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posted by takyon on Thursday April 07 2016, @11:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the daily-reminder dept.

An article at The Electronic Frontier Foundation goes over a recent decision by the home automation company Nest to disable some of its customers' devices in May:

The Hub debuted in 2013 and was discontinued after Nest acquired Revolv in late 2014. One selling point was that the one-time payment of $300 included a "Lifetime Subscription," including updates. In fact, the device shipped without all of its antennas being functional yet. Customers expected that the antennas would be enabled via updates.

Customers likely didn't expect that, 18 months after the last Revolv Hubs were sold, instead of getting more upgrades, the device would be intentionally, permanently, and completely disabled.

The article also highlights the legal grey area for customers who attempt to keep their own hardware functional, due to "conflicting court decisions about the scope of Section 1201" (of the DMCA).

The EFF article links to a medium.com posting which goes over the experience of a user of the hardware in question:

On May 15th, my house will stop working. My landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working. This is a conscious intentional decision by Google/Nest. [...] Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own.

Originally spotted at Hacker News.

Previously: Google Shows us the Future of Cloud-Dependent Home Automation


Original Submission

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Google Shows us the Future of Cloud-Dependent Home Automation 65 comments

About two years ago Google's Nest subsidiary acquired Revolv. It was an acqui-hire - they did not want the customers or the products, they wanted the engineers. Revolv's main product was a $300 home automation hub that relied on cloud hosted servers for all its functionality.

Today, Nest announced that they would be turning off those servers, leaving revolv customers with a $300 brick. To make things worse, Revolv had promised their customers lifetime service. Revolv is still alive and well, it's just changed its name to Nest. So whose lifetime were they talking about?


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:01PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:01PM (#328429) Journal

    The correct reaction to this (if you don't already do it anyway): Avoid Google wherever you can. They have proven themselves not trustworthy.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Nerdfest on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:19PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:19PM (#328434)

      I normally defend Google as I think they;re one of the better behaved companies, but yeah, this is at least bordering on Evil. Not providing updates is one thing, but going out of your way to disable devices quite another. This is a move worthy of Sony.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:00PM (#328450)

        Not providing updates is one thing, but going out of your way to disable devices quite another.

        Wait, what? The device is dependent on a web service. Turning off a server you no longer want to support is not "going out of your way to disable devices".

        Google buying out a company and than not honoring that company's promises and/or contracts is dickish enough, there's no need to overplay it :)

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Nerdfest on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:16PM

          by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:16PM (#328482)

          If I buy something that relies on 'cloud' services, I *expect* that it is possible the services will disappear, as should anyone using these services. Having my device effectively intentionally *killed* is not something I expect.

          • (Score: 4, Informative) by hemocyanin on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:54PM

            by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:54PM (#328496) Journal

            You aren't representative of the normal population. The normal population doesn't comprehend what "cloud" really means.

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:57PM

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:57PM (#328497)

            If the device is absolutely dependent on that cloud service to function, that what do you expect to happen when they shut down the service?

            The answer here is to make sure you don't buy anything that absolutely depends on the cloud service, unless you accept that it's probably going to be a doorstop in 5 years or so, maybe less. And don't let yourself get surprised: when you buy the thing, try it out without connecting it to the internet first. If it doesn't work at all, send it back. I hear there's actually some smart TVs now that won't work without a network connection.

            • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:13PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:13PM (#328500)

              Them to release updated firmware allowing one to use a configurable server address.

              You expect them to release documentation and/or code on how to replace said cloud service with your own server and/or 3rd party cloud service.

              You expect them to either live up to their promises or find another mutually acceptable alternative. Not just the unilateral alternative that makes them the most money while abandoning the 'loyal' first adopter customers who allowed them to become what they are today.

            • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:21PM

              by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:21PM (#328503) Journal

              You're preaching to the choir here -- the real problem is that for non-techies, they aren't going to find out until too late because all of this stuff is simply magic to them. Maybe devices dependent on cloud services should come with a prominent explicit warning, like on cigarettes -- something like "if the company is bought or goes out of business, this device will become totally useless and cease to function."

              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:17PM

                by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:17PM (#328524)

                A warning label for tech devices... I like that idea actually. If people want to make dumb purchasing decisions based solely on convenience, if there's a warning label informing them of the pitfalls, then at least they've made an informed choice.

                • (Score: 3, Funny) by krishnoid on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:15PM

                  by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:15PM (#328560)

                  "Warning: Any recent, sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Think less "flying-carpet", and more "Sorcerer's Apprentice" type magic."

                  • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Thursday April 07 2016, @09:26PM

                    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 07 2016, @09:26PM (#328687) Journal
                    Any sufficiently crude magic is indistinguishable from cloud technologies.
                    --
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08 2016, @05:58AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08 2016, @05:58AM (#328852)

                Using cloud services is known to cause cancer in the state of California.

            • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Thursday April 07 2016, @09:28PM

              by jmorris (4844) on Thursday April 07 2016, @09:28PM (#328689)

              The answer here is to make sure you don't buy anything...

              The answer is to accept that you never "buy" anything anymore, you are leasing or renting. If it is tied to the vendor with DRM locks it isn't yours and never will be. They might charge you up front and say it is a lifetime agreement but it is impossible for any corporate entity to make such a promise since apparently no agreement they make is binding upon whoever acquihires their husk. So you must understand that you are assuming all risk by prepaying for service up front. Any locked hardware supplied is purely incidental, you are buying services and prepaying up front in the hope the company lasts long enough for the lump sum to win out over a monthly charge.

              What should be demanded, but we lack the numbers to make it stick, is a demand that the keys and source code be held in escrow by a third party and will be released to all customers should the original contract be breached. Pretty sure bet Google wouldn't have breached the contract if they knew there would actually be consequences for them.

          • (Score: 2) by Geotti on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:26PM

            by Geotti (1146) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:26PM (#328529) Journal

            It depends on exactly how this device requires the butt: if it's just to connect to the device from outside, then they really should provide a fallback via port forwarding.

            • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:37PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:37PM (#328573) Journal

              Access from outside is not really necessary, and provides little in the way of actual utility. An inward connection from the web just so you can turn off lights from your phone is nice but not really essential for most users. It could all be programmed via email, or the device could just connect to XMPP (jabber) server of your choice.

              For the most part, I suspect these cloud connections are just there to prevent users from installing controlling software on some computer that isn't left on 24/7 and then complaining that their lawn didn't get watered. It saves them $5 in manufacturing costs for not having to bundle the equivalent of a Raspberry pi into the device to manage storage of settings and a user interface, or even bothering to develop the software for end-users to install.

              Actually, I blame Agile development for must of this trend. These guys only know how to use a hammer, so every assignment is looked at as if it was a nail. Just get-er-done and damn the maintenance.

              I don't understand why Google does not opensource all of the software (or at least the database design) and let 10 or 40 little companies step in and handle the whole thing via their own web servers or pre-packaged micro computers like the Pi.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by snick on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:10PM

      by snick (1408) on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:10PM (#328453)

      Avoid Google wherever you can. They have proven themselves not trustworthy.

      Accurate but narrow.

      If you want to avoid untrustworthy technology companies, you will have to make a _long_ list. All you will be left with is fire and (maybe) the wheel.

      We've seen this play out before with divx (no, not that [divx.com] divx, this [wikipedia.org] divx)

      The lesson isn't that there are good companies and bad companies, but that technology that has to phone home to be functional (not just for updates and to report on your activities) is inherently risky.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:32PM (#328601)

        the wheel--even Goodyear and Firestone were in a conspiracy, the Great American Streetcar Scandal

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:55PM (#328472)

      The correct reaction to this is: "IoT" stands for "Internet of Things I do not own".

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08 2016, @06:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08 2016, @06:00AM (#328853)

        IoTidno, catchy name

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Fnord666 on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:46PM

      by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:46PM (#328510) Homepage

      The correct reaction to this (if you don't already do it anyway): Avoid Google wherever you can. They have proven themselves not trustworthy.

      That's not very useful in this case. When people bought the product it wasn't sold to them by Google. It was sold to them by an independent company that included lifetime support and maintenance with the product.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:12PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:12PM (#328557)

        What I want to know is whether the company doing home automation relying on the cloud gave anyone any warranty for when their ISP drops the ball.
        "It's not our fault your children froze to death overnight, we didn't expect North Dakota ISPs to need 48 hours to dig through the frozen ground and snow to patch a broken cable"

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bart9h on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:03PM

      by bart9h (767) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:03PM (#328518)

      That should be: Avoid non-Free software, and hardware you can't control.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:18PM (#328634)

      Correct reaction: Only use software and products that respect your freedoms. Don't use anything that the user does not fully control.

    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:18PM

      by davester666 (155) on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:18PM (#328635)

      No, the correct reaction is to not purchase a product that relies on a company to keep the device functional, if you want that that device to keep working if that company decided to no longer support the device.

      We've seen this story before with DRM.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by b0ru on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:09PM

    by b0ru (6054) on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:09PM (#328431)

    This is what we can come to expect from the companies in this realm, and their future.

    Lessons learned:
    1) Depending on third party services (e.g. cloud crap) is a mistake.

    2) Paying for a half finished product is a mistake. (Only some antennae working? Come on...)
    2a) You're setting a precedent that releasing half finished or broken products to the market is acceptable.
    2b) Such companies will reduce their already spiralling QA, as it's deemed acceptable to 'test in production'.
    2c) You're paying for the privilege of testing their product for them.

    3) The whole concept of the 'Internet of things' is fundamentally broken.
    3a) Devices with firmware that's public network facing and are not or can not be updated -- didn't we learn this lesson on the Internet already?
    3b) Bad hardware design.
    3b i) These are supposed to be low powered devices, why stuff an application processor + multiple RF frontends into such devices?
    3b ii) The requirements are defined by people from the dotcom/cloud era; why do you need an application processor because you want to run a full fat operating system (i.e. Linux) and your full web stack and python so that you don't have to learn any new skills? Stop polluting the ecosystem with your crap.

    4) You believed the marketing. If you bought into this before it was proven/finished, you deserved to get bitten. This is the sum of the 'Internet of things' -- a solution looking for a problem.

    [End of grump] It seems like Eternal September has come to embedded systems, finally, with all of this web crap shoe-horned in for job security.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:20PM (#328435)

      2a) You're setting a precedent that releasing half finished or broken products to the market is acceptable.

      Hasn't that been Microsoft's business model since Windows 3.1?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:44PM (#328441)

        Was Windows 1.0 any better?

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by LoRdTAW on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:51PM

        by LoRdTAW (3755) on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:51PM (#328444) Journal

        Correction: It's everyone's business model.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:39PM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:39PM (#328538) Journal

        Yes. That was a big part of my move to free software in the mid 1990s. I pay good money and in exchange the copy I receive doesn't work well and isn't even fully functional?

        I paid for OS/2 3.0 (Warp), and did not learn until I'd opened the box that networking was not included. That's like buying a car and discovering the wheels weren't included. I paid for Master of Orion 2, only to find out that the multiplayer part wasn't finished. They tried to claim it was a bug, but it was simply not implemented. Took them 3 months to release a "fix". Charging money, lots of money, premium prices, for a copy wasn't good enough for these guys, no, they felt it necessary to rush out unfinished work, cheat, and try to squeeze customers for even more money. The last straw was Borland's C++ compiler. It had major bugs. Write a program that uses more than 64K of memory, and the Borland compiler would screw it up. Same program worked flawlessly when compiled with gcc/g++. The week I finally figured out why my program wasn't working and that it was a compiler bug rather than a mistake I'd made, as I'd assumed from the start, was the week I ditched MS DOS/Windows and the entire ecosystem of commercial software for Linux. Commercial was patronizing shit. Couldn't see under the hood to try to fix things. That wasn't _allowed_, be a good little child and don't bother your betters. Piracy? You naughty, naughty child. That privilege is reserved for MS, not little people.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:36PM (#328438)

    Purchased a device which:
        1. requires a web service outside user's control to *operate*, not only for updates
        2. runs opaque, proprietary software.

    Manufacturer eventually discontinues said web service required for device operation because reasons (out of business, acquired, whatever).

    Yeah, making and selling such a device is a dick move on the manufacturer's part, but that's sadly not at all new or surprising.

    OTOH, to the person complaining: WTF did you expect ? Did you not see this coming ? Did they actively hide from you that the device required an external service for day to day operation ? If not, I'm sorry, but it sucks to be you. You can't really expect a third party to run a service forever just for you, regardless of what some sales brochure promised you a long time ago.

    If that's all true, claiming they "intentionally bricked" your hardware is a bit disingenuous. They simply stopped running a service, they didn't actively send a self-destruct sequence *into* your device. I rather feel you fell for an obviously flawed design requiring services and components you didn't control and couldn't replace, which while it still sucks is quite a bit different than "they bricked my perfectly good working hardware".

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:13PM (#328456)

      That sounds like Android

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by WizardFusion on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:53PM

    by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:53PM (#328445) Journal

    And this boys and girls is why the "The Cloud" is such a bad idea for stuff like this.
    I imagine that the rest of Internet Of Things will go the same way.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TheRaven on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:44PM

      by TheRaven (270) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:44PM (#328488) Journal

      The cloud isn't intrinsically bad for things like this. The problem is one that's much older than even mainstream computing: lack of a second source is bad. If you depend on a single company to continue to do something, whether it's provide an online service or provide consumables, then you give them a lot of control.

      This wouldn't be a problem if they depended on a cloud service that used an open protocol, because another company could step in and provide a replacement. It's only a problem because Google is the only company that can provide the server component. It's no different in that regard from buying a coffee machine that can only take coffee pods from the a single manufacturer: the end result is that you're going to be ripped off.

      --
      sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:35PM

      by HiThere (866) on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:35PM (#328639) Journal

      The thing is, the IoT isn't fundamentally a bad design, it's just that the implementation is crap. It should be based around a server controlled by the user who can plug things into it (i.e., register things) if he chooses, and one of the choices should be whether or not, to allow connection outside the local area, and that should be managed with routing tables...and, as I already indicated, should be an optional extra.

      Unfortunately, the companies that are pushing it have unanimously decided that THEY should be in control. This results in multiple crap implementtions. I include in that TV sets that spy on you. The TV has NO need for non-local access, and should by default not have it. It should be possible for you to whitelist your phone so that you can, perhaps, record on-going programs that you hear about at work, but that shouldn't be the default. Et multitudinous cetera.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by goody on Friday April 08 2016, @02:25AM

      by goody (2135) on Friday April 08 2016, @02:25AM (#328773)

      And Chromebooks, which are essentially Google dumb terminals.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:57PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @12:57PM (#328447)

    What a bunch of poltroons for buying this shitty product to begin with. I'll bet their smug shifted to fug pretty quick.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:12PM (#328455)

    You bought a device that requires a proprietary service to work. Boohoo. How sad... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdofmoYcJNE [youtube.com]

    BTW yes Youtube is another Google service. Don't be an idiot and pay three hundred bucks for a device that only plays Youtube videos then cry when Google changes things (e.g. shuts it down, changes T&C, or switches to x265 only and your device stops working).

    p.s. Same goes for those of you who bought game consoles that practically require a proprietary service to work.

    • (Score: 1) by dingus on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:23PM

      by dingus (5224) on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:23PM (#328504)

      p.s. Same goes for those of you who bought game consoles that practically require a proprietary service to work./quote

      there are game consoles that don't?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:56PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:56PM (#328620)

        there are game consoles that don't?

        We call 'em "gaming PCs" :)

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday April 08 2016, @02:45AM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Friday April 08 2016, @02:45AM (#328785) Journal

        there are game consoles that don't?

        Steambox maybe?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Bobs on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:29PM

    by Bobs (1462) on Thursday April 07 2016, @01:29PM (#328463)

    To me this decision by Google / Nest epitomizes bad management thinking.

    “He knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing."

    This decision was made because some manager decided he did not want the cost of keeping the servers / service alive in HIS/HER budget. So they decided to kill the service. They probably saved several thousands of dollars per year doing this.

    From a corporate / strategic perspective, they just cost the company a millions of dollars of bad publicity.

    Setting up a special bucket in the marketing/sales budget to pay for the ongoing server support costs called “Keeping old customers happy rather than turning them into haters” would have been a win for Google. If they had spent a bit of money then providing a transition plan for old customers to new systems they could have built up a bunch of customer loyalty / evangelizers. That would have been a ‘win’ for Google.

    Instead, this action is going to make it harder for Google to sell other products and services to customers. Google WANTS to migrate as many people as possible as fast as possible to the Cloud / Internet of things. And this hurts those efforts.

    So somebody said “I can save (a little bit of) money right now.” And completely ignored the longer-term, bigger implications. Sort of like firing an experienced DBA who knows your business and systems to replace them with an outsourced service. “We are saving $1k / month!” Then fixes take longer, new services / improvements are slower, you have more downtime and it ends up costing the organization as a whole buckets of money. But the guy paying for the DBA saved a few bucks!

    This is an example of bad-management / bad-MBA /pointy-haired boss thinking. The guy paying for the servers saved a few bucks.
    But he cost Google a whole lot more.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by snick on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:10PM

      by snick (1408) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:10PM (#328478)

      What bad publicity?

      People buying Nest thermostats at Home Depot have never heard of Revolv or The Hub.

    • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:28PM

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:28PM (#328484)

      google has more money than god; they can certainly AFFORD to keep running token servers, just to keep customers happy. they have a huge amount of manpower; and they never let us forget that they are the 'best minds money could buy'.

      so why the lack of vision? why the lack of understanding that this will backfire on them?

      where is the adult supervision, so to speak? this is what a child would do; adults are supposed to be a bit more forward thinking and able to plan for the future (ie, when the service is going to be put on sustaining, but no new features).

      I continue to call google 'the short attention span company'. and they don't disappoint; they earn that title over and over, each year.

      --
      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by WillR on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:46PM

        by WillR (2012) on Thursday April 07 2016, @05:46PM (#328575)
        This is the result of "adult supervision" at Google.

        Sergei and Larry and "don't be evil" are long gone, and MBA management and "what does this do for next quarter's numbers?" decision making are in.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:44PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:44PM (#328607)

          Better then than companies where they scramble to make the current quarter's numbers look good.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by tfried on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:58PM

        by tfried (5534) on Thursday April 07 2016, @07:58PM (#328647)

        so why the lack of vision? why the lack of understanding that this will backfire on them? where is the adult supervision, so to speak?

        Because adult supervision does not scale. Probably this decision was suggested (routinely) by a small team with the very narrow purpose of identifying services with a bad income / cost ratio. It was prepared by some lower management guy figuring that only a limited number of people would be directly screwed for a quantifiable gain. The next level up probably never had an idea what this was all about in the first place (and only five minutes to look at it), but the numbers looked good. At the next level, the obvious might have been spotted very quickly, but it simply vanished behind too much aggregation with otherwise "reasonable" decisions.

        This type of mistake is promoted by a narrow cutting-costs mindset. But it is not easy to avoid in any large corporation. (Which is not meant to defend Google, here, but trying to explain how they come to make stupid mistakes like this.)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:57PM (#328550)
      Haha. It'll take a lot of convincing before I buy a Google car. It will never be standalone - look at the way they do things. Everything has to rely on them.

      Your smartphones could really be smarter (they've got all that RAM and CPU - look at what stuff like Tasker can do if you don't believe me), but Google, Apple, etc shift most stuff to their servers, so your phones serve them as much as they serve you if not more.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @06:52PM (#328614)

        When the Google cars stop running, be sure to say "klaatu barada nikto."

  • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:44PM

    by bitstream (6144) on Thursday April 07 2016, @02:44PM (#328489) Journal

    Now that cloud dependent devices have proven themselves to be a really stupid idea for buyers. The next step is to ask if the rust of us somehow can be forced into cloud dependency?
    And cloud is really computing resources that someone else dictates.

    I thinking oligopoly of offerings and the friends bought it, so you must too (network effect).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:03PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:03PM (#328498)

      A few years ago Solidworks was planning on going cloud, until most of their customers informed them that they would be bound by non-disclosure and security requirements to drop them if they did. For some reason I can't fathom most of those same people are happily running Windows 10.

      • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:03PM

        by bitstream (6144) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:03PM (#328517) Journal

        I guess Microsoft-10 feels secure. "Hey look file is on my local computer".. well it may also be somewhere else ;)
        This enters the territory of rational thinking and executive functions of humans.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by ledow on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:55PM

    by ledow (5567) on Thursday April 07 2016, @03:55PM (#328514) Homepage

    Do many people here really think that net-connected devices like this, dependent on a third-party, were ever a good idea. The same would have happened if they'd gone bankrupted, been sued for patent violations, their domain name lapsed, or whatever else that could possibly happen.

    Working in schools, my bursars are keen to emphasise that lifetime guarantee are useless if the company itself goes bankrupt (and if the offer of a lifetime guarantee seems too good to be true, wouldn't that company be more likely to be offering the impossible and therefore liable to go bankrupt if they miscalculated?). It doesn't even matter that you have things on paper in that instance.

    Thus things like cloud services et al are considered to have to be "replaceable". Their resilience and uptime is taken into account but we also need to be able to go "Oh well" and move to another provider, or even back in-house. This is especially true as businesses move towards SIP trunking, cloud services, remote backups, managed print etc. It's all very well having these companies take that facility off your hands, but you need to be able to cope if that company ups and leaves one day. In schools, for instance, we wouldn't be able to use a company if - say - the CEO was accused of child pornography or similar. There is an instance of a famous educational website used by lower-years (Years 1-4) which was owned by someone later discovered to be a convicted paedophile. We all stopped using it overnight because you are then supplying - however small - children's data to that guy, or at the least a company where that guy might have access. If parents get wind of things like that, we would suffer reputational damage if nothing else.

    But outside of work, even as a geek, I don't want that kind of thing. I have CCTV DVR that I have control of myself. I have home-monitored house alarm - I built it myself from off-the-shelf components and GSM diallers and I control it, nobody else. If I wanted thermostats etc. then that's what X10 and the like are for, surely? Same functionality. Same cost. Same hassle. But under my control and only accessible by me.

    That said, my most-geeky friend has a Nest thermostat and smoke alarm. I often discuss this and they don't see the problem. They have no other system, even if they have multiple units. So I guess it's not even just a "geek-thing".

    I wouldn't want any one company having that kind of control. I mean, honestly, do I want some minimum-wage worker at, say, ADT or Yale knowing when my house alarm is / is not set and potentially letting them have control of it and/or ability to shut down calls from it? I can't see how that's "security" compared to having my own dialling unit with email and GSM alerts, that has no subscription beyond a Pay-As-You-Go SIM card, that texts me directly and lets me judge just the same whether to call the police or fire or not.

    Honestly, as a geek, why do you have to have that third-party company in the loop AT ALL compared to some cheap junk off Amazon and wiring it up the way you want? It's pretty easy nowadays to tie all that kind of stuff in together. Hell, my car texts me if it moves and I can disable the engine remotely and track the GPS. And that's a £20 gadget off Amazon that does that, not the in-car systems where it was £400 for the option. And it texts ME, not the car manufacturer.

    • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:12PM

      by bitstream (6144) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:12PM (#328521) Journal

      The Soylentnews people isn't perhaps the group that falls for this? or even the greeny dot group. The problem comes likely when you have a big market of people that won't do due diligence even if their life depended on it. Add to that when you visit them the security cameras may be used by that minimum-wage worker so that he may show his friends that in turn upload to some video service.

      Just to add to this mess. Most devices these days, don't come with any proper documentation.

    • (Score: 1) by Chrontius on Friday April 08 2016, @11:12PM

      by Chrontius (5246) on Friday April 08 2016, @11:12PM (#329179)

      Your plugging of X10 suggests you never used it. In practice, X10 is prone to develop poltergeists - bad enough to completely destroy any wife acceptance factor they earned - slowly and with great difficulty - in a single weekend.

      I’m inclined to suggest Z-Wave as a sufficiently-open replacement that … you know, has authentication.

      I’m rather curious what kit you’re using and how you tied it all together, actually. I’m running on Wink kit, but the hub was free, and all the devices are hub-agnostic. I could run it all off a Raspberry Pi with a Z-Wave and ZigBee breakout board, if I was fed up with commercially available hubs, but I’m not entirely sure where to start rolling my own, even though I know it is, theoretically, possible.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by chewbacon on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:31PM

    by chewbacon (1032) on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:31PM (#328536)

    This happened with Sony PlayStation 3's OtherOS feature. You bought a product and it lost feature sitting in your home. I believe lawsuits in the US were unsuccessful as Sony's actions were covered by their user agreement. This isn't a new thing except for the uninitiated. Welcome, folks!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07 2016, @04:45PM (#328545)

    Granted I didn't RTFA(s) but how is this not fraud? I mean even if they did specify in the small print that the question of life time is the _corporation's_ life time it's still fraud.

    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Thursday April 07 2016, @08:47PM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Thursday April 07 2016, @08:47PM (#328665) Journal

      I suspect that the fine print carefully specified "life" to be up to, but not including next Tuesday.

      --
      “I've learned from experience that asking politely never works unless you have the upper hand.” Daisuke Aramaki, GIS:SAC
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by theluggage on Thursday April 07 2016, @10:02PM

    by theluggage (1797) on Thursday April 07 2016, @10:02PM (#328706)

    OK, not exactly leaping to the defence of Nest here, but an article at the BBC [bbc.co.uk] mentions that:

    It [Nest] has urged Revolv customers to contact Nest to discuss options, including compensation. We don't know yet if that compensation will be a full refund.

    Doesn't entirely let Nest of the hook but its a snippet that hasn't made it into most of the summaries...

    Everything is not OK, though... unfortunately, the rot set in years ago when tech companies were allowed to get away with doing an end run around consumer protection and copyright laws by claiming that they were selling a "license" or "service" rather than a product. New consumer protection laws are needed to deal with these complicated product/service/license hybrids (rule #1 would ban click-through 'agreements' on $100 products 3 times longer than the document you signed to buy your house...) I wonder how this one would play out in the EU (where you couldn't get away with a conventional product that died after 18 months but might be able to fudge it by calling it a 'service')

    That said, we also need a tech solution that lets average consumers run, effectively, servers over their home internet connection. Even if IPv6 solves the static IP problem (or there's DYNDNS) then there's issues like security and firewalls to contend with... VPNs aren't very user-friendly to set up, either. Currently, having both client and "server" connect via HTTP to a central server is probably the easiest solution (as long as the central server stays up). Ideally, some sort of generic 'home server gateway' should be part of the standard ISP package... We manage it with email (most people get away without running sendmail at home) and that's scaled flawlessly to the modern internet (*cough*!!!)

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday April 08 2016, @03:07AM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Friday April 08 2016, @03:07AM (#328792) Journal

      That said, we also need a tech solution that lets average consumers run, effectively, servers over their home internet connection. Even if IPv6 solves the static IP problem (or there's DYNDNS) then there's issues like security and firewalls to contend with...

      Isn't that part of what UPnP is supposed to do? It's got protocols that allow a device to set up port forwarding for example. Although it has some pretty big problems too...

      • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Friday April 08 2016, @07:40PM

        by theluggage (1797) on Friday April 08 2016, @07:40PM (#329118)

        Isn't that part of what UPnP is supposed to do?

        As I understand it, UPnP is just a helper for conventional port-based connections & has the disadvantage that the computers on your private network have to be able to configure your router/firewall, and it can be blocked by intermediate firewalls that you don't control.

        What I was thinking of was more of a cloud-based message-passing & cacheing service (maybe with some cloud storage) that both "mobile" and "base station" applications initiated connections to via HTTP. I.e. similar technique as these server-dependent products use anyway, but with the "server" part general-purpose (so it could be an ISP service) and the application-specific logic on the base station.