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posted by martyb on Friday February 28 2020, @07:29PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the future-feedings-look-cloudy dept.

Petnet's smart pet feeder system is back after a week-long outage, but customers are still waiting for answers:

Petnet, the smart pet feeder backed by investors including Petco, recently experienced a week-long system outage affecting its second-generation SmartFeeders. While the startup's customer service tweeted over the weekend that its SmartFeeders and app's functionality have been restored, Petnet's lack of responsiveness continues to leave many customers frustrated and confused.

Petnet first announced on Feb. 14 that it was investigating a system outage affecting its second-generation SmartFeeders that made the feeders appear to be offline. The company said in a tweet that the SmartFeeders were still able to dispense on schedule, but several customers replied that their devices had also stopped dispensing food or weren't dispensing it on schedule.

But all is not lost. A system update announcement reports:

System Update: SmartFeeders are returning online. There will be a system reset to help stabilize your SmartFeeder's app functionality. We will promptly update you once this has been completed. Scheduled automatic feeds should still dispense on time.

Those darn customers, so impatient, unwilling to wait for their next fix to download. Please check back in one quarter of a galactic rotation. Thank you.


Original Submission

Related Stories

After Prolonged Service Outage, Petnet Shuts Down, Citing Coronavirus 27 comments

After prolonged service outage, Petnet shuts down, citing coronavirus:

Cloud-connected, "smart" automated pet-feeder system Petnet has had a rough spring. The service not only went offline in February, but all its customer service vanished, too, leaving users in the dark until the company apologized and pushed a patch more than a week later. The service briefly returned for some users but fell off again in March. Now, after weeks of silence, the company is blaming COVID-19 for driving it offline for good—even though its problems started weeks or months before the novel coronavirus became a significant concern.

[...] "Last week on April 14, 2020, we briefed all of our customers regarding one of our third-party connected vendor's inability to fully resource their company and stay functionally online," the message reads. "As of this writing, this situation remains unresolved but we are confident it will be overcome soon."

But due to the exceptional circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created, Petnet went on, many of its vendors—largely startups like itself—were "severely and negatively affected in their day to day operations." In short: the funding dried up. Due to a lack of funds, Petnet said, it "re-prioritized and reorganized [its] resources," including:

  • We have furloughed 100% of our remaining staff
  • We have ceased all future product development, including bug fixes
  • We have turned off all non-infrastructure related expenses
  • We have terminated our office lease and are working remotely
  • We have applied for all available CARES stimulus funding

Previously:
(2020-02-28) Petnet's Smart Pet Feeder System Back after Week-Long Outage
(2016-07-30) Cats, Dogs Go Hungry as Internet-Connected PetNet Plays Dead


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Friday February 28 2020, @07:46PM (18 children)

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @07:46PM (#964295)

    This is just fucking stupidity by design. Why on Earth does an automated pet feeder require any kind of confirmation, processing, signalling, .etc. from a remote network?

    Lemme guess.... a marketer or c-suite scum got the idea they could shut the device off for non-payment on your subscription feeder service?

    Anything like this shouldn't be designed to require anything out of network. Hell, I wouldn't require it to need anything from the local network either. No reason to check into a pet feeding daemon running on my own local OpenBSD server. Why design like that in the first place?

    Only reason why I would hook up networking at all, is for something like SNMP for monitoring purposes. The actual feeding mechanisms would be redundant, and all decision making by the processes fully local. Maybe SNMPv2 to change some setting remotely, but right now, I can't think of a single use case for remote changes.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Booga1 on Friday February 28 2020, @08:02PM (11 children)

      by Booga1 (6333) on Friday February 28 2020, @08:02PM (#964303)

      That's all still too complicated. A simple motor on a timer that dispenses one unit of food per activation is all you need 99% of the time. Turn it off when it's not needed. Done.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:40PM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:40PM (#964317)

        If you are in an area with frequent/extended power failures, run the feeder on a spring motor. Wind it up and it's good for X days. Or have an electric motor keep the spring wound up, so it will keep working during X days of power failure.

        Springs (used below the fatigue limit) are damn reliable.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @09:01PM (5 children)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:01PM (#964326) Journal

          Or design the feeder with a backup battery. How much can it take to run a small motor for several seconds, a few times a day?

          I've got a motorized kitchen trash can lid that takes 2 AA batteries which haven't been replaced in years. You can imagine that a kitchen trash can has items put into it multiple times per day.

          I would estimate the effort to dish out a serving of pet food to be comparable to opening, then shortly later, closing, a trash can lid. Remember the leverage issue here. The can lid is open-closed from the hinge, so it has to work against the weight of the lid.

          Oh, and this trash can lid thing IS NOT connected to the clod. I don't need to remotely open/close my kitchen trash can lid.

          The entire thing is a large enclosure which contains an ordinary kitchen trash can with plastic liner, within the larger outer enclosure. When the lid is closed, it also has something in it (not battery operated) which slightly deodorizes. Don't ask me, I didn't buy it, but I enjoy having it.

          --
          Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:04AM (4 children)

            by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:04AM (#964454) Journal
            Still too complicated. Get off your lazy arses and feed them yourselves. You need to interact with your pets. Otherwise, just buy a stuffed toy and call it food, like they do with people with dementia who can't tell the difference between a real cat and a toy that meows when you pet it.

            After all, if you bought one of these feeders it's debatable that your mind isn't gone already.

            --
            SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
            • (Score: 2) by fraxinus-tree on Saturday February 29 2020, @10:58AM

              by fraxinus-tree (5590) on Saturday February 29 2020, @10:58AM (#964564)

              My cat is OK if I put the weekly amount of dry food and a pot of water and leave for a week. When I am home, no automation is needed - the cat meows at exact times to remind me.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @05:41PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @05:41PM (#964973)
              These things are sometimes needed. I have several cats, and normally I feed them myself every day. But what happens when I have to go on a business trip or something like that? I have kind neighbours I can usually ask to feed them when I'm away for an extended period, but not all people have such neighbours they can trust.
            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday March 02 2020, @03:19PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 02 2020, @03:19PM (#965512) Journal

              I would agree that people should take care of pets. If you have to travel for a short time, have someone who will house sit, or at least take care of pets a few times each day. If longer absence, then find a good kennel that will board them.

              That said, some people are going to use automation and leave their pets on their own connected to the cloud. In that case, at least a battery backup and non-cloud device, please.

              --
              Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edIII on Friday February 28 2020, @09:23PM (1 child)

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:23PM (#964341)

        I totally agree. That's why I said the only reason was monitoring, which is most effectively done these days across a network. That would be kinda cool for somebody I guess, that's paranoid about their pets, but I didn't say it was a necessary requirement for a pet feeder.

        Best option is probably just a security camera monitoring it, if you did need monitoring at all.

        I would still add some redundancy to the system though. If I'm a few states away, it's rather difficult to get back before the pet starves.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 4, Informative) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @09:35PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:35PM (#964346) Journal

          Having a security camera, at least one of them, covering the pet feed area should be fairly obvious, if you are depending on an automatic pet feeder.

          Another idea, if practical, is to have a friend, who permanently has a key to your house, who you could call if there is a problem. This is the one item that gives me peace of mind.

          --
          Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @11:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @11:04PM (#964395)

        All you need is a measuring cup. Dog stares at you, you use cup to measure food, dog thanks you. No motor needed.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:05AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:05AM (#964455)

        just feed your fucking cat or don't get one.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:07PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:07PM (#964306)

      PetnotSmart

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @08:56PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @08:56PM (#964322) Journal

        It's not the pet that isn't smart.

        --
        Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday February 28 2020, @10:25PM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday February 28 2020, @10:25PM (#964383) Journal

        Dead. Pets.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 4, Funny) by Pslytely Psycho on Saturday February 29 2020, @09:32AM

          by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Saturday February 29 2020, @09:32AM (#964553)

          Little Pets starved to death,
          Internets down and the feeder died,
          Pet parents weren't 't there to save them,
          Too lazy to feed them themselves.

          Dead doggies can't take care of themselves.
          Dead kitties can't knock things off the shelf.
          Well, we didn't want you anyway
          Lalala-lalalalalala-la

          Daddy is an agrophile in Texas
          Mommy's on the bar most every night
          Little doggies's sleeping in the graveyard,
          Little kitties buried in the backyard,

          Dead doggies can't take care of themselves
          Dead kitties can't knock things off the shelf
          Well, we didn't love you anyway
          Lalala-lalalalalala-la…

          With apologies to Alice Cooper....

          --
          Trump succeeds in making Nixon look respectable, Mission Accomplished!
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @09:04PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:04PM (#964329) Journal

      That one link with the picture of the cat looking up from the empty dish is a bit sad.

      --
      Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday March 01 2020, @09:34AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 01 2020, @09:34AM (#964846) Homepage Journal
      --
      “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ― George S. Patton on Ukraine
  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:09PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2020, @08:09PM (#964308)

    My dog died because the smart pet feeder broke. I'm suing for 10 gazillion dollars.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @09:10PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:10PM (#964331) Journal

      By opening the package, you agreed to the EULA which was sealed up inside the box.

      The EULA specifies mandatory binding arbitration at the company's headquarters.

      You agree that the maximum damages are limited to a coupon for a 50lb bag of kangaroo food (made in china!).

      --
      Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by sjames on Friday February 28 2020, @09:13PM (3 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Friday February 28 2020, @09:13PM (#964332) Journal

    Way too many corporations today seem to have a problem internalizing the fact that when they sell something, it is no longer theirs and they have no visitation rights. Much like toddlers that cannot bring themselves to let go of the smelly hole ridden blanket. Of course, toddlers have the excuse that they are not yet mature but corporations are supposedly run by adults.

    Of course, like small children, the corporate world is full of companies that think they are the first in human history to think of blowing into their straw to make bubbles in their milk. Unlike small children, they think that they somehow deserve perpetual world-wide exclusive rights to blow bubbles as a result.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Friday February 28 2020, @09:37PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2020, @09:37PM (#964349) Journal

      It's not only corporations who behave like this. It can be various, um, political leaders as well.

      --
      Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Saturday February 29 2020, @01:56AM

      by Gaaark (41) on Saturday February 29 2020, @01:56AM (#964448) Journal

      The problem is, too many people buy into the shit. Then they get shit on, so they buy the competitors shit and get shit on again.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @10:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @10:26PM (#964689)

      (evil Ferengi voice)
      Way too many consumers today seem to have a problem internalizing the fact that when they buy something, it is not theirs and we maintain exclusive visitation rights. Much like toddlers that cannot bring themselves to let go of the smelly hole ridden blanket for our brand new internet connected SmartBlanket. Of course, toddlers have the excuse that they are not yet mature but their consumer caretakers are supposedly adults that we can bend to our will.

      Of course, like small children, the consumer world is full of individuals that think they are far from the first in human history to think of blowing into their straw to make bubbles in their milk - we patented that. Unlike small children, they think that they somehow deserve perpetual world-wide freedom to blow bubbles as a result.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by SomeGuy on Saturday February 29 2020, @01:34AM (1 child)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday February 29 2020, @01:34AM (#964443)

    leave many customers frustrated and confused.

    That is pretty much the definition of The Cloud.

    Just hand over all your household functionality and privacy to some remote service, and then just scratch your head in confusion when it all craps itself.

    Marketing turds have managed to redefine the word "smart" to mean "stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!"

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @07:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @07:15AM (#964542)

      Bows and flows of angel hair
      And ice cream castles in the air
      Feather cannons everywhere
      I've looked at clouds that way

      Now they only block the sun
      They rain and snow on everyone
      So many things i would have done
      But clouds got in my way

      I've looked at clouds from both sides now
      From up and down and still somehow
      It's clouds illusions i recall
      I really don't know clouds at all

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:49AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @02:49AM (#964470)

    Can we please start making a change in the way we refer to IoT or Internet Connected devices and start calling them "Internet Dependent". If enough people start using this then the message might become effective and change consumer behaviour.
    This pet feeder is internet dependent.
    This bluetooth speaker is smartphone dependent.
    This rental vehicle is internet dependent.
    etc
      I invite you to be the start of this movement for truth.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday March 02 2020, @03:27PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 02 2020, @03:27PM (#965516) Journal

      How about:

      IoT = Internet Obstructed Things

      --
      Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @11:53PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 29 2020, @11:53PM (#964709)

    Is if you have more than one pet. My uncle used to have two dogs (one died of old age, my uncle will probably get another one) and I have a cousin that has two cats.

    If you can figure out a way for the pet feeder to reliably feed each pet the right amount without them fighting over the food and one dominating the other then you can make a lot of money. Until then this is useless for those with more than one pet. It's only useful if you have exactly one pet and many pet owners have more than one pet.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @12:06AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @12:06AM (#964711)

      (same poster)

      In the meantime sometimes my brother or I get stuck having to feed my uncle's dogs while he is at work if it doesn't conflict with one of our schedules. Or sometimes my uncle will get my other uncle, his brother, to do it. Or sometime he would have to pay someone to do it which would probably be more expensive than getting one of these things. Or else he would have to come home from work early to do it which is generally way more expensive than paying someone to do it. (If his wife is home and not on a business trip she would obviously do it but she is often out of the country).

      If the thing generally works but say one day it doesn't function correctly and doesn't feed his dogs it probably won't be a big deal to my uncle as long as there is a way for him to know about it when he gets home. It would just mean the dogs will be fed when he does get home later at night, they'll still be fine.

      Uhm ... now that my uncle only has one dog (until his wife gets another one if she hasn't already) I might suggest this device to him.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @06:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2020, @06:44PM (#965013)

        (and the problem with trying to pay someone to do it is that the person who my uncle and aunt generally get to do it isn't always available. My uncle doesn't trust just anyone in his house so it's not like he wants to just pay some random person to do it. So sometimes he does have to come home early from work and something like this would save him a ton of money in those situations).

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday March 01 2020, @09:39AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 01 2020, @09:39AM (#964847) Homepage Journal

      https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/pet-lodge-chow-hound-dog-feeder-50-lb-capacity?cm_vc=-10005 [tractorsupply.com]

      Fill it with 50 pounds of dog food, and let the dogs sort it out. Come back next week, and do it again. OK, so, next week, you can't empty a whole fifty pound bag in it. Come back in two or three days, and empty the remainder of the bag. Problems solved.

      What does this IOT thing offer, that Tractor Supply doesn't?

      --
      “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ― George S. Patton on Ukraine
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