from the its-dead-jim dept.
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
(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
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
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.
The Internet of things — aka the tendency to bring Internet connectivity to devices whether they need them or not — has provided no shortage of both tragedy and comedy. "Smart" locks that are easy to bypass, "smart" fridges that leak your email credentials, or even "smart" barbies that spy on toddlers are all pretty much par for the course in an industry with lax privacy and security standards.
Even your traditional hot tub isn't immune from the stupidity. Hot tub vendor SmartTub thought it might be nice to control your hot tub from your phone (because walking to the tub and quickly turning a dial is clearly too much to ask).
But like so many IOT vendors more interested in the marketing potential than the reality, they allegedly implemented it without including basic levels of security standards for their website administration panel, allowing hackers to access and control hot tubs, all over the planet. And not just SmartTub brands, but numerous brands from numerous manufacturers, everywhere [. . . .]
For those who need reminders, let us not forget prior SN (horror) stories:
- IoT Pet feeders that stop feeding pets
- Peloton treadmills
- Insteon smart home lighting and other controls
- Smart male chastity devices that won't unlock, need metal grinder to remove