back to article WTF is the Internet of Things and how insurers will use it against you

What is "the internet of things" and why should we care? Put simply, the internet of things is a catch-all term for ultra-low-power embedded devices that mostly consist of sensors and control systems. This market segment is expanding rapidly; devices falling into this category will soon outnumber all other types of computers …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Great Bu

    My fish has got a virus.......

    ...not sure if I should call the vet or update my firewall settings.....

  2. Sander van der Wal

    Solutions looking for a problem

    Wasn't the point of keeping fish that the activities related to caring for them are supposed to be fun, relaxing? And are therefore the things you do not want to automate at all?

    BTW, I understand the wish to automate certain things, but then the hobby is to automate things, not to take care of a fish tank. Now that it is finished, you get bored by it and want to replace it by something new to automate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solutions looking for a problem

      There are certain things you'd want to automate if possible - particularly with Marines - in order that you can spend more time enjoying the fish and less time arseing around testing, topping up, switching on and off lights, dosing, blah blah.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Solutions looking for a problem

      I enjoy watching my fish. Giving them treats. Playing games with them. Training them and scooping the younglings that inevitbaly occur into a breeder tank, raising them and getting them off to the store to be sold to another hobbiest.

      I enjoy cross-breeding and getting new variations going. I enjoy watching my plecos om-nom-nom algea off the side of the tank or the wriggling hive cory cruise along the bottom and terraform the tank. I like how the guppies come up and say "hi" when I walk by, or how the Betta puffs up and does his tubifex worms dance.

      I emphatically don't like losing fish to bad water conditions, testing, refilling the tank, making sure the snails have enough calcium or other bits of tedium. Automating that isn't a hobby, it's a tedious chore that I find bothersome...but less bothersome than keeping the water in parameters all the time.

      There's an old joke amongst aquarists: we don't keep fish, we keep water. I prefer to keep the fish.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Solutions looking for a problem

        @Trevor - I don't know what type of top up pump you're using but my previous marine setup had a top up (to maintain constant salinity) and as I was pre my current sump based filter the float switch had to be in the main tank. I had a turbo snail decide to sit on the float switch which dragged it down. Luckily I only had the top up pump on for about half an hour a day, so it didn't flood, but it was close. A float-switch guard of some sort is always beneficial!

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Solutions looking for a problem

          I only do freshwater - I like me my Corydoras! - so I get to escape some of the more miserable parts of the marine equation. I haven't built the pump system quite yet, but I do actually have most of the parts from an old automated marine mixer system (that was used with an RO water purifier that I also have yet to install). That will all get sorted when the project takes off in Jan.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            ** fishtank-app01.local PROBLEM alert - Food_Dispenser is CRITICAL **

            ***** Nagios *****

            Notification Type: PROBLEM

            Service: Food_Dispenser

            Host: fishtank-app01.local

            Address: 172.31.1.1

            State: CRITICAL

            Date/Time: Wed Nov 27 08:17:50 UTC 2013

            User:

            Comment:

            Additional Info:

            FOOD_DISPENSER CRITICAL - has it all gunked up again?

    3. Amorous Cowherder
      Holmes

      Re: Solutions looking for a problem

      Interesting you mention that. I do a lot of digital photography and obviously we benefit from some huge advances in technology, we have incredible light meters built into the cameras, camera sensors that can work in such low light that film cannot compete with. We can process images out in the field on a laptop. ( Before you think it, no Photoshop doesn't not magical make crap pictures in a quality art! Garbage in is still garbage out, just like IT! ).

      You'd think it can hardly be worth taking pictures as a set of computers does all the work, you'd be quite wrong. All this technology has freed so many people who wouldn't have delved into photography, to concentrate on the art of picture taking and production. I can spend far more time learning about such ephemeral things like composition and kinds of natural light I have to work in, rather than spend so much time having to learn the chemistry of developing a film and prints. I'm not saying for one second that digital is worse or better than film but that for me and countless others, digital has freed us to have more time to learn the art of picture taking.

      Technology has change photography to make it more appealing to a wider audience. It must apply to other interests as well.

      1. Tromos

        @Amorous Cowherder

        I beg to differ when it comes to photography. I now take the odd snap, but in the past with the outdated technology I used to take much more care about subject, framing and composition and other parameters, then break out the Patterson tank, chemicals, etc. and start the most satisfying part of the whole process in creating the image. Instant gratification isn't necessarily lasting gratification.

      2. Ted Treen

        Re: Solutions looking for a problem

        @Amorous Cowherder

        Almost ditto - but I'm still enamoured of both my 20yr old Nikon F4s bodies - hell, I also use my F-801s too. I shoot Fujichrome and send my exposed films off. If I want to get all arty-farty, then I have a Coolscan V - but I don't feel the urge to go digital quite yet. I'm due to retire (or more likely, semi-retire) in early 2015: maybe I'll relearn B&W processing as I have fond memories of darkrooms. I'd do it now, but I just really don't have the time.

    4. Jim 59

      Re: Solutions looking for a problem

      Bang on. Automate your bank statements. Set the fish tank to manual.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    "did you leave the stove on before you went out"?

    Well, if you did, you're a pillock, and hiding the fact is insurance fraud anyway. Why should people be exempt from that just because they don't have an electronic device tattling on them?

    Otherwise, I think you underestimate the resistance to such things. Just sheer tech support for junk like that isn't worth the advantages it could give. This is why nobody bothers with those remote-reporting smart energy meters - the advantages given (to turn your heating on early once in a blue moon) just don't compensate for even learning the interface, let alone all the other junk.

    And, sorry, but electronic control is a typical geek thing. Sure, at one point if I'd had the money I'd have wired up the fish tank to the Internet when I was younger. Fact is, now I'd rather NOT have to be doing my own tech support at home in such an unusual, custom and specialist area. And automated pump control? Hope you have complete faith in that, because your insurers are going to love a claim for "my fish tank overfilled because of a bug in a piece of software that I wrote"...

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Indeed

      I really dont get wireless light bulbs - they have no need to be. Infact if you wanted a light bulb that could turn itself on and off when reacting to your prescense all it needs is a IR sensor and a light sensor. Both of which have been around for donkeys years. The fact that no-one has made a killing selling them already suggests the market doesnt exist......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what's more

      It has been proven time and again that when people can get away with no longer thinking for themselves, they will forget about it. If I know I would never need to remember if I left the stove on, I will probably never check it again. Of course there will be problems whenever you are someplace where the stove doesn't automatically check itself, but the biggest problem is people will get even lazier.

      Also, I find it interesting that you use the fishtank as an example, as with all the sensors that will soon be surrounding us, will it be us owning the fishtank, or living inside one?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Well, if you did, you're a pillock

      No, just human. That's why stoves have various safety features. Being human should not count as "negligence".

      Tell me, do you have a safety checklist beside your door with tags to prove that things are on/off as required?

      If not, WHY NOT! Failure to do so is negligence! CLAIM DENIED!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

      "And, sorry, but electronic control is a typical geek thing."

      This (*) pretty much hits the nail on the head. The "Internet of Things" hype has long struck me as little more than an unconvincing attempt by its proponents to post-rationalise (as much to themselves) their geekish technology-for-the-sake-of-it obsession and "Gadget Show"-style shiny boys' toys fetishism meets control freakery.

      The supposed advantages in making our lives easier will be offset by the addition of another layer of complexity.

      The fact that all this- if it takes off- plays into the desires of corporate and governmental interests to pry into every aspect of our lives for their own reasons is just the unpleasantly-flavoured icing on the cake. Accuse me of being paranoid if you like, but if the technology is used enough for it to become normalised, such intrusiveness will gradually become acceptable and then required (**) until (as always happens) politicians- almost all inherently control-freakish regardless of their party colours- enshrine it in law.

      (*) Along with that pesky "solution in search of a problem" criticism that keeps popping up... because it's true.

      (**) Via increasingly passive-aggressive and disingenuous measures akin to how companies couch charging for a printed bill as a "saving" for getting it online, then once the latter has become the norm, don't bother pretending any more.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

        Everything is "a geek thing" until it is so useful that it is an "everyone thing".

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

          Computers man, what are they good for? Only nerds use them.

          1. moiety

            Re: Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

            I don't think it'll happen...not in the near future anyway. You would have to pay for; install; configure and maintain said gadgetry all for a (probably minuscule) rebate on your insurance. For many, many people this would be expensive black magic that they couldn't really see the point of; whereas the people who do know about this stuff wouldn't be totally comfortable about broadcasting private data to a 3rd party.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

              Uhhhh, no. You're absolutely wrong. The insurance company will provide you with a pre-canned device that simply uses DHCP internally (and/or IPv6) and then sends it's information out to the cloud. There would *be* no user configurable anything. Just like OnStar.

              Any information you, the user, get about the sensors would be through the insurance company's cloud portal. In fact, the insurance company would probably just be reselling/rebadging software/hardware made by a Silicon Valley IoT startup.

              Did you miss the past twenty years of consumer electronics development, design and dispersal? TiVo. Spycam TVs. Wifi Routers. ADSL modems. Security systems and cameras. OnStar. And on and on and on and on...

      2. peterplys

        Re: Tech-fetishism meets control freakery meets Big Brother

        There was a time when the internet and mobil phones were considered tech-fetischism. For some reason both turned into commodities. I suppose it all comes down to a question off value-add and the sum of pros and cons. I guess that in a few years time we'll all be talking about connectivity (adding value) rather than whether or not things are part of the internet-of-things.

  4. Pete 2

    Reality check

    > ... already in homes: they range from network addressable lightbulbs to the bleeding-edge biosensors and medical equipment

    If I might be so bold. NONE of these things appear in "homes". There might be one or two examples of one or two things that appear in one or two technology-sampler buildings in a few of the world's most advanced counties. But thats all. And that's all it will ever be,

    Most people neither want nor care about making their houses intelligent. Most people just want some basic stuff that does what it's told to: when you press the button to tell it. No options, arguments, further questions or "This app has crashed and set you house on fire. OK" dialogs. Just simple, no-questions-asked obedience.

    So let's leave off about the Internet of Things. Maybe one day in the distant future there will be some small uptake of already built-in devices in new homes. One thing we learned from trying to manage the vast array of telco nodes and devices is that it's very, very hard and is a massive block to the adoption of standards. So the chances of the "average user" being able to use or configure some IoT devices is about as likely as them learning and using ASN.1 and BER.

    Stop reading the hype and forget it all. A fish tank with some sensors and maybe an internet connection doesn't cut it - and is a poor substitute for having a reliable system (that doesn't need remote monitoring) in the first place.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Reality check

      Bang on. I live in the UK, which is allegedly part of the first world, yet I don't even have double glazing. Why on Earth would I need an networked light switch, oven, fish tank, toilet brush etc???

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Reality check

        I can see the point of a networked fish tank, otherwise you can't really go anywhere without finding someone to look after your fish, and maybe they'll decide they're looking a bit thin and throw in a couple of extra pinches of food or the water's too cold on this fine winter morning and put a bit of hot water in the tank.

        I can see the point of being able to start the oven if you're first in but you don't know what time you're coming home.

        I can see the point of being able to set up lights switching on and off if you're on holiday for a while.

        As always they're just tools, what you do with them is up to you.

    2. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: Reality check

      For the most part I agree; "Most people neither want nor care about making their houses intelligent"

      No .... most people don't give a shit one way or the other

      What people care about is simpler & easier. I don't want to HAVE to program each and every bloody light bulb in the house, I want a smart system that can figure out for itself... when he walks in the door at night he normally turns on these lights, so the system would then start doing that automatically

      What I don't want is a system where I have to talk to a thrice damned speech recognition system,

      <me> Ok House turn on lights,

      <house> Do you mean turn on living room lights? Yes to proceed, no to cancel

      <Me> *sigh* YES,

      <House> Ok cancelling selection,

      <ME> "Aaaarrrggghhhh",

      <House> OK turning off heating.

      Until you can improve on the UI of a simple light switch, these things are doomed to fail

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Making 1+1=3 ?

    I would suggest that technology goes in bursts. Massive advances, then a hiatus as people start to find weird and wonderful ways of mixing it up. Case in hand, is a combination of my home server, and a WiFi router. Who would have thought that by setting up a ping to my smartphones WiFi IP address, I would have a crude - but effective - presence detector. Now, my CCTV setup is switched in automatically, if there's no response to a PING after 2 minutes.

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      Re: Making 1+1=3 ?

      That's a great idea, and one which I think I will steal very soon.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Making 1+1=3 ?

      Did you check the patent status of this technique before implementing it?

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Making 1+1=3 ?

        Not really, it seemed so bleeding obvious ... just a tiny bash script which runs on a cron ...

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Making 1+1=3 ?

          Alas, you are no longer living in the entrepreneur-friendly 19th Century :(

          Even though you may have no intention of marketing it, do not be surprised if you receive a patent-troll 'Cease-and-Desist" letter from somewhere. Probably America....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: security by ping

      I can see quite a few flaws in that idea.

      Does your smartphone have a static IP?

      Does it have a low-power mode that switches off WiFi?

      I hope you don't find you've been burgled and then realise that all the action happened in the first two minutes, such as the actual breaking and entering!

      @ Dodgy Geezer: One cannot patent a technique.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: security by ping

        *You* said security by ping not me. I didn't say I was using it as a security measure. My experience of CCTV is that it's not a deterrent, and it's never of any use to the police in getting any stolen property back - let alone catching the scrotes.

        I just happen to have a CCTV camera hooked up to my server so I can play around with Zoneminder. I did toy with the idea of sending an email or SMS when the phone was out of ping range, but it was easier to issue a "service zoneminder start" command, than trawl through the sendmail or bluetooth manuals.

        Yes, my Smartphone has a fixed IP - or rather my router gives it a fixed IP. And regarding any power saving mode (which it does have) that's kind of a failsafe anyway. There's no downside to the camera being activated erroneously, so it's a risk I'm managing to live with.

        It irritates me when people fail to account for all factors before picking fault. As a 100% reliable presence detector, is this suitable ? No. As something cobbled together with what was lying around to illustrate how we can always find new tricks for old dogs is it of interest ? Yes.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    ..proactively solve environmental issues for my fish..

    You might want to cut back on the joss sticks and whale song music.

  7. The BigYin

    DMZ and firewalled to hell

    Any device which I did not install, I do not have the ability to fully configure and for which I do not have access to the source; will find itself off on a DMZ and behind a very strict firewall (if it is even permitted to connect).

    I cite LG as one reason why.

    When the system if fully under my control - OK, I might find that advantageous. When it is under the control of a third party - screw that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DMZ and firewalled to hell

      but..but.. DMZ is the opposite of firewalled! Does not compute!

      1. The BigYin

        Re: DMZ and firewalled to hell

        Isolated/DMZ/Firewalled/Locked-down/Whatever.

        Sorry - didn't really get much sleep last night.

      2. Adam Foxton

        Re: DMZ and firewalled to hell

        You'd put sensors like that in the DMZ so that they're outside your network. To see anything happening on your network it'd have to pass through the firewall.

        So something in the DMZ is firewalled off from your private network, though still able to connect to the Internet to provide services and call back to it's masters.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Be very afraid

    The "internet of all things" is scary. It's the NSA's/GCHQ's wet dream until it be becomes sentient.

    See: Demon Seed (1977) and Colossus; The Forbin Project (1970)

    We're doomed, all doomed I say !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Down with this sort of thing.

    Oh, unless it's directly useful or wanted by me. I'd love to control certain parts of my brewing over the internet for example. In that sort of case then: Yes! finally, more things on the internet.

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    The way of the future...

    ...Did you leave the stove on and the leave the house? Did you use the wrong kind of toilet paper the last time you used the washroom...

    We seem to have moved invisibly from a society where infrastructure services were purely for our benefit, into a world where we are beginning to be seen as Government property.

    In Victorian times, it was the job of the sewers to carry foul water away, and if people started using non-dissoluble paper, it was the job of the sewer designers to alter their services to cope. Nowadays they seem happier to leave the Victorian infrastructure with no investment, and force us to alter our behaviour to fit in with the service they deign to provide.

    Water is actually a good example. There has been a considerable increase of population in the South-East of England over the last 30 years. Engineers have stated that around 8 new reservoirs need to be built to provide for this. But DECC and the water companies have said that NONE will be built - instead, everyone will be required to use 20% less water, and water meters will be installed to enforce this.

    I can't help feeling that the Internet of Things is part of this process - it's not being developed for the benefit of customers, but to enable complete day-to-day control of our lives...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The other side of the coin...

      On the other hand if we didn't have so many inconsiderate bastards who think it is their right to be as obnoxious as possible at all times then the issues you mention would not exist.

      Put another way, if people could act reasonably, such as by not wasting water and not putting nasty things down the drains, then services would be cheaper and better for everyone. Monitoring would be a less attractive business case to consider.

      You see, this is the difference between being an ignorant tosser who thinks that other people should provide everything for his benefit, and actually having the intelligence to understand that in the real world we are subject to such annoying things as the weather, natural environment, laws of physics and so on.

      1. JP19

        Re: The other side of the coin...

        "such as by not wasting water"

        Around 800,000 gallons of water literally falls from the sky for every person in the country every year. It is also 100% recyclable.

        I want to use some of it to flush piss down the toilet.

        Most of the water company costs are overheads, economising on water usage and especially fitting meters just makes if more expensive. You end up paying about the same and with a house smelling of piss.

        What economising on water does is remove the need to build a few more reservoirs (not expensive - they last for ages) but mostly removes the need for decades of public enquiries listening to objections from NIMBYs and eco green tossers.

        Water isn't precious, 4/5ths of the globe is kms deep in it. In a modern civilised society it would be plentiful. In this society of political whimps and eco green tossers we are supposed to scrimp and save and make do and smell of piss because, err, because that is what eco green tossers and spineless politicians who appease them think everyone should be doing.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: The other side of the coin...

          Water certainly is precious if your only source of it is Fossil Water. Remove more water from the ground than natural recharge can deal with and Bad Things happen.

  11. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Why do we want the internet of things?

    We don't.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

      And I also don't want to call the internet of things the internet of things.

      Stupid, lazy name. Unless computers etc are NOT things, then it has already been an internet of things since day one.

      Can I think of something better? Probably not.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

        How about the Internet of Pings?

        Or the Internet of Blings? (It checks your total net worth, and projects it onto your forehead.)

        I'll stop now.

        1. VinceH Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

          Internet of Mings - the part of the internet providing porn for ugly people.

          Internet of Flings - the generic name for dating websites.

      2. Billy 8

        Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

        I've seen "The Thingternet" being used for it :-)

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

          Drop the 'g' to make it the 'thinternet' (which I think rolls better off the tongue) and that probably works quite well; thin being shortened in this case from thing, as well as giving an indication about the amount of bandwidth these things are likely to use (individually).

          1. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Why do we want the internet of things?

            No good I'm afraid. Up in Yorkshire they've been calling it th'internet for years now

  12. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    LAN of Things?

    Trevor, I am not an aquarist. I understand the drive to automate certain mundane tasks, but can you explain how an internet connection is essential for that? As opposed, say, to a command and control server (read: PC?) that, I imagine, someone like you has already? Did you mean home LAN connectivity by any chance?

    Will the future products default to providing genuinely useful functionality inside a firewall?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: LAN of Things?

      Simple: Big Data Analytics. Once my test rig is done I can work with hardware providers to grind down the price of the sensor kits and start distributing them along with a Rasp Pi and some appropriate software at the local fish shop. A simple setup involving entering some information into the configuration webpage by the aquarist and they'll have this thing *paf* ready to go.

      The units will fire their information up to one of my servers which, in turn, will provide analytics, alerting and so forth to end users. More critically, we'll be able to provide real-time water quality mapping of the entire city's water distribution network. This will enable us to provide herd immunity to other members of the hobby.

      To an aquarist, the water that comes out of the taps is of critical importance. Water in the taps can contain ammonia (bad) or nitrite (worse!) or other nasty chemicals. They can enter the distribution network at the treatment plant or anywhere along the way. Identifying breaches in the distribution network and getting the city to respond is critical, otherwise we have to do a lot of pre-procesing of our water (or chemical naturalizing of Bad Things) before adding it to fish tanks.

      With my sensor suite firing all it's data up to the cloud we'll be able to see this in real time, feed that information back to the city and even send out alerts to aquarists that are likely to be affected by water quality issues even if they don't have the sensor package. As long as we know where they live, we can say "there's a quality issue upstream of you in the water distribution network."

      We can also start doing science on a scale that we haven't previously been able to do before. If we get individuals with sensor packages to agree to self-report when fish illness or deaths occur in their tanks we can start gathering hard, empirical data on how different water parameters affect various species. At the moment a large quantity of this type of information available to aquarists is simply conjecture, or "well these parameters mostly work for similar species, they should work for this one..."

      The data collected at the local level enables real-time monitoring and minor proactive environmental maintenance. At scale, however, the data collected becomes absolutely transformative, enabling us to do things we simply couldn't do any other way.

      1. Gordon861

        Re: LAN of Things?

        I don't understand why something similar to this isn't done with modern cars.

        If a company like Ford (or similar) could get every car driver to upload data regarding the running of their engines. It could allow them to tweak engine management systems depending on real world data instead of just doing a 'one size fits Europe' setup.

        There is also no reason why the key couldn't remap the system instead of having to go back to a dealer for the work too.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: LAN of Things?

        OK, I was about to ask the same question and I get the big data part of the answer, but...

        Isn't this still a LAN of things, talking to a *conventional* (not especially low-powered) computer that aggregates the data for your house and then itself takes that data onto the internet. The difference, as I see it, is that the aggregating "PC" has some chance of being beefy enough to include appropriate security in its software stack, whereas a device that is powered by microscopic fuel cell breathing passing farts has no such chance.

        It is going to be important that the internet does *not* see all the things in your house, but only the aggregated view that you choose to provide. An internet of things is as much of a design error as was (say) ActiveX controls in the 1990s.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: LAN of Things?

          Using an RPI for the prototype is mostly convenience and laziness. Ultimately I'd like to move down to an M3 or somesuch. Just enough to poll the sensors and pump the data to the cloud.

          As to "design error" stuff...I wrote about that a while back.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          @Ken Hagan

          A lot of IoT devices will be designed badly and be a terrible idea that will lead to all sorts of problems. No question. I've written about that before.

          Some will be so simply they can't be "hacked" in the sense you're thinking about.

          Others will indeed be fully fledged, properly designed, well defended computers in their own right that are low power enough to live off ambient energy. Today you need to be little more than a sensor, a radio and some minimalistic logic to be a backscatter device. Two years form now expect full-bore ARM devices to live in that category.

          Hell, even the "dumb sensors" are often "smart" enough to have IPv6 tunneling that they then don't report to a computer on your LAN, they report directly to the cloud. Certainly other "internet of things" devices such as the internet-connected smoke detectors don't report in any way to a local server or PC. They just find network access and report themselves to a SaaS app hosted on Amazon.

          You are still thinking like and edge-defending IPv4 sysadmin, sir. You are dating yourself and demonstrating that you don't really understand what IPv6 is going to "enable"* or how it will completely change our networks - and our lives - irreparably.

          *you'll note that I'm not exactly in the camp of "IPv6 is a good thing" specifically because of what IPv6 "enables". It's great if you're an ivory tower douchepopsicle with an unlimited budget, but the ramifications for end users and SMBs were not only not thought through, they were actively dismissed with extreme prejudice when brought up.

          As is typical for ivory tower douchepopsicles, the response of IPv6 designers and evangelists is that end users simply need to get better at network security, understand IT more and spend more and more money on security product, router, etc. There is a reality disconnect there that is going to be a goddamned nightmare to deal with as the Internet of Things explodes and there is a reason I'm getting out of IT before that proverbial encounters the circulation device.

          We will all be paying dearly for the arrogance and shortsightedness of IPv6 designers for the two generations, at least. But shhhhhh. Don't talk about it. Otherwise people will call you names on Twitter.

      3. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: LAN of Things?

        Umm, Trever, you need to either get out more, or less. I'm not sure which. More power to you!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fish tank

    "I'm wiring up my fish tank to the internet. The newest incarnation will automatically top itself up when the water gets low, feed the fish and other mundane tasks."

    ...

    You lost your marbles. And the plot. Why did you bother to buy the fish tank in the first place, if it can run autonomously?

    ah, I see, looks pretty! Well, get a large screen and an effing screen saver, much less hassle than the internet of all fish tanks :(

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: fish tank

      You know nothing, Jon Snow.

    2. Smileyvirus

      Re: fish tank

      Seriously have you never read one of Trevor's articles before, of course he's going to wire up his fish tank.

  14. Steven Raith

    Universal sensor/actuator pack please...

    I live in a scabby flat with a single gas fire in it for heat. About once a month I'm laying in bed at 1am and I'll think 'did I turn the fire off'.

    If I can check, and remedy that with a few clickity-swipes on the phone, I'd buy that for a dollar.

    But not much more. And I don't think there'd be much analytic value in it, unless they discovered that this happened most often when I'm drunk, which wouldn't really require much in the way of big data processing....

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Benefits of IoT

    IoT is really no more than an extension of existing remote control and monitoring. Some will see the benefits in it while others will not.

    The IoT light bulb is a poor example because it doesn't solve a problem most people have; it's easier to ridicule than praise. Though, for people who like to switch lights on to pretend they are in when they are out, it may be the ideal solution.

    The IoT toaster and IoT percolator are even worse as examples mostly being geekery for the sake of it. An IoT fridge sounds great but in practice can usually do no more than report its temperature.

    An IoT thermostat as an example may make more immediate sense, especially if wanting to add one and not install wiring or anything more than a mains adapter. We already have wireless thermostats and putting them on the local net or internet is simply an extension of that. Not everyone will want web access to their heating system but if working away from home longer or coming back sooner than expected the ability to adjust heating remotely to adjust for that may have some appeal.

    There have been times when I have realised I have 'forgotten to set the VCR' or forgot to change channel being recorded and it would be nice to be able to rectify that from afar. IoT could fix that if I considered it something I wanted fixed.

    An IoT front door lock is not without risks and security issues but sometimes one would like to ask a friend to drop round and pick up something forgotten without having to ensure they have a key first or giving then 'any time' access. Most internal security access doors are wired or dumb but no reason they couldn't be IoT devices offering better access control.

    IoT is a fairly new concept and we are only just venturing into how it could be used or made useful. There's no good or bad about it, it's just another tool which can be put to use. Ultimately those who can see a use case for IoT will go with it and those who can't won't.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Benefits of IoT

      "There have been times when I have realised I have 'forgotten to set the VCR' or forgot to change channel being recorded and it would be nice to be able to rectify that from afar. IoT could fix that if I considered it something I wanted fixed."

      That is also a solved problem if you have Sky or a Virgin Media Tivo (Other Tivo boxes may also do it) It's a not a stretch to imagine Freeview DVRs can, or already have a similar function.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Benefits of IoT

        Before it was "a solved problem" was it "just for nerds"?

        I'm curious, at what point does fear of the unholy moral turpitude brought about by the Internet of Things give way to the realisation that this is not the future come to change us but a reality we are in the midst of living today?

  16. Jim 59

    Internet of things = success with women

    Apparently chicks love this kinda stuff.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Internet of things = success with women

      Yeah Jim. Good luck with that one

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm. Little bit far fetched. And lets face we dont *need* any of it. I've managed to lve for 40 odd years without any of it. I think I'll live my last 40 odd without all of this bullshit.

    I've always been a tech head and have been ahead of the curve for years, now, I have no interest in what others want to develop. In fact I think its rather sad.

    And to the auth., half the fun in keeping fish is their care. Pointless if sensors are doing the job *you* should be doing.

    Tech is not the be all and end all in life. Yes integrate it for convenience but you have to know where that line is!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Two questions:

      1) Who are you to determine what "fun" I derive (or don't) from caring for my aquatic friends?

      2) Who are you to determine where "the line" is regarding home automation?

      Just because you find moral virtue or personal entertainment in mundane chores does not mean your life perspective does - or should - be the basis of someone else's life choices.

      If a task can be automated for less than the cost of my time that would be spend on said task then automating that task is pragmatic. That time could thusly be spent on productive tasks that produce income, getting me closer to my goal of semi-retiring and writing my science fiction trilogy.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      we dont *need* any of it

      To be brutally honest, I don't need this PC to play Kerbal Space Program, nor do I even need this website. It's not job-related or anything.

      It's simply a lot more convenient for my computer to control my garage door and my thermostat.

  18. Demelza

    Tumble Drying

    What I want is this. I want to be able to put a load of wet washing in my tumble dryer in the evening. I want the dryer to sense the weight and how wet they are, and work out how much power is needed to dry them. I want the dryer to put out a tender saying "I need 2kWh supplied at the rate of 3kW anytime between now and 8am tomorrow". I want energy suppliers to be able to bid for this demand, and for my tumble dryer to pick the best offer. I want the energy suppliers to be able to base their offers on the weather forecast, so if the wind is forecast to pick up at 4am they can earmark some of that power for my drying.

    When this works properly, we will have an internet of things. Fixed price energy, or the crudeness of Economy7 mean that we need VASTLY more generating power than if pricing were based instantaneously on supply and demand.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Tumble Drying

      Sounds like a good idea. I like it. When you build it, I'll buy one. I bet you could get solid venture capital backing if you could produce a working prototype, even if it read "dummy data". All you'd need then is to bring it to a VC who could provide the funding for a production run and help you establish the business connections to feed local power data.

      I'd bet you could make a mint off that idea. If you fancy making a real go of it, let me know. I know people who might know people who could help.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Tumble Drying

      ...I want the dryer to put out a tender saying "I need 2kWh supplied at the rate of 3kW anytime between now and 8am tomorrow". I want energy suppliers to be able to bid for this demand, and for my tumble dryer to pick the best offer. I want the energy suppliers to be able to base their offers on the weather forecast, so if the wind is forecast to pick up at 4am they can earmark some of that power for my drying....

      I don't. Because:

      1) Wind power is a very bad thing for a Grid. See this PhD thesis: http://erc.ucd.ie/files/theses/Eleanor%20Denny%20-%20A%20Cost-Benefit%20Analysis%20of%20Wind%20Power.pdf

      2) I do not want to have the infrastructure tell me when to use energy. I want to use energy when I want it. At a low cost all the time. Neither of those is possible with wind, but they ARE possible in many other ways...

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Tumble Drying

        Let me guess, you sup tea with Anthony Watt?

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Tumble Drying

          No, actually. I don't think you'll find that paper in any of the activist sites, because it's a technical one, a doctorate thesis from Trinity College, Dublin, and nothing to do with politics at all. I'm just an engineer who knows something about running a grid because I have traded energy for a living...

          I think the paper gives a very good indication of the actual pressures on power generation plant. Note that, at idealistic best assumptions, wind power produces NEGATIVE benefits at about 30% penetration - at worst, it goes negative at 5%. In reality, 15-20% is the practical point at which adding more wind INCREASES the costs of your energy rather than decreasing them. And we're planning 40%.

          I would have thought you might like to read it , rather than trying to damn an unread paper by false attribution...

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Tumble Drying

            I have, actually. Several times, as a matter of fact. I also know that it has descendents and responses in which numerous people have looked at how to mitigate and even take advantage of the stresses placed upon a grid by wind power.

            It is Watts-like deniers and NIMBYs who generally wield that paper (and several others) and say "we should not install Wind power!" They also snub their noses and decry any attempts to enter into evidence other papers that show we actually can cope with wind power just fine, with only minor alterations to our existing grid...not even needing a smart grid to do it.

            I hold those people in unbelievable contempt. Right up there with the "fission is bad because radiation" slanted-forhead crowd. Science isn't waving around one paper and screaming for a halt to progress. It is a process of learning, understanding and a continual search for knowledge and the truth.

            So if, based on your comment, I lumped you in with the drooling idiot deniers of the world, terribly sorry. If I was correct in my snap assessment, well...sorry retracted.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something to consider...

    I've built an aquarium controller which does auto topup and water change as well as monitors ph, ORP, conductivity and dissolved oxygen. I strongly suggest that if you automate any tank to include auto topup or water change you MUST plumb an overflow into the system somewhere (normally in the sump) and have a hose from there to the nearest drain. Otherwise its a matter of when, not if, you'll have an overflow because your code has caused the controller to hang or one of the sensors fails when the topup pump is running.

    If you think having a water overflow is disastrous, I met a guy the other day who was getting out of the hobby. I asked him why, turns out one side of his 900 liter reef tank decided to fall off.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Something to consider...

      I agree. Fortunately, if you look at the picture, I've got a sink right beside the aquarium. Plumbing the overflow system into the sump should be pretty simply. The primary tank's overflow has an auto shut-off, so it can't simply empty itself into the sump.

      I also think multiple sensors for the top-up system have to exist. Redundancy!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something to consider...

      There is also the option of top up from a limited reservoir. When I used an auto top up, I had a 10 litre source, 10 liters is messy, if it goes wrong, but not the end of the world.

  20. SirDigalot

    insurers do this

    At least for cars - modern cars especially in big claims

    they check the little black ( yellow?) box for the last few seconds of activity I am pretty sure if you have onstar the microphones all click on too ( though the last words recorded were probably yelled DIE INSURANCE AGENT DIEEE!!!)

    Progressive (!?) insurance has snapshot, which screws up your vehicle diagnostics monitors your driving style, speed, times driven, braking etc and calculates your insurance from that ( it was also bull-hooky because it said I hit the brake 5 times in 2 seconds while travelling 70 miles and hour and NOT dropping any speed - oh there went my "discount" )

    I thought about the automation of the fishtank, but it seemed like too much hard work for something that took maybe 5 minutes of my life, (well ok 30 if I was doing a partial water change) the rest of it basically I ignored the only time I had issues was when some unknown was introduced... usually from the fish store, it was fun watching the babies get eaten by the adults though - ahh the circle of life!)

    about the only thing I used to use any sort of automation for was the webcam pointed at the fridge to catch the kid when she raided it then denied it ( though the constant weight gain was a sort of give away) even that was basic motion capture, email when triggered

    I am really looking forward to the EMP/solar flare apocalypse

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: insurers do this

      I have a 30 gal breeder tank, a 50 gal display tank and a 180 gal office tank with a 75 gal sump.

      A 25% water change on the 180 + 75 gal tank is more than "a few minutes." That's the better part of an hour's work. Add in testing for the various parameters and I'm probably taking 2 hours out of every two week cycle just for tank maintenance. Being generous and saying I miss two weeks for holidays, over the course of a year, that adds up to 50 hours. That's more than a pay cheque's worth of time spent on maintenance!

      I estimate the prototype sensor package and automation setup to be $1000. Including estimated development time of 20 hours the whole rig would pay for itself in about six months. Estimated lifespan is somewhere on the order of 5 years.

      Makes solid financial sense to me.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: insurers do this

        "that adds up to 50 hours. That's more than a pay cheque's worth of time spent on maintenance!"

        On the other hand, some would not value their hobby or spare time in terms or work/employment remuneration and see that time as a relaxing or zen-like change from the daily grind and may even value that "unpaid", "unproductive" time far more highly than spending an extra hour at work.

        Different strokes etc.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: insurers do this

          Zen comes from watching the fish swim about happily. Not from fighting with hoses and buckets and watchign the fish flail about in a traumatised fashion because WTF BUCKET OF WATER ON MY HEAD.

  21. Roo

    pH sensors...

    I'd love to know if you find a good solution for pH measurement that doesn't require servicing/calibration every month. :)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: pH sensors...

      I got permission to run the whole development cycle of the sensor package as an SPB set, so I'll be doing articles about every aspect of development on El Reg. It looks like there's a fair amount of interest in the thing amongst the readers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pH sensors...

      I haven't used their products for long enough to test their claims, but Atlas scientific claim their pH sensor and probe combination can go a year between calibration. https://www.atlas-scientific.com/product_pages/embedded/ph.html

  22. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

    Actually, rather than stick sensors all over the place in lightbulbs and so on, there is a case for centralising the sensors into one unit, and simply moving that unit around as needed. So, you start off with the basic kit of a house computer & server, plus wifi, plus some sort of robotic pet. All the sensors you need, you stick into what will probably end up looking like a rotund robotic kitten.

    That way you have a platform to move the sensors around the place, combined with something that people actually quite like to interact with, and which can double up as a night-time fire sensor and watch-dog of sorts (with most of the smart processing being done over wifi by the base computer as the kitten sits on its wireless charge-pad acting more or less like a webcam).

  23. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Progressive Insurance here in the U.S. is doing this.

    They have a tool called "Snapshot" which I think plugs into your cigarette lighter in your car. Using GPS technology it monitors how fast and far you drive, etc. and reports that back to Progressive. The idea being that if you have good driving habits then Progressive cuts you some deal on your auto insurance.

    Thanks, but I'd rather keep some modicum of privacy.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To the deniers....

    It's not like my TV's ever going to be connected to the internet or anything as stupid as that. Next you'll be telling me there will be a motion tracking camera on top reacting to how I view the TV - ha that's laughable. I bet in your paranoia you'll be telling me my TV is feeding data back to LG on what buttons I'm pressing and what I'm watching - ridiculous!

    I bet you are the sort of fruit loop that thinks all this data I put into Google and Facebook is hacked by the NSA.

    This tech is coming, and it's going to be a real issue to deal with....

  25. TRT Silver badge

    Fish tanks on the internet...

    is not new. Had several aquaria here (work, a big university) hooked up for years, mate.

    http://www.ysi.com/index.php

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Fish tanks on the internet...

      I know others do it. I'd love to create something simple, reproducible and maybe even commercialisable. If you know who did your tanks, I'd love a chance to chat with 'em..

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Fish tanks on the internet...

        The internet stuff and water monitoring was made by YSI, linked above. The tanks are just standard rank mounted jobs for bulk fish breeding.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Fish tanks on the internet...

          Cheers. I'll reach out to them and see if perhaps my ideas and their technology can be combined!

  26. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Wireless thermostat & garage door

    I bought a 3M wireless thermostat, which actually has a published API and an internal HTTP server & DHCP client. It comes with a cloudy app that requires a connection to the manufacturer, so I wrote an Android app that communicates directly. It's on the Market if you look for my name.

    The actual front-panel UI is so crap, I don't know how to use it other than bumping the current temperature up or down a degree or so. I have to use the app to set up the temperature schedule and the current time.

    It's really quite nice to be able to wake up out of a snooze, grab the phone, and bump the temp as you need without even taking off your covers. It's also nice to be able to set the schedule to actually reflect your usage. Most scheduling thermostats are such a PITA they don't get used.

    I also set up my garage door so it opens when I get home. The phone sees my home network as I pull up, sends a command to my PC (which is on 24x7 anyway) and the PC sends a command to toggle a relay. The opener itself is 1978-vintage. I have the reverse when I leave. When the PC has been primed and the phone drops off the network, it closes the door. I do have a photocell so that it SMSes me if it doesn't actually close in a set period.

    It's geeky but quite handy.

    Other than a internet-accessable garage security cam (which a friend has, but I don't) I really can't think of anything else that needs automating in my house.

  27. paul481

    Where can I buy such cheap Bluetooth sensors, in my case a mains energy monitor ?

    @trevor. A lot of your article mentions cheap low power sources of sensors. Can you list some data on where to get them ? Do you know where I can buy a low-cost Bluetooth version of a 13 Amp adapter I bought from Robert Dyas shop in the High Street for £10, that measures the power, current, voltage taken by the appliance plugged in ? I would like a similar power consumption monitor, that, unlike the simple Robert Dyas 'adapter', can also log consumption over days/months, either in its own memory (preferred, to buffer at least a weeks data with smart granularity ideally to a few minutes of step changes in consumption) or by sending the data over Bluetooth to my smartphone or laptop.

    I have been long interested in IoT but each article I have read does not describe any practical low-cost system. Many articles talk about Zigbee or similar, but when I inquire from makers, am told they cost a lot of money, and can only be 'afforded' by our Energy Companies in their smartmeters, which I doubt the end payer will have any control over.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Where can I buy such cheap Bluetooth sensors, in my case a mains energy monitor ?

      Follow some of the links in the article! One of them leads you here: http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/wireless/resources/articles/comparing-low-power-wireless.html, which is DigiKey. This has a list of information about the different types of wireless gear available...and DigiKey sells it all.

      The lowest of the low-powered Bluetooth and WiFi stuff is currently made by Broadcom.

  28. btrower

    What is with all the luddites

    The Internet of Things is an emergent thing that can't be stopped even if we want to. Technical people are in a better position to judge these things than most. I am surprised at the naysayers.

    All technology goes through a 'solution looking for a problem' phase. Why that is perceived as a damning criticism says more about human politics than it does about practicality. My observation is that people making such utterances don't understand at all what is under discussion.

    The attachment of every state machine to the network is inevitable. From mundane matters such as on/off states for light bulbs to save energy and increase service life to more esoteric things like the co-ordination of data from disparate state machines, network attachment makes even the dumbest stuff incredibly smart.

    A heating system attached to the network can provide sense data to a much smarter system that has access to all kinds of other data that can make the heating system not just responsive to its thermostat, but responsive to the state of the household, its surrounding community, the relative costs of energy, spot demands, etc. Statistical data derived from collections of systems can give indications of impending failures (we wrote a system to diagnose impending failure in phone lines in the 1990s and it worked -- this can be done), sub-optimal behavior and other things besides.

    Someone was worried that an insurer, knowing you made a mistake, could deny insurance. In fact, insurance could become both cheaper and much more comprehensive. The cost of insurance goes down as the ability to assess risk goes up. The ability to have ongoing assessment of the state of an insurable thing not only makes the risk more predictable, it reduces the risk and hence the cost.

    There are extreme privacy and safety issues that need to be addressed, but they are addressable and would need to be addressed anyway. The sooner we have a 'heads up' of what the new world could look like the sooner we can make sure it ends up looking the way we want it to.

    Attaching state machines and sensors to the network allows each sensor to provide much richer information by virtue of context and allows each state machine to be controlled by a processor as powerful as it requires to maximize its utility.

    Richer information and finer, more effective and near prescient control come for free courtesy of network effects.

    Instead of providing state machines like microwaves with their own microprocessors and controls we could spend more money on better sensors or other equipment entirely.

    We can embrace the Internet of Things, understand it and maximize its advantage or we can hide our heads in the sand and let people who *do* embrace and understand it decide our future for us. We cannot stop it because it is already upon us. So far, despite our sloppy management, it has been net positive. With luck it will remain net positive as it continues to grow.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: What is with all the luddites

      You sound like one of those la-la fairies who said the internet would change the world and be nothing be goodness and freedom.

      I'd tell you how wrong you are, but the salt shaker is bugged.

      Frankly, the Internet of Things *is* avoidable. It's called moving into the middle of nowhere and going off grid. I plan to. Every article I write, every conference I attend, every dollar I make is a step towards that goal. My life is my own. If the succeeding generations - or others members of mine own - want to give up their privacy in exchange for...what, exactly?...they can go right ahead.

      I won't.

      1. btrower

        Re: What is with all the luddites

        @Trevor_Pott:

        Re: "You sound like one of those la-la fairies who said the internet would change the world and be nothing be goodness and freedom."

        Well I definitely am on record that the Internet would change the world. I said this before the WWW existed. I am confident I have been proven correct. Ironically, this very conversation is taking place over the Internet whose utility you seem to be disparaging. Are you seriously suggesting it hasn't changed the world?

        As for 'goodness and freedom', I was a big promoter of the upside potential and I think time has proven me correct in that. There is an incredible upside potential and the vast majority of it is yet to be realized. However, I also gave a very early warning that security and privacy were going to present difficult challenges and I think I have been proven correct with respect to that as well. More than ten years ago I wrote and put up a GUI personal encryption tool prototype on the web and was dismayed to find that people in China were downloading it when encryption was still classified as 'munitions' and limited to 40 bits for export. Even then, the tool defaulted to 1024 bit keys and supported 16k keys. I built the tool based on work I was already doing in anticipation of the need for 'data packaging' technology. I voted with an investment of my own time and money that security would be an important issue and it is.

        WRT going 'off-grid' I admit I have looked into it from time to time. I moved from Toronto to a small city of 20,000 to retreat from the urban jungle. However, I have a family that is used to some modicum of civilization. I am not ready to go 'unibomber' myself, but good luck with that.

        Meantime, you could quite literally move to Mars and still not entirely escape the influence of the rapidly developing IoT. Rather than pretending you can escape the inescapable you may better advance your own cause by staying to make sure that sanity prevails and we don't end up with Big Brother prosecuting thought-crime before the fact.

        In the next fifty years we could be living in heaven or living in hell. Our leaders are currently voting for hell. Unless we counter with a very strong vote for heaven, we will be leaving a disastrous legacy to our grandchildren. You can't vote if you leave the system.

        I am personally attracted to the notion of being self-sufficient WRT food, water, power, etc. However, I have been wired deeply into the net since the early 1980s and I already feel my 30Mbit connection to the Internet is cutting off my oxygen. Being stuck with nothing or some flaky satellite link would drive me completely over the edge. Someone as close to the edge as I am already has to steer very carefully.

        I am not sure that privacy as we know it is a viable notion going forward. I am personally concerned that this may present social issues for which mankind is constitutionally unable to cope. What happens when people can view images of you, as they please, in every activity? What happens when it is possible to partially read your thoughts? What happens when machine predictions of your future behavior are better than your own?

        Are we capable of living in a future where privacy is entirely lost? I fear we are about to find out.

        We cannot, as current events demonstrate, prevent eavesdropping from a technical or practical point of view. I have been involved professionally with this stuff for decades. I am a software developer with source code for nearly everything and am theoretically capable of developing secure systems from the silicon up. I am honestly not at all sure that I can prevent back-doors from creeping into library code, even when I have the sources for the code, the compilers, the OS and the BIOS. We already know that crafted weaknesses in algorithms can and do hide in plain sight even after careful review by people whose expertise is well in advance of mine. I could not guarantee that I would be able to detect tampering with the silicon even if I design it myself from the ground up.

        The more you know about this the more difficult it seems. I have some confidence that with the funding I could come reasonably close to a system with some probability of security. I cannot guarantee that I can provide a system that can withstand attack from an adversary with the resources of a state. There are unknowns there that would require profound analysis and measures such as security conditioning of power, EMR shielding, sound shielding, etc. I am sure of this:

        Nobody with less resources than myself has any real hope of security against the state and not even much long term security against even ordinary criminals.

        The only viable response to privacy concerns long term has to be political and social as well as technological. To respond as a part of the body politic you have to remain a part of the body politic. Dropping out just to protect yourself is pointless.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: What is with all the luddites

          "Are you seriously suggesting it hasn't changed the world?"

          The internet changed the world. It didn't change people. So, like any tool, it has been used for good and for evil. More evil than good, of late...and likely that will be the way of things in the future. That's human nature.

          "As for 'goodness and freedom', I was a big promoter of the upside potential and I think time has proven me correct in that."

          No, it hasn't. It's proven the opposite.

          "Rather than pretending you can escape the inescapable you may better advance your own cause by staying to make sure that sanity prevails and we don't end up with Big Brother prosecuting thought-crime before the fact."

          Bullshit. Authoritarians cannot be stopped. Almost all living people in the first world simply haven't known true dictatorship and thus must experience it again before they realize that sacrifice and vigilance are necessary to defend against it. Humanity will have another very dark time ahead of it before we realize - for a generation or two - that freedom is more important than security. Anyone who stands up to those seeking to put the hoi polloi under their thumb will be crushed. There's not a goddamned thing I can do to stop it. Not one.

          "In the next fifty years we could be living in heaven or living in hell. Our leaders are currently voting for hell. Unless we counter with a very strong vote for heaven, we will be leaving a disastrous legacy to our grandchildren. You can't vote if you leave the system."

          Heaven and hell don't exist. My contribution was to not have children. I know what's coming and I won't bring another generation into that future. No amount of "voting" will alter the course of our society.

          "I am not sure that privacy as we know it is a viable notion going forward."

          Hence my middle finger in the air at society in general and a planned retreat from the rest of the world.

          "The only viable response to privacy concerns long term has to be political and social as well as technological. To respond as a part of the body politic you have to remain a part of the body politic. Dropping out just to protect yourself is pointless."

          You're a doe-eyed fool wearing rose-tinted glasses. Listen to me very carefully here: the only way that meaningful change will occur is if a lot of people die. By this I mean hundreds of millions. Humanity will not rethink it's NIMBYist, authoritarian tendencies unless we go through the looking glass one more time.

          Even that will only waken one, maybe two generations to the delicate balance before we careen once more into the abyss.

          All of human history is our ancestors learning the same lessons over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

          Our descendants will not be any different; and in fact, we ourselves are the same.

          Over 95% of Americans support gun laws banning fully automatic weapons, requiring background checks to get weapons and so on. Do you see a trampling hoard of movement in that direction? Goddamn it man these people almost put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from personal responsibility for thousands of nuclear weapons.

          No amount of hope, cheer, goodwill or happy thoughts will change the wealth gap, the power gap, the overwhelming influence of the military industrial complex or the burning need of those who have power to do everything humanly - or inhumanly - possible to ensure that under no circumstances they stand even the remotest risk of losing that power. Uncontrolled, unmonitored people are a risk to the power of those who currently have it. The gap between "them" and "us" is so vast that it cannot be bridged. We've already lost, fellow peasant, you're just stupid enough to believe you're still free.

          When they push too far - and I think that's twenty years out, yet - the revolt will be swift, it will be brutal, and it will be unbelievably, overwhelmingly bloody. A social upheaval and civilian massacre the likes of which this world has never seen. Entire nations will lay in ruins, their citizenry shredded and their economies ruined for lack of warm bodies to push the buttons and make the system go.

          Entire fields of knowledge and learning will be lost. Our society will be set back a generation, maybe more. Nothing we can do will prevent this. Nothing we do can even mitigate the carnage that is to come.

          If you want to contribute usefully to society then dedicate yourself to the preservation of knowledge. All knowledge. Recognize the future for what it is and help plan for the aftermath. I will never have the resources to build a true archive of knowledge - though I fund what I can.

          Instead, I seek to recuse myself from this increasingly intrusive and depressingly hateful society so that I might write. I will leave a legacy only through my books. Those books will hopefully be ready by future generations and carry with them a message of hope. Of ideas and ideals that were forgotten, suppressed, pushed to one side in a mad dash for personal security and uneclipsable power.

          The knowledge I will preserve is that of decency towards your fellow beings, of doing the right thing, even when it does not benefit you. Of working for the future even when the present cannot be saved. These are concepts that I think will be hard for the survivors of the coming wars to pass to their children.

          A bitter, broken people have little use for concepts such as inclusiveness, acceptance and tolerance. People look inward after those events. They ostracize an they cast about for someone - anyone to blame. If it is an identifiable group/nation/race/whatever...so much the better.

          I can't stop the future. But maybe I can pass down through the generations what little good ours had discovered. That is all I can do, and I'll let nothing stop me from doing so.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: What is with all the luddites

          Also: http://www.ted.com/talks/chrystia_freeland_the_rise_of_the_new_global_super_rich.html

  29. William Donelson
    Alert

    You are number six. I am number two.

    Who owns the technology and the means of production.

    Research and report

  30. Antti Roppola

    Remember when the Java JINI kitchen was a joke?

    They devices won't just snitch on you. They will coddle you in sometimes illogical and frustrating cotton wool. Remember the Java JINI kitchen joke in 1999?

    http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/99/May/jini.html

    "You go to put your jini milk in the jini fridge and for no apparent reason (some software conflict probably) the fridge refuses to accept it. No matter what you do the fridge just keeps telling you there is no milk. So you just decide bugger it, it's still keeping the milk cold, but then when you go to make your breakfast porridge the microwave won't turn on because the fridge has told it there's no fresh milk. Neither will the element on the stove work because the house has determined you are trying to cook up spoiled milk. "

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019