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posted by n1 on Saturday July 30 2016, @08:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the in-the-dog-house dept.

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


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by nitehawk214 on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:05PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:05PM (#382052)

    Why can't the device run autonomously when it is disconnected?

    Do these things have any security at all? If it is like most other internet connected devices they are easily hackable, allowing someone to.. uhh.. overfeed your pet.

    Why does this exist?

    --
    "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by n1 on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:20PM

      by n1 (993) on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:20PM (#382055) Journal

      Ok.... i'll take some guesses..

      Why can't the device run autonomously when it is disconnected?

      I'd guess because you use an app to configure it, which stores your settings on a remote server somewhere, communicating with the end devices when appropriate. Also, probably uses NTP to keep time.

      Do these things have any security at all?

      No.

      Why does this exist?

      Data mining pet owners habits and related. Get the device that makes life easy, so you can neglect your pet. The owners of the technology get to enjoy all the benefits of no doubt numerous unnecessary privileges on the 'smart' devices they're installed on, and the advantage to that is they also know you're a willing and paying consumer of stupid technology gimmicks.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:59PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:59PM (#382073) Journal

        Surely having a fallback time mode would not be too much to ask.
        Its not like the internet never goes down.

        We don't want to make it too foolproof, because, If it were legal, some people would feed their children this way.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by n1 on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:20PM

          by n1 (993) on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:20PM (#382079) Journal

          It's not too much to ask, but I can't see how that would benefit the companies or investors involved in this product.

          I can see how it would cost more in various ways for the company and investors, especially over a "*requires internet connection" disclaimer.

          If they don't keep detailed analytics on every interaction with the system, and retain full control over it, how can they possibly hope to improve the next generation of smart devices to absolve people of their responsibility for their pets and or children?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:06PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:06PM (#382092)

          We don't want to make it too foolproof, because, If it were legal, some people would feed their children this way.

          I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the creation of Bachelor Chow™.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:09PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:09PM (#382093)

            Its already here.
            Its called soylent. [soylent.com]

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:13AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:13AM (#382126)

          Tell this to all the shitty sites that use Ajax that times out yet your browser will pretend the page loaded fully. The internet never goes down in the Web 2.0 universe.

        • (Score: 2) by edIII on Sunday July 31 2016, @04:39AM

          by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 31 2016, @04:39AM (#382166)

          It's way more fucking stupid than that.

          Who wants to bet that isn't an embedded Linux/BSD device? CRON would solve that problem simply by setting jobs on scripts that disappear in a week, unless reauthorized by a central authority. Water doesn't need to be on schedule, and the most I could see is logging for watering events from GPIO, which means logging to disk locally. This doesn't actually require the Internet. Just log some timestamps on disk and upload them to centralized server in an opportunistic fashion.

          These engineering geniuses created a device fully capable of carrying out all instructions, yet chose to turn it into an overpriced remote control with the entire fucking Internet between them. Not some plants, a freaking out cat, or your misplaced foot between you and the remote sensor, but the whole fucking Internet including any other clueless engineers and malevolent PHBs.

          9/10 of us on this site could code their fucking doohickey for pizza in 20 minutes and we wouldn't need centralized servers :)

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 2) by driverless on Sunday July 31 2016, @07:05AM

            by driverless (4770) on Sunday July 31 2016, @07:05AM (#382197)

            Who wants to bet that isn't an embedded Linux/BSD device?

            More likely an Arduino or ESP8266 or something similar, the cheaper the better. All it needs to do is activate a solenoid at preprogrammed intervals, so you can get away with a minimum of hardware.

            These engineering geniuses created a device fully capable of carrying out all instructions, yet chose to turn it into an overpriced remote control with the entire fucking Internet between them.

            You've just described about 95% of the Internet of Things you Don't Need. It can't be an IoTyDN device if there isn't some Internet in there somewhere.

            I have a cat feeder that I use when I need to go away for a few days. Mains-powered, battery backup, runs off a built-in timer. No hipster iPhone interface that I don't need, all it does is feed the cat when I'm gone.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:24PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:24PM (#382081)

      This is the cloud model... it's the same reason it's so damn hard to place a point to point video chat on the internet.

      Some of it is traceable to IPV4 and firewalls, mostly, it's the structure favoring centralized businesses which retain access to all the dataflow.

      So, no, there's absolutely no reason why the pre-programmed schedule should be interrupted by a server outage, except perhaps corporate hunger for data access and control.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Whoever on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:34PM

      by Whoever (4524) on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:34PM (#382100) Journal

      Do these things have any security at all?

      Where have you been for the last few years, companies involved in the IoT don't give a single sh*t about security.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:06AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:06AM (#382113)

      Greedy stupidity, or stupid greed. Either way is accurate depending on your point of view.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by rigrig on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:19AM

      by rigrig (5129) Subscriber Badge <soylentnews@tubul.net> on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:19AM (#382115) Homepage

      Why can't the device run autonomously when it is disconnected?

      Because people would disconnect it and stop paying to use the device they bought.

      --
      No one remembers the singer.
    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:01AM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:01AM (#382124) Journal

      Well, beyond the obvious of lazy people, there's the elderly or disabled, people who need to be out of town overnight, people who do shift work, people who sometimes have to work late, etc.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:46AM (#382130)

      Why can't the device run autonomously when it is disconnected?

      Because if we built it that way, then we would have no way to keep you locked into the monthly subscription payment system, and we would have to, horrors, actually make our profit by selling the device for a profit.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by driverless on Sunday July 31 2016, @06:58AM

      by driverless (4770) on Sunday July 31 2016, @06:58AM (#382196)

      Why does this exist?

      The same reason why any piece of overpriced bling exists, because people are stupid enough to pay for it. I'd never get something like this. I mean look at it, it's iPhone only and my cat is a diehard Android user, it'd never fly.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @10:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @10:48AM (#382230)

      will this mean that my tamagotchis will go dead during this server-downtime? 😱

    • (Score: 2) by seeprime on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:33PM

      by seeprime (5580) on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:33PM (#382264)

      Relying on cloud services for things that can be done locally is madness. Too many things can go wrong, and do.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by butthurt on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:23PM

    by butthurt (6141) on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:23PM (#382057) Journal

    This reminds me of Ray Bradbury's short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” in which an automated house continued with its housekeeping after its occupants perished.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:50PM (#382070)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:04PM (#382076)

      There's a Soviet short movie [youtube.com] based on that story. Kinda depressing, but at least the house kept on going. With modern tech it would stop as soon as it lost cloud access.

    • (Score: 2) by Hyperturtle on Sunday July 31 2016, @05:06PM

      by Hyperturtle (2824) on Sunday July 31 2016, @05:06PM (#382320)

      It didn't remind me of that.

      In Ray Bradbury's future, nuclear war killed that family. The house worked. It was self-contained. The dog persisted until it died of complications from radiation, but it's actual feeding needs had been met. Then the cleaning robots swept it away.

      In our future, a virtual server becomes unresponsive and the humans don't notice their pets are starving unless the humans think to check their email for an alert from the robot dispsensor manufacturer.

      Even in Fallout, the Mr. Handy still can walk little Muffy -- or comment on the corpse. In our future... we're doomed if this is our future.

      For the record, X10 stuff doesn't have this drawback.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:24PM (#382058)

    --dept

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:34PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:34PM (#382065)

    Nobody knows you're a very hungry dog.

  • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:44PM

    by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:44PM (#382068) Journal

    Does this mean the little old lady who eats cat food is going to starve to death ? If you can't handle the simple duty of feeding and watering your pet, you don't deserve to have one.

    --
    For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @09:56PM (#382071)

      "watering your pet"

      That's silly, you don't water your pet. You water your pot.

      • (Score: 1) by Francis on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:10AM

        by Francis (5544) on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:10AM (#382139)

        Water your pot? People around here usually just smoke it. People have weird habits where you're from.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @05:36AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @05:36AM (#382178)

          You need to water it and install a light or it'll die, silly.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:04PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:04PM (#382077) Journal

      It allows people to go away for the weekend and leave their pet at home. The only thing worse than traveling with a pet is finding someone to feed it when you are gone.

      This is why once the kids are out of the house we no longer have pets.

      Its not like you would forget a hungry dog or cat if you were in the same house with it.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:59PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:59PM (#382090)

        The problem is that it uses proprietary software and relies on companies to continue working, which makes it worthless.

      • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:17AM

        by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday July 31 2016, @01:17AM (#382127) Journal

        Dog Walker and House sitter for hire in the Yuma AZ area here. I have 4 going now but room for quite a few more. I also house watch, water the plants, make sure the pool guy and/or gardeners have been doing their jobs. I can be reached at Treboreel@live.com for initial contact. I am currently house sitting and working part time as a PC hack for a local shop, but in the Summertime Yuma is very thin on people as the Winter crowd is somewhere that isn't 110 F on a daily basis.

        --
        For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
        • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:46AM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:46AM (#382145) Homepage

          El Centro native here. High-five, Yuma scum!

          • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Sunday July 31 2016, @03:34AM

            by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday July 31 2016, @03:34AM (#382153) Journal

            I should have known. Being from El Centro is one of the only things that could drive such a net rage :) It is indeed a small world.

            --
            For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
        • (Score: 3, Touché) by frojack on Monday August 01 2016, @06:58PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 01 2016, @06:58PM (#382747) Journal

          How do I mod you Both Interesting and Spam at the same time?

          Kudos for braving the heat.

          I spend a lot of time walking for exercise and boredom prevention. Someone said I should take up dog walking for small money. Problems: Not particularly fond of dogs. Most are too chubby to keep up. And then I'd have to pick up after them, and carry bags of shit around.

          Nope. Not going to turn recreation into a job.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:55PM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:55PM (#382087) Journal

      More to the point, does this mean that various little old ladies are going to get eaten by their underfed cockerpoos? Seriously, what the chuck is wrong with the world when you have to connect to the fecking internet to run a goddamned from job?

      • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:59PM

        by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Saturday July 30 2016, @10:59PM (#382089) Journal

        And even worse, I can't write words like fucking or cron without this stupid fucking phone 'correcting' them?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:39PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:39PM (#382104)

          Phones are for phoning. Get a typewriter. [observer.com]

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:18PM (#382095)

      In the good old days the 1%'ers hired a dog walker who also had a key to your house to get the dog out while you were at work. For a little extra they would also be a dog sitter and feed the dog (food and human contact) while you were away. Somewhere (maybe after Y2K?) many of the dog walkers hooked up with a franchise for better marketing, website for booking, and etc.

      Now this internet pet feeder has put all the dog sitters out of work--just another category of low income job that has been automated out of existence...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:16PM (#382094)

    There's now empirical evidence:

    Every time there's a Cloud outage, god kills a puppy.

    So before you migrate to the Cloud, think of the puppies.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:51PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday July 30 2016, @11:51PM (#382109) Homepage

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

    Humans, stop using commas in place of the word "and."

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:06AM (#382112)

    A tape loop that emitted a loud "Meow" every five seconds.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Snotnose on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:57AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:57AM (#382120)

    First off, I enjoy feeding my cat. She wraps herself around my legs while I open the can, wash out her dish, dump tasty goodness into the now clean dish, and gives a heartwarming meow when I put the dish on the floor.

    The only time I would use this kind of service is when I went on a trip. Face it, finding someone to care for your cat for a few days is a pain. Let the litter box go 3-4 days? Probably ok. Water for 3-4 days? Use a nice big bowl and leave the toilet seat up. Dry food? Iffy. There are 2 kinds of cats. One will eat what it needs and walk away. The other will eat what it can, then sleep by the food bowl, repeat until 3 days of food is gone in 3 hours. Wet food? After 30 minutes the cat won't touch it.

    If I used this overpriced device, went away for 3 days, came home to a starving cat due to 3 days of no food I not only would toss the thing into the dumpster, I'd sue the fuckers that made my cat suffer due to their sheer incompetence.

    --
    I think I'm half Spider man and half Batman. Because I have no powers and no money.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Francis on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:07AM

      by Francis (5544) on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:07AM (#382137)

      I always think it's funny the amount of money that people will spend to avoid their pets. They'll pay somebody to walk the dog, pay somebody to feed the dog and then pay for the dog to be put up when they're on vacation. Which makes me wonder why they even have a dog in the first place if they're literally the only ones not having any involvement with "their" dog.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by datapharmer on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:26AM

    by datapharmer (2702) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:26AM (#382141)

    This is absurd. There are good reasons for an automatic feeder - I have one. It allows you to feed an animal smaller meals more times per day when you aren't home or allows you to insure your animal is fed even if you get home late or if you have an unexpected emergency.

    You can get one that works perfectly well for under $40 on Amazon that has six feedings at an interval you specify. Why this would need to be on the Internet is what makes my head spin. Maybe add a sensor to tell me if it jams or the batteries run low, but to not work because of a power outage or internet issue or cloud service provider failure is simply inhumane.

    What is wrong with people hat they think this solves anything? It is a solution looking for a problem!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31 2016, @02:49AM (#382146)

      I dunno, maybe... It's such a pleasure to leave the updates to Daylight Savings Time to us?

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday July 31 2016, @11:48AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday July 31 2016, @11:48AM (#382235) Journal

        It's healthier for the animal if the device does not respect daylight savings.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by purple_cobra on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:39PM

      by purple_cobra (1435) on Sunday July 31 2016, @12:39PM (#382250)

      "It is a solution looking for a problem!"
      Isn't that the perfect description of 99% of these Internet of Things devices?
      Today's Internet of Shit post was a water dispenser that wouldn't work due to not having a USB flash drive inserted. Another solution in search of a problem.
      What about those Nest (IIRC) smoke alarms that went off seemingly if there *wasn't* any smoke? Thanks for the warning, I suppose I'd better go set fire to the couch!

      They're all a means of parting punters from their cash. It keeps the money in circulation. Do your research, avoid impulse buys, and you should avoid the largest turds in this sea of shit.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01 2016, @12:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01 2016, @12:12AM (#382411)

    I know a couple that have more than one dog and they always need to go home to feed their dogs. Is there an automatic dog feeder that can somehow ensure that each dog only eats what they're supposed to eat and that they don't try to fight over each others' food?

    I was thinking of two possible solutions. One - a wrist band with a proximity key. If a dog is in his small container by himself he can wave the wrist band at a reader and, if it's time for him to eat, a door will then close protecting him from the other dogs and the food door will open and he can eat. This will protect him from being attacked by other dogs while eating and having his food stolen or having to fight for his food. Then he can wave his wrist band when he's done to get the outside door open and he can run out. This would require some intelligence on the part of the dog and assumes the other dogs won't try to find a clever way to subvert the process.

    Another solution - cameras. You train the dogs to only eat their own food and the camera records them during meal time. If one dog cheats you catch them on camera and you punish that dog by ... not feeding it the next meal? This assumes the dogs are clever enough and willing to be trained.

    Or perhaps the dogs can just be trained to be well behaved and only eat their own food out of their mere love for each other ....

    Also how would a device like this work during a power outage? Would it still be able to administer food and function normally?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01 2016, @04:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01 2016, @04:49AM (#382478)

      We use cages.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @02:29AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @02:29AM (#382953)

        but that requires you to keep the dogs in their cages during the entire time you are out.