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posted by martyb on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:12AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the its-dead-jim dept.

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

Related Stories

Cats, Dogs Go Hungry as Internet-Connected PetNet Plays Dead 50 comments

Humans have been forced to temporarily interact with their dogs or cats -- perhaps both -- after PetNet's internet-controlled smart feeder system suffered a blackout.

For $149, the company provides a web-enabled dog/cat feeder that is pre-programmed to dispense food stuffs at certain time and portion sizes.

But PetNet warned customers [...] that all was not well in its virtual animal kingdom as it was "experiencing some minor difficulties with a third party server. This is being investigated."

[...] "You may experience a loss of scheduled feeds and failed remote feedings. Please ensure that your pets have been fed manually until we have resolved this issue."

Source: The Register .

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

Petnet's Smart Pet Feeder System Back after Week-Long Outage 33 comments

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

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Booga1 on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:46AM (7 children)

    by Booga1 (6333) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:46AM (#988112)

    This is why you don't buy Internet-of-Trash products.
    If you don't control it, you don't own it. They're not products, they're services in the shape of a product.
    It doesn't matter how good they are, they'll stop working when the company declares it obsolete, or in this case when the company folds.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @06:35AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @06:35AM (#988116)

      Pets

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @07:07AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @07:07AM (#988119)

        On The Internet.

        Profit???

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:50AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:50AM (#988143) Journal

        Dead Pets

        Wanna IoT coffin? Nano-ashes maybe?

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday April 29 2020, @02:17PM (1 child)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @02:17PM (#988187) Journal
          Better keep that subscription up or the pet might not stay dead.
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:09PM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:09PM (#988224) Journal

            ... or stay dead but evicted back to you.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:43AM (1 child)

      by anubi (2828) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:43AM (#988152) Journal

      Circuit City did it to me. Divx disks.

      I've been leery of this business model ever since.

      If it has internet connectivity, buying such a thing is apt to bring much grief as it's creator may use it to compel me to his business model, including compelling me to click " agree" to whatever is on his terms and conditions. The alternative being considering my purchase to be a sunk cost, and stripping the now useless thing for any usable parts.

      Study the thing before tendering your charge card. You may end up paying your trash collector to haul that useless piece of crap away.

      There are many reasons I am so cynical. I sure wish I had kept my money in my wallet. And did something other than waiting on the damm phone. I have bought too many problems in a box, nearly every one of them coming in over the internet.

      I'm an old coot, and I claim my right to grouse like one.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:56PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:56PM (#988220) Journal

        Ah, Divx disks. Circus City.

        I was going to reply, but wrote a journal article [soylentnews.org] instead.

        --
        Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by MostCynical on Wednesday April 29 2020, @08:25AM (7 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @08:25AM (#988130) Journal

    "...and all the dogs and cats died"

    did they get a sufficient number of disgruntled owners of hungry (or dead) pet owners lining up law suits to finally decide enough was enough, or did it just take them this long to move all the capital to different owners?

     

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:20AM (6 children)

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:20AM (#988135) Journal

      hungry (or dead) pet owners

      I don't think the owners of pets went hungry or dead because of this.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:24AM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:24AM (#988137)

        Well, you are ignoring the cannibals. Pets went hungry, went on a little household hunt -> cannibals went hungry.

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:53AM (3 children)

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @09:53AM (#988145) Journal

          Never let a can opener where your pet snake can find it.

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 5, Funny) by driverless on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:36AM (2 children)

            by driverless (4770) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:36AM (#988149)

            A cat? Of course sir, black and white or tabby?

            Oh, any colour, it's for the python.

            • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:51AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @11:51AM (#988154)

              I guess you were referring to most cats come a running to the sound of a can opener. If the snake can get it turned on, here comes the meal on four paws. Surprise!

              • (Score: 3, Funny) by driverless on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:06PM

                by driverless (4770) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:06PM (#988157)

                Actually it was the dog that typed that, not me. Him and the cat are always pranking each other.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:21PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:21PM (#988229)

        Sufficiently hungry cats will at least attempt to eat their pet humans. I'm not sure about sufficiently hungry dogs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did too.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by anubi on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:12PM (8 children)

    by anubi (2828) on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:12PM (#988158) Journal

    All that nice machinery.

    If it had only been based on an Arduino, with the standard programming port, the whole installed base of these things could have been rescued by an Arduino hobbyist.

    But now, these machines are just that much more e-waste.

    Congress legislated the law that mandated the creation of all this waste by not stipulating abandonware to be public domain. These otherwise perfectly operational pet feeders should still be in use, by those who paid good money for them. Just reprogrammed to dispense on a user defined schedule.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @12:52PM (#988164)

      "stipulating abandonware to be public domain"!
      I'll buy that for a dollar!
      srsly: that is probably some insanely sane shit right there!

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:37PM (6 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:37PM (#988214) Journal

      Congress legislated the law that mandated the creation of all this waste by not stipulating abandonware to be public domain.

      Congress should legislate that abandoned products must become fully open. Not only all source code published, but engineering drawings, schematics, BOMs, etc.

      If you're not selling it or profiting from it any longer, then you have nothing to lose loose.

      --
      Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:50PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @03:50PM (#988219)

        I fully agree, but how and where would that information be hosted (initially at least)?

        Without some government run organization or a non-profit involved there isn't manpower or money to rescue code and paper from failing companies.

        So the only real solution here is to legislate that all products are fully open before first sale. That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for competitive advantage.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:00PM (1 child)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:00PM (#988222) Journal

          Require it to be deposited with the Library of Congress at minimum, just as the company sinks beneath the waves.

          --
          Nature abhors a machine that removes dust from the living space.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @06:55PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @06:55PM (#988294)

            GitHub would do nicley

            If you cease to support an IoT gadget for more that 30 days, the whole design has to be published and available for use by the abandoned equipment owners.

            I won't hold my breath.

            So given that they didn't do this, what's to stop a grass roots reverse engineering project for the h/w followed by an open source s/w project?

            How complicated is the h/w?

      • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Thursday April 30 2020, @12:33AM (1 child)

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Thursday April 30 2020, @12:33AM (#988369)

        Congress should legislate that abandoned products must become fully open.

        You're right, and in a saner world they would, but unfortunately that's not how your congress works.

        • (Score: 1) by anubi on Thursday April 30 2020, @08:50AM

          by anubi (2828) on Thursday April 30 2020, @08:50AM (#988465) Journal

          Well, the alternative would be to give everyone their money back.

          The buyers never owned the feeder anyway, they just leased the use of it.

          Likewise, the rights holders never owned the money either, but they did get the use of it.

          If they want to play that game, the rules need to apply to both sides.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Thursday April 30 2020, @08:59AM

        by anubi (2828) on Thursday April 30 2020, @08:59AM (#988467) Journal

        I wonder if anyone here develops an Arduino board for this, he could rescue all these feeders...

        Can't be too much more than a programmable timer, a couple of motor drivers. A fancy Bluetooth phone interface would be icing on the cake.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 2, Troll) by VLM on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:35PM (1 child)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 29 2020, @04:35PM (#988236)

    In general we're gonna see a lot of control fraud, although on a percentage basis it'll probably seem low. So highly likely this specific individual case isn't control fraud, but there's a lot of fraud going on out there to look for and expect to find in the future.

    I'm just saying the chinese flu is a convenient excuse to cover up a lot of things. This specific example seems to be the company already died, and to save face we're gonna blame the beer virus as the sole cause.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:42PM (#988263)

      And take any free money available:

      We have applied for all available CARES stimulus funding

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