RogerBW's Blog

More Internet of Things 09 April 2016

A recent news item on Revolv home hubs made me want to revisit my feelings on the Internet of Things.

Not that they've changed particularly; rather, this reinforces the point I was making, from a different angle.

Google's parent company is deliberately disabling some of its customers' old smart-home devices

This article, and other coverage, says "oh no, how terrible, these devices are going to stop working because of Alphabet's decision". Which is true enough. But what's the alternative? Should Alphabet be forced to keep running the Revolv servers forever, for a gradually declining number of users who in any case aren't contributing to profits any more (they already paid a "lifetime service subscription", carefully not defined by contract, when they bought the things)? I certainly wouldn't be willing to take on that commitment if I were launching a product.

Part of the problem is the corporate purchase system which lets Alphabet take the assets but ignore most of the liabilities, but if Revolv had been allowed to go honestly bankrupt the problem for its users would have been exactly the same.

If the devices had an open architecture, they could be made to talk to other servers, including ones run by individual users or enthusiastic third parties.

Come on, people. This is no different from a hot drink machine that only runs off one maker's capsules, or a 3D printer that needs its own brand of sealed filament cartridges "for better quality" (yes, these really do exist and some people are actually buying them). Except you can't stockpile the inputs; they can go away overnight. You wouldn't buy a car that only ran on Shell petrol… would you?

Join us now, and share the software (warning: DO NOT CLICK ON LINK).

See also:
Internet of Things

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 06:50pm on 09 April 2016

    When I bought an internet music player, I went for a SqueezeBox precisely because I could run the server at my house rather than relying on the one the manufacturer ran. Also the server is Open Source, and is now being maintained by the users now that Logitech is winding down support.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 06:52pm on 09 April 2016

    That's a good start. How proof is the client against intrusion, and how much damage can it do if it's compromised?

    I don't like having to be this paranoid.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 03:33pm on 10 April 2016

    The client I use is a closed source IP3000 based hardware device, so I don't know how intrusion proof it is. It's inside my router firewall and has no ports mapped to it, and it never connects to the outside world it always talks to my local server to get the data to play. So it doesn't feel particularly exposed to me. It doesn't even use DNS, server IP address has to be configured in it. It does use DHCP to get it's own IP address.

    However, now that there are no hardware players being sold there are several Open Source software players for the SqueezeBox protocol that you can run on almost anything from a Raspberry Pi to a Windows PC. So if you're particularly paranoid, the source is there.

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