and to be regulated by democratically accountable lawmakers that think about the public interest.
Whew, thank god these vital corporations will remain safe in the US then.
Six right-to-repair advocates assembled on Friday morning to present Repair.org's second annual Worst in Show Awards, a selection of the "the least private, least secure, least repairable, and least sustainable gadgets at CES." In a presentation streamed on YouTube, author and activist Cory Doctorow presided over the …
Why do some people automatically blame just Apple? Is it just ignorance that drives them, or just blind irrational hatred?
Apple App Store...30% (15% for Small business)
Google Play...30% (15% for Small business)
Samsung Galaxy Store...30% (negotiations possible)
Amazon App Store...30%
Microsoft Store...30% for all Xbox app purchases
Spotting a pattern forming yet?
"Apple App Store...30% (15% for Small business)
Google Play...30% (15% for Small business)..."
Funnily enough 30% is the traditional retailer mark-up too, for making wholesale goods available to retail consumers.
Funnily enough 30% is the traditional retailer mark-up too, for making wholesale goods available to retail consumers.
You mean for retailers who had to pay lots of rates and staff costs, not just a small (w.r.t. revenue) IT team to cream off massive profits instead?
Look into standard music distribution contracts. You'll find a whole load with an arbitrary percentage of sales profits held back from the artist to cover costs that used to be incurred through losses shipping fragile bakelite records around the country, and haven't been actually incurred in 40+ years.
30% margin (as opposed to *markup*) is right at the bottom end of “normal” for standard physical retail.
First off, you’ve confused the definition between margin (as in “Apple take 30% of the retail price) and markup (retail price = wholesale price + 30%). 30% margin equals 43% Markup.
True Commodity items conventionally attract 30% margin (43% markup), in certain very limited cases. For example, if you are a wholesaler selling pencils or unbranded plastic chairs, probably that. Basically, experience shows that just covers the retailers operating cost if they have minimal rent. Either a shop on a very quiet high street, or an internet reseller.
But most goods sold now in U.K. aim a bit higher than that - e.g. a branded table and chair set. In that case, customer goes to a particular store to buy it. There, 100% markup (50% retail margin) is considered the “standard”.
Luxury goods, like a designer handbag, typically 60% retail margin. And super-luxury (when there’s only one place you can buy it, in superprime retail location), like Fortnum and Mason chocolate usually 70-80% margin (at least 3.5x markup).
Back to topic: tech giants taking 30% margin definitely does undercut traditional bricks and mortar like GameStop. That’s why they are winning the retail game. It’s not the retail margin per se that’s the problem, it’s that all the profit of the *entire economy* goes into only a couple of pockets.
30% is the traditional retailer mark-up. For goods that the retailer must first purchase with their own money, without being certain the goods will sell. For retailers who maintain a bricks & mortar store and perhaps a warehouse to hold their stock, hire sales clerks, buy insurance, deal with recalls, and collect and submit taxes (in LeftPondia there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of differing and sometimes overlapping tax jurisdictions, yes of course that's inefficient and confusing).
I picked up somewhere that the margin for Amazon Books is FAR higher than the average shown here, and as far as I can tell that appears to be a standard in the world of books.
Interestingly, nobody seems to be willing to discuss that.
My local history group has published a few books. We can sell a hundred or more fairly quickly and usually have a few to offer on open days etc over the next few years but eventually run out (although we have an over-ordered book on the Poor Law from many years ago of which I could sell quite a few copies). I looked at Amazon's print on demand arrangements to see if we could make the out of print copies available. To break even we'd have to sell at about 50-60% above our old list price. Instead we've now put them online as free downloadable PDFs.
"Spotting a pattern forming yet?"
A cartel? Or just that Apple started it, got away with it, and everyone else just copied them?
(Oh noes, other big tech copied Apple! Activate the AppleTM SueBall Trebuchet!! (which they invented and have patented.))
I can install APKs on my Android device or use an alternate store without going through Play, and nobody is forcing me to use Steam or Amazon for PC software. My wife's iPhone on the other hand offers basically no choice except to use the Apple Store.
RE: "They still think that 30% is an acceptable share of profits from someone else's work."
This is standard business.. The way a store or shop works is generally they buy something wholesale, The price they charge consists of the cost they pay, plus something to cover their bills (they do, after all, have staff, premises and equipment to maintain), then they add a little for profit. Profit is, in some quarters, a dirty word, but it's also the thing that allows you to put money aside for future expansion of the business, or to cover costs in a lean period. It IS necessary for a business to make profits to survive.
Online software stores work in a similar way, except their costs are different, and they charge a commission rather than buy your products in and sell them at a higher price.
Their costs are different to a bricks and mortar store, but they still have costs. They still need to pay for staff, office and data centres, with the associated infrastructure. Even where they use a cloud service (like AWS), there are still costs involved.. Even though they are multi national companies, the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Valve will still have those costs. It's worth pointing out that these companies all make software available for free to make development for their platforms easier, and that also has a development and maintenance cost. That said, in Apple's case, I think the registration cost for developers probably more than covers that.
Now, that's not to justify the 30% commission. I don't know how much these companies pay in costs, but I suspect that 30% is probably a little excessive. I do agree that smaller developers should pay a smaller percentage though. Products from companies like Activision or EA are like to put a much higher load on the store infrastructure than something like a game from a small indie studio, so it's fairer they pay a higher cost.
The problem with the standard business or brick 'n' mortar analogy is that the Apple store lock-in would be like buying a Samsung TV and only being allowed to watch content curated by Samsung. Or buying an Asus PC and only being allowed to buy software through the Asus store.
If Apple allowed consumers to buy through alternate stores I wouldn't care if they charged 70% or 90%. Competition would mean the best store (for buyer and seller alike) would pull ahead and fees across the board would come down.
This article points back to a tweet that went viral and has been doing rounds with the bobbleheads, but the tweet points to a site that apparently hates crypto so much they can't be bothered to enroll for a free LetsEncrypt cert for their site.
Two words: Chinese Cannon.
Can be used with ANY unencrypted communication, regardless of subject. It's also why Telnet was replaced with Secure Shell.
Basically, unencrypted = impossible to trust, end of.
Very good article on this topic just yesterday from Moxie Marlinspike. It's worth a read:
They're less like Beanie Babies, more like buying a square of land on the moon. At least with a Beanie Baby you had *something*
This is a device that you put next to your bed ...
We are in the age of the Law of IdiocyⓇ:
"Anyone who is so utterly stupid so as to purchase and setup one of those gizmos* inside their house deserves anything/everything that happens to them as a consequence of doing so."
*Applies to anything from Alexa type devices to intelligent thinguies (eg: lightbulbs, fridges, vacuum cleaners, televisions. phones, watches, can openers, locks, doorknobs, toilets, switches, thermostats, heaters, dryers, coffee machines, etc.) that monitor whatever you are doing/not doing with or around them.
Maybe we can turn that into an axiom:
"Anyone buying intelligent devices is trying to address a shortage elsewhere"
OK, maybe a bit too generic, but that may be because most of the "intelligent" things I personally have come across were maddeningly stuck with the designer's view of what "intelligent" meant. In other words, the problem pretty much starts with a lack of clear thinking at the design stage.
Or, judging by some of these things, apparently an overly deep reliance on psychedelics..
I'm still looking for a generic IoT product that isn't solving a problem that is already solved in older and arguably better ways - y'know, like a light switch or a thermostat. Listening to a household and exporting audio to who-knows-where for analysis does not strike me as a desirable mechanism.
Mr Barnes takes the https://xkcd.com/1807/ view of connected devices.
<brace for downvotes>
Ok to give you some personal experience, I do use smart thermostats on our radiators. They're Bosch ones and don't as far as I can tell phone home. We use quite regularly the timer functionality and the boost functionality that allows you to open it up on full gas for 5 minutes. Being able to give the bedrooms a temperature boost before bed from the living room is quite nice in these cold winter evenings.
Do we really need them? Probably not, but the old ones were shit and we have actually dropped our oil usage a noticeable margin since they were installed. So I'm happy enough to use them.
We did also try some smart lights because we wanted to add a dimmer function to any area of our house without rewiring that circuit. But to be honest we've only changed the light level maybe 3-4 times in total. It's just too much faff to sort out on the phone. We will probably get a dimmer switch installed next time we're doing some electrical work, as that would likely get more usage. Still for €10 for a pack of 3 bulbs, it was not exactly an expensive test.
So there you go a couple of examples of real world use. One useful, one, at least in our case, not so much...
I will grant that zoned/timed heating is a reasonable idea but in general it could be a set-once-and-forget; no need for IoT connectivity.
As for dimmers: I don't want a dimmer. Lighting fitment designers all seem to have the idea that a light in a room is an accent, a design element, a talking piece - anything but a device to allow me to see. They're all too bloody dim to start with :)
A dimmer is useful when watching TV. I have z-wave stuff installed, mostly for controlling lights while we are away but the dimmer facility on the lounge light is useful so there is a little light when the TV is on. And z-wave is local, none of this cloud crap. The controller is a RPi with only local network access.
Dimmable lights - the trick is to have more of them, rather than one massive light source in the centre of the roof. It does make a difference. Being able to dim for atmosphere in the evening and ramp it up to floodlight level when you're spring cleaning is nice.
Permit me an anecdote. I renovated our house a while back and had some experience with DALI industrial lighting controllers. So, because life would be too simple otherwise, I wired the entire house with them - designing my own circuit boards for the light switches, hooked it into a computer and rigged it to half a dozen motion sensors around the house.
After a year or so tinkering it works really well - I open a drawer in the hall, the light above it goes on so I can see. Lights come on at their dimmest level as you walk around at night to find the loo, then switch off automatically. Nice HTML interface on an iPad. It's a smart system that works.
What I didn't anticipate is the standby cost of all the drivers (which I bought cheaply from the wholesaler on Alibaba) is pretty ruinous. They might be 100% LEDS, dimmable and turning them off when they need to be, but because they're always on and sipping power rather than on a physical switch, and because there are a lot, I'm pulling about 200W in standby.
I'm still planning my next move but its going to involve a lot of testing and a lot of replacing.
I’ve got Philips Hue lights and they’re actually great for mood lighting. Being paranoid I have them and the ‘bridge’ on a separate wifi network that isn’t connected to anything else especially not the internet.
The issue for me is that if I ever update the app I use to control them (on a dedicated device I use for this purpose only) it always wants to update the firmware on the bridge before it will work. So I don’t update the app.
Hues lights are rather expensive to boot.
Admittedly, I have a handful of the privacy snoops in my house, but the automation gear got coverted a couple months back to all local zigbee/zwave using a Hubitat for control; I'm looking into ways of getting rid of the Amazon snoops as well and replacing them with something equivlent that runs entirely on-prem and doesn't require an internet connection. (there's an app named Vox Commando that seems to do almost everything I want it to do; the only downside is that I need to build some tiny machines with enough horsepower to run it, along with setting up an actual media server for in house sound from my own collection- Plex sort of fits the bill, but I'm not happy with the way it interfaced with the echos and was broken more often than not of it's own accord.)
I'd like the same thing, but there's no reason for any of that to go to some server halfway across the continent. If the app talked directly to the thermostat or light bulb across my wi-fi, that would be ok.
All the thermostats I've found do phone home, but it takes a bit of digging to discover that.
If the app talked directly to the thermostat or light bulb across my wi-fi
The Ikea stuff does that. Sadly, that's about the only reason I'd recommend it. The bulbs and dimmers seem to fall off the system rather often and it's hugely annoying. Initial setup is really hit and miss too. Moreover, if you have a network with multiple VLANs then the gear doesn't work at all until you assign a single VLAN to that switch port...
"... the timer functionality and the boost functionality..."
Neither strikes me as particularly "smart", definitely not in the IoT sense of "requiring connectivity to a cloud data centre on another continent".
I have a better example: reports were made at some point of IoT sensors wearable by cattle measuring $something_or_other_terribly_useful. I can't be arsed to dig up references and/or details, but it sounds like a potentially good idea. [I'll be waiting for Mr. Clarkson, who by now has a lot more experience than me with sheep and cows, to point out drawbacks.]
Like Mr. Barnes I cannot point to any use case involving humans or households where planet-scale connectivity leads to significant (or any) improvement. Definitely not without compromising security and/or privacy to a degree that I would consider unacceptable.
Being able to give the bedrooms a temperature boost before bed from the living room is quite nice in these cold winter evenings.
Thermally speaking I'm not sure this is efficient. I think it's better in term of energy consumption to maintain a temperature rather than heating "by peak". All because of thermal inertia.
Unless your house is extremely well insulated, surely you're wasting energy by maintaining a room at a comfortable temperature when it's unoccupied?
As an example, we have a Loxone system controlling the lighting and zoned heating, and the spare bedroom is normally effectively unheated. A long press on the light switch turns the radiator on for 30 minutes. I fail to see how maintaining that room at 18C is more efficient.
Our house is about 40 years old, typically well insulated I think for a house of that era and with a fairly standard gas boiler and radiators for central heating.
We used to run the hearing on a timer, off at night and during the day while we were usually at work, then to come on to warm up before we get home or out of bed in the morning. A few years ago we started running the heating 24/7. To keep the house psychologically comfortable, we had to turn the thermostat down by 5 degrees C, the house was much more comfortable being a steady temperature rather than swinging between hot and cold twice a day. I ran tests by alternately running a week at a time in each mode for several months and monitoring the gas consumption. Result: no discernable change in gas consumption, the variation between the individual "always on" weeks was greater than the difference between "always on" and "timed". Also the house was more comfortable.
>Unless your house is extremely well insulated, surely you're wasting energy by maintaining a room at a comfortable temperature when it's unoccupied?
Depends on the construction and length of unoccupancy. With many modern houses there is no real thermal store/mass and so all heating is effectively air heating. In one house this caused problems as the fabric was cold and thus it suffered from condensation...
Swapping plain switches for dimmers is relatively easy to DIY. If you're planning on using LED bulbs, then you also need to think about having enough resistance (ie wattage) on the circuit. You would also need to select your LED bulbs carefully as it's easy to end up with nasty flickering.
Plenty of youtube help available.
But please don't electrify yourself by accident.
"I'm still looking for a generic IoT product that isn't solving a problem that is already solved in older and arguably better ways"
And not just IoT products. This and the Moxie Marlinspike article listed above reminded me of an article which came to my attention a few days ago: https://trendoceans.com/a-simple-solution-to-the-private-key-loss-conundrum/
Basically it saves you having to remember your private key by going to an online random password generator which you seed from a piece of arbitrary text of your own choosing and a date. This gives, according to the article, 10 15 character passwords (I tried it and got 20 20 character passwords) from which you select 32 characters and from that generate a 256 bit key. The article provides a shell script for this. Repeat the process to regenerate the key as needed. It struck me that:
1. You now have to use a server whose operators may well be of the utmost probity - I'm sure they are - but who you have to take on trust as you don't know them.
2. You not only have to trust the current operators but any successors whom even the current operators may not know.
3. You have to trust the security of the server and everything linking you to it.
4. You have to hope that the server is still running for as long as you need the key.
5. You have to trust the reliability of the server, namely that it will give the same result each time. Note that the results it gave me a few minutes ago don't match the description in the article although it may be that the article accesses it via curl and I used a browser.
6. In place of not losing the key you've got to not lose the script the article describes or at least you've got to remember the URL and which characters the script picks out from the returned block of text.
7. You've got to remember your seed text and date.
I suppose you could keep all the bits you need to remember in your local Keepass database but then I suppose you could do the same for the private key you're in danger of forgetting.
And have I missed anything out from that list? (I've already thought of one extra.)
Quote: "...You now have to use a server ... operators ... who you have to take on trust as you don't know them..."
Actually, it's a lot worse than that!!
1. You don't know them.....but they know you!!
2. The server can be hacked....and you don't know ANYTHING AT ALL about that!!
3. There's the distinct possibility that a government agency can shut down the service without warning (see MegaUpload for details)!!
In summary, servers on the Internet need to be treated as fundamentally UNTRUSTWORTHY from the get go!
Of course, nobody does that. Good luck!!
Your number 3 is similar to my extra one - except that it was along the lines of a government agency could be forcing the operators to force logs (if the weren't keeping them already) and to hand them over. The rest is pretty well what I said.
Not a good idea. But then neither is depending on something easily stolen or lost - a phone - as the key to your life. Paranoia it the minimum standard for personal security.
I know a few people who love them.
Oddly they are the people that work really random shift patterns (think NHS staff) so a 7 day timer is just a waste of time as the have to be reprogramed constantly.
Now they just turn it on before leaving work, saving money and energy on heating an empty house.
Be it MS who starts litigating about windows licenses sold as secondhand goods by online retailers, apple refusing to sell parts to independent repair shops, $1000 + Iphones that have to be tossed into the bin because the battery died after 4 years and fixing it costs a fortune, proprietary software pairing of spare parts into a device, or non publication of electronic schemas of motherboards, their objective is total control over the buyer and the lifecycle of the product.
It is an issue which is going on for over a decade now, the governments ignore the issue since politicians fear the wrath of the billionaire owned news media if they take initiatives that cut into their profits and maniacal drive to total control over everything. Only the French seem to be a bit immune to this.
With this they allow Big Tech to erode the concept of ownership and full control to which the buyer of a good is entitled.
I am not a legal expert, but laws protecting ownership rights do not have to be that complex.
It should for instance include a section prohibiting the inclusion of components for which rent or periodic licenses have to be paid into physical goods.
Enforcing generic warranty periods of 5-10 years on electronics reduces E-Waste and would solve many of the hard to repair issues, since it would cost them if freeing up parts from a lake of glue takes hours.
I've said it before and I'll say it again:
Make lobbying illegal.
Make it a crime for any legislator or government official to receive money, payment, goods, services, gifts and anything else from any person or organistion.
Lawmakers' only job should be to make laws, and the potential targets of those laws must not be allowed any influence. If you need industry experts, get them from outside the likely targets, or, you know, learn how shit works before legislating said shit.
Not so simples. Politicians have one job: being politicians. And we can't expect politicians to suddenly become nuclear engineers, environmentalists, or whatever overnight. The human mind just doesn't work that way. That's why we need experts to know the things we're not able to know, especially in fields where lives can be lost. So what do you do? Rely on experts who could have agendas, or have people killed from inexperience of the people up top?
The potential targets of laws must be able to petition the lawmakers to make their case. To have no input in matters that concerns them smacks of the America problem: Taxation Without Representation. How would you as, say, a pub drinker, feel if lawmakers talked laws about changing pub hours or legal pub beverages and you have no say in the matter?
As for lobbying, there's really no way to control it. It's a legal impossibility in the US due to the First Amendment, and even without something like that, lobbying bodies have ways to get through to lawmakers that can't be blocked short of ensconcing all the lawmakers in isolation booths for the duration of their term. For example, it's a known tactic to recruit their spouses as lobbyists (try blocking that and still be able to raise a family and so on). Then there's the ol' Revolving Door, where no money has to change hands right away.
"How would you as, say, a pub drinker, feel if lawmakers talked laws about changing pub hours or legal pub beverages and you have no say in the matter?"
No different to now, really, as it's quite clear that those in power care not a whit for what their constituents think - if they want to change stuff, they'll do it from a position of ignorance to best suit their own needs regardless of what colour rosette they pin to themselves every 5 years.
I'm not saying there aren't good MPs, but unfortunately any attempts to do anything are quashed by the weight of the existing system, and I don't see any easy way to change it, or in fact any difficult way that would be acceptable to our ruling classes...
Lawmakers' only job should be to make laws, and the potential targets of those laws must not be allowed any influence.
The problem is, that might be you, objectiing to a proposed law that would require demolishing your house. It's very difficult to construct the right dividing line. Should your council be allowed to advocate to lawmakers that all houses in your area be painted green? How about object to plans to replace them with a toxic waste dump?
>Enforcing generic warranty periods of 5-10 years on electronics reduces E-Waste and would solve many of the hard to repair issues
Interesting how Mercedes a month or so back disclosed that for its EVs to repay the higher energy costs of manufacture compared to ICE, they would need to be driven for at least 90,000 miles (on factory fitted batteries etc.) before their total energy consumption started to fall below that of an ICE. Which given the average UK driver does circa 7,000 miles a year [Source: DVLC MOT data.] would indicate the EV will need to be driven for 13+ years. So I suggest warranty periods of 20 years (including batteries) wouldn't be excessive...
So what we used to do in the old days, when someone brought out crap, was to not buy it.
Why is that such a radical idea these days?
Is all this demanding for the government to rule our lives, because as covid shows, governments really knows best, some way to remove the concept of self responsibility?
As an example, here's what I do; I realise that Alexa is just a microphone connected to a datacentre, that listens to everything I say, so ... I don't buy one.
If a billion other idiots do spend their cash on one, why is that a problem?
I have one life, I'm not going to waste it telling other people they are idiots. Firstly, they won't appreciate it, and secondly, they won't believe me, which is why they bought the Alexa in the first place!
It really isn't difficult, and when everyone has learnt what we all used to do, these companies will change their behaviour.
Personally, I wonder about all these activists wanting to glow in the limelight of being virtuous, but then realise, its just their way of making money, so if we don't give them any attention either, eventually, even they will give up and get proper jobs!
Because if lots of people buy them, then they become ubiquitous. If they become ubiquitous, then their features start to leak into other devices and parts of life. Then at some point, you realize that you can't buy a fridge that doesn't send your conversations back to Samsung, or a car that you can...fix...
If you don't nip these things in the bud, they will grow. Slippery Slope might be a logical fallacy, but it sure is supported by history.
Smart tractors... just nopenopenopenopenope
if I get the chance, I'll rather buy a tractor from the 1980's era - without any fancy purdy electrickery stuff.
Because in the field it matters what you can and cannot fix.
Smart tractors breaking down in the field will cause a load of bulldust, but a dumb tractor breaking down is easy to fix.
And IoT tat - just avoid. Dumb lights, dumb alarm clocks etc all worked quite well, why would we need smarter tat now?
"if I get the chance, I'll rather buy a tractor from the 1980's era - without any fancy purdy electrickery stuff."
Environmental regulations will probably kill your idea dead. Can't have all that carcinogenic soot filling the kiddies' lungs now, can't we?
"And IoT tat - just avoid. Dumb lights, dumb alarm clocks etc all worked quite well, why would we need smarter tat now?"
Because our lives have become more frenzied and irregular. Set it and forget it doesn't cut it anymore when more and more people don't live to a schedule.