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posted by martyb on Wednesday April 29 2020, @05:12AM   Printer-friendly
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


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  • (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]
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Insightful=2, Interesting=1, Total=3
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   4  
  • (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.

    --
    If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
    • (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.

        --
        If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
        • (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]