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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday April 19, @11:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the internet-of-things-that-shouldn't-need-internet dept.

Shameful: Insteon looks dead—just like its users' smart homes

The app and servers are dead. The CEO scrubbed his LinkedIn page. No one is responding.

The entire company seems to have abruptly shut down just before the weekend, breaking users' cloud-dependent smart-home setups without warning. Users say the service has been down for three days now despite the company status page saying, "All Services Online." The company forums are down, and no one is replying to users on social media.

[....] Insteon is (or, more likely, "was") a smart home company that produced a variety of Internet-connected lights, thermostats, plugs, sensors, and of course, the Insteon Hub. At the core of the company was Insteon's propriety networking protocol, which was a competitor to more popular and licensable alternatives like Z-Wave and Zigbee.

[....] With its servers down, the Insteon app appears worthless, and users' automations and schedules have stopped working. Many of Insteon's wall switches were actual electrical switches, so the worst that will ever happen is that they become dumb switches.

Every dark internet cloud has a cat 6 lining. This isn't as bad as cloud connected pet feed fooders no longer working. Or cloud connected exercise machines not working or restricting features with new pay walls. Or Smart TVs spying on you and displaying ads during a live sporting event.


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by EJ on Wednesday April 20, @03:38AM (6 children)

    by EJ (2452) on Wednesday April 20, @03:38AM (#1238365)

    All of the Insteon stuff is very well documented. The people who are freaking out are the luddites who don't know how things work. They just want things to work without understanding them.

    I have an Insteon hub and all sorts of switches. This outage doesn't affect me at all. Well, it sort of did. I had to pull out one of the Raspberry Pi boards that was gathering dust to set it up as a bridge to a new Android app to control my hub remotely. I had already written my own simple PC program to control my lights from my laptop and other PCs around the house. The only thing from Insteon I was using was their crappy phone app, but not very often.

    You can control the Insteon hub via simple http commands that are well-documented online.

    If you don't want to use the hub, you can download the 410 page developer's guide that has all the gory details of the protocol here: http://cache.insteon.com/pdf/dev-INSTEON_Developers_Guide_20090218.pdf [insteon.com]

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Fluffeh on Wednesday April 20, @04:20AM (4 children)

    by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 20, @04:20AM (#1238371) Journal

    I have an Insteon hub and all sorts of switches. This outage doesn't affect me at all. Well, it sort of did. I had to pull out one of the Raspberry Pi boards that was gathering dust to set it up as a bridge to a new Android app to control my hub remotely. I had already written my own simple PC program to control my lights from my laptop and other PCs around the house. The only thing from Insteon I was using was their crappy phone app, but not very often.

    Looks like a great opportunity to throw up an open-source project on github (or whatever your platform choice is) and get people to add their own updates/fixes/etc/whatever seeing as you seem to have done a good part of the hard grunt-work already.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by EJ on Wednesday April 20, @05:12AM (3 children)

      by EJ (2452) on Wednesday April 20, @05:12AM (#1238373)

      There's already much better stuff already out there like https://www.openhab.org/ [openhab.org]

      What I wrote for my PC was just simple window with some on/off buttons that called the specific http commands for my lights.

      For my RPi setup, I used openHAB.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Wednesday April 20, @08:03AM

        by anubi (2828) on Wednesday April 20, @08:03AM (#1238393) Journal

        EJ, Fluffeh:
            Thanks for your responses!

        There is so much out there, and I already have more wild gooses running around than I can catch. If it didn't get on my radar as a potentially useful technology by it's appearance on open source forums, I have a strong tendency to consider new technology things as proprietary junk, designed to hold my investment in it hostage to compel me to additional investment lest I have to consider everything I put in it to be a sunk cost. It's a throwaway from the get-go.

        For me, an Alexa falls in that category. So do smart TV or a car that requires an internet connection.

        After reading your posts, I know I passed over something that I may have found very useful. I would love to find off the shelf things I can control with a packet that I can craft and send to it. If the thing requires a subscription, even if free, I have little use for it. I cannot afford the time I would invest in implementation of a technology, only to have it arbitrarily yanked out from under me.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday April 20, @01:31PM

        by Freeman (732) on Wednesday April 20, @01:31PM (#1238425) Journal

        Now we know why all the Raspberry Pis are constantly sold out. Okay, this is probably just one of various reasons. Still, kinda sucks that you're hard pressed to find one to buy at retail price.

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheGratefulNet on Wednesday April 20, @02:47PM

        by TheGratefulNet (659) on Wednesday April 20, @02:47PM (#1238453)

        tasmota for the win.

        I have over 10 'smart' power switches that I reflashed with tasmota and its 100% open. very good fw and has not failed in the 2 years I've been using them.

        there used to be a hack where you could air-root the thing with a rasp pi and a hacked server that fools it into taking new fw ota.

        not sure if that is patched or not. if patched, you then have to open the units to serial flash them, but its not hard.

        anything ESP based can be controlled with tasmota, even wemos d1 mini modules, then diy it from there.

        no need for a 'hub' when everything is native 2.4g wifi. and nothing goes outside your lan with tasmota.

        --
        "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, @05:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, @05:11PM (#1238498)

    All of the Insteon stuff is very well documented. The people who are freaking out are the luddites who don't know how things work. They just want things to work without understanding them.

    How dare people expect the product they purchased to work as advertised. The gall of some people.