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Iot Nest And Revolv


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#1 SteamyTea

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 09:01 PM

http://www.independe...y-34600105.html

Seems a bit mean, they should at least open up the software to allow the open source community to support it.

#2 jsharris

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:34 AM

Typical behaviour from Google.

Have they dropped the "do no evil" motto yet?

This article makes interesting reading about Google's decision to kill all services that Revolv needs to work: https://medium.com/@...62c1#.kal0m8wam

Any idiot that trusts Google (or any other similar company) to provide services that they rely on for basic stuff like operating day-to-day items in their home needs their bumps felt.

Smart home technology is great, until you realise that a very great deal of it depends on some form of external service that could disappear overnight, or will become unsupported and irreplaceable/repairable within 5 to 10 years (if you're lucky).

It's the reason I moved away from my initial idea to run most all our lighting on a common 12V bus (because 80% of it is low voltage LEDs) with a remote control system. I can be 100% certain that I'd need to rip out wiring and replace major bits of kit within 10 years if I'd gone down that route, as it would become as unsupported as any other bit of consumer electronics is (tried getting a 10 year old TV repaired?).

I'm very deeply suspicious of anything that needs something like a smart phone to control it, as well. Look at how mobile phones have evolved over the past ten years. Is it likely that the app you use to control your lights, security system, heating or whatever will even run on a phone made in 5 years time, let alone ten years?

PCs are a good example. We've had an exceptionally long-lived operating system in Windows XP, it survived for far, far longer than Microsoft would have wished. Part of that is down to the fact that it works well, part of it is down to the fact that lots of stuff won't run or work with any newer variant of the software. I keep an old PC running XP really just to run the old version of AutoCad 2000 that I still use (and which will not run on Win 7 or above) and to support my scanner (again something that won't work on Win 7 or above). I took the precaution of buying a cheap replacement motherboard for this old PC some time ago, along with a hoard of memory and a couple of spare power supplies, because the cost of buying a newer version of AutoCad is more than the cost of a new PC, by a lot.

If my five year old scanner was rendered junk because Microsoft withdrew support for XP, and they could, I guess, have stopped XP working if they really wanted to, then you can be certain that the same will happen with anything that is reliant on a connection to a service outside your home. Companies don't usually make money from supporting existing products, they make money by forcing or encouraging you to buy new products.

Edited by jsharris, 06 April 2016 - 08:39 AM.


#3 SteamyTea

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:56 AM

There was a bit in my comic about 10 years ago about a surgeon trying to configure a pacemaker. He called up the company that made it as they said that the programmer had left the company.

With home automation it really needs open source, and full documentation in a language that is understandable.

#4 DamonHD

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:02 AM

I'm still a big fan of Google, but I think that depending on a smartphone or an Internet connection is a bad idea for anything important in home automation. I was one of the earliest internet providers in the UK > 20 years ago (hey, and remember a small new search company trashing some of my stuff!) and while many technical parameters have improved enormously it remains a 'best efforts' network and those 'best efforts' may well not be good enough for (say) home security. Also the very speed of change around the Internet almost guarantees that some important stuff will get orphaned. (This is why OpenTRV is as autonomous as possible for example, radiator by radiator, and only optionally depending on comms even within the house, never mind to the Internet.)

Rgds

Damon

#5 SteamyTea

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:12 AM

Isn't it a case of using well established 'old' programming languages and protocols.

Has the 'internet' really changed that much? The World Wide Web has.

#6 jsharris

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:44 AM

The support for old microcontrollers is extremely long lived. I have a 1980's vintage 6800 based data logger here, with code I wrote in assembly, using MASM, and I can still change the code and reprogramme the controller today, as the tools have remained compatible with every change of programming environment (the first set of code for it I wrote on a BBC Micro Model B, before PCs were around). The same goes for pretty much every mainstream microcontroller ever made - support is still around decades later.

Support for electronic hardware older than around 10 years is also still available for a wide range of components. Even some very old ICs are still produced today, from ancient discrete logic through to the humble 555 timer, that must have been around for around 30 or more years now.

The things that are ephemeral are short lived operating systems and stuff that relies on web services. We cannot expect any of those to last more than 2 to 5 years, as Google have shown with their bricking Revolv devices that may well only be a year or two old.

Talking of bricks, and my aversion to phones that have impossibly small buttons and screens that are damned near unusable in bright light, I've just bought a new phone for £20 that perfectly meets my needs, this one: http://meetthebrick.com/uk/ It seems absolutely bloody marvelous. It'll run on standby for around a month, has big buttons and a clear screen. Best of all it really just makes phone calls, like a phone is supposed to do.............................

#7 1anR

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 10:50 AM

Had Google (or someone else) not bought Revolv, then it would have probably gone under by now. They were a startup struggling to raise finance, with a single hub product in a competitive market that has small-to-non-existent margins. Google/Nest wanted the staff, rather than any IP the company contained.

That's not excusing Google, I'm surprised they didn't continue the service as a loss-leader to avoid the bad press. Although, the story hasn't really been picked up yet by general news outlets.

#8 jsharris

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 11:01 AM

I suspect the story will get around, as in the few articles I've seen the demise of Revolv support has been headlined with Nest, so it's probably harming the reputation of Nest by association.

I agree that had Revolv not been bought by Google it may well have folded anyway, but cannot understand why Google chose to just disable the product. The cost to them of keeping the app working would have been trivial, and they could easily have just given a "support for this product will terminate in X years" statement, rather than bricking kit that customers have bought.

Their behaviour is very like that of Apple. A couple of years ago I bought my wife an iPad, as she'd been wanting one for a while. She needed to transfer photos from a camera, so I went in the local photo shop and bought an adapter that connected the iPad port to an SD card. It worked fine for two months, then Apple did an iOS update after which the SD reader stopped working. I complained and Apple just said that had a policy of not supporting legacy devices. In our case the device was two months old, but was just scrap as far as Apple were concerned. Never again will either of us buy any Apple product after that little fiasco, even though the iPad is a very nicely made bit of kit, that's more intuitive to use than my Sony Xperia Android tablet.

Edited by jsharris, 06 April 2016 - 11:02 AM.


#9 temp

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 11:12 AM

I was reading this last night..

http://qz.com/654992...mb-house-smart/

Skip the first bit. The interesting bit was...

Quote

Even Nest, which has the support of one of the richest companies in the world behind it, appears to be struggling to put out quality products. In a now-deleted Reddit post yesterday, a person claiming to be a Nest engineer said the company is “on deathwatch.” “We know how many units are actually being sold, how many subscriptions lapse, how many fail or get returned,” wrote the Reddit poster, who addressed Nest CEO Tony Fadell, and described a “toxic” work environment where people “fall asleep in corners and cry in the bathrooms.” (We have reached out to Alphabet, Nest’s parent company, for comment and will update this post with any response.)


#10 gravelld

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 02:22 PM

This came up on Hacker News today: https://home-assistant.io/

Looks interesting.

#11 jsharris

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 02:46 PM

View Postgravelld, on 06 April 2016 - 02:22 PM, said:

This came up on Hacker News today: https://home-assistant.io/

Looks interesting.

That's more like it. If it gets a big enough user base then it could well be a lasting solution. After all, Linux is, at its heart, older than Windows and, thanks to a big user base just grows from strength to strength and is adapted to run on platforms that weren't even dreamt of when UNIX was first conceived.

#12 SteamyTea

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 02:50 PM

Better dig out the old BBC Micro and call up the company that I worked fro near Damon's and ask if they have the old DEC in a cupboard.

Purely on an academic point, what can't they build in P2P networking to devices like that, partition off a bit of space, encrypt it, and then use that as some sort of web storage for the 'external' stuff. Isn't it what P2P is for, decentralising the internet.

#13 gravelld

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 03:23 PM

The Internet is kinda-decentralised (if you allow for the relatively small number of root DNS servers). It's the services we run on it that isn't. Apologies, I might be being pedantic over the semantics of the word.

What do you mean by P2P here? How do you see it being beneficial?

#14 DavidWright

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 04:54 PM

View Postjsharris, on 06 April 2016 - 08:34 AM, said:

I took the precaution of buying a cheap replacement motherboard for this old PC some time ago, along with a hoard of memory and a couple of spare power supplies, because the cost of buying a newer version of AutoCad is more than the cost of a new PC, by a lot.
I "virtualised" an XP machine and it now lives on as a VM in VMWare workstation. The way I work now is that I hardly install anything on the "real" computer; that simply serves as a device for running VMs. I have 3 open at the moment, often 4. I'm typing this in an ubuntu VM. The "real" computer is Win7, but I'm sometimes strongly tempted to "defenestrate"[1] it and run the VMs in the Linux version of VMWare workstation...

[1] I recall reading recently that "defenestrate" had gained this new meaning!


Edit: server => serves

Edited by DavidWright, 06 April 2016 - 04:55 PM.


#15 jsharris

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 06:36 PM

View PostDavidWright, on 06 April 2016 - 04:54 PM, said:

I "virtualised" an XP machine and it now lives on as a VM in VMWare workstation. The way I work now is that I hardly install anything on the "real" computer; that simply serves as a device for running VMs. I have 3 open at the moment, often 4. I'm typing this in an ubuntu VM. The "real" computer is Win7, but I'm sometimes strongly tempted to "defenestrate"[1] it and run the VMs in the Linux version of VMWare workstation...

[1] I recall reading recently that "defenestrate" had gained this new meaning!


Edit: server => serves

Sounds like a good idea, I may well try it, as I certainly need to do a clear out on this Win 7 machine, as I haven't had time to do any housekeeping on it for months, and it's doing the usual Windows thing of grinding almost to a halt at times.

Every time I hear the word defenestrate I think of Prague.......................

#16 SteamyTea

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:39 PM

View Postgravelld, on 06 April 2016 - 03:23 PM, said:

What do you mean by P2P here? How do you see it being beneficial?
Bit like the torrent system. You store the data on multiple machines, so when you download what you want it picks and chooses the best route and then knits the bits together. The amount of data to store home automation is pretty small really (or can be designed to be small and compressed).
Would still require some sort of 'internet' connection. But that could be a mesh network i.e. my system sends data to my neighbours, and they do the same. That could be done wirelessly, so no need for an ISP if you are in a town and penetration is high enough. If you are rural, then you will need a basic connection.
It does require a standard system, but we have that already, so not reinventing the wheel.
As I mentioned above, the actual data transmitted is tiny, not as if you need to store all your historic data, just the last few minutes or hours and any changes i.e. turning on or off a light or heating system. Not time critical, if it took a few seconds to transmit the data it would not matter a jot.

#17 JmS

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:53 PM

I use a nest thermostat and 2 smoke detectors, I certainly hope they don't run in to issues but I have to say things seem so slow with products there that I expect Google will pull the plug at some point. I generally like the product and app but you guys make a decent point in the reliance of all of the services in the cloud

#18 gravelld

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:53 PM

Ok, so you're talking about storage of home automation data? I don't really understand the use case for sharding like that. It's not like you are designing for high availability - assuming there's some sort of home automation agent responsible for delegating commands to devices (essentially being the bridge between the Internet and Z Wave) is down, you can't effect anything anyway. I'm probably missing something, but generally you want data close to where it's going to be computed.

#19 SteamyTea

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:26 PM

I was just thinking of the data that is needed to view things when you make a change remotely, but not having to rely on going though one (or two) central servers.

#20 gravelld

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:31 PM

OK, I see. No technical reason it can't be done.