"Restart the refrigerator and check timezone"
December 14, 2015 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I have a Samsung RF4289HARS refrigerator. The Google calendar app on it has been working perfectly since I purchased the refrigerator August 2012. However, with the latest changes in Google Calendar API, I can no longer sign in to my calendar.
From the Google support forums.
posted by Foci for Analysis (137 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Needs the "internet of shit" tag.
posted by signal at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


Missing a link to Internet of Shit (prev)

(too slow)
posted by lmfsilva at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Open door.
Close door.

Throw in trash.
posted by petrilli at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2015


Can I just say I can't stand it when people spell "fridge" as "frig"?
posted by Rock Steady at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2015 [65 favorites]


I remember an entry in the Mac Hall webcomic, published in the mid-2000s, where the line "I guess you have to....uh, reboot the oven?" was used as a self-evidently absurd gag line. O, what brave new world that has such appliance API errors in it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:02 AM on December 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Soon, someone will have a calendar-related food accident (such as eating meat on Friday), and then they'll fix it, when the liability suits start pouring in. But it will be too late for the victims...
posted by ubiquity at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can't wait until the Swatters figure out how to set your oven to 'fusion reactor' mode.
posted by sektah at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


My refrigerator is giving me the error: "Server disconnected - try again a little later"

I don't know what else to say.
posted by LiteS at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


I was able to get around it for the time being by writing a small python script (running on a raspberry pi) to translate the Google API V3 format into v2 format and make changes to my routers firewall policies to have the app request it from my script. All works well enough for now until the authentication api is deprecated in 2 months.

Wow. Just wow.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2015 [61 favorites]


To me, this seems like nothing other than a new way to administer Planned Obsolescence.

"We're so sorry that the version of Android in your automobile is out of date and is causing you problems. We understand that none of the LCD panels are working and that you are unable to see your speed, gas gauge, radio, and the like. Unfortunately, we have no intent on updating the console for your vehicle, because we only just released our new model. Why not buy a new model for the low, low price of $35k and you'll have all those options you're missing! The new console runs on Windows 10!"

Apply this logic to any product, you will find the same results. The products are still fully functional, in terms of their hardware, but you "have to buy a new one" because the software has gone sour.

Do you guys have any idea how many perfectly functional smartphones that hardly work on a software level I have cluttering my drawers. It is sickening.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2015 [55 favorites]


Wait one hour for more ice cubes or purchase ten fridge points for 99 cents for ice cubes now.
posted by johnpowell at 11:10 AM on December 14, 2015 [131 favorites]


Seems like an android tablet and a roll of duct tape oughta do the trick.
posted by cubby at 11:10 AM on December 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


What function is being impeded by this? Something important or is it just a(nother) calendar app?
posted by signal at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2015


Seems like an android tablet and a roll of duct tape a paper calendar, tape, and a few magnets oughta do the trick
posted by filthy light thief at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


Well my Samsung TV likes to choose the most inopportune times to notify me that it has downloaded the latest firmware and would I like to Update Now [Yes] [Cancel], oh Jesus no, not again popup it's OT of Game 7 of the EA Sports Stanley Cup Finals, argghhh, move I can't see anything wait I'll press [Pause]... too late graaaagggh, no!

"It's one of the most dramatic moments in all of sports, one team at the pinnacle, the other in the abyss with a long summer ahead to think about how close they had come to the summit and what might have been..."
posted by notyou at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seems like an android tablet and a roll of duct tape a paper calendar, tape, and a few magnets a wet trout judiciously applied to some "Internet Of Things" evangelists oughta do the trick
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


Wow. Just wow.

And it's only possible to do that because the API requests aren't being made via HTTPS. Yikes.
posted by figurant at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I have no more pity for people who willingly buy internet-connected kitchen appliances than I do for people who buy internet-connected smart TVs that track their every move. Why anybody would want to embed small, quickly-obsoleted electronics into large, long-lived appliances is beyond me. If I can easily replace the IoT functionality of a smart appliance with either a smartphone or a separate plug-in box for < $100 USD, there's zero reason to bundle it with the appliance at all.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


My refrigerator doesn't have a calendar app and it doesn't remind me when I'm about to run out of butter, but when it comes to keeping a grocery list, my Android is indispensable: I write out my grocery list on a post-it note, then stick the post-it note to the back of my phone. Et voilà, my grocery list is always at my fingertips!
posted by mudpuppie at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2015 [39 favorites]


Needs the "internet of shit" tag.

This comment may have been taken too literally.
posted by kenko at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is what happens when you let engineering breed with marketing.
This will not end well.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


I came for the snark, but actually a tablet with an internet connection is great for a kitchen, because recipes. And you don't want your nice tablet getting crap on it in the kitchen.
posted by colie at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


What function is being impeded by this? Something important or is it just a(nother) calendar app?
You thought your 11-year-old clamoring for a Twitter account was a big deal? Now your fridge can get on Twitter, too. In its overall interior design, the Internet-connected Samsung RF4289HARS is a fairly standard refrigerator. There's nothing too surprising about its exterior, either, until you experience the 8-inch, Internet-connected LCD looming over the water and ice dispenser.
It's a crappy Android device with some built-in apps, which I doubt will actually hinder any actual use of the fridge, but it would be really annoying to have your $3,000+ fridge not display your calendar properly.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when you let engineering breed with marketing.

The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


Buy a calendar, stick it to the fridge over the touch screen. Problem solved.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


We now have a pointless icon on our fridge and this app was main reason I bought fridge so wife and I could view each other's calanders at supper table

I'm preeeeeeeeeeetty sure #firstworldproblems isn't quite enough for this one.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2015 [30 favorites]


And it's only possible to do that because the API requests aren't being made via HTTPS. Yikes.

Actually...
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


When my girlfriend and I moved into our new place, she took the opportunity to find a tablet wall-mount and put it in the kitchen. She has a first-gen iPad that is only good for browsing the web, and even that only barely, but she figured it'd be good for consulting recipes and such.

It gets used, but about ten times less than I had envisioned. I am willing to bet that the people who buy smart fridges usually have similarly lofty expectations about how much technology will transform their kitchen.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:22 AM on December 14, 2015


It's a cliche, I guess, but everytime I hear about someone breaking out a Raspberri Pi to kludge together a workaround for their smart fridge's calendar API, I think of this:

“The farmer is endeavoring to solve the problem of a livelihood by a formula more complicated than the problem itself. To get his shoestrings he speculates in herds of cattle. With consummate skill he has set his trap with a hair springe to catch comfort and independence, and then, as he turned away, got his own leg into it.” - Thoreau
posted by ryanshepard at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I would be pretty annoyed if my fridge displayed my calendar at all, but then again my fridge cost me about 10 minutes of helping my landlord move it off the back of his pickup, and I'm pretty sure it cost him the gas money to go pick it up off of his mom's front porch, so probably I'm not exactly in the target demographic.

Ban computation!
posted by brennen at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can I just say I can't stand it when people spell "fridge" as "frig"?
Not as bad as people* who say "frig" instead of "fuck."
*can usually be found in Tim Hortons, which they refer to as "Timmies."
posted by chococat at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is what happens when you let engineering breed with marketing.
This will not end well.


On the other hand, without the Internet of Things, we wouldn't have one of the funniest episodes of Bob's Burgers.
posted by indubitable at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been in the green too long- I started typing out troubleshooting suggestions.

So, erm, be sure your milk is up to date, clear anything limp out of the crisper, de-ice the freezer if needed.

If all else fails, there's a workaround: replace with paper calendar covering fridge screen.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, Spotify. You need music while cooking. Fridge with speakers.
posted by colie at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2015


Not as bad as people* who say "frig" instead of "fuck."

Farging iceholes.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been in the green too long- I started typing out troubleshooting suggestions.

No, you cannot eat it. Throw it out!


Also, get therapy and hire a lawyer.
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Actually...

Augh!
posted by figurant at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2015


chococat: "Not as bad as people* who say "frig" instead of "fuck.""

For some reason, I think I would be OK with people saying "fridge" instead of "fuck" though.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:29 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm preeeeeeeeeeetty sure #firstworldproblems isn't quite enough for this one.

#firstupagainstthewall
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:29 AM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Electronic frig + Keureg K-Kup DRM Technology = ???
posted by rebent at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2015


#firstupagainstthewall

Electronic frig + Keureg K-Kup DRM Technology = Sirius Cybernetics Corp
posted by deadaluspark at 11:32 AM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


There should be some mechanism for manufacturers of consumer IOT devices to make a legally binding promise that they will provide software updates for X years into the future. Obviously the details would be complicated, but it would need to include security patches and updates to match any changes in 3rd-party APIs at the very least. If manufacturers keep abandoning devices all of 3 weeks after they hit the shelves, people are going to stop buying them.
posted by miyabo at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Electronic frig + Keureg K-Kup DRM Technology = Sirius Cybernetics Corp

We bring good things to life. Share and enjoy.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:36 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow. Just wow.
And it's only possible to do that because the API requests aren't being made via HTTPS. Yikes.


Yeah, if I were in the position of owning one of these refrigerators, I don't think that fix would even have occurred to me since I'd assume it wasn't possible. Which I guess doesn't speak well of my credulity re the software security practices of large companies.
posted by invitapriore at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


When my girlfriend and I moved into our new place, she took the opportunity to find a tablet wall-mount and put it in the kitchen.

FWIW
posted by Sys Rq at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


If manufacturers keep abandoning devices all of 3 weeks after they hit the shelves, people are going to stop buying them.

People haven't stopped buying smartphones, and half the time, those things have a life of about a year before the company stops doing updates and/or the updates begin to make the device so slow that it basically forces your hand to upgrade to a new one.

I'm looking at you, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy SIII, and Nexus One.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:39 AM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Electronic frig

I've never been a fan of the "name of my band" jokes, but, like, that right there? Yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:39 AM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


We forgot to have a revolution because we were trying to jailbreak our toaster
posted by clockzero at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2015 [43 favorites]


My Mazda has Sirius and Pandora tabs on its touchscreen. I don't use either of these services. There's no way for consumers to turn the tabs off, although I know, I just know, that somewhere in the code there's something like "showtab = yes," and I just can't get to an admin screen to use it.

And, the iPhone direct audio connectivity via cord hasn't worked since iOS 7. Thankfully, the Bluetooth works and the phone will charge via cord.

And then a bunch of Syrian refugees were just welcomed into Canada by their new liberal prime minister and I feel like a schmuck.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can I just say I can't stand it when people spell "fridge" as "frig"?

Come Ragnarok, you will *wish* your kitchen appliances had honored the All-Father and the Aesir.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2015 [21 favorites]


My company works on a bunch of these types of products, so I see how the sausage is made. I've never really been into some of this junk, but I turn into Bill Adama more and more each day.
posted by bonje at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


Can I just say I can't stand it when people spell "fridge" as "frig"?

I'm pretty sure those people aren't talking about refrigerators.
posted by straight at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "Electronic frig

I've never been a fan of the "name of my band" jokes, but, like, that right there? Yes.
"

You must mean "yes I said yes I will Yes"
posted by chavenet at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Homer: Hmm. I wonder why he's so eager to go to the frig?
Moe: The "frig"? Hey fellas, the "frig"! Well, ooh la di da, Mr. French Man.
Homer: Well what do you call it?
Moe: A food hole!
posted by gwint at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


People haven't stopped buying smartphones, and half the time, those things have a life of about a year...

I'm looking at you, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy SIII, and Nexus One.


One of those things is not like the others. I got 3.5 good years out of my iPhone 4, sure it was a little slow by the end, but no matter what you might say about Apple, they provide system support for a long time by industry standards. The iPhone 4s is still supported on the current iOS 9, giving it 5 full years of system support.
posted by fairmettle at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Samsung won't know how to properly design an internet-connected refrigerator until after Apple comes out with one.
posted by gyc at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


At least with smartphones, the upgrade cycle and obsolescence cycle are mostly in sync now: using an Android phone until the end of a two-year contract used to be impossible. Now it's not FUN, but it can pretty much still function and the upgrade feels like an UPGRADE, not a return to crappy normal.
posted by mikewebkist at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2015


Electronic frig

e-frigs
posted by curious nu at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is exactly why i have a rather pertinent disclaimer on my site. It's hard enough already supporting older browsers, fuck your fridge.
posted by lawrencium at 12:03 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, Spotify. You need music while cooking. Fridge with speakers.

I just thought I was all high tech when I got a Bose iPod dock to put in my kitchen. Back before that, I suffered the godawful inconvenience of having to walk to the receiver in the other room to turn up the volume when the spatter of frying objects drowned the music out. It was horrible, I tell you, horrible!
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got 3.5 good years out of my iPhone 4, sure it was a little slow by the end

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on that, especially considering I had to work around the broken power button on the iPhone 4 for quite a long time, which was even more frustrating when it takes 10-15 seconds between when you push an onscreen button and when the phone responds. Just speaking of my own personal experience here, though.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2015


Typing this on an iphone 4s. Unclear as to why I would need to get a new one. Works fine.

And yes having a calendar app / screen in a fridge is totally dumb.
posted by freecellwizard at 12:06 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the joke here is not that the fridge doesn't speak API v3 but that it doesn't validate HTTPS certs and thus leaks your password to basically anyone.

Just tape an ipad to your refridgerator people.
posted by GuyZero at 12:07 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shared domestic electronic calendaring is the stuff of life to poly households, and there is genuine usefulness in being able to remotely interrogate and update the information, so don't knock the idea that there are times and places where this is actually a good idea over and above paper calendars. The trouble isn't in the concept, it's in the implementation. Put the darn thing on the fridge, not in it.

The other problems can be fixed. I don't tnink I've had a single case of 'Updates are ready to install' or similar on my Chromebook, while my Ubuntu system isn't quite as well-mannered but still mostly painless in this respect. I've recently gone back to using Windows for some tasks, and that's much messier; Android is just plain needy. IoT needs solid engineering guidelines and common, open, standards more than anything else - the fact that consumer electronics manufacturers regard such things as diabolic nonsense may take generations to overcome.

(I saw my first internet-connected fridge in the mid-late 90s - it was an LG, I think, and was basically an ordinary fridge with a very underpowered PC screwed to the top. We had some fun with it in the office, as it had speakers and a webcam, so you could initiate conversations remotely with random passers-by.The Internet of Japes still has mileage.)
posted by Devonian at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The 'most useful' positive review on the Friggin' Fridge in TFA says:

"They told me that a few degrees was normal (which I accepted) but not 10 to 12 degrees all the time.....any, to make a long story short I decided to "reboot" my fridge.

Yup, it's a linux OS that runs the system and all the apps. I decided to pull the power plug for the first time since I installed the fridge and voila. The refrigerator started working correctly. Temperatures started reporting within 2 to 4 degrees of the set temperature on the control panel. So, if you buy this frige and have this problem, remember to reboot your fridge after a few days if the temperature doesn't hold.
"

posted by signal at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't need my fridge on the internet, but I wouldn't say no to an internet-enabled whiteboard I could put on the fridge, because I forget to go check it (and either add the items to Wunderlist or just take a picture of it) at least once out of every three trips to the store.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2015


Among the large list of things that ought never to need rebooting ever, I think a refrigerator ranks in the top 50.
posted by Spatch at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can’t imagine why people pay for these things, so yeah, that’s a zero sympathy case. What were you thinking was going to happen? Have you ever used a computer?

I rent cars fairly often and have been fond of a couple of the Fords (Fusion? Something else with ah F?) but there’s no way I would buy one because of the beyond crappy Microsoft entertainment system built in (So crappy that I think they’re giving it the boot). The Kias I drove had a simple circa 1999 stereo that works with iPods. That’s what I would buy.
posted by bongo_x at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a sensible response to this type of problem. They move the hard work off the car stereo and onto your phone, leaving (at least in theory) your car as a much dumber device which only needs to know how to talk to the phone, rather than the world.

I'm not sure what the equivalent fridge would be. Probably just a fridge mounted tablet holder.

The future is in lots of dumb terminals which can speak to your few internet connected items. A chromecast or bluetooth speaker is far more future proof than a smart TV.
posted by leo_r at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


404 food not found
abort/retry/order takeout?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:35 PM on December 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


In related dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi news, a lightbulb firmware update locks out competitors. Previously the Hue hub could control other brands of Zigbee lights, but Philips decided to remove any interoperability with non-Philips branded bulbs. Restoring compatibility on your own might be a DMCA 1201 violation.
posted by autopilot at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know why it's not the case, but it's still hard to be boggled by the fact that there's an obvious solution for how to design for this sort of thing that no one is taking, which is to expose the hardware's functionality via a relatively-stable protocol, preferably one that's orthogonal so that older devices can ignore parameters they don't understand and newer devices talking to older software can still perform every action that the software knows how to control, and over a standard physical port so that the controlling device is pluggable. That would even let you have custom controller topologies, so that you could have a separate physical controller attached to each device even though that's dumb or you could just attach the equivalent of an Arduino wifi shield to each device and then have them talk to some central administrator. Even though there would likely be a proliferation of per-manufacturer device protocols, you still need only write the protocol adapter once. I think you could execute that all in a way that's still as user-friendly as the current model is.
posted by invitapriore at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


"We're sorry, but there has been a problem with your INTELIPOTTY"S OS. Lid will stay down and unit will be off until updates are downloaded, verified and installed. Approximate time left until task completion - 6 hours and 39 minutes."
posted by pyramid termite at 12:39 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or, yeah, this:

The future is in lots of dumb terminals which can speak to your few internet connected items. A chromecast or bluetooth speaker is far more future proof than a smart TV.

I suspect that after this initial flurry of irrational exuberance settles down we'll see the rise of boutique offerings catering to the "savvy" that do exactly that. Unfortunately, as ever, we'll be charged a tax for opting for the simpler, more obvious and robust design.
posted by invitapriore at 12:41 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


In related dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi news, a lightbulb firmware update locks out competitors.

Reminds me of that time that Apple decided that the cable I'd been using for months was all of a sudden 'not compatible'. Or of the time they did it again. Or the next time. Whoops, there wasn't a next time since I switched to Android.
posted by signal at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


If this fridge were a dumb terminal that just connected to a server for all its calendar-displaying needs that'd solve one problem only to introduce another exciting problem also involving the inevitablily of forced obsolescence.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2015


Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a sensible response

Yeah, but will they be backwards-compatible over the 10+ years that a car is expected to last? Only time will tell, but history doesn't give us any reason to be optimistic. Many cars still have 30-pin iPod which seemed future-proof right up until Apple discontinued them 4 years ago, and are now difficult to even find adapters for.
posted by miyabo at 12:45 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there is a hell for programmers, it's maintaining the app stores for home electronics. Why yes, Samsung, my Blu-Ray player DOES need an app ecosystem!

A while back I was at an event with a guy who works for an auto manufacturer and he thought they might keep a product's app store live for about five years. My current car is 15 years old and I live in the Pacific NW, where all Volkswagens go to die. There are going to be a great many cars running around without support here in a few years. What a wonderful time to be alive!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's a Sirius tab and a Pandora tab because somebody paid to have them there, like the facebook, Zappos, American express, and other apps I can't delete from my phone. I don't want a 'smart' appliance, because it may start showing ads, and because it seems unlikely to be built well enough to last as long as I want the appliance to last. I'd very much like my car radio to have an audio jack, but that's it. I really don't want a touchscreen in the refrigerator, stove, car, because it seems fiddly and apt to need expensive repair. I liked my old microwave that had a dial for power and a dial for time - no buttons at all. My lawn is a mess, and I care a tiny bit, so move along, kids.
posted by theora55 at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Reminds me of that time that Apple decided that the cable I'd been using for months was all of a sudden 'not compatible'. Or of the time they did it again. Or the next time.

Let me guess - 30 pin connector. Probably of the 3rd part variety (though the 1st party cables would do it too, eventually). Those pieces of shit rotted remarkably quickly.
posted by wotsac at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2015


So, have we reached the point in our still-nascent march into smart-everything where there are products that actually won't work unless they are online 24/7? Is there now a smartTV, for example, that simply won't display anything other than a set-up screen unless you allow it to link to the mothership?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:09 PM on December 14, 2015


So, have we reached the point in our still-nascent march into smart-everything where there are products that actually won't work unless they are online 24/7?

I own a Roku (a tiny cheapo Linux box with HDMI out and apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) that's designed to be fundamentally useless minus an active network connection. Aside from the spyware-by-nature properties shared by all streaming services, it's not an especially nefarious little device, but its client-all-the-way nature is kind of striking. I've had the thing for 3 or 4 years, so it feels to me like that's a category that's been going strong for a while now.

Outside of media hardware, examples aren't quite as easy to find, but I'm entirely certain they exist. Coming soon to a formerly-pretty-reliable product category near you!
posted by brennen at 1:32 PM on December 14, 2015


I have always thought that it would be a worthwhile project for someone to prepare a downloadable app/image for old tablets that would include shared calendaring, note taking, list making, photo/artwork display, music playback, and possibly barcode scanning via the camera and screen reading of recipes. Maybe sell fridge mounts on the side as an extra revenue stream. In lots of houses the fridge is the central hub of activity and I would definitely give something like this a try.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is there now a smartTV, for example, that simply won't display anything other than a set-up screen unless you allow it to link to the mothership?

Not quite the same, but there's some software that requires an active internet connection for license authentication even though there's nothing at all internet-related about the application itself. Diablo III singleplayer mode for instance, or some music software (which is a problem for gigging musicians).
posted by Foosnark at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2015


Once upon a time, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie sang,
"The fridge, stove and toaster, never crash on me,
I should be able to get online, without a PHD.
My phone doesn't take a week to boot it,
my TV doesn't crash when I mute it,"
And now they are liars. Perhaps inadvertently, or perhaps they gave the manufacturers the idea in the first place!
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2015


Ah, the innernet of thungs
posted by klangklangston at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2015


"There should be some mechanism for manufacturers of consumer IOT devices to make a legally binding promise that they will provide software updates for X years into the future."

Here is why free software/open source should be mandated for certain problem domains, or at least software escrow. When the manufacturer goes bankrupt, discontinues the line, has an accident and loses the critical employees who know stuff, you the customer are screwed.

Remember Stallman started the FSF over a printer driver.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


I've got an idea! Let's form a task force—an Internet Engineering Task Force, if you will—that will come up with a standard protocol for calenadaring over the Internet. That way, every vendor's product can work with everyone else's. And Google, being a good Internet citizen, would make sure their products conform with the standard. Everybody wins!
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:46 PM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


Philips has apparently just updated firmware for its Hue lighting system specifically in order to prevent light bulbs supplied by third parties from working any longer.
posted by jamjam at 3:15 PM on December 14, 2015


Oh my god, it really is the kitchen of the future, the refrigerator that thinks.
posted by maryr at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2015


Until I saw the thread here, I was sure this was people making fun of IoT in the Google Forums.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2015


I hear the next version of Poe's law only works if it's connected to the Internet and uses an unsecured connection to log into the upstream server.
posted by idiopath at 3:20 PM on December 14, 2015


They're all talking about last gen refrigerators, this is the iphone world now, if you want a connected system you just need to upgrade your phone refrigerator every two 1.5 years to stay current.
posted by sammyo at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2015


When and how did I get so behind?
posted by goneill at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2015


Don't worry, your user will just put you in a drawer and buy a new one any day now.
posted by idiopath at 3:38 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did anyone notice how often we are asked to reboot things by unplugging them and plugging them back in? Where in hell did power buttons go?
posted by thorny at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was thinking a while back that 30 years old is probably not so bad for an HVAC system, but then when you throw computers into the mix it seems hilariously out of date. So much of this IoT crappo probably won't even make it 5 years.
posted by ckape at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why can't we get the FTC to go after companies that fail to maintain or secure their firmware or software? It's essentially false advertising to e.g. disable competitors' "smart lightbulbs." We need legislated consumer protection for this stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can I just say I can't stand it when people spell "fridge" as "frig"?

Come Ragnarok, you will *wish* your kitchen appliances had honored the All-Father and the Aesir.

Here at the service center we're not really supposed to tell you this but if your frost giant is misbehaving just hit it with a hammer a few times.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:07 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe the answer is to jailbreak the fridge, wipe the OS, install Linux on it and make a weekend hobbyist project of installing the packages to show a nice calendar on the touchscreen. Be sure to write it up in your technical blog for anybody else wanting to do the same thing.

Or, failing that, some entrepreneur could provide a web app that does a fridge-optimised calendar/shopping-list app (with ads and/or a subscription fee), along with a system upgrade for the fridge (downloadable, or send away for a USB stick) that wipes Samsung's abandoned OS and replaces it with a web view pointed at this web app.
posted by acb at 4:22 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


They told me that a few degrees was normal (which I accepted) but not 10 to 12 degrees all the time.....any, to make a long story short I decided to "reboot" my fridge.

Someone should tell Samsung that when Tim Cook mentioned toaster fridges, he was joking.
posted by acb at 4:26 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]



Did anyone notice how often we are asked to reboot things by unplugging them and plugging them back in? Where in hell did power buttons go?


They became too “smart”. A dumb switch that cuts the power won't do any more, and a power button sends a signal to the device, requesting that it goes into a stand-by mode. Which is great when the device is operating correctly.
posted by acb at 4:28 PM on December 14, 2015


I understand from some of the comments that the computer is also responsible for maintaining the temperature of the fridge. Replacing the OS might prove complicated.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 4:28 PM on December 14, 2015


I'm driving a Ford Focus and I purposely got a lower trim level to avoid the flashy touchscreen display because I just know they'll stop supporting that shit somewhere down the road. However, I'm also leasing it so it wouldn't be my problem in 3 years (now 2). My 5 year old Sanyo TV is still kicking along fine but I dread the day I'll have to replace it with some smartjunk.

The customer service stories in the FPP's link are awful. Wasn't there a recent post that talked about how companies actively try to get rid of you once you've made a big purchase? I feel like it had something to do with vacuums.
posted by desjardins at 4:49 PM on December 14, 2015


Those Maytag ads where the Maytag man is the appliance? That's an omen from a future where people grow sick of terrible IoT gizmos and begin assigning mentats to tasks like, "count the milk and eggs" or "if it gets cold, turn on the furnace."
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:04 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


As much as I'd hate to run Windows or Ubuntu on my car, x86 IBM clones seem to be the one architecture with okay legacy support. (Meaning, no rooting or flash unlocking nonsense if I want to install a new os)

Let's take used thinkpads and build appliances around them.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you thought updating your fridge's API was bad, try DRM on your lightbulbs.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:24 PM on December 14, 2015


Yeah, #internetofshit, #zerosympathy. #firstupagainstthewall might be a little too violent for me.

Isn't this exactly the kind of thing enabling ever-more-massive botnets to flourish?

I did some research on buying a fridge recently, and they do still make plenty of refrigerators that just keep things from spoiling as fast as they would if you left them in a cupboard. In the end I've opted to just buy an off-lease half-glass restaurant model, because there are so many people who service them and I'm hoping that a glass panel will force me to actually clean the thing a little more often.

Hate to judge based on consumer choices alone, but buying a smart fridge edges you toward my "can't imagine holding a meaningful conversation with you" category.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:27 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm driving a Ford Focus and I purposely got a lower trim level to avoid the flashy touchscreen display

Touchscreens in cars should be illegal. I don't understand how they're allowed. Why would you take a system that is primarily tactile and can be operated by muscle memory and replace it with something constantly changing that requires that you actually look. What could go wrong?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:36 PM on December 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


Wait, this isn't satire?
posted by tickingclock at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2015


"if it gets cold, turn on the furnace."

I need a job - can I bring a book to work?
posted by quinndexter at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2015


Could we use extended warranties to address when the electronics stop working the way they should?
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:35 PM on December 14, 2015


This reminds me of when I was the front end tech lead for all Samsung sites built by the agency I worked for and we were asked to build the front end for an App Store for Smart TV apps - this would have been about 5 years ago - and Samsung gave us a Smart TV to play with but we couldn't get any apps to install on it. We also couldn't figure out how one might buy an app on the web, in a browser, and have it show up on the TV. We eventually learned that the division of Samsung that managed the apps wasn't the same division that managed the Smart TV marketing and that one actually couldn't have a single account that both signed in to the web-based store and also the TV App store. But the designs were already approved and our clients at Samsung didnt want to delay the launch of the site (even though it did worse than nothing) so we built and launched a web site that advertised Smart TV apps we couldn't confirm existed or worked and which couldn't be bought. The user flow literally sent the user in a circle.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:13 PM on December 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


I was going to snark about a prohibition being brought about by this kind of nonsense, but here Emperor Leto says it better:

"The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines".
posted by Vinz Clortho, Km.G. at 7:26 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


johnpowell: "Wait one hour for more ice cubes or purchase ten fridge points for 99 cents for ice cubes now."

This is basically like the toll door from Ubik!
posted by symbioid at 7:48 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I overclocked my iron so much that I had to add a Thermaltake liquid cooling system to it and now it barely gets warm and I can't iron the creases out of my socks wtf Kenwood
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I remember in the mid-late 90's when I was playing around with all the free Linux installs, and everyone was predicting this awesome future where open source Linux would be installed in everything because it was free and open source and it was going to be an egalitarian techno-utopia.

Now I'm all like "You put Linux in this? Eew. Here, you keep it."
posted by sourwookie at 9:00 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


x86 IBM clones seem to be the one architecture with okay legacy support. (Meaning, no rooting or flash unlocking nonsense if I want to install a new os)

Then again, there's a rising tide of super-cheap general-purpose ARM hardware, all of it with remarkably low power consumption. I have a couple of Raspberry Pis running OSMC and all they need, even when powering an external USB hard drive, is a ten watt 5 volt plugpack.

Am I the only one who thinks there's a market niche for appliances whose smarts consist of a screen and a Pi-compatible board with an exposed micro SD slot?
posted by flabdablet at 11:57 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The door rebooted.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:31 AM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the continuing saga of bad cyberpunk phrases that I never thought I'd hear, a 2014 bicycle gear shift firmware update broke backwards compatibility with older (2012) parts:
As of 8/3/14 firmware updates from Shimano remove the functionality between 6770 and 6870/9070 electronic components being used together. Some previous firmware versions allowed the below conversion to function without replacing the front derailleur, but firmware being installed as of 8/3/14 will irreversibly render such a mixed system dysfunctional.
This is with a single brand, so they don't even have the interoperability concern of Philips' deliberate breakage.
posted by autopilot at 2:27 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Man, if we had to live in a Cyberpunk dystopia, why couldn't it have been in a good one, say Gibson or Sterling, instead of this bargain-bin based on a roleplaying game you never heard of 17 book series with a different author for each one and some sort of integrated circuit dragon on the cover?
posted by signal at 3:05 AM on December 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


Where in hell did power buttons go?

The lone Chinese factory that makes all the power buttons actually burned down ten years ago. It was decided that, instead of rebuilding, the world's manufacturers would transition away from power buttons while the remaining stockpile was being sold-out.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:33 AM on December 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't need a fridge to track my schedule or tell me when I'm out of milk -- I can do that myself. What I need is a fridge that manages the kitchen remodel -- hires the contractor, researches, selects & buys the appliances & cabinets, and figures out how I'll eat while the work is going on. Now THAT's a fridge!
posted by JanetLand at 6:05 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is with a single brand

Shimano has always been pretty notorious for that kind of thing. They really, really want you to upgrade your entire driveline to whatever they're selling this season. Backward compatibility? Pffft.
posted by flabdablet at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2015


Upgrade your drivetrain? They want you to buy a new bike.
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on December 15, 2015


What I need is a fridge that manages the kitchen remodel

Asimov's Third Law of Refrigerators is that a refrigerator must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Also, you'll end up with a kitchen full of fridges and no oven.
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on December 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


That is why people ask for open-source software. So you can overclock the extra fridge and turn it into an oven.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:57 AM on December 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd expect Shimano makes a better margin on boxed drivechains as compared to the cut they get on a new bike sale. And really, compared to most mechanical systems of a similar complexity and number of moving parts, bicycle equipment is kind of outstanding in how interchangeable parts are.
posted by idiopath at 1:47 PM on December 15, 2015


I'd expect Shimano makes a better margin on boxed drivechains as compared to the cut they get on a new bike sale.

Surely Shimano would make more off a store full of new bikes with new gear-changey whatsits than from one boxed gear-changey whatsit?

In any case, it's obsolescence in a field where obsolescence shouldn't really even be able to exist.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:11 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can still get shifters, derailleurs, cranks, etc. etc. compatible with Shimano systems dating back to the '70s, directly from Shimano or from other compatible brands. The complaint here is that you can't mix and match between different systems. You can still go to a store and buy a brand new bicycle with Shimano drive chain that is compatible with the parts used in the '80s.
posted by idiopath at 4:05 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of that time that Apple decided that the cable I'd been using for months was all of a sudden 'not compatible'. Or of the time they did it again. Or the next time. Whoops, there wasn't a next time since I switched to Android.

YMMV, but most of the cable problems I've had have been fixed by scraping accumulated lint out of my phone's input jack with a toothpick. The most recent event included my phone saying "this cable is not compatible", and the lint scraping fixed it. It's actually weirdly satisfying to spend 5-10 minutes doing this, every few months.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:49 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Isn't this exactly the kind of thing enabling ever-more-massive botnets to flourish? "

there will come soft rains

except the roombas just crash into each other
posted by klangklangston at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am so old I am amazed that a refrigerator does anything but keep food cold. Ours is quite elderly itself and we shall soon need a new one, but I hope they do still make a basic model that only does that one thing and keeps doing it for many many years. Don't even want the ice water feature, they seem to always break.
posted by mermayd at 4:18 AM on December 16, 2015


For all you read about these things, if you go look at refrigerators most places 90% will be the plain old "keep things cold" type, without even the ice water feature.
posted by bongo_x at 11:59 AM on December 16, 2015


The Internet Of Paternalistic Things - "My stupid refrigerator thinks I’m pregnant.
I reached for my favorite IPA, but the refrigerator wouldn’t let me take one from the biometrically authenticated alcohol bin."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2015


That is excellent and deserves it's own FPP.
posted by maryr at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2015


That story is hilarious because it imagines two different companies having computerized systems that communicate with each other without everything exploding into flames.
posted by GuyZero at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


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