screws for the antennae.
i have an old Daewoo dvd player i bought at Sams club in the year 2001. It has a hard mechnical ppower switch ( none of that 'standby' business ) and uses a real transformer (none fo that switching mode power supply crap). Between -click- of the power button ,splash screen and disc playing it takes all of 3 seconds. The entire firmware resides in a 128Kbyte rom.
The latest and greatest bluray takes 25 seconds to chew on the same dvd disc before you get the disc startup. That is, if there are no 'mandatory' firmware updates inbetween.
I have the bluray around for some movies that are not available on streaming. Once i find those i will retire the player, take it out back behind the shed and use 'lucille' on it. Its remains will be doused in gasoline, set on fire. What remains will be entombed in a cubic foot of cement and buried 6 feet down after which an oak tree will be planted on top of that. A sign will say : here lies the biggest crap idea ever conceived.
Part of that reason is that the player has to look at the disc, check to see if it needs to download new keys for it (even for DVD!) and firmware updates at the same time (let's be efficient with our network usage!), then go 'Oh, it's a CSS disc- NEVER MIND' and then decrypt the disc and go on it's merry way.
"I have the bluray around for some movies that are not available on streaming. Once i find those i will retire the player, take it out back behind the shed and use 'lucille' on it."
And in so doing, you have fallen into the same IoT+cloud trap. What will you do when it stops being available via streaming, and you no longer have the physical media, or means to play it? This is exactly what happened when Apple streaming services "lost" some of its content, removing it from customer access because the deals they had done with one of the studios had not been renewed. I spent way too much time cocking around with that half baked UltraViolet / flixter / Vudu streaming service you get for "free" with you DVD/BluRay. No thanks, I'll just keep hold of the physical media.
“I have the bluray around for some movies that are not available on streaming. Once i find those i will retire the player, take it out back behind the shed and use 'lucille' on it. Its remains will be doused in gasoline, set on fire. What remains will be entombed in a cubic foot of cement and buried 6 feet down after which an oak tree will be planted on top of that. A sign will say : here lies the biggest crap idea ever conceived.”
Oh, my Philips DVD-RW went away exactly the same way. I’m sure our players meet one day in the place where bad players go after their life of non-service. Looks like your device deserves to be fed eternally with over voltage delivered under nominal frequency too.
"and a God-damn freezer. Yes, a freezer. Being Wi-Fi-connected, these devices can be remote-controlled via an iOS or Android smartphone app, allowing you to turn lights off and on, monitor power usage, schedule stuff to turn on, view camera footage, and so on, wherever you are. They can also be directed via Amazon's voice-powered assistant Alexa or Google Assistant."
Who the heck even bought this ? And why ???
"Folks who've bought these soon-to-be-internet-less Internet-of-Things gizmos can apply for some money back in the form of a gift card, though a full refund is off the cards, literally."
Aaaand this is why cloud-based IoT is fuckingly retarded.
The only things I ever do with a freezer are put food in and take food out
We occasionally defrost ours too. Especially when the door seal hasn't worked properly due to being 28 years old and not being as flexible as it used to be. Lots of ice build up..
 I know how it feels. New arthritis medication starts tomorrow. Yay!
I have a fridge that will let you use your cell phine app or push a button to tell it when you are running low on things, complete with speech recognition. It remembers it all and puts together a shopping list you can access over the 'net. It's kind of handy if you only go to the store once every week or two. Such a thing could be supplanted by writing the information on the fridge in dry-erase marker and then copying it down when going to the store or just using the good old-fashioned method of looking at what you have/need before making a list and going shopping but it saves some time.
Yes, a freezer. Being Wi-Fi-connected
We were in Currys/PC World at the weekend (the Superior Power wanted to check the sizes of fridge-freezers for a pending kitchen update).
Saw a Samsung fridge/freezer with what looked like a 28" touch panel mounted vertically - obviously running some sort of Android. Sales droid was waxing enthusiastic about all the features ("and it has cameras inside and a barcode scanner!").
He was somewhat crestfallen when I let him know that hell would freeze over before I bought another Samsung product and that the *only* useful bit of the functionality was the ability to switch one of the compartments between fridge-mode and freezer-mode.
 For many reasons - one of which is lack of firmware updates. Our current fridge and freezer are both 28 years old (despite being cheapo Beko units that we bought when we moved into our current house because our old fridge/freezer wouldn't fit into the spaces provided in the kitchen. Sure - the door seals are starting to go but they are replacable..)
How much would the back end for this system really be costing Best Buy to keep running? I mean if they just declared they wouldnt be doing anymore updates (security or otherwise) to the App/server/whatever, and just would be leaving the back end running, so people could continue to use their gear. How much would that cost them? I cant imagine very much. A server, and one guy working part time to press the reset button when it occasionally crashes. Is that really a huge expense? And by leaving it running you would be avoiding a ton of bad will, the inevitable lawsuits from the people whose products you've just bricked, plus all of the refunds.
I really struggle to see the business sense in this...
"I really struggle to see the business sense in this..."
They got your money, and having decided to exit the Internet of Tat business, obviously figure letting folk down gently is just a waste of money, simple as that.
It's exactly like the revolving door model of executive leadership in today's short term profit driven companies. Get while the getting is good and get out, leaving the mess behind for someone else to deal with.
This reminds me of Tesco Mobile deciding to shut down in 2015, letting subscribers down then relaunching a couple of years later.
No doubt it'll be the same at Best Buy when they suddenly announce Son of Insignia in late 2020 (and no of course it won't be compatible).
No doubt it'll be the same at Best Buy when they suddenly announce Son of Insignia in late 2020 (and no of course it won't be compatible)
Of course it won't be compatible, different OEM badge-engineered.
Is it just me or are all these IoT things a giant Ponzi scheme? There is no subscription fee so all their profit comes from new user sign-ups or data mining. Once the device ceases to be cool and the market moves on running the backend is a financial drain on the company that's not paying its way and they will shut it. I'd rather have a product with an annual fee so they're motivated to keep me as a customer.
But shutting it down is a one-off cost and probably a tax-deductible "loss". Keeping servers running is an ongoing cost. Because (I believe) there was no subscription, just an outright purchase, keeping those servers running relies on a sort of pyramid scheme where new purchases pay for the upkeep of existing devices. Eventually it must all come crashing down.
As others have said, there's no easy way out of this if vendors insist on lock-in. Open protocols would do it, so long as someone is willing to make the effort. A subscription model would do it, but how many eejits - even the sort that seem to fall for these things all the time - would fall for "pay us £5 per year per light switch"?
"A subscription model would do it, but how many eejits - even the sort that seem to fall for these things all the time - would fall for "pay us £5 per year per light switch"?"
A similar number to the number of eejits with more money than sense who bought the shite in the first place probably.
An open protocol absolutely would not save ANY cloud-based service from shutting down once the cloud service shuts down. When the device reaches out to the insignia server and gets no response, the smart cloud reliant services will no longer function regardless of what language they speak.
Unless the standard allows for the use of encryption keys...which of course NO ONE will ever divulge for security and fiduciary duty reasons. If you try to foist legal standards on them, they'll destroy them and point to OTHER legal standards, threatening a destabilizing court fight.
"But shutting it down is a one-off cost and probably a tax-deductible "loss". Keeping servers running is an ongoing cost. Because (I believe) there was no subscription, just an outright purchase, keeping those servers running relies on a sort of pyramid scheme where new purchases pay for the upkeep of existing devices. Eventually it must all come crashing down."
I wonder just how many servers BestBuy are running and how many people they have herding them? When does looking after just one or two more become onerous enough that they are prepared to shut them down at short notice, attracted lots of bad press and paying out compo to users become economically sensible?
I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye. Are they getting out quickly because they are looking at some future liability? Some data leak, or maybe just running scared or a potential $something?
One of the great truths of Enterprise is that just because something is in theory cheap, doesn't mean what you end up doing is.
My lot sold off a 300-person org 5-6 years after we bought it because, in blunt terms, it should have been 5 DBAs (for holiday cover). They couldn't work out how to get to that point without sparking riots, so they found a dumber competitor and sold them the division.
'My lot' decided to dictate, in the Holy Name of 'standardisation', which design tools shall be used by suppliers ...
Then at every procurement suppliers politely tells them to fuck themselves on that requirement or they won't do the work, 'my lot' says: 'OK, you do the work then we shall 're-design' everything that we just paid you lot to do with our poshi-posh tools and make it all better'.
Dumb supplier will say: 'Sure mate, whatever' while cutting corners on the contract because now they know 'we' are idiots here,
Clever supplier will say: 'Sure mate, but, how about we just build to your instructions instead since you lot are doing the design documentation anyway?' which means that they can both cut corners on the contract because now they know that 'we' are idiots here AND get away with it because now 'we' are design responsible.
Anyways, everything being safely in the hands of the morons leaves me more time for sending resumes to people. Problem Being: 'Everyone knows WE are IDIOTS here".
> will switch off the "smart" portion of its Insignia-branded smart home gadgets this coming Wednesday, rendering them just plain old dumb gear.
There is a view that the coming recession will see a lot of unicorns becoming extinct. Investors will tire of throwing $$$ billions more on the bonfires and then they will rapidly run out of cash.
And when that happens, many "smart" devices: including "smart" TVs and streaming boxes, will be of very little use.
If we learn anything from that, it will be a reinforcement of the idea that unless you have complete control over your stuff, you really don't own it at all.
"And when that happens, many "smart" devices: including "smart" TVs and streaming boxes, will be of very little use."
Do please explain how exactly a lack of updates will stop me watching a DVD on my "smart" TV.
Or how the Freeview signal will stop being decoded by said "smart" TV set, and displayed on my nice HDR 4k panel? Or how recording said freeview programming will stop being possible, due to the lack of server support on the other end of some non existent cloud server that I don't rely upon, being stopped.
Or how the end of a few minor functions that I already have duplicated many other places will render my TV set unusable.
And no. Smart TVs do not in fact, demand an internet connection before they work. despite years of commentoad warnings that it will happen.. Still not true, and really, unlikely to ever be.
"If we learn anything from that, it will be a reinforcement of the idea that unless you have complete control over your stuff, you really don't own it at all."
And that self righteous tits on the internet will never pass up an opportunity to flaunt their ignorance.
Oh.. This must be yours.. The one with the radio times in the pocket, draped over the old 12 inch BW portable with a coat hanger sticking out of it.
How good is that analogue signal these days?
Take a breath, John. It'll be okay.
And yeah, I've had smart TVs (whole features I've tried to use) shut them all off one by one instead of updating the apps, to the point where my tellies no longer have internet connections.
RPi 3 + OSMC. HDMI and no pissing about. Done, and all the tellies in the house share the same media library, the same tuners and the same PVR.
In an irritatingly retro touch, though, my Sony Android TV won't let me use 4OD and a couple of others because it wants an aerial plugged in. Sorry, pal, but my aerial gets as far as the minisatip machines in the attic...
> Smart TVs do not in fact, demand an internet connection before they work.
For a very limited definition of "work" that opinion can be forgiven. But when a "smart" TV is sold on the basis of the additional features that being "smart" provides it is another matter. Apply the same principles to any other gadget that calls itself "smart". A "smart" phone, for example is only as good as the apps it will run.
A case in point. We bought a top o' the range "smart" TV. Much ado was made about the apps it ran and the benefits they gave the lucky user: Youtube, iPlayer, etc. After about 6 months some of those stopped working - simply because whatever was at the other end of that app stopped providing service. Some time later the TV updated its software and more stuff stopped working. Now, 3 years on, it is nothing more useful than a large screen and a remote control - what with there not being any 4K OTA transmissions. And the internal tuner not being capable of receiving them, if the future brings any
how recording said freeview programming will stop being possible, due to the lack of server support on the other end of some non existent cloud server
Aah, but we've already been there.
The first and second generation DTT (DVB-T) boxes, OnDigital or ITVDigital branded, could only receive "now and next" information once the EPG servers were turned off after ITVDigital went under and the system was taken over by BBC / Freeview. Likewise, I had (have - in the attic somewhere) an early Freeview PVR - a Thomson device - which used an EPG broadcast by a third party, rather than the official one (there was a technical reason - something to do with it being a 15 day EPG rather than just 8 days I think). When that third party folded, the PVR didn't become completely useless as it was still able to receive broadcasts and to do "instant" recordings, but the EPG stopped working so it was impossible to set a recording for any programme not in the current "now and next" list without setting a manual timer, and the start-when-the-programme-actually-starts (and stop when it stops) function was absent - it was like going back to a VCR and having to set all recordings to start 5 minutes early and finish 10 minutes late, just in case.
So no, it didn't stop working, but using it became much more tedious.
On the other hand, my Sony BluRay player started off with a load of online functions I didn't want and continues to work even though the servers which provided them have long since been switched off. The only thing I missed was the Gracenote lookups, but we play music elseways these days.
BluRay players are an interesting case though, as they have to have a list of keys in order to play protected discs. Many firmware updates are simply updating this list of keys and it's possible - though I haven't actually come across a case myself - that either a firmware update will remove a key that's necessary for playing a disc you've bought, thus rendering that disc useless, or that not having new keys installed in a firmware update (because the player is no longer supported) means that the player refuses to play newer discs.
You are assuming people aren't buying these smart TVs so they can streamline to a single device with no peripherals. Forget Cassette tapes and 8-tracks, we now have an entire generation who asks, "What is a cd? Oh, you mean there actually WAS music before Slacker and iTunes?". With streaming services, DVDs are also becoming obsolete and many titles are no longer being released on that platform and are going strictly to the streaming services. No, this is a problem for the consumer as the consumer is being sold services that will inevitably no longer be supported in a few years.
All these smart things appear to have issue in common. No monetary benefit for the seller, they have to rely on new sales funding the maintenance of the ever growing system required to support what they have sold.
I've already lost out once as the company went bust and lost 'smart' capability when the suppliers systems have been offline.
This is going to happen again and again which is why I try and avoid anything 'smart'.
See this Google patent for an example.
Well, that isn't the slightest bit creepy, is it?
I note that they've managed to include a typo in the actual title for the thing - if they're that slapdash, it makes me shudder how lax their security might be on the implementation of this.
I remember when I was growing up, during the home computer boom of the 80s. It seemed like every few weeks something new and improved and exciting came along. It was a wonderful time, and I looked forward to the next issue of whatever computer magazine I read to see what the latest innovation was.
Nowadays I look at what the tech industry has become, and the thought of the next "improvement" or innovation really fills me with a sense of unease.
1.\ It makes me wonder how bad the infoleak and vulnerabilities are for them to pull plug on backend
2.\ I doubt its security issues i presume to be present that are the cause of shutdown, but the fact that the service was essentially free and not subscription based so would only increase in operational cost for bugger all returns other than occasional additions after large initial buy ins, would not be surprised to hear they launch a new replacement service which is subs based with incompatible hardware from a newer (cheaper/higher margin) supplier
3.\ YTF!!!!???!!!! would you need it cloud connected other than for remote access (which lets be honest only get used 99% of the time to fuck with people in your house and showing off to people at the pub) scenarios why on earth would you need basic I/O commands to egress your lan, loss of internet and you cant turn lights on/off??? gotta love progress
4.\ I really hope there are "smart" locks in the range that fail safe open, whats worse press people trapped in burning house dying or many houses robbed as front door failed open either way big liability
5.\ Bugger muppets lead the internet of shit walled gardens of dubious utility, why isnt widely used protocols powering home automation kit, something like MDB (multi drop bus, a varient of RS232 which allows addressable daisy chaining, used a lot in the vending and gaming machine industry, and building access systems) in use, would require a hub, can easily be networked other power wiring, proven to simple enough to survive in very electrically noisey environments and is cheap to build with any device that can do RS232 serial, not of existing kit is fittable to DIN rails so you could even build the hub into a standard domestic consumer unit
6.\ I bet the same people who are shocked and hurt that their cut price bragging rights techno tat are also the same people shocked and hurt that facebook is doing bad things with their data while selling them individually and collectivly wholesale as is google and any other if i had to pay i wouldnt bother service....
If it's anything you really rely on then having it be 'Smart' is a very bad idea unless you will be very discipline don replaring all your kit when support expires.
I really think we need some sort of regulation, I guess in environmental terms, that any tat like this must be supported for a minimal amount of time AFTER sales cease. I'm thinking 5yr for smaller items and 10yr for larger things (freezers / cars).
I saw an advert of a new BMW just last night that showed the car being opened by using (I assume) NFC from the drivers phone. OK I work I infosec but that just looked like a very very bad idea to me. Bad enough that I wouldn't want it on a car I'd just spend £45k on (New BMW 135 if you want to look up the ad)
There's the old joke about the guy who buys a 'smart' cart with a proximity card that unlocks, sets up and starts the car as he approaches and locks and alarms it as he leaves...
He's a bit paranoid and decides to double check that it has properly locked itself... "I'll just go back and check"...
<beep beep> <clunk>
We rented a Nissan Qashquai like that. On some days it was practically impossible to get far enough away from the car before it unlocked itself again. In the end we had to do a very suspicious-looking sprint away from it once we'd locked the bloody thing.
Oh, and it really took exception to us parking to close to hedge (obstacle) and refused to lock the doors at all...
It's just another part of your life hooked into your phone.
I know I'm a bit of a luddite on this one, but I don't want to make payments using my phone. If I lose / break my phone that means I've also lost / broken my wallet.
I also don't want my phone to be my car key. If I lose / break my phone that means I've also lost / broken my ride home.
The future is full of homeless people, lost in a strange city with no money and no contact, who only became that way because the battery on their phone went flat.
Hmm. What would be best is to have a back-end solution that we could run from a local device, like a NAS if you're not running a server. That way it could potentially run forever, regardless of whether the supplier is still in business.
On the other hand, coding something like that would be so much of a PITA that I'll just get off my arse and switch the lights on manually.
"Ever use X10 kit? Mine has been working for decades.
So, how does it do when you have a brownout? Or your fridge kicks in? Or the neighbor's does? Or a trucker with a linear amp keys his mike nearby? Or during a thunderstorm?
My granddad was ahead of his time in adopting home automation. He'd often come home to find the lights hooked to his X10 kit in some random state. Lights he left on were off. Lights off were on. He was (rightfully) afraid to use one of the appliance modules to control anything that had the potential to start a fire. Sometimes one of the dimmable modules would leave a light in a seizure-inducing rapid flicker state. I played with X10 and had similar results. It was neat for its day and had a ton of features, including PC control with the right software and hardware add on. But the analog nature of the control signals just didn't filter out spurious signals, which were easily mistaken for legitimate control codes being sent.
I had some of that. Then my neighbor did too, along with some kind of security system that would send All Lights On to half of the available channels for any kind of event. That got very annoying, along with the unpredictable US split phase problems.
I eventually migrated to Insteon to take advantage of its support for X10 while I migrated. It has its own problems (hopelessly incompetent software, early product reliability issues where the in-wall switches did not last as long as the light bulbs they controlled), and now the remote controller is cloud-based like everyone else.
Same here. I set up the house I'm in when I bought it in 1996. All the X-10 stuff still works.
Everything still work fine. Some non-X-10 stuff: All doors have 6 digit code keypad locks. I haven't used a key in years. Light switches are mostly motion detectors because I didn't need those on X-10. It's nice to be able to walk through the house and lights turn on as I enter a room, and turn off when I leave it. Even my thermostats are programmable, but I just have 3 buttons set (nothing on a timed schedule) - Top for "normal" set to 70F, middle for bedtime set for 65F, and "away" (gone on a trip) set for 45F to keep pipes from freezing.
I'm getting old, but my fingers still work. I don't want anything connected to the internet other than my computer.
There's quite a lot of options. OpenHAB is my personal preference but there's also HomeAssistant and Domoticz. If you want voice control there's Mycroft. Node Red is pretty easy to use for visually programming control logic.
The problem is finding the IoT hardware that works without talking to its own cloud services. My smart plugs have been reflashed with the open source Tasmota firmware but the manufacturer has subsequently patched the hole that enabled that so newly purchased devices would be locked in to their cloud.
Thanks Gentlemen (I assume you're all gentlemen...). I'll check some of these out.
I'm using LightwaveRF at the moment, which of course has the same problem that the server is remote. Stuff would continue to work locally, but I'm not sure how my existing programmed functions (eg random light-switching while I'm not there) would continue to work if the server disappeared. I suspect existing programmes would still run but I wouldn't be able to add/change/delete.
My main point is that maybe I just couldn't be arsed with the whole home automation piece if I had to set it all up again and run it myself.
As someone already remarked, the shutdown can't be due to the cost of running a few servers in a rack to keep the app running. I suspect that a deeper reason is that the company embarked on all this stupidity because of the Big Data hype where CEOs were told that all data is like gold, and every bit of it that you can collect about a person is valuable and will make your company rich beyond your wildest dreams. Presumably the bosses will have learned that all the Hadoop clusters and pricey data analysis tools are next to worthless, and what they have discovered is that people who have bought freezers open and close them occasionally, and that people with light switches tend to switch them on when it gets dark.
This is the trouble with making everything entirely cloud based. It relies on your cloud provider being willing and able to provide a service to you. Neither are guaranteed.
As noted above, there is no reason why, with a little thought, these devices cannot be designed to operate locally. Yes, it might require the user to obtain a piece of hardware or software to control the devices once their cloud component has been taken offline, but that's not an insurmountable problem.
One thing that also concerns me about this iot integration with cloud thing is who has access to the data? The devices themselves may well store that data, and may or may not have security vulnerabilities, but if it uploads to a server somewhere off your network, who has access to that server? Does the company have adequate controls on their processes? Do the technicians just look up your data for shits and giggles (I've read this does happen), or is their access controlled? It's bad enough that your smart plug might be logging when it is turned on or off, and that someone might be able to use that data to determine if you are home or not, but what about cloud based CCTV cameras? They are sending video of you, your loved ones and your environment to services you have little or no control over. Sure the GDPR offers some protection, but depending on the company that may well be after the fact. Essentially, you would be able to take action against them after someone has already looked around your house via the CCTV.
If I had a CCTV system, I'd go for one that stored all data locally. It may well have a cloud option, but that should be just that, an option.
It should be noted, it isn't just cheap knock off systems that potentially have these problems. I can't find the link now, but I remember that a year or so back, technicians at Ring were found to be looking at user's videos from their doorbells.
Technically, no reason at all. However I think the support overhead would be horrendous. Ask anyone who has been involved in end user support for things like business VPN on end users' own devices and routers. I can easily see why having a single centralised control system would look very appealing to the vendors. To me it has about as much appeal as malaria, but my enthusiasm for uber-geekiness is subsiding, and I'm not sure I can be bothered to set up a control system myself either...
Its really not a problem to have a local controller, we already have a few in the house that have limited functionality so its just a matter of providing the interconnects. The issue is really protocols; it wouldn't matter if Insignia decided it didn't want to support the kit if the protocols that operate it were published but you find that one of the reasons for the emphasis on 'security' isn't really the problem of bad actors turning your lights on and off to annoy you, its that the vendors lose control of the device and its potential revenue stream the moment the protocol becomes public knowledge. (So we reverse engineer the protocol so they tie the entire setup up with certificates....)
The unfortunate fact of life is that beyond novelty value most remote control stuff is useless in an average household. I like the voice assistants -- I was an early adopter of the Echo -- but the amount of use these units get is quite limited simply because I just don't need to interact with a computer to do most of my life. This may change over time, I have a lot of interest in voice assistants for age-in-place and disability assistance, but for now my domestic automation needs are handled by a couple of timers. (Its also not that difficult to put intelligence in end user equipment -- you only need minimal intelligence to radically improve things like heating/cooling, swimming pool pumps and sprinkler timers (and most UK households won't even need these) so the cloud is truly redudant.
I know nothing of this particular range of kit, but one thing raises some hitherto unmentioned flags.
If it talks back to a standalone DNS-resolvable address, and they let ownership of that domain lapse for someone else to buy, what potential breaches of data security will arise from all of these still-connected devices talking back for someone else to listen to?
IoT will never reach its potential while it relies on proprietary embedded software, proprietary protocols and proprietary 'apps'. These need to be standardised so the devices and users are not in any way dependent on any particular vendor to release software updates, keep cloud services operational and develop the end-user software to manage and operate the IoT devices.
Problem is, everyone wants to be the standard-bearer, seeing as securing the standard (and the patents and other trade secrets that go with them) mean big (and steady) bucks. Usually either a market has to stabilize and hit saturation before the manufacturers will come to the peace table (Sirius and XM merging), or market conditions are such that everyone decides to a gentleman's agreement from the start (DVD, just to get everyone off VHS).
Literally just yesterday I went shopping for a new electric toothbrush. I care about having healthy teeth so I don;t mind spending a few quid to get a quality product, and I was pleased to see the local bug-name store had loads of choices.
Like I said, I don't mind spending a bit of money but the price tags on some of them were truly eye-watering...£130....£160....for a f***ing toothbrush!?! Looking at the features list to see how they could possibly justify the prices....Bluetooth connectivity - link it to an app on your smartphone.
FFS...No. Just No.
Check the seals. I had one that became internally pressurised - the rubber moulding that covers the switches swelled up and when I unscrewed it there was a loud bang. I suspect water got in and became electrolysed - it wasn't the battery swelling up that was the problem. There have been reports of these exploding.
Who buys this stuff anyway? Not a single problem anyone ever had is solved and tons of nasty problems come with it. A light bulb with a speaker and network connection, hello?!
Maybe they should just keep selling this crap and anybody ordering five or more IoT devices loses their right to vote. That would address at least one problem.
> There is one good use case: disabled/infirm people.
While I agree I am pretty sure they are not targeted as buyers. Examples: fiddly smart phone interfaces versus good old big buttons, harebrained interfaces versus simple ones. Oh, and *useful* functionality.
The one with the clam shell "old people" dumb phone in the pocket. ------------>
I shift work with frequent unexpected overtime, commuting delays and some foreign trips. Having a heating system I can turn on and off remotely so I'm not heating an unexpectedly empty house or coming home to it freezing I find a useful benefit.
I also find the ability to copy/adjust days and build my heating plan for the coming week on a nice touch screen interface a lot easier than wrestling with a horrible interface with a tiny screen and 4 buttons on the heating programmer.
>This why all smart devices should have the smartness in the device, not on some hosted server.
The normal approach to automation is layered. The fatal flaw with all this IoT crap is that its not layered, everything no matter how trivial goes through the cloud. This might have seemed like a marketing wet dream back in the day but it introduces both significant lag and a single point of failure for the entire system. Unacceptable.
Did anyone ever check into the workings of its back-end cloud server, as to whether it was derived from some open-source system? Perhaps it could be replaced with a bit of patching at each client or a redirect at the router. Or, would be nice if someone were to leak the code and diy peeps could have a little fun.