back to article Logitech: We're gonna brick your Harmony Link gizmos next year

One more reason to avoid cloud-reliant Internet of Things – as if you didn't have enough already. Owners of Logitech's universal remote controller have been told the product will stop working after March next year. Harmony Link is one of a range of home hub products offered by Logitech. Link owners have been offered a discount …

Anonymous Coward

CloudFog and IoT

The perfect nightmare couple.

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Idiots !

I wonder if their marketing people are expecting previous customers to buy any successor products ?

I think that the expression "what goes around, comes around" is probably applicable at this point.

I also wonder how many cloud evangelists are now so happy with the cloud disabled bricks.

Perhaps the right course here is to send all the now defunct products back to their CEO at their home address, so that they can dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way and to show what customers think about the marketing and support strategy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

One word: Apple

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Re: Idiots !

I had one of their Squeezebox thingies. Really nice product, but failed buy Logitech who were always ready to release a successor.

Last time I buy from Logitech. I'm sure both the users of their universal remote will say the same.

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Re: Idiots !

Still use mine, though buggered when they go pop.

Sonos scare me, but they are still going strong here and the server code has had a few upgrades

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

@Dwarf

Albeit I hate the words 'cloud', 'evangelist', etc. I think you are just broadly tarring everyone with the same brush.

Don't confuse proper use of 3rd party off-prem virtualisation solution with the marketing ploy of the manufacturer of peripherals who just wants to flog more stuff and reliase that 'cloud v1' is good for noting and they want to bin it in exchange of 'cloud v2'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

I wonder if their marketing people are expecting previous customers to buy any successor products ? I think that the expression "what goes around, comes around" is probably applicable at this point.

True, but it depends on the product. I had one of these universal remotes, but I got rid of it because I was forced to pollute my system with Microsoft Silverlight to configure it, and which was a major reason to drop the product PDQ.

I get that a web based database for configs is probably a good idea to draw parameters from, but (1) you can cache user equipment locally, maybe with a quick peek to see if the parameter file has been upgraded and (2) you should not have to depend on online facilities to reconfigure the device itself.

Add to that that the UI and workflow was flat out horrific (by way fo comparison, it made adding the ribbon interface to MS Office look benign) and I was glad to get rid of it. One day, if I find time, I'm going to figure out how to do it on a Raspberry Pi and make a web interface so I can control anything from a smartphone, tablet or whatever comes into my head. All this bespoke stuff annoys me.

If someone has already done it I'm game, I just haven't had the time to look for it yet.

[Edit: temptation.. A quick Google shows that people have indeed been working on this. Now I'm facing the challenge of restraining myself - I have other things to finish first :) ]

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Re: Idiots !

No, you should take it back to your retailer for a refund.

They might decide to stop selling Logitech products if they get too many reutrns.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

Last time I buy from Logitech. I'm sure both the users of their universal remote will say the same.

Last time I'll buy a remote from Logitech, but if my Anywhere MX mouse dies I'll simply get the latest version again. That was good when it was first released, the update was good too and the new one appears to continue along that upwards path (although I don't have 3 separate devices that need a mouse,

And if they stop making them I'll buy the last few I can find - they're *good*.

BTW, IMHO Griffin is actually worse re. product lifecycle management. When they discontinue products, they fully disappear from sight. Software, drivers, manuals - any trace of it simply vanishes as if it has never existed. At Logitech you can at least still find info on older products.

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Re: Idiots !

@AC.

I get your logic and indeed cloud done right and on the right systems where there is a demonstrable need is fine, but marketing a product with the word cloud in its description and not supporting it for a reasonable period (which BTW is 7 years in the UK if we use the returns policy on faulty goods as a reference.) then cloud services or anything else for that matter should offer the same or better services.

What we are seeing reported regularly in the press is all the pointless products collapsing in the steaming pile of poo that they are - due to reliability; security; performance issues or being dropped by the manufacturer. I fully expect more to follow in the coming year.

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Re: Idiots !

Squeezeboxes were developed by Slim Devices. Logitech acquired them and things went downhill from there. I still use a lovely version 3 player, thanks to community support.

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Meh

Re: Idiots !

Logitech have been going downhill for years. I have a Hub so I'm safe for now but it's a salutary warning.

But right now I'd happy if Logitech could fix the hub so that it doesn't keep losing connection with my LAN every few days. Someone once figured out that it was failing to renew its DHCP properly. But whatever the reason there's no good excuse for a network reliant bit of kit not being able to stay connected 24/7 :-/

Hell hath no fury like me wanting to skip an advert break and finding my remote unresponsive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

"Sonos scare me, but they are still going strong here and the server code has had a few upgrades"

You mean this Sonos, which stops updating unless you agree to giving away any sense of privacy...

Sonos Privacy

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Headmaster

Re: Idiots !

For those who end up with orphaned Harmony remotes that they still want to make use of, may I suggest looking into a FLIRC dongle.

Excellent little dongle product which can pair with most IR remotes (including the harmony) and works with all sorts of media (and other) stuff seamlessly and easily as it emulates a keyboard input.

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Re: Idiots !

"but if my Anywhere MX mouse dies I'll simply get the latest version again."

The next version will probably require an always-on connection to the cloud service that is used to "continuously calibrate the device for best performance" (/s) .

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Re: Idiots !

When they bork the "update the devices used" facility on my Harmony remote I'll be bloody cross. I was assuming however that the length of time it would take them to do this would be long enough for something to have gone wrong with the remote and:

i) I'd be in the market for something else.

ii) We wouldn't be using a physical remote control anymore and we'll be using mind control or watching the one propaganda channel that the new totalitarian government allows/forces us to watch.

iii) Someone has become so pissed off they've reverse engineered the devices and releases a stand alone version of the "update your device" software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots !

> Don't confuse proper use of 3rd party off-prem virtualisation solution with the marketting ploy

LOL

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While watching the TV last night I saw an advert for AO.com and them touting Hoover's WiFi enabled range of appliances. Ranging from a washing machine through to an oven with a built in camera to check on the food you're cooking.

The wife, who doesn't cook and quite literally can burn water, says "Oh wow that's brilliant, we should get one of them". I look at her and ask her "Why? Do you want to watch your food burn in real time now?".

She wasn't impressed, but then again neither was I. What problems do devices who utilise the cloud solve? Like the people who bought the Harmony who have discovered they've been shafted by a company who can't be arsed to provide support to keep it working, what happens to the rest of the clowns who buy these WiFi/cloud devices and after 2 years discover the device is toast because the company have bricked them?

I'm not a luddite, I may be a few pennies short of a tin foil hat wearer, but the less technology in my house the better. No smart meters. No internet connected printers. No WiFi enabled cookers. No. I want a computer to connect to the internet, maybe a phone and maybe a set top box for the TV, but the rest can go to hell.

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Thumb Up

"The wife, who doesn't cook and quite literally can burn water"

Brilliant and definitely my Quote of the day. Well done sir! :D

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Glad it's not just me... often people are slightly surprised by my hatred of short-lived pointless gimmicky gadgetry (though obviously they don't see it as that!) and the complete absence of such from our house, despite my obvious happiness with working in IT all these years.

In fact, you can't even see a TV or electronics of any kind in the living room, even the screen and media player are hidden away in an alcove cupboard and only pulled out on their arm when actually wanted (the speakers are discretely hidden elsewhere in the room.)

I actually sometimes feel slightly nauseous when I think of the sheer volume of horrible toxic, non-biodegradable tat that gets churned out, bought and then ditched only months later.

Logitech make decent and cheap keyboards and mice, but for anything else I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole...

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Seems to me that those who are least interested in all this wifi / cloud enabled tat are those who you might have most expected to be early adopters.

I like the idea of a lot of these things, but the implemention is abusive and beyond awful.

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Indeed. The mother in law came round recently extolling the virtures of the Amazon Alexa, how her friend has one and it's "brilliant" because you can ask it to do stuff and it'll do it. "It's also listening in to everything you say, how is that brilliant?". "What do you mean?" she asks. I point out that it's voice controlled, and once it hears Alexa it'll listen to whatever command you give it. But for it to listen to it's name, it's going to listening to you all the time and all the conversations you have with people.

"Why would you want that in your house?" Insert generic comment that indicates their view on personal privacy.

A side note about the "burning water" quip. That near enough happened. The wife was hard boiling eggs, and I didn't know about it until I hear "popping" sounds from the kitchen. I investigate, as it sounded electrical and I thought something was on fire. There I see my copper pan, on the biggest ring on the cooker, which is set to full blast heat, with 3 eggs in the now red hot dry molting pan. "Oh sorry I forgot".

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Unhappy

Been there, done that

But I don't have what was left of the pan anymore. I threw out the wreckage.

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Pint

""Why? Do you want to watch your food burn in real time now?".

Ballsy, man. That took some guts. I salute you sir.

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A side note about the "burning water" quip. That near enough happened. The wife was hard boiling eggs, and I didn't know about it until I hear "popping" sounds from the kitchen.

I wonder if you ever lived next door to me where that happened more than once.

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Happy

One advantage of a universal remote linked to 'the cloud' is that it can transfer your settings to replacements very easily. I've had two versions of the Harmony One and now a Harmony Hub and all I had to do was logon to my account and register the new remotes. I have six devices and five activities and they were downloaded to the new remotes in seconds.

Another advantage is that if you need assistance they can sort problems out remotely. I've had to use that twice via online chat and it's quite handy. Logon, start the chat, explain a problem and wait. Their support staff are actually very good.

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Difference in terminology

Between "linked to" i.e. can transfer settings to/from and "dependent on" which it seems is the case here if the product will simply quit functioning entirely after a certain date.

Does their universal remote support bluetooth? If so, it could support local save/restore and need not have any connection to the cloud. Or heck, put an SD slot in it for settings transfer.

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Re: Difference in terminology

Hi,

My interpretation of this is that Cloud == Subscription of the future.

I do wonder if every network device, will eventually need a cloud service to operate, and a subscription of sorts, for it to be used.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Smart TVs suffer the problems. Ehat once cool is now no longer supported after a few years.

A pox on all of them.

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Re: Difference in terminology

Well shadeister that's certainly the free market wet dream.

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Holmes

One advantage of a universal remote linked to 'the cloud' is that it can transfer your settings to replacements very easily. I've had two versions of the Harmony One and now a Harmony Hub and all I had to do was logon to my account and register the new remotes. I have six devices and five activities and they were downloaded to the new remotes in seconds.

What's wrong with being able to backup the configuration to a file that can be stored locally, or copied/synced to your own preferred, personally chosen cloud storage service (onedrive, google drive, dropbox, whatever service YOU feel happy with using, set up the way YOU like it (e.g. encrypted files stored up there so the service can't see them, etc))? Then being able to load that saved config back into the existing device or a new, compatible device - without having logitech eavesdropping on the entire thing? without having to have an account with Logitech?

And if it's backed up in some sort of config file - XML, json, .txt, whatever - then even if you don't have a 'compatible remote' with that original system, since it's a text file you might be able to convert it (or have 3rd-party programs that can do the conversion) to other formats for use in other manufacturers devices.

Doing it any other way - propriety unreadable formats, have to use their cloud service that requires an account and registered devices from their product lineup - is nothing more than vendor lock-in and vendor spying on you so that on top of having paid them for the product you are also the product as well.

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Re: Difference in terminology

Doug,

Well obviously if all it does is store settings in 'The Cloud' then theoretically it can store settings anywhere. But the whole point was to find a reason why it needs 'The Cloud' and now they are having 2nd thoughts on their commitment.

What they ought to do before switching it off is update the firmware to allow it to save settings locally. Perhaps allow you to set a different 'Cloud'.

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Re: Difference in terminology

One of the challenges of allowing Internet access to the device in your home over the Internet is getting past your router.

Traditionally us techies would open a port and subscribe to DynDNS allowing direct access.

However when selling consumer devices it's very hard to get people to set up these things on all the different types of router out there.

The solution is for the device to log itself into a 'Cloud' service where the consumer can simply accesses it via a website and a username.

ASUS go part of the way to solving this problem with their routers because they provide their own dynamic DNS service providing you go in and set it up. Even with IPv6 I suspect this problem will always be solved by 'The Cloud'.

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Re: Difference in terminology

The remotes have (or at least the one I have does) only got a USB connection for updating.

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Re: Difference in terminology

"What they ought to do before switching it off is update the firmware to allow it to save settings locally. Perhaps allow you to set a different 'Cloud'."

Or just say "no more cloud, sorry". But why cease working?

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"Another advantage is that if you need assistance they can sort problems out remotely. I've had to use that twice via online chat and it's quite handy. Logon, start the chat, explain a problem and wait. Their support staff are actually very good."

Its a remote control, over engineered to act as an information collection tool. It should be so simple to use that chats with the manufacturer are unnecessary. I may be cynical but the more difficult they make it to use the more personal data can be captured.

My take, from the UK, is that the item is clearly not fit for purpose after March next year. Go down to the local civil court and file a small claim - you have up to 6 years from purchase. Remember to sue the vendor, not Logitech, if enough people get on the back of PC World, John Lewis, Amazon etc perhaps Logitech will get the message from them.

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Of course, when they drop support for it then they no longer need remote access. Not a reason to make it stop working entirely.

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They count on people being lazy, and unfortunately here in the UK consumers are meek as sheep. We need proper class actions in the UK, and some real consumer organisations with some teeth.

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Given that this is a deliberate haqk that has not been requested or authorised by the owner/user, how come it doesn't fall under the Computer Misuse Act?

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Logitech make a habit of this - avoid

I had a perfectly good ( it was expensive enough ) webcam that Logitech refused to make work with the next version of Windows.

$200 just thrown away.

Spread the word, because until people are made aware and start voting with their wallets, companies will keep doing these dirty tricks.

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Re: Logitech make a habit of this - avoid

At the risk of starting a war, would the camera have worked with a Linux distribution?

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FAIL

Welcome to the future of landfill.

We've had old devices made of metal and wood and sweat and blood which were expensive and not all that efficient but lasted a long time.

Then we got cheap and cheerful. thing that worked quite well but didn't last as long and would wear out after a while.

Now we've got stuff that isn't that cheap and will stop working while they are still mechanically sound because the manufacturer can't be arsed to continue to support the software or they only work with a 24/7 link back to the hive.

I think we need by statute a minimum duration of software support. Say 5yr on small appliances and 10yr on cars and the core functions must continue without support or connectivity .

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This is where I'm an advocate of open-source.

I recognise that not all applications need, and in some cases should ever be open sourced.

But no consumer device should rely on an external service to the extent that it cannot be re-purposed at least.

Amazon echo etc? really just a speaker and microphone with a small computer attached. What happens if Amazon suspend the cloud service that runs it? Users should be able to connect to google's service instead, as an example.

The device and the service should be separate.

where open source can help here is even if the company providing the service drops it, then someone can 'fix' it.

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Re: This is where I'm an advocate of open-source....but it won't help you

This is where I'm an advocate of open-source.

Given the short lived nature of many Logitech peripheral devices I've owned, I doubt that having the source code would help you get much more life out of one of their products. In my experience, Logitech stuff isn't the cheapest, usually looks good, initially works well, comes nicely packaged, but has rubbish software, and mysteriously breaks or stops working properly after a couple of years. Its been a few years now, but I decided that I would consciously avoid all Logitech products (although since I'm with Wolfetone on the matter of home automation, I would never have bought anybody else's home hub either).

Think of it as "feature consolidation": they've rolled the "stops working after a couple of years" into the "rubbish software" element. From Logitech's point of view, they've integrated two downsides into one.

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Never do this

That could be an interesting solution. Do you want to obsolete your product earlier than, let's say, 5 or 10 years? Fine, you can do that, but you're obligated to make available ALL source code and tooling for compiling and installing the software on the device, so that customers can keep using and updating their devices. And no, "intellectual property" cannot be a reason for not releasing the code.

So a simple choice for vendors: you either support the products long-term, or release the code (and IP).

Seems fair to me.

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Re: Never do this

And no, "intellectual property" cannot be a reason for not releasing the code.

Against the backdrop of the EU's 50 & 70 year copyright rules, I suspect you're piddling in the wind. Software has for many years taken totally unwarranted advantage of copyright and licensing laws that were intended for completely different purposes. Sadly, I believe it is now too late to bring the piano lid down firmly on software "owner's" thieving fingers, much as that may be deserved.

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Pint

Re: Never do this

A sensible, reasonable, customer-friendly compromise solution.

And therefore, it will never happen.

Still, one can dream.

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Unnecessary cloud linkage

Completely unnecessary cloud linkage of products is one of those things that's going to come to a head one of these days. I have one of those Anova Culinary Precision Cookers, and earlier in the year they updated their app and all of a sudden, you had to create an account online and sign in to use the app, a requirement which they dropped on users with no warning or explanation. Bear in mind that all this app fundamentally does is set a temperature and a time on the cooker. They subsequently claimed it was something to do with security improvements and Google Home integration, but somehow requiring signing in to a cloud account in order to set a timer between two devices on my own LAN seems like more of a security hole than an improvement, maybe it's just me. Fortunately the thing can be used on manual, and as far as I can tell they can't do remote firmware updates, so they can't brick it. But this kind of thing just seems stupid.

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Re: Unnecessary cloud linkage

" Bear in mind that all this app fundamentally does is set a temperature and a time on the cooker. "

My cooker has things called buttons and dials for that.

Unless the app puts the food in the oven as well, its fucking pointless.

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Re: Unnecessary cloud linkage

There is a tiny bit of rationale to it, albeit not much. This is a sous vide cooker, and cooking times can be several hours (I've done a 24 hour pulled pork recipe). If you had a two hour cook, for example, you could prep it before you went to work, and then start it with the app two hours before you head home, and that would work even if you weren't sure beforehand what time you'd be heading home. Never done that, but you could.

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