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    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2015
     
    GWL/Power is a company in Prague who sell LiFePO₄ cells and associated gubbins. This blog post is pretty blunt but makes a good point worth bearing in mind with the spread of the Internet of Things which Go Bump In the Night:

    http://gwl-power.tumblr.com/post/130875724381/the-pain-of-the-cloud-solutions-saying-no-to-the

    “The pain of the cloud solutions. Saying NO to the clouds!

    Customer A: I have used the Ubiquiti mFi solution in the past. But the mFi cloud has crashed and has been down for many months now, without any support from UBNT. Can you support me as a supplier of the hardware?

    Customer B: I have used the Involar SEDAS system for monitoring of my solar installation. Now the SEDAS is not working reliably. What will you do for me?

    Answer: Well, we need to say honestly and openly: We will do nothing for you.

    Any cloud service or software support is a matter of the manufacturer of the equipment you have decided to buy. If the manufacturer has a problem keeping the service functional, we as „the middle-man” have no ability to do anything for you. We as a distributor are not responsible in any way for these solutions and services. We suggest you keep contacting the manufacturer, you keep complaining publicly at discussion forums, blogs and web page comments. This may be only way to push the manufacturer to some action.

    Having been in the IT business since 1970’s, we can only say: The cloud is just a dream. What you have is what you have. We discourage customers to make solutions that rely on the clouds and dreams.

    Just think: In case of an international conflict you can be 100% sure, your data stored in an enemy country will not be available to you. So do not waste any time with the cloud and on-line systems (Google Apps, Office 365, etc), work on solutions that will be 100% in your own possession.”
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2015
     
    I had an email service that was based in Egypt. Was a good service, until it got bombed.
    Thankfully it allowed POP3 and IMAP, so I had a local copy off all my emails.

    I use the cloud to save copies and things I want to share, but always have local copies.
    And anything important I put up there, I encrypt first. I have also started to use stenography on my pictures for traceability/copyright purposes. It is so easy to do. Just wish encrypting emails was as simple. Should be easy to do using the TOR network, but no one seems to have come up with a system that is easy and painless to use.
    I live in hope.
    • CommentAuthorJeff B
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2015
     
    Having long been derided as a bit of an IT dinosaur I feel thoroughly vindicated by this article. Just the notion of storing any of my stuff (docs, photos etc) on some remote server is anathema to me.

    OK, I know my emails are out there somewhere, probably being monitored by GCHQ as we speak (along with all my Internet connections) but I wish them luck with that, ploughing through hundreds of nerdy websites like the Green Building Forum, DIYnot etc! (No offence intended guys).
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2015
     
    Posted By: Jeff Bprobably being monitored by GCHQ

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/25/trillions_in_surveillance_gchq/

    It is a great statistics problem to find out what is being sent to whom.
  1.  
    A cynic might consider it an old business model (timesharing, mainframe computing) repackaged for the current day by playing games with words *.

    On that note a friend and colleague made a marvelous suggestion to me: anywhere you see "the cloud" in print, read it as "someone else's computer".

    * http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit/
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2015
     
    Computing architectures come and go, returning under different names. The point is to chose ones that make sense to you. If you don't want to store data elsewhere and can deal with the costs of self storage do it, there'll always be vendors who offer it.
  2.  
    I thought this thread might be about the environmental impact of the Cloud. Surely everyone backing up their data on servers that have to be kept in a permanent state of readiness humming away somewhere is less desirable than having it on their own back up drives or discs or whatever in a cupboard at home switched off. Also, re-downloading something every time you want it (especially for music and video) leads to enormous wasted bandwidth - this may or may not have a significant energy cost but just seems wasteful to me compared to havng the photo, video or music file on your own storage medium.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015 edited
     
    For compute it tends to be better environmentally because of virtualization and polling of resources allowing for better resource management.

    For storage, you pay for immediate access, if you want cold storage you can also get that.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015
     
    I think someone did a report about how much energy doing a search on Google too, same as a cup of coffee (what ever that is).

    There are a number of issues when backing up, is it the only backup, or a copy, or one of many.
    The real issue is why do we collect and save so much. I never delete a picture, no matter how bad. I now have several backup disks going back the last 20 years or so.
    I think my last one was a 3 TB one and has most of my stuff on it, but I keep the old ones 'just in case'.
    Be no good if my house was burgles or burnt down, but I am sure I would get over it.

    Cloud storage for me is not a good option as my connection is way to slow, uploading at 1 mbs (0.125 of a megabyte per second) it takes 40 seconds to upload 1 picture, and I have thousands.

    To do a proper incremental back up of the HD on my laptop would initially take over 200 hours.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015
     
    Yeah same here, upload is very slow but good enough for images.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015
     
    The upside of the cloud, is that data centers can (theoretically...) outsource the storage (or backups thereof...), to physical machines in folk's homes
    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32816775
    The heat produced by powering the server is then utilized as home-heating, so there is an actual benefit...

    gg
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015
     
    Pretty sure those are used for compute, not storage, otherwise they wouldn't produce much heat. Regardless, that's a fairly niche application.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2015
     
    correct, *COMPUTING*...
    (I was working from memory)
    (so to speak...)

    gg
  3.  
    After the Christchurch earthquakes many companies where never allowed back into there places of work, so the lesson was make sure you back up your data off site! it seems to work for us!
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    I used to live near Buncefield:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buncefield_fire

    The building I used to work in was shared with the NHS payroll company. I think it took a week to get the systems up and running again after the explosion.
    Somewhere I have pictures of the racks all bent and twisted, in the bent and twisted buildings.
    They had off site storage.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    The key question is the business model of the supplier. If you're paying them an ongoing fee then they're motivated to keep providing the service (even if they rack up the rent). The problem is micro-inverters and the like when you buy the things with, in theory, indefinite logging via their website or whatever. Then they go into administration and you're stuck. If it's a published protocol and you can configure the domain name or IP address so a substitute service can be implemented reasonably easily (it's happened) then it's not so bad. Whatever, it's something to think about when you buy these toys.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    Yep, request SSH keys and so on (there are a lot of devices which run on arduino or rPi)
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    Posted By: Ed DaviesThe problem is micro-inverters and the like when you buy the things with, in theory, indefinite logging via their website or whatever. Then they go into administration and you're stuck. If it's a published protocol and you can configure the domain name or IP address so a substitute service can be implemented reasonably easily (it's happened) then it's not so bad. Whatever, it's something to think about when you buy these toys.

    Indeed, although the major offenders are far more prosaic - banks and utility companies with their 'paperless service'.

    In the case of my micro inverters, I guess they're now breaking the law, since they transmit the data to the US and the web page includes personal details. The protocol they use is private but fortunately is insecure and has been hacked, so if they do go t*ts*p I should be able to capture the data. In the meantime, I download it as a CSV, although it's not really as detailed as I would like.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeaI used to live near Buncefield:
    The building I used to work in was shared with the NHS payroll company. I think it took a week to get the systems up and running again after the explosion.
    Somewhere I have pictures of the racks all bent and twisted, in the bent and twisted buildings.
    They had off site storage.

    If that's who I think it is[1], then it was more than just off site storage, They were/are a business that specialise in facilities/data management & resilience, so the fact that their own premises survived such an incident was quite a demonstration of their systems & that they practice what they preach.

    [1] Pretty sure. A close relative used to work for them.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    Yes, it is who you think it is (we have had this conversation before). I worked in the same building briefly, but not the same company.
    Was quite a bang I believe and considering it only took a week to get it sort is really quite amazing.

    But I bet they charge more than ADrive, Google Drive, Dropbox or whatever MS call their service now.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2015
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeawe have had this conversation before

    I thought we had...

    But I bet they charge more than ADrive, Google Drive, Dropbox or whatever MS call their service now.

    Err, yes. Quite a bit more than that! Sometimes the adage "pay peanuts, get monkeys" runs true...
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2015 edited
     
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2016
     
    Another example, from Google:

    https://medium.com/@arlogilbert/the-time-that-tony-fadell-sold-me-a-container-of-hummus-cb0941c762c1#.pmyeyn5pw

    Unfortunately, that article doesn't make clear if they're just turning off the cloud service the box relies on or will actually send some command to really brick the box. Ie., if anybody had reverse engineered the protocol and built a substitute service, would it work?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2016
     
    Does google still spout "Don't be evil"?

    Under UK/EU law would Arlo Gilbert have a right to a refund since the product is clearly not fit for purpose after 15 May?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2016
     
    I don't think you can expect an indefinite contract for any web service, particularly not for one for which there is just a one-off initial payment. On the other hand, selling a product which won't work after some period not much longer than just a year or so seems like an unfair practice which would be a cause for action, I'd think.

    I bought a Kobo ebook reader largely on the basis that I'd read that they don't need to be registered to be used - you can download PDFs, etc, via USB. I was therefore more than a little cheesed off to find that it actually does need to be registered (must have changed since previous models/versions) and won't work after a hard reset until it's contacted the mothership. If Kobo goes broke I'll have to be careful to make sure it doesn't need a reset.

    In general, avoiding dependency on web services seems safest. Ie., you're a mug if you buy something which depends on ongoing support from somebody else without a pretty solid contract that that support will be available for a useful amount of time.
  4.  
    Posted By: djhDoes google still spout "Don't be evil"?

    Under UK/EU law would Arlo Gilbert have a right to a refund since the product is clearly not fit for purpose after 15 May?

    Also, the page mentions that all one year guarantees have expired. I have a vague feeling that under EU/UK consumer protection two years is expected nowadays?
  5.  
    It might be different for electronics but as far as I am aware for e.g. agricultural machinery there is a requirement for parts and support to be available for 8 years after the last manufacture date
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2016
     
    • CommentAuthorMarkyP
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2016 edited
     
    the issue, I think, is the pace at which the devices are being cut-off and with no prior warning. In the software world, you'd expect a lifetime of perhaps 4 or 5 years or more with support and updates during that time. Then you'd expect an end of life announcement, perhaps giving a 1 or 2 year grace period following end of sale, where support would cease and updates would stop. But you'd likely still have working software (unless the software called back to some vendor platform, and that was to stop at end of life). And at end of life, an upgrade path, typically with some discount or incentive for existing customers would be normal.

    But for this hardware situation, I am surprised both by the apparent aggressiveness and that no concession is offered to affected customers such as a heavily discounted replacement Nest unit. Perhaps there is more to the story - some reasons why they cannot afford or have chosen not to offer a 2 year end of life period. Google is vast and all gigantic corps, no matter how they try to craft their public profile and culture, are prone to ineptitude, clumsiness and crass stupidity. Whatever the reason, it is a PR blunder for both Nest and Google.
    • CommentAuthorSimon Still
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2016 edited
     
    Posted By: MarkyP...But you'd likely still have working software (unless the software called back to some vendor platform, and that was to stop at end of life).

    But for this hardware situation, I am surprised both by the apparent aggressiveness and that no concession is offered ... Google is vast and all gigantic corps, no matter how they try to craft their public profile and culture, are prone to ineptitude, clumsiness and crass stupidity. Whatever the reason, it is a PR blunder for both Nest and Google.


    Absolutely - this is completely unacceptable as it's not the model that the hardware was sold on.

    If you're buying a managed service, with an annual charge, then you have to accept that service could come to an end (but you'd still expect a managed end of life process). It's normally clear that the hardware is not yours in those situations - think UK Cable TV. The box belongs to Virgin, if you stop paying the monthly service charge you have to give the box back. If Virgin shut down you'd not expect the box to do much (if anything).

    If you're buying hardware outright you don't expect it to be 100% reliant on a external software. With Sky you own the box after a year. I think you'd accept that Sky might cease support for advanced functions (maybe the iPhone app would disappear one day) but you'd expect it to keep running basic functions to watch TV.

    This just seems such a massive PR blunder for Google - they could easily afford to have given all of the customers a refund, a free (or discounted) Nest equivalent or something. They could have/should have open sourced the software - Logitech stopped selling their Squeezebox (Sonos equivalent) hardware a couple of years ago but you can still get the server software from their site and development continues under open source.

    Tivo stopped support for their original UK boxes (sold for a brief period in around 2000) in June 2011. There was a c6 month warning and 9 months of free service before it happened. There appears to be an independent EPG project that means they still run.

    http://www.techradar.com/news/home-cinema/tivo-withdrawing-support-of-series1-uk-pvrs-929093
    http://www.tivoland.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1739

    Bricking the hardware remotely is unbelievable.
   
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